In the kitchen: new cook books

I was lucky enough to receive three new cook books for Christmas, Two of the books are in Swedish, which I highly appreciate as it gives me the perfect opportunity to practice the language and make some delicious food at the same time. Actually, recipe reading is a really fun and potentially useful way to pick up vocabulary, though not sure how often in daily conversation one says “beat the mixture until smooth” or “bring to the boil and simmer gently.” (Side note: I lived in Denmark for 8.5 years and went to Danish classes. My husband is Swedish and so it is one of the languages of our home and family. I know lots of Swedish words but don’t speak it).

Käka Grönt by Julia Tuvesson

First up is Malmö based Julia Tuvesson’s second book Käka Grönt (Eat Green). As the name implies, it is a book of vegetarian recipes, both familiar and new. I decided to make the melanzane alla parmigiana as aubergines (eggplant) are in season just now, and it is so easy to make, being basically a tomato and aubergine stew topped with lots of cheese. It was excellent served with a crisp salad and garlic bread, and a definite ‘make again’. Another side note: it is a Swedish tradition to write a small rhyming couplet to attach with Christmas presents, and the little note that came with this book you see on top of the recipe says “Greener cooking – there’s no excuse when you know what things to use”. Indeed – there really is no more excuse!

Sommarmat På Stora Fat

The other Swedish book was Sommarmat på stora fat edited by Ulla Karlström and Cecilia Lundin from the Swedish gastronomical magazine Allt om Mat It is full of easy and quick recipes for summer eating. There are several things that would make good weekday meals, and I decided to start with a pasta dish with hot smoked salmon, lemon butter topped with a breadcrumb/herb mixture. This was also very good, and a definite ‘make again’ dish, and perfect for one of those evenings when you want something comforting on the table quickly.

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Extra Good Things

Santa Claus also brought me the latest Ottolenghi Test Kitchen book Extra Good Things. Another collection of interesting, mostly non-meat based dishes, as you would expect can be found from OTC. The book also introduces us to the verb Ottolengify, “to make something feel unequivocally Ottolenghi, or add flair, a slight twist to the familiar” as in “I Ottolenghified my roast aubergine with some feta.”

So it came as a bit of a surprise to see the tattie scone – that perfect breakfast accompaniment that hails from Scotland – being ‘Ottolenghified’. Really…. (Jo over And Anyways… I know will appreciate this). Well, to be fair the actual recipe was pretty traditional, but the ‘sausage gravy’ and sour cream and mustard dip are a far cry from the black pudding, bacon, eggs and baked beans you might usually find accompanying a tattie scone. Anyway, I got up early on Tuesday morning and made a batch, and while they did not all look beautiful, they tasted good. Karl had bacon with his and I had a poached egg. Check out Jo’s recipe if you fancy making them.

Notes from a Small Kitchen Island by Deborah Robertson

Finally, I also purchased a book just before Christmas, Deborah Robertson’s Notes from a Small Kitchen Island. I immediately loved the title of the first chapter Not like Mother used to make, where Robertson states she can cook because her mother can’t. I can fully relate to this, as I also do not have a box of my mother’s favourite recipes or my grandmothers’ baking (both my grandmothers died before I was born, and my mother’s mother never cooked). This is a volume of wonderful stories about food rather than things I will ever likely cook (a chilli for 40 people for example), but it is a great book to have around as it brought a smile to my face when I read it, and there are some great dessert and baking ideas.

With today being a rainy day and the last day of my holiday, I decided to make her cheddar, chive and Marmite scones. Marmite, if you don’t know, is a strongly flavoured yeast spread, that is excellent spread thinly on hot, buttered toast at breakfast. A note on Marmite – British readers might wonder at the Marmite in the image below, but this is New Zealand Marmite. Vegemite is the Australian version.

Anyway, I thought that the idea of adding Marmite to cheese scones sounded like a good idea, so I made a batch, cutting them into triangles rather than squares as suggested. Verdict: these were good, but a standard cheese scone made with a decent strong cheddar works just as well.

Have you tried cooking anything new? I’m sure a lot of you out there cook in more than one language – what pitfalls do you come across?

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on or


  1. Pitfalls from my Polish cookery books – some are in grams – others dg – dekagrams – ie 10dg is 100g.
    My cousins talk in “deko”.
    I used to make loads of mistakes by switching in my head in the middle of a recipe.
    I now jot down all the amounts in gms before I start.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! They used dcl in Sweden too. I have New Zealand measuring cups, Swedish measuring cups and scales….. definitely a good idea to write down the weights beforehand!


  2. This week Mrs T found two recipes in a newspaper food supplement that she could actually cook using ingredients bought in Langholm. This is a very rare thing and she might try following them. Usually recipes contain ingredients that we would have to travel miles to acquire. This limits our culinary adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find it very interesting that you come from two generations of non cooks! Or did the men in the family cook? My grandmother on my mother’s side baked and was a good cook, but her husband made amazing things – I have some of those recipes. My mom was also a very good cook, but really, she would protest that anyone can put a chicken on a rotisserie and make a salad. She used to make her father’s German and Indian recipes (family of Lutheran ministers and missionaries – Grandpa was born in India. My father’s side was Swedish/German, but his mum was German, so he didn’t bring any Swedish recipes to my kitchen. Except for the tradition of a sort of smorgasbord on Christmas eve. I love food and food traditions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dad had a few dishes he cooked (he always did the roast chicken and made pierogi) but the big influence on me in the kitchen was my older brother (18 years older than me) who got me interested in food and cooking. I believe my dad’s mother was a very good baker, but I never met her. What a fascinating mix of food traditions in your family and to have your grandfather’s recipes! How wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those cookbooks look great!! I’m sure you will get some great dishes from them. I haven’t tried making these but I want to, pierogi. I read a book last week where a woman cooked these and everyone loved them. I first saw them made on one of Martha Stewart’s shows. She made them with the help of her mother. They sound delicious. I will let you know how they turn out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes do please let me know how your pierogi work out! I’ve only made them once as it was a log process but you might just be able to persuade me to have another go.


  5. How did I miss this post??? I have Notes From a Small Kitchen sitting waiting for me to read and Ottolenghi was on my list for Santa but no one bought it for me. I have it on good authority though that my dog has ordered it for my birthday in March… As for vegemite and cheese scones? It’s a yes from me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed reading Notes from a Small Kitchen but more for the words than the recipes I think. I hope your dog goes out and gets the Ottolenghi for you 🙂

      The scones were really good – highly recommended.

      Liked by 1 person

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