Seduction: Scandinavian-Style

A Valentine's Day feast


With Valentine’s Day looming down on us, it’s time to reconcile oneself to the fact that the time for the perfect restaurant reservation has long since passed. Truth is, I would never recommend going out for Valentine’s Day. Like any holiday, restaurants will typically be over-booked, understaffed, and hawking a special menu that is designed to separate you from as much of your hard-earned money as possible. So, what are you gonna do about it?

Well, what you should consider is cooking for your loved one! Yes, nothing says "I love you" more than a home-cooked meal, even if it’s not Top Chef quality! There are many routes to go here, from exotic to comfort food, but the truth is that unless you can ace your loved one’s favorite dishes, you might want to try to impress with something new, off the beaten path, and impressively easy to do!

Now…. don’t tell me you were thinking of Scandinavian food, too!
Related Imagery
Marinated salmon
Skagen fish soup
Meatballs in curry sauce
Vanilla custard with red currants
Buy "The Scandinavian Cookbook"
Download Recipes
While foods of the frozen north may not seem like the perfect dishes to warm the cockles of your sweetheart’s heart, when you think of them, the Scandinavians are a pretty amorous people. Their nonchalance about PDA (that’s public displays of affection), not to mention their striking Nordic good looks and history of societal liberalism, leads me to believe that there might be some correlation between all that and their diet. Of course, this might also be convenient artistic license that allows me to suggest a Scandinavian menu, and a Scandinavian cookbook at that, just at this moment.

Whatever the case may be, The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann is full of dishes that are ideally suited for a romantic dinner or luscious brunch -- which to me seems to be an even more appropriate Valentine’s Day meal. This is a wonderful cookbook, set up in a sort of seasonal progression, revealing the fact that there are, in fact, more than two seasons (winter and not winter) in Scandinavia! The accompanying photographs contribute wonderfully to the book, revealing that the spartan quality of Scandinavian design extends through their cuisine as well.

That simplicity is what is going to work in your favor this Valentine’s Day. You will whip up a feast that pairs sweet and savory, allowing each flavor to shine brilliantly, and yet you’ll be able to do it, and reproduce these results, with ease, leaving your hands free for whatever else you might expect to be doing either before, after -- or heck -- even during your meal. I’m just supplying the inspiration folks, where you take it all is your business!

So, what’s on the menu?

Let’s start with Marinated Salmon. Even though there is a recipe for classic Scandinavian rye bread here, you can skip that step and buy some! This marinated salmon dish works wonderfully as a starter or a fine brunch dish.

Follow up with some soul-warming soup. Scandinavia, being dominated by coastline, is no stranger to seafood and the Skagen fish soup highlights the country's local bounty in a subtle way with gently layered complexity. While there are no oysters in this soup, you can consider adding a few, just because, well, it is Valentine’s Day. There is a recipe in the book for raw oysters as well, but in classic style, it’s such a minimalist recipe it can be paraphrased simply: oysters, lightly sweetened vinegar, finely diced red onion.

Moving on to a main course, I was so very tempted by the Moose tournedos recipe, but the whole sourcing moose issue made that difficult to recommend. Of course, the classic Scandinavian dish is meatballs, and while those Swedish meatballs from IKEA might be passable for a Wednesday night dinner, this time around it’s worth making them from scratch.

I love the Meatballs in Curry Sauce recipe here. It unites two classic dishes in one juicy, spicy, sultry combination that is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and I bet even better the day after, as this sounds like a dish that one should be making with leftovers in mind. The dish that keeps on giving!

And now to wrap it all up, keep it simple and luscious. Vanilla Custard with fresh fruit -- I’m thinking figs for some reason, but currants will do -- is about as perfect a dessert as one could ask for, and it’s ideally suited to pairing with a bit of bubbly, which is always a welcome sight on Valentine’s Day. Of course, if you want to go the whole nine yards here, consider adding some Aquavit to the menu. With its blend of spices, frequently including aniseed and fennel in addition to caraway, it’s a great way to complete one’s Valentine’s Day fortifications!

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  • Snooth User: deliusfan
    521320 50

    Darn it...this is the second time the ONE recipe I wanted is either corrupt or something is causing it not to open. This time it's Skagen fish soup; every other link is working perfectly, wouldn't you know!

    Feb 18, 2011 at 11:40 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Hi deliusfan,

    It's back!

    I've replaced the pdf with a clean file. Where else have you had an issue. I can clean them up if you can point me in the right direction!

    Thanks for letting us know about the issue.

    Feb 20, 2011 at 5:58 PM

  • Snooth User: deliusfan
    521320 50

    Excellent! Ok, the "pasta, pancetta and chestnuts" recipe doesn't seem to be working; it actually had been missing its last few lines and I had commented on this...I was making a great recipe, and sort of wondered how it ended! I improvised after screwing up and throwing out my pasta water, and it still tasted good, but I wondered how it was REALLY supposed to go at the end! Also, I noticed that searching for "chestnuts" only pulls up a single recipe with water chestnuts, and doesn't pull up the ingredients article on chestnuts...any way to fix how the search engine works? It would be great to "search in ingredients" or "recipes", etc.

    Feb 20, 2011 at 6:52 PM

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