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Red Cabbage

With the holidays quickly approaching it’s time to revisit some classic Danish dishes. Rødkål is a side dish that is always on the table for Christmas dinners and luncheons but of course it is also served at other times. For me though, the sweet and sour aroma with a hint of cloves in the background reminds me of Christmas and it will perfume your house in the most warm and pleasant of ways. The dish itself is very quick and easy to assemble and the remainder of the time is spent simmering away on the stove.

Sliced red cabbage ready for cooking

I have been experimenting with this recipe for some time now and I finally got it right (that’s according to my tastebuds of course :)). The traditional way to make Rødkål is to use Ribssaft (Red Currant juice) but it’s impossible to find it in any of the stores around here, so I am substituting it with 100% Pomegranate juice.

The first time I made Rødkål the ratio of vinegar to pomegranate juice was off with too much vinegar. The second time I could not find any pomegranate juice so I used cranberry juice instead…bad idea. It left a really dry taste in my mouth. In the meantime, my parents came to visit and they brought real Ribssaft with them but it was confiscated going through customs. (Still unclear as to why they couldn’t bring it in, maybe the size of the bottle?) Anyway, two cabbage heads later and with real pomegranate juice and less vinegar, we finally have a winner!

Rødkål

Ingredients:

1 head red cabbage

1 deciliter apple cider vinegar (3.4 oz.)

2 deciliter pomegranate juice (or red currant juice = ribssaft) (6.8 oz.)

3 – 4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 tablespoon butter

Atamon for rinsing glasses

Directions:

Remove outer leaves of cabbage, cut into quarters, remove the tough white core and discard. Slice cabbage into desired thickness. Place cabbage  into cooking pot and add vinegar, juice, sugar, salt and ground cloves. Let it simmer covered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. At the end of cooking time add the butter and gently stir until melted. If cabbage is to be used fairly quickly, simply just sterilize jars and lids with boiling water. If cabbage is intended for storing away, rinse jars and lids with Atamon. Store in cool, dark place. Enjoy!

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Danish Pebernødder

Danish Pebernødder

This year I am trying out a different version of Pebernødder. There is of course numerous different recipes floating around out there but I came across this one which had some very high praises attached to it. Evidently it is from Lagkagehuset in Denmark which is a renowned bakery with several locations in Denmark.

Pebernødder

This recipe is very good indeed, really it is! However, I had forgotten why I choose my original Pebernødder recipe and it was because I am not a big fan of pepper. It’s not that you can taste the pepper per se but it does leave a slight heat on your tongue, which I don’t particularly care for, but that’s just me. But the Pebernød really is very tasty in itself and it bakes perfectly. So if your like me, I suppose we can simply just leave out the pepper 🙂

Ingredients:

125 grams salted butter, at room temperature (4 3/8 ounces)

125 grams dark brown sugar (4 1/4 ounces)

1/2 deciliter heavy whipping cream (1.7 ounces)

250 grams all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).

Beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Add cream and beat until combined. Sift together flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Place dough onto lightly floured working surface, knead dough briefly and divide into four smaller portions. Roll each portion out into logs the size of your middle finger. Cut logs into 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) pieces and place on baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until light browned in color. Let cool on baking sheets before storing in an airtight container. Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas ♥

Danish Pebernødder

Danish Pebernødder

Source: Maden i mit Liv originally from Lagkagehuset

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Brunkager

Here is another Cookie which I grew up with. You can buy a version of this in some grocery store, but why on earth do that, when you can fill your house with an intense aroma of cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The Brunkage cookie is crunchy and crisp and to me it’s filled with childhood Christmas memories from a long, long time ago….well, not that long ago 🙂

I’ve been searching for a Brunkage recipe which uses ingredients that I have relative easy access to. Again, there are numerous different ways to make this cookie. This recipe is really straight forward as far as ingredients go, it is easy and quick to make and the cookies are very flavorful. As far as the syrup goes, I did use a Danish dark syrup (mørk sirup, in Danish). However, I did some inquiring about a substitute syrup and the response I got was that Maple syrup will work just fine. So although I have not tried it myself, it should be no problem using Maple syrup. I hope you enjoy this cookies as much as I do!

Brunkage thickness

Ingredients:

200 grams butter (7 ounces), at room temperature

200 grams sugar (7 ounces)

1 deciliter syrup (0.4 cup) (100 milliliter)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

325 – 350 grams flour (11.4 – 12.3 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking soda

a pinch of salt

100 – 125 grams blanched sliced almonds (3.5 – 4.4 ounces)

Directions:

In the bowl of an stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or electrical mixer add butter and sugar and beat until smooth. Add syrup, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, mix until combined. Holding back a small amount of flour for kneading the dough, add the majority of the flour and all of the baking soda, salt and almonds. Mix until combined, careful not to over-mix. Turn dough out onto working surface and using the remaining flour, knead the dough briefly until smooth.  Divide dough into two equal portions and form  two logs 5 centimeters in thickness. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in a zip lock bag. Let dough rest in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 176 degrees C (350 degrees F) and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice dough into approximately 4-5 mm (0.2 inch) thick slices and bake in the middle of oven for 9-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to cooling rack. Store cookies in a cookie tin with a tight-fitting lid. Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas 🙂

Mørk Sirup

Source: Kirsten Hüttemeier via Connie Lauridsen Childs

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Havregrynskugler

Havregrynskugler is a Danish Christmas treat that children of almost all ages can really get involved in making. They are a fun activity and super easy to make and also no-bake.

There are numerous different recipes for Havregrynskugler varying from low-fat to much richer, lower sugar to sweeter as well as adult versions containing alcohol and coffee. I like this version because it does not have a lot of butter, contains Marzipan which I love and it has a slight crunch from the sugar. If you don’t care for the sugar crunch you could substitute with confectioners sugar.

Havregrynskugler

Ingredients:

50 gram unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 tablespoons)

50 gram marzipan (1.75 ounces)

75 gram sugar (2.63 ounces)

125 gram oats (1 1/2 cups)

25 gram unsweetened cocoa (0.87 ounce or 4 tablespoons)

1 -2 teaspoon almond extract

1 -2 teaspoon rum

2 teaspoon seedless raspberry jam

about 100 gram coconut flakes, chopped finely (3.51 ounces)

Directions:

Optional: process oats in a food processor for a few pulses to break up oats a little.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add butter and break marzipan into small pieces, cream together until smooth. Add sugar and continue to beat for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Add oats, cocoa, almond extract, rum and raspberry jam, continue to mix until homogeneous.

Form into small balls by pressing the dough together and rolling in your hands. Immediately roll each ball in the coconut. Place covered in refrigerator. Serve cold. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Kvalimad

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My Mom and Dad’s old julestjerne hangs in my window every Christmas

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for all of your nice comments and emails that you have left me during the 12 Days of Christmas series. It has been such a great pleasure and I have had a lot of fun in creating this series and now that it has come to a conclusion it is almost a little bittersweet. The positive response I have gotten has been unexpected and very impressive, it has brought back a lot of wonderful memories for myself and I am happy that I have been able to share some of them with you. I look forward to bringing you more delicious food and desserts and feel free to stop by My Danish Kitchen any time you like. Merry Christmas and Glædelig Jul to everyone.

Our Christmas tree with Danish and American flags

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Ris a la Mande

Risalamande

During the 1800’s the citizen’s of Copenhagen felt the need to separate themselves from the farming community and this also affected our Christmas food. They added whipped cream and almonds to our beloved Danish Risengrød and called it Risalamande to give it some French flair, because that is what was in fashion at that time. Kristeligt Dagblad

Danish Christmas Tradition: Mandelgaven (the Almond Present)

Today you still see Ris a la mande served in most Danish households on Christmas Eve. Since then, we have add a warm Cherry Sauce to top it off and traditionally a fun game goes along with eating this wonderful Christmas treat. A single whole Almond is blanched and stirred into the Risalamande to hide it. The dish is served after Christmas dinner and whoever finds the almond wins a gift. The problem with the Almond gift is that the winner could be anyone from a child to grandmother. This is often solved by giving a traditional small Marzipan pig as the gift, but today, the gift could be anything. Also, there is a lot of cheating going on with this game. Some may choose to place an Almond in each of the children’s bowls so all the children gets a gift. I think my Mom did that one year but we thought the game should be done “the right way”. I can honestly say that I have never won this game. The winner in our home was typically my Dad. He would often times get the almond and then he would keep it hidden against his cheek until all the Risalamande was eaten up. Sneaky.  One year my Dad took pity on me and gave me the Almond under the table 🙂 but I didn’t feel right taking the gift since I did not honestly win it.

I should also mention that some households may chop blanched Almonds into small pieces and add them to the dish. We have never done this at our house, instead pure Almond Extract is added giving the dish a wonderful Almond flavor. This dish is by far one of the biggest highlights of Christmas for me and I continue to serve it every single year, for it would not be Christmas without it.

Risalamande with warm Cherry sauce

Update:

I am very honored to be asked to participate in the LexioPhiles International Recipe Advent Calendar 2011. My recipe for Risalamande with warm Cherry sauce will appear on December 2nd, 2011.  LexioPhiles will feature a new recipe every day during the month of December from bloggers around the world.

Ingredients for 1st stage – Risengrød:

1 1/4 cup water

1 cup rice (Grødris)

4 1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Ingredients for 2nd stage – Risalamande:

1 1/2 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoon confectioners sugar

4 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 whole almonds

For the Cherry Sauce:

15 oz can Oregon Bing Cherries in heavy syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

water

Directions:

Place water and rice in a medium cooking pot, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 minutes. Add milk and vanilla sugar and simmer covered over low heat for 40-45 minutes. Stir often to make sure the milk does not burn, especially the last 30 minutes. You may have to turn the heat all the way down as low as your stove will allow for the last 15 minutes.

Place in Tupperware and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Once mixture is completely cooled remove from refrigerator and break it up with a spoon. In a small bowl add whipping cream, confectioners sugar and almond extract. Beat with a handheld mixer until you see tracks from beaters in the cream. Add half of the whipping cream to rice mixture and combine well with a spoon, add remaining whipping cream in small increments. The final  texture should be creamy and easily mixed with the spoon. Place covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To blanch almonds. Place almonds in a small dish and pour boiling water over to cover. Let sit in water for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and slip the skins off. I usually blanch two almonds in case I have trouble with one. Before serving Risalamande, place one blanched almond in mixture and stir well to hide almond.

In a small dish mix together the cornstarch and some water to form the thickening agent. In a small saucepan bring cherry and syrup to a simmer. Add the cornstarch/water mixture to cherries a little at the time, stirring until syrup starts to thicken. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.

Serve Risalamande cold with the warm cherry sauce on top.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Risengrød

Risengrød

Danish Christmas Tradition: Nissen (a mythical creature of Scandinavian Folklore)

The Danish Nisse is a fictional character which has its roots from the 1800’s farming community. Nissen would help with the successful drift of the farm, that is, if you were respectful of the nisse and if you behaved yourself. A special dish which were served for Christmas is Risengrød. It may not seem special by todays measure, but back then milk, rice, butter, sugar and cinnamon was a commodity. And so, it makes sense that Nissen would be part of a festive event like Christmas.

Today, the Nisse folklore is still alive and well, but in a different way. Songs have been written about the Nissen and he’s often seen in Children’s Christmas calendars whether it be on TV or on paper. He is an important part of decorating for Christmas in Denmark and Risengrød is still his favorite meal. In the picture above, which is part of my Christmas Tree skirt, you can see the Nissen getting ready to eat his Risengrød.

Risengrød

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup water

1 cup rice (Grødris)

4 1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

butter

sugar

cinnamon

Directions:

Place water and rice in a medium cooking pot, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 minutes. Add milk, salt and vanilla sugar and simmer covered over low heat for 40-45 minutes. Stir often to make sure the milk does not burn, especially the last 30 minutes. You may have to turn the heat all the way down as low as your stove will allow for the last 15 minutes.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together according to your taste. Serve the Risengrød warm, sprinkled with sugar/cinnamon mixture and place a dollop of butter in the center, letting the butter melt.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Hazelnut Truffles

Truffles, small delectable treasures. These particular truffles have toasted hazelnut in them which gives a slight crunch. Of course, hazelnut paired with chocolate is a match made in heaven. You just can’t go wrong. Or can you? Well not with the truffles themselves but I did have quite a bit of trouble with this recipe, but I worked out the kink. The original recipe instructed me to melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave, which turned out to be a horrible mess. I think my microwave oven was heating at too high heat. The chocolate would harden up and become unmanageable after just dipping 1/3 of the truffles. So I tried again, but this time melting the chocolate over a water bath which turned out so much better.  And so, in the end everything turned out alright. Now we can finally enjoy these delicious little truffles.

Flettet julestjerne

Danish Christmas Tradition: Juleklip (Paper cut-outs)

Paper cut-outs such as flettede hjerter (braided hearts), kræmmerhuse (cones), angelsChristmas trees and flettede stjerner (braided stars) is a common part of Danish Christmas decorations. They are made by children and adults alike, possibly at home but always in schools planned as a special day of fun with colored paper, glue, scissors and baked goods. These homemade treasures often times end up as an important part of the Christmas Tree decorations.

I first learned to make the braided star as an adult. I meet once a month with other Danish ladies for an evening of stimulating conversation and good food. It was during one of these evenings many years ago that my Danish friend Lise’s husband Bill taught me how to make the braided star. He would make them at any given time of the year and he was very enthusiastic about making them. I now make them every year around Christmas time and they remind me of Lise and Bill, who has since passed away. It’s a happy memory.

Hazelnut Truffle Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

1 (11.5 ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chunks

8 (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate squares – chopped

2 cups hazelnut – chopped, toasted and divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (11.5 ounce package) bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)

Directions:

Chop hazelnuts and toast them on a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Stir often to make sure they don’t burn. Remove nuts from heat.

Place chocolate chunks in a medium bowl. Chop chocolate squares and add to bowl. Bring heavy cream to a simmer and then add the hot cream to the chocolate, stirring well to melt the chocolate. Add vanilla and 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator to chill for 1 to 2 hours or until hard enough to keep a shape.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 1-inch balls from chocolate mixture and roll quickly between hands to smooth edges. Place on prepared baking sheets and refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and firm.

Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch water to a simmer. Once water is simmering turn heat all the way down to low. Place bittersweet chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl and place over the saucepan, making sure bowl is not touching water. Stir chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Place chocolate ball on a fork and drizzle warm melted chocolate over the chocolate ball to cover. Use a toothpick to help push the truffle off the fork onto to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts and refrigerate to harden.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Chocolate and cream

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Source: adapted from Taste of the South

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Florentine ew

I first made these Italian cookies for Christmas a couple of years ago and it was Love at first bite. Since then, they have become a “several times a year, kinda thing” at our house and they dissapear faster than any other cookie I make. They are nutty and crispy with a hint of orange, 2 cookies held together with a generous layer of chocolate. Orange and chocolate, does it get any better than that?

Almonds

Almonds

Danish Christmas Tradition: St. Lucia (Saint Lucy’s Day)

St. Lucia is believed to be a saint who suffered a martyr’s death around AD 310. The tradition of celebrating St. Lucia was imported from Sweden during WWII as a passive protest against the German occupation. St. Lucia is celebrated on December 13th and it is seen as a procession lead by one girl wearing a crown of candles on her head followed by other girls who hold a single candle in their hands. All the girls are dressed in white and they sing “Sankta Lucia” while walking slowly and carefully. The St. Lucia procession is performed in schools, hospitals and nursing homes where they bring great joy and excitement.

Bring to a rolling boil

Bring to a rolling boil

Florentine Cookies (makes 28 small sandwiched cookies)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups sliced blanched almonds (200 gram or 7 oz)

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

zest of 1 orange (about 2 tbsp)

1/4 tsp fine salt

3/4 cup sugar (155 gram or 5.4 oz)

2 tbsp heavy cream

2 tbsp light corn syrup

5 tbsp unsalted butter (70 gram or 2.5 oz)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

6 oz semisweet chocolate (170 gram)

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the almonds, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just until combined. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.

Scoop rounded teaspoons  (for 3 inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6 inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.

Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and even golden brown color, rotating pan halfway through baking time, about 8 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Chop semisweet chocolate and place in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch water to a simmer and set bowl filled with chocolate over the saucepan, making sure bowl is not touching water. Stir chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.

Drop a generous amount of melted chocolate (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) onto the flat side of a cookie and press together with a second cookie to form a sandwich. Return to rack and let chocolate set completely.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Florentine Cookies

Florentine Cookies

Source: Food Network Kitchen

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Red Wine Gløgg

In the weeks leading up to Christmas there are many “get togethers” at work, in town, schools, clubs, friends and family stopping by to say hello. You can serve just about anything for your guests, really, or you could serve the traditional warm drink Gløgg and some warm Danish Æbleskiver. This combination is especially wonderful when you are coming in from the freezing cold outside.

Gløgg was imported to Denmark from our neighbors in Sweden and it started to take hold on the Danes in the years around WWII. There are many variations of Gløgg recipes out there and no one correct way to make it. Some contain brandy, cognac, port wine, vodka or snaps but the base is almost always red wine, although there are also some white wine versions, as well as non-alcoholic children’s versions. Back in the old days it was also thought to have some healing effects for winter depression, well at least for a short while 😉

Ingredients:

1 bottle red wine

1 cup white port wine

1 tablespoon Cardamom pods

1 stick Cinnamon

8 whole Cloves

4 pieces crystalized ginger

1 1/2 deciliter dark brown sugar (1/2 cup)

1 cup raisins

slivered almonds

Directions:

Place the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, crystalized ginger and sugar in the port and red wine overnight or at least 1-2 hours before serving. Before serving, gently heat the liquid on the stove but do not allow to boil. Run the wine through a sieve to remove the spices, then add the raisins and almonds to the wine and serve warm.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas ♥

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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