Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time Flies

Wow those months just vanished! But thats how it goes when you are having fun. We have had family come visit, dinners with good friends and we even had time for a trip back home to Denmark.
Who knew that you would be so busy being a stay at home wife ;)

But I have had a lot of time to cook some great food - some that I didn't get a chance to take a picture of. So I guess I will just have to make them all over again one of these day - to bad.

So because it has been so long since I have blogged this post will not have a specific theme but just be a mix of some of the "greatest" hits since last time I blogged.

First up - a soup course

This soup is called Egg Drop Soup and though it does not look very appetizing it is very tasty and is a great thing to make if you don't have a lot of things in the fridge and need to make a quick lunch or dinner.


Chicken broth
Mixed vegetables cut into small stips (carrot, spring onions, cabbage, peppers)
1 beaten egg

When it comes to seasoning I used what you see in the picture below.
Soy sauce for the salt
Sweet chili sauce
Oister sauce
Fish sauce
Thai basil leaves
Fresh chili
Flavored oil - because i didn't feel like chopping ginger and garlic
Fresh lime

How to cook:
Heat the broth and add the noodles. Once tender, add the vegetables, seasoning (except the lime), meat and heat through.
Now - for the best result, - but not at all necessary for the taste - take out all the vegetables, noodles and meat and put into your serving dish. Now you are left with the seasoned broth that you will bring to a boil again. Stir hard so you make a whirlwind in the middle and drop the beaten egg into it and beat again.
Add a sqirth of lime and poor the broth over the filling.
Springle a few coriander leaves on top and dig inn.

If you haven't tried Thai basil before you have really missed out on one of my absolute favorite herbs.
It has an almost anise like flavor and an absolute necessity in the thai kitchen.
I haven't found them in the supermarkets here in Connecticut yet, but I was so lucky to find a store that sold herbs for planting in your garden whom had both Thai basil and lemon grass. Unfortunately they both died when I went in vacation back home.
You might also find Thai basil under the name Holy basil.

 Beets - Beets - Beets

A few months back I was talking to one of the local farmers and they told me that many people in the local area simply don't know what to do with beets which for me was kind of funny since we eat a lot of root vegetables where I come from - simply because we are not blessed with the Connecticut warm summers and can only grow hardy vegetables that will grow in low temperatures.
Honestly I thing everybody rather eat those beautiful delicate summer vegetables like squash, tomatoes, eggplants and so on.
But necessity is the mother of all inventions and we had to come up with good ways to use our local produce.

The most simple way of preparing is Oven Roasted Beets.
Simply peel the beets, cut into chunks, season with salt, pepper and a green herb (I used parsley, but thyme is really really good as well).
Drizzle with oil and mix well.
Bake in the oven until tender - about 45 minutes at 200C/390F.

Don't they look beautiful?

If you don't like all the peeling you can easily bake the beets with the skin on at low heat for a couple of hours - just add a bit of seasoning.
Once they are done and cooled enough for you to handle them, cut the top of and simply squish them out of the skins.
A really good way if using them is as Dressed Beet Salad
Cut into small chunks or thin slices and add a dressing made of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and berry sirup or jelly (black currant are perfect) and let sit for 30 minutes.
Now, you can eat the beets as they are, but I really think that adding just 3 more ingredients will transform it to another level.
Those 3 things are Feta, fresh oregano and hassle nuts. 
Arrange the beets onto a platter and scatter the remaining ingredients on top and you have a wonderful filling salad great for pork and roasts.
If you are looking for a more delicate and elegant way of using beets the following adaption of a recipe from the danish newspaper Politiken is really delicious.

Glazed and raw beet salad with goats cheese

8 small beets + 1/4 big beets per person
        more than one color is pretty and leaves on is perfect
Salt and Pepper
Goats cheese
A drop of milk
Baby leaves - if there are non on the beets

Start out by plucking of the beet leaves, if there are any, wash and spin them dry.
Else just use the baby leaves from your local supermarket.
Boil the small beets in salted water with the skin on until soft and tender. Put out of their skins once they are cool enough to handle.
Melt the butter and ad the vinigar, sugar, salt and pepper and toss the mini beets in the mixture until nice and glazed.
In the meantime peel the big beet and make paper thin slices with a peeler. Put the slices into ice water so they become nice and crisp.
Now to the goats cheese.
Beat the goats cheese with a bit of milk, salt and pepper until fluffy. Add to a icing bag and start to assemble the dish on a plate as shown on the picture above.
In the original recipe the glaze had no vinegar or sugar, but marrow and fresh beet juice. I had neither so I just improvised.
Furthermore their plate was decorated with elderflower berries - another thing I did not have.
But I am sure that it would have been delicious.


My husbands birthdays was in august and of course I had to make a cake. Tradition ni Denmark is to serve - amongst other cakes -  a Lagkage which is a layered cake and in my family we always made it with peaches - even though I have never seen anyone else do that.
It is a pretty easy but time consuming cake to make and it will get a lot better if you make a day ahead. 
I made the vanilla creme and the sponge cakes my self but if you can get your hands one these things any other way you can still make a pretty decent cake.

A Lagkage can be decorated with chocolate flowers, springles, marzipan, little flags and naturally candles.

Ingredients for the spongecakes
150 gr/5,2 oz sugar
150 gr/5,2 oz flour
3 eggs
0,5 tea spoon of baking powder

Heat the oven for 460F/240 C.
Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy, sift in the flour and baking powder and mix together.
Now you can either grease 3 pieces of baking paper and pour the mix onto 3 circles that you have outlined to fit your serving dish or you can put the batter in a round baking tin with a loos bottom that has been greased with butter on the sides, bottum and greased baking paper in the bottom (seems unnessesary but believe me - you need to do this).
If you take metoed one then they will take about 5 minutes to bake and a little longer the other way around (check with a wooden squer - when no batter sticks after "stabbing" the center - the will cake be done)
I feel that you get higher cakes with metod two so I went that way.
Once the cakes are done, set to cool for 5-10 minutes before trying to get the paper off. It might help if you spray some water onto the papers because the steam will help loosen the cake from the paper.
Then cut the big cake into 3 layers.

Vanilla creme
A vanilla creme is basically what the english know as custard - only a bit thicker - and what the americans know as vanilla pudding as far as I can make out.
It is easy to make and always taste delicious.

2 cups/5 dl of milk
3 egg yolkes
40 gr sugar
30 gr starch (corn or flour)
Vanilla extract or 1/2 a vanilla pod

Beat the eggs, sugar and starch together until nice and fluffy.
Half the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla and add to the eggs and sugar mix.
Heat the milk over low heat with the vanilla pod - there are still good stuff in there.
If using vanilla extract just add to the egg and sugar mix at any point.

When the milk is hot - but not boiling - ad a ladle full to the egg mix and stir.
Then ad the egg mix back in the milk and stir over low heat until it thickens.
Remember that it will thicken a bit more after cooling.
Set aside in the fridge until cooled.

Rå creme

If hot liquid and eggs sounds scary you can always make a "rå creme" meaning raw creme.
It is very easy, taste even more fantastic but it does not thicken as much which will not give you the same hight in the layer cake and you will need to use pasteurized eggs.


3 pastorized egg yolkes
1/2 a vanilla pod/vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of heavy creme

Whip the eggs, vanilla and and sugar fluffy in one bowl and the creme to whip creme in another bowl.
Gently mix the two together and your done.

You even have a 3 option if you like the custard but think it gets a bit heavy - then mix in whiped creme. Also a wonderful creme!
Love vanilla cremes!

Well - on with the Lagkage.

Fruit filling
You can use any kind of berries or fruit that you like - but in this one I used canned peaches cut into small bits.

In my opinion the cake becomes much better and "spongier" if you add some liquid to the spongecake.
When you assemble the cake simply dridssle a small amount of any liquid that will suit your filling.
For instance - coffee, liquor, sirup from canned fruite, fresh squeezed orange juice and so on.

How to assemble the cake
Find yourself a nice serving platter and put in the first spongecake.
If you want a really nice high cake use the baking tin to "build" the cake in. It will keep the filling in until really set. But most Lagkager are fairly flat - I am just a sucker for hight.
Maybe because I am so short hmm..... Anyway...
Drizzle the liquid onto the cake, add the fruit filling of you choice and then the creme.
Repeat the process once more and end with a drizzled spongecake.
Now the cake need to set in the fridge - preferably over night.
Before serving you can decorate your cake any way you like - but I would mention that danes do not use frosting in the way that the US does and I would expect it to be a bit overpowering.
Some danes would use a frosting made of confectionary sugar and water -  perhaps with a bit of food coloring if a theme cake is wanted - to coat the top.
I finde this way to sweet and to me there is nothing more disappointing that an over sweet cake.
I simply covered the top in dark chocolate - always goes great with vanilla and fruit.
The sides would almost always be covered in whipped creme, but some leave them bare.

And there you go - your Lagkage is ready to eat. Now you know why so manny just buy ready made spongecakes, "just ad milk" creme and simply use jam as the filling.
It is time consuming but it really makes the difference.

And from one danish tradition to another.

Smørrebrød and Håndmadder

One of the only things that Denmark has really added to the colunary world are our Smørrebrød which is an open sandwich on rye bread with beautiful leayers of meet, vegetables. pickles and herbs.
Smørrebrød rufly translates into buttered bread.
It is an education on its own to learn how to make Smørrebrød and I simply can't make them as beautiful as the pros.
But I can make Smørrebrød informal younger brother - Håndmadder.
A Håndmad rugfly translate to a hand food and is more along the lines of what you would put in your lunch packet or make at home for an informal lunch - each person will assemble their own Håndmad.

The day that I made this was the last hot day if 2012 here in CT - 27 C/80F in the beginning of October!
Amazing weather and we simply had to have lunch on the porch because I was so lucky to have a husband that worked from home on this wonderful day.
That also required some creativity from my side since he told me on the day and I therefor had not prepared lunch for two - I normally just eat leftovers from the day before.
Some might say - why didn't you just go to the shop? You had plenty of time between breakfast and lunch.
Very true, but I have a food budget that I had almost used up (needed to save my last cents for the farmers market the next day) and I am also against food waist.
And I am always up for the challenge to use whatever I have in the freezer and the fridge.
So I had some rye bred - more on how to make that later - some eggs, pickled herring and different vegetables.

Håndmad with Eggs and tomato

Butter up a piece of rye bread, add a salad leaf, hard boiled eggs in slices and top with tomatoes, chives, salt and pepper.
Really simple, healthy and delicious.

The other Håndmad took some more work.

Håndmad with Pickled herring and curry salad

The pickled heering are simply raw pickled fish. You can make it your self but there are some factors in the process that can go really really wrong so I always buy mine - here in the states I have only seen them in IKEA Food. 
They are an acquired taste but really really healthy - sort of a Scandinavian take on Sushi!
Of course the reason for this way of eating fish dates back to the days before the fridge where the only ways of preserving any kind of food would be salting, smoking, pickling or drying.

Curry Salad

2 hard boiled egg
Greek Yoghurt
1/2 Apple
Salt & Pepper 

Chop the eggs up into small cubes and put in a bowl. 
Grate in some onion using a fine grater - not a lot, a table spoon is more than enough.
Cut the apple into small cubes and add to the mix.
The rest of the ingredients I put in to taste - you want it to be creamy and with a distinct curry taste, but not to greasy and loose.

And then you assemble.
Butter a piece of rye bred, add the herring, top with curry salad and if you feel decorative add finly sliced rings of onion.

Because we try to eat our 5 veg and fruit a day (6 a day i Denmark?) I served this with carrot stick and apple slices. Furthermore I dressed some cauliflower florets in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with some pine nuts.
Perfect for lunch in the sun!

But but  but - you can't make Håndmadder without Denmark's favorite bread - Rye!
Rye bread is a very dark sour dough bread. Originally it was simply just rye flower, but today it is often filled with cracked wheat berries, sunflower seed, cracked rye and many many other kinds of seed.
Many mass produced rye bread in the danish supermarkets actually have a lot of wheat in them because it makes a lighter bread which suites most modern palettes. 
I like my bread with a whole lot of seeds and a mix of whole wheat and rye flower.

I always make my bread without a recipe but most recipes goes something like this:

2 cups/5 dl whole wheat flour
2 cups/5 dl rye flower
2 cups/5 dl cracked berries and seeds (wear, rye, sunflower, pumpkin or what ever you can find)
4 cups/1 L water (filtered! - clorine will kill the live bacteria i sour dough)
1 cup/2 dl sour dough (I always use 2 cups/5 dl)
1 tblsp sweeting - honey or maple sirup
1 tblsp salt
Butter for grasing up the bread tins.
This recipe will give you two big rye breads.

Before you think about making a Rugbrød (rye bread in danish) there are one thing you have to know - it takes a LONG time.
First you have to have a sour dough which - the first time you make it - will take about 1 week.
The good thing about this is that it takes very little of your time.
Simply mix together any kind of flour and filtered water to a thick paste the consistency of oatmeal in a jar and let it sit on the counter top with a cloth or very loos lit over it.
Yeast is in the air all around us and will find its own way into the water and flour mix. 
Check every other day if you need to add more water or flour to the mix to keep the consistency.
After a few days the mix should begin to bubble and smell yeasty and sour - something like the picture below.

You can help your sour dough along by adding a bit of organic honey or any yoghurt that have active bacteria in them.
Once your sour dough has the right smell and is nice and bubbly you can put it in the fridge - again with a cloth or loose lid on it.
From now on you just have to feed it every once in a while with flour and water and this dough will keep a lifetime. By adding this to the dough you give the yeast bacteria new food and you make sure that you always have enough sour dough to bake with.
You can keep it alive in other ways - by using it in your pre dough - but that is much more complicates and have ruined a couple of sour doughs for me, so I won't cover that on this blog.

As part two of making Rye Bread, the bread itself will take 15 hours a least to make - so this is not something you should make the day that you run out of bread.

What I use for my Rugbrød + seeds that I forgot in the picture

How to make Rye bread
Mix all the ingredients together and stir for at least 10 minutes (easier with a machine) - the dough should be quite wet.
A very very long time ago the dough would have been mixed with our feet. This might sound crasy but there were a few reasons for this. The bacteria that lives on your feet have a good effect on the Rye bread and mixing anything by hand for 10 minutes can be really though. Much easier to use your feet and leg power. That said - I haven't tried it myself.

Pour into the buttered tins - only half way up and cover with a moist cloth. 

Now you wait - around 12 hours or until the dough has risen and filled up 70% of the tin.
This step may take a little shorter or a little longer depending on how active your sour dough is.
Then prick your breads with a wooden squire 20 times each all the way too the bottom of the tin - this gives steam an ability to escape from the bread without breaking the crust from the rest of the bread.
Put the breads in a cold oven and set to 200C/390F and let them bake for about 75 minutes.
You can use a thermometer to help you decide if the rye bread is done - it should reach 96C/204F.
Take them out of the tins, butter all the way around for extra flavory crust and now you have to decide if you want a crisp crust or a soft crust.

If crisp is your choice simply let them cool on the rack - else put them in a plastic bag once they have almost cooled of. The last steam will soften the crust in the back.
No matter you choice of crust you will have to leave the breads alone for at least 4 hours before cutting.
Now after all this time is it really worth it? Defiantly! Sure Rugbrød is - again - an acquired taste because of the slightly sour taste and very dark heavy bread but give it a try. 
It is full of healthy fats and fibers. Us danes could not live without it. 
Also - even though it takes a long time to make- the bread will keep in the fridge for over a week and freeze really well.
So you don't have to do this very often - I make 4 at a time and slice three of them up and freeze for later use.
Easy peasy!

Typically me - I forgot to take a picture of the finished bread because of the long time between making the dough and the end result, so you will have to do with a picture I have borrowed from the wikipedia.

Well thats all for now - please leave a comment if you read anything you like.