It’s Saturday in the kitchen, and I am surrounded by the raw ingredients that make up the food of my people: potatoes, cream, salmon, pork and dill. These familiar foods, which look so commonplace on my counter, can be found on the dinner plates of many cultures.But today, as I cook from the encyclopedic (Phaidon, 768 pages, .95), by Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson, I’m feeling Scandinavian from head to toe — not so incidentally, because I am, with family genealogy dating to the 15th century.
Here he documents what ordinary cooks serve at mealtime.
Think of “The Nordic Cookbook” as a kind of “Joy of Cooking,” with a Scandinavian twist.
Like Irma Rombauer’s reference book, which has been a culinary source for generations of American cooks, Nilsson’s volume covers more information, recipes and serendipity than you’ll ever consume in one sitting, much less a dozen.
It’s all written in a conversational tone that makes you feel as if he’s at your side, guiding you step by step, while casually dropping culinary tidbits: The taco in Sweden refers to a kind of meat pie — beef or moose — made with taco seasonings and cooked in a crust.
This is a collection of recipes that illustrate the cooking that appears in homes throughout a region that encompasses 1.3 million square miles and seven countries.
Nilsson visits our land of nearly 600,000 Swedes — that would be Minnesota — this week to talk about all things Nordic, including his book, at the American Swedish Institute, where an exhibit of his photographs, taken for the cookbook research, will be on display through Aug. His spin on modern Nordic food, with its focus on seasonal fare from the land and waters near his home, has captured the food world’s attention during his tenure as chef of the 16-seat Fäviken Magasinet in western Sweden.
In the classic Nordic manner, much of the food is gathered during the short growing season and preserved for culinary use during colder months.
If you want to cook in the manner of Nilsson, you can find recipes from the restaurant in his first book, “Fäviken.” But this second volume, on home cooking, is entirely different.
The Flying Jacob is a creamed chicken and banana casserole that includes Heinz chili sauce, salted peanuts and packaged Italian salad dressing; it first appeared in a magazine in 1976, and was named for its creator, Ove Jacobsson, who worked in air freight.