‘Taste’ of Hygge – Nordic Cooking with MasterChef Karsten Kroman
Twenty-nine women in Leadership Women International 2016 – Scandinavia, learned to cook the ‘hygge’ way in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hygge is pronounced HEW-g? and is a Norwegian term associated with well-being. The Danes explain hygge as a feeling of contentedness and freedom from worry and the term is often associated with Denmark’s high ranking of happiness. The year we visited, the World Happiness Report, http://worldhappiness.report/, ranked Denmark as the happiest nation in the world. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, https://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com/ presents an in-depth examination of hygge in her book, The Little Book of Hygge, Danish Secrets to Happy Living, HarperCollins Publisher, 2017. She examines hygge as it relates to everything from home accessories to cooking. The term has become widespread and as Charlotte Higgins explains in “The hygge conspiracy” it has become an overhyped trend of consumerism. Even so, our hands-on cooking class at Kromans Cooking School was indeed a special hygge experience.
Karsten Kroman is a MasterChef, TV host, gastronomy and Danish food expert, and owner of Kromans Cooking School, All About Cooking, https://kromans.dk (Danish website). We joined him for a two hour cooking class filled with good food, beverages, dancing, and fellowship. The menu for our cooking experience provided the first evidence of hygge. It was good ole ‘comfort food’ choices, foods synonymous with hygge in Denmark and in America.
Nordic fish ‘n chips with homemade remoulade sauce of mayonnaise and pickles
Old fashioned roast chicken with pickled cucumber and Grandma Salad
Red fruit jelly with ‘cold bowl’ ice-cream and burnt white chocolate
As the teams assembled, the students introduced themselves to MasterChef Kroman, who has the amazing knack for remembering names. Given the size of our class, it was a phenomenal feat. Our diverse group from the United States included members from Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, and one as far away as Shanghai, China. Names are important in Danish culture and there is power in using a person’s name. Remember Dale Carnegie, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and more important sound in any language.” MasterChef Kroman paid close attention as we said our names, as if we were the only person in the room. He repeated our names carefully. I was impressed at the end of the evening when he bid each of us goodbye using our correct names. I reflected on how this contrasted with my own struggle to remember a person’s name after introductions. This careful attention to our names could not help but add an atmosphere of warmth and togetherness…yes, hygge, to our cooking experience.
The teams began reading their instructions and distributed tasks. Some gathered utensils and ingredients while others washed, whisked, stirred, sliced, diced and otherwise prepared the food. There was the potential for chaos, disaster even, as twenty-nine women scurried to the tasks. But this was no ordinary cooking class and these were no ordinary women! This was a Danish cooking class and these were self-confident and decisive women, leadership women! The cacophony was soon overwhelmed by lively music, in fact, the perfect music for line dancing. No worry for those without a spatula or other utensil in hand. They took up their beverage of choice and formed an impromptu line dance! It seemed that the atmosphere was at the peak of hygge! But there was more.
The Chefs served the food and it was very good! I imagine that others were feeling the gastronomical satisfaction and pride that comes from delivering a delectable meal. But no…not me; I was worried, just the opposite of hygge! Our team was responsible for the ‘Cold bowl’ ice cream and someone, namely me, mistook the directives of the Commis Chef and turned the ice-cream maker off. Would I be the blame for ruining what was to become the hygge cooking experience of a lifetime! An honest mistake was no consolation as we got closer and closer to the dessert with each bite of the meal. Danes love
their dairy products, especially ice-cream and so do Americans! Finally, when the ice-cream arrived, I found that disaster had been narrowly avoided due to the keen observation of MasterChef Kroman. He turned the machine back on in time to get a smooth textured, even though a little too soft, ice-cream in time for desert. The ice-cream was too soft to be added to the berries and burnt chocolate as an “egg” of cream, as described in the recipe. Instead the berries and burnt chocolate were added to the bowl of cream. Thankfully, the taste was awesome and no one noticed, or at least they allowed me to save face by pretending not to notice, love these women!
The dining atmosphere was decisively hygge. There was a collective satisfaction with our accomplishment. The meal…well, it was superb! Despite all the hype, achieving hygge is simple, universal and enduring. Hygge is a matter of achieving an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming.
How We Got There
Leadership Women is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Dallas, Texas. As noted on its website, it is “the longest running women’s organization in the United States and exists to provide programs that advance and improve the personal, economic, and professional status of women.” Find out more about Leadership Women at https://leadership-women.org.
Ingredients and Instructions for Menu Items (using metrics)
‘Cold bowl’ ice-cream
5 dl (deciliter) buttermilk
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla stick
3 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla stick
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 l (liter) whipping cream
Beat the egg yolk with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla grains to a light and fluffy texture. Add the buttermilk and cream and whisk thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the ice-cream maker and freeze.
When the ice is finished – the machine stops automatically – take it up with a spoon and put it into a metal tray. Cover it with film and place in the freezer until ready to use.
Red fruit jelly and burnt white chocolate for ‘cold bowl’ ice cream
1200 g mixed frozen berries (e.g. Red currant, black currant and strawberry)
Some fresh berries
Sugar to taste
150 g of white chocolate
Fresh lemon balm
Boil the berries with 5 cups water (no sugar added during cooking). When the berries are tender and has given its juice and flavor, thoroughly blend them with a hand blender. You may sieve the juice (but you don’t have to) into a clean pot. Bring the juice to a boil at medium heat and season to taste with sugar.
Spread the white chocolate buttons on a baking sheet with baking paper and bake until golden brown at 160 degrees in the oven.
Arrange the fresh berries on the plate. Add an ‘egg’ of ‘cold bowl’ ice-cream. Add a little cream around the berries and then pour the hot juice over the cream. Sprinkle with burnt white chocolate and garnish with fresh lemon.
Nordic fish ‘n chips with homemade remoulade sauce
1 hake of approximately 3.5 or about 1.5 – 2 kg hake fillets
1000 g potato
500 g of 5-grain flakes
300 g flour
2 liters of frying oil
Cut the fish into fillets. Remove the skin and look for bones and cut them away. Cut the fish into bite size pieces and roll in flour. Put the pieces in a mixture of eggs beaten with water and bread them in coarsely blended 5-grain flakes. Deep fry the fish in 175 degrees hot frying oil.
‘Chips’ as in baked potato wedges
Wash potatoes thoroughly and cut them into wedges. Mix them with oil and salt and bake them golden brown in the oven.
Remoulade of homemade mayonnaise and pickles
Homemade yellow mayonnaise for tartar sauce
2 pasteurized egg yolks
2 tsp. regular vinegar
1 tblsp. mustard
1 tblsp. boiling water
1 l sunflower oil
1 tsp. turmeric
Put egg yolks, salt, mustard, turmeric and vinegar in a mixing bowl and whisk it at high speed. When it is foaming – add the boiling water. Keep whisking until very fluffy and creamy. Then add the oil little by little.
Pickles – easy and quick to create the bits and pieces of vegetables
1 small cauliflower
1 red pepper
1 glass of pickled pearl onions
½ l (liter) vinegar
450-500 g sugar
Cook a mixture of vinegar and sugar and let it cool
Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Dice the squash, red pepper and the carrot
Blanch all vegetables in salted water for about 1 minute. Let the vegetables cool slightly before being mixed in vinegar. Store it in a jar with lid refrigerated. It will keep fresh for a very long time in the refrigerator and is a good condiment in many different contexts.
To make remoulade simply mix the turmeric mayo with the drained pickled vegetables.
Old fashioned roast chicken with pickled cucumber and Grandma Salad
3 Danish chickens
2 large bunch of parsley
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
Butter for browning
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fill the chicken with thoroughly washed parsley and brown it on all sides in plenty of butter in a large pot – like a cast iron pot. After browning add cold water until it reaches nearly the center of the chicken. Cover and let it simmer for about 45 min to 1 hour – or until it reaches a core temperature of between 81° and 83° C.
Cut the cucumber into thin slices and sprinkle them with sugar and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Toss and let it soak for about 20 minutes, after which the vinegar is added. Stir the cucumber salad carefully and it is finished. No salt.
When the chicken is done take it up and cut it into boneless pieces. Heat the chicken stock and starch it with a mixture of flour and water. Let it boil for 15 – 20 minutes and season with salt.
2 heads of regular salad
36 cherry tomatoes in halves
2 cucumbers, diced
1 bunch of radish in thin slices
300 ml heavy cream
Wash the salad and cut it into quite large pieces. Mix the cream with the elderflower concentrate.
Put the salad in a bowl and add the tomatoes, radish, and cucumbers.
Drizzle the creamy dressing over it just before serving or serve it on the side.
Marie Goff – Travel Writer
Brig Gen, US Army Retired
travelnotesandstorytelling – visit Marie’s blog