Toast Skagen & Other Swedish Successes & Failures

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleThis month’s LA Food Bloggers Meet Up is dedicated to ethnic heritage, and we are to bring a dish that relates to ours. Since I am Swedish, I set out to find a yummy dish to showcase my cultural background and make my Swedish Grandma proud.

Growing up in Iowa – which is full of Scandinavians – my Grandma Nelson led the pack when she made krumkake, fattigman and rosettes.  I wanted to make one of these specialties, but I realized they all require scary special equipment.

cathy nelson arkle(If you haven’t seen these before, there a good chance your not Scandinavian)

The Swedes are among the world’s top coffee consumers (only 2nd to Finland).  They love sweets with their good, strong coffee, so I thought I would start with something simple like Swedish Nut Cookies.

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleSwedish Food I Would Never Brag Blog About 

After baking the Swedish Nut Cookies I was disappointed.  They tasted good, but were dry and crumbly.  I wrote this off to a problem of conversion ratios, as it couldn’t possibly be my baking skills.

Photo by cathy nelson arkleI moved on to a Sockerkaka med Applen (Swedish Apple Cake).  Every good Swede has a great apple cake recipe in their arsenal. This recipe had all the makings of wonderful treat until…. I cut into the cake and was horrified, to find it filled with worms.  And it tasted bland, like I imagine worms would.  This experiment ended up in the trash.  My baking skills were beginning to be called into question.

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleI was determined to get an apple cake down because it is so popular in Sweden, and I tried another recipe that didn’t involve shredding apples.  It was much prettier, but my husband and I thought it was average at best as we ate half of it while we were criticizing critiquing it.  The rest is sitting in my refrigerator, as my ego can’t throw away another dish …. yet.  (I am now thinking about researching my genealogy, as I would prefer to be French).

Swedish Successes… Finally

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleMy next attempt at not disgracing my Swedish heritage came with Ärtsoppa (Swedish Yellow Pea Soup). This turned out well and I will blog about it later because it’s a great story. But it just wouldn’t have worked for a potluck, as it doesn’t taste very good at room temperature.

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleSo back to the drawing board I went.  My grandmother made the best Sandbakkels (Swedish sugar cookie) so I pulled out my molds to relive this wonderful childhood memory. They were a success, but I had too few tins and not enough patience to make this for the blog event.

Time was running out and I needed inspiration, as was feeling like a Swedish misslyckande (failure).  I knew what was needed: a trip to IKEA  to reconnect me to my roots.  After wandering around the warehouse maze, I left with things I really didn’t need, but I found my Swedish inspiration, in the form of beautiful herring roe. These would influence my final, and best-loved, Swedish creation.

Today’s Swedish Winner Recipe

Photo by Cathy Nelson ArkleToast Skagen (shrimp salad on rye toast with herring roe) was a winner!  I served it on a homemade Quick Rye Bread that was super easy to make.
Click here for recipe.

A few simple ingredients make this recipe an easy appetizer for your next party. You can cut the recipe in half and put it on a full piece of toast to serve two.

Makes 40 hors d’ oeuvres.

Toast Skagen (Shrimp Salad on Rye Toast)
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Swedish
Toast Skagen in Sweden is an appetizer that means PARTY. The sprig of dill on the top serves as a fanfare. This recipe can be in advance as the rye bread won't get soggy from the topping.
  • 2½ cups medium shrimp, cooked
  • ½ cup shallots, chopped
  • ½ cup pickled cucumbers, medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • ⅓ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Rye bread, sliced, toasted and cut into small squares
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons white fish roe, or any type of caviar
  • Pinch sea salt
  1. In a bowl, mix together shrimp, shallots, pickled cucumbers, crème fraiche, dill, salt, and pepper.
  2. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  3. Cover the rye toast with a healthy portion of shrimp salad, and top with chives, caviar, a sprig of dill and sea salt.
If you are short on time, buy rye cocktail bread for your Skagen.

Swedish Cucumber Salad with Dill and Parsley

For a great Swedish Cucumber Salad with Dill and Parsley
recipe check out Dorothy’s at

I no longer feel like a Swedish failure, but I still think there is a French relative lurking around in my background.  Somebody please come forward!
…and then, she paused for a French thought.

27 thoughts on “Toast Skagen & Other Swedish Successes & Failures

  1. Nan

    Cathy, I’ll share my French heritage with you! But thanks for exposing me to some of my long lost culinary heritage. 🙂

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  3. Mike Z.

    Hi Cathy, your recipe for Toast Skagen looks simply wonderful, best I’ve found (beautiful photo too). I am want to make this for a Scandanavian themed party I will be attending. I really like the addition of the “pickled” cucumbers, but are these regular dill pickles, or something else? Please let me know! I will post a review as soon I am clear on this and can make then for the party (this Christmas Eve). Thanks in advance.

      1. Mike Z.

        Cathy, thanks for your prompt response! I was afraid regular dill pickles might be too overpowering in flavor. Can’t wait to make your Toast Skagen and will let you know how it turns out.

          1. Mike Z.

            Hi Cathy: Here’s the review. Recap: I was requested to bring two Scandinavian themed appetizers to a Christmas Eve dinner for 14 people. These were going to be the ONLY appetizers at the party. No pressure, Lol! Anyway, I decided on your recipe for Toast Skagen and another. The first appetizer I made consisted of a slice of cucumber, spread with onion and chive cream cheese, then topped with a slice of smoked salmon. I added a tiny dollop of Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayonnaise, and a couple of capers (neither of which are particularly Scandinavian, but added a flavor kick). By the time I finished 28 of those, I only had one hour left to prepare the Toast Skagen! I am a slow assembler and always enjoy a glass of wine too (probably explains the lack of speed). At that point, I realized that I did not have time to pickle the cucumbers. In a panic, I found some spicy garlicky pickle slices in the fridge and chopped up a third cup per your recipe. I also used the pre-bought rye cocktail bread that I lightly toasted in the oven. Everything else per your recipe. FYI, I found a Swedish Caviar at my local Polish Market, of all places. Of the 2 appetizers, your Toast Skagen was definitely the bigger hit! I will absolutely make it again for a future party. I had planned to add a tablespoon or 2 of Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce (no, I am NOT employed by Trader Joe’s) or a Dijon Mustard for a little kick, but forgot in my haste. By the time everyone arrived at the party, all 56 appetizers had been devoured. I returned home with 2 big empty trays, lots of compliments and a big smile on my face! Thank you so much for you wonderful recipe.

          2. Cathy Post author

            Thank you so much Mike for letting me know how it worked for you. I love that you found Swedish Caviar at a Polish Market! I am so happy this recipe was a hit at your party.

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