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Before Christmas I always promise myself one thing, and that is: Kim, you will not go crazy on the food, eat slowly and don’t stuff yourself. Usually, and I think this goes for most people, the food is just too good, the company just too great, and the wine kinda blurs your sense of judgement, causing you to stuff yourself anyway and have a Santa belly for another week or so.

The typical Danish Christmas dinner ends with a delicious dessert based on rice, cream and almonds: Ris à la Mande. From these ingredients you will understand that this is not exactly a light dish. But it is simply so good… And there is a ‘carrot’: the person that finds the single whole almond gets a present!
So go ahead and stuff yourself a little more. The gym is ready for you when you are.

This is what you need for 8 portions of Danish Rice Pudding

  • 300 ml water
  • 230 gr desert rice
  • 1 liter milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 350 ml whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 whole almonds
  • 1 pot of cherries in syrup

Give it a try:

Take a cooking pot and add the water and rice. Bring the water to a boil and then cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir. Let the mixture simmer over a low fire (as low as possible) for about 40 minutes and make sure you stir often to make sure the milk doesn’t burn. After 40 minutes take the pan off the fire and let the contents cool down completely. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before continuing to the next step.

The next day, take the rice mixture out of the refrigerator and stir it with a spoon untill there are no large chunks left. Then take another bowl and add the whipping cream, powdered sugar and almond extract. Beat with a handheld mixer until you see tracks from beaters in the cream. When that is done start adding the cream to the rice mixture. Start with half of the cream, stir, and then add the rest of the cream in small increments. The desert should have a creamy texture. Place it in the refridgerator until you are ready to serve it.

Heat the cherries with the syrup in a small pan and serve in a sauciere.

Before serving the Ris à la Mande you need to add one whole almond for the gift game. You can add it in front of your guests to make sure everybody believes you when you say there is one in the bowl. (Or is it just me that has mistrustful family and friends?) Stir the Ris à la Mande and serve your guests. Good luck winning the gift!

 

 

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Were you eager to find out what my next post about danish Christmas would be? Well today we are talking about Leverpostej: Christmas Liver Pate with Bacon and Mushrooms.

As with Smørrebrød, Flæskesteg and other Danish dishes this was a new experience for me as an expat. In the Netherlands we know something called leverpastei, which is the same if you look at the ingredients and how it’s made, but different in the way the it is eaten.

I never tried hot leverpastei before I moved to Denmark. Eating it hot was definitely an awkward but good experience. After trying it the first time I had leverpostei many timer, primarily at Christmas parties. But have to say that I never tried to make it myself before today. I actually thought it would be a hassle… But my ambitions for my blogposts on Danish Christmas left me no choice: I had to give it a go…
It all turned out pretty ok. I did not have a dane around to test it but as far as I remember it comes really really close to the real deal and therefore. I have qualified this recipe ‘Danish Christmas Table Worthy’. Enjoy!

 Here’s what you need:

  • Recipe for two liver pates of 12×8 cm
  • 220 grams pork liver, raw
  • 75 grams bacon, fresh
  • 100 gr onion
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1,25 dl milk
  • 0,5 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • bacon in slices
  • 250 gr mushrooms

Here’s how:

Coursely chop the liver, fresh bacon and onion and put it in the food processor or blender. Process until it has the consistency of your liking. It can either be very fine or more course. If you don’t have a blender or food processor then just make sure you chop the ingredients finely. Then stir the flour, egg and milk into the forcemeat. Use salt and pepper to our liking.

Pour the liver pate forcemeat into a oven tray or aluminium tray. Put slices of bacon on top.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and bake the liver pate until it is light brown and fully cooked. In oventrays of glass or ceramics the baking time will be around 1.5 hours. I used small aluminium trays of around 12×8 cm, and only needed 45 minutes to bake the liver pate. You can use a meat thermometer to see if the pate is ready. The moist that comes off of the pate should be clear.

If you want to freeze part of the pate for later, then use smaller trays and freeze the pate down before baking it.

For the Danish experience, take the bacon off the liver pate. Flip the pate up side down on a plate, put the bacon on top and put fried mushrooms around the pate.

 

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Brunkartofler – Danish Caramelised Potatoes – is a danish side dish that typically accompanies the Flæskesteg (pork roast) on the Christmas table. Brunkartofler (‘brown potatoes’) thank their name to their light brown colour of the caramelised sugar. These potatoes are quite sweet as you can imagine. Therefore the danes usually also serve normal potatoes with it, so you can mix and match to fit your own sweet tooth.

What you need: (serves 4)

  • 1 kg peeled and boiled small new potatoes (dry)
  • 75 gr sugar
  • 50 gr butter

Time for action:

Put the sugar into a cold frying pan. Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Then turn on the heat and melt the sugar on a high heat untill it starts to brown. Then add the butter and stir well for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat down and add the boiled, dry potatoes and glaze the potatoes in the sugar while continuously stirring. The sugar caramelises pretty fast so keep an eye on the potatoes and keep turning them. Enjoy!

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If there is anything that is typical for the danish kitchen it is Flæskesteg – Danish pork roast with a nice crispy crust. You can find it on every Christmas dinner table and Christmas party, and it’s de-li-cious. Have to admit that I was not a fan from the start. The trick is, as it is with many things, you have to make it yourself. Pork roast is best when it comes right out of the oven.

Since this type of roast is not so common in the Netherlands I had a hard time finding the right cut of meat. In the Netherlands we like to cut off all the fat that makes a meat juicy… Luckily a local butcher knew exactly what I was looking for.

Here’s what you need: (serves 4)

  • 1200 gr pork loin with the skin on (about 1 cm thick skin)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500 ml water
  • fresh thyme

And once again, a proof that good food doesn’t need to be complicated to make:

Take the porc loin and score diagonal lines into the skin, about 1 cm apart. Then do the same with the other diagonal to create diamond shaped lines into the skin. Just cut the skin, not the meat. Your butcher can take care of it if you like.

Then preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celcius. Put the pork into a roasting tray with the skin down. Boil the water and add enough water to the tray so that the skin is completely submerged. Roast the pork for 20 minures.

After 20 minutes take the pork out of the oven and pour the water out of the tray. Change the heat of the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Turn the pork around, skin side up, and rub a good amount of salt and pepper into the skin and the crevices. Then add the chopped onion, carrot and thyme to the tray, and stick the bay leaves in the crevices. You can break the leaves in two, lengthwise, to cover more of the pork skin. Finally add 500 ml of fresh cold water to the tray.

Put the baking tray into the oven and leave it in for one hour, and check after 30 min if there is enough water left in the tray to prevent the meat from drying out. If you have a meat thermometer, you can check the temperature of the meat. This way you can be absolutely sure the meat is well done, and does not get too dry. 68-70 degrees Celcius would be perfect.

When done, take the tray out of the oven and pour the fatty water into a bowl. You can use this as stock for the gravy. Take the onion and carrot also out of the tray.

The typical Flæskesteg has a nice and crispy crust. To create this crust, turn the oven up to 250 degrees again and put the porc in for about 15 minutes. If you are impatient – like me – you can use the grill to speed things up, but keep an eye on the roast to avoid it from burning. In the meantime you can make gravy out of the stock with a little gravy powder.

The roast is doen when the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees.

Flæskesteg is typically served with caramelised potatoes and red cabbage.

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Life in Denmark is good. Unemployment rates are low. Healthcare is free. Education is free. Copenhagen actually has more hours of sunshine a year than Paris. It’s no surprise that research has shown that the danes are the happiest in the world.

You would think that the Danes would then also be tolerant and open… Well they are in some areas but not when it comes to their national food smørrebrød, small open faces sandwiches on the typical Danish rye bread.

There are very specific combinations that go together in one type of sandwich compared to another. Do not mix recipes! I repeat: do NOT mix recipes!

I have often found myself standing at the lunch buffet, making a nice sandwich, just minding my own business, when I would feel a tap on the shoulder. A colleague would kindly but firmly point out that what I was doing was wrong, that these particular elements don’t go together and would never taste good together. Now I was rather close to my colleagues. When dealing with strangers this would be more funny: people would ask ‘does that taste good together?’. I would recognise that they would be in danish avoid-conflict-at-all-cost modus, and would stubbornly answer ‘yes’. Answer ‘oh’… ‘I never eat it like that…’. Which basically means: ‘what the hell are you doing?’

Let me help you on your way through the maze of Danish smørrebrød do’s and don’ts with two suggestions of Fiske Smørrebrød – Danish Open Faced Fish Sandwiches

Smørrebrød med Fiskefilet og Remoulade

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For 4 portions:

  • 4 slices of rye bread
  • Butter
  • 4 flounder filets
  • 1 egg
  • Pepper and salt
  • Bread crumbs
  • 4 nice pieces of curly lettuce
  • Remoulade sauce
  • 1 Lemon
  • Fresh dill
  • Baked onions

Put a little butter or margarine on each of the slices of rye bread. Cover it with some curly lettuce so the whole slice of bread is covered. Then take the flounder filets. Break the egg in a small bowl, add some pepper and salt and mix it well. Put the breadcrumbs on a plate so you are ready to bread the fish filets. Dip the fish filets in the egg and after that in the bread crumb mixture so they are fully breaded on both sides.

Then heat a little oil in a pan and bake the filets untill they are done and golden brown. When ready put the fish filets on the rye bread. Finish with a large spoon of remoulade sauce, some fresh dill, a slice of lemon and some baked onions. Make sure you have some extra remoulade sauce on the side in case anyone wants some more.

Smørrebrød med Rejer og Æg

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For 4 portions:

  • 4 slices of rye bread
  • Butter
  • 4 nice pieces of curly lettuce
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 500 gr Shrimps
  • Mayonaise
  • 1 Lemon
  • Pepper and Salt
  • Fresh dill and cherry tomatoes (garnish)

We start the same way as with the previous one: put a little butter or margarine on the slices of rye bread and cover it with a nice slice of curly lettuce. Then take the boiled eggs (make sure they are cold) and slice them up. Cover the lettuce with a nice layer of egg slices. Then put the shrimps on top and add a little pepper and salt.

Finish off with some mayonaise, fresh dill, a slice of lemon and some cherry tomatoes.

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The next weeks I will be posting some delicious Danish Christmas dishes. Having lived in Denmark I thought I should take the opportunity to introduce the Danish Christmas to the world.

Denmark is very known for its modern furniture, innovative farmaceutical technology and the world’s best restaurant Noma. This might lead to the conclusion that the Danes are just as renewing when it comes to Christmas and the Christmas table. But allthough the American tradition of roast duck or goose is becoming more common, the Danes have a very specific and typical traditions for the Christmas Days that has not changed for many years.

Christmas Lunch(es)

In the weeks before Christmas, there are several Christmas ‘warming ups’: The Christmas Parties, also called Christmas Lunches, but the latter I find a bit misleading since it sounds like there is no alcohol involved (there is).

When you are living in Denmark you will be invited to many Christmas Parties: your work, football club, school, friends, church and whichever social group or community you may be in. The whole month of December will be full of it, which is time consuming if you consider that every party is followed by a hangover day. The Christmas beer and schnaps that are meant to help digest the food actually do have some less enjoyable side effects.

At all parties you will go and eat more or less the same food as during Christmas Eve. So by the time it’s Christmas Eve you will feel like you cannot eat more of the same for another year or so. I guess that’s ok actually: you will only get served these dishes again during Christmas next year. :)

Christmas Eve

The typical Danish Christmas Eve is spent with family and friends. The menu is the same wherever you go: You’ll start with rye bread with fish filet or shrimps. Followed by roast pork, boiled potatoes and red cabbage.

For dessert, the classic dish is ris à l’amande; a cold rice pudding with whipped cream, almonds and hot cherry sauce. A peeled almond is hidden in the dessert bowl. The lucky finder of the almond gets an extra present!

Some families even add another course after that, and serve a selection of cheezes with nuts, honey and olives.

Christmas Dancing

In case you are planning to go to Denmark for Christmas: Don’t be surprised if people suddenly go up and dance around the Christmas tree singing songs. That’s normal… well it is in Denmark at least…

I have always felt a bit weird doing it. First of all I do not like singing in public: I feel completely embarrassed! And then the dance circling around the Christmas tree… I think it would be less awkward if the danes would not do the same at midsummer, when instead of a Christmas tree there is a bonfire with a witch in the middle of the dancing crowd…

Christmas Decorations

If you are considering to throw a Danish Christmas Party, you’ll need some decoration too. The typical Danish decoration or ‘pynt’ are Red-White Paper hearts or Christmas Stars:

Enjoy my upcoming posts!