Saturday, July 12, 2008

Danish Delights

Before I went to Denmark as an exchange student (some 20 years ago!) I had very little idea of what kind of food they ate, that is, apart from Danish pastries. When I got there I was underwhelmed at the proliferation of pork and potatoes and the idea of eating sandwiches with a knife and fork. However, as my year there progressed I came to really appreciate the rituals and seasonal aspects of Danish food, and I find myself really hankering for the traditional fare (especially in winter!). I love the calendar of events that are marked out by different foods, Festelavn, Easter, Mayday, summer ( and Skt Hans), Christmas and New Year ( I have probably forgotten a good many but these are the ones that stand out for me). I was especially fond of the open sandwich tradition for lunches, the different toppings, breads, beer and spirits that accompanied. When we visited again some years ago it was a particular request that we go to a proper Danish frokost (lunch) restaurant. It was better than I remembered- my host parents Hans and Bodil picked out a fabulous spot around Nyhavn in Copenhagen -where we ate like kings!
I happened to bump into a Danish woman (in the pub!) recently and invited her for dinner as I never need much of an excuse to cook some Danish food!
My most regularly made dinner is frikadeller (pork meatballs), red cabbage and caramelised potatoes. Of course for dessert it is Aebleskiver (the ball pancakes, which I made here). It sounds kind of plain I know, but to me it is flavoursome comfort food and Kate (the Dane) was hanging out for both frikadeller and red cabbage! The caramelised potatoes are usually served with roast pork loin in Denmark, but I like them with any pork dish! I have yet to fully master them actually, I think the potatoes have to be well dried before you toss them in the caramel and I must be too impatient or disorganised because mine never are! They tend to get a bit gloopy but they still have good flavour so I live with it!
We started with some cheese and chutneys, accompanied by the obligatory Carlsberg.
The frikadeller I make quite frequently, I often serve them with mash (this one is kumara and potato) and sauteed leeks and apples. I deglaze the pan with some apple juice and chicken stock for a nice sauce to go with it. My family adores this meal, it is a real staple!
Frikadeller (from Allertiders Kogebog)
500g minced pork (or you can use 1/2 pork mince and 1/2 veal mince)
1 1/2 tsp salt
80 g flour
1 egg
100g chopped onion
1 cup skim milk
ground pepper
oil to cook
Put all ingredients (but only 1/2 the milk) in the food processor and mix well together, adding more milk as needed to get it to a smooth texture. Shape into small patties and cook in a hot frypan until cooked through. (approx 2 mins per side)
Red Cabbage
1 medium sized red cabbage
2 medium sized apples
30 g butter
90-120 ml wine vinegar
90-120 ml water
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp red currant jelly
2 tbsp sugar
Remove coarse outer leaves and stalk from cabbage and shred finely in the food processor. Peel core and grate apples. Melt butter in heavy, large saucepan over low heat. Add cabbage and apples. Stir for 5 mins. Do not let scorch. Add vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat until cabbage is very tender (60-90 mins). Add red currant jelly and sugar and bring to boil again.
This is best made a day ahead as the flavour is even better. Reheat slowly to serve.
Caramelised Potatoes (Brune Kartofler)
1 kg potatoes
75 g butter
75g sugar
Peel and cook potatoes for 12-13 minutes. Rough up with a fork. Let potatoes cool and dry off (preferably overnight). Put sugar in a heavy based pan on a hot element and allow to caramelise, swirling just as the sugar begins to melt and deepen in colour. When it is beginning to brown add butter and let it melt and incorporate into the sugar. When thoroughly mixed put potatoes into pan with caramel and coat the potatoes and warm through. Serve hot.

It was lovely to share some good food and conversation with our guest!

1 comment:

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Wow! What a meal, I have never tried Danish food, apart from the pastries, lol, but this looks and sounds great.
The potatoes in particular sound amazing.