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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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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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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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Danish Æbleskiver

Æbleskiver is a tasty Danish dessert that looks like round puffy pancakes. The word æbleskive means apple slice and it first appeared in the middle ages where slices of apple were dipped in a batter and fried. When the æbleskive pan was introduce sometime in the 1700’s, æbleskiver were baked with small pieces of apple or prunes in the center. Today in Denmark æbleskiver is typically baked without anything in the center and they are served with a strawberry, lingonberry or raspberry jam or simply just dipped in sugar.

Æbleskiver are often served during the Christmas month perhaps as a special treat at a Christmas fair, when family or friends are visiting, little Christmas Eve (Dec 23rd) or maybe New Years Day. These Danish delicacies are served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and sometimes with a warm glass of either red or white Gløgg.

Æbleskiver

Æbleskiver (makes 35)

Ingredients:

60 gram butter (4 tablespoon) – melted and set aside

250 gram flour (2 cups)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 large eggs

4 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup buttermilk

a pinch of salt

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Melt butter and set aside. Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl. In a second bowl, beat eggs, sugar and cardamom until frothy and lighter in color. In a third bowl, stir together the buttermilk and cream. Taking turns, add flour and buttermilk to egg mixture while beating, mix until smooth. Add salt, lemon zest and cooled butter, stir to mix. Place batter in refrigerator and let rest 30 minutes. If batter is very thick after resting add a little more buttermilk. Use Canola oil or butter for frying.

Tips:

Must have a Æbleskive pan for cooking, making sure it is well seasoned if cast iron.

Traditionally, æbleskiver are turned with a thin knitting needle (why a knitting needle ? not sure, but you can find a knitting needle in most Danish households and the metal needle works really well grabbing the æbleskive to rotate in a cast iron pan). If you don’t have a knitting needle, try using a metal skewer or it can be done with a fork although a bit clumsy.

Make sure your heat is high enough, medium heat.

Make sure to preheat your pan, 5 to 10 minutes.

Use enough oil or butter for frying.

Some source recommend turning the æbleskiver in 1/3 turns or 1/4 turns while others turn them in 1/2 turns. Try the different methods and see what you feel most comfortable with. Here is a link with a video on how to make and turn the æbleskiver.

If you’re having trouble with the æbleskiver turning out right, don’t worry, the first pan-full rarely turn out perfect, keep going.

Æbleskiver can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 4 months.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Æbleskiver pan

Æbleskiver

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint cookies are a regular visitor in our home at Christmas time. It has been my son’s favorite ever since he was a little boy and they always seem to simply just disappear. Use whatever your favorite jam is. What I used this time was strawberry, cherry and a wonderful jam containing apricot, peach and passion fruit which have become wildly popular here at our house. Also, it is not an accident (well it actually is….but it’s not) that the recipe calls for both vanilla bean as well as vanilla extract. I did that totally by accident one year because I misread the recipe but it turned out even better, so ever since then I have used both. But if you don’t have the vanilla bean on hand just go with the extract, they still turn out great.  🙂

Thumbprint Cookies (makes 37 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (230 g)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 whole stick or 113 g), at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar (140 g), plus more for rolling

1 large egg

1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped from pod (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup of your favorite jam (strawberry, cherry etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, whip the butter and sugar with an electrical mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla bean (if using) and the vanilla extract until combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Scoop the dough into a 1 inch ball, toss in the extra sugar and roll using the palm of your hands. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint (or I use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) into the center of dough ball, about 1/2 inch deep. Fill indentation with about 3/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake cookies until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking. Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Enjoy.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

1/2 teaspoon measuring tool makes indenting the cookies easy

Fill with your favorite jam

Source: adapted from Food Network

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