26 November 2009

CONDIMENT 01: Ahhh, Cucumbers!

'Agurk Salat'

Given it is Thanksgiving today, here is a quick and easy condiment for your turkey meal that will introduce you to a very basic Danish condiment.

It is both used with hot/cold meals and is a basic staple of open-face sandwiches.

1 English/Hot House Cucumber (large)
1/2 c Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 c Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
1 tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped

Glass jar with lid, 600g size / mason jar is okay.


1.  Prepare: Clean and cut ends off of cucumber. Cut uniform thin slices. 
2.  Take a deep glass/plastic bow and place a single layer of cucumber slices on the bottom and lightly sprinkle with salt. Repeat until you have a layered tier of cucumber slices in the bowl. Place a smaller bowl on top of the layer in the bowl and add a heavy can/bottle on top to make a press. The pressure and salt will help to break down the meat of the slices as you allow it to sit in a cool place for about one hour. 
3.  Marinade: While the slices are being pressed away, take a small jar and add equal parts vinegar and sugar. Put the lid on and shake it until the sugar dissolves. Don't worry if some granules remain at the end of the hour...they will dissolve. 
4.  Take a fresh handful of parsley and chop enough for about a tablespoonful. 
5.  Once the hour is over, place the marinade near the sink with the lid off and remove the weight from the slices. With clean hands, grab a handful of cucumbers from the bowl and gently squeeze the natural juices out and place in the jar. Repeat until all are done and add the parsley. 
6.  Replace the lid and shake well to mix the ingredients. These can be eaten immediately or chill. 

NOTE: Good maximum two weeks in refrigerator.

Danish Cucumber Salad : Agurk Salat on FoodistaDanish Cucumber Salad : Agurk Salat

06 November 2009

BAKERY/BAGERI: Slow Bake Pumpernickel

To quote my sister..."whose my little pumpernickel?"

This wonderfully dense multigrain bread is such a part of who we are that we have even taken it upon ourselves to use it as a term of endearment toward each other.  Yet, it is also an acquired taste that has left many a friend perplexed as to how we could find joy in such a thin slice of life. Some of my friends have likened it to calling it 'roof tiles, cardboard, soles of a shoe' or merely, 'rug-bread'. In either case, it should not be dismissed merely because it does not present itself with the fluffy light center familiar to your average American palette. It is indeed an acquired taste worth pursuing.

Since creating topless bread takes patience and the understanding that anything you build must begin with a good foundation...Can you tell I went to architecture school? -  it becomes especially important that you choose the right bread for your open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød). It must not only be stable to hold your creations; but, it must be that extra textural taste of wonderment that compliments all it's toppings.

I would recommend for anyone who has never tasted genuine danish pumpernickel bread (rugbrød), to find a loaf at your local deli/gourmet aisle that is multi-grained or multi with sunflower seeds and first enjoy it with a nice slice of havarti.  This last variety is my favorite - and if you have a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood, they have a pretty decent one to feast your first bite on.

If you decide to take the challenge of baking your own, there are a few things you first should know. A good homemade loaf of pumpernickel is a slow loving process of fine ingredients and patience with the end result most satisfying.

Here are some general rules of thumbs from master baker Nikolaj Halken Skytte at Meyers Bagery (Meyers Bageri) in Copenhagen  for fine tuning your baking experience:


Always use organic flour. Brug altid økologisk mel.

Buy Fresh flour. Køb frisk mel. Eller køb en melkværn og mal det selv.

Make your own sour dough starter. it helps a little to add a small pea size of ordinary yeast to your bread dough. Lav din egen surdej. Hjælp den lidt på vej ved at tilsætte en lille ært almindelig gær til din brøddej.

The softer the dough, the more succulent bread. The dough should be sticky - but,not like glue.  Jo blødere dej, jo saftigere brød. Dejen skal være klistret – ikke fast.

Knead the dough for long. Use a mixer. But beware - you may even end up driving a dough into pieces so that it stands for a soup-like mass. Such a batter can not be saved.  Ælt dejen længe. Brug en røremaskine. Men pas på – du kan også ende med at køre en dej i stykker, så den skiller til en suppeagtig masse. Sådan en dej kan ikke reddes.

Make gluten sample: The dough is perfect when you can pull it off, so it is almost transparent. Lav glutenprøven: Dejen er perfekt, når du kan trække den ud, så den er næsten gennemsigtig.

Give the flavor time to develop. Let dough raise cold overnight in the refrigerator. Giv smagen tid til at udvikle sig. Lad dejen koldhæve natten over i køleskabet.

Let the dough rise in a 2-3 hours. The dough should not be killed again. Lad dejen efterhæve i 2-3 timer. Dejen skal ikke slås ned igen.

Put the bread into a steaming hot oven. Use for example a baking stone and let the bread cool on a baking grate. Sæt brødet i en rygende varm ovn. Brug evt. en bagesten og ladbrødet køle af på en bagerist.

Here is a wonderful new recipe courtesy of Claus Meyer and Nikolaj Halken Skytte new baking book, "Meyers Bageri".

Though you may find this recipe cumbersome due to the length of time it takes to make a nice batch of bread, know what I have dubbed the 'slow bake' process will make all the difference in making you understand how time and care will result in an honest old fashioned delicious loaf of bread. Please not that I have left all measurements in metric - but, have converted the temperatures for your convenience.

'Slow Bake' Pumpernikkel (rugbrød)
One large loaf or two small ones
"1 stort eller 2 små brød"

9 dl lunkent vand / Warm water
2 spsk. salt / Salt
3 spsk. honning / Honey
2 spsk. mørk sirup / Dark syrup
5 g gær / Yeast
1 1/2 tsk. fennikelfrø / Fennel seeds
2 1/2 tsk. kommenfrø / Cumin seeds
1 tsk. spidskommenfrø
2 tsk. korianderfrø / Coriander seeds
3 tsk. kakao / Cacao
200 g hvedemel / Whole wheat flour
170 g speltmel / Spelt flour
670 g rugmel / Rye flour

Other: 1 large or two small bread forms with Teflon coating.
"Desuden: 1 stor eller 2 små rugbrødsforme med slip-let-belægning"

Day 1: Mix water, salt, honey and dark syrup together in a bowl, and stir the yeast into it. Spice grinder coarsely in a spice mill, or shock them with a mortar, and stir them into the liquid along with cocoa. Add the 3 kinds of flour, and stir the dough together thoroughly - It should not knead, just be like a thick heavy mush. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for 12 hours in the refrigerator. "Dag 1: Bland vand, salt, honning og mørk sirup sammen i en skål, og rør gæren ud heri. Kværn krydderierne groft i en krydderikværn, eller stød dem med en morter, og rør dem i væsken sammen med kakao. Tilsæt de 3 slags mel, og rør dejen grundigt sammen – den skal ikke æltes, men blot være som en tyk, tung grød. Dæk skålen med husholdningsfi lm, og lad dejen hæve 12 timer i køleskabet."

"Dag 2: Rør dejen igennem, og hæld den i 1 stor eller 2 små rugbrødsforme med slip-let-belægning. Dæk formen til med et viskestykke, og lad brødet hæve lunt i 3–4 timer."

Pack form with three layers of baking paper and put bread in a 140° (284ºF) hot oven. Bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven temp down to 100° (212ºF), and bake bread for another 22 hours. One hour before the baking time is complete, remove the baking paper to get a crust to form on the bread. "Pak formen ind i tre lag bagepapir, og sæt brødet i en 140°varm ovn. Lad det bage i 2 timer, skru så ovnen ned til 100°, og bag brødet videre i 22 timer. Fjern bagepapiret, 1 time før bagetiden er gået, for at få skorpe på brødet."

Allow the bread to breath for one day in a cool place before serving it. "Lad brødet trække 1 døgns tid på et køligt sted, før du serverer det."

TIP: Pack bread into wax paper or old-fashioned parchment paper to prevent drying out. This will allow the bread to breathe. Store bread at room temperature where it can be kept for a minimum of 1 week."Tip: Pak brødet ind i vokspapir eller gammeldags madpapir, der hindrer udtørring, alt imens det tillader brødet at ånde. Opbevar brødet ved stuetemperatur, hvor det kan holde sig i minimum 1 uge."

Making pumpernickel is a slow baking process. The dark, sweet and very aromatic bread takes about 24 hours to bake. But, the waiting is part of the experience of making pumpernickel. The long baking time allows the starch in the flour to caramelize and with its distinct spices of fennel, cumin and coriander a distinctive bread is made, which is crazy tasty especially with blue cheese."Det er slow baking at lave pumpernikkel. Det mørke, sødlige og meget aromatiske brød skal bage i 24 timer, men ventetiden er en del af pumpernikkeloplevelsen. Den lange bagetid får stivelsen i melet til at karamellisere, og sammen med krydderier som fennikelfrø, spidskommen og koriander giver det et karakteristisk brød, som er vanvittigt velsmagende sammen med ost, især af blåskimmeltypen."

Store in a cool dry place.  Do like most Danes and use a plastic bread container to place the bread in and then store it in a cool cupboard/pantry shelf.


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