Saturday, December 22, 2012

Delivering my culinary inability across the globe in time for Christmas

When it comes to cooking for the holidays, I am the family stirrer. I stir the pot, if you know what I mean. Yeah, the pot, the pan (what IS the difference?), the cooking apparatus of milk and butter and dill that will thicken after an hour of constant stirring that will eventually go on the DANISH meatballs. That’s what I do. A very important job that is hard to screw up. Because let’s face it, if it can go wrong, I will make it go that way. 

My week has been filled with Christmas festivities. At work, at home, everywhere! The Christmas spirit is contagious, and I have caught it. It is so strong, I got the crazy idea to bake cookies. My original intention was to make cookies for Helle's gløgg party on Wednesday. With working so late (until 4pm, haha) and my turtle pace in the kitchen, that didn't happen. Which is completely fine because there was SO MUCH FOOD at that party. Two kinds of gløgg (white and red), cheeses, meats, æbleskiver, chocolates, marzipan, fruit, rugbrød, and other things. The gathering needed no more food, as the amount of sweets, Danish, and hand-shaking was nearly uncomfortable. 

I was then going to make them for the get-together the neighbors were having on Thursday, but I once again ran out of time. The hard work and struggles just sat in the fridge, neglected, waiting to be loved. After this nice gløgg-drinking, æbleskiver and cookie-eating, Danish-learning gathering was over, Helle and I ate the duck she had been cooking for the last few hours. It was our little Christmas dinner. We knew it was ready when there were "meat explosions" coming from the oven. Also, she went looking in the cupboard (Danish: skab) for something to add to the duck. I heard "I'm looking for some red garbage." I tried to keep a straight face, but I just lost it. "You're looking for what?" "the red garbage." She had to describe it to me, and then I knew she was looking for RED CABBAGE. We had a good five minutes of side-splitting (literally. her rib hurt) laughter. The duck was delicious, especially with salt. After this, it was about 10:30pm, and I was ready to make my little, delicate crescents. I'll share with you the recipe, as I interpreted it. With pictures! 

From Rose's Christmas Cookies cook book. Perfectly written by a Jewish woman (Rose Levy Beranbaum), translated into metric and Danish by me, with a little help from my brother. 
Rose's Crescents (Rose's Halvmåner)
2/3 c. blanched, sliced almonds (56g mandel splitter)
1/3 c. sugar (70g sukker)
1 c. unsalted butter (120g usaltet Dansk smør—3x the price of salted)
1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour (235g hvedemel, translated to wheat flour. It’s white flour)
1/4 t. salt (…1/4 t. salt)
1/2 c. superfine sugar (throw the sukkar in the food processor. Throw)
1/2 t. cinnamon (stødt kanel) and no amounts because who uses amounts for topping?

Find the world's smallest food processor, and combine the almonds and sugar. Cut butter into pieces and add once the almond and sugar mixture is fine. Make sure you buy 1kg of unsalted and salted butter from two different stores. Just in case, or just because you can't find the butter in the store and get excited when you do, so you buy whatever.
Belongs in that place of oddities in Kansas, along I-70 next to the 
world's largest prairie dog, the world's smallest food processor.
Scrape the bowl. Lick the spatula if you like butter, almonds and sugar. If you don't like this combo, then these cookies aren't for you. There is no way 235g of flour can fit into the world's smallest food processor, so get creative! Don't use common sense!
A blender won't mix this.
Add your buttery mixture to the blender and add the flour on top, with a little salt. Start the blender. Watch the bottom mix and nothing else. If you're clever, you'll skip this step. Normal size food processors work well for mixing all of this together. But if you must, transfer the blender items to the wee food processor, making sure the blade isn't in it and the flour goes through the hole in the middle. Fix the problem. Eventually, you will end up with THIS:
After mixing everything together.
It's a little crumbly, maybe I should have added more butter. Or I struggle with a scale. Especially around the holidays.

My brother is an actual chef,and he makes messes just like this. Good sign?
Transfer the mixture to the least staticky husholdningsfilm you can find. Form a disc, like so:
Dough Disc (you would think I would notice this was too crumbly)
Nothing worth doing is easy. This saying translates to the kitchen as well. Challenge yourself to cutting the
husholdningsfilm with right handed scissors in your left hand. 
Difficult task.
Put the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until the dough is firm. Ready? Preheat the oven to 325 or 164 Celsius. Take about 1/8 of the dough, kneading it to warm it a bit. Make 3/4in balls, then on a lightly-floured counter top, roll into 3in long, 1/2in wide logs. Then form into crescents.
 Bake for 14-16 minutes (place directly on pan or parchment), then lets cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes. While warm, dip in the super-fine cinnamon and sugar.
Fresh out of the oven.
Crescent in cinnamon and sugar bowl. If you couldn't tell.
BE CAREFUL! They are fragile.
Finished product documented by one of the worst photos ever.
A tip: If you work in Denmark, don't share them with your coworkers. They will look at the fragile crescents like they are the most horrifying thing they've ever seen. But if you must, your colleagues will try and like them. 

After watching me struggle, Helle really summed up my life, "I don't know how you feed yourself." This is one of life's mysteries. 

We have been drinking gløgg daily, apparently that is rare, but when in Denmark.... In spreading the Christmas cheer, here are a few recipes for you to experience a few Danish Christmas delights. Due to translation and a rip through the middle of the recipe they're a little vague.

Cherry Heering-Gløgg 
(from the Jul i Femina magazine)

1 3\4 flask (bottles) red wine
0.43 cups Brøndum Snaps
1.06 cups red wine
zest of one lemon
30g sugar
8 whole cloves
6 whole bright cardamom (??) 6 hele lyse kardemomme
3 stalks whole cinnamon 
125g raisins
1.27 cups Cherry Heering
200g blanched, sliced almonds

Soak the raisins in Cherry Heering for 4 hours. Cook the essence down in a covered pot for a long time. haha. Then I guess when you feel like it, pour the essence over a strainer into the red wine and snaps. Keep in pot for a long time to heat, but don't let boil! Add almonds.

I should write recipes for a living.

Hvid Gløgg (white gløgg)
From the kitchen of the amazing Helle
3\4 L white wine
1 1\4 L elderflower juice
some cloves
some cinnamon stalks

Soak the raisins in rum for 3 hours. Put everything in a pot and let heat up for hours. Don't let boil. 

 CHRISTMAS LUNCH at work! The Christmas party wasn't enough.
From the bacon covered liver clockwise: bacon-covered liver, ham loaf?, beets,pork and pork things, some sauce with cream and dill, little potatoes boiled with sugar, ham, cheese tray, crackers, olives, bacon and apples, rugbrød.

Clockwise: eggs, mayonnaise curry sauce for fish, some fish, another kind of fish, MORErugbrød, more bread, saucy sauce, herring (pickled and non), shrimp. There may have been a salmon but after I took the picture.

Of course on the same day there was a break at 14.30 for gløgg and æbleskiver. "Lick, stick, dip." That's apparently the way to eat æbleskiver.
Later that same day...
æbleskiver (eaten with powdered sugar and marmalade), vanilie krans (Danish Christmas cookies to Americans), and Brunkager.
Not only did I find the almond in the risalamande on Thursday and win two bottles of wine (along with my FOUR bottles I got as part of our company Christmas present...all of which I had to lug into the bank and grocery store), but I won on Friday too! Wahoo!
Friday's risalamande winnings! Marzipannish cookies! I didn't have enough food and sweets already.
For dinner on Friday, I met up with a girl from work and a couple of her friends. A Dane, Chinese, Brazilian, and American walk into a tapas restaurant... We went to Forlæns & Baglæns, a cozy tapas and cocktails place near the city center. The food was absolutely delicious and CHEAP (even by US standards)! You can pick a certain number of items from the menu, plus drinks for a set price, and they let you split it! Shocking really. Between the four of us, we had wine, two shrimp plates with an amazing, creamy allioli sauce, a potato and chorizo plate, and a tapanade platter with cheeses, meats, olives and almonds. For dinner we each had our own plate, two of us had "pig jaw" with mashed potatoes (the meat was so perfect, like butter), another girl had duck, another had risotto with something else. Then we had cocktails. Everyone had sweet drinks, but I couldn't do that..I went with the Manhattan. ALL OF THAT for 273 kr/person. That's only $48. I will definitely be returning.
"pig jaw" from Forlæns & Baglæns.

This morning was my last morning before leaving, so Helle made some "morning balls." Basically just a ball of dough made with spelt and she added some yogurt. Very tasty!
"morning ball"

Currently I am trying to figure out how to work the washer and tumble dry, but failing miserably. I am no homemaker. 

Soon I'll be taking the 3:30am bus to the 6:45am bus to Copenhagen then making my way to Finland for Christmas and New Year's Eve! So excited, even if I don't get to sleep tonight and have to pack wet clothes.

1 comment:

  1. om i love how you write recipes - most realistic recipe ever. fantastic. what do you think your co-workers were so scared of about the cookies?

    i also love that you're eating meat again. welcome back:)