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Nordic Flavors by Tareq Taylor

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Tareq’s Beetroot and Pickled Mustard Seed Salad and a sunny day in Copenhagen

I have always loved Scandinavian cuisine – wild berries, unique indigenous ingredients, the practice of foraging, smoked fish, light citrusy flavors with lots of dill… I find the food so vibrant, especially in the summer when the produce is so beautifully fresh and the colors are as vivid as a languidly long summer’s day. Some time ago, The Gypsetters Net got the opportunity to interview celebrity chef Tareq Taylor who shared with us his special food memories and favorite foodie destinations in Scandinavia. I tried my best for him to share his secret mushroom foraging grounds, but to no avail! He did however share with us some amazing recipes perfect for the warm days ahead.

Love and Light, Stephanie

The Gypsetters Net: Coming from a multicultural background that has equally unique and wonderful flavors – why did you decide to really focus on Nordic cuisine? What is it about Nordic cuisine that you love the most?

Tareq Taylor: The reason for that is I mainly grew up with my mother and grandparents – they were really good at showing me stuff that you could pick in nature. Foraging for elderflowers, or mushrooms or berries (black, raspberries, wild strawberries). Growing up in Sweden and spending a lot of time in nature – really just shaped my childhood. When I had a restaurant and when my partner left the restaurant – I decided to go back to something I really knew well. Something I could interpret in my own way. And I went back to my childhood. To the nature that surrounded me. And I discovered that even though I have a multicultural background – I could use those different techniques of bringing our indigenous products to new heights. For example, Arabic – there are always designated shops that sell their products, but with Nordic food – if I go on my bicycle or take a walk on the park – I might find something behind the tree, or something hidden behind the bush. It’s fun!

soup tareq

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Truffle (see recipe below) and Tareq Taylor

TGN: Share a fond childhood food memory.

Tareq: Let’s do Christmas – On Christmas day, my grandfather normally closes the door and nobody was ever allowed to go into the kitchen. When I was 10, my granddad opened up the door and pulled me into the kitchen. And we cooked that day, and I got to make the stuffing, and cook the turkey and he shared a lot of his stories with me. When it was dinnertime, he stood up and announced to the dinner table that I made the stuffing! I was so proud, and that was actually when I decided on that day that I was going to be a chef.

pannacotta sweden

Coconut Pannacotta with Caramelized White Chocolate and Raspberries (see recipe below) and summer’s day in the Swedish Countryside

TGN: Nordic cuisine has a lot to do with the environment, the local produce, the seasons…where foraging is quite common. Do you have any “secret” grounds for picking lets say wild mushrooms or berries?

Tareq: Where you find your mushrooms – they are very, very special little secrets. Nobody reveals it! I have a forest right outside my house – and I do go foraging for mushrooms. I pick ceps, and other mushrooms like that. There are actually apps where you can download on your phone, where people want to share these locations with other people (ha – idiots!) – what they do is, they mark the areas on the gps map, and others can find it on the app. Mushroom places are a secret. When I went hunting with a Sami, they would never reveal – it’s only when you join the hunting team, like go through a ritual, then you can know the secret. It’s the same with mushrooms! You need to be initiated.

faroe islands

The Faroe Islands – photo from National Geographic

TGN: Name three of your favorite food destinations in the region…

Tareq: Copenhagen is definitely a great destination – when it comes to food. Because you get a huge variety – anything from the lowest low end to the highest high end. It’s also a city dedicated itself to Nordic cuisine. Many years ago. It’s the birthplace really of new Scandinavian cooking. It’s gotta be a part of my 3 destinations.

Other destinations that are really cool are the Faroe Islands. It’s like taking a trip 200 years back in time. A lot of original produce, they don’t’ have a lot of things, but what they have is amazing. Because the conditions that things grow there is extreme (never warm, but not super cold) the strawberries for instance, you will never be able to find sweeter strawberries anywhere else. You would have LONG LONG days, but you have cold nights, so the sugar really develops in the strawberries overnight. Also their root vegetables are really sweet. Rutabagas (turnips) are also just as sweet.

The 3rd destination – my own city is not bad. I do like Malmö, – it has a lot of influences from different cultures. We have 176 different nationalities. Not all of them but about 150 of them have restaurants left and right. That is the city in Sweden that has the most number of restaurants in the capital. It’s a vibrant country. In the old days, 25 years ago, Malmö city was closed – but we weren’t allowed outdoor serving areas. Everyone went to Copenhagen to party, to have a beer, etc. Our community – for one year just decided to try opening the doors. And the city just EXPLODED. People were happier, streets were safer. So our city is very young in terms of dining – so that makes it vibrant – everyone is always trying to look for new ways to do things.

malmo

A scenic corner of Mälmo – photo from Wikipedia

 


 

Tareq Taylor’s Nordic Cookery Recipes

Beetroot Salad with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Mayonnaise

Serves 4

8 small beetroots, 4 small yellow beetroots

Wash and cut away the leaves of beets. Cook them in unsalted water until soft. Put the cooked beets in cold water for ten minutes and then peel them using your fingers. Cut into half.

For pickled mustard seeds: Put 3 tbsp. yellow mustard seeds, 1 tbsp. brown mustard seeds, 300 ml water, 50 ml acidic vinegar 12% and 150 ml sugar in a small pot and bring to the boil. Place in a bowl and set to cool down.

For the mayonnaise: Beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tablespoon hot mustard, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. Add 200 ml virgin rapeseed oil slowly while continuously beating until you get a nice and thick mayonnaise.

To finish and garnish the salad: Roast 100 ml pumpkin seeds in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Place in a bowl and allow cooling down. Add 50 g finely chopped shallots and the pickled mustard seeds to the pumpkin seeds. Use this to top the beets arranged on a plate. Add a few dollops of the mayo and garnish with fresh watercress and flower cress.

Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with White Truffle

Serves 4-6

200 g Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and chopped, 200 g potatoes, peeled and chopped, 200 g Shitake mushrooms, 1 white onion-chopped, 1 clove of garlic-chopped, 1 twig of thyme-chopped, 1 tbsp. butter, 1tbsp rapeseed oil (you may also use olive oil), 1000 ml chicken stock or vegetarian stock, 100 ml white wine or 20 ml lemon juice, white truffle oil, cress for garnish

In a pot, soften Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, onion and garlic together with the thyme in butter and oil. Add chicken stock and white wine and cook until all vegetables are soft. Blitz the soup until smooth. Finish the soup with white truffle and garnish with cress.

Coconut Pannacotta, Caramelized White Chocolate and Raspberries

Serves 4 – 6

4 leaves of gelatin, 400 ml coconut cream, 100 ml caster sugar, 400 ml yoghurt, 200 g white chocolate, 400 g fresh raspberries

Soak the gelatine in cold water. In a pot, heat up the coconut cream and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine and add it to the warm coconut cream. Let it cool down until it is has reached room temperature. Add the yoghurt and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow it to set in a fridge over night or for a minimum of four hours. Heat up the chocolate in a dry frying pan while stirring constantly, until it is golden in color. Pour up the browned chocolate on a cheet of baking paper and freeze it. When it is frozen – chop it in a food processor and keep it in the freezer until it is time to serve. Spoon up the pannacotta and sprinkle the chocolate over it. Garnish with plenty of fresh raspberries.

For more info on Tareq Taylor and his recipes visit the Asian Food Channel and his website.

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The Author

Stephanie
Stephanie
Writer. Traveller. Wino. Foodie. Bohemian at heart. "You can not travel the path until you have become the path itself." - Buddha


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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.

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