Over the past 6 months I have formed a consulting company with my partner Paco (don’t worry I am still working in my position in the lab), we have been awarded the contract to develop a new product called “Swedish Tapas” for Ikea Spain and Portugal. We have already started in 1 store in Madrid and 1 store in Barcelona, we will be in every store in Spain and Portugal on the 1st of September.
So what does this mean???????
We have been creating tapas using Spanish techniques and incorporating typical Swedish flavors. We have contracted a production company to produce these tapas which we are selling to all the Ikea stores in Spain and Portugal. The minimum budget for the year is 4,000,000 tapas in 13 stores, this will be increased to 16 stores by next July. We will be making a new set of 6 ”Swedish Tapas” every 3 months. See below for the first set of 6:
The soon to be very famous “Hotdog Croqueta“, in basic terms it has all the flavors of a hot dog inside (Frankfurt, Ketchup, mustard, onions and even hot dog bun)
So this one is “Gambas con Pancetta“, a mousse of prawns with pieces and some special IbericoHam fat which melts when fried. The outside is Kellogg’s “Rice bubbles” and topped with a prawn flavored cheese paste.
This one is “Pastelle de Salmon Ahumado“, which is smoked salmon, fresh herbs, seeded mustard, orange and potato. They finish it in the stores with a sauce Gravadlax and some lump-fish roe….. This by far is the most Swedish!
“Empanada de Albondigas“, basically a cross between Swedish meatballs and an Australian Meat pie! This is the exact flavors and sauce as the meatballs you eat in Ikea.
Another very popular item in Sweden is the crispbreads. So we have made this “Pizza de queso azul“, its a blue cheese paste (using Methyl cellulose to keep it moist and stable) with caramelized onions, black olives and some emmental cheese. The bases are the Ikea Pan de Cereales.
And how could we forget dessert??????? This is a very popular dessert here in Spain….. “Leche Frita“, It’s translation is Fried Milk. This small tapas is such an amazing liquid texture (after months of painful testing) which is like silk on your tongue and is made using milk and Swedish orange Marmalade. The outside is actually Cornflakes to give it a total contrast in textures.
Christmas Tapa 2009
As I am sure you are aware by now, We have the contract to design and produce a new range of Swedish Tapas in Ikea.
We needed to design 1 new tapa for Christmas to be offered for a month before Christmas.
For this tapa we researched what was some common items eaten at Christmas time in Sweden, this was a difficult task as there are many many traditions in Sweden for Christmas and all of which sound tempting!
We settled on the theme of roasted ham as this seemed to be something common between Spain and Sweden, but we emphasized more on the universal concept of leftovers.
One of my most vivid memories of Christmas is the weeks of Christmas leftovers and the most common of which is Ham, usually you can still be eating ham until February at least. The Christmas tradition in Sweden is to eat the roasted, smoked and cured ham with Mustard. So being a great sandwich combination we combined all of these elements with some blue cheese and we had a perfect Sandwich. Obviously it is missing some great technique, so we set about creating a technique that represents the work we do but incorporating it in a tapa. I made a blue Cheese and mustard cream that was not too strong as to not over power the Ham. But the problem was as it got hot it melted and escaped as the “sandwich” was cooking in the fryer. This was remedied with the use of Methylcellulose, as it would become a gel as it was getting hotter but also melt back to a liquid in your mouth as the temperature is below the melting point.
So we can say this Tapa is a blend of 3 cultures: Swedish, Spanish and also Australian.
Ikea Family tapa
Ikea have a loyalty program called Ikea Family.
This year we needed to design a tapa using 1 of the hundreds of suggestions which the members gave us for a new Family Tapa. This tapa is given away free in every store in Spain and Portugal when the member presents their card.
This year we decided on a pizza using a whole wheat cracker which is sold in the stores as a base as the flavor is very Swedish and actually adds a lot to the overall concept. What can be more Swedish (or Scandinavian) than Salmon Gravadlax? This must be one of the most stereotypical flavors that conjures up images of a trip you may of taken to Scandinavia.
Something I have noticed from my travels through the Scandinavian countries is how much the flavors and preparation of Gravadlax varies from Region to region and particularly country to country. Gravadlax (which literally means: Gravad = Grave or hole in the ground and Lax meaning Salmon. The process used to be done by burying it in the ground as a way of preservation) was originally used as a method of preserving the fish so it would last through the harsh winters when fish was not available and refrigeration was not available.
So from this concept I made a Texturized cream using every element of the original Swedish Gravadlax, which we then put onto the Cracker using a special dosing gun and a automated fabrication line. To complete the flavor profile, Some diced shallots, Finely chopped Fresh dill and some ementhal Cheese (to give the pizza effect of the melted and slightly burnt cheese).
There you have it, the latest Ikea Family Tapa……………..
Swedish Tapas round II
Based on the success of the first round we started developing tapas which were easier to prepare in the stores. We did a study into which tapas were selling the best and which ones were selling the least. Based on this information we removed the slow sellers and based the second round on the concepts of the best sellers.
In the first round the Cold tapas were being prepared in the stores, we found that the staff didn’t have enough time to prepare the sufficient amount for the days sales, so we were missing out on sales and the customer didn’t get to taste what we had designed. So for Round II we decided to prepare them in our production facility and transport them to the stores as we do for the hot.
So the first thing we did was to formulate “Families” of Cold tapas which could be the ongoing format with the aim of only changing the flavors while keeping the structure the same for every menu change which we do every 3 months.
The first family is the Savory Cone. We developed a technique to create a Ice cream cone which was savory and full of aromatic spices, yet we also had the challenge of keeping it crispy as a regular ice cream cone has sugar which caramelized and gives the characteristic Crunch. So for this we used a type of Inverted sugar which doesn’t have any sweetness but has the same crystallizing effect of the sugar. We added some typical Swedish Aromats to give a perfumed effect.
CORNETTE DE ENSALADILLA RUSA CON BACALAO Y ACETUNAS
The first filling we created for the Cone is a very typical Tapa which you could expect to find in most bars of Spain, Ensaladilla Rusa. Which means Russian Potato salad, funnily enough it actually has nothing to do with Russia. This salad is usually eaten with small pieces of crisp breads but the problem is that you always get it all over your fingers, so I figured if we were to enclose it in a cone then it would be mess free. To make it more Swedish we added some Bacalao and dill to the mix (Which is Potato, Mayonnaise, Green Peas, Carrots, Olives, Etc). The challenge was the mayonnaise which splits when frozen and defrosted. So we worked for months on creating a totally stable mayonnaise which we could freeze and distribute to the stores in Piping bags for ease of service.
VASITO DE ARENQUE CON PIPERIADA
The second family we created was a spoon dish in plastic molds. This tapa requires a spoon and will be always 2 very potent mouthfuls.
For this round we thought of the 2 most symbolic flavors of the 2 countries; Herrings and herring roe from Sweden and Piperiada (Roasted red and green pepers, Garlic, Onion, Extra Virgin Olive oil from Cordoba).
TOASTA DE SALMON AHUMADO CON RYE
The third family we have is “Tostas”, this is an item you will find in every bar in every part of Spain. We used some amazing Rye bread from Sweden and topped this with a salad of Smoked Salmon, Mayonnaise, Yogurt, Dill, Raw onions and chives.
For the hot tapas we changed 2 this time.
BOLA DE ESPINACAS Y BACALAO CON PINONES
We changed the Smoked salmon ball to a Spinach and Salted cod ball with pine nuts. This is aimed more at our Portuguese market as these are typically flavors in their cuisine.
The second Hot tapa we changed is the Leche Frita (Fried Milk), we had some structural problems in the last round due to how liquid they were. So we did a study into how we could make them as liquid as before (which was the best point about it) but while also keeping them intact during the cooking process. So we started stabilizing them and testing them in the fryer then the all important taste test. After weeks of testing we came up with a result which we are now very happy with, by using Cellulose we were able to get a product which cooks perfectly every time but which also melts back to a liquid once the consumer starts to chew. So just by adjusting the recipe we now have a result which is equally as liquid and 0% wastage.
Designer range of Desserts
As an evolution to the Tapas project we have now begun testing for Phase II of our involvement in Ikea, this will include items in their regular menu offer but in a designer level. The first of which will be a range of desserts which are Spanish in concept but in a form which has an element of design and a new texture and flavor.
ARROZ CON LECHE (Rice with Milk)
CREMA CATALANA (Catalan Cream, this is a very typical desert in the North East of Spain which is very similar to Creme Brulee)
BOMBA DE AVELLANAS (Hazelnuts and mandarin mousse cake)
QUESO CON MEMBRILLO (Cheese cake with quince puree)
SASHA TARTA (Black forest cake)