Salt

Salt recipes

Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with salt. Ever since my shoot at Læsø Salt, I’ve been testing recipes, using salt as a main part of the dish. Wether it be preserving, a cooking technique or just adding a salty flavour to the food. The whole thing has been quite an experience, entering the world of recipe writing! I’ve been fortunate enough to have my salt recipes published in the current summer issue of NORD magazine along with my article about Læsø Salt Works.

Below follows the unedited version of the article, and over the next few weeks, I’ll share a series of blog posts, with my salty recipes:

BLACBERRY GRAV LAX
ZINGY MARGARITA & PINK GRAPEFRUIT MARGARITA
SALT & VINEGAR POTATOSKINS WITH TAHINI, SOUR CREAM DIP
PORK BELLY IN BRINE WITH CRISPY CRACKLING
SALT DOUGH LEG OF LAMB
SALTED CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL TART(S)
GOLDEN PAVLOVA WITH SUMMER BERRIES AND SALTED CHOCOLATE SAUCE
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM (you’re gonna wanna check back for this one…)

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COOKING WITH SALT
Salt has been used for cooking for thousands of years, in many cultures around the globe. Before the invention of the refrigerator, salt has been one of the most important preservation methods of meat and fish and as one of the 5 main flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), salt is an important and recognizable part of our daily life when it comes to cooking.

The modern day’s introduction of ready-made foods and fast food has given salt a really bad reputation. However, there are many ways to utilize the salt’s good qualities in the kitchen to preserve, slowcook or give untraditional taste in the sweet kitchen.

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A TRULY IDYLLIC PLACE!
We are on the island of Læsø in Denmark. Læsø is a small island in Kattegat, just off the east coast of the peninsula Jutland, Denmark. Half an hour sailing from Frederikshavn you will find this idyllic island, also called the gem of Kattegat. When you leave the ferry (or almost already when boarding) you know that you are on island time. It is quite a wind blown place but also peacefull. It is filled with nostalgia and the passing days of old Danish fishermen and village charm. This is really the outskirts of Denmark, but if you feel stressed, you’ve come to the right place: Here you can relax!

The island has a fantastic and unique nature and you will find the beauty in the little things. The island is known for its scampi festival in August and the cute timbered houses with seeweed roofs.

On the edge of a pine forest, south of Byrum, bordering the open part of the truly windy parts of Læsø lies Læsø Saltworks. It is both a place where they make Læsø Salt, but also a tourist attraction that in a very gripping way, tells the story of life on Læsø in the past and gives a living sight of how to make salt.

The salt they make here more than measures up to some of the world’s leading salt brands and I would venture to say it’s something very special. Due to the high concentration of salt in the sea around Læsø (up to 14%, against normal 2-3%), the sea salt has been harvested on Læsø since the Middle Ages, but later died due to shortage of fire wood and sand drift.

Back in 1990, when archaeologists began studying the history of Læsø, the idea of ​​salt seething on Læsø was revived with the discoveries made by the archaeologists. Today the salt is made according to the old traditions and recipes.

Entering the seething room, it’s warm, humid and dark. The only light is a lamp over the huge seething pan, as well as a bit of daylight flowing under the grassy roof and the open doorway. It’s almost like going straight back into the Middle Ages. This is how the seethery looks. It is designed from archaeologists’ findings of the original salt works, which lay here hundreds of years ago. Saltwater is taken from wells, dug into the lowest parts of southern Læsø and in the saltworks the water is set to evaporate in large pans over open fire. The big pans look like a huge bathtub, with steamy water, as you imagine it would look like in a movie about the wild Northmen from the 16th century.

When the salt layer is saturated, the salt crystals are formed on the surface and poured into baskets where the residual water runs off before the salt is added to drying on the drying ceiling. The salt is handmade with respect for nature’s surroundings on the island, and they also give a demonstration of how to sethe salt yourself.

All by-products of the process are used for the Læsø Salt Care skin care series and are excellent treatment for people with dry skin or psoriasis. The salt retains many of its natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium and has a rich flavour. It is porous enough to crush between two fingers. Læsø Salt is the preservation of a lost art and pride and a tasty and beautiful product that is good for many types of cooking, not just to sprinkle over an egg. A visit here inspires a desire to retrieve cooking methods of a bygone era using salt dough for long-term cooking and cure salmon in a new way, as well as exploring salt in the sweet kitchen. One of nature’s most exciting taste contradictions with a lingering selection of salty sweet sensations. From irresistible caramel ice cream to decadent chocolate tart and sweet pavlova, it’s hard to resist this winning combination.

You can check out more of my images from Læsø Salt Works here. And read more about what else to do on Læsø, here & here

 

Amass Copenhagen

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With summer just around the corner here in New Zealand, and a trip to Denmark planned for Christmas, I’ve been thinking back on my trip home to Denmark in June, earlier this year. Back then I was doing a few travel stories about Denmark and specifically Copenhagen for Dish Magazine here in New Zealand. I also had the pleasure of doing a shoot with Matt Orlando at Restaurant Amass Copenhagen, to be included in a travel piece on Copenhagen. I was incredibly intrigued by the athmosphere at Amass, and Matt’s approach to the “New Nordic Cuisine” style of restaurant and cooking. The whole place, everyone there and Matt himself, just oozes “cool” and I can’t wait to go back and actually dine there and be able to take the whole place in, on a more relaxed level. I hope and wonder if it’s just as awesome in winter…

Copenhagen Standard

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While I was in Denmark for the month of June, I also photographed a travel story on the food scene in Copenhagen for Dish Magazine. The article is written by food writer, cook book editor, self acclaimed foodie and now also cook book author Marie Holm. I first met Marie, when I started shooting for Danish food magazine MAD&venner (FOOD&friends) back in 2008, before I left Copenhagen to go travelling. Back then Marie worked for the magazine, but today she is freelancing, working for all sorts of magazines, publishers and others who needs Marie’s expertise as an experienced food writer.

When I first came to New Zealand in 2009, with my portfolio and a stack of MAD&venner magazines under my arm, I was thrilled when Dish magazine booked me, and every year since I’ve been trying to talk them into doing some sort of story on Copenhagen. This time they finally jumped on it, and I was fortunate enough to talk Marie Holm into writing the story, as I knew there wouldn’t be anyone more perfect for it. Now the story is out in recent issue of Dish Magazine (#55 August 2014). Unfortunately I can’t publish it here (so you should go buy the magazine to read Marie’s brilliant story), but I can show off some of the extra photos, that didn’t make the cut for the article.

First off we have a new favorite of mine. Claus Meyer and Torsten Vildgaard’s new place The Standard. Based in what used to be the former Custom House, they’ve opened up 3 new restaurants and a jazz club. I visited two of those restaurants: Studio and Alamanak, to photograph for the article and although I’ve only been in Copenhagen this time for 2 weeks in total, I still managed to eat at Almanak 3 times for lunch. What can I say? The food is great – I just love that liver patee (pictured above)! Danish smørrebrød, open sandwiches, with a modern, New Nordic twist. I suppose it has become the new Copenhagen Standard for me. The other restaurant, Studio, is definitely more of a fine dining place of the New Nordic Cuisine caliber, and I suppose former Noma souschef Torsten Vildgaard’s playground – his Studio. Unfortunately I didn’t get to actually eat at Studio this time, although I hope to return and have the pleasure of Torstens genius cooking.

More photos from my favorite city in the world, Copenhagen, later. Thanks for stopping by!

Visit Strandgaarden Badehotel

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My last stop for the day of my visit to Læsø this time around was Strandgaarden Badehotel.

Strandgaarden beach hotel offers an idyllic setting and located just 4 minutes walk to the beach, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing summer holiday. I could have stayed here for weeks on end, reading, relaxing, swimming, and taking heaps more photos, enjoying the Danish summer when it’s at its best. This place is so quaint and cute, that I just had to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

The hotel was built in 1727 and parts of the original building are still in use. The owner takes pride in keeping the hotel in its original idyllic state with thatched roof and half timbering, but with all the commodities of modern day living. Such is the hotel kitchen, which each year has a new, up and coming Danish chef have a chance to stand up to the big boys, with the title as head chef at Strandgaarden Badehotel. The owner Ole Lind, has gotten pretty good at picking them, and for many years Strandgaarden has earned much appraisal in the media across Denmark. Every evening the menu changes according to the season and what’s available on the island, so what’s served tonight will most likely not be served tomorrow. The element of surprise is one of the things I find intriguing about the restaurant here alongside the presentation of the food by the table, by the kitchen chefs – Nicolas Højgaard Michaels and head chef Thomas Wetle Andersen.

I was served:

Homemade Sourdough Rolls & Browned Butter stirred with Butter Milk, Crème Fraiche and Onion Powder
Amuse Bouche: Seaweed Chips, Lobster Mayo and Chervil + Pork Belly, Parsley Puree and Spiced Crackling
Starter: Scampi, Kohlrabi and Green Strawberries
Main: Lobster, Scallops and Yellow Peas
Dessert: Dark Chocolate, Truffle and Blackberry Granita
All accompanied by a Sparkling Rosé to begin, a NZ Honky Dory Sauvignon Blanc for the starter and the main and a Riesling to end.

Thumbs up to both of the chefs! I loved the sourdough rolls with the browned butter, and if it wasn’t because it requires some pretty expensive, high end pro kitchen gear, I would make that butter myself. Everything else was delicious too, particularly the main, which really played with, not just the flavours but also the textures. It’s not often I say it, but the highlight of the meal was definitely the dessert. The surprising taste of the chocolate cake, which I was told later was the influence of the truffle, was really interesting and intriguing. I suppose after shooting a sweet and savoury book about Vanilla, those combinations of savoury flavours with sweet or vice versa, is really something I notice.

After a very tasty meal, a quick chat to the chefs and tons of photos later, I had to end the evening watching the sunset on the beach. It’s one of those things I love! It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day, before going to sleep in one of Strandgaarden’s super comfortable beds.

Thanks to Ole Lind at Strandgaarden Badehotel for excellent service! Read more about Strandgaarden on their website or join their facebook page for regular news and updates.

Next up are some of things I got up to in Copenhagen, so please come back soon!

Nordic Sea Salt

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If you’ve worked with me in my studio, or just gotten to know me, while I’ve been in New Zealand,  you might have been so lucky to recieve as a present, a cute little linnen bag, tied with a piece of string and filled with pourus sea salt crystals, along with an attempt from me to explain why this salt is awesome!

You might have thought:  “Wow, how awesome can salt be?” or “I thought Maldon salt was supposed to be the awesome salt!” Well Maldon salt is awesome, and I know the “REAL” salt to use if you are a chef or a real foodie. But Maldon, move over, because here’s the story and the images to show, why I think Læsø Salt is more awesome.

As a visual person, I buy with my eyes (not everything and always, but often). A product has got to look good or sell me the idea of looking good. Well for starters Læsø Salt does just that. Just take a look at the place where they make it!
It is full of beautiful photo opportunities, and if my dad hadn’t been hanging around, waiting for me to finish “doing my thing”, I could have spent the whole day here. Although I think I got some pretty cool shots after all.

We are still on the island Læsø, as I wrote about the other day and the first visit on my itinerary of the day. At the edge of a pine forrest, south of the town Byrum, bordering the open plain of the the truly windblown parts of Læsø, lies Læsø Salt Works. It is both the place where they make Læsø Salt, but also a tourist attraction that tells a lot of the story on life on Læsø back in the day. Without making it too long and boring (the guides at Læsø Salt does not), I’ll try to explaing why this place, and the salt, is so special.

Due to the high concentration of salt in the sea around Læsø, the making of sea salt has been happeing on Læsø since the middel ages, but then since died out. Back in 1990 when archeoligists started looking into some of the history of Læsø, the idea of salt seething on Læsø was brought back to life using the discoveries the archeologists made. Today they seethe salt after the old traditions and recipes and make just enough to meet demands and keep Læsø Salt Works a healthy business.

The salty water is brought in from wells, dug in the lower parts of southern Læsø. In the Salt Works the water is set to evaporate over the fire. Once the brine is saturated, the salt crystals form on the surface and is scooped up into the baskets where residue water runs off, before the salt is set to dry in the drying addic.

The salt still retains a lot of the minerals and has a full-bodied flavour. It is porous enough to be perfect for crushing between two fingers before seasoning any dish. The salt is hand made and with respect for the nature sourroundings of the island. All biproducts of the seething is used for Læsø Salt Care scin care range and is excellent treatment for people with dry skin or pshoriasis. So apart from the oddness in bringing sea salt across the globe to New Zealand, Læsø Salt meets a lot of my criteria for many products that I buy. I like to support: My local community, the preservation of a lost art, AND pride and effort into making a tasty and beautiful product.

Read more about Læsø Salt Works in English here and in Danish here. Stay tuned for another awesome place to visit on Læsø, soon!

Idyllic island Laesoe in Denmark

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If you’ve been following my instagram feed or my facebook page lately, you might have noticed that I’ve been on a trip home to my native Denmark recently. Having only just returned to New Zealand last week, I’m struggling to cope with the depressing wet New Zealand winter weather and the lack of proper heating and insulation at my studio. So I have emerged myself into working through all the images I’ve done, while I’ve been away.

Over the next month or so, I’ll keep the theme of the blog in the name of Denmark, Danish summer, Copenhagen eateries and all things Danish, while I wait for the New Zealand summer to return. If you love everything Scandinavian and miss summer too (or are in fact enjoying Danish summer at the moment), I’m sure there’ll be something for you to be inspired about, get your wanderlust itching again or just take your mind off the crappy weather for a bit.

I’ll start by introducing a place that’s very close to home, or should I say close to “my hometown” and my heart. Somewhere truly idyllic! The Island Læsø in Denmark or Laesoe (in English) is a small island in the North Sea bay Kattegat, just off the coast of the peninsula Jutland, the Danish mainland.

An hour and a half’s ferry ride from my hometown Frederikshavn, you’ll find this idyllic island, also referred to as Kattegat’s perle: “The Pearl of Kattegat”. Once you step off the ferry (or pretty much when you get on it actually), you know you’re on island time. My grandmother grew up here, so I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, but it’s only after I moved to New Zealand, I’ve come to actually really love this place. It is windblown (due to the lack of hills) but peacefull. It’s full of nostalgica and by gone days of old school Danish fishermen and small town charm. This is truly the outskirts of Denmark, but if you are feeling stressed out, you’ve come to the right place to relax! The island has an amazing and unique nature, and you’ll find the beauty in the small things, such as riding a bike from one end of the island to the other (21km), go horseback riding on Icelandic Ponies or taking a swim at one of the many beaches. The island is known for it’s scampi festival in August and the cute half-timbered houses thatched with seaweed.

The next few upcoming posts, I’ll show a few of the really great places on the island, Læsø Salt Works and a really good place to eat (and sleep). So please stay tuned!

Danish Design Sandwiches

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Being Danish abroad (from Denmark), one can hardly talk about food without bringing up the subject Danish food and Danish open sandwiches. With a lot of focus on Danish food and the Scandinavian food scene in general, over the last few years, it is also with certain pride that I do talk about it. With Rene Redzepi‘s Noma probably being the main source for our glory these days, the New Nordic Food movement has given us reason to be proud and to show off our heritage. I’m pleased to see that it’s not just the Danish “fine dining” scene that is popular, but also more down to earth Danish food is starting to be the talk of town. Maybe not so much in New Zealand yet, but in New York most certainly, and also in Australia. In Melbourne, Danish chef Bente Grysbæk runs Restaurant Dansk, at Denmark House a division of the Royal Danish Consulate in Melbourne. Earlier this year I went to see Bente, and to shoot some work with her for a future project that also involves New Zealand based journalist Kirsten Rødsgaard-Matiesen. Bente and Restaurant Dansk focuses entirely on a Danish menu with a twist, and here you can get beautifully designed Danish open sandwiches, with all elements made from scratch, just like our grandmothers would.

Around Christmas time I usually get quite homesick and one thing that is very closely related to home is of course food, and especially our open sandwiches – Smørrebrød as we call them. Great Danish food is hard to come by out here, although our beloved rye bread is now available at some supermarkets and specialty bakers around Auckland. So a simple open sandwich with pate, salami or salmon with a slice of cucumber is often part of my lunch, but not nearly as artistic and handcrafted as Bente’s. And one thing that I rarely have is the Christmas seasons variety of marinated herring with curry salad on top. So I’m very pleased that Bente has shared her very own recipe for making marinated herring. This is a must have on the Christmas table on a slice of rye, with a shot of snaps/ akvavit to wash it down with. Enjoy!

Recipe © Bente Grysbæk @ Restaurant Dansk, Denmark House, Melbourne

Marinade for herring
4 large herring fillets in oil (or 8 small)
200ml water
200ml vinegar
125g caster sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp whole black pepper corn
1/2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp all spice
5 whole gloves
Put everything in a pot, except the herring fillets, and let simmer for about 30min. Let the marinade cool down completely. Drain the herring fillets from any oil or other marinade they came in. Then add them to the cooled marinade and leave for at least 1 week, 3 weeks is optimal.

Yellow marbled eggs
2 eggs
1 tsp turmeric (for yellow marble)
Cook 2 large eggs for 8min then refresh in ice water until cold. Now crack the shell all over, without removing any of the shell. Dissolve the turmeric in plain cold water then add the cracked eggs.
Leave for 1-2 days before peeling. They should be used the same day as you have peeled them, as the marbling fades.

Curry salad
100g mayonnaise
50g sour cream
30g raw macaroni soup pasta
1 granny smith apple peeled and cut into fine dices
1.5 tsp mild curry powder
Pinch of pepper
Mix mayonnaise and sour cream thoroughly combined. Then add apple dices, cooked soup pasta, curry powder and season with pepper. Salt is not necessary, but optional.

Assembling
Find a nice rustic rye bread from your local bakery, and cut 2 slices length way, 1 cm thick and cut in half again, so you end up with 4 rectangle pieces. Spread each slice of bread with good quality butter, salted. Drain herring on paper towel before placing on top. Then place the curry salad in a straight line. Peel the eggs and cut into wedges before placing on top of the curry salad, egg yolk facing down. Then garnish with thinly sliced granny smith apples and shallots, capers and dill.
Best accompanied by ice-cold beer and aquavit.