postcards from Copenhagen

 
Nearly seven years ago, I showed up in Copenhagen after a Baltic beach vacation with a cold and a heavy suitcase. I had heard that the Danish capital was a stylish one and I didn't want to underdress for our first date.
 
My first impressions of the city that I would call home for a year include salty licorice, serious bureaucracy, plump pastries and bikes that were as stylish as the people riding them.

Although since living there the city has added culinary capital to the titles that it wears, my memory of it is rather frozen in time. Last weekend I was there for a short visit and since all of my visits there seem to be short, I get to visit the Copenhagen that I knew, busying myself with familiar faces and well-tested pastry shops. Unlike trips to London and Paris, where I want to eat where I haven't already and stay in different neigbourhoods, in Copenhagen I always find myself walking along my favourite street, eating smushi for lunch, lusting after the food section in Magasin du Nord and going for coffee in Vesterbro. And that is the Copenhagen that I like best.

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Chickpea Quarterly: fruit on fire


Summer is tangled hair and sandy feet. It is long bike rides and cold drinks. It is fresh fruit and hot charcoal.

The summer issue of Chickpea - a vegan quarterly that is more about good quality food than about labels - sure knows what summer is all about. From barbecues to spicy foods and from ice cream sundaes to surfing, it is a love letter to what makes this short season feel so much longer than it is. 

I'm thrilled to have married my fruit-tooth with my attraction to fire, and have contributed an article to this issue about grilled summertime desserts, complete with mix and match recipes. Grilled Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble (oh yes), Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream, and Rosemary Figs with Salty Pinenuts. The issue is available both digitally and in print (available for pre-order now). For those who are curious, there is a preview here.
 

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when life gives you eggs, part II: pickle them pink


Age is something that I feel most in my taste buds. Having a husband, a student loan, a job and a decent number of wool blankets and sweaters with elbow patches should all be signs that I'm an adult, a real adult. However, none of this makes me feel particularly adult. My love for anchovies, capers, Cynar, schmaltz, rye bread and pickled eggs, on the other hand, make me absolutely feel like a real adult. 

My first experience with pickled eggs was in Glasgow. As part of a ploughman's lunch at a sweet cafe where maps were used as tablecloths, I enthusiastically ate my cheddar and chutney, drank my ginger beer, and gave the pickled eggs on my plate some suspicious glances. I didn't trust them. Eggs should be freshly cooked and not preserved, or? Well, I learned my lesson right there and then and ever since I've been a fan.

When a recent project at work resulted in dozens and dozens of organic, Bavarian eggs, I started listing the way that I could fry, boil, scrambled and, most importantly, preserve them so that no egg would go to waste.

After a couple rounds of Spanish tortilla, many eggs for breakfast, a plate of deviled eggs and a rhubarb-polenta cake, I took the classic preserving route by pickling the eggs that were left.

Normally I keep the eggs simple and white, just apple cider vinegar, water and some spices to add some brightness and flavour. Because of all of the tones of red at the markets these days, from ruby strawberries to blush rhubarb, I decided to add some colour in the form of beets. Flavour wise these eggs still taste pretty classic, but colour wise it is hard not to squeal just a bit when cutting an egg in half to see it blush with pink. 


Pickled Eggs & Beets

yields 6 pickled eggs (in two 500g jars)

ingredients

6 organic eggs
1 large beet (mine was a giant), or 2 small
1 tbsp peppercorns (I used black and red)
1 tsp coarse sea salt
4 cloves
1/4 cup unrefined brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water, reserved from cooking the beet(s). 

Give the beet(s) a good scrub with a vegetable brush. Place the beet(s) in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook at a simmer until the beet is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove the beet with a slotted spoon (you want to save the water) and set it aside to cool (or place it in a cold water bath). Once cool, peel and cut it into chunks.

While the beets are cooking, place eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. The water should cover them by an inch or two. Place the pot on high heat and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a lid and let sit for 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the pot and place them under the tap with cold water running to cool. Once cool, peel them and divide them between two jars (or one large jar).

In a jug, pot or bowl (something that you can easily pour from) mix together the sea salt, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and beet water. Give it a very good stir, until the sugar dissolves.

Divide the chunks of beets, peppercorns and cloves between the two jars. Pour in the brine and give it a gentle stir. Place jars in the fridge and let them sit for at least a day before eating. The longer they hang out in the fridge, the more pickled they'll taste. The eggs keep in the fridge for up to 2 months. 

 Guten!

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when life gives you eggs, part I: spanish tortilla with wild garlic


 Not very often does a surprise trip come my way, but as April turned to May I found myself with a plane ticket to Malaga. Malaga was where I landed, but it wasn't my destination. Or I should say our destination. It was a group trip. Although I always prefer putting together my own itinerary (or deciding not to have one), I felt pretty lucky to not have to worry about figuring out directions or where to eat.

Our destination was Granada, a city that I first visited nearly seven years ago. I remember the city's beauty, the majestic Alhambra, its colourful tiles, its spiraling streets, and how drinking tinto de verano in the Spanish heat is always a good idea. 


That trip that I mentioned was my first and my last time to Spain. The culture and the food had me completely charmed, but I just never made it back. The story between Spain and I is classic. We stayed up late, ate well, drank well, and danced well. We exchanged numbers, chatted about future encounters, but in the end neither of us ever called.

And then years later, I found myself in this group of German tourists, taking photographs and having difficulty deciding between beer or wine. The sun was just as hot as I remember and the tinto de verano was just as cold, but sadly I didn't eat quite as well as I had hoped. However, once again a classic is at play: it wasn't Spain. It was me. Traveling in a group is just not the best way to eat.

My weekend meals fluctuated between hits and misses, but the jamón was always good and so was the wine. Moreover, the trip reminded me of how Spanish tortilla tastes good for breakfast, as a snack, for lunch and even for dinner. 

On my flight back to Munich, buried beneath free newspapers, I came across a recipe for Spanish tortilla with wild garlic in the Financial Times. I was old fashioned and cut the recipe out. It seemed like good luck that my renewed interest in Spanish tortillas was coinciding with wild garlic season. To boot, I was working on a project in May that ended with lots of extra, organic eggs. I came home with more than 40. Determined not to waste them (and ambitiously not wanting to freeze them), a Spanish tortilla seemed like a good method for eating my way through the plenty.   


 When it comes to making a Spanish tortilla, there are two different schools. The first boils the potatoes and the second poaches them in olive oil, lots of olive oil. Because cooking is more fun and feels more dangerous with a pot of oil than a pot of water, I am a fan of the second school. Although it sounds messy and intimidating, it is not. You aren't frying (or deep frying) the potatoes. You are just lightly cooking them until tender. To properly do this, you need a lot of oil. I admit that the amount is frightening; however, the potatoes absorb only a fraction. Once the potatoes are cooked, you drain the oil and then have olive oil infused with the earthy flavours of onion and potatoes. In other words, you're even closer to a vinaigrette for that salad that you want to serve with a Spanish tortilla. 

This isn't a dish with a lot of flavours going on. Therefore, be very generous with the salt and pepper. This is, of course, another reason to use good ingredients. Good potatoes and good onions and good olive oil. I give my potatoes a good scrub, but I keep their skins on. A lot prefer to peel them, but I like the extra texture and flavour that the skins add. To peel or not to peel - it is up to you.

Spanish Tortilla is a seasonless dish; however, the wild garlic makes it belong to spring. In other words, you can leave the wild garlic out, but for those few weeks every year where the green plants make your local parks smell like garlic dip, I highly suggest livening up a Spanish tortilla with some garlicky green. 

 Spanish Tortilla with Wild Garlic

inspired by Rowley Leigh for the Financial Times

serves 3-4

ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups), thinly sliced
coarse sea salt
pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, minced
6 pieces wild garlic, stems removed
6 eggs

In a medium sized bowl, toss together the potatoes and onions with lots of salt and pepper

Over low heat, heat the olive oil in a small pan (about 15 centimeters, 6 inches) and add the potatoes and onions. Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). You don't want them to brown in the oil, only to soften.

While the potatoes and onions slowly cook, mince the garlic. Clean the wild garlic well and then cut the leaves into strips. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, and give them a good stir to combine the whites with the yolks.

Once the potatoes are tender, remove them from the heat. Let cool slightly and then use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes. Pour the oil out of the pan into a jar to use later, leaving about 2-3 tbsp in the pan. Return the potatoes to the pan, over medium-low heat, and add the garlic and the wild garlic. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Give the pan a cook shake, making sure that the egg mixture is evenly distrusted. While the eggs cook, preheat the broiler.

Cook until the sides are set and there is just a bit of liquid remaining at the top, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the pan under the broiler until the top is just set, about 4 minutes.
Guten!

* * * * *

Speaking of trips that are little and lucky, I'm just about to head to the train station to go to Paris. If you want to tag along for the pastries, seafood platters and glasses of Sancerre, you can find me on Instagram.

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