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Celebrating Swedish Midsummer

In Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve is one of the most important days of the year, rivaling Christmas and New Year’s Eve with its festive spirit and traditions. Midsummer is always celebrated on a weekend between June 19 and 26, and it spans beyond Sweden and into all of the Scandinavian countries. Similar to Summer Solstice, Midsummer celebrations are held to welcome summertime.

Midsummer was originally a pagan holiday with a number of superstitions associated with the celebration. Midsummer Night is considered to be a magical night, as it is the best time for telling people’s futures. Plants are said to acquire healing powers on that one night of the year. On their way home, young women are supposed to pick seven different species of flowers and lay them under their pillow. At night, their one true love appears to them in a dream.

Nowadays, Midsummer’s Eve is less about the magic and more about the tradition of gathering with friends and family to eat, drink, and celebrate the longest, lightest day of the year. The maypole is raised and decorated with flowers and greenery, and people of all ages play “Små grodorna,” a dancing game during which you hop around the maypole while singing about little frogs. The menu traditionally consists of a smörgåsbord of treats, including smoked salmon, pickled herring, boiled potatoes with dill and crème fresh, fresh baked breads and pastries, elderberry cocktails, homemade schnapps, and to finish it off, a Swedish strawberry midsummer cake, or “Gräddtårta med jordgubbar.”

Here is a list of books you can find at the library to help you plan your Midsummer’s Eve smörgåsbord.

Scandinavian baking : sweet and savory cakes and bakes, for bright days and cozy nights by Trine Hahnemann Divided into two main sections on cakes and breads, sandwiched between features on Midsummer and Christmas, this is the ultimate compendium on authentic Scandinavian baking with a modern twist. A world of steamed-up kitchen windows against a frosty backdrop, delicious Danish pastries, crusty dense breads and creamy layer cakes are summoned up in Trine Hahnemann's spectacularly beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking. Cakes abound, with every kind of Danish pastry you could ever wish for, a cookie for every occasion, mouthwatering layer cakes, coffee cakes, cream buns plus snippets of baking history, so you can learn all you need to know about Scandinavian baking.

Smörgåsbord : the art of Swedish breads and savory treats by Johanna Kindvall  A savory spin on Swedish baking, pastry, and party cuisine from the coauthor of Fika. An illustrated cookbook on the classic breads and savory foods of a Swedish smörgåsbord that can be enjoyed for parties and holidays, as well as for snacking and small meals. Includes traditional and contemporary Swedish recipes for dishes such as rye bread, chicken liver pate, elderflower cured trout, fresh cheese, swedish deviled eggs, buttery red cabbage, and infused aquavit liqueurs.

Tina Nordstrom's Scandinavian cooking : simple recipes for home-style Scandinavian cuisine by Tina Nordstrom  Sweden's very own master chef, Tina Nordstrom is here to stay with this lavish and delightful cookbook. Forget all the do's and don'ts that take the fun out of cooking. Perfectionism isn't a word that exists in Tina's kitchen, and you certainly don't need a fancy set of kitchen utensils, unlimited time, or rare ingredients to prepare amazing food with this cookbook. Tina opens the door into her kitchen and shares more than two hundred of her favorite dishes. She provides plenty of her tried-and-true tips, shortcuts, and suggestions for expanding your kitchen wisdom and culinary know-how. Using Tina's simple methods, you can transform one dish into a flavorful variant, reinvent family classics for a new kind of taco night, and jazz up the week's leftovers with a dash of spice and some fresh new ingredients.

Scandilicious baking by Signe Johansen  Scandinavian baking is among the best in the world. Deeply ingrained in the culture, it is a distinctive part of the Nordic identity, history and well-being. Welcome to a place where cakes made with real butter are celebrated rather than feared, where entire festivals are dedicated to baking and where it is believed there is nothing quite like the thrill of making one's own bread. Following on from the success of SCANDILICIOUS, Signe Johansen shares with us a mouth-watering selection of traditional and modern baked treats. Think moreish mÿsli bread hot from the oven; pumpkin, cheese and sage muffins that pack a real flavour punch; and irresistable redcurrant mazarin tart or upside-down blueberry cake - perfect for summer entertaining.

Breaking breads by Uri Scheft  Scheft takes the combined influences of his Scandinavian heritage, his European pastry training, and his Israeli and New York City homes to provide sweet and savory baking recipes that cover European, Israeli, and Middle Eastern favorites.

Bakeland : Nordic treats inspired by nature by Marit Hovland ; foreword by Trine Hahnemann  Come along on a journey to Bakeland, where nature and flavor combine. In this collection of delectable desserts inspired by nature through the seasons, Norwegian baker Marit Hovland takes a delightfully creative approach to making sweets, using flowers, leaves, seashells, trees, clouds, and snow to fuel her imagination. There are treats for every time of year: chocolate-filled bird's egg cookies for spring, a decadent summer lime cake blanketed in forget-me-nots, cinnamon macarons colored like fall apples, and cupcakes topped with winter snowflakes. By following the easy, step-by-step instructions with photos, anyone can make these treats--no special equipment or skills required. And Hovland's emphasis on using your own creativity means you can't go wrong--have fun and let nature inspire you.

Fika : the art of the Swedish coffee break, with recipes for pastries, breads, and other treats by Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall  An illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition of fika--a twice-daily coffee break--including recipes for traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about Swedish coffee culture, and the roots and modern incarnations of this cherished custom. Sweden is one of the world's top coffee consuming nations, and the social coffee break known as fika is a cultural institution. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika is part of the national identity and a marker of the Swedish ideal of taking time to appreciate life's small joys. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or while at home, and Fika is full of inspiration to elevate these daily coffee breaks. In this adorable and illustrated cookbook, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall share more than 45 classic recipes from their motherland--from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread--while also examining what fika means to Swedes and how we can all integrate its values into our daily lives.

Scandinavian gatherings : from afternoon fika to midsummer feast : 70 simple recipes & crafts for everyday celebrations by Melissa Bahan  This charming seasonal entertaining/craft/cookbook for fans of Scandinavian style and tradition includes 10 seasonal family-friendly party ideas for casual and festive gatherings, 40 traditional sweet and savory recipes (tweaked for an American palate), and 30 easy crafts perfect for decorating and entertaining. Includes Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish flavors and traditions.

Open sandwiches : 70 smorrebrod ideas for morning, noon and night by Trine Hahnemann  The massive trend for all things Scandi, healthier eating and the profile of New Nordic cuisine worldwide, have led to the renaissance of the open sandwich. Smorrebrod are the classic Danish variety and in the hands of chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann, they are a treat for the senses as well as the taste buds. Traditionally using a rye bread base, they can be topped with a huge variety of vegetables and pickles, fish, meats, herbs, salads - and can even include sweet options. Trine offers 50 recipes for delicious, healthy open sandwiches that are beautiful enough to serve at a dinner party or simply make a quick and filling snack using leftovers. From quick-cured salmon to blue cheese with apple, the delightful recipes are accompanied by photographs from acclaimed Danish photographer Columbus Leth."--Publisher's description.

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