Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My best tips for Berlin



This is what Berlin looks like if you google it.
Ok, I am just going to say it.  Berlin is ugly.  Really ugly.  I am not saying that it doesn't have its attractive parts.  The Unter den Linden is nice, as is the Gendarmenmarkt.  There are also some striking modern buildings.  But most of it looks like the projects. Dismal indifferent apartment blocks.  There is a lot of graffiti. There is surprisingly little foot traffic, although maybe that is because I was there in the middle of winter.  But still, you don't have the charm of taking a walk and enjoying the journey as much as the destination.  Unless you like post war apartment blocks. In which case there is much to like.
This is what Berlin actually looks like.
Still Berlin has its charms.  I am guessing there are many great bars and lots of good nightlife.  Since I was there with my two boys, I did not get to experience this.  Also, Berlin seems to have a lot of hipster coffee houses.  Again, the boys did not want to sit in cafes all day so I don't have much to say about these.  Obviously, if you are interested in WW2 and the Cold War, there is much to see.  But what really impressed me about Berlin was the food.  There is tons of good food, much of it ethnic and inexpensive.

Berlin is quite large and it is not obvious where to locate yourself. Where ever you stay, you will still be traveling, so my advice is to mark all the restaurants you want to go for dinner in google maps, and then find a hotel near them.  In my case, this would be Mitte, above the river or Friedrichshain Kreuzberg.  Sadly I didn't stay in either.  I stayed at Mecure Hotel Residenz Check Point Charlie. (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-3120-mercure-hotel-residenz-berlin-checkpoint-charlie/index.shtml).  This was a very clean reasonably priced hotel.  Our three bed room was huge.  They had a nice bar and lounge area.  Our room rate didn't include breakfast, so although the brunch did look nice, we elected to adventure out. The two bad things about the hotel were that the internet was not very good, unless you paid extra and that we were a good half an hour walk from all good restaurants.  On the plus side, the location was very central and near the subway station.

Things to do
There a million museums in Berlin.  My boys and I have a limited tolerance, so we had to pick carefully.  This is what we managed:
Beauty
Neues Museum
 (http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/neues-museum/home.html)
Located on Museum Island, this was a must see because they have the original famous bust of Nefertiti.  Although I was not wowed by the rest of the exhibits, it was definitely worth it to see this famous statue in person.  They also had a huge gold phallic hat.  I will eave you to find out what that is yourself. To avoid the lines, I can recommend that you purchase tickets online.  You have to buy them at least a day before you are planning to visit.  For nearby eats, you can check out Spreegold or Ishin Udon.

Fake history
Checkpoint Charlie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkpoint_Charlie)
This is a facsimile of the real Checkpoint Charlie, one of the border crossings from Western to Eastern Berlin.  The actual checkpoint is a sort of kitsch recreation but around the checkpoint are some exhibits and museums about the Berlin Wall and the Cold War.  It isn't worth making a special trip but you will probably walk by it on the way to somewhere else, so you can stop and check it out. (Yes, that was a pun.)

Imposing gate
Brandenberg Gate
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_Gate)
An icon of Berlin and a symbol of the Cold War, it is a pretty walk down from Alexanderplatz on the Under den Linden.  You can get a sense of the grandeur of historical Berlin and what it must have looked like before the war.

Methodology behind killing
The Topography of Terror
(http://www.topographie.de/en/)
This museum is located at the site of the Nazi headquarters of the Secret State Police.  The actual building was bombed during the war and the remains razed soon after but this museum was built on top of the site.  This is not a museum for little kids because it is mainly just photographs and a lot of text to read.  It really gives you a chilling overview of the systematic methodology behind Nazi plans.  I found it fascinating.  My kids were slightly less thrilled but endured it without complaint.

Not just concrete blocks
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
(http://www.stiftung-denkmal.de/en/home.html)
Much has been said about this memorial which is basically a bunch of concrete tomb like blocks.  It is definitely worth walking through and is better an experience that it looks like in photographs.

History of the wall
The Berlin Wall Memorial (http://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/)
Pieces of the Berlin Wall are all over Berlin, but if you want to see a large bit, this is a good place to do it.  The memorial covers several blocks and where the wall used to be is marked by a steel sort of fence.  There are information plaques all around explaining the history of the wall, particularly as it affects residents of Bernauer Strasse.


Love flea markets!
The Fleamarket at Mauer Park (http://www.flohmarktimmauerpark.de/)
If you like fleamarkets, and I do, you might check out this one that is on Sundays.  They have the normal mixture of old, crafts, and food that you would expect.  It was not very large the day we went after Christmas, but it is probably really great in the spring and summer. The Berlin Wall Memorial is nearby so it is convenient to do the two together.

Mall of Berlin
(http://www.mallofberlin.de/)
We checked out this mall which was not that exciting.  It had the usual international shops.  Saturn is a chain of electronic shops which has an excellent selection, if you are looking for gaming mouses and headphones.  But otherwise, I have zero shopping tips.

Evidence of bombs
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
(http://www.gedaechtniskirche-berlin.de/information-visitors-where-find-us)
This church built in the late 1800s was badly bombed during the war.  The destroyed church was kept as a memorial to the war.  The boys thought it was cool to see.  This church is right near KaDeWe so you can combine the two.

I would like to live in this food hall.
KaDeWe
(http://www.kadewe.de/en)
I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this. KaDeWe is a fancy department store.  They have the normal selection of upscale goods and clothes, with a nice cookery department. But ignore all that.  The real star is the gourmet food court.  Imagine endless shelves of chocolates, piles of seafood, beautiful fruit, and lovely counters serving up hot food of every type.  The seafood counters were amazing.  There was a gorgeous hamburger stand.  We came for the wienerschnitzel.  And it was delicious.  Bigger than our dinner plates.  I would like to live in that food hall.

Christmas Markets
We were lucky enough to go to the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market one evening for dinner.  We went around and sampled sausages, spaetzle, waffles and more.  It was a lovely festive atmosphere with lots of happy people, food, music, and crafts.

If I would have had more time, I would have liked to visit the following:
East Side Gallery (http://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de/): the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing covered in murals.  We kept meaning to go see this but it is a bit out of the way of all the other things we wanted to see so it never happened.

Gemäldegalerie (http://www.smb.museum/en/home.html): I really wanted to check out the Vermeer here but I left it too late in the trip and the boys refused to go to another museum.

The Jewish Museum (https://www.jmberlin.de/en):  This museum is about the history of the Jewish people which I thought would be fascinating but the boys said no.

Food
OK, here is where Berlin got really exciting.  So much good food, I didn't have enough meals to eat everything I wanted to eat.

Yes, they were really good.
Mustafa's Gemuse Kebap (www.mustafas.de)
Did you know that the kebap as a sandwich was invented in Berlin? Neither did I until I started doing Berlin food research.  I read several articles and blogs and they all recommended this particular kebap stand.  They warned that one should be prepared for a wait. A very long wait.  I had to try it.  We went the first night we were in Berlin.  There was a long line.  We debated.  But we were already there, so we got in.  An hour later, the line had moved marginally forward when we were informed that they had ran out of chicken and it would take 20 minutes before the next roast was ready.  Should we wait?  Yes of course we should.  Almost 2.5 hours later, we had a hot Kebap in our hand.  A buttery toasted bun, grilled chicken, three kinds of secret sauce, roasted vegetables, fresh crunchy salad with bits of mint and onion.  It was definitely the best kebap sandwich I have ever eaten.  It was delicious.  Worth the wait?  I don't know.  We didn't go back but we thought about it.

Gracious old world cafe? Yes, please.
Cafe Einstein Stammhaus (http://www.cafeeinstein.com/en/)
Don't mix up this gracious old fashioned cafe for the Einstein Kaffe chain that you see throughout Berlin.  This was a lovely spot for brunch as evidenced by the line to get in.  But the wait was not too long and the food was delicious.  We opted for lunch dishes but most of the people around were having brunch.  I longed to go back here the whole time I was in Berlin but with so many other restaurants to try, I didn't make it.

Monster brunch platter at Spreegold
Spreegold (https://www.spreegold.com/en/)
This hipster cafe has huge portions of eggs, pancakes, salads and pastas.  The food was not as good as Cafe Einstein but still well worth a visit.  They do a monster brunch platter. The line moves fairly quickly.

Marheineke Markthalle (http://meine-markthalle.de/)
This old markethall is nothing special but we found a fun little tapas stand and ate a delicious dinner sipping cava (that was for me) and eating gambas and tortilla.
Hipster chic at Pho Hoi
Pho Hoi (http://phohoi.de/)
This unassuming vietnamese had yummy pho, as well as delicious curries.  This is obviously local and not particularly touristy.

Amazing Baklava!
Pasam Baklava (http://www.pasam-baklava.de/)
This bakery dedicated to Baklava has a wonderful selection of different types.  The place was out of the way and empty when we went but looking at the display case made my mouth water.  It felt like we had stumbled upon a treasure. Grab a cup of tea and a few pieces and then take a big box to go.  I thought we would bring the box home.  No, it was gone by the next morning.

Can't go wrong with good Udon.
Ishin Udon (http://www.ishin.de/standorte/ishin-udon-kobo.html)
This delicious little Japanese noodle shop is very near Museum island so it is a great place for lunch.

Places I would have liked to eat
As you can see, this list is very long.
Monsieur Vuong-One of the first and some say the best Vietnamese in Berlin.
Buchwald
Henne-An old restaurant just serving fried chicken and potato salad.  I really wanted to go here but it was closed the day we decided to go.
Leylak
Hoai Nam
Markthalle
Bullysbakery
Hamy Cafe
Imren Grill
Kushinoya-Supposed to be one of the best Japanese in town.
Dada Falafel--Suposed to have great falafel, which I love.
Schwarzwaldstuben
Factory Girl
Bäckerei Balzar
Cafe Fleury-A popular brunch spot.
Mein Haus am See

Love to hear about your favorite spots in Berlin!




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Korean Grilled Beef and Glass Noodles

One advantage of growing up in Los Angeles is the bountiful amounts of ethnic food.  Los Angeles is so big that there is a group of people of every nationality, and someone somewhere has opened a restaurant to cater to them.  I was in college before I was introduced to Korean BBQ for the first time, but after eating it once, I was hooked.  We went to a great place called Yellow Cow.  A small restaurant, located in an ubiquitous LA strip mall, once inside the smokey interior, you would find load of Koreans grilling meat at their own tables.  The tabletops would be groaning with a myriad of little dishes, called banchan, containing salads, various types of kimchi and other little delicacies.  You had a bowl of rice. You had delicate rice noodle pancakes and a big bowl of crispy salad.  You grilled your meat and ate it wrapped up in a pancake with some of the salad and perhaps garnished with some kimchee or hot sauce.  I still go to Yellow Cow every time I am back in LA and it is still one of the best Korean BBQ places that I know.

Here in Stockholm, the choice is limited.  However, we do have one decent place, Arirang.  Ten years ago, you also could grill yourself, but now the meat comes to the table pre-cooked. I am not going to say this is great Korean food, but it still hits the spot.

I never tried cooking Korean food myself until a year or two ago when I found out about a Korean blogger, Maangchi, who does YouTube videos of how to cook authentic Korean food.  This recipe is inspired by her recipes for Bulgogi and Japchae.  Bulgogi is sweet soysauce marinated beef, usually thinly sliced and grilled or pan fried. Japchae is a dish of stir fried glass noodles, made from sweet potato starch called dang myun.  These noodles are fairly tasteless on their own but have a nice chewy texture and soak up flavors beautifully.  They are also gluten free, for those who are interested. I saw these noodles at my local ICA the other day, so I snatched them up.  Wandering down the meat aisle, they had some nice flank steak, which is not that common here in Sweden and so I decided to use the Bulgogi marinade for the beef but grill it whole in the oven, and then slice the meat over the noodles.

Here is how I did it:

Serves 4 to 6

Grilled Flank Steak
1 pear or apple
1 small onion
8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons soysauce*
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
black pepper
1 kilo of flank steak

Peel your pear or apple, take out the core and roughly chop it. Stick it in a woozy woo (mini food processor) and process until it is a paste.  This is easier to do with a pear, which is the traditional fruit. But I have so many apples in the garden right now, I decided to use that instead and it tasted fine.  Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion and puree in the woozy woo in batches.  You can also do this in the food processor or if you don't have one, you could use a mortar and pestle.

Take a large ziplock bag, one which will fit your meat, and dump the ingredients of the marinade into it.  Close the bag and knead it to mix up the marinade.  Throw in the flank steak, close the bag and knead it, making sure the marinade covers the entire steak.  Put in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, but overnight is even better.

About half an hour before you want to eat, turn on your broiler to its highest setting.  Take the steak out of the bag, scraping excess marinade into a little pot and set aside to use in the noodles. Lay the steak on a pan that is covered with aluminum foil (to help contain the mess).  Broil for 6 to 15 minutes per side until each side is nicely browned.

The time will depend on how hot your broiler is and how close to the heating element you can get your meat.  If you like your meat rare, then put it as close to the heating element as possible. There should be some bits that look almost burnt. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes and then slice it thinly AGAINST the grain.

Stir Fried Glass Noodles
About 150 grams of dang myun sweet potato noodles
2 large carrots
1/4 head savoy cabbage
15 to 20 fresh shitake mushrooms
1 onion
3 to 4 spring onions
1 to 2 tablespoons of soysauce*
1 tablespoon sesame oil
olive or vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

Take a large pot and fill with water and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Peel and grate the carrot. Take the cabbage and cut out the core and cut into thin strips.  Cut off the stem on the mushrooms.  You can save the stems to flavor a stock, if you like, otherwise discard. Thinly slice the heads of the shitake mushrooms. Cut the onion in half and then thinly slice.  Thinly slice the white part of the spring onions and slice the green portion into 2 cm (about 1 inch) pieces.

Take the little pot of marinade from the meat and put it on the stove.  Bring it to the boil and the turn the heat to low and simmer it for 10 minutes.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat a glob of oil on high heat.  Stir fry each vegetable over high heat separately:

1. Throw in the mushrooms and stir fry for a two to three minutes until they are tender and the edges are a bit browned.  Pour the mushrooms into a large serving bowl.  Put a plate or lid over the bowl to keep everything warm.

2.Put a bit more oil in the pan and throw in the grated carrot and the white part of the spring onions and a pinch or two of salt.  Stir fry for a three to four minutes until the carrot is tender and sweet.  Pour the carrot into the bowl with the mushrooms.

3. Add a bit more oil and then stir fry the cabbage, sliced onion and the green part of the spring onion with a pinch of salt until tender and the edges of the cabbage are getting a bit brown, about three to four minutes and then pour into the bowl.

When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for about 7 minutes until the noodles are tender.  Drain the noodles and add into the bowl. Add the sesame seed oil and a tablespoon of soysauce.  Throw in the cooked marinade from the meat. Toss everything together.  Taste the noodles and add a bit more soy sauce if it needs more salt.  If there are any juices from the grilled flank steak, throw that into the noodles, too. If the vegetables have cooled too much, you can throw the whole thing back in the pan and warm through.  Taste and adjust, adding more soysauce and sesame oil if necessary.

Serve the noodles hot with the thinly sliced grilled flank steak on top.


*If you want this recipe to be gluten free, you have to make sure you use a gluten free soysauce, like a Tamari style soy sauce.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dutch Baby Pancakes

I made this for breakfast this morning and you should too.  My whole family practically applauded when I took this out of the oven and it was demolished within a couple of minutes.  Even my husband who is generally not a fan of sweet things was impressed. Not only was it delicious, it was stupidly easy to make.  Whip up the batter in a couple of minutes, throw it in the oven, and 20 minutes later, you are eating heaven.

At the breakfast table, we pondered the name of this dish. After a quick google search,  what it comes down to is that it has more or less nothing to do with the Dutch or babies.  It seems to have been dubbed this name by an American restaurant and the name stuck. However, it is really just a big popover, which is in turn a slightly sweetened Yorkshire pudding.

I was inspired to make this today because suddenly I kept seeing recipes for it everywhere.  Smitten Kitchen did this version in chocolate.  The Guardian had this lemony version.  My recipe is loosely based on this version.  The differences are mainly in the amount of eggs and the flavorings.  I went for a 3 egg version.  Lots of recipes have you rest the batter, but that requires more planning than I can manage and with no evidence at all, I doubt that it makes any significant difference.  Having said that, if you are the organized sort, it seems obvious that you could whip up the batter the night before, which means that in the morning you could just heat the oven and dump the batter in.  It won't save you much time since you still have to heat up the oven, but it does mean that if your brain is not yet functioning without your cup of coffee, you won't mess up with the measurements.

Eat this with whatever pancake accompaniments you might like.  I personally prefer powdered sugar and lemon.  Any kind of berries thrown on top would be delicious.  Jam and/or maple syrup are also obvious candidates.

Recipe feeds 2 to 4 persons.

Batter:
3 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the pan:
50 grams (1/4 cup) butter

Pre-heat your oven to 210C or 450F.  Put a medium cast iron pan or oven proof dish in the middle of the oven while it preheats.  In a large bowl, whisk up all the batter ingredients, until smooth.  It can have a few small lumps of flour.

When the oven is heated, open the oven door and plop the butter in the hot pan.  Close the door and let the butter melt.  When it is melted, open the door and pull out the rack so that you have better access to the pan and swish around the butter so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pan.  Pour the batter in the pan.  Push the rack back in and close the oven door.  Bake the pancake for 18 to 25 minutes until the sides have risen high, the middle is puffy, and the whole thing is golden brown and your mouth is watering.

Right before it is ready, gather your eaters around the table.  Whisk the hot pan from the oven onto a trivet on the table.  Let everyone ooh and aah.  Take a bow.  Civilized people might cut it into pieces but my family just tore off pieces with their hands.  Sprinkle with lemon and powdered sugar or your preferred topping and devour.


Sunday, January 08, 2017

My best tips for Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a wonderful city!  So colourful, it is just a pleasure to walk around. The central area is not that large so you can easily walk to most of the sites. I have been there many times since it is so near to my summer house in Sweden.  So these are my tips cultivated over many weekend stops.  It is fun to bicycle around Copenhagen and pretend you are a native. They have bicycles to rent all over town. 

Top Things to Do
Tivoli Gardens—this is sort of like Disneyland but more charming.  The gardens are pretty and it is nice to stroll there, even if you are not interested in riding the rollercoasters.  It is worth taking the time to research the restaurants there because along with all the standard fast food, they have a few very nice dining establishments.

The Little Mermaid—Even though this is very touristy, there is something really magical about this little statue sitting in the water.  I recommend that you take a stroll here in the gardens early in the morning before the hordes of tourists arrive.  There in the quiet, you can really appreciate it.  If you go later, there will be crowds around and then it is just a statue.

Nyhavn—you must take a stroll down this famous harbour.  It looks just as beautiful as the pictures.  On a gorgeous day, crowds converge on the many restaurants.  It is a good place to have lunch, trying either seafood or the famous Danish sandwich.  Most places will have fried plaice served with potatoes and a curry mayonnaise sauce, which I love.  Or walk around the corner to get some modern Danish food at the Standard.

Canal Boat TourWhile I don't normally go in for such a touristy activity, a friend wanted to go on this and I didn't want to be a party pooper.  I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  You get to see areas of the city that you wouldn't normally see, and of course Copenhagen is gorgeous from the water.  You can find several kiosks selling these tours in Nyhaven. 

Stroget—This main pedestrian shopping is street is another must. If you have kids, you will obviously be stopping at the flagship Lego Store. Illums Bolighus is a wonderful department store which carries a lot of high end Danish design items. Illums Bolighus also has a very nice chocolate selection! If you are hungry for lunch, I recommend Café Europa.  They also do a lovely brunch.  A good place to try Danish baked goods is at Lagkagehuset, which is located on the end of the street on the side of the Town Hall.

  











Amalienborg Palace SquareThis is where the current royal family live and it is worth taking a stroll over there when you are visiting Nyhavn.  The square itself is beautiful and has a lovely light stemming from the pinkish grey stone of the square.  There is a museum in one of the four palaces, but, if you want to be seeped in history, and have limited tolerance for dusty castles, then I would recommend the Rosenborg Castle instead.

Rosenborg Castle is located in pretty gardens and has the royal jewels.  It is a tiny castle, despite its importance and can be seen quite quickly.  The cafe is a nice place to have a cup of coffee.The Botanical Gardens are very near Rosenborg Castle so you can stroll through that on the same visit. 

National Museum—this is very interesting especially if you want to learn about Viking history.  I think it is even free.

Our Savior's Church Tower (Vor Frelsers Kirke)This was another surprisingly fun touristy activity.  It is not that strenuous to climb and you are rewarded with a stunning view at the top.  I do not recommend it, however, if you are claustrophobic because the stairs are tiny and it can be quite crowded.



GlypotekThis museum is full of Ancient roman and Egyptian statues and the like.  While it is worth a look, the best thing is the café in the middle, set in a pretty greenhouse, which is full of amazing pastries by a well known Danish chef.  This museum was founded by the Carlsberg beer family!

The Experimentium (https://www.experimentarium.dk/) This is a hands on science museum which is a great place if you have younger kids.

Zoo and Aquarium—skip these unless you are very keen.  Monterey Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo are infinitely better.

Hotels
Copenhagen Admiral Hotel (https://admiralhotel.dk)—this is a newish hotel in a modern style built in an old warehouse.  It is nicely located near Nyhaven.  The restaurant in the hotel was very good when I was there a couple of years ago.  For a family of four, they have nice rooms with a sofa bed and a double bed in a sleeping loft.

Copenhagen Strand (www.copenhagenstrand.com)—I stayed here last two times I was there and was surprised at how nice it was, even though it is fairly inexpensive.  The location is great, and even better is that a fabulous sushi restaurant is around the corner, Karma Sushi.

First Hotel Kong Frederick (http://www.firsthotels.se/Vara-Hotell/Hotell-i-Danmark/Kobenhavn/First-Hotel-Kong-Frederik/)—I have stayed here twice. Good location near Stroget.  Not much in the way of amenities but perfectly nice.

If you want more luxury, the best hotel in town is supposed to be the Hotel D’Angletterre (http://www.dangleterre.com/).  They have been remodelling it, so I have never been inside but it is open now.  I love hotel bars, so it is on my list to try their new Champagne Bar.  The swanky shopping area of Copenhagen is located in the quarter right behind the Hotel D'Angletterre.  If you need a break from shopping, try grabbing a luscious hot chocolate at the Hotel Chocolate (http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/chocolate-shops/copenhagen).

Restaurants  
There is a lot of good food in Copenhagen so it is hard to know where to start.

Kiin Kiin (http://www.kiin.dk/)
Last time I was there I went to Kiin Kiin which has a Michelin star.  They serve very refined Vietnamese food which I thought was truly delicious and exciting.  They do a cheaper and slightly smaller theatre menu, which is what I had.  They start you out downstairs in the lounge area and bring you some little appetizers and drinks.  Then, they move you upstairs to start your meal.

Karma Sushi (http://karmasushi.dk/)
Karma Shushi was delicious and not that expensive, considering.  I ordered a menu, their Signature, which was much more delicious than it sounded on the menu, including this wonderful dish of caviar and avocado!  They serve a lobster miso soup which is a lovely twist on the normal.  With it, they serve a crunch seaweek salad which was so delicious that we ordered an extra portion. The Signature fed the three of us quite well.  If you are more persons, you could augment it with a few of the a la carte items.  We also ordered a pitcher of water which they augment with cucumber, ginger and mint slices.  Very refreshing.

Cafe Europa (http://europa1989.dk/)
This Cafe right on Stroget is a perfect place to stop for a bite.  It is particularly good for brunch.

Paper Island (http://copenhagenstreetfood.dk/en/)
An old warehouse on a little island is now a thriving food truck hub.  It is a fun walk to the warehouse and even more fun to walk around and gaze at all the different types of food before plunging in.  Outside, there are benches, tables, and deck-chairs where you can sit and enjoy your food and the beautiful waterside location.




The Standard (http://thestandardcph.dk/en) This gorgeous deco building is just around the corner from Nyhavn overlooking the water.  There are two restaurants and a jazz club in the building. I have eaten at Almanak which serves very nice modern Danish food in a luscious setting.



Bistro Royal (http://madklubben.dk/bistro-royal/) Right next to the Hotel D'Angleterre, this airy cafe serves hearty meat dishes, burgers and sandwiches.  They have amazing french fries.  From the outside, it looks like an old fashioned cafe, but on the inside it is light and airy.  A perfect place to people watch over the square, although the square is currently under construction.

On my personal list of restaurants to try the next time I am in Copenhagen:
Perchs Teamroom (http://www.perchstearoom.dk/):  The place to have afternoon tea.
Kanal Cafe (http://www.kanalcafeen.dk/):  Old school place to have smorrbrod.
Schonnemann (http://www.restaurantschonnemann.dk/) Another old school place to have smorrbrod.
Aaman's Deli (http://www.aamanns.dk/) Modern take on smorrbrod.

Let me know if you have been to any of these and if you have any tips for my next trip!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jansson's Temptation (Janssons Frestelse)

One of the most charming Swedish traditions is vickning.  To understand the tradition, you have to understand that Swedes are enthusiastic drinkers when at parties and a good party will go on until the wee hours of the morning.  To help soak up the alcohol and to politely signal the end of the party, a small fat laden meal will be served.  Usually a vickning has at least one warm dish, along with the ubiquitous hard bread and cheese.  A luxurious vickning may have some hot meatballs or sausages along with a delicious hot  creamy potato casserole, Janssens Temptation.  A portion of Jannsens is a perfect armor for facing the elements on the way home on a cold snowy night.

Janssens Tempation is not only traditional for a vickning, but is also present on the Swedish smorgasbord.  Although, Janssens is rarely served in Sweden as a side dish for a normal meal, I think it is delicious on its own for dinner, served with a green salad.  It would also be a fine dish to accompany slices of ham or a meatloaf.

The subtle flavor of this dish is from tinned Swedish ansjovis fillets. While the obvious translation would be anchovies, the fish are actually sprats, a kind of small herring.  They are pickled in sugar and salt and flavored with spices.  This spice mixture is what gives the casserole its characteristic flavor.  If you don't live in Sweden then you can find ansjovis at IKEA or at specialty shops. These days, you can buy them on-line, as well.  If you cannot get the Swedish kind, do not despair.  Use about half of a small tin of regular anchovies in oil, discarding the oil.  Then mix 1/8 teaspoon cloves, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, and one teaspoon of sugar, with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of water. Sprinkle this mixture in the recipe instead of the tinned juices.

If the idea of fish marinated in spices sounds strange and perhaps not appetizing, ignore those thoughts.  The finished dish has a subtle savory flavor and is not at all overpowering.  

6 medium sized potatoes (about 1 kilo)
2 large yellow onions
1 (4 1/2 ounce) tin Swedish ansjovis fillets
1 to 2 cups cream
4 to 6 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425F (200C).  Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish.
Peel potatoes and cut into slices, and then again lengthwise, so that you have stick-shaped pieces.  Peel onions and cut off either end.  Cut into half, length-wise, and then slice into strips.  Chop the anchovy fillets into little pieces, reserving the juice.

Put half of the potatoes in the dish.  Top with half of the onions.  Sprinkle the anchovy over the mixture.  Then, layer on the rest of the onions and then the potatoes.  Sprinkle the juice from the anchovy tin over the casserole.  Pour in cream until it is about 3/4 way up the potatoes.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top in a nice even layer.  Chop up the butter into little bits and sprinkle on the top.  


Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the top is browned.  This dish can be made up to two days in advance and re-heated.  In fact, it is actually better if you make it the day before and re-heat it.  The cream is absorbed into the potatoes and the flavors will beautifully meld.



Friday, December 09, 2016

Swedish Cinnamon Buns and Safrron Buns (Kanelbullar och Saffransbullar)

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a baking class arranged by the SIS Out and About Club.  We had a lovely teacher, NikAnnika Märak, who taught us a few tricks.  Among other things, I learned that I have been making my dough way too dry. Our teacher kept hers very wet.  Basically you just have to have to learn to live with goopy hands.  But as you knead the dough, it becomes less sticky. 


I also learnt a new filling.  The classic filling for cinnamon buns is just butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Ms. Märak added almond meal which added a lovely subtle flavor and thickened the filling so it didn't just all drizzle out of the bun when you cooked it.

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)
About 16 buns

Dough
75 grams butter (smör)
2.5 deciliters milk (mjölk)
25 grams fresh yeast (jäst), sold in 50 grams cubes in the refrigerated section, normally near the butter
½ deciliters sugar (strösocker)
1 egg (ägg)
1 spice spoon salt (a pinch)
1 teaspoon cardamom (kardemumma)
420 grams all-purpose flour (vetemjöl)

Filling
100 grams butter at room temperature (smör)
1 deciliter almond four (mandelmjöl)
150 grams sugar (strösocker)
3 tablespoons cinnamon (kanel)
Handful of pearl sugar (pärlsocker) for garnish

Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, or in the microwave.  Crumble the yeast into a large bowl.  Add the milk into the butter and stir.  Stick your finger into the butter/milk mixture.  It should be about body temperature.  If it feel hot to the touch, let it cool because a too high heat will kill the yeast.  Pour the butter/milk mixture in the bowl with the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients for the dough (egg, cardamom, salt, sugar, and flour).  Stir the ingredients until it forms a dough.  The dough should be quite wet and sticky.  Knead the dough on the counter or on a board, using a bit of flour but not too much.  The dough will become easier to work and less sticky as you knead it.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic.  If you are kneading by hand, you cannot overknead.  Put the dough back in the bowl and dust with flour.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it rise for at least 30 minutes until it roughly doubles.  If the room is cold, it will take longer to rise.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl.

Some of the different shapes you can make.
Put the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ½ centimetre thick.  Spread the filling over the dough.  Roll up the dough and shape into buns.  Put the buns onto a baking sheet covered with parchment/baking paper (bakplåtspapper).  Turn on the oven to 225 degrees Celsius.

Let the buns rise for 30 minutes (a bit more if the room is cold).  Brush the buns with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water.  Sprinkle over pearl sugar (pärlsocker).  Bake in the oven 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

Saffron Buns (Saffransbullar)

About 16 buns

Dough
75 grams butter (smör)
2.5 deciliters milk (mjölk)
25 grams fresh yeast (jäst), sold in 50 grams cubes in the refrigerated section, normally near the butter
1 deciliter sugar (strösocker)
1 egg (ägg)
1 spice spoon salt (a pinch)
1 packet ground saffron (saffron), ie. 0.5 grams
420 grams all purpose flour (vetemjöl)

Filling, if desired
100 grams butter at room temperature (smör)
1 deciliter almond four (mandelmjöl)
150 grams sugar (strösocker)
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
Handful of pearl sugar (pärlsocker), raisins, or flaked almonds for garnish

Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, or in the microwave.  Crumble the yeast into a large bowl.  Add the milk into the butter and stir.  Stick your finger into the butter/milk mixture.  It should be about body temperature.  If it feel hot to the touch, let it cool because a too high heat will kill the yeast.  Pour the butter/milk mixture in the bowl with the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients for the dough (egg, saffron, salt, sugar, and flour).  Stir the ingredients until it forms a dough.  
The dough should be quite wet and sticky.  Knead the dough on the counter or on a board, using a bit of flour but not too much.  The dough will become easier to work and less sticky as you knead it.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic.  If you are kneading by hand, you cannot overknead.  Put the dough back in the bowl and dust with flour.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it rise for at least 30 minutes until it roughly doubles.  If the room is cold, it will take longer to rise.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the filling, if you are using it.

Put the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter.  If you don’t want the filling, divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape as desired, using the raisins for garnish.
For filled buns, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ½ centimetre thick.  Spread the filling over the dough.  Roll up the dough and shape into buns.  Put the buns onto a baking sheet covered with parchment/baking paper (bakplåtspapper).  Turn on the oven to 225 degrees celcius.
Let the buns rise for 30 minutes (a bit more if the room is cold).  Brush the buns with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water.*  Sprinkle over pearl sugar (pärlsocker), or flaked almonds.  Bake in the oven 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

You can also brush them with sugar syrup instead of egg if desired.  To make the sugar syrup, boil 1 dl sugar with 1 dl water until the sugar is fully melted.  Cool.