Danish cuisine,Baking,Cooking,Herb,Cauliflower,Flour,Butter,Grater,Recipe,Black pepper

Fresh thinking: Trine Hahnemann’s Danish cuisine recipes

October 31, 2016

Spelt correctly: spelt tart with spinach, Jerusalem artichokes and feta. Photograph: Columbus Leth

We Danes have stopped thinking about the meal as revolving around meat and potatoes. More things are eaten raw than my grandmother would have imagined.

While my cooking is quite different from my grandmother’s it is still deeply rooted in tradition, but I use stronger flavours, more spices, more fresh herbs, different techniques. I grew up with cauliflower boiled to death or in a gratin with white sauce. Now I serve it in endless ways: raw, fried in butter, as a purée with chilli.

Inspiration from around the world has entered modern Danish cooking, and texture and combinations have shifted. It is lighter, a bit more complex in flavours, but without giving in on seasonality and still recognising the benefits of keeping things simple.

Spelt tart with spinach, Jerusalem artichokes and feta

This tart is ideal for everyday cooking and not that hard to make. It’s also perfect for guests, as it can be made the day before, then heated up to serve. Serves 4-6.

For the pastry:

plain flour 100g, plus extra for dusting

wholegrain spelt flour 100g

sea salt 1 tsp

butter, chopped 75g

skyr (quark) or fromage frais 75g

For the filling:

Jerusalem artichokes 200g

olive oil 2 tbsp

garlic cloves, chopped 2

spinach 500g

eggs, beaten 5

full-fat crème fraîche 100ml

feta cheese 200g, crumbled

freshly grated nutmeg 1 tsp

sea salt 1 tsp

freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp

Begin with the pastry. Mix both flours with the salt in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. Mix in the skyr (quark) or fromage frais. Knead the dough lightly with your hands just until the ingredients are combined. (Alternatively, pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor, adding a little water if the dough does not come together.)

Roll the dough out on a floured surface and butter a tart tin or dish, about 28cm in diameter. Use the pastry to line the tart tin, then refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and pour in baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Peel the artichokes and cut them into 1.5cm chunks. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the artichokes and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes; take off the heat. If using fresh spinach, rinse in cold water, then place in a separate saucepan over a medium heat and allow it to wilt. When it is just wilted, drain really well in a sieve.

Put the beaten eggs, crème fraîche, feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper into a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Fold in the drained spinach and Jerusalem artichokes. Pour the mixture into the pastry case, return it to the oven and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the filling has set but retains a slight wobble. Serve right away with a nice salad.

Cauliflower, prawns and dill

Raw deal: cauliflower, prawns and dill. Photograph: Columbus Leth

When I was growing up we ate cauliflower raw with a dip. It has inspired this great-tasting salad. Serves 4-6

small cauliflower 1

radishes 10

cooked peeled prawns 200g

For the dressing:

chopped dill 6 tbsp

chopped chives 6 tbsp

Greek yogurt 150ml

grated unwaxed lemon zest 1 tbsp

lemon juice 1-2 tbsp

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cauliflower into thin slices, rinse well in cold water then drain in a colander. Slice the radishes. Mix all the dressing ingredients together, with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the cauliflower slices, radishes and prawns together in a big mixing bowl, then mix in the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and perhaps a little more lemon juice for acidity. Leave for 10 minutes then season again and serve.

Warm butternut squash with almonds and herbs

Watercress topped: warm butternut squash with almonds and herbs. Photograph: Columbus Leth

I had a dish similar to this one in Seoul, Korea, and this is my Scandi autumn version for the time of year when pumpkins start to be harvested. Serves 4.

butternut squash, unpeeled 1

extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

watercress, to decorate

For the herb topping:

spring onions 2

green chilli, chopped 1

chopped parsley 3 tbsp

chopped mint 3 tbsp

garlic clove 1, grated

lemon juice 1-2 tbsp

butter 2 tbsp

almonds 100g, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scrape out all the seeds, then cut each squash half into slices from the shorter side. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the herb topping. Thinly slice the spring onions. Mix the chilli, chopped herbs, garlic and lemon juice together and set aside. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the almonds and spring onions and cook until browned. Take off the heat and keep warm.

Transfer the cooked butternut squash slices to a serving dish, stir the herb mixture into the brown buttered almonds and spring onions, then spoon on top of the butternut squash. Finish by decorating with watercress.

Winter apple layer cake

Apple support: winter apple layer cake. Photograph: Columbus Leth

This a classic Danish recipe. The cream is partly inspired by my favourite Danish author, Karen Blixen. Serves 8.

For the apple sauce:

Bramley apples 600g

caster sugar 40g

lemon juice 1 tsp

For the layers:

soft butter 175g

caster sugar 175g

egg 1

plain flour 175g

ground cinnamon 3 tsp

ground cardamom 2 tsp

For the cream:

hazelnuts 100g

double cream 400ml

single cream 100ml

icing sugar 2 tsp

Peel and dice the apples and put them into a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Let them simmer for 15-20 minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Draw a 20cm circle using a pencil on 7 sheets of baking parchment. Turn these over and arrange on as many baking sheets as necessary to fit (you may have to bake these in batches).

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in the egg. Mix the flour and spices together and fold into the creamed mixture. Using a spatula, spread the mixture as evenly as possible inside each visible circle on the pieces of baking parchment.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges start to take on some colour. Set aside to cool on the sheets of parchment on a wire rack. While the layers are cooling, roast the hazelnuts. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, then wrap them in a clean tea towel and give them a good rub, so the skins come off. Roughly chop them. Whip both creams with the icing sugar and stir in two-thirds of the hazelnuts.

Assemble the cake immediately before serving. Place a crisp layer on a serving plate and add some apple sauce, then add another crisp layer, then some cream. Repeat this layer pattern twice, then add the last crisp layer and some apple sauce on top. Sprinkle the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top and serve right away.

Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge by Trine Hahnemann is published by Quadrille at £25. To order a copy for £20.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

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