Thursday, 25 August 2011

Copenhagen Cooking

My Travelling Buddy!

Last weekend I spent my time in Copenhagen and got to sample food from some of the best restaurants at the Copenhagen Cooking festival. Unfortunately, as it was a last-minute decision to go there, I was too late to book a table at any of the 13 Michelin starred restaurants, which by the way, are also all closed on Sundays and Mondays. I was especially gutted about Noma, which has a 90-day waiting list and has been ranked in the top 3 restaurants in the world.  Another restaurant I missed was The Paul. Luckily, however, I’ve heard on the grapevine that chef Paul Cunningham has a new book out next year so I can at least sample some of his food  - albeit cooked by myself!

I managed to sample a variety of Nordic flavours nonetheless as the City celebrated quality produce and a resurgence of pride in the nation’s cookery. Copenhagen Cooking is on until 4th September 2011 so if you haven’t booked a flight, it’s not too late to do so.

Here are a few of my highlights…


Café Dut Gule Hus, Istedgade 48.

Café Dut Gule Hus
Brunch is a very popular meal in Copenhagen with most cafés offering a dedicated brunch menu until 2pm, and some serving as late as 4pm. A local man recommended Café Dut Gule Hus, in the up and coming area of Vesterbrø, which was possibly one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. It was exactly what brunch should be – a big meal with many options, perfect for an indecisive and greedy eater like me. 

The Vegetarian had an equally satisfying alternative, although the Danish seem to be similar to the Spanish in their thinking and do not quite understand what a vegetarian is: they put pescatarian and vegetarian under the same title.  (Mind you, this did work in my favour, as I got an extra pot of salmon mousse to nibble on.) 

The Vegetarian's Brunch

My Brunch
If all of that wasn’t enough, we copied the table next to us and ordered a side dish of pancakes and maple syrup too!
Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Aamans Smørebrøds Resturant and Deli - Øster Farimagsgade 10 

Aamans Smørebrøds
The Smørebrød is a Danish open sandwich that is eaten at lunch. A thin slice of rye bread is layered with a selection of fish or meats, a thick dressing and raw or pickled vegetables. It’s actually very filling and two or three heavy topped smørebrød will leave you feeling pretty full.

Although smørebrød is a popular lunchtime snack, many venues make it badly and over-layer it with toppings and dressings so it was great to hear about Aamans restaurant and taste smørebrød as it should be. 

Aamans is a smørebrød restaurant with Deli next door, run by popular TV chef Adam Aamans, who is famous for his smørebrød.

Herring is particularily key to a good smørebrød and the waiter at Aamans immediately told us what the herring of the day was: elderflower pickled and pan-fried. I couldn’t refuse the speciality so I chose one smørebrød with herring and another with salmon. 

My Smørebrøds

Unfortunately they were lacking in options for the Vegetarian so he had the only veggie dish, which was layers of potatoes and picked vegetables, and the cheese board option, which came with rhuburb chutney.

The Vegetarian's Smørebrøds

We decided to take the waiter’s recommendation of a home-made schnapps to go with our smørebrød too - I had an elderflower version and the Vegetarian had rhuburb.

Rhubarb and Elderflower Schnapps

Cofoco - Les Trois Cochons - Værnedamsvej 10

Cofoco - Les Trois Cochons
Les Trois Cochons is part of the popular Cofoco chain in Copenhagen. It’s a French-style brasserie with a Danish twist. The concept is one of fine but wallet-friendly gastronomy served up in pleasant relaxing surroundings. There is a choice of a 3 course or 6 course menu with starter-sized portions. We went for the 6 course menu as we like to try as many dishes as we can, whenever we can – we had done lots of cycling that day so we did deserve a big dinner too.

There were few options for a vegetarian but our waiter kindly checked with the chef before we decided upon our 6 course menu and the chef was happy to accommodate.  In hindsight my eyes were bigger than my belly and the 4 course meal would have been satisfying enough.

My favourite of the 6 courses was the cured salmon with a mix of cucumber and pickled cucumber balls and horseradish cream. The slow cooked beef with mustard and poached egg was delicious too. We both thoroughly enjoyed the tomato risotto with goats cheese, and the winner for the Vegetarian was the sweet tender beetroot with raspberry sauce, pickled onions and pistacios – flavours he would never consider combining, especially as he has always hated both beetroot and pickled onions.

Tomato Risotto with Goats Cheese

Beetroot with Raspberry Sauce

Beef with Mustard and Poached Egg
For dessert we had a refreshing raspberry sorbet with a licorice cube, sweet sugary square, pyramids of beetroot puree, torn raspberries and warm mini meringues. 
Refreshing Raspberry Dessert

New Concepts!

Copenhagen has many new concepts about eating, including the very popular do-it-yourself approach.

Skildapadden Café and Sandwich Bar – Gråbrødretorv 9.

Skildapadden Café
I became over-excited when I stumbled across Skildapadden Café and Sandwich bar, where I got to create my own sandwich. I chose from several exciting types of bread, including a healthy coarse brown bread and a spinach Foccacia. I then selected a main filling from the counter, which had a variety of meats and cheeses, from Italian sausage and cooked Danish ham to Mozzarella and Gorgonzola. I then took my open sandwich to the salad bar and absolutely filled it to the top and let it overflow with crisp vegetables, homemade dressings and delicious toppings. If you like melted cheese and warm bread, you can warm your sandwich on the barbecue, too.

Lots of Salad and Dressing Options
More Dressing Options

The Vegetarian's Sandwich

Packed with Ingredients

My Over-flowing Sandwich

I was over-the-moon and decided this was the next best thing to bring to London, until I tried to describe the concept to a friend back home. Our conversation went along the lines of : “I’ve found an amazing new café you should go to . . . It’s brilliant! You go there and you… make your own sandwich.” It didn’t sound quite so impressive when I said it aloud.
So, what do you think? Should I leave Skildapadden as a fond memory or could this actually be the next best thing?

Bio Mio- Halmtorvet 19.

Bio Mio was another ‘new concept’ location with a similar ‘do-it-yourself’ approach. You receive a card on entry, which you then use to order food from the chef (who is already busy cooking) and you order your drink at the bar; you collect your food and drink when called, and pay as you exit. 

Bio-Mio is located in the meat-packing district in a converted Bosch Showroom. Apparently, it’s Denmark’s largest organic restaurant, full of local, climate-friendly ingredients.
The portions are pretty big, I ordered a mussel and prawn stew from the light options but it came in a large dish with a side of bread and an unrecognisable root vegetable garlic dip; it was very filling indeed. The Vegetarian had an interesting Indian risotto made with quinoa, and we needn’t have had, but we did, share a bowl of pickled roasted potatoes, which came with the strange garlic dip again. 

Indian Risotto
Pickled Potatoes with Garlic Dip

Mussel and Prawn Stew
After much deliberation we discovered that the dip was, in fact, garlic mashed potato so no wonder we were so full! We had been, consecutively, dipping bread and potato into mashed potato!

Wienerbrød - Danish Pastry


It is very important to eat as many Danish Pastries as possible when in Copenhagen – The Vegetarian had a record of five at breakfast alone. The Danish Pastry or Wienerbrød (Viennese Bread - named after the art of flaking the pastry, which was taught in Vienna) is light, flakey and crispy. The Vegetarian loved a cinnamon and chocolate Wiernerbrød but my favourite of the bunch was a flaky pastry with a gooey splodge of custard in the middle, named Bargerens Darlige Oje or ‘baker’s infected eye’!

Emmery’s Bakery - there are a few shops around the city - didn’t fail to deliver every time.

Another great spot for a relaxing and eating a sweet treat is The Living Room in the inner city, which also offers a selection of organic teas. The venue has sofas inspired by 60’s & 70’s Danish furniture and a laid back Moroccan style Tea Room to explore.

Copenhagen Beer

A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without sampling a few of the huge range of local beers. Even a non-beer drinker such as myself managed to find quite a few to enjoy

Mikkeller - Viktoriagade No. 8 BC.

A stylish underground bar in the Vesterbrø district with a great variety of beers - 20 are Mikkeller’s own brewed specialties. They put quality before quantity and focus on creating short uncompromising beer.

The staff were very friendly and helpful: I explained I was in the mood for something light and fruity, and was recommended the pilsner with hibiscus – exactly what I wanted.

Norrebro Bryghus- Ryesgade 3. 
Norrebro Bryghus
Award-winning Norrebro Bryghus ‘elevates and expands’ Danish beer culture by creating a bar with a brewery: they sell specialty beers brewed in their in-house brewery. 

I had a brewed-on-the-premises raspberry beer which was light and fruity, and the Vegetarian went for the Red beer, which he quickly guzzled after our afternoon cycling around the city.
90eren – Gammel Kongevej 90.
Slow Beer
Founded in 1916, Vinstue 90 has retained its original charm. They say little has changed over the years. It’s the only bar in Copenhagen that sells uncarbonated cask style Carlsberg (from a nearby brewery). The 15-minute wait for the slow poured beer was worth it; it has a strong hop and creamy head and is apparently reminiscent of the original Carlsberg produced in the mid-nineteenth century.  

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Coca de Trempo – Pepper and Onion Coca

Coca de Trempo

Coca comes from the Balearic Islands: it’s very similar to a slim-line pizza (no cheese!) but served at room temperature and equally delicious. A bread dough topped with traditional Spanish ingredients, makes Coca a great breakfast, lunch, tapas or snack. When I’m on holiday in Mallorca I like to buy a slice from the panaderia (bakery) for brunch to nibble on my long walk down to the beach. There are many different varieties of Coca (both sweet and savoury) and here is a recipe for a simple Coca de Trempo – pepper and onion coca. To mix it up I sometimes add artichoke hearts, olives or anchovies too.

Serves: 4, vegetarians and/or meat-eaters.

For the dough
250g strong plain flour
1 ½ tsp dried yeast
1tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sugar
200ml warm water
A knob of butter, melted

For the topping
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil

Whisk together half of the warm water with the yeast and sugar and leave to stand for about 10 minutes until a frothy head forms.
Mix the flour, salt, yeast mixture, oil and butter, and add a little at a time of the remaining water to make a soft, pliable dough. Knead for 10 minutes and place covered in a bowl in a warm place to rise for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees, gas mark 6. 

Meanwhile, mix together the peppers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, a glug of olive oil and season with sea salt to taste.

Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick and curl up the edges to make a border. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle the mixed vegetables over evenly. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Paella de verduras – Vegetable Paella

Paella de Verduras

Paella gets its name from the dish which it is made in - a flat bottomed metal pan. It originated in Valencia as a peasant dish made with rice and left-overs. Gradually vegetables from the garden followed by chicken, rabbit and snails from the countryside helped lift Paella’s reputation into its current international fame.

Paella is the perfect summer lunch-time dish (the Spanish consider it too heavy to eat in the evening) which is eaten outside and always served warm, not hot. The best part of the Paella is the rice that sticks to the bottom. This is known as the Soccorat – named after a town close to Valencia, which was burnt down by the Romans!

There is no official recipe for Paella in Spain, no single agreed upon interpretation of the dish. Paella has nearly as many variations as there are cooks so I cannot give you a master formula but I can give you my tried and tested recipe for Paella de Verduras. The trick is not to add too many ingredients as the main celebration of Paella is the rice.

1tsp sweet smoked paprika
1tsp tumeric
1/2tsp caenne pepper
A pinch of saffron
1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped
800ml vegetable stock
400g paella rice
Handful runner beans, chopped
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1 tin butter beans, drained and rinced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil

Place the saffron in a cup and cover with a little boiling water, leave to steep for 10 minutes.

In a paella pan, fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, saffron, tumeric, paprika, caenne pepper and seasoning and cook for 1 minute, making sure the spices are distributed evenly. Stir in the runner beans, mushrooms and peppers and cook for a few minutes, adding a splash of the stock if necessary. Pour over the paella rice and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and give it a good stir before turning the heat down to a medium-low setting and leaving to simmer for half an hour. To ensure the dish cooks right though, turn the pan every 5-10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, cover with newspaper or a damp. Folded cloth and leave to stand for a further 5-10 minutes, while the rice continues to cook and absorb the liquid

Serve with a few wedges of lemon.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Spanish Chickpea salad

Spanish Chickpea Salad

This is a spicy and refreshing Spanish chickpea salad that works as a great side dish or tapas.

Serves: 4
2 x400g tins chickpeas, drained or 150g dried chickpeas soaked overnight.
1 garlic clove, crushed into a paste using sea salt
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
½ medium sized cucumber
Handful cherry tomatoes, deseeded (seeds kept aside) and finely chopped
Handful fresh mint and parsley, chopped
1tbsp red wine vinegar
squeeze of lemon
olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

In a bowl mix the red onion and red wine vinegar and leave for a few minutes, this lightly softens the taste of the onion. Add the garlic, chili, lemon juice, dash of olive oil and stir well. Add the rest of the ingredients and season. Chill before serving.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Spanish Butter Bean Stew with Spanish or Vegetarian Sausages

Butter Bean Stew with Spanish Wine and Crusty Bread
Spanish Butter Bean Stew

Mini Casserole Pots
The sudden change of weather made me want to make something warming for dinner so I made a Spanish style butter bean and sausage stew. The Spanish use lots of cumin and sweet paprika, and this dish has a healthy helping of them both.
My guest Anna said it was exactly what she needed and she will be cooking it for her vegetarian friend tomorrow night.

Serves: 2 Vegetarians and 2 Meat eaters.

1 large Spanish onion
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2tsp cumin
2tsp sweet paprika
2tsp cayenne pepper
Dash of red wine
Handful spinach
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

V: 4 x vegetarian sausages
Chunk of Manchego cheese, broken up
M: 4 x Spanish sausages (or equivalent tasty sausages)
Chunk of Chorizo, chopped

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and butter beans and a tin full of water. Give it a good stir before adding a dash of wine and seasoning.  Bring to the boil and leave bubbling for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the spinach at the end and divide the sauce between two casserole dishes.

V: Fry the vegetarian sausages on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
M: Fry the Spanish sausages on a medium heat for about 10 minutes and add the chorizo for a minute at the end.

Add the vegetarian sausages to one casserole dish and the vegetarian ones to the other. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread.
V: Sprinkle over the Manchego cheese before serving.

'Honey' Ganache Tartlet's

Exciting Preparations!
Filling the Tartlets
Chillaxing Before Their Inevitable Death!

Almonds! Ganache! Go!

A Slosh of Cream and Everyone's Having a Ganache Time!
In the mood for pudding? Here is something for both The Vegetarian and Me(at). Try these tasty 'Honeyed' Ganache Tartlet's. They are honeyed because I used the new Kerrygold honeyed butter but adding a spoonful of honey to the butter while it melts will add a similar affect.

Pack of pre-rolled short crust pastry
100g Kerrygold Honeyed Butter (Or add a tsp of honey to plain butter)
100 dark brown fine sugar
100g double cream
100g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Handful almond flakes

Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Roll out the pastry and cut into the shape of the oven-proof dish you are using for the tartlets. Brush lightly with a little melted butter and blind bake for 20 minutes (use baking beans to stop the pastry from rising). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and sugar together. Add the double cream and gently cook until it starts to bubble. Take off the heat, let it cool for a minute and using a wooden spoon stir in the chocolate vigorously until all is melted together.

Pour into the pastry and leave to cool in the fridge.

Just before serving dry pan fry the almond flakes and sprinkle a few onto each Tartlet.

Serve with a big slosh of double cream. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Keith Floyd's Zarzuela Fish Stew

Keith Floyd's Zarzuela Fish Stew
Zaruela Fish Stew

Kirsten and Ed Enjoying their Dinner

Fishy Bits

No Leftovers!
The Vegetarian was out for the evening and I had friends coming over so I knew I could create a fish or meat feast. The sun was shining and I was definitely in the mood for fish. But what to cook? I flicked from book to book until I stumbled across Floyd on Spain by Keith Floyd. It's all about the pleasures to be found in preparing and eating wonderful food; it's written as if you are on holiday together in Spain, and he is talking to you, pouring you a glass of wine and encouraging you to have fun. The book is full of Spainsh treats that urged my culinary  taste buds to travel across the 'sea' and speak in a foreign tongue. Highlights include lemon chicken with garlic, asparagus dishes, fried squid, paella, and the dish that stood out and later became my dinner - Zarzuela Fish Stew.
I quickly called up my fishmonger to reserve the mussels, squid, fish steaks and king prawns. Then I checked my cupboards and luckily had all the other ingredients. My friend Kirsten supplied a light salad, crusty bread and white wine. Ed brought along a naughty chocolate praline and caramel ice-cream for dessert and, of course, more wine.

Ed: Perfect summer dinner. High point was the chunks of fish. It doesn't need a salad, just fresh crusty bread.

Kirsten: I really liked the different textures of all the seafood... 

I won't share his recipe with you as I might get into trouble but I'll try and concoct my very own version soon. In the meantime, I suggest you buy the book and  make this dish because it really is delicious!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Oven Baked Aubergine/Fish

Oven Baked Aubergine

I have recently rediscovered the wonderful versatility of the aubergine. With the Vegetarian option of this dish, as you slice open the purple skin of the aubergine, nestling on a bed of vegetables, the white flesh is a great contrast in colour, and the texture is like that of a fish and works as a great alternative. 

The savoury sauce adds great flavour to the fillet of aubergine/fish in this simple dish. The sultanas (if used) give a Mallorcan twist, providing a sweet richness.

Serves: 1 Vegetarian, 1 Pescatarian

1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 large tomato, skinned and chopped
1 glass dry white wine
Olive oil
Handful fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, parsley
Sea salt and black pepper
Handful sultanas (optional)
V: 1 aubergine
P: Firm textured white fish fillet – cod, haddock, sea bream

P: Gut the fish and discard the innards, if the fish monger hasn’t already.
Fry the onion and green bell pepper in a little olive oil until soft but not coloured, adding the garlic towards the end of cooking.  Add the wine, tomato, herbs and season to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add water is necessary, to keep the sauce moist. Divide the sauce.

V: Place the aubergine in an oven proof dish and pour over half the sauce. Cook covered in the oven for 40 minutes. 
Wait about 20 minutes before adding the fish version (see below). 

P: Place the fish in an oven proof dish and pour over the rest of the sauce. Cook covered in the oven for 20 minutes. Check it’s cooked before serving as size of fish and temperature are variable.