They call it the best bread in the world – and I have to agree with them

I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves – and possibly, POSSIBLY later reveal how this amazing bread was made!

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You are allowed to change your mind – fact!!!!

Had this whole elaborate New Year’s Eve seafood and fish starter planned, and then discovered (well, I already knew, but thought I didn’t care) that one of the guests doesn’t really appreciate seafood and fish………. I guess I thought my amazing cooking skills would sway her, but then I realised that 1) I didn’t want to take that chance New Year’s Eve and 2) I didn’t want to cook two different dishes, so I have changed my mind – and I AM allowed – even if I did write something else the other day.

New starter (and now I have shopped for it all, so it’s not going to change this time, I think):

Soup of Jerusalem Artichoke (jordskok), topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and parma ham, served with bread baked in my Römertopf.

Jerusalem artichoke

Parma ham

Bread in the Römertopf, not my picture - pictures is from madifoelgemig.bloegspot

Ingredients:

  • 2 leek (cut finely)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoonful of butter
  • 400 gr. Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 250 gr. potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 liter of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 handful pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pack of 125 g parma ham

This is what you do:

  • heat the butter in a pan and fry the onions and leeks.
  • Add the chopped Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes and the stock.
  • Bring to the boil and leave to simmer till the vegetables are tender for about 20 minutes.
  • Take a little bit of the stock out of the pan and set aside. Now pure the rest of the soup with a liquidiser (blender). Use the stock set aside to adjust the texture of the soup to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast the pumpkin seeds and the parma ham (separately) till they are both crisp.
  • Serve soup with crisp parma ham and pumpkin seeds and freshly baked bread!

Burgers a la Johanne

In Denmark there seems to be a trend about burgers having to be “cafe burger” – this usually means that it contains meat (any kind and any shape, doesn’t have to be minced), bread and then anything goes, but the fancier the better. I love this – I also love traditional burger and other types of burgers. I especially love them in the summer when the barbecue is on.

I try to make my own buns as they are easy and much nicer than the bought ones.

Cafe Burger a la Johanne:

  • a slice of crispy, wide baguette, big enough for the burger to fit onto
  • a regular beef burger with salt and pepper and a little paprika
  • tomato ketchup mixed with chili flakes or chili sauce
  • mayonnaise mixed with fresh garlic
  • finely sliced cucumber, carrots and red onion pickled for about an hour in a mix of water, white vinegar, salt and sugar – make your own mixture and make it as sour or sweet as you like
  • Baby spinach leaves
Fry the burger, cut the bread, smear chili ketchup and garlic mayonnaise on the top and bottom of the bread. Now layer the burger: bread, spinach, pickled and meat………. it’s delicious, if I may say so myself!
Classic burger a la Johanne:
  • homemade burger bun with sesame seeds
  • Regular beef burger seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Ketchup
  • mayonnaise
  • OR: thousand island dressing
  • shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 slices of tomatoes
  • sliced onions
  • pickled gerkins
  • Optional: crispy bacon and melted cheese

I serve this with potato wedges baked in the oven with a little bit of oil, salt and paprika. This is as traditional as it gets, but it always hits the spot with my family.

Greek Burger a la Johanne:

  • Burgers made out of: 500 g of minced beef, 1 egg, 2 cloves of garlic,1 teaspoon of each  thyme and oregano (preferably fresh, if you have it) and a teaspoon of salt.
  • Tzatziki. 2 dl of Green neutral yogurt and 1/2 cucumber, 1 clove of garlic and salt. Grate the cucumber and wring the water of if it. Mix into yogurt with garlic and salt.
  • Red onion
  • Mixed baby leaves of your choice.
  • Burger bun: homemade buns with with feta cheese and olives in

Spread a spoonful of the tzatziki on the bun, put baby leaves and burger on top. Put some more tzatziki and finish off with a few slices of red onions.

I serve this with Greek potatoes (wedges cooked in the oven with olive oil, thyme and lemon drizzled all over – cook til crisp) and hummus.

Ranch burger a la Johanne:

  • regular beef burger seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Soft bun or homemade with sesame seeds
  • white and red onions fried till soft ( a little bit of sugar softens the onions as they cook).
  • Mayonnaise mixed with mustard
  • Optional: lettuce, cucumber, ketchup

Cabbage burger a la Ripon:

The local fast food shop across from our house in Ripon used to make this burger and when we came home drunk, in the middle of the night, we would always buy one of these simple burgers:

  • Regular beef burger, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Homemade burger bun with sesame seeds
  • Very finely shredded red cabbage
  • Very finely cut red onions
  • sliced picked cucumber
  • tomatoes
  • Ketchup and mayonnaise

Layer the burger and enjoy! It’s very simple, but the crunchiness of the cabbage makes it delicious to bite into.

Burger a la Ripon with homemade sesame seed bun

Indian Burger:

Makes 4 burgers

  • 500 g (1lb) of mince lamb, mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 clove of garlic, a small chili, chopped, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 onion, finely chopped, some fresh coriander, chopped,1 egg and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix all the ingredients, shape into 4 flat burgers and fry on a barbecue or a pan.
  • 4 tablespoonfuls of hot or mild mango chutney
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • finely sliced onions,
  • raita: yogurt mixed with freshly chopped coriander and chopped mint, grated ginger and grated garlic, a little bit of salt and sugar (yes, sugar) to taste.
  • Homemade burger buns made, topped with dried coriander or nigella seeds instead of sesame seeds.

Build up your burger starting with the mango chutney, then the raita, the lettuce and then the burger.

Mexican Burger (hot): Recipe makes 4

  • Take 1 lb minced beef and mix it with finely chopped onions, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and salt. Make 8 flat burgers, put chili cheese in a small pile on the middle of the 4 patties and put the remaining 4 patties on top, making 4 chili cheese stuffed burgers.
  • OR – take 1/3 tin of kidney beans and mix into 1 lb of minced beef. Add ground cumin, garlic and chili. Divide into 4 patties and fry.
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Mexican dressing: take 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise, mix it with 4 teaspoons of ketchup, mix in 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. For extra spice (if it isn’t enough with the chili on the burgers and the jalapeños) add some chili powder or other chili product.
  • 4 burger buns – homemade ones……. they can be normal ones, but you can also bake them with a sprinkle of chili flakes on top of the bun.
Spread some of the sauce onto a bun, add lettuce, patty, avocado, onion and finish off with the top of the bun……

I hope you have found some renewed interest in burgers after reading this blog!

The Full Indian Monty

Back in the day when Europe was desperate for more people to work for us, a lot of countries invited what we in Denmark call “guest workers” up………. only problem was that after 10 years of working and living here, when there wasn’t that much work, they wouldn’t go back….. can you believe the cheek? Imagine coming up here – INVITED, as a GUEST to work and then not wanting to leave once you had established a life, learned the language and your kids the same? SCANDALOUS!!!

Anyway, in Denmark, we invited the Turks and once we didn’t have any more manual labour for them, many of them started making pizza shops!

In England, the Indians were invited and instead of pizza shops, the UK populations got Indian restaurants (consider yourselves lucky) galore.

Anyway, this is my take on why we in Denmark have crappy pizza shops and England has beautiful Indian restaurants – I actually have no idea if this is what happened!

In Århus, where we live, there are two Indian restaurant and I don’t know which is worse…. they are both run by Indians and as such I can’t rate the quality of the food, I can only say that the Indian meals I was used to enjoying in the UK are a far cry from this bland, boring stuff I have been served in these restaurants: the main dishes were like soup, the naan breads little different from the supermarket bought ones, but worst of all: THEY DIDN’T HAVE ONION BHAJIS!!!!

So I decided to embark on my own, Indian food adventure and scoured the internet for recipes. I found step to step guides of my favourite Indian take-away dishes cooked by a beautiful, young Indian woman, head chef at the Maharaji in London….. and she know her sh!t!

These were the dishes, we used to order:

  • Johanne: Onion Bhaji, Chicken Tikka Balti, Saag Aloo, Naan bread
  • Matt: Lamb Samosas, Lamb Rogan Josh, Saag Aloo and Chapati

So what are these dishes? For Danish people they are just weird Indian names, but for me they are mouthwatering memories:

  • Onion Bhaji: sliced onions in a spicy, thick batter (pandekagedej), with chili and coriander, cooked in oil till crisp

Onion bhajis

Chicken Tikka Balti

  • Saag aloo: a spicy potato and spinach dish:

Saag Aloo

  • Naan bread: a small, flat, slightly sweet bread baked with both yeast and baking powder. Originally cooked on the inside of a clay oven, but here cooked in the oven:

Naan bread

  • Lamb samosas: little filo pastry parcels filled with a spice and hot minced lamb filling:

Lamb samosas

Lamb Rogan Josh

  • Chapatti: Indian flatbreads baked on a pan:

Chappati

  • I serve these dishes with a homemade mango chutney and boiled basmati rice. If you like your rice fragrant, you can add some turmeric and cardamom pods to the water, but personally, I think the food has enough flavour.

Be aware, though – this is NOT fast food – when I cook all this food (which I only do for special occasions), it takes me more or less a whole day. On the other hand it is an achievement to have made so many dishes and see the look on people’s faces when they tuck into the spicy dishes…………and then you know how much (or how little fat) you added to the dish – much healthier this way!!!

The curry dishes are easy and fast to make, so you can easily try those out any night of the week – the time consuming part is if you want the full Monty (all of the dishes), the bread and the starters…….. but go ahead, try it out!!!

Chicken in the Römertopf

Am christening another Christmas present today: the Römertopf, the clay pot with a lid. You are supposed to be able to cook all sorts of things in it, but everyone says: “bung in a chicken – it’ll be great”.

So I have bunged in a chicken, as ordered! I threw in some pieces of apple, celery, onions and some bacon …. exciting times.

Chicken in a pot

To go with it I have cut up a mix of root vegetables: potatoes, beetroot (not the stuff in vinegar – the vegetable itself) and parsnips and roasted them next to the pot with thyme, lemon, salt, pepper and a little bit of honey. I saw Jamie (Oliver, my mate) do something like that once and it made the vegetable shiny, crisp and slightly caramelised….

Baked root vegetables with lemon, thyme, sea salt and honey

I also made winter coleslaw: finely sliced red cabbage, small cubes of apple, fresh leek, some roasted nuts and a balsamic red wine vinegar, oil, honey and mustard vinaigrette  – some raisins also taste nice in there as well as some slices of orange….

Winter cole slaw

The whole dinner tasted really good and the chicken was really moist and tender- am now looking forward to making a loaf of bread in the pot…..that’s supposed to be better than any baker’s bread!

Bread in the Römertopf, not my picture - pictures is from madifoelgemig.bloegspot

New Year’s Eve Meal: The Starter and how we started

In Denmark, New Year’s Eve is the night when we go all out on food and clothes. Often people have big parties and the women turn up in their big ball gowns and men in their tuxedos.

Incidentally a party of this type was where my husband and I got serious first time: we had been dating most of December in Ripon and I went home after my exchange just before Christmas. We weren’t planning on seeing each other again as we lived in different countries, but I missed him, called him and he decided to come visit me for New Year.

Mr. Charnock and the future Mrs. Charnock in those early days.... thank you Trine, for finding this picture!

The Party had been planned by a group from my teacher training college and the men arrived in tuxedos (the swimming team all came in matching red, sequin jackets) and I was in a big ball gown………… and the rest is history. We embarked on a long distance relationship which lasted till August when I moved to Ripon to do a drama degree there. Then 11 years went by and in that time we have experienced a lot of things; getting our degrees, different jobs, new careers, buying a house, having a child, losing my job, moving country, living with my family for a year, a breakdown (not due to living with my family!!!), new job, getting better………  some things good and some bad, but now we are here, 11 years later and ready to plan another party – a lot less elaborate this time as we are celebrating it with my sister and her family and our friend Karen and there will be kids there – no tuxedos, no ball gowns, but good food and nicely dressed up never the less.

I am in charge of the starter, my sister Katrine is doing the main course and Karen is an expert on excellent desserts so am awaiting them to guest blog about those dishes.

Starter:

steamed sole, lemon sole or plaice (sø tunge, rød tunge eller rødspættefillet), fried scallops (kammuslinger) with a white wine and saffron sauce, served with green asparagus wrapped in parma ham.

I have not made the recipe for years, but I will attempt to write it down anyway and am expecting to make some amendments later.

Ingredients: 4 portions

  • 2  fillets of the fish without skin, cut in half length ways and rolled into a rosette.
  • 8 scallops
  • 1 dl of white wine
  • 1 dl of fish stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon of saffron
  • 1 dl of single cream
  • 12 green asparagus
  • 4 slices of parma ham
  • Salt to taste

The sauce: Take a pan, add the white wine, fish stock and saffron strands and leave to boil on top heat until reduced to 1/3. Now add the cream and leave to reduce again till a thick sauce. Taste with salt.

The asparagus: Take 3 asparagus and manually snap the bottom of the asparagus (it has a natural “snapping point” where the stringy bit ends, so no need to use a knife to cut it) . Now wrap a slices of Parma ham around it. Repeat this with the rest of the asparagus. Fry them on a hot pan with a little bit of oil or butter or a mix till the ham is crisp, but not for too long as you want asparagus to stay crisp.

The fish: Take a pan, put about 1 1/2 cm of water in the bottom. Put a sieve or a colander (dørslag) in the pan and line it with baking paper. Roll the fillets into little rosettes and hold them together by putting a tooth pick or a meat needle through it. Now place the fish carefully in the colander, ready to steam them just before serving them. Remember to put a lid on the pan (when the water comes to the boil, it should take no more than 10 minutes, but that depends on how much fish you have – keep an eye on it regularly, because you don’t want the fish to dry out). Remember to take out the tooth pick before serving.

The scallops: take a hot pan, add scallops and fry for a couple of minutes on each side. As soon as the scallop has taken colour and gotten crisp and brown, turn it over and repeat the process. Do this last minute just before serving. Make sure your scallops are completely thawed (optøet) before frying them.

Now place the dish up: take the fish, the two scallops and the aspargus and place it in the dish. Divide the sauce between the plates over the fish.

Pictures to follow!

Thinking slim and behaving slim (but not being it)

Yesterday my sisters and I were gathered and we talked about weight….. and I realised that I am one of the very few women who actually see myself in the mirror and see a smaller person than I really am. This is a good thing because I behave like a thin person, move like a thin person, dress like a thin person (I just ignore the number on the label) and therefore get treated like a thin person. But I am a size 44-46 (UK size 14-16) girl at the moment and throughout my life my weight has fluctuated a lot – I have been as large as a 50 (UK 20) and as small as a 40 (UK 10). The only times I have been thin, have been a result of serious dieting and as soon as I had reached my target weight, I put it all back on again.

My husband and me when I was a size 50 (UK 20)

A couple of years before we moved to Denmark, I managed to shed 16 kg (2 stone and 2 lb)!!!! And they stayed off – I was happy – very happy. A little bit came on, but then I just lost it again – no big deal….. but then the impact of the move came and my husband had a breakdown………. this, unfortunately, meant that I couldn’t control my eating. I have always liked eating, and as a result have never been naturally slim, but this was the first time I ate to fill a hole – and that hole never felt full. I gained 14 (2 stone) of the 16 kg again in less than 1/2 year. it is only now, within the last 1/2 year, I have been able to concentrate on losing weight again.

I have lost almost 7 kg (1 stone) and I am proud to say that this is the first time I have done it without the aid of drugs. First, in the 90s, there was an amphetamine product called Letigen, which made you very energetic and took away your appetite. Then there was Reductil, an appetite suppressant, which made me eat because I HAD to, not because I WANTED to………. I have to say, that I liked those pills as they helped me control my addiction to food. However, we all know they are very unhealthy (and both off the market for health reasons now), but the worst thing is that you don’t actually beat your addiction, you just keep it at bay with drugs, but when you finish the drugs, your mind is the same and the problems the same, so this time I am doing it the natural way – eating healthy, wholegrain and exercising loads.

I try to only eat rye bread – it keeps me full for a long time and keeps my energy levels up. I have it with a low fat topping such as cottage cheese with tomato, ham and mustard or low fat pate with cucumber or pickle. In between, I snack on fruit and vegetables. I have also opted out on the Bread-and-Cake-Club at work as I realised that I was snacking away on Danish pastry all Friday, every Friday, just because it was there. But I AM a food lover, so my way of keeping myself motivated is to keep my calorie intake down during the day and then have a normal meal with my family in the evening, this means that it’s not too hard and also I get to cook the way I like….and then I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and attend Zumba classes and dance classes of that kind. It is the first time EVER, I have enjoyed exercise and I hardly ever find excuses not to go (something which used to be a problem). Today my sister and I are trying a Thai Bo class for the first time, to see if we can cope with it, as we have signed up for a two hour Thai Bo event on Saturday…… I have a feeling I will not be able to lift my arms to cook the dinner on New Year’s Eve after that!

My target is to get to this again and I am 8 kg off (1 stone and 2 lb)

So, as New Year approaches and the eating orgies over Christmas have subsided, my thoughts are on getting back to my healthy routine, and hopefully this summer, feel a little bit better about wearing a bikini than I did last year!