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Poached cod roe

January 27, 2013

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This is just about one of my favorite things in the world to eat. Cod roe, freshly poached. You can only buy fresh cod roe in January, February and March which means it is a real delicacy and something that marks a certain time of year. Cod roe for me means that I have endured some harsh winter months and that I only have a few more to go. It also means that it will get lighter and lighter outside from now on, and that spring will come before too long. In Denmark, when we buy cod roe, we call it ‘a pair of cod roe pants’. And here is why:

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It looks like a pair of (extremely disgusting) pants! They come in all sizes, from a few hundred grams to a kilo (and maybe more). My pants were medium sized. Around 350 grams, I think.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt, a few pepper corns and a dash of vinegar. When the water has come to a boil, dump in the pants and turn down the burner. From now on you don’t want the water to boil, but you don’t want it to get too cold, either. I kept my burner at 2 (out of 9). Keep an eye on it and let the roe sit in the water for about 20 minutes. I like my roe lightly cooked. Cook yours longer if you want it cooked all the way through. Serve it warm on buttered rye bread*. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and serve a lemon wedge on the side. I love it with remoulade that I make by mixing home made mayonnaise with blended pickles.

*Rye bread in Denmark has no caraway and is often up to 80% seeds.

Danish æblekage

January 20, 2013

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Æblekage means apple cake in Danish. But this isn’t actually a cake at all. It is more like a kind of apple trifle made out of homemade applesauce, whipped cream and buttery sweet roasted breadcrumbs. It is a very traditional Danish dessert and I love it so much. I hadn’t had it for a long time, so when I saw some very sad looking apples in my dad’s windowsill this weekend, I knew I had to turn them into old-fashioned æblekage.

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This weekend has been beautiful. There is a nice layer of snow and today the sun was out, so I have taken most of the pictures for this recipe in my Dad’s garden, in the snow. It was freezing cold taking the pictures, but I just couldn’t resist having the beautiful white snow in the photos.

What you need to make this as a dessert for 4 people:

Applesauce

425 g. apples, cored and peeled and cut into chunks

Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

One empty vanilla bean

Breadcrumbs

130 g./4,6 oz. very dry, white bread (if you don’t have bread quite that stale, dry it in the oven, sliced, at 100C/210F until it is completely dry)

80 grams/2,8 oz. butter

1,4 dl./0,6 cups sugar

Cream

2,5 dl./1 cup organic whole cream

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Add the apples to a pot along with the vanilla bean and add a splash of the water. Bring to a low simmer and see how the apples react. My apples were old and dry and needed the whole deciliter of water to not dry out. If your apples are fresh and juicy, you will probably need just the splash in the beginning to keep them from burning. Let it simmer until the apples have turned to mush, about 15 minutes, while keeping an eye on it, adding water as necessary. The applesauce should not be too liquid, but still smooth. When the apples have dissolved, you can add the lemon and the sugar. Add a little at a time as it really depends on your apples how much you’ll need. Taste it. It should not be overly sweet or sour. The sugar is only there to enhance the apple flavor and the same goes for the lemon juice. When you are satisfied with your apple sauce, put it to the side, and let it cool down completely. When cool, remove the vanilla bean.

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Now we are making breadcrumbs. Take your very dry bread and turn it into crumbs. I did it by beating it with the bottom of a pot, while it was in a plastic bag. It might be easier to use a blender or food processor. I like there to be some chunks left for texture. Melt the butter in a pan. When it has melted, but not browned, add the crumbs and the sugar. Over medium heat, keep stirring until it all has turned golden. It is slow at first, but all of a sudden it is very quick, so don’t leave it out of your sight. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread it out. Leave it to cool. You will probably end up with too big a portion of breadcrumbs, but use the leftovers on your yoghurt in the morning along with some fruit.

Now, all there is left to do is whip the cream, and put the dessert together. Traditionally you would put it in a big crystal bowl, and serve people from there. I like to make individual servings, but either way, you just layer the ingredients. I start with applesauce, then breadcrumbs and a good dollop of whipped cream. Then another layer of applesauce, finishing with more breadcrumbs.

And there you have it. It is so simple, but so good!

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Seedy crackers and herby cheese

January 2, 2013

ImageThis post has been on its way for a long time. This fall has been crazy, but with this new year, things are finally changing. In the fall I was on a cheese craze. I got this idea in my head that I should be making my own cheese. And so I did. A fresh goats cheese. And with this kind of fresh cheese, I needed crackers. And these crackers are amazing. And easy! They taste like toasted seeds and go so, so well with the tangy cheese. Ohh, and the cheese. Marnie, my mother-in-law, gave me a cheese trick this summer. You take a fresh goats cheese and put it in a shallow bowl. You crush up some salt, black pepper, garlic and fresh herbs and spread it over the top. And then you drizzle olive oil over it. It is so simple and so good. Especially on a hot summers night with a glass of wine on the side.

DSC_0140And it looks pretty, too. If you are interested in making your own chèvre, I used this recipe and it really came out very nicely. And for the crackers. This is a very widely used and well-known recipe in the Danish blog world. I used this for inspiration.

Here’s what you need:

4 dl./1,7 cups seeds (I used sesame, pumpkin and linseed, but you can use the seeds you like best)

1 dl./0,4 cups oats

3,5 dl./1,5 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2,5 teaspoons sea salt

2 dl./0,85 cups water

1,3 dl./0,55 cups neutral oil

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Turn the oven to 200C/390F. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they are thoroughly combined. Divide the portion in half. On a piece of parchment paper, lay out the first portion of dough. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. Massage and press it until it is uniformly about 1/4 centimeter thick. Remove the top layer of parchment and transfer the dough (still on the bottom piece of parchment) to a baking tray.

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Using a knife, cut the dough in the shapes you would like. You don’t have to cut all the way through,  just making the lines in the dough, makes it easier to break it apart nicely when it’s done. Bake the crackers for about 15 minutes. Make sure they are done, though. The smell should be like toasted seeds and nuts and it should be golden all over. I think it is better to overcook these crackers than to take them out before they are completely done. So the baking time is a pointer only. Keep an eye on the oven. Repeat with the second portion of dough and keep the crackers in an airtight container and enjoy.

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Raspberry filled doughnuts on a rainy summer’s day

August 12, 2012

Imagine this. You are on vacation and the weather is shitty. Rainy and foggy and cold. What do you do? What I chose to do when I woke up on this rainy day in Maine, was to embark on a baking journey, more precisely on a doughnut journey. I have made doughnuts before, just plain glazed ones. They were absolutely delicious, but my favorite kind of deep fried sweet treat will always be the raspberry filled variety coated with sugar, also known as the Berliner pfannkuchen. I grew up eating this kind of doughnut whenever I got a chance, always with the goal of eating it without licking my mouth (which is very difficult!). They have the taste of childhood to me, and the tartness of the raspberry jam filling goes amazingly well with the fried sweetness of the doughnut and the crunchy sugar. The recipe I used was an adapted mix of Joy the Baker’s recipe and the one from the Joy of Cooking.

What you need to make 13 doughnuts

For the batter

1 package of dry active yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 stick / 60 g. soft salted butter

3 egg yolks

3 1/2 cups / 8,3 dl. flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup / 2,4 dl. whole milk (at room temperature)

And

Raspberry jam for the filling

An egg white for brushing

1,5 l. / 48 oz. vegetable oil for frying

A cup of sugar for coating

How to

Mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir it and let it sit for five minutes, until it gets foamy. Once the yeast is foamy mix it with the egg yolks, butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt and vanilla. If you have a stand mixer, use it, and beat the dough on low until combined, then on medium for 3-4 minutes. I used a fork to mix the ingredients, and then used my hands to knead the dough on the counter top for about 5 minutes, until it was smooth and didn’t stick to the counter. You can adjust the amount of flour if the dough is still too sticky with the 3 1/2 cups, but don’t add too much. It isn’t supposed to be a dry dough. When the dough is kneaded, place it in a bowl, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and cover the bowl with a dish towel. Leave it to rise until it doubles in size; it took me 1 1/2 hours.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 0,2 inches / 1/2 centimeter and cut out 2 inch / 5 cm. rounds of dough. Cut as many as you can without creating too many scraps, preferably an even number. I got 14 nice looking ones, and created some messy looking ones out of the scraps.

On half of the rounds, place about 1/2 teaspoon of good raspberry jam. Then brush the edge with the beaten egg white and place another round on top, gently pressing down on the edges to seal in the raspberry filling. Let the doughnuts rest for about half an hour.

Fry in plenty of 350F / 175C hot oil, two at a time, until golden brown turning over once. Meanwhile fill a plate with a cup of sugar. Drain the doughnuts on paper towels and immediately after roll the doughnuts in the sugar.

Serve warm, or within a couple of hours. They are so, SO good fresh! Enjoy your doughnuts and just you try to eat one without licking your mouth.

Grilled mackerel with garlic and parsley butter

July 26, 2012

I had the best fishing experience this morning. Andy and I are in Maine (in the US) and early this morning we went out with his parents on the Belfast harbor for muffins and coffee, bringing along two fishing poles. We never really expected to catch anything, but it was a true success and we ended up with six beautiful mackerels to have for lunch. We gutted the fish and cut the bones out so we had two nice fillets per fish.

Marnie, my mother-in-law, made a small fire, and over it we grilled the fillets on both sides for a couple of minutes. We melted some leftover garlic/parsley butter (just made of butter, garlic and chopped parsley all mashed together) and poured it over the mackerel fillets along with a sprinkling of sea salt.

It was just the perfect lunch, served with some steamed green beans from the garden!

Avocado cake with Lifou vanilla and lemon zest

June 21, 2012

I have to start by saying that even though this cake sounds weird, it is truly delicious. Just ask Andy, Lærke and my mom who helped me eat (all of) this cake on one sunny afternoon in Bornholm. It is sort of like banana bread, but with avocado instead of banana and with a beautiful, pale green color and subtle taste of avocado.

The idea for this cake was literally brought to me one morning in Lifou, when my sweet neighbor Odile left a plate for me on the kitchen table while I was showering.

It was avocado cake, beautifully green, very spongy and not sweet at all. While it was very delicious as it was, I was excited to develop the cake further by adding lots of vanilla and lemon zest. Also I wanted to make it a bit sweeter and less dense. So a few days ago when I found some ripe avocados, I decided to go for it, and I am so happy I did. It came out just like I had imagined, and Andy is already asking me to make it again. Success!

Before I give you the recipe, I want to tell you why I was so keen on adding lots of vanilla to this cake. My other neighbor in Lifou, Vaie grows her own vanilla. Most people do in Lifou, and it gave me a much more intimate relationship with the vanilla bean, seeing how it grows and what care is put into each bean. I brought home lots of vanilla, for myself and for my friends and family, and I used a beautiful one for this recipe. So this cake really became the taste of Lifou for me. The mix of avocados (which I ate from the garden almost every day) and vanilla, is like a picture of the produce that grew right around me, and I was very happy to put them together in this cake.

What you need

150 g./5,5 oz. soft butter

190 g./6,5 oz. sugar

1 vanilla bean

3 eggs

The zest of one lemon

A pinch of salt

150 g./5,5 oz. flour

1 teaspoon baking soda (natron)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 ripe avocados (I used hass)

 

How to

Turn the oven to 180C/350F. Beat the soft butter with the sugar, the seeds from the vanilla pod and finely grated lemon zest until white. Add one egg at a time while beating. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and soda and mix until combined. Open up the avocados and mash them up in a bowl until pretty smooth. Add them to the batter and make sure it is thoroughly mixed. Grease a loaf tin and dump the batter in it. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. If it takes color too quickly, cover it with some silver foil until it is done. Let it cool before eating, and have it with your afternoon coffee, preferably in the sun.

Wonderful rhubarb meringue cake

June 7, 2012

After coming back to Denmark I have been going completely overboard, cooking and baking all the time. I have especially been excited to cook with all the amazing seasonal foods that are out right now, like new potatoes, strawberries, and last but not least, rhubarb.

The recipe for this rhubarb cake is on a magazine page that looks to be from the seventies, but it doesn’t have either the name of the magazine nor the author of the recipe. My Dad has kept it in his little green recipe box for ages, it being his favorite rhubarb cake, and I completely understand why. It is absolutely delicious, simple to make and keeps really well, at least for the three days it lasted in this household.

And here is what you need to make it

For the batter

175 g./6,5 oz. soft butter

150 g./5,5 oz. sugar

2 tablespoons of good vanilla sugar

A pinch of salt

3 egg yolks

200 g./7 oz. flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons whole milk

For the rhubarb meringue

3 egg whites

200 g./7 oz. sugar

100 g./3,5 oz. roughly chopped walnuts

500 g./1 lb. rhubarb

And here is how

The first thing I did was to go to my dad’s garden to find the rhubarb. If you’re not lucky enough to know someone with this bounty in their garden, you can of course buy them, too. I prefer the skinny, deep red rhubarb in the picture, but you can use the fatter, greener kind as well, I am sure. Take off the tops and bottoms and wash them well. Cut into inch-long bits and set aside. Turn the oven to 180C/350F.

With a mixer of some sort, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar, salt and egg yolks until creamy. Mix the flour and baking powder and add to the buttery mix little by little while beating. Add the milk. Butter a cake pan (I used 24×30 cm.) and add the batter. Even it out.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until almost stiff, then add the sugar little by little, and keep beating until it forms soft but steady peaks. Mix the rhubarb and walnuts in with the meringue, and spread the mixture over the batter. Throw the sucker in the oven and bake it for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, though, as you don’t want the meringue to burn. If the meringue is done (golden brown) before the rest of the cake, just cover with some silver foil so it won’t burn. Test it with a knife, to see if it comes out clean. When it does, the cake is done.

Serve it warm with whipped cream and a good cup of coffee and you will definitely be in early summer heaven. ENJOY!

The recipe tells you NEVER to cover the cake to keep the meringue crispy, but I covered it and even without crispy meringue, it was awesome and kept moist and delicious for three days.

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