Best European Cookbooks

We’ve already handed out awards for French and Italian books. This month, we recognize five winning books from the rest of Europe.

The Scandinavian Kitchen: 100 Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
Photo: Randy Mayor

The Scandinavian Kitchen: 100 Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes

The Scandinavian Kitchen: 100 Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes   By Camilla Plum, Kyle Books, 2011. Hardcover. $35; 272 pages

Following the wild success of Copenhagen’s Noma and a burst of inventive restaurants in that city, many cooks are taking a second (or first, in many cases) look at Scandinavian cuisine. That restaurant’s namesake cookbook, though, is exquisitely complicated, certainly not for any but the most ambitious home cook. Start here instead.         

This book is organized by 100 ingredients, with accompanying recipes, plus sidebars explaining the ingredient’s place in Scandinavian culture. There is tons of helpful info on how each ingredient grows and tastes, how to buy and store, and how it is used. Gorgeous photos depicting the region abound, and the book maintains a sort of silvery-gray Nordic aesthetic.

The recipes walk the line between special occasion and home cooking. Chicken and Asparagus Stew is undoubtedly comfort food but also worthy of a casual dinner party. Mushrooms Pickled in Vinegar and Olive Oil are simple but exotic. Sugar-Salted Salmon with Seville Orange is an unfussy preparation with complex and rewarding results on the palate, and a bit of a wow factor (not every recipe is based on hyper-local foods, obviously). Recipes require basic cooking skills and little in the way of advanced techniques or specialty equipment. There are numerous recipes for preserving foods (pickling, salting, smoking, jam-making) for the larder.

GIVE THIS TO: Curious cooks who love playing with new flavors and ingredients. —Robin Bashinsky

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