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!

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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?

 

Lykken er Chokolade (Happiness is chocolate)

There has been a lot of noise about this chocolate cookbook, Lykken er Chokolade, released last month and written by two Danish bloggers Maja and Anne. The title means Happiness is Chocolate and who can argue with that. I bought the book very soon after it was released and when I heard that Maja was making chocolate waffles in Social Food I went down to see her at work. She was delightful and invited me to bring my book for her to sign, which I duly did.CIMG6408 She was just as sweet and is, not surprisingly, very passionate about chocolate. I love the book. The authors choose a number of the same ingredients such as caramel or raspberries for example and create two very different chocolate recipes with them. The recipes are quite straightforward but in Danish. It is not hard to translate them though as in general they are quite short and it is worth it.CIMG6411 I asked Maja what her favourite recipe in the book is and her answer was the peanut butter ice cream by Anne.
After reading and drooling over the book for some time, I decided to make the chocolate tart with salt caramel by Maja at home. It was easy and totally delicious. I can’t wait to try more from this book.CIMG6424 CIMG6435

My top 5 Places to eat in Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne is one of the top places to visit if you love food and here are my top five places to have a bite to eat there.torvehallerneI love Torvehallerne. For me it is my market, like a French lady. I go there, armed with my basket, going from one favourite stall to another buying food to enjoy at home. It is also a great tourist attraction especially on a weekend but the most important thing is that everyone there loves food, whether it is to sell, to photograph, buy to eat at home, at some of the little tables around the takeaway stalls or in one of the beautiful local parks nearby.

If you want a quick but delicious lunch there are lots of places to choose from in Torvehallerne but here are my top five for a quick and fairly inexpensive lunch. They all have small table areas and in the summer there are lots of picnic tables outside,where there is a great atmosphere.

Hav2goCIMG5811This is part of one of the two fish stalls in Hall 1. They offer a wonderful selection of fresh but unusual salads with different types of fish tapas from tuna carpaccio, chilli king prawns, seared tuna to small quiches and freshly made sandwiches. The tuna for the salads are cooked on site and you can really taste the difference.  You can get a variety of sized boxes (the one above is for two) with bread to takeaway. They also have small, chilled bottles of Cava and can give you plastic glasses and cutlery so you can enjoy a luxury picnic.

GrødCIMG5795This is the Torvehallerne branch of the porridge cafe in Nørrebro. You can get a hearty bowl of porridge or risotto to either takeaway or enjoy at one of the high stools by the stall. Great way to start a day of wandering around the city.

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This is one of my favourite stalls in the market. I usually buy cheese, charcuterie and french bread to enjoy at home but you could equally make up a small picnic. The other side of the stall is a cafe area where you can enjoy a cheese or charcuterie platter at their tables. They also make amazing duck confit baguettes which won the city’s best sandwich accolade from the Politiken and serve French and Danish beers to enjoy with it.

Hallernes Smørrebrød CIMG5813If you are looking for a real Danish open sandwich experience this is the place to go in Torvehallerne. They offer a range of small sandwiches so you can enjoy a good selection of traditional toppings.

GormsCIMG5812This is the only takeaway outlet from this famous Danish pizza restaurant group. They do super thin and crusty pizza slices or pizza sandwiches which are so delicious you will want two. They have a few tables and chairs where you can enjoy your pizzas.

I hope you can find time to try these tasty places!