Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hot Vanilla for Winter #WarmUpDrinks


Happy New Year and welcome to the third installment of the Winter Warm-Up Drink Series hosted by Ellen of Family Around the Table! For the next four Fridays, now, we'll be featuring winter drinks guaranteed to warm you right up!


Stay Warm With These Sips

Hot Vanilla

I am almost loathe to call this a recipe. But, when I talked to my boys about hot winter drinks, 'Hot Vanilla!' resounded around the dining table. "We love Hot Vanillas, Mom!" they hollered. I know. I know. When they were younger, we went to a breakfast spot and I always let them order - and share - one hot vanilla. Now we don't eat out as much, so we make these at home. You could also call them a steamer, but old habits die hard and these are 'Hot Vanilla's in our house!


Ingredients serves 2
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 t vanilla syrup
  • Also needed: milk foamer (I use an Aerolatte)



Procedure
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until it begins to steam around the edges. You don't want it to boil!

Add 1 t vanilla syrup to each mug and set aside. Pour the warmed milk into a wide mouth container. Foam the milk.

Portion milk into the mugs, then scoop the milk foam into the top of each mug. Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Mussels Over Wilted Greens #FishFridayFoodies


It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' first event of 2019. We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month.

This month, Caroline of Caroline's Cooking is hosting as we share seafood recipes fresh from the oven. She mentioned a sheet pan and I was inspired!


Before I get to my recipe. Here's the rest of the #FishFridayFoodies' oven-made menu...






Ingredients


  •   to 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • ½ C white wine
  • 1 pound tomatoes (I used organic mini hierlooms, halved)
  • pinch red chile flakes
  • ¼ C organic parsley, chopped (I used flat leaf parsley) + more for garnish
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Also needed: sheet pan, parchment paper

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, tossing to coat the mussels as much as possible. Spoon the mussels onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer and pour the marinade over the top.

Place tray in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until most of the mussels have opened. If there are still some unopened, return the tray to the oven.


In the meantime, heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet and place the spinach in the pan. Cook until it is just wilted and remove to a serving tray. Arrange all of the mussels on top of the spinach. Then pour the juices in the pan over the mussels and spinach.


Sprinkle with more parsley and serve with a great bottle of white wine. I ended up pairing this dish with a bottle of Domaine Cauhapé 2017 Chant des Vignes – Jurançon Sec. Read my tasting notes by clicking on the link. Cheers.

Peruvian-Inspired Chicken...in Denmark


This is a dinner that I made for the Frydenholm Mortensens when we invaded their abode in Ry, Denmark over the holidays. I had been reading - and was duly inspired by - Edward Lee's Buttermilk Graffiti. 


I am not going to comment too much on the book because it's a bookclub pick for later in the year. Just know that it's not the first time I'm reading this book. I doubt it'll be the last. I've been a fan of his since Mind of a Chef and his recipes and sentiments are timeless. I picked this recipe because it looked as if it had a lot of flavor. And it would be easy to do between our visits to museums and the copious board games we were playing.


Also, I write 'inspired' because a true Pollo a la Brasa is slow-cooked over charcoal. This version was roasted in the oven. But the flavor profile remains. I did leave out a few ingredients as we didn't want it too spicy for little palates. In my mind, the Green Ají Sauce made this dish. I could have eaten that with a spoon. But, since we were at someone else's house, I refrained.

Ingredients serves 8
Chicken

  • 2 whole chickens, preferably organic, approximately 2-1/2 pounds each
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 4 T olive oil
  • juice from 4 limes or lemons
  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1-1/2" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 t oregano
  • 2 t rosemary
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t pepper

Green Ají Sauce

  • 1 bunch herbs (traditionally this would be cilantro, but we weren't sure the kids would like it, so we used parsley)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • pinch of oregano
  • jalapeno peppers, optional (we skipped this, again for the kids' palates)


Procedure
Chicken
Whisk together the soy sauce, olive oil, lime or lemon juice, minced garlic, grated ginger, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper to form a paste. Place the chicken in a large baking dish and rub the chicken with the paste. Cover and let marinade overnight in the refrigerator.

Pull the chicken out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before roasting. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Roast the chicken for 50 to 55 minutes. The skin should be browned and crisp and the juices clear. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Green Ají Sauce
Mince the herbs as finely as you can (or use a blender or food processor). Whisk together with all of the other ingredients. Serve on the side with the roasted chicken. 


We also had broccoli and brown rice. It was a hit!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fast Food: Eating Like the Danes...from a Pølsevogn


Picture us in Copenhagen. We had driven into town - from Lynge - and parked our car at the hotel. We met up with the Novaks and were walking around the city on our last day in Denmark. The wind was gusting so forcefully that it blew people over when they were standing still. And, to top it off, it was pretty darn cold. I think I read minus 2 degrees Celsius. That's 28 degrees Fahrenheit, in case you can't convert in your head!

A little while into our adventure, D was done. Cold, tired, and hungry. He just wanted to buy some souvenirs, get warm, and relax at the hotel. Jake agreed to take him. I am pretty sure he was also done. We had crammed a lot into ten days and they both just wanted to relax before our 24-hour journey home.


We snapped one last photo at the canal and off they went. R and I decided to continue on with the Novaks and walk to see Den Lille Havfrue, the Little Mermaid. But we were hungry and cold, too, and I asked the Novaks if I could buy them lunch before we continued.

A few wrinkled noses and a comment - 'this is where the tourists eat' - told me they didn't like that plan. And, I get it. I avoid touristy places like the plague when people come to visit us in Monterey. So, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Where do you eat when you come here?" They pointed in all different directions. Within my line of sight, there were four Pølsevogn, hot dog carts. Four! Okay. Done.


The ubiquitous pølsevogn were all surrounded by Danes. No tourists in sight. So, R and I followed the Novaks and asked them what to order. Though there were lots of options, they all said to get the Ristet hotdog med det hele.


The ristet hotdog med det hele is a grilled sausage placed in a classic bun. It's served with mustard, ketchup, and remoulade. Then it's topped with raw onions, crisped onions, and pickles. It was tasty!

Other choices were the Fransk hotdog, a grilled sausage in a little pocket of bread with your choice of dressing, and the Rød pølse med brød, a traditional Danish red sausage that is boiled instead of grilled. That one is also served with your choice of dressing and a piece of bread on the side.


As soon as we got our hot dogs, they were off and walking. So, no, I didn't get out of the cold and wind for lunch. But we did enjoy a typical fast food lunch. On the go. From the Pølsevogn. Just like the Danes. That combination of flavors and textures was delicious. I will try making them soon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

An Early 'Godt Nytår', Rikke's Kransekage, and a Flop


While we were in Ry, Denmark with one of my best friends - Rikke - she declared that she was going to make Kransekage, a traditional Danish sweet to ring in the new year. It wasn't quite December 31st, but I didn't argue with an early 'Godt Nytår' celebration as we bid farewell to the Frydenholm Mortensens.


Besides, I love watching her cook. So, to be clear about the title. The flop refers to my attempt. Hers was perfect!

Kransekage (Danish Wreath Cake)

So, I'm sharing the recipe as Rikke emailed me. Her Kransekage turned out perfectly. At the bottom you'll see my failed attempt...and the reasons I suspect it flopped. I'll be trying again soon.

Ingredients

Cakes
  • 400 g marzipan
  • 175 g sugar
  • 1 egg white
Icing
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 5 t egg white
Finishing
  • 50-75 g melted dark chocolate

Procedure

Cakes
Thoroughly knead the marzipan, egg white, and sugar together. Put some powdered sugar on your workspace, then divide the dough in half and roll each to 60 cm rolls.


Cut one roll into three pieces: 15 cm, 18 cm, and 27 cm.


Cut the other roll into three pieces, also: 12 cm, 21 cm, and 24 cm. There will be a small piece leftover, which you roll into a small pyramid-like shape for the top.



Shape every piece into a ring/wreath and press slightly at the top to make the ring a little bit pointy. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray.


Bake at preheated oven at 170 degrees C until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.


Let them cool off completely before moving off of the baking sheet.


Icing
Whisk together the ingredients to make the icing and place into a plastic bag with a small hole cut into the tip. 


Pipe a design on the top of each cake.


Let the icing set completely.


Finishing
Brush the melted chocolate at the bottom to make the rings stick to each other when stacking.


Here's the finished cake.


And, of course, we lifted glasses of Italian bubbles, too. Cin cin!


A Flop

So, naturally, I wanted to try the Kransekage for myself. I bought the ingredients. I weighed. I found a ruler. I measured with aforementioned ruler. And I completely failed. Ugh.


After doing some reading, I think the problem is the marzipan dough I bought here, in America. Comments on other Kransekage recipes indicate that, in Denmark, marzipan is about 75% almonds. The marzipan I bought was only 23% almonds and the first ingredient was sugar! So, the sugar I added just made my cakes a gooey, mess.


The boys didn't mind and peeled the flattened cakes off the tray. The second marzipan I bought had only 53% almonds. So, I might be making my own. Eventually. This week is crazy busy, but I am determined to get the Kransekage right one of these days.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Kitchen Elves and Gnocchi Nisser Get to Work


When we were in Ry, Denmark over the holidays, I put my kids - the Kitchen Elves - to work with Rikke's kids and we had the 'Gnocchi Nisser'! They did a fantastic job and dinner was delicious.


Ingredients 
Braised Beef 
  • 1 T  olive oil
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef (I don't know what cut of beef it was since I don't read Danish, but I think it was just stew meat)
  • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 C broth (I used beef broth)
  • 2 C red wine
  • 2 to 3 T tomato paste
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • grated parmesan for serving, optional

Gnocchi
  • 2 C whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 C flour + more for rolling
  • 1-1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure 


Braised Beef 
Heat the oil in a large pan or pot. Stir in the garlic, then add the beef meat into the pot. Sear on each side for  3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear.

Add the onions and let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize.

Pour in the broth and red wine. Stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for 1 hour - longer is fine, too. Once the beef is tender. Use a fork to shred the meat slightly. Raise the heat to reduce the sauce to your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Gnocchi
Stir together ricotta, eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper. Add flour, stirring with a silicone spatula to form a soft, wet dough. Shape dough on a parchment-lined surface with lightly floured hands. Roll into 1" ropes and cut crosswise into 1" pieces with a lightly floured knife to form pillow dumplings.


To form the gnocchi, press a piece of dough onto the tines of a fork. Use your thumb to create a dimple in the top of the gnocchi.


Roll the dough down the tines to create gnocchi's signature indentations. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or floured board.



To cook the gnocchi, bring water to a boil with splash of olive oil and 1 T salt. At a low boil, drop the gnocchi into the water and cook until they float, approximately 1 minute.


 Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked gnocchi. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.

Divide the gnocchi onto individual serving plates. Spoon the braised meat over the top. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top, if desired. Serve hot.

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