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Archive for January, 2011

Fastelavnsboller

Fastelavn is a Nordic holiday celebrated on Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. It is similar to the American Halloween where children dress in customes and beg for candy. Some towns may have a parade followed by the traditional “slå katten af tynden” which is a wooden barrel that has cats painted on it and is filled with candy. The children takes turn hitting the barrel with a bat and the one to hit the bottom out, spilling the candy, is crowned “kattedronning” (queen of the cats). Hitting of the barrel continues and the one hitting down the last plank is crowned “kattekonge” (king of the cats).

If the children go door to door begging for candy they will come to the door and sing a little tune called Boller op, boller ned. This song basically says: Buns up, buns down, buns in my stomach, if I get no buns, then I will make trouble. The buns mentioned in the song is reffering to the Fastelavnsboller which is a popular pastry served on this particular day.

There are many different varieties of Fastelavnsboller recipes. Some is made from a Wienerbrød dough and some are a regular yeast dough. Some are prefilled with a custard or jam while others are sliced open and then filled with a custard or whipped cream filling. The Fastelavnesboller which I made here is a regular yeast dough which was prefilled with custard. I absolutely adore custard and would (if no one was watching) eat it by the spoonful. However, for these particular Fastelavnsboller which I choose to prefil and then bake, it turned out that the wonderful custard got almost completely absorbed into the bread and loosing its intensity. So next time I make this recipe I think I’ll prefil with jam instead because the jam still has its intensity even if some of it gets absorbed into the bread.

Ingredients:

Dough:

2 deciliter milk (1 cup)

25 grams butter (2 tablespoons)

50 grams cake/fresh yeast (or 4 teaspoons dry active yeast)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

450-475 grams flour (3 3/4 cups)

1 additional egg for glazing (optional)

Custard filling:

1 vanilla bean

1 cup milk

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Jam filling:

your favorite jam (if using)

Chocolate icing:

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

hot water

White icing:

1 cup confectioners sugar

hot water

Sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

In a small saucepan heat up milk and butter to finger temperature, melting the butter. Break up cake yeast and place  in a small bowl, pour warm milk over and stir to dissolve yeast. Add sugar, salt and egg, stir to mix. Add flour a little at the time, stir to combine. Note: it may not be necessary to add all the flour. Knead the dough until smooth. Leave dough in bowl and cover with a dry tea towel. Place in a warm location and let rise for 1 hour.

While dough is rising, make the filling. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with the tip of a knife. Place vanilla seeds and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy. Add cornstarch and mix together. While continuing to beat the eggs, slowly pour half of the hot milk into the eggs to temper it. Then pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to low temperature on the stove. Continue to whisk mixture over low temperature until the custard starts to thicken, making sure the custard does not boil. Remove from heat, place in a small bowl, cover with cling wrap directly on the custard surface to prevent a skin from forming and place in refrigerator to cool.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly dust with flour and turn dough out onto the working surface. Knead dough a little until smooth and elastic. Roll out into a 40 by 40 cm square (15 x 15 inches) and cut dough into 12 pieces. Place a heaping teaspoonful custard or jam (if using) in center of each square. Using the leftover egg whites, brush the edges of the square dough to help seal the edges. Fold each of the four corners up to the center and press to seal all edges, letting the air inside escape. Turn the dough ball over, tuck under all edges and place on baking sheet with seam side down. Repeat with remaining squares. When done forming dough balls, cover with a dry tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm location.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). After dough has been allowed to rise, break open an egg and lightly beat it in small bowl. Brush egg-wash onto each dough ball before baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before icing.

To make icing, combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix until desired thickness (somewhat thick but spreadable). Spread icing onto each fastelavnsbolle and place sprinkles on top before glaze sets. Enjoy.

Source: dough from Lone Kjær – Hverdag de luxe and custard filling adapted from Trina Hahnemann – The Scandinavian Cookbook

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Smørrebrød – Fiskefilet

Smørrebrød is a very important part of traditional Danish cuisine. Basically it’s an open-faced sandwich which starts with the base of bread and butter and then it is topped off, in an artful fashion, with varying ingredients which compliment each other.

Ingredients:

For the Flounder Filet:

4 Flounder Filets (or however many you’re making)

1 egg, lightly beaten

plain bread crumbs

salt and pepper

extra virgin olive oil, for frying

For the Smørrebrød:

1 slice Rye bread, or toast if you prefer

butter, at room temperature

lettuce

flounder filet, hot off pan or warmed up

Remoulade (see recipe)

Capers

Dill, for garnish

lemon wedges

Directions:

Lightly beat the egg. In a shallow dish mix bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Dip each flounder filet in the egg, then turn the flounder in the bread crumbs covering both sides. Place oil in pan and heat to medium-high. Brown flounder on both sides and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Butter bread (if desired). Top with lettuce, flounder, remoulade, capers and dill. Squeeze lemon over fish and enjoy.

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Remoulade

Remoulade

Remoulade is a Danish condiment used to top off fish, hot dogs, open-faced sandwiches of varying kinds, even for dipping French Fries into. Whenever I travel back home to Denmark, Remoulade is one of the many food related items that fill my suitcase when I come back to the US. Then one day my good Danish friend Mona told me how to make it myself and it taste just like the real thing. It is similar in taste to a Tartar sauce, only sweeter and it’s really easy to make. Make sure to use a yellow mustard to give the Remoulade its distinct yellow color. Enjoy!

Sweet relish squeezed dry

Ingredients:

1 cup sweet relish

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

3 teaspoons yellow mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

Place relish onto a piece of cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, twist into a tight ball and squeeze out as much fluid as you can. Place squeezed relish into a small bowl and add mayonnaise, yellow mustard and sugar. Mix until well combined. Place in an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Source: my good friend Mona

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Danish Wienerbrød

A couple of years ago my husband and I attended a week-long seminar at the John C. Campbell Folk School in beautiful Brasstown, North Carolina. The school is based on the Danish design of a “Folkehøjskole” which is a non-competitive setup and emphasizing on teaching practical skills.  They offer classes in anything from Clay to Dance to Knitting to Music to Woodworking, and so much more. Your days at the Folk School are filled with many activities from sunrise to sunset, but although busy it is also relaxing and the school is set in an incredibly peaceful environment. Joe took Blacksmithing and I took Scandinavian Baking. The baking class was taught by Kim Hendrickson who was full of useful baking/cooking tips and who had answers to all of my 101 questions about yeast and baking techniques. It was a week filled with baking delicious treats, some of which I was familiar with and some which were new to me. I hope that Joe and I can one day go back to the Folk School for more classes for we had such a wonderful time there and we got to meet so many interesting people.

I have known Wienerbrød my entire life but I had never attempted to make it until my Folk School stay. Wienerbrød is a Danish specialty and outside of Denmark it is referred to as a “Danish”, but believe me, it is nothing like the Danish that you pick up at your local 7/11. Wienerbrød comes in many different shapes and with numerous types of fillings. There are two ways to make this dough, that I know of. The traditional way is to roll out the yeast dough, cover parts of it with thinly sliced butter, fold into numerous layers, roll out and repeat folding and rolling. This process of rolling and folding the dough with the butter is what gives the pastry a crisp and flaky texture. The second method is the “quick” method where flour and butter is combined in a food processor and pulsed until the butter is the size of kidney beans. You still have to roll and fold the dough several times and so I’m not really sure it’s any quicker, but the dough turns out perfectly. Wienerbrød is a time-consuming pastry to make but the outcome is super delicious and so if you decided to make it, I am confident that you won’t regret it. Please enjoy.

Update: This recipe makes 2 braids. You can easily freeze half of the dough for later use. Wrap dough in cling wrap, then wax or parchment paper and finally a freezer bag. When ready to use defrost in refrigeator.

Wienerbrød

Makes 2 pastry braids.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups flour (480 grams or 19.9 oz)

1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter (345 grams or 12.2 oz)

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 50 grams cake/fresh yeast)

1/2 cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit) (118 milliliter)

1/2 cup heavy cream (118 milliliter)

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar (55 grams or 1.9 oz)

Filling:

seedless raspberry preserves

Glazing:

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons water

pearl sugar, for topping

sliced almonds, optional, for topping

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar (100 gram or 3.5 oz)

2-3 teaspoons warm milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

Place flour into bowl of food processor with steel blade. Cut butter into 1/4 inch slices and add to flour. Pulse flour and butter until the butter is the size of kidney beans.

In a large bowl, dissolve active dry yeast in warm water (between 100-110 degrees F). Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, cardamom, salt, eggs and sugar. Using a rubber spatula, turn the flour/butter mixture into the liquid and carefully mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, overnight or up to 4 days.

Turn the dough out onto a moderately floured surface. Roll out dough to make a 16 to 20 inch square. Fold dough into thirds, rotate dough a quarter of turn and fold into thirds again, making a small square. Turn over dough. Repeat rolling and folding another two times (making it a total 3 times of rolling and folding). Ending with a small square, wrap dough and chill for 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the chilled dough into two parts. Roll each part into a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. (If not making both braids at the same time, wrap the second half of dough and place in refrigerator until ready to roll out).

Spread filling down the length of center of each rectangle. Cut slanting strips at 3/4 inch intervals along both sides towards to center. Fold strips over the filling in a criss-cross manner. Place both braids onto baking sheets and let dough rise for 15-30 minutes until pastry appears puffy. It will not double in size. Lightly beat the egg and water for the glaze. Once dough has been allowed to rise, brush the pastry with the glaze. sprinkle with pearl sugar and/or almonds.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. To make icing, mix together powdered sugar, warm milk and almond extract. Drizzle icing on top and let set before cutting. Enjoy!

Sliced butter and flour, pulse

notice butter is the size of kidney beans

fold dough into thirds, then into thirds again, roll out

place filling in center, make cuts slated towards center

fold strips in a criss cross manner

Wienerbrød

Wienerbrød

Source: Kim Hendrickson at J. C. Campbell Folk School

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Winter Minestrone with Chicken

Chicken does not belong in a good Minestrone soup! yes I know this. But it does add a little more bulk and flavor of course. Besides, I had some left over chicken that was begging me to be put to good use. So the chicken is totally optional here. Leave it out and you’ll have a wonderful Winter Minestrone soup….without the chicken. And this soup really is wonderful. It’s packed full of flavor from all the vegetables and pancetta. And if you have a left-over piece of Parmesan rind, please don’t throw it out, but instead toss it into the soup. Trust me, it brings this soup to a whole new level.

Winter Minestrone

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 russet potato, peeled and cubed

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

28 ounces chicken stock (recommend homemade but can use store-bought)

1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind (if you have it on hand)

1 pound fresh baby spinach, lightly chopped if you desire

2 cups shredded pre-cooked chicken (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, pancetta and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until tomatoes starts to break down, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the chicken stock in a food processor or blender until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining chicken stock and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until the potatoes pieces are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans, baby spinach, pre-cooked chicken and parsley. Heat through until the spinach is wilting and the chicken is brought up to temperature. Remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary stem. Enjoy hot.

Winter Minestrone Soup with Chicken

Source: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

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Kanelsnegle

I made my first Kanelsnegle (Cinnamon Buns) in Home-Ed class. Does any high schools offer Home Education classes anymore? The class gave me a basic knowledge of cooking and baking. It sparked an interest for baking in particular and I baked quite a bit when I was a teenager. This is still something that I truly enjoy. By the way, I also took woodworking, but no sparks came from that class ha ha 🙂

Rolling up dough

Kanelsnegle ready for baking

Just a note about yeast. In Europe the preferred type of yeast is Fresh Active Yeast as compared to the American preference of Dry Active Yeast. Fresh yeast (also called Cake yeast or Bakers compressed yeast) can sometimes be found in the dairy section of certain grocery stores. It has a short expiration date and so it’s very perishable but works faster and longer. Fresh yeast is dissolved in liquid 70-80 degrees F. Store it in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 4 months. Dry yeast on the other hand has a much longer expiration date and is more forgiving of mishandling. To activate it sprinkle on water that’s between 100-110 degrees F and wait to see small bubble (about 10 minutes). Note if your liquid is too warm you’ll kill the yeast and adding a teaspoon of sugar to the liquid will provide a little food for the yeast, encouraging it to “wake up”. Typically, 50 grams of Fresh yeast = 4 teaspoons Dry yeast (12 grams).

Fresh active yeast

Ingredients:

25 grams Fleischmann’s Fresh Active Yeast

2 1/2 deciliter milk (1 cup)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cardamom

400 grams flour (3 1/2 cups)

small amount of oil for the bowl

plus 1 egg for brushing cinnamon buns

Filling:

75 grams butter at room temperature (5 tablespoons)

75 grams sugar (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

50 grams marzipan (about 1/4 cup) (optional)

Glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

1-2 tablespoons hot water

Directions:

Dissolve yeast in cold milk stirring gently. Add oil, sugar, salt and cardamom. Add flour a little at the time and knead until you have a firm dough. Place a small amount of oil in the bowl and turn the dough in the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise to double in size (30-60 minutes).

Place room temperature butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. If you’re using marzipan, break it up into small pieces and mix into butter using a fork to help break it up a little.

Prepare two round 8 inch baking pans by placing a round piece of parchment paper in bottom of pan and spray with non-stick oil. Or you can place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle tabletop with flour and roll out dough to 40 x 50 centimeter (15 x 19 inches). Spread butter filling onto dough and roll into a log starting at the long edge. Cut dough into 14 even slices. If using round baking pans, place cinnamon slices in a circular fashion – 7 slices in each pan. If you using a baking sheet, place cinnamon slices right next to one another. By placing slices close to one another during baking is keeps the finished cinnamon buns moister. Cover baking pans or baking sheet with a dry kitchen towel, place in a warm location and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees Celsius (about 425 degrees Fahrenheit). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before glazing. To make glaze, simply combine confectioners sugar and water until desired consistency. Enjoy!

Kanelsnegl

Source: Signes Mad

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