Top positive review
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lovely tempting book, especially for kale lovers
on 16 November 2012
This is a gorgeous book, and irresistible to a christmas book obsessive such as myself. It will also appeal to anyone who really, really loves kale, for reasons to be discussed below. Written by distinguished Danish cookery writer Trine Hahnemann, it gives a lot of culinary detail as well as a bit of a flavour of a Danish christmas (I do wonder whether the blanket 'Scandinavian' might be a bit of a tall claim - for example it doesn't even mention Martin Goose day, an essential part of the season in Southern sweden).
It divides into seven main sections:
1) Christmas Baking
Very intriguing: Danish bakers, according to the author, completely avoid dried yeast and also used a product called bakers' ammonia to get cookies to have that crisp texture I recognise from Scandinavia. Here is the special bread you must bake to celebrate Lucia Day on 13 December, a local Xmas cake, and then a number of different special biscuits that are highly flavoured with spices. There are even those biscuits that get sold I think as Danish Butter Curls - though evidently you need a specialist mould to get them perfect in shape. (Which highlights a problem a few reviewers have already noted - it is a specialist, enthusiasts' book, rather than something for everyone because you aren't going to be able to make all of the recipes very easily.)
2) Gifts from the Kitchen
Here are chutneys, jellies, compotes and vinegars, as well as chocolate-dipped candied oranges. I started here as it seemed the most straightforward, but I doubt I'll be making the rosehip chutney, despite my reasonable sized garden, as it requires a KILO of rosehips. Cannot even imagine what that looks like! However the Christmas Chutney was unbelievably good, one of the best chutney recipes I've EVER tried.
3) Advent: A Whole Month of Christmas
here are outdoor recipes for barbecues and outdoor eating (amazingly, this is a feature of Northern winter life!) as well as indoor ones like Glogg, Aebleskiver and more pepper cookies. I enjoyed the details here about feeding your 'elf' and leaving out a boot for him to leave gifts.... reminded me of Harry Potter!
4) Festive Brunch
Here we get onto some real goodies like an extraordinary beetroot-cured smoked salmon, a vivid deep pink on the outside, and orange within; a fab Kale salad with jerusalem artichokes; a few other veg and some christmas danish pastries - worth trying once, surely!
5) Christmas Party
Suggestions now much more sophisticated: Kale bruschetta, Cod and Kale pesto (see a theme emerging here?) and duck and pork recipes to make your mouth water.
6) Christmas Eve Feast
Duck, Goose with apples and prunes, lamb chops, pork with cracking, quince ham.... yet another kale recipe this time salad with pomengranate; chicory salad, red cabbage, brussels sprouts cooked with clementines... all sounds delicious.
7) Christmas Day Smorgasbord
This was actually the chapter i found the most tempting - someone said somewhere they wouldn't be doing anything with herring!! But that's missing the point I think! so herrings served in five different ways, liver paté, a rolled cold pork and a meatballs dish, and pork with apple sauce. It's a bit of letdown there's no place on christmas day for kale, but there we go.
I totally agree with other reviewers who said you will need some specialist ingredients and equipment, but I love acquiring that kind of thing so I'm not marking it down for that. Almost every dish is illustrated, sumptuously, and the whole book has lovely snowy mood illustrations too. All in all a really beautiful book, and having tested a few of the recipes I can put my hand on my heart and recommend it absolutely as a cookbook, too.