Sparrman, Bonnie

Bonnie Sparrman is a culinary instructor in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. She is the author of two books written to inspire mothers.

Taste and See: Chokladbiskvier (Fall/Winter 2014)

Nothing splits the inky darkness of a Scandinavian December like a slew of candles shining over a platter of Christmas cookies.

Helena’s Swedish Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce (Fall/Winter 2015)

It’s a humble apple cake that ties me to Helena, my college roommate in Sweden. Sometimes on weekends we visited her family where her mother set a beautiful table and served incredibly tasty food. Everything about Helena’s home drew me in and made me feel alive and alert.

Kladdkaka (Spring/Summer 2016)

What is it that causes a person to return time and again to a certain coffee shop, friend’s home, park bench, library table or even to a specific corner of the airport? Why do we feel more welcome in one place, and less so in another?

Mazariner (Fall/Winter 2016)

I shared this with Eric on our return flight, asking “Why do you think I should write about mazariner?” Grinning, he quickly answered, “Because they are good!”

Fresh Herb Roasted Salmon (Spring/Summer 2017)

Food Ruts…we all fall into them. Even as I write, I’m chomping on one of my worst offenders … Skinny-Pop Popcorn, which if one eats half the bag, has nothing to do with “skinny.” But there are meal ruts as well: Taco Tuesday, pizza on Friday, burgers on Saturday. Or perhaps you begin each morning with the same breakfast cereal at least six days a week.

Skorpa for fika (Fall/Winter 2017)

Now for a truly Scandinavian classic. Skorpa may seem elementary, but it is so delicious, it would be a shame to go without. This crispy, golden slice-of-a-cookie, is a delightful marriage of flavor and texture. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or cappuccino; similar to its Italian cousin, biscotti, except it is more tender and easier on the teeth, thanks to the addition of butter.

Spatchcock chicken and roasted root vegetables (Spring/Summer 2018)

It’s easy to get carried away designing an elaborate menu for a special celebration. Some of us pore over much-loved cookbooks or food blogs hunting for fresh ideas to please our guests. If you’re like me, you recall erstwhile Thanksgiving or Easter feasts and decide which dish warrants repeating. We imagine holiday gatherings, the table spread with a pressed cloth, flowers arranged, candles flickering warmth. I write a prep-list and draw a picture of the dinner plate, arranging the food two-dimensionally days before it is in my hands. I consult with trusted cooks: Alice Waters, Suzanne Goin, and of course, Julia.

Chocolate Icebox Cake (Fall/Winter 2018)

Imagine a cake that becomes a family legend. It all began for me when I agreed to marry Eric over three decades ago. I was informed by my husband-to-be that this cake has been the center of birthdays in his family for two generations.

Homemade yogurt and granola (Spring/Summer 2019)

Since you are reading this, I’ll assume you did something I did today. You got out of bed, got dressed, and hopefully ate something for breakfast.

Prinsesstårte (Fall/Winter 2019)

Discovering a new food anchors a slice of time in my memory like nothing else. Perhaps this is the case for you as well, but I doubt it is this way for everyone. Mnemonic peculiarities aside, it was December of my twelfth year when I first laid eyes on a princess torte.

Something snappy on the side (Spring/Summer 2020)

A favorite side dish that frequents the menu at our house is a classic Scandinavian holdout. Very plainly, it is inlagda gurkor, or fresh pickled cucumbers. They are so simple, on first thought I doubted them article-worthy, but obviously, something changed my mind.

Tart Flambé (Alsatian or Nordic) (Fall/Winter 2020)

The recent perusal of two distinct collections of books leaves me with similar thoughts in regards to each. The first is my assortment of cookbooks and the second are the 66 books we call the Bible.

A French chemist, caramelization, and a summer galette (Spring/Summer 2021)

A highly anticipated miracle appears every springtime outside our dining room window on the south side of our house. Mind you, we live in Minnesota, where the earth thaws much later than I think is reasonable…but that’s another story. I’m grateful that sometime in April or May when the ice breaks up on the lakes, we peer out our window to spy the wrinkly sprouts of rhubarb bravely poking up to grab all the sunshine they can find. Occasionally a late snow hinders their progress, but we know the rhubarb will prevail.

Persistence and Dacquoise Torte (Fall/Winter 2021)

In the kitchen, persistence and patience are as indispensable to the cook as a good sharp knife. However, I humbly admit this is something I’ve been slow to discover, and even slower to live out.

Gougeres share the aroma of welcome (Spring/Summer 2022)

The title of this column has always been Taste and See, but for a moment let’s consider another of our five senses that is paramount to cooking and making others feel welcome. Let’s focus on our sense of smell.

Classic chocolate mousse (Fall/Winter 2022)

The undulating rhythms of life are spelled out on the pages of our calendars and also by the expressions of nature in each season. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon sketches seasons for every activity under heaven: “A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to uproot…a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to keep and a time to throw away….”

Quiche (Spring/Summer 2023)

If any food has ever suffered unfair slander, it’s quiche. Hard to say whether that’s due to its cutesy two-hundred-year old moniker from a remote corner of Alsace, or to the fact that it’s nearly impossible to find a truly excellent one at a restaurant, or because in the eighties an author who satirized masculinity claimed quiche was strictly ladies’ food. Some of you may remember Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche (1982).