Celebrating Chinese New Year

If you have been down Strøget recently you will have noticed the lanterns hanging along its length the celebrate Chinese New Year, which falls on the 16th of February and is the year of the dog.When we lived in the UK we would often head up to Chinatown in London to enjoy the amazing spectacle of the celebrations there and tuck into a delicious meal. There isn’t an actual Chinatown here in Copenhagen but today I thought I’d do a round up of some of our favourite Chinese restaurants and places to buy ingredients to create your own Chinese feast plus a fab Chinese interiors shop.

Restaurants

The Royal Garden at Dronningens Tværgade 30 I believe is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Copenhagen. I took my husband there for his birthday this year and the food was amazing. We particularly enjoyed the sizzling dishes and the banana fritters! Not a cheap option for a meal but worth it.

Fu Hao (Colbjørnsensgade 8) is located behind the main station. It is a very unassuming looking place but the dim sum are fantastic. I have written about this place before here.

Magasasa has four locations in the city, Istedgade, Kødbyen, Vesterbrogade and Amagerbrogade. This is another dim sum place which offers other dishes. We enjoyed a meal in the one in Kødbyen. Like Fu Hao above Magasasa is popular with the Chinese community,  which to me signals it as a good place to eat!

The final place is Noodle House (Abel Cathrines Gade 23). I have not been here but it receives lots of positive reviews so I shall be heading there soon.

Want to cook at home?

There are a couple of Chinese/Asian supermarkets worth heading to for ingredients, fresh produce such as pak choi and also frozen dim sum. Den Kinesiske Købmand has a large store on Nørre Voldgade 54 and also a small stand in Torvehallerne. A bit further out in Østerbro (Østerbrogade 115, a short walk from Svanemøllen Station) is the Asien Supermarket.

For fresh Asian produce (not solely Chinese) there are a number of small grocers behind the main station in Vesterbro and also on Istedgade, as well as other locations in the city. Below are the ones I like.

China Town Market, Reventlowsgade 24, 1651

Kabul Marked, Reventlowsgade 22, 1651

Afghan Market, Reventlowsgade 20, 1651

Eveth’s Filipino Food Mart, Reverdilsgade 8 1701

Thai Asian Market, Halmtorvet 2, 1700

Kakshidi Food Import, Flæsketorvet 42, 1711

Thai Supermarket, Isedgade 134, 1650

Finally if you want your home cooked meal to look authentic with bowls, chopsticks, tea pots and cups etc after being prepared in a super duper wok or steamers then Den Kinesiske Butik at Rosengården 13, 1174 is the place to go.

 

 

 

Lactose Free products in Denmark

I have written before about gluten-free products and today I thought I’d write a quick guide to lactose free (laktosefri) products here in Denmark. This is a subject close to home for us as my husband needs to follow a lactose free diet.

One thing which has surprised me is how many products contain lactose, many of which you wouldn’t immediately assume would. Many sausages here contain lactose as well as frikadeller (meat ones), pates including leverpostej. Crisps and pre made soups also can contain lactose.  If you shop carefully you can find some of these free of lactose. It is a positive move by food producers in Denmark to highlight in bold type any potential allergens in their ingredients lists, which makes this process a little easier. Another thing which surprised me is that some blue cheeses are naturally lactose free!

So onto the products. Arla has a wide range of lactose free dairy products (it is important if you are following a lactose free diet not to cut out all dairy products as you can be missing out on health benefits – this page by the UK NHS is very useful). Arla is a brand name UK readers will have seen offering lactose free products in the UK. Here you can buy almost all products that usually contain lactose in a free from variety including milks, cream, yoghurt, cheese and butter. These seem to be available in almost all supermarkets. There are also some supermarket own brands as well.

Alpro  is a plant-based alternative to dairy and they have a number of products available again in most supermarkets. Of course there are lots of nut milks available.

Recently I have spotted that Galbaninow produces a lactose free mozzarella, a relief for pizza lovers! I also bought some lactose free parmesan (not seen it many places) – in my opinion it had zero resemblance to real parmesan but did the job.

Matilde now offer their ubiquitous chocolate milk in a lactose free variety. Hansens Is have lactose free ice creams.

Philadelphia have a lactose free incarnation perfect for cheesecake fans. Another surprising one is Wasa crackers have lactose free ones – I had no idea their regular ones contained it at all!

There are other products offering lactose free alternatives. I use Nemlig.com as a good guide for these, even if you choose to shop elsewhere. A quick search simply for ‘laktosefri’ in Nemlig with show you many alternatives.

If you are not all exclusively lactose free in your household you may find my guide to dairy products useful!

Photo credi

Danish {and Scandinavian} cookbooks in English

Christmas will be here before we know it and what better gift to yourself or someone else than a Danish or Scandinavian cookbook. Cookbooks are a great way to really get a handle on the cuisine of a country – with both traditional and modern foods and recipes.

I have compiled a list of books I like or would like to get my hands on for some inspiration.

First of all any book by Trine Hahnemann is a surefire winner. Trine is considered to be akin to a Danish Delia Smith. She has appeared on the Great British Bake Off a few years ago and also had a number of recipes serialised in The Telegraph. She is all about comfort food, baking and the real meaning of hygge. I have written about her before hereand I interviewed her here.

Scandinavian Comfort Food – Trine Hahnemann

Scandinavian Baking – Trine Hahnemann

The Scandinavian Cookbook – Trine Hahnemann

Bronte Aurell is another food author some people may have heard of already. She is the founder of Sacndikitchen, a a café, grocery shop, online store and wholesale business based in London. As a Danish native she know something about the food scene and her first book The Scandi Kitchen  is well worth getting. She has a number of other books worth checking out here.

Danish Food and Cooking by John Nielsen and Judith H Dern was my food bible when I first moved here. It is a super introduction to all the really traditional Danish foods.

Signe Johansen is the Norwegian author behind the Scandilicious brand of cook books. A friend of mine had the baking one and I loved looking through it when I visited her.

Secret of Scandinavian Cooking…Scandilicious – Signe Johansen

Scandilicious Baking – Signe Johansen

Claus Meyer is a household name in Denmark having been instrumental in the New Nordic food revolution – get a bite of it in his books.

The Nordic Kitchen – Claus Meyer

Meyer’s Bakery – Claus Meyer

Finally a book I’ve not read or look through but one I love the sound of. Nordic Light by Simon Bajada

Gammeldags Æblekage or Old fashioned apple cake

With the abundance of local Danish apples available at the moment in the supermarkets or if you are lucky at the end of your neighbours’ drive now is the time to try your hand at a traditional Danish apple recipe called Gammeldags Æblekag, which literally translated means Old fashioned apple cake. But don’t be deceived there is nothing cake like about this at all. It is actually more of a trifle, which if I am honest appeals a lot more to me.

There are plenty of recipes on-line for this easy treat (this is a good one). But here is the basic run down…

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You need to make some sweet bread crumbs using sugar and vanilla in a pan, cooked your cut up, peeled and cored apples with a little sugar and cinnamon (if you like that) until soft and whip some cream. Once everything that was hot has cooled down you make layers of the breadcrumbs and apple and chill in the fridge. Add the whipped cream just before serving.

The one above that I had a cafe has crumbled chocolate brownie in the last layer of breadcrumbs and on the top of the whipped cream.

Very simple and perfectly scrummy for autumn.

A guide to baby food

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to undertake some market research about baby food available in shops here and I thought I’d use the information to write a short guide for here. Like most things in Denmark the choice is relatively small and it would seem that it reflect the demand for preprepared baby foods with most parents preparing food at home. There was certainly a perception amongst Danish parents that premade baby food is expensive and they only use it as a supplement or an on-the-go solution.

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When you have a baby here the Health Visitor tells you to buy a guide from the Government health department about feeding you baby from birth to toddler age and the emphasis is very much on home cooked and family foods. It can be bought from the pharmacy for around 75dkk or you can download it here. I found it very useful.

All the types of food I mention below are available in most supermarkets and offered mainly by Semper but you can find Heinz and Ella’s Kitchen in some places (Helsemin carry the full range of this) and most supermarkets offer an own brand as well. There is a big emphasis on organic (øko) food too.

Pouch food

This is the predominant type of baby food available and it seems to be that sweet ones are the ones the supermarkets stock the largest selection of. There are pouches of the usual suspects of spaghetti Bolognese etc but nothing too exciting. There are also new flavours of sweet ones reflecting the current trend for green smoothies.

Jar food

The traditional type of baby food is, of course, jarred food and this can be found in all supermarkets with varied selections.

Powdered porridge or grød

This is something that is everywhere and a type of baby food that is popular with Danes. It is powdered smooth porridges with varieties of flavours from plain to fruit ones and can be mixed with water, formula, breast milk etc and are usually used to supplement homemade foods.

Snacks

Since I had my son, when there are no baby specific snacks available on the market here, I have noticed there are now corn snacks like crisps in some shops and also baby biscuits although these are still not very widely available.

Formula

This is available in all supermarkets and is either the powdered variety or premade cartons. Organic options are widely available now and it is easy to avoid Nestle if that is what your ethics demand (as mine do and here’s why, in case you are interested)

The best shops to go to for the widest selection of baby food are Kvickly and Føtex. If you are looking for the full selection of Ella’s Kitchen then Helsemin is the place to go.

 

Koldskål – the taste of Danish summer

The weather here in Copenhagen was glorious last week and like all good Danes when the sun shines, I hotfooted it to the supermarket to get some koldskål, kammerjunkere and strawberries. Koldskål literally translated means cold bowl and it is a typical summer dessert (or snack or breakfast – there are no rules as far as I can tell on its consumption) of cold buttermilk soup with other ingredients such as egg, vanilla and lemon. It has slightly tart taste which is counteracted by the addition of little crispy biscuits, kammerjunkere, made specifically for koldskål and fresh sweet strawberries. CIMG6495 It is possible to make your own koldskål but it is widely available in cartons in all supermarkets through the summer months but when the weather is hot is sells very quickly.blossom breakfast 2

Homemade Æbleskiver

A few years ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a cast iron æbleskiver pan at a flea market for 50kr. Æbleskiver are a very important Danish Christmas food tradition.

Once Christmas comes around it is time to try my hand at making this delicious little apple filled (sort of) doughnuts that are the traditional Christmas treat in cafes and homes across Denmark.æbleskiver ingredientsI used this recipe from this book and I am told that it is a little fancier than other recipes but it was very easy to make the batter. As it uses yeast there is a little waiting time before you can fire up the pan and get started. But once you do they are super quick and easy to make. A knitting needle is the best way to turn them. But I was so impressed at how perfectly round they turned out on my first attempt and also how truly delicious they are. The way to tell if an æbleskive is homemade is if it actually contains a little cube of apple.æbleskiver cookingOnce they are made, dust with icing sugar and serve warm with a little dollop of jam and a glass of gløgg, the Danish version of mulled wine with raisins and almonds floating in it. Perfect! Glædelig Jul!CIMG4812 CIMG4814

New Grød cafe and cookbook

Grød, the Copenhagen (and maybe the first in the world) porridge cafe , has opened another small place on Guldbergsgade in Nørrebro, just a stone’s throw from Sankt Hans Torv. Blink and you miss it, this little cosy place serves the same menu as the other two outlets but the place has a slightly more bohemian atmosphere. It’s a lovely place to drop by for your porridge fix and Guldbergsgade is certainly a street worth exploring.DSC00429Also as part of the Grød ’empire’, Lasse Skjønning Andersen has written a second porridge cookbook and this time it is available in English as well as Danish. The photography in the book is by the talented Chris Tonnesen (@lachristus on Instagram) so if you want to try your hand at some exciting porridge dishes at home this is the book for you. Blurb in translated from Danish about the book says:

‘The cookbook is a collection of the best recipes we have tested since opening in 2011. In the book you will find both new interpretations of traditional porridge flavours of øllebrød , porridge and rice pudding , as well as more modern variants including roast pork bygotto, tiramisu porridge and Asian chicken rice porridge.’

You can buy the book in all three shops (you may want to check availability of the English version) or via the Grød website.

grod1DSC00435Address: Guldbergsgade 7a, 2200 København N

Website

 

Green Smoothie revolution

kaleI have always been a fan of smoothies but I tended to stick with a basic version of milk, bananas and strawberries, which my son still loves. But increasingly I have been seeing green smoothies gaining popularity outside the crunchy vegan circles and with the winter stretching ahead of us (subscribe to this week’s newsletter for more tips to survive winter), I thought they might be a different way to pack in the vitamins and get my six a day (in Denmark we are recommended to get six portions of fruit and vegetables into our diet daily and the WHO recommend nine – which most people think is impossible). I have spent  two weeks fine tuning my green smoothie ingredients (cucumber was not a hit) and method and I love them now. Not only that, my green smoothie actually holds a whopping eight servings of fruit and veg, so with a homemade vegetable soup for lunch (2 portions) and two vegetables with dinner I am exceeding the WHO’s recommendations. Time will tell what impact this will have on my health but I am feeling pretty virtuous at the moment.

So here are my favoured ingredients – spinach, wedge of pineapple, apple juice (planning to mover to coconut water this week), juice of half a lime, and juice of half a blood orange (this was because I had them in the fruit bowl), leaves from two sprigs of mint, half a thumb of ginger, one kiwi and about five frozen strawberries.

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Like many people, time in the mornings is at a premium so I prepare my ingredients before I head to bed. I peel and chop the fruit and ginger and put with the half of citrus fruits (to squeeze in the morning) and mint leaves in a bowl in the fridge ready for the morning.

I have found that by blitzing the 200ml of juice with the large handful of spinach first in the blender (which I didn’t for the photo above) before adding the fresh fruit gives a better consistency and then adding the frozen strawberries last. It loses it vibrant green look with the strawberries but they make it taste a  lot nicer.

I add ginger as an extra health boost to the smoothie. I thought about adding chia seeds which seem to be popular but at 60kr for a small bag unless they are the elixir of life, I think I will give them a miss.

People often argue that fruit and veggies are expensive, especially here in Denmark, but the ingredients for a week’s worth (and more in the case of some ingredients) cost me 18kr per smoothie, which is pretty cheap for what you get, and you could half this cost by shopping smarter in places like Netto, Kiwi or Aldi (I’m lazy and use Nemlig.com).

Have you joined the green smoothie revolution yet?

*if you like my Kale sweatshirt mine is from Modcloth (currently out of stock there but available here) and apparently worn by Beyonce on a music video – I wonder if she’s into  green smoothies too?

For the love of porridge

Porridge is a big deal in Denmark – when you have a baby you are recommended to start weaning them with baby porridge and for adults there is a vast selection of porridge oats available in supermarkets – the oldest and most popular brand being Solgryn with its eye-catching red and yellow box which has hardly changed in design over the years. Porridge here is the real thing, no Ready Brek glow for the Danes!

porridge

There is even a cafe, Grød, (with an outlet in Torvehallerne) devoted to porridge of all kinds from traditional oats to millet and spelt. A friend of mine said the porridge she had at Grød was the best she had ever tasted outside Scotland – a compliment indeed.

But what is it about porridge and Denmark (and indeed Scotland)? It can probably be traced back to Viking times. Vikings were big consumers of grains and also dairy products and of their two meals a day at least one was porridge. Before Industrialisation in the 1860s, porridge was still a very popular dish in Denmark and continued after that time.

Solgryn was first produced in 1898 and over the years has been advertised by a number of high profile Danish sports people, most recently Micheal Laudrup (I confess I had to Google him but then I know nothing about sport).

You can easily get your hands of porridge on the go here, MacDonalds offer it on their breakfast menu (which I have noticed are often very influenced by local tastes), you can get little pots from Grød at the 7Eleven which you just add water to.

As we move into the winter months, my magic porridge pot will certainly be getting some use. How about you, are you a true Viking porridge lover?