Thursday, January 9, 2020

homemade remoulade - danish-style!

i recently had a bit of a conversation about remoulade on a post on the new york times cooking community page on facebook. i posted the picture above and waxed a bit philosophical about the joy and sense of connection that using my mother's vintage autumn leaves bowls bring to me now that she's gone.

that day, i was making a big batch of danish frikadeller (meatballs) and remoulade for a family gathering. i mentioned that both were danish and, it being the internet, a bunch of people jumped in to correct me and inform me that the french would be surprised to hear that remoulade was danish. but i maintain that this version is indeed very danish and no danish hotdog, fish filet or meatball or even serving of french fries is complete without it.

most people buy it ready-made and i have the ready-made kind in my fridge as well, but when i'm putting in effort to make homemade meatballs, fish cakes or hand-breaded fish filets, i like to make it myself.

you start with half a cup of mayo, half a cup of creme fraiche and a couple of good spoons of dijon mustard. you stir them together and add a dash of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.

then you need a bit of pickle. i usually dice up a couple of small gherkins, but last evening, i found i was out, but that there was a jar of capers lurking in the door of the fridge - they worked just as well - you just need a bit of pickle to balance out the other flavors.

then you dice a good-sized carrot and a couple of florets of cauliflower. this was for a small batch for just husband and i - if you're making more, adjust upwards to your taste. dice them small and blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. you don't want them to lose their crunch, but you don't want the to be raw either.

then you toss them into the mayo mixture and stir it up. taste it and see if it needs a bit more sugar, salt or a few more capers. the danish commercial version leans quite sweet, so our palates are trained to that, so i tend to err on the side of a bit more sugar.

at christmas, i got this lovely fiery honey mustard seasoning in trade joe's and found yesterday that it was the PERFECT ingredient - it added just the right sweetness and a bit of bite that made for what was probably my best batch of remoulade ever. i had bought some salmon fars from the fish truck that comes to our grocery store on tuesdays and it was just delicious with the fishcakes i made from that.

the recipe
serves 2

1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C creme fraiche or sour cream (i used 38%, but 18% is fine if you're watching calories)
2 T dijon mustard
2 gherkins or a handful of capers, chopped
1 medium carrot - diced
2 big florets of cauliflower - diced
1 generous tablespoon of sugar
salt to taste
secret ingredient: trader joe's fiery honey mustard if you have it

mix the mayo, creme fraiche, dijon and sugar. dice the carrots and cauliflower and blanche them for 2 minutes in boiling water. cool them down under cold water and add them to the mayo mixture. chop the gherkins/capers and add the to the mix. taste and add more sugar, salt, gherkin/capers, fiery honey mustard until the flavors are in balance.

eat it with a fish filet, fish cakes or with a pork meatball. dip your fries in it. top a roast beef sandwich with it. the possibilities are endless!

also, you can see in picture at the top, that there were some green flecks - i had fennel fronds in the garden at that time and added some of those for a bit of green and a hint of that anise-y flavor. you could chop and add some parsley if you want a bit of green in yours. really, the possibilities are endless, so just play around with it!

* sorry for these less-than-stellar photos, it's the dark time of year and in these dreary, grey, rainy days, the light isn't great around here. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

G&T cake

i love me a good g&t, and some years ago, i made a gin & tonic sorbet. of late, i've been trying to make the perfect gin & tonic cake. naturally, to do so, i turned to pinterest. and i looked at this recipe, and this one (which is more or less the recipe i made the first go i had at it), and this one and also this one. but that first attempt was a bit dry and a bit too heavy, so when it came time to try again, i mixed them all up in my head and made this one, and it was good (i think the baking powder helped):

the cake

1 C (250 grams) butter
1 C (fill up a 250ml measuring cup if you're doing metric) granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 C (fill that 250ml cup twice) cake flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C gin
2 T finely-chopped rosemary
2 T finely-chopped lemon zest (juice the lemon(s) and reserve the lemon juice)

cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and then add the dry ingredients, adding the gin after the first cup of flour and adding the rosemary and lemon zest at the end.

bake in a loaf pan at 350°C/180°F for approx 40 minutes until done.

while it's baking, make the syrup to pour over it:

the syrup

1/2 C gin
1/2 C tonic
1/2 C sugar
3-4 juniper berries
a sprig of fresh rosemary

bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then turn it off and let it cool/steep until your cake is done. let the cake cool for about 15 minutes. take a chopstick or maybe even a small-gauge knitting needle and poke holes all over the cake, taking care to reach all the way to the bottom. then carefully pour the syrup over the entire cake. let the cake cool all the way before frosting.

the frosting

1 C powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
zest of one lemon

mix together. if the frosting isn't the consistency you desire, add a splash of gin. spread it over the cake and decorate with slides of lemon or lime and a sprig or two of rosemary and enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

pesto and mojo

tho' it's barely summer yet, we've already had some glorious weekend weather. the kind that makes you want grill and eat outdoors and only come inside when the dew is settling and a chill enters the air.  and barbeque means a couple of our favorite condiments - nettle pesto and mojo.

our nettles are young and tender and just perfect for big, garlicky batches of pesto. it's dead easy and i always make a big batch and hope that it lasts at least a few days into the week. you blanch the nettles to take away the sting. we actually think it's better than a basil-based pesto, but then we may be biased by our northern climes, where it's easy to grow nettles and not to easy to grow basil. but nettles are delicious and full of nutrients. plus, they're plentiful and free!

stinging nettle pesto

1 colander full of fresh nettle leaves (if they've started to bloom, don't use them, as they may give you a bad tummy)
generous handful of nuts (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts - whatever you've got at hand - i've even used cashews)
2 fat cloves of garlic
1/4 C freshly-grated parmesan
good quality olive oil
salt & pepper
pinch of paprika

blanch the nettles in boiling water for a minute or so, drain them well and rinse with cold water. squeeze out all of the excess water and toss them into the food processor with the other ingredients and whizz it up. drizzle olive oil in until your pesto has the consistency you'd like. it's a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and veggies, but is also delicious tossed with pasta for a quick dinner once the hectic week gets started.

another staple at our house is a peppery mojo. we had some couchsurfing guests from tenerife a few summers ago and they taught us to make it. it's a lovely combination of fresh, sweet red peppers, garlic, nuts, paprika and olive oil. i make it year-round and we use it as an accompaniment to omelettes , fresh bread, meat, pasta - anything, really. our couchsurfers served it with salt-roasted potatoes and that's the traditional way in tenerife. but like any adopters of food culture, we have suited it to our own purposes and we use it with just about everything. but we think of our couchsurfing friends from tenerife with a smile every time we make it.


3-4 fresh, long sweet red peppers
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 fat cloves of garlic
handful of nuts - i like pistachios best, but have been known to use almonds, walnuts or pine nuts if i don't have any pistachios on hand.
salt & pepper
good olive oil

like the pesto, you just whizz up the ingredients in the food processor, drizzling in olive oil until it's the consistency you desire. i highly recommend it with virtually any meal. you can also change the flavor to a richer, deeper, darker taste by roasting the peppers and garlic in the oven instead of using them raw. delicious and versatile. often i make it in the food processor after i do the nettle pesto, leaving the last remains of the pesto there, so it becomes flecked with bits of green. 

but you can do your own experiments. if you add these two condiments to your summer grill table, i guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

the perfect mother's day cake

it's a very good year for rhubarb. we've got a double row of it and it's almost literally coming out of our years. we've picked a whole wheelbarrow full twice and you can't scarcely see it. it hasn't made a dent. these are very old rhubarb roots that we moved to another spot when we moved here four years ago. we divided a bunch of the roots at that time and it obviously made the rhubarb very, very happy, as it's thriving incredibly. i find myself thinking up ways of using rhubarb. i've made 6 bottles of cordial so far and should make about 10x more (seriously, i could probably do this in commercial quantities if i had the time). so in honor of mother's day on this rainy sunday afternoon, i turned to my mom's recipe for rhubarb coffee cake to provide us some comfort and to use up a bit of that rhubarb.

i had a conversation with husband about why it's called a coffee cake, when there's no coffee in it, but i explained that it's because you eat it with your afternoon coffee. i think for me, coffee cake is also darker and deeper than normal cake. in this case, the recipe calls for brown sugar, rather than white and i think that lends to the deep coffee cake goodness. i think it also has to do with not having frosting per se. so a coffee cake is a simpler cake.

mom's rhubarb coffee cake

Cream together:

1/2 C butter
2 C brown sugar
3 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla


2 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 C rhubarb, cut into small pieces (between 1/2" and 1", depending on how thick your rhubarb is).

Pour it into a buttered/floured 9x13 baking pan and sprinkle with:

1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Bake at 180°C/350°F for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with coffee or even a cup of tea. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

stay warm this winter with roasted cauliflower soup

every once in awhile, i get a bee in my bonnet to eat healthier and it almost always includes thinking that becoming vegetarian is a good idea. i could never fully go vegetarian, since i'm utterly unable to give up bacon (can one be a bacotarian?), but there you have it. true to form, we decided that we'd eat vegetarian during february. or at the very least cook vegetarian during february. we're a week in and it's actually going pretty well. our weather is cold, grey, dreary and rainy and what's better for that than a warming, delicious roasted cauliflower soup?

i only learned to roast cauliflower, in the oven, with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of cumin, in the past year or so and it's now my go-to method, whether we're eating is as a side dish or letting it, like here, take the center stage as the star of the show.

i have pinned quite a number of cauliflower soup recipes on pinterest of late, since it's in season, often local, and one of my favorite brassicas (we like it much better than boring old broccoli). but i didn't follow any particular one of them, but just let the inspiration start there and become something of my own.

roasted cauliflower soup

1.5 heads of cauliflower (that's what i happened to have, you could do with one large one as well)
1/2 bulb of fresh fennel, diced
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic
50 grams butter (approx. half a stick, for those of you in the states)
1 can coconut milk
1 C good white wine
4 C good veggie stock (or chicken stock, if you're not going vegetarian)

for toppings:
crumbled bacon (again if you're not trying to be vegetarian)
toasted bread crumbs (if you are)
crunchy onions (called ristet løg in danish)
a handful of black olives

wash and pull apart the head of cauliflower into florets, cutting ones in half that seem especially large. arrange them on baking paper on an oven tray. drizzle over a bit of good olive oil and a small pinch of ground cumin on each one. pop them into a 180°C/375°F oven for 20 minutes or so until they are softened and getting a bit brown on the edges.

meanwhile, sauté the diced onions, garlic and fennel in the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. when they are softened, but not brown, add the toasted cauliflower and the liquids. allow them to simmer for 15-20 minutes or so, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. use a stick blender to blend the soup creamy, taking care not to splash and burn yourself (i make the mistakes so you don't have to). you can return it to the stove at this point and let it simmer a bit more to meld the flavors or you can eat it right away. 

serve with a bit of crumbled bacon or toasted bread crumbs or crunchy onions on top. we have a ready-made product here called ristet løg (roasted onions) - and it's what you see in my photos. you could also make a gremolata or some pesto or mojo to dollop on top. a spoonful of creme fraiche or maybe some crumbled goat cheese would be good as well. the options are pretty much endless. i served it with slices of bread, fresh out of the oven and it was a warming, filling, fragrant and healthy dinner. and possibly also pretty good for breakfast, should you be so inclined or need to take photos of it in better light.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

what to do when your tree only produces a dozen plums

we have a rather ancient plum tree in the garden. it wasn't doing very well, so a couple of years ago, husband severely pruned it back. at first, this appeared to make it very sad. but now, the procedure has quite literally borne fruit and there were plums on it for the first time since we've lived here. they weren't many (only about a dozen), but they were beautiful and sweet. so i knew i had to do something special with them. then a friend posted this recipe for a gingery plum cake on her facebook wall.

i'd been in the kitchen all day, making chutney and raspberry jam and pickles and lasagne and bread when i decided i'd better make the cake before the plums went bad. it was late in the day and i didn't want to make a grocery store run, so although i didn't quite have all the ingredients, i knew i could improvise.

plum gingerbread cake

1 dozen plums, halved and de-stoned
3 spoonfuls of sugar
butter for greasing the pan

the cake:
175 grams butter
100 grams brown sugar
3 discs of palm sugar
80 ml golden syrup
80 ml molasses
2 large eggs
200 ml milk
300 grams flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. allspice

preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. grease a square pan with butter and line the base of it with baking parchment. butter the paper and sprinkle with sugar. arrange the plums prettily in the bottom with the cut side facing the sugar.

melt the butter and the two kinds of sugar and the syrup in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth and all of the sugar is melted. (this is where i went wrong. i was doing about 12 other things and didn't pay very close attention. my mixture went to a rather rolling boil and began to show early signs of turning to caramel. this, as it turned out, was a very good thing.) remove from heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so before stirring in the eggs. alternate the dry ingredients and milk and mix to a smooth batter.

pour the batter carefully over the plum and bake for 45+ minutes. you can turn it out of the tin if you're serving to guests and want to be fancy, but you can just as well leave it in for easy storage.

notes: do let that sugar-butter mixture get a bit caramel-y, you won't regret it. you can use 175grams of brown sugar, i just didn't have that much left and had some of those palm sugar discs languishing in the cupboard. i also didn't have enough golden syrup in the cupboard, so i topped it off with some of my precious molasses, which made the cake even more like a proper gingerbread, so that was a good thing. 

i can safely advise eating it for breakfast with a bit of cream poured over it. if you serve it as dessert, it would go very nicely with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. it was a very worthy recipe for my precious plums.

Monday, January 7, 2013

new year's feast

i always have ambivalent feelings about new year's eve. it often seems like much ado about nothing. thousands of kroner of fireworks going up in smoke, often on a foggy, rainy night, where no one can see anything of it anyway. expectations are always high, and so is the pressure to have fun. but this year, we were going to spend the holiday with good friends that we've seen far too little of this year, so we decided to go all out on the new year's food.  i made half a dozen nibbles to start grazing on mid-afternoon (another post will be devoted to those) and bought a beautiful beef roast for the dinner.

there were mocktails for the kids - our friends selected a wide variety of fruit and juices (sparkling and non) that they could use to compose their cocktails in special, glowy glasses. the adults took a more traditional route - crisp gin & tonics, followed by a glass of champagne during the queen's speech and then a nice amarone with dinner.

we didn't sit down to a proper starter thanks to the vast array of nibbles i made, but oysters were a must if we were going to go all out. they were small, but fresh and tasting of the very sea itself. that is until i put a spoonful of finely chopped shallots bathed in astringent red wine vinegar and a crumbling of posh "feinschmecker" bacon on top.

even the non-oyster lovers enjoyed the bacon-topped deliciousness. the kids did too.

after all of the heavy christmas food, i decided a big, abundant salad had to be on the menu. pickley antipasto served as dressing.

antipasto salad

1 package of baby spinach leaves
1 carton cherry tomatoes
6-7 slices of serrano ham (cut in half and rolled up to look pretty)
150 grams posh bacon, diced and fried until crispy
100 grams smoked almonds, chopped and toasted together with the bacon at the very end
handful of green beans, cut bite-sized and lightly steamed
a selection of various pickled or preserved in oil antipasti - artichokes, roasted peppers, olives (green and black), pepperoncini, sun-dried tomatoes, capers if you have them. 

pile it all on a big plate, using the spinach leaves as a bed and arranging it prettily. i used a bit of the herbed olive oil from the artichokes as dressing and tossed on the bacon and almonds on top for crunch.

here's one more shot after i remembered to put the black olives (sabin's favorites) on top.

i served the big salad with a lovely beef roast. we have the best butcher in denmark in a nearby little town (where there is little else, other than this charming butcher) and so i trusted them. it came marinated and even tho' i was chatting away and overcooked it a bit, it was still delicious. my advice is buy the very best you can possibly afford and then it will cover for any mistakes you may make in the preparation.

simple roasted root vegetables and an herbed creme fraiche dressing instead of heavy gravy accompanied the roast. all i did was peel and slice beets, parsnips, carrots and a few potatoes and drizzle with olive oil and a bit of herbed salt and bake for 45 minutes or so. i stirred some of the same herbed salt into the creme fraiche.

after we'd all had one serving of the food, we decided to set off a "table bomb" (bordbombe). usually, they have a few streamers of crepe paper and some small plastic trinkets inside. perhaps a few stars. this one was shaped like a champagne bottle and contained pulverized glitter, which ruined the remains of the salad much of the roasted vegetables. at least it was after we'd all had a good helping of it and we'd had loads of appetizers (more about those soon), so nobody went away hungry. in fact, we were so stuffed that we didn't eat our dessert crepes until breakfast the next day.

i guess we're showing our age a little bit because when the meal was over, it was still a couple of hours 'til midnight, so we changed out of our party clothes, put on sweatpants and played cards. then at midnight, we went out in the rain and watched the fireworks. same procedure as every year.


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