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Smoked Chicken, Mustard Yoghurt and Poppy Seeds

Food

Simon Bajada is an Australian food and lifestyle photographer who relocated to Stockholm in 2012 with his Swedish wife, Linda.  Here, surrounded by completely new and different seasonal produce, Simon developed a great interest in Scandinavian cuisine – a passion which has culminated in a new book authored and photographed by Simon entitled The New Nordic, published by Hardie Grant, and out this month.

We’re thrilled today to welcome Simon as our Tasty Tuesday contributor for June!  He will share five simple, delicious recipes from his new book, inspired by his second home.

2nd June, 2015
Simon Bajada
Tuesday 2nd June 2015

I first met my wife Linda, who is from Sweden, while working in a kitchen in Stockholm. We married and lived in Melbourne for a number of years, often returning to Stockholm to visit. It was during this time that my interest in Nordic cuisine grew, and it was only natural when we relocated to Stockholm in 2012 that I began to seriously research the food.

My line of work as a food and lifestyle photographer means I am lucky to work alongside so many talented chefs whose food constantly inspires me. When people think of Scandinavian food they tend to think of either Swedish meatballs or Noma. The aim of The New Nordic is to bridge this gap: there is a middle ground between classic Scandinavian food and the ultra modern that is clean, clever, interesting and very accessible. This is the food that I love to cook and share.

I also like the idea of only using produce that is in season, and the cooler Nordic climate often limits the produce available to us, so it prompts you to think differently and play with technique. The Nordic countries are currently experiencing a well overdue boom in food interest, so it’s a great time to be immersed in it.

This sweet mustard yoghurt dressing is extremely versatile and goes well with pretty much everything. It is particularly compatible with the smoked chicken in this recipe. Poppy seeds are very popular in Nordic cuisine and breads are often sprinkled with them. A famous crispbread is covered with less-common white poppy seeds and legend tells it that these crispbreads were later banned from prisons because inmates tried to get a kick from them!

As well as being a great combination of flavours and textures, this salad is also an example of the ease with which you can make Nordic dishes from what is already in your refrigerator. Sure, you may not have smoked chicken on hand but it’s easy enough to find (or you could even make some yourself).

Ingredients (Serves Four)

For the salad

  • 100g fresh baby spinach leaves (or a combination of Oz cress and spinach)
  • 75g peas, thawed if frozen, if fresh blanch peas in boiling water for 2 minutes
  • 2 x 200g smoked chicken breasts, thinly sliced crossways
  • 150g kohlrabi or celeriac, thinly sliced and lightly pickled (see pickling solution below)
  • 2 tbsp of lightly toasted poppy seeds

For the mustard yoghurt dressing

  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp Finnish sweet mustard (or American mustard, plus a teaspoon of honey)

For the light pickling solution

  • 250ml apple cider vinegar
  • 250ml cold water
  • 150g Caster superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp non-idoised salt
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves

Method

Thinly slice the smoked chicken breasts and set aside in a non-reactive bowl.

Bring all the pickling solution ingredients to the boil in a saucepan then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring, for 2 minutes, until all the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool, then pour over the smoked chicken breast. Set aside.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Arrange the spinach on serving plates and top with the peas, chicken slices and kohlrabi or celeriac. Scatter over the poppy seeds.

Dollop some of the yoghurt dressing onto the sides of the plates so it can be mixed through the ingredients while eating.

The New Nordic by Simon Bajada is published by Hardie Grant and available here for $49.95.

The New Nordic by Simon Bajada is published by Hardie Grant and available here for $49.95.

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