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: Turnip and Sage Soup

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Christmas has passed and we’re all beginning to feel the pinch, either in the wallet or around the top button of the jeans! So why not treat yourself to some cheap, easy to make and heartily nutritious soup? Here’s a recipe for a cockle warming Turnip soup.

You’ll need:

  • 5 – 6 small turnips,

  • 1 – 2 potatoes,

  • 1 onion,

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard,

  • Sage (fresh, naturally),

  • 500ml – 1 Litre of water,

  • Rapeseed oil,

Garnish:

  • 3 – 6 fried sage leaves

Begin by roasting the turnips (skin on) in a bit of oil and a crunch or two of salt. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and cook for at least half an hour, checking after 20 minutes and tossing around so they get equal coverage. When they’re done they should be soft enough to run a knife through with little to no resistance. The skins should have browned a bit too. At this point you can allow them to cool a bit while you get on with the base of the soup.

Using a Le Creuset or similar cast iron pan, chop the onion and fry in a little rapeseed oil until soft. Cube the potatoes (skin on or off, depending on how smooth you want the soup to be) and add to the pot. Add the mustard, then the turnips and let them get coated before adding the water. Pour the water (I like to pre-boil the water in the kettle) over until the vegetables are covered and bring to a gentle boil. You’ll want to keep the soup on a medium heat rather than boil it to death.

As the turnips were roasted with a little salt be careful with the seasoning at this point. Season with plenty of black pepper, roughly chop a handful of sage leaves and stir those in too. Leave to simmer for twenty minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked. When they’re done remove from the heat and whizz the whole thing up with a stick blender until smooth.

For the garnish, simply fry the sage leaves in a little oil until dark green and crispy.

I served it with a Nøgne Ø pale ale and a hearty, dense loaf of seeded rye from Brød, Cardiff.

Enjoy!

Food: Butternut squash and thyme frikadeller

Here’s a quick recipe to make when you’re stumped to rustle up something. It’s great for entertaining and a Vegan twist on a Danish classic!

You will need:

  • Half a roasted butternut squash, de-skinned
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp garlic paste/1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 20g rye bread crumbs
  • 1 tin of butter beans, drained
  • 1tbsp dried parsley
  • 1tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • Generous amount of cracked, black pepper

To make start by quartering and deseeding the butternut squash then place in a deep baking tray. Drizzle with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180° for around forty minutes. You can roast the squash in the bottom of the oven when you’re cooking other things – basically, roasted squash is a really versatile ingredient, especially in Autumn and Winter, so bung one when it’s convenient.

Check when they’re done by poking with a fork – they should be really soft. Take them out and allow them to cool (so they’re okay to handle) and save half the squash for a future recipe (soup is good). When they’re cool, scoop out the flesh of the other half and add to a mixing bowl.

Soften the chopped onion in a little oil and add to the mix. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mash with a masher until the beans are broken up and not too big. You can freeze whatever mix you don’t use or otherwise allow to rest in the fridge for a day or two. Form the mix into round, meatball sized balls and shallow fry in a little vegan butter until browned on all sides.

Serve with some boiled potatoes and a simple cucumber salad/pickle;

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

Make sure the cucumber is covered and leave to do its thing for at least an hour or two, longer if possible – it’ll keep in the fridge for AGES).

 

Velbekomme!

Food: Kjötsúpa

As the Brilliant Icelandic drama ‘Trapped’ came to a close on the weekend, I thought, there’s nothing better (and more apt!) than to make my take on the traditional Icelandic soup (and cold cure) kjötsúpa. All of these products can be purchased from Asda.

Serves 4

To make, you’ll need:

  • 600g smoked lamb (I used 2 packets of Butcher’s Selection Honey & Mint Boneless Oak Smoked Lamb Shoulder- minus the sauce sachet)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 small turnips, chopped
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 leeks, chopped finely
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbs rolled oats
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of baby potatoes (skin on), chopped
  • Sprig of lemon thyme
  • Salt & pepper

Begin by bringing a large pan of water to simmer. Prepare the lamb by cutting it into small cubes and finely chop the onion. Add both to the water, season and allow to simmer gently for around an hour.

Chop the leeks, turnips, carrots and potatoes into ‘stew’ sized chunks and add to the pot. I left all my veg skin-on for the extra rustic touch. Add the lemon thyme and bay leaves and let it carry on simmering for another hour. During the last half an hour take the lid off and let it reduce a little. Sprinkle in the oats to thicken the broth. Stir in the kale just before you serve. You can even take it off the hob and let the residual heat work on the kale.

It’s now ready to serve.

I served mine with a rye loaf and an IPA.

Enjoy!