NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swedish celebrity chef and international television personality Tina Nordström hopes her sixth cookbook will wind up sauce-splattered, dog-eared and picked up as often as an old pepper mill or a really sharp knife.
The 234 recipes in “Tina Nordström’s Scandinavian Cooking: Simple Recipes for Home-Style Scandinavian Cuisine,” are crammed with tips, shortcuts and suggestions.
“I’m very relaxed,” said Nordström, who has hosted 14 seasons of cooking shows on television, including “New Scandinavian Cooking” on PBS in the United States.
“I don’t care if you eat carrots five days a week if I can inspire you to cut it a different way.”
Based in Helsingborg, Nordström, 41, became Sweden’s first female celebrity chef in 2001 after qualifying in the prestigious Swedish Chef of the Year Competition.
She spoke with Reuters about growing up in her parents’ restaurant, adding a simple twist to an old favorite and her love of lemons.
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I had done five books and I was pretty tired of books. ... So actually for six or seven years I made a lot of food but not books. Then I saw all the papers I saved. I had so many recipes. I’ve been traveling so much, everywhere in the world, actually, so I just thought that I had to make a book and it had to be a big one, a thick one.
Q: Did you always want to be a chef?
A: No, it was more of a lifestyle. My parents had a restaurant since I was a child, so I took to the business because I didn’t like school. The only thing that I knew I could do was in the kitchen.
Q: What was your professional training?
A: I went to cooking school for three years. Then when I finished I started to work in Denmark, in good restaurants, working for free. Then I got a job and I was hooked.
Q: What is “Scandinavian Cooking”?
A: I don’t know why they chose that name. It’s more my way of cooking. I’m keen to choose my ingredients, I pick good stuff, but that’s not Scandinavian cooking. I travel a lot. I went to Russia, so I pick things up everywhere. This year I’ve been to Thailand, Kenya, Tel Aviv.
Q: What is your way of cooking?
A: I like to inspire people and I love when people make mistakes in the kitchen. I’m just happy if you go into the kitchen. ... In Sweden, there are so many dos and don’ts and diets, so I just try as hard as I can to stay out of that and inspire people to listen to themselves, to do what they like and have fun.
Q: What’s your best advice for the home cook?
A: You don’t have to invent a new recipe. You can take the dish you do all the time and put a new taste to it. For example, take a staple like (Swedish) meatballs. You can make them Indian-style, or with anchovies.
Q: What’s always in your pantry?
A: I love lemons. Lemons, lemons, lemons. I can eat them raw. And I love soya and some kind of sweetness. I use fruit. Yesterday I used grapes in olive oil and onions, then (I added) light soya and lemon juice and vinegar. Finally I tossed in raw broccoli. It was gorgeous. You just have to think what you feel on your tongue.
Savory Oven Pancake with Toppings
1 cup (250 ml) flour
3 cups (700 ml) milk
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp (30 g) butter
Bacon with lingonberries (or cranberries)
Smoked salmon with sour cream, dill, and horseradish
Boiled red beets with capers and lemon
Prosciutto with cream-sautéed mushrooms and parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Mix the flour with half of the milk and all of the eggs. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Add the rest of the milk and the salt.
Put the butter in a baking sheet and place it in the oven to melt the butter. Pour the batter into the baking sheet and bake the pancake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes.
Cut the oven pancake into squares and serve with any of the above toppings.
Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jonathan Oatis