I have delusions of grandeur when it comes to breakfast.
I want ricotta on challah toast (or fresh fig jam and mascarpone, if I’m at Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge). I want eggs with pepperjack cheese and avocado slices. Oooh, or something I’ve been meaning to do – seared scallops with bacon, fried egg, and grilled tomatoes. (Yes, I am influenced by Sorted Food youtube videos.)
In a similar vain, I have ambitious plans of questionable achievement when it comes to cooking/baking Nordic foods. Either I’m subconsciously addicted to Ikea (which probably would be true if I lived closer to one) or I’ve watched too many videos featuring Magnus Nilsson and Rene Redzepi (this is definitely true).
The reality is that I meal prep my breakfasts most of the time, and I want something quick to put together. Lately, I’ve been making the same baked oatmeal recipe for a few months now. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not on the lookout for new ideas. Let’s be honest – it’s only a matter of time before I hit baked oatmeal fatigue.
When I saw the cover of “Breakfast with Beatrice” by Beatrice Ojakangas, I was intrigued. The cover has minimalist but colorful Scandinavian inspired kitchen illustrations. The tag line under the title says “250 recipes from sweet cream waffles to Swedish farmer’s omelets.” It sounded like it had variety. It had the word Swedish in it. It was 250 recipes. What’s not to like?
First impressions? This cookbook is old school. There are literally no photos. It’s a straightforward recipe book. Some recipes have a short introduction, but many don’t have any commentary. (For the record, some of my favorite cookbooks are ones without any photos… Kathy Farrell-Kingsley’s “The Big Book of Vegetarian” comes to mind. Substance is more important than appearance.)
Before this book, I hadn’t heard of the author before.** While her culinary heritage is Scandinavian, Beatrice Ojakangas is from Minnesota where she still lives. There are many recipes that aren’t Nordic. In addition to recipes like hätäleipä, and cream cheese and salmon smørrebrød, be prepared to find recipes like Tex-Mex strata, beignets, colonial brown bread muffins, and old Virginia cheddar biscuits. According to the book’s introduction, she “selected many of [her] favorite breakfasts for Breakfast with Beatrice.”
(** Hilariously, I should have been familiar with the author’s name. I own one of her other books, “The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever.”)
The book is broken down into these sections:
- Pancakes and waffles
- Savory breakfast and casserole dishes (smørrebrød and porridge recipes are filed here)
- Pastries and coffee cakes
- Breakfast breads (has both yeasted breads and quick breads)
- Muffins, biscuits, and scones
- Smoothies, jams, and preserves (FYI, there is just one smoothie recipe)
Normally, this is the part of the post where I like to list the recipes that I’m particularly interested in making. However, I’m not going to, because I’m not sure that there’s a recipe in the book that I don’t want to make. In general, these recipes aren’t trendy. They aren’t ingredient crazy or meant for a large weekend project. Instead, they sound like the kind of recipes you inherit from a beloved family member or recipes you have fond memories of.
I had trouble picking out a recipe test out… too many sounded delicious. I originally thought about making the wild rice and blueberry muffin recipe, but I didn’t have any wild rice in my pantry and was unwilling to buy some. (Note to self, clean out your pantry so that you can do things like buy wild rice without feeling bad about it.) I eventually settled on the yogurt nut brown bread recipe, which only has 8 ingredients: rye flour, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, plain yogurt, light molasses, and chopped nuts. I don’t keep whole wheat flour in my kitchen because I’m convinced that most commercially available whole wheat flour doesn’t taste very good, so I subbed with spelt flour. I also didn’t have light molasses but that was easy to substitute with a blend of regular molasses and maple syrup. Other than that, it was very easy to put together. I didn’t need to break out a mixer for this. Using a whisk and a spatula was good enough.
In the author’s own words, this bread is “compact, dark, grainy, and rich-tasting.” It is definitely dense and dark, but I wouldn’t say it’s grainy even though I know that it’s made with whole grain flours. I thought it was a bit chewy (in a good way) and moist. The molasses flavor hit my tongue first, but quickly gave way to an earthy flavor. The more bites I took, the less I noticed the molasses. I ate half a slice with some almond butter, and enjoyed that too. I think this recipe makes for a great everyday quick bread, perfect for those times I want bread but am too impatient to work with yeast.
Later this week, I think I’ll see how it pairs with other foods like eggs, ham, or cheese.
Overall, I’m quite delighted by my initial results. I look forward to working more from this book. If you’re someone who loves cooking/baking, and doesn’t need to be bedazzled by fancy pictures, I wholeheartedly recommend “Breakfast with Beatrice.”
Disclaimer – I received this book from University of Minnesota Press for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.
Because I wasn’t making it up, Sorted Food’s Full English Breakfast video: