Food: Vegan Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød, (lit. butter and bread), or open faced sandwiches, are an iconically Danish dish, but much of their popularity is due to a recent renaissance thanks to Adam Aaman’s Deli and Takeaway. Before that, their heyday was during the 19th century when they were eaten in Copenhagen restaurants by men playing cards. These days they’ve become an art form in themselves, each sandwich carefully constructed like ‘Nordic sushi’.

Using my recipe for Vegan gravlax I decided to come up with some classic combos. Smørrebrød needs good bread base so I bought a seeded rye rugbrød from Brød in Cardiff. The smør (butter) element is just as important to the dish as the bread, so make sure you layer each slice with a generous spread of your favourite butter, Vegan in my case. Spread liberally, In Denmark they say you should ‘spread corner to corner’.

Here are three classic varieties.

For the laks you’ll need:

  • 4 slices of Vegan gravlax,
  • Sprig of dill
  • 4 slices of cucumber salad,
    • Half a cucumber, sliced finely
    • 4tbsp sugar
    • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
    • some mustard seeds; some black peppercorns
    • Handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
    • a few bay leaves and a splash of water.

To make the cucumber salad simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and leave to do their thing for an hour or two at least. It’s best to leave them for longer so the cucumber has time to soften a bit. I make mine up and leave them in the fridge as they last for ages.

To assemble, simply combine artfully & garnish with a sprig of dill 😀

For the kartoffel, you’ll need:

  • 3 medium new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced into coins,
  • A dollop of vegan cream cheese,
  • A spoonful of seaweed caviar (available from IKEA),
  • Sprinkle of crispy onions,

For the cream cheese I used Oatly’s PåMackan that I brought back from my trip to Malmö. Sadly it’s a Scandi exclusive for the time being but any Vegan cream cheese would work. I personally like the one from Bute Island Foods.

Again, to assemble, simply layer artfully with the potatoes at the bottom.

For the Levepostej og rødbeder, you’ll need:

  • 2tbs of Vegan leverpostej (see below),
  • 3 pieces of crinkle cut pickled beetroot,
  • 1tbs of chopped parsley,
  • 3 rings of lingonberry pickled onions:
    • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandolin,
    • 1tbs lingonberry cider vinegar (IKEA),
    • 1tbs lingonberry syrup (IKEA),
    • A splash of water,

Again, the pickled onions benefit from having been made in advance, but an hour or two will do. As for the leverpostej (liver pate), this was a bit harder to replicate. It’s a classic Danish ingredient but for a Vegan it requires a degree of creativity! I used the mushroom pate from Suma, which is very rich and delivers that meaty body that you need. To give it the classic pink hue I simply mixed in some pickled beet juice! Hey presto – a convincing alternative is born.

Enjoy your smørrebrød with a shot of cold snaps – oh, and don’t forget to use cutlery! (It’s a faux pas to pick them up with your hands in Denmark :P)

SKÅL!

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Food: Salt baked vegetable soup with hay ash

Based on the NOMA dish of vegetables salt baked with hay ash, I was inspired to make this soup. It combines my love for plant based cookery with a nod to New Nordic cuisine.

 

You’ll need:

For the salt dough:

 

  • 450g (2 cups) of plain flour
  • 112g (½ cup) table salt
  • 200ml (1 cup) warm water

 

For the soup:

  • 2 Small turnips
  • 1 Large Potato
  • 2 Medium carrots
  • ¼ Celeriac
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 1 Medium leek
  • 500ml water
  • Black pepper

 

To finish:

  • 1 tbs hay ash (I used a handful of hay, bought here)
  • 1tbs Oatly crème fraîche
  • 1tbs Seaweed black caviar (available to buy from IKEA)
  • 1tsp rye bread crumbs
  • A sprinkle of Saltverk lava salt

 

To make the dough, simply mix the salt and flour together in a bowl, whilst slowly adding the water until it comes together into a dough. Knead it for a few minutes until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll out to 3-4mm thick on a floured surface.

Cover the vegetables, until they are all wrapped up cosy in their salt dough blankets. Make sure you seal all the corners. Use a pinch of water if you need to make sure they are glued shut. You want the vegetables to steam in their own moisture in the oven. Place the vegetables in a baking dish and then into the oven on low (140°C) for an hour and a half.

During this time you can start prepping the hay. Get a handful of hay, place into a baking dish/ metal box and in a well ventilated area, set it alight with a match. Leave it burn down to ashes. Have some water/ emergency equipment on hand, just in case. Once it has turned to ash, you can use them to add an earthy, smoky, bitterness to a dish.

Once the vegetables have finished baking, they should have become fudgy, with their flavour, intensified. Break open their shells and place on a chopping board. Be careful at this stage because they are hot and you don’t want any stray pieces of the dough casings. Peel the celeriac, the skin should come away easily. Chop all of them up into small chunks, and add them one by one into a lightly oiled pan, starting with the leeks. Add the water and stir on a medium heat. Season with black pepper. The dish shouldn’t require more salt but taste test at this point just in case. Place the lid on and let it cook for a good 20 minutes on low.

Once removed, place into a bowl and whizz together with a stick blender until you get a smooth and even consistency. To serve simply replace into the pan and re-heat on low if needed.

To garnish, add a dollop of Oatly craimè fraîche to the bottom of the bowl and then finish the soup with sprinkle of lava salt, rye crumbs and the hay ash. Rest the caviar on the island of craimè fraîche.

(I’d recommend pairing it with a full bodied porter or IPA, I paired ours with an Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter)

Enjoy!