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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Trine Hahnemann

From pancakes to meatballs: Trine Hahnemann’s seasonal Scandinavian recipes

Trine Hahnemann's fried mackerel with shaken redcurrants 81
A fruity little number: Trine Hahnemann’s fried mackerel with shaken redcurrants. Photograph: Matthew Hague/The Guardian. Food styling: Oliver Rowe. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Lucy Cottle.

September is the month of food heaven in Scandinavia. The selection of seasonal produce is the best: you get the end of summer, which means the last of the berries, new potatoes, and cabbage; and the first of autumn – root vegetables, mushrooms, spinach, sweet tomatoes, fatty mackerel, herbs such as dill and lovage, and much more. This is the month for the harvest feast celebrating the farmers, giving thanks to nature and to the importance of seasons. Velbekomme.

Fried mackerel with shaken redcurrants (pictured top)

It’s a real Scandinavian tradition to eat sweet-and-sour pickled berries as a condiment to fish, chicken or meat. The raw, cured redcurrants here, or lingon sylt, are a Danish classic with fried plaice, herring or mackerel, roast chicken or old-school braised beef. They have high acidity, which works very well with rich, fried fish and heavier meats. You will have to start the redcurrants at least three days before you want to eat them.

Prep 15 min
Macerate 3 days
Cook 20 min, plus resting
Serves 4

For the shaken redcurrants
500g redcurrants, plus extra to serve
250g caster sugar

For the mackerel
4 mackerel fillets
Sea salt flakes
and black pepper
4 leeks, trimmed, sliced into 10cm sections and washed
1 tbsp salted butter
1 small bunch fresh dill
, roughly chopped

Rinse the redcurrants in cold water, put in a large rectangular dish, sprinkle with the sugar and fold to coat gently. Leave at room temperature, shaking the dish now and then, until the sugar completely dissolves, which should take about three days. Transfer to an airtight container and put in the fridge, where they will keep for about eight weeks.

Sprinkle the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper, then leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Steam the leeks over simmering salted water for five minutes, or until just tender, then drain and keep warm. Melt the butter, then fry the mackerel in the butter for two to three minutes on each side. Serve with the leeks and shaken redcurrants, garnishing the plates with fresh redcurrants and dill.

The Guardian aims to publish recipes for sustainable fish. Check ratings in your region: UK; Australia; US.

Frikadeller with sweet-and-sour cucumber salad

Trine Hahnemann’s frikadeller with sweet-and-sour cucumber salad.
Trine Hahnemann’s frikadeller with sweet-and-sour cucumber salad. Photograph: Matthew Hague/The Guardian. Food styling: Oliver Rowe. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Lucy Cottle.

These flattened meatballs are quintessentially Danish, but with a twist. Frikadeller are in the top 10 most-cooked recipes in Denmark, and every family has its own version. The discussion as to which is the best meat to use will never end – I usually go for a mixture of minced pork and beef, and add vegetables to the mix because they make the meatballs light and juicy, but if you don’t eat red meat, you can make them with minced chicken instead. For a vegetarian version, grate a variety of root vegetables to replace the meat. However you choose to make them, though, frikadeller are good with a cucumber salad.

Prep 10 min
Pickle 30 min+
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

500g minced chicken
1 medium courgette, trimmed and grated
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
3 eggs
, lightly beaten
50g breadcrumbs
3 tbsp plain flour
50ml sparkling water
salted butter
2 tbsp neutral oil, vegetable or similar

For the salad
250ml 5% acid distilled vinegar
125g caster sugar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 large cucumbers

Start with the cucumber salad, because it needs to pickle for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, 50ml cold water and the sugar until the sugar dissolves, then add a teaspoon of sea salt, some ground black pepper to taste, the mustard seeds and peppercorns.

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds, then cut the flesh into 5mm-thick half moons. Put the cucumber in the brine and gently fold in, then leave for at least 30 minutes, turning it every now and then, until ready to serve.

To make the meatballs, thoroughly mix the minced meat, courgette, onion, garlic, thyme and eggs. Fold in the breadcrumbs and flour, and mix again. Lastly, mix in the sparkling water and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Add the butter and oil to a hot frying pan. Using a spoon and your free hand, shape the meat mixture into medium-sized oval balls, then put in the hot pan and fry, turning, until golden brown all over. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and roast in the hot oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Take the cucumber out of its brine (you can re-use the brine, so don’t throw it away) and serve in a bowl alongside the frikadeller.

Potato pancakes

Trine Hahnemann’s potato pancakes .
Trine Hahnemann’s Norwegian-style potato pancakes. Photograph: Matthew Hague/The Guardian. Food styling: Oliver Rowe. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Lucy Cottle.

In the old days, in small towns in Norway, all the women would gather together to make really big potato pancakes to be eaten at wedding breakfasts. They take a little planning, because you need to prepare the potatoes the day before, so the starch settles, to be able to roll out the dough.

Prep 10 min
Chill Overnight
Cook 45 min
Makes 10

For the pancakes
500g peeled floury potatoes
80g salted butter
95g full-fat creme fraiche
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the topping
200g spinach
4 tomatoes
1 onion
, peeled and sliced

The day before you want to make the pancakes, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain well, then pass them through a ricer into a bowl and add 50g butter, 50g creme fraiche, a teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, mix the flour into the potato mixture and divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a floured work surface into a 12cm-diameter circle. Cook the pancakes one by one in a dry frying pan, turning them once, for two to three minutes on each side – you can tell they are ready when they are light brown on both sides.

For the topping, rinse the spinach in cold water and drain well (it may take several rinses to get it properly clean). Cut the tomatoes in half, discard the juice and seeds, then slice them thinly. Saute the onion in the one or two tablespoons of butter until golden brown, then add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season to taste. Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and mix.

Serve the warm pancakes topped with the vegetables, with two or three tablespoons of creme fraiche on the side.

  • These recipes are an edited extract from Simply Scandinavian: Cook and Eat the Easy Way, with Delicious Scandi Recipes, by Trine Hahnemann, published by Quadrille at £27. To order a copy for £23.76, go to

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