Meatballs and Magic with Artist Mikki Nylund

Aug 21, 2012 by

It was Friday night and there was a tumultuous roar in the air. As we descended from our yellow taxi, the clouds collided only to be followed by a merciless downpour. Hundreds sought refuge under trees whilst some privileged people with plastic shopping bags constructed ‘make-shift’ hoods. Whilst all I wanted to do was complain, everyone else around me was too excited to care about the weather. We were all there to celebrate the Swedish Mid-Summer.

In recent weeks, NYC has played host to all kinds of Swedish events to commemorate one of the biggest holidays in the Scandinavian calendar. Sweden has already made its mark on the US culinary scene with chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Renee Redzepi, and now the art scene is also finding its voice on the global stage. A few weeks ago, Element 6 Arts and Enskilda (a leading Scandinavian bank) threw their Midsummer’s Party at the Soho House celebrating the works of artist Mikki Nylund. The artist himself is a quiet man with a long straight braid and black attire yet this man has a lot to say. Whilst most of us communicate happiness, sadness and humor with our tongue, his medium of choice are the bristles of his paint brush.


ABBA by Mikki Nylund


His work depicts Scandinavian popular culture and folklore but expressed through the eyes of a Scandinavian who has chosen to make New York his home. His stories consist of layers upon layers and as you peel away, you yourself become exposed and left asking yourself a few introspective questions. I know that I am not alone in saying how moved I was by his work. I left the event but not empty handed. I took home the feeling of being immersed in a culture of enchantment, bonfires and folklore and of course, my own questions which I would need to find the answers for.


Finnish Tango in New York by Mikki Nylund


Talking to Mikki, it was apparent that his perspective transcended all areas of his life. He shared memories of the young Mikki who grew up on a diet of stories rich in fantasy and fueled by grandma’s meatballs! Mikki happily shared his grandmother’s recipe with me and quite frankly it is easy to understand why he is so picky about his meatballs once you have tried them. These meatballs are firm yet moist and work really well over egg noodles or mashed potatoes and the eponymous lingonberry sauce. Enjoy !


Grandma's recipe


Grandma Ragnhild’s Recipe


1 Pound ground beef

1 Pound ground pork

1 Cup chopped onion (Diced and sauteed until soft, cool slightly)

5 Cloves Finely Chopped Garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 Egg (perhaps two depending on the size of the eggs and the final outcome of your dow)

1 Tablespoon of dried Nutmeg (VERY important)

1 Tablespoon fresh or dried parsley

1 Teaspoon pepper

1 Teaspoon paprika

1 Tablespoon salt

For the sauce

1 cup beef stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons pickle juice

Salt and pepper



1) Soak breadcrumbs in the half and half and set aside

2) Combine the beef, pork, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, onion and garlic and mix well

3) Add the cream abd breadcrumb mixture and combine. Make golf ball sized balls

4) Heat a large surfaced pan with oil a tbsp. of oil and add the meatballs, cooking them 1 batch at a time until nice and browned. Remove and drain on paper towels

5) Add pickling juice to the pan, the beef stock and cream and allow to reduce and thicken until it becomes saucy and able to coat the meatballs. Season with salt and pepper

6) Slide the meatballs back in to the sauce and heat through



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  1. Judy Edge

    What kind of pickle juice—sewwt or dill?

  2. J,J

    Wow, i have always made them a la Italian…i like this :)


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