Food

5 very danish recipes

5 very danish recipes

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I love food and if someone asks me what my favorite food is, my answer is usually simply “food.” My dad made a lot of traditional danish recipes when I was young and he still does today. That is probably why typical Danish dishes have become such a big part of my cooking. In this blog post I want to share 5 of my favorite danish recipes.

Denmark is one of the countries in the world with the most pigs per capita. There are more pigs than people (more than double!), which has of course had a large influence on the danish food culture.

Frikadeller – one of my American wife’s favorites

If there is one recipe that my American wife has asked me to make more often than any other, it must be frikadeller, or “Danish meatballs.” Meatballs are not a new invention; they became extra popular in the years after the war (WWII) when meat was really expensive, so people could stretch it further by adding flour. As children, my sister and I had one day every week where we had to cook for the family. Frikadeller is one of the recipes that I often choose to make.

To make frikadeller you need some ground pork or ground pork/veal. I prefer the latter. You also need 1-2 onions, 2-3 eggs, milk, flour, oatmeal (for my version), salt and pepper. After mixing everything together, you fry the meatballs on a pan with a little cooking oil and butter. The butter gives them a delicious taste. Frikadeller are best served with boiled potatoes and a classic Danish brown sauce.

You can find a more exact recipe here.

Forloren hare – the fake hare

How do you sell another ground meat recipe? You sell it as something more fancy, like a hare/rabbit. Forloren hare is basically made by mixing the same stuff as you do with frikadeller (you can add some extra flavour by mixing in small pieces of bacon). But instead of making a lot of small “deller” (meatballs) you only make one big meatloaf and cook it in the oven. To make sure it won’t get dry, put some slices of bacon on top.

Since Forloren hare is pretending to be a recipe made from a wild animal, it also needs some “wild sauce” to go with it. This is a typical Danish sauce with a red currant jelly base. This sweet sauce was one of the reasons this was one of my absolute favorite dishes as a child.

You can find a more exact recipe here.

Before the oven

Before the oven

Right our of the oven

Right out of the oven

Slice the forloren hare

Slice the forloren hare

Perfect with new potatoes, carrots and the wild sauce

Perfect with new potatoes, carrots and the wild sauce

Æggekage

Æggekage is a Danish version of an omelet. It is perfect either as dinner with potatoes, or great on an open-faced sandwich for lunch. You simply mix eggs and milk with a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. On a frying pan, you fry a few slices of bacon and afterwards you pour the egg mixture over them, cooking it until it is done. Afterwards you sprinkle it with chives. To make the dish more interesting, I often add different vegetables. Both peas and corn work great.

Here is a more exact recipe here.

 

Koteletter – many great ways to make delicious pork chops

kotelet

Fried on a pan with fries and a salat, made a great dinner the other day 🙂

There are many ways to make a lovely tasting pork chop. First, you can simply fry them on a pan. When I do this, I often make them even more delicious by topping them with a slice of cheese during  the last 1 minute on the pan.

Another great way to prepare pork chops is in the oven. A way I love them is to top the pork chops with chopped mushrooms and tomatoes in a baking dish. They only need to be spiced with some salt, pepper and maybe some oregano, and once again with a slice of cheese on top. After a short time in the oven you have some wonderful meat that you can eat with boiled potatoes or maybe some fries.

You can find the more exact recipe here and here and here.

Flæskesteg – traditional Christmas food you can eat all year around

To end this post about great danish food, which ended up being all about pork recipes, we have flæskesteg. This is the way to make pork when you want to serve it for guests at a party. It is one of the most popular dishes to serve for Christmas. The main thing which makes a flæskesteg different from pork roasts in the rest of the world, is that we do not remove the skin. Instead we make deep scratches in the skin and make it into a wonderful crispy snack called flæskesvær.

For Christmas you serve it with boiled potatoes, caramelised potatoes, red cabbage and a brown sauce.

Here is a more exact recipe.

 

These are my top 5 Danish recipes, but there are many other  options as well, such as “stegt flæsk med persillesovs,” “forloren skildpad,” “boller i karry” and many more. If you want to make more traditional Danish food, an easy way to do it is to order a mealbox (in danish: måltidskasse) based on Danish recipes. That way you will get new inspiration every week, and maybe also learn some more about Danish food. It is, of course, only a good idea if you enjoy potatoes and brown sauce. 🙂

A New Sign of Danish-American Friendship

Today is the 4th of July, and the largest celebration of America’s Independence Day outside of this country is taking place in Denmark.  This long-standing tradition started in 1912 when a group of Danish immigrants to America purchased 140 acres of land near Rebild in Northern Jutland. They immediately donated it to the Danish people, which was a good thing because as a rule Americans can’t buy land in Denmark.  The gift was given with the stipulation that Danish-Americans could celebrate American holidays at the park — which they have done every year for over a century.

Claus Meyer 4 - 1It has taken almost that long for Danish food to make a major inroad into American society, with the exception of kringle and restaurants in small enclaves of Danish culture such as Solvang in California. But super-restauranteur Claus Meyer has set out to bring his New Nordic Food Manifesto to New York, and now smørrebrød and Danish licorice can be found in Grand Central Station– which coincidentally was built just one year after the first Rebild 4th of July celebration. It staggers the mind to think of how many people will now know about Danish food, since the world’s largest train station attracts some 750,00 visitors a day.

Claus Meyer, who is best known as co-founder of Noma, moved his family to the Big Apple over a year ago in order to prepare for this new Danish invasion into the competitive food world of New York. He has taken on a very ambitious project that involves a high-end restaurant called Agern as well as the Great Northern Food Hall, which opened last week.

Agern takes its name from the Danish national tree as well as the acorn in the family crest of the wealthy Vanderbilt family that built Grand Central Station. Claus Meyer and his team have designed a beautiful modern restaurant that one would expect to find somewhere in Denmark rather than in the former men’s smoking room of America’s largest train station.  Icelandic chef Gunnar Gíslason offers a la carte options and two tasting menus (one for meat eaters, and a “Field and Forest” option for vegetarians) based on the principles of New Nordic Cuisine and using seasonal, local ingredients from the New York area. Prices are high — although not in comparison to Noma, as one reviewer said — and the Danish tradition of no tipping is being introduced to Americans for the first time.

Despite the high income and education level of Grand Central Station commuters — 93% of them are college graduates — most New Yorkers will not end up eating at Agern.  But a staggering number are likely to get something from Meyer’s food hall, which is located in a former waiting room called Vanderbilt Hall that is conveniently located right inside a main entrance to the station.

There are five separate pavilions in the Great Northern Food Hall, as well as two bars. The first is Meyers Bageri, an American version of the Danish bakery chain. In order to create authentic Danish baked goods in New York, Meyer and his team took over an existing bakery in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn.  For a few months this spring it offered Scandinavian breads and pastries only on Saturdays, under the original name of Margo Patisserie. Now that the food hall in Grand Central Station has opened, the bakery will transition to its new Danish identity.

The second stall is a coffee stand called Brownsville Roasters, specializing in a lighter, Danish-style roast bean.  Never one to do things in half measures, Claus Meyer has announced plans to open a culinary school and restaurant in Brownsville – an area of east Brooklyn recently described as one of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods — in addition to the coffee roasting operation. Meyer is known in Denmark for his strategic partnerships with high security prisons offering training in the culinary arts to inmates.

The Grain Bar will serve sweet and savory porridges, or grød, as well as parfaits made of the the Danish soured milk product ymer. A fourth pavilion called Almanak will specialize in salads, smoothies, and small plates, with an emphasis on vegetable-based dishes.

Open Rye is the last of the five pavilions, and it features Danish smørrebrød on bread baked from heirloom rye grown in New York state and freshly milled in the Williamsburg bakery before being made into rugbrød. Toppings include traditional favorites such as potatoes, eggs and shrimp, and pickled herring, with an emphasis on local, organic ingredients whenever possible.

And as if these options were not enough, there is a Great Northern Deli, featuring specialties such as Johan Bülow licorice and the newly published English edition of Claus Meyer’s book Nordic Kitchen: One Year of Family Cooking, as well as a Danish Dogs pølse stand situated in the shuttle passage of Grand Central Terminal.   Let us hope that Americans warmly welcome this latest sign of Danish-American  friendship, because according to The New York Times, Meyer and his partners have a 10-year lease for the 16,000 square feet in and around Vanderbilt Hall, with the rent starting at $1.8 million a year and rising to $2.8 million in the 10th year, plus a percentage of the gross.

 

Five Fantastic Danish Food Names

You have to love a country that makes a national sport out of asking foreigners to pronounce the name of a simple summer dessert. But rødgrød med fløde is by no means the only Danish food name with entertainment value.

Burning Love ElvisBrændende kærlighed, although probably not named after the famous Elvis song, would be called “burning love” in English. This entree of mashed potatoes is made with butter, whole milk or cream and salt and topped with chives. An indent is made in the mashed potatoes form a well for bacon cubes that have been fried with sliced onions. What’s not to love?

How about hold-kæft bolcher? These large hard candies are called “shut up drops,” a name that undoubtedly earns them popularity with harried parents. And while the name might seem rather rude, it’s nicer than the American equivalent: “jaw breakers.”

Abemad is not a common dish in Denmark today, but I enjoy the fact that its name reflects the Danish love of word play. What would you expect to be in “monkey food”? Bananas, of course, along with other fruits such as pears and apples.

The translation of skidne æg that we give in our book, Eat Smart in Denmark, is “messy eggs” — but those who speak Danish know that “messy” is just a euphemism for sh*tty. These hard-boiled eggs with a slightly soft yolk are served in a mustard sauce. Legend is that because it was forbidden to clean the house or do laundry from Good Friday through Easter, this potentially messy dish was considered appropriate for Holy Saturday, when clothes were not so clean.

You can’t talk about funny Danish food terms without naming hundeprutter (dog farts) and the other Danish gummy candies with irreverent names. The line originated in a candy factory in Holme-Olstrup, a small town outside Næstved. One day owner Michael Spang reportedly asked his son Nicolai to try a new candy, and the boy replied: “They’re so slimy – and they look like dog farts.”

Legend does not convey how young Nicolai knew what a dog fart looked like, but his father took a risk and gave an entire line of candies names like Seagull Droppings, Dirty Diapers and Ear Wax. Today the amusement park called BonBon Land  in Holmegaard takes the names of its rides from these famous candies. The popularity of this tourist attraction can be measured in foodie terms: every year 60 tons of French fries, 130,000 ice cream cones and 80,000 hot dogs are sold – to say nothing of countless bags of Rotten Fish, Garbage Heap and Sewer Slime.  Only in Denmark!

When you only have one day in Aarhus

A few weeks ago, I had business to attend to in the Aarhus area. My wife is American and had never been to Jutland, and therefore we decided that she would come along, and we would make it into a small weekend vacation.

We only had one day to enjoy Aarhus as tourists and we chose to use that day in “Den Gamle By.” It was a great choice. If you only have one day and the weather is nice and sunny, like it was when we were there, then Den Gamle By is the perfect place to use your time, especially if you are just a little interested in history.

aarhus-gamle-by

Den Gamle By is very much like traveling back in time

A Danish open-air museum representing life from the 1800s, 1920s and 1970s

Den Gamle By is exactly what its name indicates it is, “The Old Town.” It is an open-air museum where you walk around in a town that looks just like a Danish town from the 1700s, 1800s, 1920s and 1970s. In many museums, you walk around in a modern building, and look at individual things from olden days. In Den Gamle By, however, you walk around among old houses, and that way you get a whole other experience. You can go inside most of the buildings, which you will see decorated just as they were back then. You can see an old-fashioned pharmacy, a bakery and the mayor’s house from the 1800s. If you move on to the two newer areas, you will see stores such as a bookseller (both the 1920s and the 1970s version). Or what about visiting an old museum inside the museum?

Danes did of course also bike back in the days

Danes did of course also bike back in the days

I was not born in the 1970s

Many people probably think it is a little weird that they have a section dedicated to the 1970s. I did quite enjoy it though. Everything seemed so familiar to me as a Dane, but there were still some things that we don’t do and see anymore. I was born in the 1980s, and therefore I only recognize the 70s from movies, and other small things that were carried on into the 80s. Life has actually changed a lot in the past 40 years, and it is funny to see how. For instance, there is the museum has both a travel agency and a photo shop, which look exactly like they looked back then. You can still find both things today, but it is starting to become very rare, thanks to computers and the internet taking over those areas. Therefore, it is great that a whole part of the story is saved in Aarhus.

gamle-by-aarhus-70

 

An amazing place for all ages

We visited Aarhus a little early for the tourist season to set in, but there are supposed to be a lot more activities now in the warmer months. Den Gamle By has a lot to offer its visitors, and it is guaranteed to be a lot more fun for all ages than traditional museums are. It is definitely a place to visit!

If you only have one day, like we did that weekend, I would strongly recommend that you use the time in Den Gamle By.

You can read more about Den Gamle By on their own website.

A look inside an old electronic store from the 1970s

A look inside an old electronic store from the 1970s

It’s Good to Eat Green

Easter in Denmark begins with the Danes getting the day before Good Friday off as a holiday, a practice which apparently costs the country 5 million kroner, according to Jyllands-Posten.  This day is called Skærtorsdag, and it is known as Maundy Thursday in Christian countries around the world — where it is rarely a paid holiday (but the Danes do love their extensive number of spring days off from work).

The name Maundy is thought to come from the Latin word mandatum,  the first word in the Biblical quote “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you”). The first part of the Danish name for the holy day, Skærtorsdag, comes from the Old Norse word skær, meaning clean. This is thought to be a reference to Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Suppe med 9 slags grønt

Suppe med 9 slags grønt

The food traditions of Skærtorsdag go back to early times, and were  thought to have magical rather than Christian connotations. Skærtorsdagskål (Maundy Thursday cabbage) is a dish made by cooking several types of cabbage together with pork and other meats. When eaten on Maundy Thursday this was once believed to have the power to prevent a type of malaria formerly found in areas of Denmark with brackish coastal water.

Another version of this tradition, referred to as syv slags grønt (seven types of green), originally called for eating a soup made with nine kinds of fresh green vegetables (mostly cabbage) on Maundy Thursday—but this later this was often reduced to just seven kinds, especially since grass and nettles were sometimes needed to bring the total up to nine. This dish was undoubtedly based on a pre-Christian tradition celebrating the return of green plants in the spring.

Today we all recognize the nutritional value of green vegetables — the more the merrier. The food company Arla has published a recipe (in Danish) for Soup with 9 Types of Green that not only has nine types of greens but also bacon and a soft-cooked egg for extra flavor and protein. Of course in order to get up to the magical number nine, the recipe calls for  parsley, chives, dill and chervil. But these herbs undoubtedly taste better than grass and nettles!