Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Nytårsaften - get ready to jump!

We're now recovered from Christmas (ho, ho, ho!) and I've just looked out my DDH's (Dear Danish Husband's) black tie outfit.  And safety glasses.  And several bags of explosives...  Is my DDH the Danish equivalent of James Bond? 8-)  Nope, it's because tonight we will be celebrating Nytår (New Year).  Which, in Denmark, is serious business.  While Christmas is spent with family, New Year’s Eve is normally spent with friends – usually at someone’s house.

Let’s start with the basics.  The celebrations start at 6 o’clock.  Sharp.  So make absolutely sure you are at the party venue about 15 minutes before, so you have time to change out of your ‘outside’ shoes, take off your coat, scarf and gloves, and put down your (humungous) bag of fireworks (not forgetting the all-important safety glasses for every member of your party).  And what’s so important about 6 o’clock?  Well, that’s when the Danish Queen “Daisy”‘ makes her speech, live, on the telly.  Two minutes to six - eeeeeek - everyone stand to atten-SHUN! :D

It’s tradition to watch and listen.  Whilst standing up (only the elderly and small tots are exempt) and enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbly.  Now, when you get tired of standing up in your party heels, and start to wonder "when will this ever end?", just listen out for a mention of those at sea.  Or the Danish armed forces.  Or Greenland.  You are in the final straight! ;-)

The Queen always finishes with "Gud bevare Danmark!"  God Bless Denmark!  At which point, the kids and big kids (= dads) are officially allowed to go outside and launch a few fireworks.  (But remember to keep those big guns for 12 o’clock!)

And it’s also the cue for the others (um, that would be the women?!) to go into the kitchen, finish prepping the yummy food, and get the starter on the table.  Then the menfolk/kids come back in, everyone eats, the menfolk/kids go out and launch a few more fireworks, the women clear up and prepare the next course and repeat, repeat, REPEAT!!!

Just make sure that – with all the crazy comings and goings, food and wine aplenty – that you don’t lose track of time.

When it’s getting near to 12 o’clock, you need to stop and find a seat.  Or a ladder.  Or a sofa.  Something that is fairly high up off the ground to stand on…

Switch on the telly or radio and turn it up LOUD.  Because the first chimes of the clock from Copenhagen’s rådhus (townhall) are your cue to literally ‘jump’ into the New Year. As you will probably take off your shoes, make sure that tonight you aren't wearing your holy socks or your stockings! :)

So we jump down, hug and kiss everyone in the room and open (yet more) champagne.

Then you listen to the traditional songs… Vær Velkommen Herrens År, Det er et Yndigt Land and Kong Kristian stod ved højen Mast  Not a dry eye in the house!

And then it’s time for everyone to muffle up, pile outside (safety glasses on, champagne in hand) for the Grand Finale of fireworks.  Remember, safety first!

Where we live, the fireworks usually last for over 30 minutes.  But you'll hear fireworks going off the whole night, into the wee small hours of the morning…  And again the next day!

But back to our party!  After the fireworks, you can come back in and warm up with hot coffee and kransekagetop (yummy marcipan cake, baked in rings, layered up and decorated with sparklers, feathers and streamers) before finishing off the champers.  This year, I've attempted to bake and build my own kransekagetop...

And - while I'm not quite ready for Masterchef - and it was all pretty hairy sticking the dang thing together...

...I'm pretty pleased with the end result! We shall be celebrating with some Italian visitors tonight, hence the extra flags...

But what about the Day After - when we all wake up late on the first of January?  Well, that means a day of watching German ski jump on the tv, eating lots of junk food and [sigh] clearing up the aftermath of fireworks from the road and garden…  Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full!

All that’s left for me to do, dear readers, is thank you for reading what I write and wish you Godt Nytår!  Happy New Year!

See you on the other side, in 2015!

Diane :)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 24 December (The Big Day)

Welcome to the final instalment of My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!


The Big Day is finally here! Let's start with our lunch, which was fairly light - sild (marinated herring) and æggesalat (egg mayo)...

and varmt leverpostej med bacon og champignon (hot liver pâté with bacon and mushrooms).  Washed down with julebryg!

After lunch we went to church.  Or at least we tried to.  Because when we got there, about 15 minutes before the third service of the day was to start - you guessed it! - there was no room left at the inn! ;-)  The church had brought in extra seats but, alas, by that time it was standing room only...  Which wasn't really an option for my DSM79 (Dear Scottish Mum, aged 79).  Yep, that old chestnut about those crazy Danes never going to church except for the 24 December is truly alive and well! :)

So we came home and watched a church service on the telly.  And then, after changing into our gladrags, it was suddenly 6pm and time to start dinner - consisting of duck with prunes and apple, red cabbage, caramelised potatoes and boiled potatoes, gravy and hot salted crisps.

And who won this year's mandelgave?

Ah, 'twas a ris à l'amande novice!  Beginner's luck?

After dinner we danced round the Christmas tree.  Very carefully.  Lots of pressies under there, you see!

And then the kids started picking out gifts for us to open, one by one...

It took us - with short breaks for drinks and konfekt (homemade sweets) - about 2 hours!  And then it was off to bed after a lovely long wake up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the morning of 25 December!

Terrific weather for vinterbadning (winterbathing/skinnydipping) in the Danish sea to celebrate...merry Christmas and God Jul!

Diane :)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 23 December (Lunch)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!


One sleep to go!  It's Tuesday morning - 23 December - which means it's Lille Juleaften ("Little Christmas Eve") here in Denmark.  Last day of school for our kids.  And the last shopping day - tomorrow all the shops in our village will be closed, and won't reopen until Saturday.  Luckily all our presents are wrapped and ready to go under the (count' em) two trees!  Yep, the trees have been brought into the house and are both decorated... :)


Our fridge/freezer and cupboards are bursting at the seams with supplies.  So, whilst I'm having breakfast with my Scottish family, I've put the rice on to cook in prep for tomorrow's traditional ris à l'amande dessert.

One of the best parts about Christmas in Denmark is all the yummy julefrokoster (lunches)...rugbrød (ryebread) with all the different toppings.  Over the next few days, we'll be tucking into this little lot:

  • marinerede sild (this year's homemade marinated herring with egg mayo),  karry sild (curried herring) and tomat sild (tomato herring)

  • fiskefileter med remoulade (hot crumbed fish fillets with remoulade sauce)

  • rejer (prawns) and gravad laks (smoked salmon with dill)

  • varmt leverpostej med champignon og bacon (hot liverpâté with mushrooms and bacon)

  • frikadeller (Danish meatballs)

  • ost (cheese)

All washed down with (whats left of the) beer from the Beer Advent Calendar!  Skål!

One sleep to go - the sooner you get to bed, the sooner Christmas will be here! ;)

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the very last door!

Diane :)

Monday, 22 December 2014

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 22 December (Rullepølse and sild)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!


Two sleeps to go!  No wonder we had the park completely to ourselves this morning for our run...'cos everyone else seems to be running around daft, getting ready for the big day! Even the dog walkers were doing their business elsewhere... ;)  You'll remember that our park houses this building - Bernstorff Palace - these days known as the residence of Birgitte Nyborg, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister in the tv series “Borgen” ...

But I digress!  Last year, in addition to making pebernødder ('pepper nut' biscuits), æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) and konfekt (homemade sweets), I made my own rullepølse ('rolled pork')...  (Instructions for that are right here.)

Well, as my family from Scotland are arriving today (hooray!) and my DSD (Dear Scottish Dad) is mad about sild (herring), I've decided to surprise him and marinate my own herring this year.  I found this easy peasy DIY herring tin in a Swedish supermarket.

All I had to do was mix up a cold brine of sugar, vinegar and water.  Then open the tin, rinse the herrings and cut them into bite size pieces...

Finely sliced a red onion and crushed about 10 black peppercorns.

Layered the herring, onions peppercorns in a container (I have a dinky one from Tupperware that also has a draining function for when you take it to the table...) and poured over the brine.

Lid on, into the fridge for 24 hours and Bob's your uncle! :)

Which will also give me time to get rid of the herring smell from my hands... :P

I'll serve the homemade marinated herring on ryebread and will top it, the traditional way, with egg mayonnaise.  Velbekomme!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 21 December (Ris à l'amande)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!


Okay, you've already seen that we have our mandelgave (marcipan pig) wrapped and ready - the prize at Christmas dinner on 24 December for finding the whole almond in the pudding.  Ris à l'amande! :)


Here comes the recipe!  In my DDH's family (Dear Danish Husband), they always cook the basic rice pudding on 23 December and finish it off on the 24 December.  Gives it a good taste and - more importantly - it's nice to get half of the prep done early...  This recipe feeds 8 people - enough for us.  If you only want a small portion, half the quantities...


Put 2½dl (250mls) of water and 2½ dl (250mls or 200g) of rice (short-grain, pudding, grødris) in a very large pot, bring to the boil and let it cook for 2 minutes.


Slowly add 1 litre of milk (sødmælk, wholemilk is best) and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  When it boils, turn the heat right down, pop a lid on it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check on it every 10 minutes or so, giving it a good stir.  If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can take it off the heat after about 15 minutes and let it continue to cook, wrapped in a duvet on your bed 8)

Leave it to cool in a cool place - preferably overnight.



Give the cold rice pudding a good stir.  Add two large tablespoons of sugar (melis/sukker) and about 4 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (vanilje sukker).  Give it a taste, and check to see that it is sweet enough for you.  Then add 100g of chopped almonds (hakkede mandler).  Give it another good stir.  Beat 4dls (400ml) of whipping cream (piskefløde) until you get soft peaks and stir into the rice pudding.  At this point you'll want to transfer it into a nice bowl, cover and keep cool until serving time.



Just before serving, add one whole, blanched almond (mandel).  Easiest way to remove the skin is to put the almond in a bowl of boiled water, let it sit for a minute, then the skin should squish right off.  A word of warning, sometimes the almonds break up when you remove the skin.  Make sure you have three or four almonds, so you end up with at least one whole one... ;-)  Add to the pudding, give it a good mix and take it to table.  Everyone gets a portion of the cold rice pudding, along with some hot, cherry sauce (kirsebærsauce).  Yum!  And now?  Let the hunt for the whole almond begin!


Who's going to win this year?  May the best man win (the marcipan pig)!


Three sleeps to go – get to bed early tonight and get your beauty sleep!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)