Thanks in large part to Noma, the 50-seat restaurant in Copenhagen, Nordic cuisine is being discovered by the world. Because of the focus and integrity of its chef, René Redzepi, Noma won this summer’s No. 1 spot in the prestigious Pellegrino-backed competition that declares the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is now considered the standard-bearer of the New Nordic cuisine, one which explores the seasons more fully and showcases tradition in a modern context.
Redzepi uses local ingredients and encourages his chefs to forage three days a week. His menu includes seaweed, pine, berries, birch wood, elk, beaver, hare and rare herbs and plants like sweet cicely, sorrel, verbena, bulrush, angelica and wild mushrooms. The kitchen also employs the more traditional ingredients of oxtail, pork cheeks, radish, rye, lamb, nuts, smoked cheese and mussels. One entrée involves razor clams in a parsley gel served with horseradish-powder ice cream and mussel juice. It’s simple and beautiful; the gentle flavor of parsley explodes in your mouth with the pungent horseradish ice cream.
New Nordic home cooks also celebrate the seasons, emphasizing local products and showcasing their flavors by avoiding overcooking and over-saucing. The nose-to-tail idea, cooking as much of the animal as possible, is embraced, and all manner of fish, from garfish to pike and whiting, are finding their way to the kitchen. Potatoes are baked with herbs rather than boiled, cabbage is often eaten raw, and rye and rye bread are employed in innovative ways. Rye grows very well in the Nordic climate, and there is a long tradition of rye bread, buns and flat breads. In the new Nordic cuisine it’s also incorporated in salad and risotto-style recipes and made into flakes for bread and porridge.
Celeriac is eaten mashed as well as in soups, burgers and salads; kale can be used in salads and treated more or less like spinach. Jerusalem artichokes are eaten both cooked and raw, and horseradish is a common accent. Blueberries, chanterelles and porcini mushrooms are Nordic culinary treasures – this past year was the best season for mushrooms in a long time.
At its heart, Nordic cuisine, new or traditional, is about cooking at home and eating with your family on an everyday basis, celebrating life around the table.
Serve warm as a side, cold in a salad, or as the base for a canapé
Preheat oven to 225 F
- Cut the top off and wash the celeriac. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 2 hours.
- Remove from oven and, when cool, in a plastic bag for 5 minutes than take out and peel the skin of. Cut celeriac into pieces and serve with other vegetables or meat or in a salad.
Kale is wonderful raw in salads, especially in the wintertime.
For the salad
For the dressing
For the apple cider almonds
- Chop the kale super fine so it is easy to chew.
- Cut the apples in small cubes, mix with kale and cranberries in a bowl.
- Take a frying-pan and roast the almonds. When lightly roasted — do not allow them to burn — add the honey, and let it caramelize the almonds. Add the apple cider vinegar, and let it simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
- Let the almonds cool on parchment paper.
- While they cool down, make the dressing. Mix apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey, then gradually add walnut oil and whisk into a smooth dressing.
- When the almonds have cooled, chop and add to the kale salad together with the dressing. Season the salad with salt and pepper.
- Serve right away.
A tasty apple pudding that’s very refreshing and perfect for the apple season.
For the apples
For sweet rye bread crumbs
- Rinse the apples and core them, leaving the skin on.
- Cut into ½-inch cubes and place in pot with sugar.
- Slice vanilla pod and scrape seeds into pot. Add pod, too.
- Bring to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry while cooking, add a little water. Stir until it looks like lumpy applesauce, then cool. Remove the vanilla pod.
- Cut the bread into very small cubes. Roast at low heat in a frying-pan until cubes begin coloring. Add the butter and sugar and continue cooking so the bread starts to caramelize but doesn’t burn. Let cool.
- Serve in a bowl or 1-cup size glasses. First one layer of applesauce, then a layer of bread crumbs, then a layer of applesauce, then bread crumbs and applesauce again. Whip the cream and decorate the top.
- Serve right away.
Tip: Both the applesauce and the bread crumbs can be made the day before and then put together before serving.
Trine Hahnemann is a Copenhagen-based chef and caterer and the author of six cookbooks, including “The Scandinavian Cookbook” and “The Nordic Diet.” She has catered for artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones. Her company, Hahnemann’s Køkken, which runs in-house canteens, counts the Danish House of Parliament among its clients. Trine writes a monthly column in Denmark’s leading women’s magazine, Alt for Damerne.