Saturday, June 18, 2011

Catch-up 3: trout and everything that is in season

This is a result of my first attempt to cook for four in my new kitchen – one which boasts a two burner stove, a miniature fridge, and a tabletop oven smaller than most microwaves. With some planning, it worked like a charm.

Everything in this meal is fresh, in season, purchased at the harbour that morning. It's an intensely satisfying way to cook.

The trouts were stuffed with lemon and fresh dill, rubbed with olive oil, and roasted whole at 200°C for about a quarter of an hour.

The Danish new potatoes were cooked until just tender with lovage stems, and then tossed with lovage leaves before serving.

The spring vegetables (blush radishes, new onions and cherry tomatoes) were gently sautéed in olive oil whilst the rest of the meal cooked.

It's simple. It's easy. And it's wonderful.

Catch-up 2: Open face sandwiches: shrimp and egg

Call it reconnecting with my cultural roots. It's taken me far too long to start making my own open face sandwiches since moving to Denmark half a year ago.

I do eat very plain open face sandwiches nearly daily: bread and cheese. It's what I ate, essentially, seven days a week for lunch growing up.

But the fancier Danish sandwiches have, for me, so far been limited to restaurants and the university canteens. There's no question as to my favorite: it's the shrimp and egg variety (not too much mayonnaise, please), typically topped with thinly sliced cucumber and a twist of lemon.

Yes, eat the lemon. Please don't leave it behind. [The same goes for raw egg on other open face sandwiches.]

The layers:
  • rye bread
  • a few dry leaves of salad (to keep the bread from getting too moist)
  • thinly sliced hard-boiled egg (1 egg per slice of bread)
  • baby shrimps, gently tossed in mayonnaise and mustard
  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • thinly sliced lemon (not visible in the picture due to technical difficulties)
  • optional: a small spoonful of roe
  • optional, but recommended (unless, in my case, deal has been temporarily banned from the flat): a small sprig of dill

As I wilt in the Jylland summer (hey, it reached 20°C here yesterday), these are a welcome meal, cool and refreshing. There is, however, I discovered, a fine art to making these: the better they look, the harder they are to eat. Knives and forks all around. 

[For a much better photo, and different toppings, have a look at A Year in Food's salmon, radish and apple open face sandwich]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Catch-up 1: fresh herring and new Danish potatoes

I would try using recent trips to Copenhagen and Stockholm as an excuse, or the influx of visitors over the past month, but, in fact, all that regular blogging would take is more discipline.

I don't necessarily expect it to emerge, but at least I recognize the problem.

The other problem, I suppose, is that I prefer cooking (and eating) to actually writing out blog entries – but, on the flipside, it's darn useful when I want to re-create a recipe. Or when friends and family ask for my recipes. So: here's the first of what should be several catch-up posts.

Spring in Denmark has brought a flurry of new potatoes from islands and regions all across Scandinavia. Those from Samsoe seem to be the most valued – to the extent that cafés have stopped advertising their beers and started putting out large signs reading “Samsoe kartofler”. We bought ours from an enthusiastic man selling vegetables out of the back of his truck near the fishmonger last Saturday. They had been harvested and cleaned that morning, and he advised us to cook them that day lest they turn brown. He suggested placing them in a pot of salted cold water along with lovage stems, bringing it to a boil, and then turning off the heat and letting the potatoes (and lovage) sit in the hot water for seven minutes. The result? Perfectly cooked, beautifully flavoured new potatoes.

Things learned this weekend: Lovage = Løvstikke = Liebstökel.

We tossed the potatoes in a light crème fraîche-mustard sauce, together with all the fresh herbs in the house: lovage leaves, dill and chives. [On an unrelated note: my new fridge is typically European; waist-high and approximately 4 cubic feet in volume – I should never have kept fresh dill in it, since I think the smell is now permanent.]

The fresh herrings were bought already filleted at Havnens Fiskehus early on Saturday afternoon. That's the last time I try going to the fishmonger on a Saturday. We arrived at about noon, and drew ticket 48 – at the time, they were serving ticket 4. We were served just under an hour later. By that time, as they were trying to close the shop for the weekend, the shellfish was completely sold out. I shouldn't complain, as we ended up with trout, herring, dill, a lemon, and a large chunk of pepper smoked salmon. Richard pan-fried the herrings gently but quickly with some onions – perfect.

Together, the herrings and potatoes are delicious, but they need something light to accompany. The salad is everything in season: arugula, blush radishes, young onions and lovage leaves, with an olive oil and walnut oil dressing.

Brussels! We have a house. Next task: find a fishmonger.