Love food? Love Denmark! Copenhagen, its capital, is the home of 13 Michelin-starred restaurants, including Noma, often considered the best in the world. (Noma stands for Nordisk Mad or Nordic Food.) Luckily for most of us Denmark has great food for all budgets. There are a multitude of fantastic places. You don't have to break the bank.
Kirsten Hede-Brierley, now living in Lexington, has many fond memories, growing up in Denmark, of the delicious healthy Danish meals prepared by her parents. Often on a Saturday or Sunday night a homemade dinner could last for three hours with good conversation alongside sumptuous food and drink.
Smørrebrød or open faced sandwiches is a traditional lunch or brunch meal. It consists of slices of buttered Rye bread imaginatively decorated with sausage, cheese or fish, eggs and vegetables in a hundred of different variations.
The meal is simple and healthy. Danish children take specially made lunch boxes to school designed so that the smørrebrød does not fall apart.
For grown ups a Danish Carlsberg Beer and a snaps (akvavit) is the perfect combination.
The popular and most elaborate "smørrebrød" that is a fulfilling main dish is the “Stjerneskud” or "Shooting Star." It is a Danish classic and served in many restaurants. Every time Kirsten visits relatives in Denmark, she is sure to have this included as a must have!
Kirsten grew up in Aarhus (click Dansk, scroll to English), the second largest city of Denmark on the east-side of the Jutland peninsula.
In 1985 she came to New York on a three-week fashion modeling job where she met her "Prince Charming”, American-born Andrew Brierley. They got married in Denmark. (In Denmark a married woman puts her family's name first, followed by a hyphen, then her husband's family name.)
Kirsten and her family moved to Lexington in 1997 so their two children could attend the Waldorf School on Massachusetts Avenue. They are now in Graduate School and College.
She still works as a model and actor throughout the Northeast and is signed with several model and talent agencies doing print and runway shows, film and TV commercials. Kirsten also offers Danish commercial voiceovers and translations as well as “Learn to speak Danish” on audio and DVD.
Kirsten has been actively involved with the Lexington 300th celebration - teaching actors how to walk the runway and starring in three roles in the musical fashion revue "Breeches, Bloomers, Bellbottoms, Oh My! In addition, she was a Lexmedia reporter for “Dance Around the World” and co-hosted the 300th May concert.
Her connection to Denmark is still strong with yearly trips visiting family and friends, and as a member and past-President of of the Danish Society of Massachusetts.
Kirsten's interest is exercise - yoga, ballet, Pilates and Zumba. Going out to dance and hear live music as well as attending her Danish book club meetings makes a good and happy life. You may have read Denmark is considered to be the happiest country in the world. Perhaps Kirsten is a good example!
Stjerneskud, a well-known smørrebrød
No bake Danish Apple cake
8 pieces of skinless Tilapia or Flounder fillets (1 lbs)
1 stick of butter
1 beaten egg
Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1 head of Iceberg salad
4 thick sliced toasted white bread
8 whole asparagus (from a jar or slightly boiled tender)
½ English cucumber, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
4 small tomatoes, in “boats”
2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
1 small glass of red or black Caviar
1 package/3-4 cups of peeled cold shrimp. (I prefer “Foley shrimp salad” - frozen)
1 small package of smoked sliced Salmon
Fresh Dill or Watercress
Thousand Island dressing
Prepare the fish:
Boil 4 of the fish fillets for about 4 minutes in lightly salted water, drain and set aside.
The 4 remaining fillets put in egg wash, then in breadcrumbs and fry in butter for added crispiness, about 3 minutes on each side.
Assemble the Stjerneskud:
Toast the 4 pieces of bread and spread a thin layer of butter.
Place two Iceberg lettuce leaves on each bread.
Then on top a fillet of fried fish and a boiled fillet next to each other.
Pour the Thousand Island dressing on top about 2-3 spoonfuls on each. Then add the shrimp and rolled up sliced smoked salmon,
Garnish with asparagus, boiled and sliced eggs, tomatoes, English cucumber and Caviar and finally a lemon slice.
For a green touch add a sprig of Dill or cut Watercress.
Serve immediately on nice individual plates.
Remember to eat this Sterneskud with a fork and a knife.
Not only does it look amazing but it tastes heavenly, too!
A glass of white wine (“Kirsten's” preference) or a Danish beer and Snaps is fitting as well.
In Denmark they toast each other with a Skol!
½ cup of water
1½ lbs peeled apples in small slices
1½ tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
Pan roasted breadcrumbs:
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup non flavored breadcrumbs
¾ cup sugar
1 small jar of whipping cream
½ small glass of raspberry jam
In a pot on a low boil cook the apple slices with water until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the butter and sugar and cool off completely in another dish in your refrigerator.
For the pan roasted breadcrumbs:
Melt butter in a pan on medium heat without turning brown. Add the breadcrumbs and sugar and stir the mix with a wooden spoon on medium heat until it turns golden in about 5 minutes. Set aside in another bowl.
Whip the cream until peaks form and either assemble it individually in big Martini glasses or in a nice glass bowl.
Assemble the layers in this order:
Layer of whipped cream
Decorate with small teaspoon dots of red raspberry jam
Serve and enjoy perhaps with a glass of Danish “Peter Heering” Cherry liquor or tea / coffee.
For the Stjerneskud, the broad range of flavors makes it compatible with white wines and lighter reds:
2011 Lemelson Tikka's Run Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon Regular Price: $24.99 Sale Price: $19.99
2012 Domaine La Condamine Viognier, Cotes de Thongue, Southern France Regular Price: $15.99 Sale Price: $12.99
2010 Albert Bichot Secret de Famille Pinot Noir, Burgundy Regular Price: $24.99 Sale Price: $19.99
2011 Herve Azo Pinot Noir, Burgundy Regular Price: $15.99 Sale Price: $12.99
For the No Bake Apple Cake, what could be better than an apple ice wine or cider?
Still River Winery, Apfel Eis Apple Ice Wine, Harvard, MA Regular Price: $24.99 Sale Price: $19.99
Neige Sparkling Apple Ice Wine, Quebec $15.99
Bantam Cider, Cambridge, MA $7.99 (650 ml)
While reading the list of ingredients and instructions for assembling the open face sandwich, Stjerneskud, it sounded so delicious, yet I could not imagine how you could fit all of this onto the bread. So I searched the web for pictures and what I found was many very pretty and enticing presentations of Stjerneskud. The way the food overflowed made it even more attractive. Each photograph had it’s own arrangement. So I thought - especially for people with dietary restrictions - it would be perfect to have the guests create there own arrangement. This way they could design their own plate according to what they can and can not eat. The hostess could put out extra vegetables and boiled fish, the two things everybody can eat so that those of us that need to leave an item or two out can still build an overflowing plate. And here’s a fun idea: let this be a “little competitive” and see who can make the most interesting arrangement. Perhaps even take photos and send them to contact@EuropeanDinnerParties.com.
Here are recommended adjustments to the beautiful Stjerneskud. If you are watching your salt intake, I suggest you do not have to omit all the fishes, just have a shrimp or two, a small slice of smoked salmon and a tiny dot of caviar. Going light on the dressing may not be such a bad idea either. The colors, textures and tastes will all still be there. If you are watching your cholesterol or fat intake I recommend piling on the vegetables with an extra boiled filet instead of the fried, and just a wee amount of shrimp, caviar and eggs. Let them be more for decoration than any thing else. I propose for those watching their weight to spread the 1000 Island dressing thin, skip the bread and shrimp but feel free to add extra vegetables.
Looking over the directions for the No Bake Apple Cake I said, “Hey, why not do the same thing here, since assembly is required. Put the apple sauce, breadcrumb, whipped cream, and raspberry jam out "buffet style" and let the guests assemble there own dessert.”
A low sodium version of the delicious dessert would be everything but the breadcrumbs. A low fat/cholesterol version would be to also leave out the breadcrumbs and consider just a small dot of whipped cream. Of course for those watching their weight no need to deny yourself any. Your version might be just a tiny amount of everything.
No matter what your special diet may be these are two wonderful dishes are to be savored with each bite.
The goal of the Denmark Learning Experience is to give you a better idea of the country and its citizens. Some items are listed on this page. Direct links offer more information. It's educational and fun.
This section also to the European Travel Resource Center and its Denmark section. Note that special European Dinner Party savings will be available from March 2014.
The quote "Santa Claus has the right idea - visit people only once a year" is from the Danish-born American comedian Victor Borge.
Other Victor Borge quotes:
- Laughter is the closest distance between two people
- I wish to thank my parents for making it all possible…and I wish to thank my children for making it necessary
- I don't mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only think I saved this year.
- When an opera star sings her head off, she usually improves her appearance.
Talking about food, here's one from the Danish cartoonist and writer Robert Storm Peterson:
- The impractically of eating cold duck is that it has to be roasted first
For more quotes from Danish people :
A slip of the foot may soon be recovered; but that of the tongue perhaps never
Children are the poor man's wealth
Den Hund som bjaeffer meget, han bider kun lidt! (Barking dogs seldom bite)
See if you can translate some others yourself.
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Danish_proverbs (cut+paste in browser)
Some like Victor Borge and Hans Christian Andersen are very well known
Here are some others you may not be that familiar with:
Hans Christian Andersen, born in Odense (click English) in 1805 is undoubtedly one of the most famous story tellers in the world. His fairy tales have been translated in 125 languages.
Some like the Little Mermaid, the Snow Queen or the Uckly Duckling you may have told your children already. Here are others: http://hca.gilead.org.il/
Quotes by Andersen:
- "Life is the most wonderful fairy tale"
- "It doesn't matter if you are born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched from a swan's egg!" (from the ugly duckling)
In Denmark great attention is paid to traditions and festivals, though without great ceremony. This link will give you many interesting facts.
http://denmark.dk/en/meet-the-danes/traditions/ (cut+past in browser)
Here's an interesting report from the Huffington Post as to why Denmark received this title. It's partly about the way the country is governed but also about things the Danes have a bit more control over. Read about life in Denmark - parenting, health care, gender equality and lots more. For the article click:
The Royal Danish Ballet and Opera are well known venues for many visiting Denmark. Find the facts on theaters, art, live music, opera, dance and cinemas here.
Denmark is the happiest country to live in. Why move to it? Hint: If you have kids in college, read #7 and you would wish you were be living there as well.
But as an expat…you may also be surprised with some interesting items on these things: Expats who are now living in Denmark say:
In this section you'll find special travel tips on Denmark. For more information visit the Denmark pages in the European Travel and Research Center. Direct links to other useful sites are included. Before March 2014 all pages will be updated.
Copenhagen: Boat trips + Hop On - Hop Off stopping at other attractions. Visit Tivoli in the center of town for dinner after a day of sightseeing. Enjoy the illuminations and performances.
Touring Denmark - a smaller country in Europe, leisure driving , a comprehensive Denmark tour click Denmark in 2 weeks cut+paste this link: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/denmark/252760
(drive or ferries between the islands)
Biking in Denmark - a leisurely vacation (very impotent - flat countryside - (special Kro hotels - see below)
Different types of accommodations in Denmark
Kros - If you go to the
suburban areas of Denmark, you will find accommodation facilities called
Kros. The Kros have great atmosphere and charm. Although Kros vary from
large-scale facilities with pools and conference rooms, to classic ones
with thatched roofs that are typical of Denmark, many serve delicious
Castle and Manor Hotels in Denmark
Vacations with other Scandinavian countries
Denmark trips are often combined with other Scandinavian countries, especially Norway & Sweden.
Taking the overnight ferry between Copenhagen and Oslo is a pleasant way to save a long car or train ride. It's like a one night mini-cruise on some of the largest ferries in Europe - restaurants, bars, entertainment, etc.
Copenhagen is the cruise capital for Baltic Sea (Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg) and Northern Europe cruises.
And here's a sensible quote from Piet Hein, a Danish poet...
Please tell us what other information you would like to know for each country?
Thanks very much!
Do you live in the Boston area? For authentic Danish pastry and cakes visit the Danish Pastry House in Medford and Watertown. www.danishpastryhouse.com/