Helsinki: Day One

So I totally forgot to take a Copenhagen: Day 5 photo which is a shame because I had a Danish hot dog for lunch which is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m there. If you’re ever in Copenhagen make sure to buy one from any of the carts that dot the streets.

On to Finland. Look how fresh and beautiful the food in the department store, Stockmann, is. Oh how I wish we has this tradition in department stores in the US.

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Beautiful fresh berries sold on the street.

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Copenhagen: Day 4

A little visit to Mad & Vin, the amazing market in the basement of Magasin Du Nord, a high end department store here in Copenhagen.

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And there was a bit of this yesterday too…

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Copenhagen: Day 2

I went to dinner at the home of two old friends. My friend Mette is a wonderful cook and the meal was fabulous. Unfortunately, I was having so much fun that I did a terrible job of remembering to take pictures.

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M is for… Malta; Cleaning Out the Pantry

Hello

Flag of Malta

Guess who’s leaving for vacation on Tuesday… this girl! I’ll be gone for almost two weeks so of course I need to start emptying out my fridge. I still had some left over scallions from my Korean dish, some spinach and eggs so it seemed like the perfect time to make Froga tat-Tarja, a Maltese dish I’d read about. Malta is a country made up of a series of small islands in the Mediterranean.

With its unique position between Sicily and North Africa and history of colonization by foreign powers such as Greeks, Arabs, France and England the culture is an interesting mashup of all. The Maltese have their own language, which is actually Semitic, but they’ve borrowed heavily from Italian and English which you’ll notice it the greeting at the top of this post. Similarly the food of Malta bears many of the same dishes as Sicily, but often use spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Froga tat-Tarja is a Vermicelli (or Angel Hair) omelette. In my research I found that there are only two absolutely necessary ingredients; thin pasta and eggs. Once you have that as a base you can use anything you want. My mind reeled with possibilities. Maltese cooks use leftover chicken or whatever veggies they have lying around. I’d seen several recipes online that used pancetta, a few that used ricotta and one that even used tomato sauce, but I’m leaving soon so I needed to start getting rid of what I had in the fridge. A quick look turned up some spinach, parmesan cheese and scallions still left from my Korean dish and a recipe was born!

Froga tat-Tarja

  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or to taste
  • A couple of handfuls torn baby spinach
  • 1-2 teaspoons nutmeg or to taste
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 lb cooked Angel Hair (or other thin pasta), room temperature
  • Olive oil for frying

Crack eggs in to a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper and beat eggs as you would to make scrambled eggs.

Stir in cheese, scallions, spinach and spices then fold in the pasta mixing well to make sure the pasta is coated and the mixture is well incorporated.

In a medium saute or frying pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Pour the pasta mixture in to the pan and smooth out to form an even layer. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes then flip and cook about 5 minutes more.

Turn out on to a plate, slice in to wedges and serve with a light salad.

Serves 4 as an entrée, 6 as an appetizer.

FINAL VERDICT: B

What a great use for leftovers! The texture of this dish is wonderful; crispy in the outside and sort of fluffy/spongy on the inside. I didn’t love the spice I used, but I will definitely make this again and would love to try it with ricotta, garlic and whatever else I have lying around.

I ate this with a simple tomato and cucumber salad and some leftover sauteed eggplant. Lovely with a glass of white wine

Tajba Tiekol!

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I’ll be leaving on a jet plane tomorrow at 5:30pm. I doubt I’ll do any blogging while I’m away so don’t expect much from me for the next couple of weeks.

L is for… Latvia; Grandmother Approved

Sveiki

Flag of Latvia

My grandmother came to America as a refugee from Nazi Germany at age 13. As one might imagine she as well as my great grandparents and my grandfather, who was also a German Jewish refugee, had no love loss for Germany, but still there were some foods from their youth that they enjoyed from time to time. Though I wouldn’t say I grew up with an abundance of German food, we did dine on it from time to time and I enjoyed it except for that dark, almost black, rye bread that’s so ubiquitous in Northern Europe.

Everyone in my family loves that dark rye which is dense and coarse and has almost a moist quality to it, but I’ve just never developed a taste for it. Even after living in Denmark, where their black bread is considered so flavorful that Oprah herself fell so in love with it after a visit and had several loaves shipped to her back home, I still didn’t become a fan. When I found this recipe for Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums, Latvian rye bread trifle I was intrigued then when it turned out that I would be up to “L” just when my grandmother, who I adore, was coming for a visit I knew it was meant to be!

My grandmother adores all of her grandkids, but I’m her only girl so we have a special relationship (and by special I mean I’m the clear favorite ;)). My grandma cooked because she had to and not because she wanted to. She and my grandfather raised 2 kids in a one bedroom apartment on a delivery man’s salary so she wasn’t exactly filled with a desire or the ability to get creative in the kitchen. Nonetheless she was a pretty good cook, but she is endlessly fascinated and proud at my love and ability in the kitchen so cooking for her is always a pleasure.

Me and Grandma, then and now.

This is very much a “to taste recipe,” and, since my family doesn’t like very sweet things, I went light on sugar and didn’t sweeten the cream at all. In my research I learned that the dessert was traditionally made with ligonberries or cranberries, but is now commonly made with whatever you have on hand. Since raspberries are plentiful at the farmers market that’s what I went with. If you make this yourself you can sweeten the cream to your taste and use whatever fruit preserves you like. Make sure to use the darkest German rye bread you can find or use German pumpernickel as I did.

Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums

  • 5-6 slices of day old dark German style rye (or pumpernickel) bread grated or crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon or to taste
  • Quick raspberry jam (recipe follows) or store bought preserves
  • 8-10 ounces very cold cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla or to taste

Place a metal bowl and the beaters from your handheld mixer in the freezer until very cold.

In medium skillet over medium high heat melt butter then add the bread crumbs, sugar and cinnamon; stirring to coat and cook until toasted, 3-5 minutes being careful not to burn the crumbs. Let cool to at least room temperature and set aside.

Meanwhile make the whipped cream. Take your bowl and beaters from the freezer and pour your cream in. Beat to medium peaks. Add the vanilla and beat to stiff peaks.

In a glass bowl, trifle dish or individual glasses or ramekins place a layer of rye crumbs, then a whipped cream and finally a layer of raspberry jam. Repeat until ending with a layer of crumbs, dollop of whipped cream and drizzle of jam.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Serves 6

Quick Raspberry Jam

  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and smash the raspberries a bit with a spoon. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cool completely before using.

This will be fairly tart so add less lemon and more sugar if you want it sweeter.

FINAL VERDICT: A+

That’s right kids, my first A+ was made with an ingredient I usually hate.

My grandmother exclaimed, “It’s delicious and not too sweet.” “Not too sweet,” is a huge compliment in my family. My dad declared, “This is reeeeaally good,” and my mom instructed, “Al, this has to be and ‘A’ recipe,” unaware that I would even consider giving out an A+. The next day when I spoke to my mom on the phone (we do that every day, adorbs no?) she said, “That was so good, I must get the recipe from you!”

So in case you haven’t guessed yet, I loved this dish. I am so much more of a savory eater than a dessert eater, as is my whole family, so I’m shocked that my first A+ is for a dessert, but this recipe was perfect. I will definitely make this again and will not change one thing!

Yes, I’m so ghetto that I put this in tupperware. Don’t judge!

Labu Apetīti!