Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Glögg Blog

I paid a buck for a duck
and got a buck for the duck...
   Some people have said I should call this chapter my Glögg Blog. I like the sound of that. Glögg was served at the Danish Christmas Dinner and surprisingly enough, we ran out! Jannnike (Joni) served up the Danish open face sandwiches as Sanne (Sheri) handled the ducks and Danish meatballs, red cabbage, green beans and port wine sauce while I roasted the pork and poured the wine. For dessert, the Kringle and the Belgian waffles (Flodevafler) were hugely successful as I received help from Helge (Hannah) and Hildegard (Heather). Hildegard was so much help with the waffles that I decided that she earned the Viking horns and she wore them proudly. Their parents, Greg (Gunther & Jannike) & Joni graciously helped do the dishes. Many thanks! Soon after dessert we plundered the gifts under the Christmas tree.
Helge helping with the Kringle
   After the guests were all gone, we had the big clean up to do. What an endless chore! As we started seeing light at the end of the tunnel was when I first started seeing the chance to make another pizza. With the leftovers I thought about exploring a bit further. Leif would have! There was some duck scraps left and to spare the the suspense, I decided to make a duck pizza. Yes, I Googled duck pizza and there was somebody who had already done it. (Wolfgang Puck to be exact!) I followed his lead and ended up with one of the worst tasting pizzas I had ever made. There are just some things that don't need to be on a pizza: duck is one of them. I've never thrown out one of my pizzas but after tasting it and trying to keep an open mind, the duck pizza was the first to end up face down in the trash. I think Leif would have turned around and headed home had he discovered a duck pizza on his trip to discovering the New World.

New World & Old World Vikings
Jannike, Hildegard, Sanne, Vulgar and Avila
   I had hinted that there might be an appearance of a Viking or a St. Pauli girl and of course there was. Sanne and Vidar made their presence known by dressing up in pseudo Viking era garb. One of my nieces couldn't remember my Danish name of Vidar and when it came out she had inadvertantly renamed me Vulgar! I laughed so hard that I chose to keep the name so now I am Vulgar the Horrible. It sort of describes the duck pizza too.

Sanne & Vulgar the Horrible
Jannike's open faced sandwiches
                                           I had finished the Viking ship mural at two in the morning before the event and it was a perfect back drop to the Danish decor. Leif would've been proud. All in all, I do believe it was the best Christmas ever, as so many have mentioned to me. The Danish flags and decorations are still hanging about as we can't seem to take them down just yet. As for the Lutefisk pizza, I mentioned it a few times and received looks of horror from those who knew what Lutefisk was. Rest assured, lutefisk didn't make it on the menu. It won't make it on a pizza either, no matter what Woklfgang Puck says.
Hildegard earned her horns
Roast duck stuffed with prunes & apples

Belgian waffle with pearl sugar topped
with Nutella and whipped cream

Danish Kringle
Grandma's recipe

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Danish Feast fit for a Konge (King)

     The traditional Danish Christmas dinner is coming together. It's fortunate that I have some time to devote to putting it together during these rainy days of December. The head count has dropped from 26 to 16 which is much more manageable but still those that can't attend due to weather or health will be missed.
   Aside from the normal Christmas decorating each year that we do, the theme, of course, is Danish. That means Danish flags have to be ironed, Christmas tree decorated in red & white, (the colors of the Danish flag), a trip to Ikea to buy enough Danish ornaments to decorate the tree. Menus have been made, food purchased, gas barbecue borrowed, chairs rented, tables set, more food purchased, beer & wine etc. etc. Sheri and I have never been ones to take the easy route either. When we host it will definitely be reflective of our personalities. A dress code won't be required but there will be the occasional appearance of Erik the Viking and maybe a St. Pauli girl or two.
   Each guest will be given a traditional Danish name such as Claus or Dagmar, Helge or Hildegarde with only the first letter of their name to match the first letter of the Danish name. I will be Vidar for the evening and Sheri will be Sanne. Together, we have put Svinemørbrad (pork tenderloin), Stegt And (roast duck) and Frikadeller (Danish meatballs) on the menu as the main courses. There will be red cabbage (Røtkål), boiled carmelized potatoes (Brunede Kartofler) and for dessert I have been practicing my grandmothers' recipe for Danish Kringle (pronounced kranel with one of those guttural 'k' s in front).
    Also, as a treat, I will be making a Belgian waffle (Leige Flodevafler) with tiny bits of Perle sugar in the batter then topped with Nutella, powdered sugar or whipped cream.
   Sheri has asked me to paint a mural above the fireplace and I decided that it should be a Viking longship. Today, I finally got a chance to start it and am happy to say it's nearly half way done. On top of all the planning, running around and shopping we spotted a black refrigerator at a yard sale that needed a home.  Since all of our appliances are black except for the fridge it appeared to be a good deal and larger than the one we owned. That just added that much more work to the party by having to empty the old one and bring in the new one, reload it and then try to remember where everything is after loading it.
    Already I have run into people I know in the grocery stores who have asked me about what we are doing for Christmas and I tell them we are hosting dinner for the family and their first question is, "Are you serving pizza?" My answer is "no, not this year but we have in the past." I don't remember that the Vikings were big into pizza. But then again, maybe that's why they set sail and ended up discovering America in the first place... looking for a really good pizza place. Heck, Columbus was searching for spices and a new route to India, Ponce de Leon was searching for the fountain of youth, Hudson was looking for the Northwest passage. Leif could've been looking for a good New York pizza.  History can be cruel. I believe Buffalo Bill used to shoot bunnies before he decided history wouldn't look kindly on that so he re-started his great career as a buffalo hunter that earned him a better spot in the history. Bunny Bill? Doesn't sound good, does it?

  Of course, if I wanted to push a Danish/pizza theme I suppose I could make the first Lutefisk pizza with Havarta cheese on a Danish pastry crust. It sure makes me wonder though, how did the Danes go from pillage and plunder to cheese and pastries?

    I'm excited to host Christmas but also I am eager to get back in the kitchen and making pizzas again as December is slipping by and my new fridge hasn't seen a pizza dough ball yet.
Skøl and Glaedlig Jul!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pizza Tossing for Idiots

  When friends or family come over for pizza the one question that seems to surface is: "Do you toss your dough?" I want to say, "Yes." but the inevitable question that follows is, "Can we watch you do it?" That's the question that has to be addressed.
   If you are old enough to remember the Wide World of Sports intro where the ski jumper is sailing down the ramp, leans a little too much to his right then looses it and comes crashing off the jump before he ever leaves the ground then you have an idea of what the agony of defeat feels like. It has become apparent to me that Tony has nothing to worry about. No threats of dethroning him in the near future or the distant future from me as far as pizza tossing goes. It is a skill that comes with a lot of repetition and a lot of practice, not to mention the many balls of dough.
   I never have taught myself to juggle, ride a unicycle or spin a basketball on one finger, or for that matter, hit that stupid rubber ball attached to a paddle with a rubber band. I guess I'm not super human. I know Tony had to start somewhere and hopefully looked as bad as I do at the beginning, but I shouldn't let super humans like him deter me. I know he offers a course in pizza tossing for a few hundred bucks.  I remember the TV commercial where, I believe, Carlo Rossi said, "I could talk about wine all day but I'd rather drink it." That's like how I feel about making pizza. Sure, a little showmanship is fun and makes for a bit more entertainment as well as stretching your dough out to the necessary dimensions. As always though, form follows function.
   The argument could continue as to whether I am a well rounded pizza maker if I don't toss my own dough. Heck, I have tossed a football around, I've tossed coins in a fountain in Rome, tossed ideas around a room, tossed rocks in a pond and for that matter, tossed my cookies. You would think it should come natural to me. So, this is where I have to improve my skills. Maybe there's a book at Border's called "Pizza Tossing for Idiots."

   I suppose the book might read something like this:

 1. Start with fresh dough. Do not attempt to toss hot pizza with cheese and tomato sauce already on it.
 2. Do not attempt to toss sliced pizza as the wedges are too difficult to handle.
 3. Do not toss pizza dough while operating a motor vehicle.

I don't think that there is a specific law against the last one but I have to believe, unless you own a convertible, then you're probably wasting your time.

                                VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK

 Other chapters might advise you to not toss pizza dough in the pouring rain or on a skeet shooting range. The final chapter might be: How to remove pizza dough from your ceiling, lamp fixtures and hair. Maybe that could be a book for me in the future.
   Anyway, you have to start somewhere and I have a few things going in my favor. We have high ceilings in the kitchen and I have 50 pounds of flour in the pantry. Maybe by the time I post a video of me tossing dough a year from now I will have improved enough from the video above to not embarrass myself.