Swedish Lapland: Indigenous Sámi Souvas (that’s reindeer to you and I)

Souvas in Lapland

It’s icy out there, bitterly cold and the grass is now a shade of mint green, each blade with it’s little frosty jacket. I do wonder what it must be like in Lapland. Definitely, much worse than this. When I was there, this Autumn, it was already starting to cool down and I had a brief insight to your upcoming, and now very much present, Winter.

I had many fine experiences on my trip, one was an afternoon with indigenous Sámi people, who introduced us first to their herd of reindeer, and second, to one of their defining traditional dishes, souvas.

Souvas in Lapland

The Sámi people are the indigenous people occupying Sápmi in Northern Europe, an arc of land consisting of parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are the only official indigenous people remaining in Northern Europe. Traditionally the Sámi people traditionally rely on a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding but their food supply remains almost entirely dependent on their nomadic herds of reindeer. Berries, wild grasses and lichens are also collected during the two brief summer months to supplement this.

Souvas in Lapland

Only 10% of Sámi are now semi-nomadic reindeer herders. The life in the harsh long winters is extremely challenging, but it is culturally and traditionally and therefore it is maintained. For this reason, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sámi people in some parts of the Nordic countries.

Souvas in Lapland

We met some in Kiruna, and tried their traditonal dish: Souvas. Souvas are made from reindeer meat by the reindeer herders. The meat is dry-salted and smoked in a traditional peaked tent for eight hours over a roaring open fire and is then fried and served with dense unleavened bread and lingonberries which would have been foraged by the herders.

Souvas in Lapland

Souvas in Lapland

The Souvas themselves are smoky, as you would expect, and intensely flavoured. Thinly sliced (think the thickness of a rasher of bacon) and fairly lean, they are very tender when hot with the juicy sour lingonberries a superb, mouth pursing and tart accompaniment. Dessert was a delicious little cup of foraged cloudberries and cream with tea that had been made over the fire.

Souvas in Lapland

Souvas in Lapland

Souvas in Lapland

There is little waste when they kill their reindeer for meat, they eat all edible parts and cure and use the pelts. When the animal is first killed they make a soup with the bloody and some of the offal, they smoke the reindeer hearts which are delicious with a very soft delicate texture. We ate the reindeer heart with candied angelica. Quite bitter and stringy, I didnt really take to this, but if there wasn’t a choice? Well, you’d just have to eat ot. It’s actually the only sweet thing that Sámi children used to eat (they now have access to sweets like the rest of us).



It was a fascinating and all too brief insight into their culture, culinary and otherwise. They live by foraging and eating only foods that are locally available. They do occasionally eat bear, alhough not often as bears are half god/half animal. In fact, each nomadic tent has two doors, one for people and everyday use, the other for carrying in bears and bringing out their dead.

We visited Nutti Sámi Siida. They arrange nature and culture experiences like the souva eating experience above.

Nutti Sami Siida
Marknadsvägen 84
981 91 Jukkasjärvi


‘New Nordic’ Danish Yule with Trina Hahnemann

Trina Hannemann

Trina Hahnemann is surfing the crest of our current Nordic food obsession with her wonderful books, The Scandinavian Cookbook and The Nordic Diet. I recently had the pleasure of meeting her, and she is even more inspring in real life than in print. Yesterday, she prepared a New Nordic Danish Yule feast at the Danish Embassy.

The recipes are all new (Trina seems endlessly creative) and really, were all wonderful. Bright, fresh, clear flavours and contrasting textures my favourites were a beautiful and very wintry warm apple drink, bacon and apple sauce with bacon croutons (seriously fabulous and comforting – a Danish traditional dish too) and “Rimsalted” cod served on baked celeriac.

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

I highly recommend her gorgeous book, it’s one of my recent favourites – The Scandinavian Cookbook – out now in paperback at £14.99 (or just over £9 on Amazon). Organised by month, every recipe is interesting, and most ingredients are easily accessible. A great Christmas gift, but do get one for yourself too.

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy

Trina Hahnemann's Yule at the Danish Embassy


Recipe: Balsamic & Thyme Duck with Aubergine & Tomato Mograbiah

Balsamic & thyme duck with aubergine & tomato mograbiah

I love a bit of urban foraging. Turning a corner and seeing rosehips, blackberries, wild garlic, the random edibles that grow in random places. This summer I even found a wild apple tree in the hedgerow at the end of the train track.

Another type of urban foraging I love is not really foraging at all, although I call it so. I love finding ethnic food shops and exploring their shelves looking for previously undiscovered delights that I can use at home in my kitchen.

A few years ago, one such forage yielded a bag of mograbiah in a Turkish shop. Like giant “giant cous cous” (really Israeli cous cous – widely available in the Jewish section of larger supermarkets and Jewish food shops), I wondered what it was. The instructions were illegible to me, so I chucked it in my basket and approached the counter.

I intended to ask the lady at the checkout for some advice, when she picked it up and looked at it, and I thought – SWEET! She’s going to tell me what to do with it. What she actually said was – I’ve always wondered what to do with this, do you know what it is?

Ah well. Not to worry, I love a challenge and a little kitchen adventure.

The mograbiah cooks like pasta, and in 15 minutes. It has a fantastically bouncy texture, and is great for supporting other flavours as it doesn’t really have a strong one of its own. Seriously useful then, and a little different too.

The duck, well it’s that season isn’t it? There’s game everywhere and I fancied a little bit of duck. I love roast duck, and duck legs with crispy skins and fork tender flesh, but I also love duck breast, cooked pink, with lovely crispy skin.

How to cook it? I often spice it, but I wanted to veer from that. Duck loves fruit (plum sauce, with cherries, a l’orange etc.) and I had a fantastically fruity and rich balsamic vinegar from Belazu that I knew would be a perfect partner. It’s rich and syrupy, sweet with a tang that would be great with the duck fat. Some aromatic thyme would give it some nice herbaceous notes,and smoked sea salt I find irresistible at the moment, although normal sea salt would do.

What to serve with it? I decided on a bed of bouncy mograbiah salad (why else would I rattle on about it at the start?), with some meaty fried aubergine, fruity fresh tomatoes, and some very thinly sliced acidic onions threaded through the other ingredients. Just one regret, it needed some flat leaf parsley, but you can add that when you make it at home.

It’s a quick dish. In total, if organised and excluding marination time, you could put it together in half an hour. It’s flavours belie this speed, big bolshy and still gentle, it’s a Winter treat. A quality balsamic is important, the Belazu one is really good being fruity and sharp. It’s £12.99 but worth it, a recommended kitchen investment.

WINE: this was lovely with an NZ Pinot Noir. We had one from the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Range which was actually very good when allowed to breathe for half an hour or so. It was a quite reasonable £9.99 too. Quite fruity and light, it worked well with the fruity balsamic vinegar and is a great partner for duck anyway. More traditional Burgundy Pinot Noirs would work very well too.

Balsamic & Thyme Duck with Aubergine & Tomato Mograbiah

Serves 2


Mograbiah Salad:

150g mograbiah
1 average aubergine, diced
8 cherry/baby plum tomatoes, halved
half a red onion, sliced down the middle, and sliced finely after that
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil


2 duck breasts
5 tbsp good balsamic (it needs to be rich)
6 or so sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from the stems
Smoked sea salt or normal sea salt, to season


Combine the balsamic & thyme and marinade the duck in it, skin side down, for at least an hour.

Fry the aubergine in a little oil for 10 – 15 minutes until brown and cooked.

Cook the mograbiah by boiling in salted water for 15 minutes or until tender.

Combine the mograbiah, aubergine, tomatoes, onion and parsley and dress with some olive oil. Balsamic is optional but not necessary as there will be a strong flavour of that from the duck.

Heat a solid based frying pan to a low heat, and fry the duck breasts, skin side down for about 8 minutes until most of the fat has rendered out.

Take the duck out, pour off the fat and quickly rinse the pan (it will be quite sticky) before heating to a medium-high heat, and crisping the duck skin a little for a minute or so. Don’t worry too much if it looks black, the balsamic will do that.

Turn down the heat to medium, and cook the flesh side of the duck for about 4 minutes, when the duck should be cooked to pink. You can check by cutting through the end of one, you will be serving it in slices anyway. For the last minute or so, add the remaining marinade and let it reduce to a sticky sauce which you can pour over the meat. Yoyu may want to thin it out, depending on how much you have left.

Rest the duck for a few minutes, season, then slice and serve on top of the mograbiah.


Recipes from the Archives: Some Top Winter Warmers

November is a lovely month to spend indoors, cooking for friends and family around a roaring fire, mulling some wine or gin or confecting some hot port. Those weeks leading to Christmas demand a certain prudence in advance of silly season, when things can get a little too much.

There’s lots of old recipes on this little blog that have remained very popular over the years, and remain the most read. They could almost be called The Pork Files, however there’s a couple of great vegetarian numbers and others to enjoy also. Some newer readers might not know them, and it’s always nice to have a list of Winter Warmers, so here you are, my top suggestions for those toasty evenings in.

Prawn Curry

A spicy dazzler, and one of the most popular recipes on this site (second recently to it’s vegetarian sibling which will appear later in this post). Buy your spices whole and use the best tinned tomatoes and you will be rewarded with a warming and fruity curry with clear bright flavours.

Pea & Ham Soup

Pea & Ham Soup

A take on Heston’s version published in the Times, this offers lots of big flavours and comfort.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

A 6 hour recipe, but chuck that in your oven first thing on a Sunday morning and you will be rewarded with a perfect roast pork shoulder with sensational crackling. You won’t need a knife for the meat, you could serve it with a spoon if you like. Lots of pork fat will render which will be perfect for roast potatoes.

Five Spice Duck Breast

Gentle, soothing, and very quick to make. The crispy spiced duck skin topping the pink tender meat is great for weekday evenings.

Roast Pork Belly, cooked simply

Simple roast pork belly is a winning recipe. The fat renders out leaving gentle, tender bit, and crispy crackling. Bone in is best giving a much richer flavour.

Roast Pork & Black Bean Chilli

Perfect for leftovers from your roast pork belly or shoulder above, it’s a great follow up to a Sunday roast on a Monday evening. Again, bright fresh spices and good quality beans make a huge difference.

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This is one of the most popular recipes I’ve ever posted. People email about it frequently and meat eaters and vegetarians both love the big flavours. It’s healthy too.

Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

Another chickpea recipe that is also very popular, thbis makes a great snack and is perfect for lunch.

So, there you have it. A good starting point, I think and I do hope that you enjoy them. More Winter Warmers will be winging their way to you soon.

Supper Club: Shed Likes Food

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

Shed Likes Food is good, it’s very good. Quirky and petite, not unlike host Nicola, it’s a warm, intimate and charming supper club based in Newington Green. They’re definitely not in it for the money, charging only the cost of ingredients. Madness! Some supper clubs are more about the experience than the food, Nicola comfortably covers both, and makes it look very easy.

On the night we visited, Nicola’s usual partner in crime, boyfriend Andrew, was away, so she was ably assisted instead by Alexis of Lex Eat (another excellent supper club, it’s a serious omission that I haven’t written about it yet).

The Supper Club is hosted in a great shed at the end of her garden. Beautifully decorated and warm, we ate dinner with a small and very friendly group of people, 9 guests in total, and our hosts. The food was rustic and very well executed. Lots of big flavours – very much the kind of food I love.

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

We started with appetisers of padron peppers, spiced seeds, marinated olives with a bottle of London beer provided by our hosts, before relocating to The Shed where we feasted on generous portions of shared starters. Delicious polpetine, smoked tuna with capers, shallots and parmesan, cheese with membrillo and savoy cabbage with chorizo were all very good, there really were no criticisms.

Shed Likes Food Supper Club

A bold and flavour rich main of Ossobuco with risotto followed. The risotto was creamy and fruity, really very good. The Osssobucco was tender and delicious. We finished by plucking any marrow from the bones with relish.

We finished with an excellent dessert of sticky ginger cake with clotted cream, salted caramel and pralines served with a hot glass of delicious PX Sherry followed by coffee. Wines are BYO and I had brought a delicious bottle of white Grillo that I had brought back from Sicily. Definitely a wine I will be seeking out again.


I really wish she would request a higher donation. She charges only enough to cover her costs, a mere £15. Yes, FIFTEEN POUNDS for all of that lovely food, a beer at the start and a shot of PX!. We did, of course, leave a healthy tip, I could not have left in good conscience otherwise!

There are no further dates this year but Shed Likes Food should be back with a bang next year – look out for it. Nicola also has a very good food blog too where she posts recipes, check that out too.


Recipe: Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly and Chickpea Stew

Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly and Chickpea Stew

Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly and Chickpea Stew

It has been a good week for cooking. I love it when Winter saunters in and I have so many excuses to retreat to my kitchen and cook up my own storm to match the one outside. A mid week shopping trip provided excellent ingredients, particularly the Iberico pork belly I used in my last recipe, I used it again today.

I tend to cook old favourites right now, and it occured to me that I haven’t really blogged them. I always like to cook new things and experiment for recipes that wind up here, but I’ve decided to start blogging my old favourites, those soothing winter warmers, over the next little while.

The Iberico pork belly is a big fatty piece of salted pork belly from those finest of Spanish pigs. It’s like super fat pancetta that when rendered, releases smoky rich fat that adds a beautiful dimension to any dish, I am not sure I’ve ever had anything quite like it. The lovely Iberico pigs  spend their lives happily wandering munching on acorns, and then they end up on plates everywhere, luxurious and expensive. This piece wound it’s way to me via Selfridge’s Food Hall.

In a previous post I said that it was 80% fat, really it seems to be more like 95%. It’s very, very, rich. I diced it into cubes, then sauteed it, watching it melt like ice cubes, the fat rendering and spitting, unhappy at being released but calming as it rendered further. When only small crisping cubes were left, I added the chorizo, letting it sparkle in the Iberico fat, releasing it’s own orange fragrant fat and joining the party. 

This is not an everyday dish, as this amount of animal fat ,whilst delicious, would surely cripple if regular. But treat yourself occasionally, with a bold glass of rioja to accompany and I promise you a lovely evening.

Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly & Chickpea Stew

Serves 4


100g Iberico pork belly or pancetta
200g hot fresh cooking chorizo (I use Brindisa)
500g cooked chickpeas (substitute 2 tins)
1 tin good tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
500ml good light stock like chicken
A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley


Dice and sauté the iberico pork/pancetta for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, and rendering most of the fat. Add the chorizo for anothyer 3/4 minutes, until seared and the fat is orange. Then add the finely chopped garlic cloves for 30 seconds or so.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and stock. Stir thoroughly, and cook for 30 minutes.

Take off the heat and stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve with good crusty bread or toast. With a compulsory glass of rioja.



Some Curling and a Recipe for Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch

Hendrick's Trip

Curling Stones

Folks, I’ve found my sport. SPORT, on a food blog? Does it help if I tell you we played for haggis? And what about if I told you that what this post is actually about is a recipe for Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch?

HOT GIN PUNCH? I know, so bear with me while I tell you about, *cough*, sport.

So, sport, eh? I found my sport, and my sport is curling.

I wasn’t happy about the idea of going curling initially, and spent the entire trip there thinking up schemes to get out of it, but one hot gin punch later, I thought I would give it a go.

Chasing a 20kg granite stone up and down the ice with a sweeping brush – I hate them too, almost as much as sport – sounds like a nightmare, but it proved to be fun. The ice won’t allow you to run, or it will take you with a fall, so measured giggly forays up and down the ice with a sweeping brush proved entertaining. SWEEP | SWEEP | SWEEP they called, and sweep I did. We came second.

Hendrick's Trip

Curling for a Haggis

We got to play for a haggis but sadly we didn’t win it. Next time! I hear I can play it in Surrey, and I actually plan to. It is fun you see.

Hendrick's Trip

Second! But I did get to wear this awesome hat.

We thawed out after curling with a delicious Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch. Magical in many ways, I love that it has been adapted from Charles Dickens’ own recipe. Now, where are my fingerless gloves?!

“Punch, my dear Copperfield, like time and tide, waits for no man”

Hendrick's Trip

Hendrick's Hot Gin Punch


Three brimming teacups of Hendrick’s gin
Another three of Madeira wine
Three cloves
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Large teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Two teaspoons of brown sugar
Six large lemon and orange twists
Small slice of orange
One fresh pineapple
Four large spoons of honey
Juice of two lemons

Mix all ingredients in a pot. Warm but not quite till ebullition. Let your concoction cook without boiling for 20 minutes to a half hour. While it cooks the taste will change, make it to your own taste balancing the sweet/sour balance with honey and lemon. You can also re warm the mix, sometimes the punch will get better and better as you cook it more and more. When you think it is ready, pour in a teapot and serve hot in tea cups with gingerbread on the side.

Adapted from the original 1850 recipe found in the book Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, Great-Grandson of Charles Dickens, this recipe is inspired by Charles Dickens’ own gin punch recipe, so it is the etiquette to quote while pouring the first cup: “Punch, my dear Copperfield, like time and tide, waits for no man”, David Copperfield, 1850.