In Scandinavia, where the land stretches far enough north that half the year can be bathed in constant light or constant darkness, the notion of a "kitchen of light" has special meaning. In the case of Kitchen of Light, the cookbook by Norway's best known food writer, Andreas Viestad, and companion book to the TV cooking show of the same name, it means the shedding of light on a long-overlooked cuisine and culinary tradition. There is more going on in the Land of the Midnight Sun than smorgasbord.
Fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients need not always be a notion married to temperate agriculture and culinary zones. The seasons of fecundity can be compressed; the nature of local can truly be wild. Such are the lessons in Kitchen of Light. There is an underlying joy throughout this book: the long winter has been beaten back and great food once again weighs down the table. Viestad takes the reader into the country and into the lives of the people who have made something of a celebration of food and cooking.
Duck Soup with Madeira ought to wake up the sleepiest palate. In centuries past, Maderia was bartered in Norway for dried salt cod. Porcini Consommé gives honor to the brief but glorious wild mushroom season. An entire chapter is given over to gravlaks, cured salmon you can do at home with spice and Aquavit. In a land where cod and potatoes are no joke, Viestad proves that a contemporary touch can be both relevant and exciting. Yellow and Red Cod with Pomegranate-Mango Salad, anyone? Feasting is well-represented, and seafood lies at its heart--salmon, halibut, mackerel, pollock, shellfish. And just when you are falling into step, Viestad turn the corner and presents the likes of Glazed Leg of Lamb with Roasted Root Vegetables.
In the end, after reading and admiring this beautifully photographed and designed book where travel meets food meets joy, you'll have a much better insight into the people of Scandinavia, and probably a deep and unresolved desire to travel and dine there. Kitchen of Light is not only enlightening, you can bring it home. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
This compendium of modern Scandinavian recipes is a perfect marriage of fresh recipes, most of which aren't too difficult, and clean layout and design. Author Viestad finds a nice balance between seriousness and fun in his brief texts about everything from Hulda Garborg (a feminist and the author of one of the first-ever Norwegian cookbooks in 1898) to an ode to crayfish under the subtitle There Is Something Crawling in My Bathtub. Modern Scandinavian cooking, at least as represented here, is ideally suited to the way we eat now, with a healthy dose of fish and respect for ingredients that lets their flavors shine. In fact, about half of the book is dedicated to fish dishes. There are two recipes for transforming salmon into the Scandinavian classic Gravlaks and more innovative treatment of seafood in the form of Grilled Mackerel with Sweet Chili Glaze and Charred Sage, and Thyme-and-Garlic Steamed Mussels with a Hint of Cinnamon. An entire chapter on the staples cod and potatoes includes Truffled Cod with Garlic-Veal Glace and rustic Potatoes with Goose Fat and Lemon. Vegetable, meat and poultry dishes are less central than the trove of seafood recipes, but they hardly seem like afterthoughts in recipes such as Lamb Chops with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Yogurt-Mint Sauce, and Onion Pie with Jarlsberg and Thyme. Desserts are often stunningly simple and fruit-based: Strawberry Snow is a simple berry mousse, while The Devil's Rhubarb consists of raw stalks dipped in sugar and nibbled between sips of vodka.
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