Classic Scandinavian Cooking

Despite Nika Hazelton’s claim that she has reduced the amount of fat and sugar in the recipes included in CLASSIC SCANDINAVIAN COOKING, one should not assume that this cookbook is intended for the weight watcher. Once the reliance upon cream and butter in many of the recipes is accepted, however, the cook will find many palatable dishes presented in an easy-to-follow format.

Hazelton discusses, in her introduction, the differences among the cuisines of the five countries of Scandinavia--Norway and Iceland were poorer, rural countries that relied heavily on fish, Denmark and Sweden were influenced by Continental tastes, and Finland borrowed somewhat from Russian traditions--before describing the etiquette of skoaling with ice-cold, yet fiery, akvavit, an intimidating liquor made from potatoes.

The recipe sections begin with a list of possible combinations for the open-faced sandwiches called smorrebrod, and Hazelton describes the traditional layout and ingredients of a smorgasbord. Following this are sections on soups and dumplings, fish, fowl and meats, vegetables, desserts (and, in separate chapters, cakes and pastries and cookies), breads, and drinks. The fish section, not unexpectedly, is one of the best, including simple recipes for cod and plaice as well as the recipe for lutfisk. The dessert section, also good, includes recipes that are tasty and reasonably simple to prepare, though often rich.

A few drawbacks mar an otherwise fairly well-rounded cookbook: The index does not always list the Scandinavian name for a dish, a fault perhaps bothersome only to those of Scandinavian descent, and a few prominent traditional recipes, such as those for flatbread and lefse, a kind of unleavened potato bread, are omitted, while a recipe for whale meat, which is not particularly common in the United States, is included.