Sunday, January 20, 2013

Christmas, New Years and healthy January food

Totally opposite of the title I am going to start with the healthy January food and move back in time.
Many of us think of January as the month to start living healthy and it is such an obvious project for the cold and uninspiring winter months when the holidays and the sugar rush is over.
But dieting is just not for me anymore and I don’t want to live with a constant "NO" hanging over my head. But to be able to say no to dieting, it does mean saying no to temptations most days and getting active almost daily, but that is the way for me.
Therefore the following recipes are not all low calorie, but they are nutritious and tastes good.
And I try to use as much seasonal food as possible since the nutritional value and taste is highest there.

So what is at its best this time of year? Kale, cabbage and root vegs – so of course they play the main role at the dinner table as the moment.
I haven’t been able to get all that much variety with root vegs at my local super market so if anyone, by pure chance, comes by this sites and lives in the Enfield area of CT, give me a shout-out if you know the place to go for this.
Many of this rounds recipes are from/inspired by old and new editions of the Danish food magazine “Mad & Venner”.

So without further delay here is what we have been eating the last few weeks.

Meatballs in curry sauce with brown rice and cabbage and apple

This first recipe is a stable in most Danish homes and the Danish name is “Boller i Karry”. 

First prepare the rice according to the instructions on the package. I normally go with one cup rice to two cups of water and a good amount of salt.
Once you got that going – start with the meet balls.

1 pound of minced meat (I used veil)
1 small onion – finely cut
salt and pepper
1 egg
½ a cup of milk
4 tbsp of flour/oats/bread crumbs

Mix all the ingredients together and keep beating/stirring for at least 10 minutes. I can only recommend using a food mixer with a stand so you don’t have do it your self.
Mixing for so long helps the texture get perfect meatballs.
In the meantime boil a bi pot of salted water.
Once the 10 minutes is up and the water I boiling, you use a spoon and you hand to form small meatballs and drop a few at a time into the water – give them about 5 minutes.
If sometimes makes the process easier if you dip the spoon into some water in between each meatball shaping.
Reserve some of the water once you are don.

Curry sauce:

1-2 carrots in small cubes
1 onion in small cubes
1 stalk of celery
Ginger to taste
Salt and pepper
2 or more tbsp curry powder
1-2 garlic cloves
A splash of cream or coconut milk

Even though you should try to reduce the amount of oil you cook in, this is not the time to be too stingy. The oil will help release all the nuances of taste in the curry.
Heat up a good glob of oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and the curry powder for a few minutes and keep stirring to it won’t burn.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and sauteu. Once you are happy with the color, add some of the cooking water until you have the amont of sauce you find fitting and let it cook for a little while.
After adding cream/coconut milk you can either leave the sauce like this, thinkening it with a solutions of corn flour and cold water or blitzing it in your blender.
No matter your choice, you fishish with heating it all up again – this time with the meatballs in the sauce.

Serve with the rice, thinly slices apples and cabbage, coriander/parsley and perhabs a chutney.

 Baked tarragon leeks

This not an extremely healthy dish but you get your veggies and it is comforting on a cold winters day.

Recipe for 2 persons

2 leeks – the white part only
8 slices of really good quality ham
2 cups of milk – maybe more.
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
Salt, pepper, tarragon and nutmeg to taste
1 lemon – peel and juice
bread crumbs or old lump of bread

Set the oven for 350F/175C.
Divide the leeks in two lengthwise and clean them out thoroughly.
Wrap them ham around the leeks and put them in an oven-proof dish.
Melt the butter in a pot – without it taking color. Then add the flour, mix well and let it fry for a minute to loose some of the floury taste.
The ad milk a little at a time – making sure there are no lumps left between each time you add more milk. You should end up with a slightly thick sauce.
Once it is all absorbed and you feel confident that there is enough to cover the leeks, add some lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg and tarragon to taste and turn off the heat.
Put the lemon peel, a bit of oil and bread crumbs in a blender and blitz to make an even mixture.
Pour the milk sauce over the leeks and top with the bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes and serve with bread and a green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

Vietnamese spring rools

This is one of my favorite easy dinners when I have some leftover meat.


Rice paper sheets
Leftover meat in fine slices– shrimp, chicken, pork what ever
Lettuce – spring mix
3 handfuls of speed peel vegetables (cucumber, carrots, spring onions and so on)
Cooked rice noodles
Herbs – mint, holy basil, coriander
A big plate with lukewarm water
Perhabs 8 big lettuce leafes.

Dipping sauce
1 part fish sauce
1 part sugar
1 part lime juice
2 parts water
Finly minced chili, carrot and garlic

Mix all the ingredients up – easily don in an old jam jar, lid on and shake.

I also use a ready to use sweet chili sauce as a dipping for this dish.

When you are ready to serve simply to everything on the table (see picture) and let people make their own spring rolls.
Take a rice paper sheet and dunk it in the hot water for about 5 seconds and put it on your plate.
Fill it with all the goodies like you would a tortilla and fold I together.
The rice paper gets pretty sticky and some might prefer to roll a lettuce leaf around it before you dip in the sauce and eat it with your finger.

Red cabbage salad with marinated red onions 
Big portions for 2 people

Marinated onions:
2 red onions
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Peel the onions and cut them in 6-8 but try to keep them “whole” so they will stay in shape.
Blanch them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and let them drip dry.
Mix the rest of the ingredients and let the onions cool in the dressing.

8 oz of finely sliced red cabbage
2 oz of pickled beets in small cubes
1 ripe pear in small cubes
1 oz dried cranberries/cherries/blueberries
The marinated red onions

The remaining marinade from the onions
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp mustard
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

Mix the salad and just before serving add the dressing. Top with some (homemade) croutons, nuts and blue cheese.
I served this salad with a big juicy steak.

Spanish salad with tuna
Really easy and lovely salad for a light dinner or lunch.

10 oz ready to eat butterbeans
10 oz cabbage
(pointed cabbage would work really well, but haven’t found any so used regular cabbage)
A handful of chopped parsley
1 red onion
4-5 oz cherry tomatoes
Vinaigrette dressing
Salt and pepper
2 cans good quality canned tuna

Mix the vegetables and beans together. 
When you a ready to serve add the remaining ingredients and serve with some nice bread.


Baked fish with leek vinaigrette

2 pieces of white fish of your choice
4 leeks – all the white and a bit of the green
2  tsp mustard
2 tsp vinegar/lemon juice
1 tbsp capers
2 boiled eggs in cubes
2 tsp cubed onions
1 handful of parsley
Salt and pepper

Cut the leeks in two and clean them thoroughly. Boil a pot of salted water and steam/boil the leeks for about 10 minutes and let them drip dry and cool slightly.
Bake the fish with a little olive oil and salt and pepper in a 350F/175C oven for about 8 minutes.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and serve it all together with some fresh bread or potatoes.

If you want to do something special but still really healthy the following to recipes goes really well together as a starter and a main.

Fennel salad with boozy flambéed prawns

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 small bunch of radishes
1 small fennel
ice cubes

4-5 prawns per person
1-2 oz Pernod/tequila
1 garlic clove in fine slices

Mix the lemon juice, oli and honey to a dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste
Finely slice the vegetables on a mandolin or with a speed peeler and put them straight into a bowl of ice water for at least 15 minutes.
This will make them crunchy and glass like.
Heat a bit of oil in a pan and fry the garlic until golden. Then add the prawns and fry them shortly.
Add the booze (original recipe called for Pernod but I only had tequila and it worked well, but Pernod would be best) and set fire to the pan. Cook until the fire goes out by it self.
Drain the vegetables well and mix them with the dressing.
Arrange on a platter with the prawns on top and perhaps a few drizzles of the garlic/booze/oil mix from the pan.

Endive with Parma ham and honey 
(1 person)

1 endive
2-4 pieces of Parma ham
Butter for the pan
Lemon peel and juice
A drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper

Cut the endive in 2 lengthwise and wrap them ham around it.
Fry the endive in the butter until golden. Add some lemon juice and peel, time, honey and perhaps a bit of water. Make sure that it is glazed all over.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve it with some bread and perhaps some fried fish.
I am sure mackerel would be perfect but trout was the best pick a the fishmonger that day.

Italian lintel salad with chicken

For all of you people out there that are trying to get more protein in you diet – did you know that lentils have as much protein oz per as chicken? And it is healthy, full of fiber and there is no soaking involved.

5 oz of green lintils
5 oz of Brussels sprouts in very fine slices
1 red onion in fine slices
Sliced oven baked/sundried tomatoes in olive oil
1-2 oz nuts or seeds, toasted on a pan

1 chicken breast per person
Oregano, salt and pepper
Oil for the pan
2-3 tbsp capers

Balsamic vinaigrette

Boil the lentils after the instructions on the pack. Once they are done, drained and slightly cooled, mix them with the other ingredients.

Pan-fry the chicken breast in a bit of oil with the spices. Once cooked, slice them into bite size pieces.
Fry the capers on the after heat of the pan for a couple of minutes.

Now mix the salad with the chicken, capers and the dressing and serve it with some fresh bread.

 Fried chicken and coleslaw in a lighter version


I never liked coleslaw before I came to the states and now I absolutely love it. Especially the versions with the buttermilk dressings that makes them less heavy.

½ a cabbage, finely sliced
2 oranges, peeled and cubed
1 big apple, cubed or finely sliced
2-3 big carrots, finely sliced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 handfuls of chopped parsley

Olive oil/mayonnaise
1 minced garlic clove
Apple cider vinegar
Salt, pepper and sugar

Mix everything together and let the slaw sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

Oven fried chicken

Bread crumbs
A lille olive oil
Lemon peel
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper
A fitting number of chicken pieces – with or with out skin

Put the chicken in a plastic bag with enough buttermilk to just cover them up.
Mix the spices, lemon peel, oil and bread crumbs together in another plastic bag and ad 1-2 pieces of chicken at a time and shake until covered.
Arrange on baking paper and bake in the oven 350F/175C until golden and cooked through.
I went for the version with the skin on and it tasted great. I know that there is quite a bit of fat in the skin but it just tastes better that way.

New years eve in the big apple

The husband and I have lunch and dinner plans at his great auntie's place for new Years eve and she lives on Manhatten.
She had arranged a table for us at Aamanns Copenhagen NY who had a special set lunch menu and because it is a Danish restaurant, they had arranged so all us Danish guests could watch the Danish queens new years speech while they served champagne and “Kransekage” – a traditional mazipan cake that is used at weddings and every new years eve.
They had a bit of teniqual problem so we ended up seeing the speech after the lunch but that was really a minor detail.

The food was really great.
We started out with raw oysters with vinaigrette – always a favorite of mine.
Then came in a huge plate of all the wonders of the sea for the 3 of us to share.
Smoke king prawns, mussels and scallops with the most amassing celeriac-brown butter pure.
There were also bread and champagne ad libitum so we left there full and in high spirits.

All 3 of us had just returned from Christmas in Europe and after a long walk around china town and back up to Greenwich Village, we all need a nap.
We had big planes about seeing the night seen on new years eve on Manhattan but we quickly realized that, that wasn’t going to happen.
So I fixed us a nice dinner instead.

The menu was new interpretations on Danish favorites from the 80’es and 90’es.

Prawn cocktail

Prawn Oil

12 oz prawns (shells on)
3-4 oz oil
1 onion, sliced
A pinch of chili
1 tsp tomato pure
Fresh herbs (celery tops, dill or parsley)

Separate the prawns from it shells. Set the prawns aside and put the shells in a small pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté it over low heat for 5 minutes.
Strain and cool it.

2 pastorized egg yokes
Lemon juice

Mix the yokes, juice and salt and slowly whisk in the prawn’s oil until you have a mayonnaise.
Only a few drops at a time if you never done it before!

Crisp vegetables

1 fennel
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
Ice cubes

Speed peel or use a mandolin to make paper thing slices of vegetables.
Add them to ice water and let them sit for 15 minutes until crisp and glass like.
Drain and dry just before serving.

Soft vegetables
Boiled broccoli pured with butter, salt and pepper.

Pan fry the prawns in a bit of oil and season them.

Arrange all the parts on a plate and serve immediately.

Boeuf Béarnaise in a new form

This is not really a Béarnaise, but I haven’t found a good new name for the sauce.
Maybe vegetable tarragon sauce? Anyhow, it has much less butter and is much much easier to make than the real deal.
I still like a really buttery Béarnaise but save that sauce for when you have company and make this one on those Friday nights when you feel like a good steak.

Vegetable tarragon sauce
4 oz of mixed vegetables (squash, onion, garlic, carrot, parsnip)
2 oz of butter
Lemon juice/good white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Boil all the vegetables with the tarragon until tender.
Add them and the rest of the ingredients to a blender and pure. I also added 1 pastorized egg yoke, but that’s just me.

Pan fry a good steak – porterhouse would be nice – in butter with some garlic and time in the pan to add flavor.
Serve it up with you favorite sides.
I served it with fresh potatoes and steamed vegetables.

It all tasted really good and after a cup of coffee and some ice cream, we all went to bed around 10 PM and slept into the new year.
So much for our big night out planes! Ohh well – maybe next year.


Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of the year! We were so lucky that we could spend Christmas with the whole family at the in-laws house back home in Denmark. Only one missing was my sister who was home sick but luckily I spend my birthday with her a few days later.

I didn’t take any pictures of the Christmas food because I didn’t make it but I will give you a fast list of what Danes normally eat on Christmas Eve.

In the olden days families would normally start out with porridge to make people full before the expensive meat came on the table and even though the crisis is taking its tole in Danish homes as well, I don’t think we are anywhere near starting this tradition again.
There are slight varieties on what people eat for Christmas in Denmark when it comes to meat, but the sides are normally all the same.
For meat you would either have duck or pork back with the skin and fat still attached, but cut into thin strips. This way they will become what we know as pork cracklings, but still attached to every slice of juicy pork.
Many people have both meats and some even add “Medisterpølse” which is a thick long Danish sausage and “Frikadeller” which are Danish meatballs.
So as you can tell – total meat fest!
The sides are: white boiled potatoes, a perfect sauce made from the juices of the pork and the duck (very important part of the Christmas meal), braised red cabbage with cinnamon, berry jam and vinegar and caramelized peeled potatoes.

For dessert we have “Ris a la Mande” which is rice pudding made lighter in texture by adding whipped cream and chopped almonds and served with a hot cherry sauce. It is served in a big bowl and somewhere in the dessert, there is one whole blanched almond.
The one that gets the whole almond, gets a present – The almond present!
As you can imagine, many families play games when it comes to the dessert. Everybody takes a big portion so that his or her chance of getting the almond is higher.
Sometimes someone gets the almond in the first portion and if they are very cheeky they will hide it, so everyone else take seconds and thirds until they are about to explode!
I don’t really like this kind of force eating so I never take part – but everyone else seem to enjoy it – especially the men.

After dinner, everyone goes to the family room and all the live candled are ligh on the Christmas three. Then traditionally you all take hands to make a big circle and walk/dance around the three and sing carols. Some even dance around the whole house singing.

This years christmas three

It is actually great fun, but in our family we don’t really do it any more because it is more fun when there are small kinds in the family and the youngest generation (being me, amongst many other) haven’t gotten there own kids yet.
Then coffee, cookies and homemade Christmas candy are served in the living room and we all open presents. On present at a time so everyone can see who got what from whom. In a big family like mine there are around 150 presents so it takes about 2-3 hours!

And then everyone tumbles into bed – full and happy.

What does Americans do? I talked to a few people and everyone seam to have different traditions?
Only unanimous thing I found is that you all open your presents on Christmas morning – like the Brites do.

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