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Editor’s note: With the subject “A prosperous future for all: Gender, climate change and biodiversity in a globalized world,” Zester Daily contributor Trine Hahnemann spoke in New York last week at a United Nations event. Hahnemann, a Copenhagen-based chef and caterer and the author of 10 cookbooks, was invited by the Nordic Council of Ministers to participate on the panel.
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Organizers explained that people assume that women and men affect the climate in the same way, and that climate change affects both genders identically. But women’s and men’s lifestyles, behaviors and consumption are often different, and they leave a different environmental footprint. Hahnemann capsulizes the issues for Zester readers below.
How does being a chef and a woman affect your perspective on climate change?
I see the world through food; I have cooked hundreds of thousands of meals in my career. My cooking can only be as diverse and tasty as the produce that the farmers grow. I need diverse products to choose from.
My main focus is on vegetables and grains. I like fish and meat, but not necessarily as the centre of thinking and cooking a meal. I believe we need to change our diet so that 80% of our meals come from vegetables and grains and 20% from animals.
That is a radical change of the diet in many parts of the world, though of course not in India or China, and most parts of Africa. I think we in the Nordic countries should be leading this change, but also show flexibility in its implementation.
We have to change into a more climate-friendly diet: a diet of seasonal vegetables and fruit, more grains, less meat and dairy products. The New Nordic food movement includes ideas to change our daily diet. The new Nordic is in my opinion a frame to understand how this could be a worldwide movement about eating local produce but exchange the ideas globally.
How have our changing, globalizing eating habits affected climate change?
In 2012 in Brazil I met a group of female chefs who wanted to draw attention to organic farming and the use of local produce. One of their focuses was manioc, an indigenous root vegetable, which is not as important in Brazilian food culture as it used to be. It has lost popularity in the competition with wheat. Wheat is not grown in big quantities in Brazil; it is imported.
Brazilians also grow soya and maize, which are exported around the planet to feed cows, even though cows can’t really digest corn but should be eating grass, clover and hay. To do this, Brazilian farmers have cut down the rain forest.
This is an example of how we have changed our diet over the last 50 years. Instead of a diet that relied relatively little on protein, most developed countries eat a diet where about 50% of our calories come from protein from animals. This has had a huge impact on the climate. We have contributed to climate change just by the way we eat. About 18% of greenhouse emissions come from livestock. How we eat in the future is very important when it comes to climate change.
For their part, the Brazilian female chefs pledged to use of manioc in meals at all levels, from fine dining to street food to school lunches.
It can be used for many things, including baking, being cracked like bulgur, sauces and as crisp topping on food.
How is this a women’s issue?
Men and women work from different perspectives. In many aspects, men are more technical; they invent machines, they look for more technical solutions. They are more competitive and are looking for prestige and position and, therefore, the Michelin star system and acknowledgment like that is often very appealing to men.
Women are the ambassadors for the everyday meal. To change the way we eat we need women to take leadership. They cook public meals, which means they cook in hospitals, kindergartens, schools and elderly homes. Women, for the most part, prepare the daily meals in the households. The famous Michelin male chefs can make the light shine and create focus and attention on important issues, but they cannot make the change; they cook for the rich.
What can communities do to contribute?
One way forward is to create action around the way we eat locally, support organic farming and people who work toward a more holistic solution and look at the land and the people around them.
We need poly-faced farms with sustainable holistic systems where nature, humans and food are at the centre. Biodiversity is life, and maintaining biodiversity is therefore a key to understanding sustainable living on all levels, giving back to nature the same resources we are using, keeping the balance. Women around the world have to be an active part of ensuring that, and it should be a human right, that everybody has a right to decent meal day.
Top photo: Chef and author Trine Hahneman. Credit: Courtesy of the author
The days of cabbage boiled to death and what I would call a dark, spicy and not very pleasant brown smell all over the house are over. For years, cabbage has been cooked in so many new ways, and it’s been served raw and been part of different food movements, such as the raw and vegan diets. But I sometimes wonder whether households in general have started using cabbage in their weekly repertoire of meals.
I still meet a lot of people who have never eaten raw kale or a quick sauté of Brussels sprouts with the sprouts still crunchy and having a green color. And I know of people who find it a challenge to buy a big head of red cabbage and carry it home to the kitchen counter, getting inspired to use it in four different meals in the upcoming week.
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Cabbage should be an important part of everyday cooking for three obvious reasons: it’s tasty, it’s healthy and it’s cheap. That ticks all the boxes for your everyday meal. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, as I do most of the time, cabbage is a better choice than salad leaves in wintertime because salad leaves taste of nothing in the winter. When I was growing up, we did not get green salad in the winter until somebody presented iceberg, which became the thing of the 1980s. Instead, we had boiled cabbage in various ways, but luckily raw cabbage in salads started to enter cooking through the vegetarian hippie movement in the 1970s.
When I cook I appreciate all cabbage, but my favorite right now is curly kale, which seems to be an ingredient in most of the things I cook. For years, I think, only my grandmother’s generation ate kale — kale boiled to death and then added to a sweet, white, vinegary sauce that did not seem very appealing. It was a favorite winter meal in the country. I talked about kale for years with other chefs. Everybody said, “You can’t use it for anything really,” and for years I was thinking about ways to use kale before I started cooking with it and using it raw in various dishes.
Versatile cabbage can be used in many recipes
You can choose from several different kinds of cabbage. There’s Brussels sprouts, which — apart from pan-fried with spices — are great raw and chopped finely to be served in a salad with apples and walnuts; or cooked al dente with chili flakes and feta; or made into purée served with steamed white fish; or boiled light and added to a mash.
Another cheaper cabbage is white cabbage, used for the famous old-fashioned dish called Brown Cabbage, where you brown the white cabbage in sugar and cook it slowly with slices of pork belly together with a lot of spices for hours until it is brown and very soft. It is a dish cooked mostly in the country and by older generations, and it is still very popular in Germany. Cooking it once a year seems sufficient, if you ask me. Instead I prefer pan-fried big leafs of white cabbage in butter and sprinkled with a bit of nutmeg. That is a more modern way to eat cabbage.
But white cabbage is also great to use in salads, as a substitute for salad leaves. It can also be used in Asian-style cabbage dolmers: lots of shredded root vegetables with ginger, chili and chopped cashew nuts rolled in big, boiled white cabbage leaves and pan-fried in oil. In the summertime the pointed cabbage can be used the same way; it has a gentler and a bit nuttier flavor. In Denmark you can now get a red pointed cabbage, which you cut into long wedges and pan-fry in butter — it’s delicious.
Red cabbage is great boiled with sugar, vinegar and lots of spices, and it is a favorite for Christmas in Scandinavia. It can alternatively be sautéed with chili in a pan for 10 minutes and then drizzled with lime and sprinkled with chopped fresh coriander. The difference between the cabbage cooked for a long time and a quick stir-fry, apart from the texture, is the taste: The bitterness of red cabbage disappears when cooked for quite a while.
My last cabbage is savoy cabbage, which is used a lot in France. It works very well with Asian flavors. If eaten raw, it has to be really finely chopped and is great with grapes and a strong Dijon mustard dressing. In Scandinavia, the classic way is to eat it with fish.
Cooking with cabbage has endless possibilities and can become part of any world cuisine or mix of flavors. Just buy a big head of cabbage and cut it into pieces, What you don’t use you can save in the fridge and use day to day in your cooking.
This salad is great for lunch or with lamb, chicken or vegetarian pie.
Red Cabbage and Kale Salad With a Ginger Dressing
For the salad:
½ pound red cabbage
¼ pound curly kale
¼ cup cashew nuts
For the dressing:
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or other oil with neutral taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Finely chop the red cabbage and kale and in a bowl.
2. Roast the cashew nuts on a dry frying pan until light brown, and let cool. After nuts cool, chop and add to the mixed cabbage.
3. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Just before serving, mix the dressing with the cabbage salad, season with salt and pepper and serve right away.
Top photo: Red cabbage and kale salad. Credit: Trine Hahnemann
The Danish Christmas is a whole month of celebrations, not only on Christmas Eve and the days after. We really mean business when it comes to Christmas, so we celebrate all four Advent Sundays before Christmas also.
Every year, I have a Sunday afternoon party on one of these Sundays, where I serve homemade Christmas doughnuts that we call æbleskiver and a hot drink called gløgg, a kind of mulled wine.
Both æbleskiver and gløgg part of Danish food history
The æbleskiver has a long history as part of our food culture. As the name suggests, they are slices of apples in a kind of pancake batter fried on both sides in a pan.
Nowadays, most æbleskiver are bought frozen and heated up in the oven, and because of that they all have the same taste of artificial cardamom and vanilla.
I must admit that for years I bought these frozen ones until I realized I actually never ate them myself. I did not like them. So I found our old family recipe and started making them, and that has become part of my Christmas repertoire. It’s important to continue with tradition so the original and regional ways of baking and cooking do not disappear. When we end up with too many premade industrial products, we start forgetting what things originally tasted like, and unfortunately people start only to like the bland, premade products.
The recipe for æbleskiver varies from region to region in Denmark. In some areas you still bake them with slices of apples inside. My Auntie Sarah, who now is in her 90s and lives on the Island Ærø in the southern part of Denmark, made them with prunes when she was still cooking. The baking of æbleskiver is in general a famous Christmas tradition. Hans Christian Andersen wrote about them in one of his fairytales describing Christmas, “At Manor House.” (You can find the story here.)
Hot alcohol drinks accent Danish dishes
The gløgg is of course part of an old European tradition to drink hot alcohol drinks in the winter. The French drank cognac with sugar, and the Greeks in ancient times drank hot red wine with spices — a bit similar to the Scandinavian drink.
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Swedish alcohol factories pushed gløgg heavily around 1900, when they started making it into a product marketed at Christmas with particular Christmas themes and colors. That worked. It helped gløgg to become widespread and very popular.
The butter-fried æbleskiver doughnuts are cooked in a special pan that has 7 to 9 ball-like indentations; the pan is sold on the Internet and in shops around the U.S. Noma serves the æbleskiver as a savory with a whole anchovy inside. There are many cookbooks about æbleskiver and how to make them in many different ways. Here is my family’s recipe:
For the æbleskiver:
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3½ cups lukewarm milk
3 cups plain wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
2 whole vanilla pods
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 stick of butter for frying
1. In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk. In another mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and cardamom.
2. Slit the vanilla pods lengthways, scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife and add them to the dry ingredients along with the sugar.
3. Whisk the egg yolks into the milk mixture, using an electric mixer if possible. Add the dry ingredients and beat to make a dough.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the dough.
5. Leave the batter to stand for 40 minutes.
6. Heat the æbleskiver pan over medium heat. Put a little butter in each indentation, and when it has melted pour in some of the batter. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden underneath, then turn the doughnuts over so they form a ball.
7. Continue frying for about 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.
8. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve the æbleskiver in a serving dish. Serve icing sugar and raspberry jam on the side.
Hot mulled wine
For the extract:
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, smashed
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 lemon in slices
1 orange in slices
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cardamom pods
1 cup sugar
For the gløgg:
2 bottles red wine
2 to 4 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup aquavit or vodka (optional)
2 cups raisins
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1. Make the extract by combining the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, lemon, orange and cardamom pods in a saucepan and bringing it slowly to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and leave to stand for another 15 minutes before draining the mixture through a sieve.
3. Discard the spices and save the liquid.
4. In a saucepan, combine the spiced liquid extract, red wine and sugar and bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the aquavit or vodka, if using, the raisins and almonds and simmer gently for 5 minutes, but do not let it boil. If you prefer a sweeter drink, add more sugar.
6. Serve in tall glasses with spoons so you can catch the raisins and almonds.
Top photo: Gløgg, a mulled wine. Credit: iStockPhoto
At this time of year, nature offers a variety of things you can preserve and pickle and then stock up on for winter. I like to go foraging for berries. I merely have to step outside and there will be rose hips in my garden, in the forest I can find blueberries and mushrooms, and along the hedges elderberries.
LINKS FOR PRESERVING
These are easy things to forage around here, but there is so much more to explore. Much of what can be found in my homeland of Denmark can actually be found in countries all over the Northern Hemisphere. You will find the same or similar things in Wales or Scotland, the northern United States, Canada or Poland.
One of my favorites in the late summer is rose hips. They grow wild along the shores in Denmark. They are easy to pick but a real pain to rinse, whereas buckthorn, which also grows along the coast, is really difficult to pick. It is best done wearing a special glove. Buckthorns are, however, relatively easy to cook.
Foraging a connection to nature
In September, I spent one day at a small island in the south of Denmark picking rose hips. It was a windy day with a lot of sunshine, typical local weather. Spending a day like that is therapeutic. It is interesting to experience how picking things you are going to cook and eat gives a sense of presence. At the risk of sounding banal, it gives a profound meaning to life, connecting you directly to nature. Even though we are part of nature, we need reminding. I don’t agree when some argue foraging is turning back time. I believe it will be part of the future. We need new ways to understand and enjoy food. Thus, it makes complete sense when the cooking staff from a hypermodern place like Noma Copenhagen goes foraging as a natural part of running the restaurant. I fully understand why head chef Rene Redzepi sends out his entire team of cooks to forage, because it changes your understanding of food. In a strange way it suspends time and, therefore, changes the conversation so the next question will be: How are we going to live in future?
After I pick the rose hip berries, I rinse them. That takes about 1 hour per 2 kilograms (about 4 1/2 pounds) — if you are good at it. You have to cut the berries and take out the tiny seeds. They are very itchy. When I was a child we used to play a game where we would run around trying to catch each other so we could put rose hip seeds down each other’s backs. When the rose hips are rinsed, I use them for four things: jam, chutney, vinegar and syrup. The whole process takes two to three days, but I get a variety of things to eat and use as gifts for Christmas.
The other thing I can’t buy and always pick wild is elderberries. In early September, I pick some green berries, which I preserve in vinegar brine. We call them poor man’s capers. Preserving them was very common here during the World War II. When the berries are red and juicy, I pick them to make elderberry cordial, which I often use for soup in the winter served with apples and rye bread croutons.
Preserving and pickling a tradition
It is part of our history to preserve and pickle in late summer through early autumn because of the long winter, when food can be scarce. Since the 1950s, we’ve been able to buy all these wonderful products in the grocery around the corner, but not of the same quality. This is a good reason to do your own preserves and pickles — but not the only reason. Again, the way it connects us is an important part as well. It connects us to the season, to nature and to our history. For me, it connects to all the things my grandmother taught me. And when I’m doing this I also connect to women both around the world and through history, because we have spent so much time in the kitchen, seated under a tree or at the seashore preparing things we could either sell or feed to our families while discussing issues, gossiping or exchanging life stories. That means we all belong to something bigger than us, there is some kind of meta-level of gathering food, cooking and feeding your family, a shared story.
There is also a sustainability dimension, because it raises the value of food when you add this amount of work to it, putting so much love and care into it. You truly comprehend the value and understand why cheap food can’t be right. Something or somebody along the line is paying for this. It makes you appreciate the whole treasure we have out there: Producing food is a serious and important thing, but also really hard work. I don’t believe we should all give up our jobs and hunt for wild food. I just think that if everybody did just a little bit of this we would all get a better understanding of food and why we have no right to take it for granted.
Here are two of my favorite rose hip and elderflower cordial recipes.
Rose Hip Jam
Makes about 2 pounds of jam
2½ pounds rose hips
2 small organic lemons
1 pod of vanilla
3½ cups caster sugar
1 cup water
1. Rinse the rose hips by cutting them into halves. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon. I always use throwaway gloves because the seeds cause itching.
2. Rinse the lemons. If you don’t have a zester tool, cut strips of the zest from the rind with a vegetable peeler, leaving the bitter pith behind, and then cut the strips into a very thin julienne with a sharp knife.
3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons.
4. Combine the rose hips, vanilla and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cook for 15 minutes then add lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar.
5. Stir to dissolve, then bring to a boil. Maintain a full rolling boil for 10 minutes, stirring several times.
6. Skim the jam to remove any scum and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
7. Pour into sterilized jars and seal them when the jam has cooled.
8. Store the jam in a cool and dark place.
Makes about 1½ liters
2¼ pounds elderberries
3 cooking apples into cubes
2½ cups of sugar
2 cups of water
1. Rinse the berries. Let them stay on the stem, but remove the coarse stems.
2. Place the berries and apples in a pot, add the water, bring to a boil and let it simmer until the berries burst. Line a sieve with muslin and strain the cooked berries and apples through it.
3. Put the resulting elderberry juice into a clean pot and bring to a boil. Add sugar and let it boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Skin any froth from the surface.
5. Pour the hot liquid into sterilized bottles.
6. Store in your cupboard and, when opened, in your refrigerator.
Top photo: Freshly picked elderberries. Credit: iStockPhoto
The Olympics are in full swing, and London restaurants are serving visitors from all over the globe, but the host city is encouraging even more tourists to take in the moment. The lure, beyond the Summer Games, is the English capital looking as you have never seen it, without the anticipated traffic woes. For an added flavor, here’s a tip sheet to city’s restaurants that ignite tradition with daring and innovative style.
Noma, the world’s best restaurant for the third year in a row, will be represented as a pop-up at Claridges. For steaks and drinks, The Hawksmoor is the place. Its many cuts of beef are sourced from sustainable British farmers. The wine list includes a good selection of dessert wines. Hawksmoor also serves a hearty breakfast. Another breakfast spot high on my list is Kopapa near Covent Garden, where Turkish eggs in yogurt are served with hot chili butter and toast. For anyone in need of a hangover remedy or an energy boost, this is the way to start the day.
Coffee and cheeses
The coffee at Monmouth Coffee on Monmouth or Stoney streets may be the best in London. If you go to the one on Stoney Street, you can hang out in the open café, sit at the communal table and pay a few pounds to share the bread, jam and butter. For lunch, or if you have a hankering for breakfast teas and cakes, or just want to do some serious food shopping, La Fromagerie in Marylebone is the place. The homey spot offers a wide cheese selection and tasty Mediterranean salads made of great quality ingredients from France, Italy and Britain. Budget meals can be found at Koya, which has a great selection of noodles and side salads, as well as Japanese-style marinated vegetables and fish specials.
The Ottolenghi restaurants are also worth a try, offering some of the best salads in London. At their newest, Nopi, small delicate plates bursting with flavor are meant to be shared. Chef-owner Yotam Ottolenghi challenges the palate with meticulously sourced food.
Sardines to rabbit
For a less expensive, louder and more lively experience, try Polpo, a small spot in Soho. They don’t take reservations at night, so you may have to stand in line for the no-nonsense food. Not far away is the Soho outpost of Duck Soup, where the menu changes daily and is written on pieces of paper. I had great sardines, mackerel, quail and blood oranges. Sit in the window or in the bar and enjoy fairly-priced food made from the heart. For a classic French meal go to Racine, where the Knightsbridge vibe is uplifted a bit with proper table cloths. Try chef-owner Henry Harries’ rabbit in mustard sauce and enjoy a classic French dessert.
St. John restaurant is a must for real British food: pork cheeks, sweet bread, raw vegetables, langoustine, pigeon. All are cooked to perfection and served in surroundings reminiscent of a pre-World War canteen. At Dock Kitchen, which chef-owner Stevie Parle started as a pop-up, the home-cooking menu is inspiring and the atmosphere relaxed. In July, I was on their guest chef roster, cooking a Danish supper. Last but not least, if you fancy dim sum during the week, Royal Garden has branches throughout London, ideal for a quick bite.
Photo: A porterhouse steak at Hawksmoor in London. Credit: Courtesy of the Hawksmoor
Nordic countries have outstanding berries; sweet and tasty, often small. The most popular in Denmark is the strawberry. The season starts around our midsummer celebration, Sankt Hans Aften, or St. John’s Eve, on June 23, and sometimes before. As a child growing up, we always had the first strawberries on midsummer night.
In the first few weeks, the berries are expensive, but then prices start to slide down to normal. Many families serve strawberries every day in the season, which can last from three to eight weeks depending on the weather. It is a popular berry to grow in home gardens, especially varieties like Dybdahl and Senga Sengana. Freshly picked and served with sugar and crème, this is a national summer dessert.
A new look at Danish tradition
Right now Denmark is experiencing a food revolution with Noma as the leading star. We have new farmers and a bigger variety of produce than ever. A lot of chefs here say that the new Nordic movement started because we lacked an interesting food culture. It’s not so much that; we do have a strong food culture, but it was considered third tier, after French and Italian. Now Denmark is experiencing an evolution of its tradition with more variety and closer attention paid to the season.
We are also experiencing a restaurant boom. We prefer as a culture to cook and eat at home, but that is changing with the new generations. Still, it is very expensive to dine out here, given the 25% VAT tax and a minimum restaurant salary of $20 per hour.
Strawberries have always been part of the tradition, usually served simply, raw with milk or with the cold fruit porridge.
I’ve never tasted better strawberries than the Danish varieties. As a little girl I picked them with my granny. We would go home with our summer treasure, rinse and freeze one batch and use the other to make cordials, jams and preserves.
Danish strawberries are all about versatility
Strawberries are eaten with raw oat flakes and cold milk in the morning and cut in slices and served on rye bread, open sandwich style. They’re made into cold soups and drinks with fresh mint, preserved whole for dessert, added to ice cream and sorbet, mixed with rhubarb for marmalade, tossed in salads with watermelon and feta and fresh mint, mixed with a little good quality raspberry vinegar and served with blue cheese.
The Danish dessert equivalent to tiramisu is “rød grød med fløde,” a fruit porridge served cold with cream. Almost any American, who has visited Denmark has been ask to try to pronounce the name of this dessert (oej goej mej floeje), which is almost impossible, and for some reason it always makes Danes laugh! It is nonetheless easy to prepare.
Serve the fruit porridge with cream or whole milk, never low-fat milk. The porridge has an intense flavor and high acidity which the cream balances. This is an important part of the taste.
Rød grød med fløde (Danish strawberry porridge)
4 pounds strawberries, rinsed and halved
400 grams (14 ounces) sugar
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup of water
2 to 3 tablespoons caster sugar to sprinkle
2 to 3 cups cream
1. Place berries, sugar and vanilla bean in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove any white scum from the surface, lower the heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Dissolve cornstarch in the water, and stir into porridge. Keep stirring as mixture returns to a boil. As soon as it starts thickening turn off the heat.
3. Pour into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a thin layer of caster sugar, and cool completely.
Serve with cold cream.
Photo: Danish strawberry dessert Rød grød med fløde. Credit: Trine Hahnemann