Freezing and Full in Copenhagen

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February 5, 2014 by caitlinvaclark

Most of you are probably going to think I’m off my rocker, but about once a week since the beginning of January, I’ve spent an entire day trying to find snow. I have dreams of a cozy country inn where we can go for a long winter hike and curl up with a good book by a fire in a rustic lounge. We had a trip to Copenhagen scheduled towards the end of January and I thought that I might get my fix. I had hopes that it would be all fluffy snow-covered parks and cuddly polar bears.

Copenhagen: A Broad Cooking

I neglected to realize that a forecast of snow and below-freezing weather in a fishing city located on a Northern sound means ice violently attacking you. So instead we stayed indoors and we ate.

When Chris and I travel, I usually make a list of potential sights to check out: museums, palaces, gardens, etc. But really we only try to do one or two over a weekend and get a feel for the city by just wandering around, getting “lost,” and popping into a random cafe or bar. On this trip, we were more on a point A to point B track. And most of our point Bs were back to the hotel lobby for wine.

It was so windy on top of the cold sleet and rain that you couldn’t use your umbrellas and just had to settle for being an icicle. At least our hotel lobby had a fireplace to dry off and warm up. A bit more chic than snuggly but it got the job done. In case you’re interested, we stayed at the Avenue Hotel which was very comfortable, about a 15 minute walk into the city center, and in my opinion, a great value for money.

Avenue Hotel Copenhagen: A Broad Cooking

We did manage to check out one of the royal palaces and explore the incredible (indoor!) food market, Torvehallerne, where we purchased Danish Danishes and sat at one of the counters to eat a fabulous array of smørrebrøds.

Torvehallerne Market Copenhagen: A Broad Cooking

Smørrebrøds, different from smorgasbords, are basically open-faced sandwiches topped with everything from pan fried fish and caper sauce to these with meatballs and potato salad or pate, roasted beets, & bacon!?!

Smorrebrod @ Torvehallerne Market: A Broad Cooking

But Saturday was spent almost entirely at Noma. After getting onto the wait list three months before our trip, we were offered a last minute reservation for lunch at the communal table. From everything we had heard, Noma would be an over-the-top, incredibly odd, and very expensive experience but our theory was if you get a chance to eat at “the best restaurant in the world,” you take it.  Overall the entire afternoon was incredible. The chefs (who also serve as your servers) were informative, approachable, and so friendly. They even took us on a tour of the kitchens and the research lab. The food itself was very earthy. Throughout the meal, you could see the theme of eating the land. I mean, at times you actually were.

To give you an idea of how out of the box the food was, one of my favorite bites was a dessert involving mashed potatoes?!? My least favorite was a smoked and pickled quail egg that burst in your mouth like a gusher. We ate everything from burnt leeks to hand dived sea urchins.

We started the meal with their famous Nordic Coconut. It’s basically the (almost literal) polar opposite of drinking a piña colada on a white sand beach. Instead you’re sipping mushroom broth out of a turnip with white snow and waves splashing on the icy pier outside your window.

Nordic Coconut @ Noma: A Broad Cooking

As we were eating the deep fried moss dipped in creme fraiche, Chris said, “I could eat a whole bucket of these on a Sunday watching football.” And the Swedish woman sitting to my left said that she had learned in girl scouts to eat moss for survival if you’re ever lost in the woods.

Fried Moss w/ Creme Fraiche - Noma: A Broad Cooking

The little details really made the meal, down to the bread and butter. They served warm bread with “raw” butter, which was the curds just before the buttermilk separates and the butter forms. It made the bread taste like sourdough. Then there was pork fat topped with crumbled crackling. This one tasted like Pringles. Yup. Filthy delicious.

Not your everyday bread & butter - pork fat & crackling @ Noma: A Broad Cooking

After 20+ courses, along with wine, I wasn’t sure I’d ever need to eat Nordic food again, but one of the highlights of our meal was the savory aebleskivers, or round Danish pancakes. And this was in the ballpark of things I could make at home!

Aebleskiver @ Noma: A Broad Cooking

I’d had sweet, apple-filled aebleskivers before but loved the idea of a savory presentation. So I decided to combine sweet and savory, making a bacon applesauce. Start making the applesauce by sautéing bacon lardons and using their fat as the base. Then add onions, peeled, small-diced apples, and thyme.

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Cover and let this simmer over a very low heat for about 30 minutes, then stir back in the crisp bacon. At this stage, the applesauce can be kept for up to five days.

Savory Applesauce with Bacon & Thyme: A Broad Cooking

There will definitely be plenty of leftovers of the savory applesauce which makes a great topping for pork chops or tenderloin for a quick weeknight meal. I served mine with a simple and delicious braised red cabbage.

Pork Chops w/ Savory Applesauce: A Broad Cooking

But now for the real reason to make this applesauce… to fill delicious little puffy round pancakes.

Savory Applesauce Filled Aebleskivers: A Broad Cooking

The key to a fluffy aebleskiver is gently folding in egg whites to keep the batter light and airy.

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These take a special pan but one that is worth adding to your kitchen collection. Once you learn the technique, you might even think they are easier and better than regular pancakes.

Aebleskiver: A Broad Cooking

Once you’ve melted a little butter in the pan, add about 2 tablespoons of batter, then a teaspoon or two of filling. Then top with a drizzle more batter.

Savory Applesauce Filled Aebleskivers: A Broad Cooking

Once the bottom has set, which only takes a minute, use chopsticks or wooden skewers to turn the pancakes. This sounds harder than it is. They really do just flip over.

Savory Applesauce Filled Aebleskivers: A Broad Cooking

You can of course fill the aebleskivers with your favorite pancake toppings. Nutella is a classic choice for a sweet option. Or consider a cheesy filling for a totally savory option.

Savory Applesauce Filled Aebleskivers: A Broad Cooking

But honestly this applesauce with onions, thyme, and bacon is the best of both worlds.

Savory Applesauce Filled Aebleskivers: A Broad Cooking

While the ones that I made were not brushed with fermented grasshoppers like those at Noma, they turned out perfect and would be fabulous for brunch or for a different starter at a cocktail party.

Pork and Apple Aebleskivers

Makes about 20

1 cup milk

2 eggs, separated

2 Tbs sugar

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Butter for the pan

Savory applesauce (recipe below)

Powdered sugar for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolks, and sugar. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until just combined. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to a stiff peak using an electric mixer. Gently fold into the flour mixture.

Heat an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Add a small pinch of butter to each of the cups. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter (2/3 full) then add a teaspoon of the applesauce and top with a bit more batter to cover. Allow each pancake to cook for one minute, then using wooden skewers or chopsticks, gently flip the pancake over into the cup. Cook for 1-2 minutes until set. Remove and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Savory Applesauce

6 oz. bacon lardons

1 medium onion, diced

4 cups apples, peeled and small cubes

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tsp sugar

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pot and reserve.

Add onions to the pot and cook in the bacon fat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and thyme. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Deglaze the pot with the cider vinegar. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bacon and reserve. Can be stored for 5 days.

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One thought on “Freezing and Full in Copenhagen

  1. Nona says:

    Caitlin,

    Was in Copenhagen with Mom on our way to Sweden, a beautiful city. We were there in June so warmer! We are all tired of winter on this side of the pond! Love all your recipes and reading about your adventures.

    Love to you and Chris,
    Nona

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