To continue with our series of Restaurant Cookbook Reviews, today we decided to bring you the Ekstedt Cookbook Review.
After stints at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, Niklas Ekstedt opened Michelin-starred Ekstedt in Stockholm in 2011, showcasing innovative Nordic cooking. At Ekstedt, only Scandinavian wood is used in the restaurant’s smokers or wood-fired oven, imparting unique character and flavor. Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking is a reflection of this philosophy, thus becoming an open-fire cooking essential companion, featuring insightful tips on tools and techniques, plus a collection of recipes to be enjoyed year-round.
Niklas's passion for cooking on flames began when he built a small, makeshift fire pit on his patio. The interest ignited a passion that saw him research methods of cooking all but lost with the arrival of gas and electricity in domestic homes, focusing his experiments around birch wood which, he explains, played a pivotal role in domestic Swedish life for generations.
At his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in Stockholm, every dish is prepared using these traditional methods, with the restaurant's wood-fired oven, which reaches temperatures up to 500ºC, being used to prepare everything from vegetables to bread, cakes, and meat. The restaurant is at the very heart and center of the book, providing the foundation for Niklas' stories of seasonal, and regional, traditional Swedish cooking.
In Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking he shares details on how everything is achieved at the restaurant. Nikla's passion is contagious as he moves through techniques such as cold and hot smoking, using embers, hay and open fires effectively and flambadou – cooking by basting with burning fat. The results of Ekstedt's prolific research is evident in his recipes. Wild ingredients and ancient techniques are used to create clean, highly finessed plates of food, such as Langoustines Seared with burning beef fat and served alongside a burning birch wood-Infused ream thickened with ättika and a smoked parsnip.
There appear to be no constraints on what Niklas can achieve with fire, with recipes ranging from a delicate lmond inancier with irch udge to Hot-Smoked Herring, Clams eritage Carrots, and a Wild Duck Confit Overnight-Baked Cabbage.
Like all restaurant books we reviewed, this one falls into the "aspirational" category - it is about ideas, techniques, and approaches.
However, Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking came to change the idea we have about restaurant cookbooks. Yes, of course, that it will be difficult to replicate all the recipes in this book, but many recipes are easy to make with common ingredients. The recipes for things like the onion puree/brussel sprouts and many of the flatbreads are delicious and incredibly simple.
At the end of the book, you'll find a section, The End, where you have a lot of basic recipes that you can easily replicate at home. In this section, you'll find recipes that are essential to Ekstedt and that you can easily use in your own kitchen. Some of the recipes we are loving to play with are Hay Salt, Charcoal Cream, and Juniper Butter.
Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking is one of the best restaurant cookbooks we had the opportunity to review. It not only inspires you to get back to basics through new ideas, techniques, and approaches but it will also make you look at Traditions with a new set of eyes. Contrary to what happens with most restaurant books you can actually use this book in your kitchen to make incredible meals. If you are interested in cooking over fire, and if you love the challenge of cooking with live fire this book is a must-have.
Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking is a fantastic restaurant cookbook that will convince you to get back to basics where you can. If cooking over fire is your thing, this book is for you.