Beatrice Ojakangas

Recipes from the Scandinavian Chef

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Location: Duluth, Minnesota, United States


Three Inspirations from Copenhagen


It had been an exhausting flight to Copenhagen. Packed like sardines in a can, we flew over the Atlantic in the 43rd row (of 44) in the Northwest plane. Hardly conscious, we were transferred in Amsterdam to a KLM flight to Copenhagen, our destination. It was midday in Denmark, sunny and bright and we collected our bags, passed through various controls and into the airport. Dick’s crutches and leg brace brought us more assistance than we’d ever had before and we found ourselves on an electric cart whizzing through the airport with a smiling young Dane who was humming a tune. “If you sing, people treat you much better,” he said, “they don’t get mad at you if you make a mistake!”

He was a bit surprised that we didn’t have a hotel reservation. We relied on our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook, which instructed us to head for the tourist information desk just outside customs where we would find a hotel room at a discounted rate. We ended up at Hotel Alexandra on Hans Christian Anderson Street. It looked a little old and tired from the outside, but proved to be a delightful place. Connected to the hotel is a brasserie where we decided to have our evening meal.

The restaurant was totally organic and the food was delicious. We ordered every appetizer on the menu and that’s where the inspiration for these recipes came from. All three of these spicy accompaniments are simple to make and have a variety of possible uses.

Aioli Sauce on Baby New Potatoes

Steamed, unpeeled baby new potatoes were halved and tossed with this sauce and served as an appetizer. To save time, you could use a commercial mayonnaise (comprised of the first five ingredients), but homemade mayonnaise cannot be better, even though we need to cook the egg these days. This sauce is great on hot or chilled fish or shellfish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 large egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup each olive oil and canola oil

4 or 5 cloves garlic

1 pound steamed, unpeeled baby new potatoes, halved

Chopped fresh parsley

In a small saucepan, stir together the egg, lemon juice, water and salt over very low heat for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 4 minutes. Pour into the blender container; cover and blend at high speed. While blending, add the garlic and very slowly add the oil, blending until the sauce is thick and smooth. Occasionally, turn off the blender and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
Toss with the new potatoes and serve hot or as a cold potato salad.

Chili Butter with Grilled Corn

Of course, this tasty butter is delicious on all kinds of grilled vegetables. We had it on corn.

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon chili powder

Grilled or Steamed fresh corn on the cob

Blend all of the ingredients together. Shape into a log, wrap and chill. Cut into slices and serve with hot corn on the cob.

Smoked Tomato Sauce

This aromatic sauce is great on veal meatballs, but it is equally delicious on pasta, grilled or sautéed fish, shellfish, or chicken breasts. You start by smoking fresh tomatoes.

Makes about 2 cups

4 tablespoons hickory sawdust or black tea leaves

2 tablespoons brown sugar

12 fresh Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chicken stock

Line a wok or large frying pan with foil. Sprinkle sawdust or black tea leaves and brown sugar into bottom of the pan. Place a cake rack on top. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on the rack. Cover and turn burner on high until smoking. Smoke for 15 minutes. Remove from the burner and let cool.

Place tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil and chicken stock into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Puree in a blender or with a hand-held blender. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve over meatballs, cooked pasta, chicken breasts, fish or shellfish.


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