Friday, June 7, 2013

On the Menu: Danish Food

A meal fit for a Viking!

Actually, while I'm sure the Vikings would have loved a meal like I'm about to share with you, I really can't picture the Vikings sitting around on their longships eating butter cookies and stuffed pork loin.  But I could be wrong. 

The cuisine of Denmark is pretty similar to the other Scandinavian countries we have visited ( the Netherlands and Sweden), and actually pretty similar to the whole Northern Europe region in general.  The cuisine was founded on the time when what you ate was what you grew or raised.  The food is relatively simply made using easily found ingredients.  Some of the most common ingredients included potatoes, rye, currants or lingonberries, cabbage, pork and seafood.  Some of their well-known dishes include "smorrebrod"- an open-faced sandwich of various toppings on buttered rye bread, frikadeller- fried meatballs, and one that I know is popular in our house, Danish butter cookies!  In fact, our neighbor gave us a 5lb. (!!) tin of butter cookies last Christmas and we ate all of them!!  Funny how 5 lbs. of cookies translated into 10lbs. on the scale.  But I digress. 

We have a great recipe for authentic Danish butter cookies that my friend Carla gave to me.  Her Danish grandfather made them in his bakery and now we can make them in our own home!!  Thanks Carla (and you will thank her too after you try them) but before dessert we need to eat our dinner.  We are preparing a pork loin stuffed with prunes and apples, the delicious gravy it makes will go over some boiled potatoes and on the side some sweet and sour cabbage.  I have been assured that this is a very Danish meal.  I hope you enjoy.....

Pork Loin stuffed with Prunes and Apples
recipe found online at
For the recipe you will need:

  • 12-15 pitted prunes (or dried plums as they are called now)
  • 1 large tart apple- cored and cubed and sprinkled with a little lemon so it doesn't discolor.
  • 1 boneless pork loin- about 5 lbs.
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used what I had, I don't know if it was "dry" or not)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. red currant jelly
  • kitchen twine
  • salt and pepper
1.  Plump up the prunes by placing them in a bowl with some boiling water for about 30 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

2. With a sharp knife cut a deep slit in the pork loin almost all the way down the length of it.  Season with some salt and pepper and stuff it with the prunes and apples.  Tie it back together with some kitchen twine.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350°
4.  In an ovenproof pot that is just big enough to hold the meat, heat the butter and oil and brown the pork roast on all sides.
5.  When it's browned, remove the fat (spoon or turkey baster) and add the whipping cream and wine to the pan.  Cover the pan and place in preheated oven.
6.  Cook about 1 hr (maybe a little more) until the meat is about 145°.  I over did my meat because I followed the directions that said 1 and 1/2 hours- still tasty but tougher, oops.
7.  Take the meat out of the pan and bring the liquid to a boil on the stovetop.  Boil until mixture is reduced to 2 cups.  Add the red currant jelly and add some salt and pepper to taste.
8.  Carve your roast into 1" slices and serve with some boiled potatoes and vegetable of your choice.  We served ours with sweet and sour cabbage.  I'm not sharing the recipe but there are hundreds of them on the internet.

As I mentioned, I overdid my pork loin, but even tough it was still pretty good.  I thought the filling was a bit sweet but it looked nice.  The gravy was really good though!!  Sweeter than most gravies, because of the red currant jelly, with a very unique flavor.  The kids both ate it with delight and even asked for more!!!!!!  My daughter proclaimed my simple boiled potatoes with Danish butter (cost me $6!) "the best potatoes I've ever made"- must've been that butter.
This meal was pretty fancy and I think I used every pot and pan in the house, but I could see myself making an unstuffed pork loin in the sauce again in our future.  

And now since you were so good and ate your dinner....

Carla's Danish Butter Cookies
For the recipe you will need:

  • 1 1/2 lb. butter- room temp.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • more sugar for rolling
1.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Not until "fluffy" just until combined well. 
2.  Add the 2 eggs and mix until combined.
3.  Add the 7 cups of flour and mix until incorporated.  I used my hands to really smush it all together.
4.  Divide the dough into 4 blobs and roll them into logs. 
5.  Sprinkle some sugar on your work surface and roll the logs in the sugar.  Put them into the refrigerator to firm up.
6.  When they are firm, slice the logs into 1/2" slices and put on cookie sheet.

7.  Bake in preheated 375° oven for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 

OMG!  These are simple but TASTY cookies. Buttery and sweet but not too sweet.  Very similar to the shortbread cookies that we made for Scotland.  They made a great snack and got raves from everyone who tried them.  Be warned that the recipe makes a LOT of cookies, but I don't see why you couldn't freeze the logs and use them when the desire for a cookie (or 12) strikes.  Thanks again to Carla for sharing her family recipe!!

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