Trine Hahnemann was the first Scandinavian cook whose book I bought way back in my Danish reverie (that’s the one where I move to Denmark and live an impeccably hygge life there) with Scandinavian Christmas. The Scandinavian Cookbook followed soon afterwards and I have that as well. If you type ‘Danish Delia‘ in Google, her name is the first (and second) to appear, and she does have the same honest, sensible attitude to food that Blessed Delia Smith in her heyday had.
I especially love the Telegraph article, ‘How to Have a Scandinavian Christmas‘. Can I point out the date? December 2012? Trine predates the hygge invasion. She was one of the first and is still one of the best Scandinavian food writers to grace our shores.
And she has hugged the hygge wave with her latest book, Scandinavian Comfort Food, sensibly subtitling it ‘Embracing the Art of Hygge’. It’s definitely a recipe book, not a treatise on hygge. With over 130 recipes and a bare 2 pages dedicated to an explanation of hygge, Trine places her emphasis on what’s important to her. Having said that, her two pages explain hygge better than many a longer tome is able to.
The book is separated out into 14 chapters, each focusing on a particular style of cooking rather than meals or ingredients. There are chapters om “What I eat during the day”, “Soups for every season”, “Long summer nights” and my personal favourite “Christmas dinner at my house”. The contents page looks strange because there are upper case headings and lower case headings that look like they should be less important, but this is misleading.
In fact, the smaller headings are seasonal feasts & festivals, like Easter and Christmas, and as long as the upper case chapters in most cases. I’m pleased to say that the Christmas chapter has recipes for caramelised potatoes, roast duck and ris alamande, so I’m looking forward to a Danish Christmas feast sometime.
The emphasis throughout is on good, straightforward cooking, and that’s always my highest compliment to a cookbook. I’m not a great one for aspirational cheffy cooking; I like to know that a good 70 to 80% of the recipes are completely do-able, even to a ham-fisted home cook like me. At the moment the book is still a bedtime read, and being marked up with possibilities, but so far there are quite a few recipes I want a go at!
And I would love to meet Trine and sit with her for a while. I think she has such a grasp on hygge.. of course, she is danish!… and how to use food to foster companionship, togetherness and love that I would love to have just a day talking over coffee and cake, to ask her about her thoughts on whether Hygge is a moveable feast, or is the UK too strung up to really relax and just be.
Scandinavian Comfort Food is available from all good booksellers. If you click through any of the links on this page, however, it will take you to Amazon who, God Bless them, will give me a couple of pennies for any sold. It won’t pay the rent (yet) but it may mean I am more capable of buying books independently instead of waiting for a review copy. All views are, of course, my own and unbiased.