Happy International Women’s Day 2017

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2017 here’s a pic of Venus by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Tom and I took a million pictures from his museum in Copenhagen when we visited last August and this is a fairly typical depiction of this Classical figure.

In this age of Trump and increasingly right wing rhetoric it feels more important than ever that we recognise and reinforce the rights of women while striving to eliminate the gender gap in all the ugly ways it raises its head.

I find it heartening that female voices are at the heart of a range of much overlooked issues. Striking, talented women are at the forefront of movements like the Sámi community. Sápmi, the indigenous region of northern Sweden, Finland, Norway and Northern Russia, is hotly contested and the Sámi people have consistently been downtrodden and overlooked my successive governments. Maxida Märak and Sofia Jannok, artists and musicians in their own rights, are leading the cause, as well as the film-maker Suvi West, whose film Me and My Little Sister explores LGBT themes through a female context.

Maxida Märak, her poet sister Mimmi and artist Jenni Laiti are part of a Sámi Rights Activism Group, Suohpanterror, whose namesake uses the lasso, The Sámi weapon of choice. They made Sámi propaganda posters, using pop-culture references from Planet Terror to Hello Kitty to raise awareness of Sápmi and Sámi people and to start a conversation. One of the posters really caught my attention, its an altered version of the very famous ‘We can do it’ poster from the USA. I don’t think any day is more fitting for this poster than today.

I hope you all have a great International Women’s Day!

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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!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Food: Gulrødspølse

Inspired by my many trips to Denmark, and their national fast food the rødpølse, I’ve made my own vegan version, which is tasty AF and a lot cheaper than sourcing the Danish hotdogs! You’ll often see a pølsevogn (or hotdog cart) on most street corners in Copenhagen!

The ristet hotdog is a rødpølse with many toppings. They are quite an experience to eat, trying to not drop it all on the floor is like a national challenge. Good luck, but it’s worth the challenge!

The recipe is similar to my Currywurst one, so feel free to make double the amount for two different Northern European dirty favourites!

Once again, I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

Remoulade:

  • 3tbs vegan mayo,
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder,
  • 1 small gherkin, chopped,
  • handful of parsley, chopped,
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1tsp sugar,
  • 1tbs finely chopped onion
  • 2 chopped capers

To serve:

  • Ketchup (the Danes have a special hotdog ketchup, which I got from Scandi Kitchen but regular ketchup will also work)
  • Mustard
  • Handful of crispy fried onions
  • 1 Sandwich gherkin or 3-4 gherkin slices
  • 1tbs of chopped onion

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

Remoulade to the Danes is what brown sauce is to Brits or fish sauce is to the Thai, to make this curry infused mayonnaise sauce is rather easy. Simply, add all the ingredients and mix into a creamy, piquant sauce. Once mixed, Set aside.

To cook the hotdogs, simply take them out of the marinade and brown them in a pan, remembering to turn them. Once brown on all sides, they’re ready to load up!

Home your dog in a hotdog bun and top it with all of the toppings. Start with the ketchup, mustard and remoulade. Then the gherkins and the onions.

Serve with some fries or dill potatoes. Traditionally the Danes pair it with chocolate milk (even grown ups!) or a cold bottle of Danish beer like Tuborg.

Velbekommen!

 

Also- If you are in Copenhagen, the D.Ø.P pølsevogn do a cracking vegan hotdog!

 

Design: Normann Copenhagen in Homesense

On Monday evening, perusing around Homesense with Tom, I came across this treasure trove of Scandinavian design. They had boxes and boxes of Normann Copenhagen design. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Agnes Vases in all different shapes & sizes from the mini up to the 32cm one & the fat  ‘plant pot ‘ looking one, all priced from £3.99 up to £7.99, (Which is an absolute bargain considering they usually start at £10 and can go up to as much as Seventy quid!)

The Agnes Vase, designed by Agnes Fries uses Handmade Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen and combines & contrasts it with a top of black hand-painted brush strokes. Its subtle yet striking, graphic and perfect for a monochrome/ Scandinavian styled interior.

I decided to go for the 20cm vase, a Goldilocks among the rest in my opinion. Being ‘Not too big, not too small’ it doesn’t get swallowed up by a room, but it isn’t also too large to be a centrepiece on my small dining table, and at £6.99 instead of £39.99 I just had to get it!

They also had the Floe tealight holder there in so many shades & hues. I picked up two considering they were £3.99 each in coral and dark green, perfect for both my Spring/Summer  & my Autumn/Winter looks! Designed by the Spanish designer Ramírez i Carrillo to echo a traditional antique oil lamp, it gives a small but impacting atmosphere when styled into your interior.

When I got home I immediately had to take them out of the boxes and incorporate into my Winter décor.

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the Agnes Vase looked perfect on my Normann Copenhagen Block Table, rubbing shoulders with some succulents & my Yule candle from Flying Tiger Copenhagen & Menu X Stokke Austad candle holder. I used a branch, that we had lying around from last christmas and adorned it with some of our homemade baubles & himmeli.

I followed this tutorial by Nalle’s House to make the ornaments. It all fits so well together, with the vase completing the look. Not too ‘out there’ & Kitschy Christmassy. Monochrome, just festive enough & classy!

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The Floe fits perfectly on my IKEA side table keeping my little Tomte company. It looks great with the Sanna Annukka illustrated ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen underneath, strengthening the green and it also works well with the Iittala Aalto pieces, all creating a nice harmonious look.

Let’s hope some Normann design is at your local Homesense store, but get it quick as it will vanish fast!