24 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 24 : Ris a l'amande / Almond Rice Pudding

Part of the special ending to every Danish Christmas Eve dinner is the dessert. 
This is no mere simple dessert that one simply eats and then, says thank you. 
Oh no, this one entails complete participation. 
What makes this dessert special is 'the chase'...the chase of a single whole almond hidden in a sea of wonderfully delicious and sweet rice pudding filled with chopped almonds that both family and friends take serious to the point that amazing devious and deceptive tactics are employed to deceive all participating until the whole bowl is empty.
And I mean complete participation on a level that make mere mortals make faces and contort as each spoonful is eaten with a sense of anticipation of finding the single full almond in a mouthful of both rise and chopped almonds. 
Best are the faces of those who have never participated in this Juletide ritual. Each mouthful is amazing to see as mouth and eyes concentrate to make sure that each spoonful does not accidentally eat the prized almond. 
The almond may be discovered early on or late in the emptying bowl game. But, all remain silent until the bowl is empty. It's a simply rule. But, one that makes the chase the best part of having this wonderful dessert.
It is at this moment that the hidden whole almond is revealed...and the marzipan piggy is awarded to usher in the new year full of good luck.

23 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 23 : Marcipan Julegris / Marzipan Christmas Pig

Leave it to Scandinavians to stretch out the Christmas holiday by both starting it off with a mini-celebration of Lille Juleaftern / Little Christmas Eve...on the 23rd of December and ending it with their extended celebration of 2nd Christmas Day on the 26th of December.

Each household has it's own traditions. However, most are informal with small meals shared with family with an occasional activity.

Here is a little one that can make for influencing the desire for Christmas Eve dessert prize...making the Marcipan Julegris / Marzipan Christmas Pig!

22 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 22 : Modern Holiday Crackers

Make your holidays extra festive with these old-fashioned homemade...Modern Holiday Crackers!

21 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 21 : Apple Gløgg

Keep warm and your spirits high with this wonderful aromatic and tasty recipe that puts a cider twist to traditional mulled wine...with Claus Meyer’s Apple Gløgg!

NOTE: This recipe is for adults only and contains alcohol. Make kid friendly by omitting it.

20 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 20 : Decorative Hearts!

Little inspiration...makes for a better day.
And during the holidays Danes are especially open with their hearts...both emotionally and with how they decorate their homes. Hearts hold a special place in their Nordic souls from their traditional red and white pleated hearts they hang on their trees to ones they simply make out of various material and hang as symbols of the season. These are best described as personal little tributes reflecting the moment and sometimes the past.

Use these Decorative Hearts as a little inspiration for showing off your own...to the world!

19 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 19 : Kravlenisser

Bring the little naughtiness and nice of Danish crawling elves to every part of your holiday home with these wonderfully fun creatures called Kravlenisser!

18 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 18 : Rødkål / Red Cabbage

Most cultures have their basic condiments for special dinner occasions. Americans have their cranberry sauce. However, Danes have their own red version, too. 

For them cooked red cabbage with their warm meals as all the flavors on their plate of potato, gravy and meat...almost dictate this combination. Most Danes today will simply buy a jar of what was once a homemade household item in the pantry.

However, when the holidays roll around...the majority of modern Danes are returning to their roots and opting for homemade over the ease of simply opening a jar to their family and guests. Here is where the idea serving your guests the best on such a special occasion comes to play.

Making your own homemade version is a rather simple task that only takes a while to complete. Call it the 'cook down' of all the wonderful ingredients - but, by making it yourself you'll understand and appreciate how making this dish in advance will make it easy for you the day of your dinner and will pleasantly surprise your guests with the wonderful aromas and flavors this recipe provides.

So, make your homemade Rødkål / Red Cabbage today!

17 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 17 : Gravad Laks / Cured Salmon

It's seems typical that the one fish that is truly known for going against the mainstream would be the independent salmon. Strong and adverse to those around them...they are known for their ability to withstand both cold and the critics who would say...'Hey, you are going the wrong way!'

For Scandinavians and especially, Danes the yearly homemade cured salmon is a house speciality. Each home will make it just about the same way with only the slight subtly of each household's own taste. All recipes are based on the same principles. But, it will be the slight personal adjustments of timing and fresh herbs that will make this seemingly daunting recipe an easy winner in your household.

You don't have to be Nordic to appreciate a nice homemade version of what the local deli sells. Find yourself a nice fresh wild catch (avoid farm raised), use the freshest herbs to allow it to cure until christmas and you'll have your own version homemade of Gravad Laks.

16 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 16 : Julesild / Christmas Herring

Start your Christmas Eve dinner with this nice nordic recipe for...JULESILD / CHRISTMAS HERRING!  
And don't forget to make sure the fish swim...with a shot of Julesnaps / Christmas Snaps

15 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 15 : Getting 'Hygge'

It's a yearly phenomenon.

First the leaves fall from the trees...and then, the darkness starts to take over the days with shorter moments of sunshine. It is no wonder that in northern Europe - and especially, in Denmark that a tradition was developed to combat a season gone dark with something to bring bring light to simple gatherings.

It's a rather primitive idea. With just the lighting of a fire or in this case, candlelight...you create the element that has gathered humans together since we first were drawn to it's warmth. This is the basis for the Danish tradition of 'hygge'...where our human instinct to gather around light is redefined by candlelight where friends and family make the passing of the winter months...'cozy'.

Make the tradition of 'hygge'...your own.

safety note: remember never leave candles unattended...it's easy to blow them out and relight them again.

14 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 14 : Kræmmerhus / Cones

A Danish tradition remains from another era...remains.

As a child I first saw these little paper conical envelopes as part of going to the local grocery or special candy store. With a single large coin or handful of small change, the owner would take our money, evaluate the amount for us and then, go rip off a piece of special glossy paper from which he would make a cone to hold our treats. We would point out the ones we wanted until our little cone was near full. But, if we were extra good they always added an extra piece for us that made us smile.

Because we knew these shapes from throughout the year, we knew come Christmas Eve if we saw them hanging from the tree that even better treats were awaiting us.  But, instead of a simple conical shaped envelope closed off at the end with tape...these special holiday ones were made of beautiful paper and decorated.

Make them together with the family...and surprise the children by filling them with little treats for Christmas.  It is these wonderful decorations that I wish to share with you in the Danish  Kræmmerhus!

13 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 13 : Vanillekranse / Vanilla Wreaths

Many traditions we take for granted today were derived from long forgotten ones.

Though the practice was similar then... such is the history of the Christmas wreath. In Roman times, it was displayed on the door as a symbol of victory. While in pre-Christian Germanic times, the evergreen wreath was burned to announce the promise of light and spring. Northern Europeans kept this practice alive with their conversion to Christianity and thus, the promise of light became the advent symbol of hope.

Here it is translated into a delicious holiday cookies that holds it's own promise...make these Vanillekranse / Vanilla Wreaths Cookies...and you'll know what I mean.

12 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 12 : Æbleskiver / 'Apple Dumpling'

Perhaps, the most delicious treat of the season are these little yet wonderfully addicting little Danish-style popovers. Mind you these are nothing like what has been presented as Danish pancakes. Danes have their own pancake and these are nothing like those wonderful treats.

Once pans were difficult to find in the states...but, today they are more readily available to the American market. So, you should not find it hard to secure one and learn to make these as a special treat for your family on a Sunday morning...or any time during the holiday season.

A little simple trick to remember when making these is to never use the needle you are turning them over with to poke them in turning them over. This will deflate them just like a souffle. So, remember to simply flip them from around the sides and underneath...and you'll get wonderful results each time.

Most Danish restaurants and bars serve these with their version of homemade mulled wine 'gløgg'. But these taste equally good with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Just serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and a little dab of your best berry marmalade - and maybe a little  organic maple syrup.

Here is to your adventures...with learning how to make Danish Æbleskiver...Uber-skubers!

Recently, the author Stig Lou Mortesen discussed the origin of Danish æbleskiver:
[courtesty of www.dr.dk]:

  • The first time the name 'æbleskiver' [æble-skiver] was mentioned in a Danish cookbook was from 1616. Here it was described how 'apple slices' were dipped in egg and flour batter and then fried in butter in a frying pan.
  • Though they have since evolved into the standard non-apple slice variety this original tradition of apple slices wrapped in dough and fried in the pan is still maintained in just a few places [like in southern Denmark on the eastern peninsular] of Als.

Also, though their name and recipe varies throughout Denmark they still are basically made only for Advent and Christmas luncheons.

Here are a few variations:
  • In Southern Jutland, they are made with seedless prunes
  • On the island of Mors, they are made with barley flour.
  • On the island of Fynen, they are called 'æbleskiver...med lov / with law'. They are made with wheat flour and eaten with sugar.
  • On the island of Falster, they are called 'æbleskiver...for Nonner / for nuns'. 
  • There is also another version on Falster and Lolland called 'svupsakker' that are split in half and eaten with brandy poured over them.
  • And then, there is the the island of Bornholm [located  ] where they are called 'Oppenholler' or 'Fettholskager' and served with fruit compute or jam.
Either way...just make and enjoy them!

11 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 11 : Modern Julekrans / Christmas Wreath

It's a wonderful feeling to make something that deserves to be shown off year after year...as with this simply little project of a Modern Julekrans / Christmas Wreath.

10 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 10 : Julescones / Christmas Scones

There is no taste or other aroma more associated with the Danish holiday season than the mingling of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Though these ingredients are usually found in our seasonal cookie called the 'brunkager' which literally translated to brown cookies their taste is a cross between a gingerbread and molasses cookie. Here a little revamping of my Danish heritage into something more inviting to american palettes is a wonderful winter scone recipe that I call 'Julescones'...Danish Christmas Scones.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

09 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 09 : Papirkip / Danish Paper Cuts

Today we will try something new...
by venturing into the magical realm of traditional Danish Paper Cut : Papirklip ...
for the Juletide season!

08 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 08 : Julesnaps / Christmas Snaps

Sharing a holiday meal is not complete without the raising of a glass to one another.
Say 'SKAAL' to one another with this fun recipe for Julesnaps / Danish Christmas Snaps!
Note: For Adults Only

07 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 07 : Pomander

Each season has it's own aromas...that sooth the senses.
This is a wonderful way to both bring that smell of the season into your home with this simple homemade living ornament.
Smell the Season...with an old fashioned Orange and Clove Pomander!

06 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 06 : Bake an Ornament

Enjoy this rather simple seasonal DIY addition to your yearly tree and/or gift ornaments. 
With this little project...anything goes that you can use to make shapes and impress into the dough. In fact, these make wonderful little ornament without any paint...or you can use both matte and gloss to give them further depth. Tie off with a ribbon and don't forget to write the year on the back. 

Have fun...Baking an Ornament!

Note: These are non-edible. So remember to tell the little ones...these are for show and tell only.

05 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 05 : Gløgg / Mulled Wine

Keep warm and get your SKÅL on...
with this secret winter weapon called Danish Mulled Wine / Gløgg

04 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 04 : Nisse Gift Tags

Nothing expresses the folktale mischief and silliness like the Danish Nisse.
Here are some gift tags I drew up a few years ago...that still make me and my friends smile.

03 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 03 : Brunkager / Spice Cookies

Unlike the the well known Danish butter cookies...there is another classic Danish holiday cookie that is sure to please with both it's wonderful taste of sugar and various spices.
These are Danish Spice Cookies 'Brunekager'

02 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 02 : Flette Hjerte / Pleated Hearts

DIY: How to make Traditional Danish Christmas Hearts... flette hjerte!

01 December 2013

24 Days of Danish Christmas : 01

Due to health reasons..
I am limiting my computer time and simply doing the 24 Days of Danish Christmas 
on the Topless Bread Facebook page.
Find out each day something new to cook, bake or make!

PERSONAL UPDATE 02: Nordic for Health

dear TOPLESS BREAD followers:

again...i owe you all an apology for being off the TOPLESS grid with posts.

as you may recall, i had a stupid fall back in february 2011 that not only effected an existing back injury (mid-thoracic)... it has since caused me to suffer from chronic occipital neuralgia.

so, please be patient with me and i will resume once energy is high and pain is low.

two things...one nutritionist has changed my diet to be completely Nordic...which is a nice way of eating like when i was a kid and telling people my doctor won't let me eat 'that' anymore.

so, in response to that little injury of mine... i'll be reusing my 24 day advent calendar posts from two years ago with some updates due to my injury and inability to stay active on the keyboard and computer.

but, i still hope you will enjoy them.



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