Blackberry Grav Lax

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BLACKBERRY GRAV LAX
Serves 8-10

In this Grav Lax recipe salt, in combination with the sugar, alcohol and fruit is used to draw moisture out of the flesh and preserve the fish. Giving it a lovely smooth texture and a very slight salty taste. The traditional Scandinavian Grav Lax, has had an overhaul with blackberries, creating a stunning fillet, that looks great on your smorgasbord.

1 kg Salmon Fillet, skin on, pin boned
½ cup/70g Sea Salt Flakes
¼ cup Raw Sugar (weigh)
2 tsp Heilala Vanilla Powder (seeds from 2 vanilla pods)
2 tbsp freshly ground Pepper
3 cups/ 400 g Frozen or fresh Blackberries
1/3 cup/ 1 dl Snaps
2 tbsp fennel seeds

Horseradish Dip:

Horseradish cream
Sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

Serving:

Rye Bread
Micro greens (coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress)
Lemon rind
Blackberries

Method Grav Lax:

Place sea salt, sugar, vanilla powder, pepper, blackberries, snaps and fennel seeds in a food processor or blender, and blitz to mix.

Place the salmon skin side down on several layers of cling film, (enough to wrap around and cover the salmon), and place on a baking tray. Using tweezers, remove the pin bones along the side of the salmon fillet. Spread the salt and blackberry mixture over the fish, making sure it’s completely covered. Then wrap the cling film tightly around the salmon. Place a second baking tray or chopping board over the fillet and weigh it down with a heavy item (Weighing the fish down, is not usually part of traditional Swedish curing technique, however it’s often used in Southern Hemisphere cooking, to help draw moisture out. This technique may give the fish a tougher texture).

Refrigerate and cure for at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours.

Remove the cling film and clean the seasoning mixture from the salmon with a wet teatowel. Avoid rinsing the filet, under the tap, as this will rinse out the beautiful red colour. Serve thinly sliced on toasted rye bread, garnish with micro herbs (ie coriander & beetroot sprouts or watercress), lemon rind, blackberries and horseradish dip (see method below).

Method Dip:

Mix horseradish cream and sour cream, evenly 50/50 and season with sea salt and pepper to your liking.

The Grav Lax will keep 3-4 days, chilled.

Cooking note: It is important to use sea salt crystals and not rock salt, as flavour and texture will vary greatly.

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This recipe is part of my salt story published in MAD&venner #129 2015 & Matmagasinet Nord #23 2017, focusing on using salt as a main ingredient for cooking or flavouring. Try these recipes from this series too:
Salt & Vinegar Potato Skins
Pork Belly in Brine with Cripsy Crackling
Salt Dough Baked Leg of Lamb

© Manja Wachsmuth 2017

Glogg, Mulled Wine

No Christmas party without Gløgg!
This boozy hot drink has lots of memories attached. Skating on the ice rink around Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen in my mid twenties, without a care in the world – not even the fact that alcohol and ice skating probably isn’t the best mix! And walking around a snowcovered, and to-the-brim fairylight lit Tivoli with my husband, the year we spent Christmas in Denmark.
Add a Nordic touch to your Christmas with this traditional Danish Gløgg. Mine has snaps in it, as it did in Tivoli, and I’ve added some cool garnish too! Merry Christmas!

GLØGG – MULLED WINE
makes 1 litre, serves 6

1 bottle of good quality red wine (I like Central Otago Pinot Noir)
1/3 cup snaps/akvavit
1 cup port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
3 whole all spice
2 star anise
orange peel of 1 orange
275g sugar
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup sliced almonds

Place the port wine in a bowl with the raisins and leave to soak for 24 hours. Pass the port wine and raisins through a sieve, and set the raisins aside. Place the port with water, orange juice, spices, orange peel and sugar in a pot and simmer on low heat for 30 min. The Gløgg mix can be made ahead of time, and kept to use at a later time.

Pass the Gløgg mix through a sieve and remove (and discard) the spices. Add the wine to the Gløgg mix and heat over a gentle heat, do not boil (as this will burn off the alcohol). Add the soaked raisins and sprinkle with almonds. Serve hot, decorated with a cinnamon stick and dried orange slice!

Enjoy this hot drink with respect. The alcohol can hit hard, especially in cold weather!

DRIED ORANGE SLICES

Preheat oven to 120° C. Slice 2-3 oranges thinly and place on baking paper on a baking tray. Heat for about 1 hour or until completely dry.

Ris ala Mande with homemade Cherry Sauce

Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce Ris Ala Mande with Cherry Sauce

I’m back in Denmark for Christmas this year. For the first time in 5 years, I’m spending Christmas with MY family, and I can’t wait! There’s just something strange about spending Christmas in New Zealand, when it’s summer, and I just can’t seem to get into a real Christmas spirit. But this year it’ll be different, and I’m looking forward to showing my husband around a Christmas lit Copenhagen, ice skating and sipping Gløgg (mulled wine).

Obviously the big thing about Christmas is food, and for me as a food photographer, no less! We’ll have all the regulars: Roast duck, pork roast with crackling, caramelised potatoes, gravy, herring and lots of snaps of course! And a classic Danish Christmas dessert, the Ris ala Mande of course! Usually the cherry sauce for the dessert is just a store bought thing, but since I’ve moved to NZ, I’ve always made my own- just because you can’t buy it there. The good thing about that, is that it’s summer there, and cherries are in season, so I make mine out of fresh cherries. So this year, I’ve imported 3 litres of NZ made cherry sauce into Denmark, for our Christmas dessert. My recipe has a dash of single malt whiskey in it. It’s yum!

So, I bring you the recipe for: Ris ala Mande with homemade Cherry Sauce! Merry Christmas!

Ris ala Mande
6-8 portions

1 litre whole milk
2 vanilla beans (I use Heilala Vanilla)
150g arborio rice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
100g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 whole blanched almond (skin removed)
500ml cream

Cherry Sauce:
makes 3 litres

500g fresh, pitted cherries (alternatively use frozen or jarred cherries)
150g caster sugar
2 vanilla beans (I use Heilala Vanilla)
3 cups water
4 tablespoons cornflour
100 ml whiskey (I use single malt – some might argue that – especially your husband. You could also use cognac)

Place milk and rice in a large pot. Cook over gentle heat, stirring often to prevent rice sticking and burning, for about 20 minutes. Most of the milk should have been absorbed by this stage. Remove pot from heat and cover. Leave to rest 30 minutes. In Denmark it’s common to let the rice porridge rest under the duvet, to heat up the bed (as it’s winter, and cold outside)

Stir in caster sugar and salt. Split vanilla beans and scrape seeds into pot. Fold them through rice mixture. Leave to cool completely. At this stage the porridge can be covered and refrigerated until the day it is needed (up to two days).

On the day of serving, beat cream to soft peaks. Fold about one third through the rice until smooth then fold in remainder with chopped almonds.

Transfer Ris ala Mande to a serving bowl and hide 1 whole almond in the mixture. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve. Traditionally we serve the dessert with 1 whole almond, and sometimes a few half or 3/4 ones (cheat almonds). Who ever can present the whole almond, wins the almond prize, which is usually another sweet treat, such as a mazipan pig or chocolates. The idea is to keep the almond hidden (if you find it), until all the Ris ala Mande has been eaten.

Sauce: Place cherries, sugar, whole vanilla bean, water and whiskey in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer 15 minutes.

Combine cornflour with a little cold water. Slowly add to cherry mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Bring mixture slowly back to the boil then remove from the heat. (Sauce can be made ahead and bottled in sterilised jars).

Serve the Ris ala Mande (rice pudding) at room temperatue with warm cherry sauce.

Merry Christmas!

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!

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.