Sunday 29 July 2012

Pack the perfect picnic

Well, many of us are now returning from our holidays and, at least here in Copenhagen, the weather is changing. But what beautiful sunshine it was while it lasted and we definitely made the most of it with daily trips to the beach and the picnic blanket now wears the tell tale signs of our al fresco dining. Even if the longer summer days are behind us, this is Denmark and so on any day the weather can turn again and it's never too late to pack up the blanket and head outside again for a few hours of unexpected late summer sun.

If you have exhausted your picnic recipes and are looking for a little inspiration, here are a couple we have translated from the Aarstiderne collection. I remember reading once that when planning a picnic you only need one main dish but the more side dishes, the better. Here we have chosen a delicious light spinach tart, a coleslaw, bean salad and a couscous salad. Add your favourite potato salad too and don't forget to pack a refreshing drink - Aarstiderne's recipe for lemonade couldn't be easier.

Enjoy! And here's hoping the sun obliges and makes an appearance...

Spinach tart

Seive the flour into a bowl and rub the diced butter into the flour until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the water and press it flat and wrap it in clingfilm.
Leave the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to bind then roll the dough out and lay it in a tart dish. Cover the dough with foil and place a handful of rice or dried peas on top so that the dough doesn't rise during baking. Then bake the tart in the oven at  200° C until it is golden.

Steam the spinach until it collapses (about 2 mins). Sauté the finely chopped shallot with the cubed bacon in a pan. Add the spinach and add nutmeg to taste.

Whisk the eggs and the cream together, fold in the spinach mixture and add it all to the prebaked tart. Bake the tart in the oven at 160° C until the egg mixture sets (about 30 minutes)

You will need:

100 g bacon
200 g flour
125 g butter
3 eggs
150ml whipping cream 38 %
500 g spinach
1-2 tbsp. water
fresh grated nutmeg
1 shallot

Cabbage Coleslaw

Finely chop the cabbage. Peel the carrots and grate them with a large grater. Combine the yoghurt, cumin and mayonnaise and season to taste. Mix the cabbage and carrots with the dressing.

You will need:

2 tbsp natural yoghurt 10%
1 cabbage
100 g carrots
salt and pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Bean and avocado salad

You will need:

1 avocado
olive oil and lemon dressing garlic
2  spring onions
1 green chilli
300 g cooked kidney beans
2 tomatoes

Pour any water off the beans. Chop the tomato and the spring
onions. Peel the avocado, remove the stone and dice it. Finely
chop the chilli. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add the
dressing then let the salad sit for 15 mins before serving.

Couscous with pepper and asparagus

Pour 500 ml boiling water over the couscous and let it sit for 15 mins until the water is soaked up. Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir them through the couscous.

Slice the peppers into strips and cut the courgette into half lengthways and then slice them up. Break the bottoms off the asparagus.

Warm a grill pan with a little olive oil in it and them grill the peppers and the courgette for 2-3 mins and the asparagus for 1-2 mins. Finely chop the shallots and mix all the vegetables with the couscous. Add the chopped nuts.

You will need:

1 red and 1 yellow pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 courgette
almonds or pinenuts
1 tbsp vinegar
sea salt
250 g couscous
100 g asparagus
1-2 shallots
Dijon mustard


Peel 2 of the lemons with a thin peeler and place the peelings in the blender. Peel the remaining lemons and remove the white pith from all of them.

Add the peeled lemon flesh to the peelings already in the blender and blend to a smooth puree. Add the water and sugar to taste. Pour the lemonade out into a jug and cool before serving with lots of ice. 

You will need:

6 lemons
1L water
sugar to taste

Saturday 21 July 2012

The Snack Pack and a big box of help/health...


As the final weeks of the school year drew near, one of the highlights of stopping for the summer, for me anyway, was the end of the packed lunch box. The responsibility to rustle up healthy, sustaining, robust meals that small children open gratefully at lunchtime can become a little tiring and by June I was ready for a change of culinary pace.
Of course having three small children around all day does not mean food production is slowed, quite the opposite in fact. There are the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner needs but there's something about being at home that makes my boys hungry and snack requests come through thick and fast. Unfortunately food shopping with them in tow is never a relaxing affair, far too many requests for sweeties and other sugar packed items and for me something to be avoided if at all possible. Which is why on the first Monday of the holiday I anxiously awaited the boxes of help that would be arriving fresh from Aarstiderne.
The box

Alongside the meal box that provides the ingredients for three meals each week (more on that another time). We also receive a large box of fruits and vegetables ready and waiting to be turned into delicious meals and snacks. Included in the box are plenty of apples, bananas, red peppers and carrots all of which are rather essential snacks for my children. Then there are the ‘fun’ addition’s in the form of plums, peaches and sometimes strawberries, I have to get to these first as they are prone to disappearing quicker than I can say “go out and play in the garden”. 
Berry and banana smoothie

Sa far we have turned bananas into smoothies of all varieties, mashed them into pancakes eaten with maple syrup, made banana bread for a picnic and frozen them whole on sticks to be coated with dark chocolate and chopped nuts.
Carrots are eaten by the dozen, held in warm pudgy fingers as they play in the grass, a perfect fast food.
The apple slicer and I are firm friends and between us can rustle up a bowl bursting with apples as well as carrots, cucumber and red pepper in scant minutes all to be swiped through peanut butter and tahini as a wholesome and filling stop gap or alongside a serving or two of protein for supper.
The possibilities are endless and actually quite fun seeing as the little ones love helping to cook, the food is always colourful, tasty and generally gratefully received. The box lasts us a good five days by which time the weekend is upon us and Friday night sweeties are the luxury they are meant to be, their blow softened in my mind by the healthiness that preceded. Roll on Monday, lets see what you will bring.

Written and photographed by Sally McWilliam.

We order  Den Grønne FrugtKasse 10 kg  for a family of five.

342 kr per box delivered to your door.
Fruit smoothie and banana pancake remnants!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Quintessentially Danish

Summer may not yet have appeared in its most desirable form, but certain staples of Danish summer never fail to appear regardless of the rain that seems to be plaguing Europe these days.

As followers of all things Aarstiderne will have realised by now, one of the company's goals is to strengthen the power of local growers everywhere and in Denmark in particular. Supporting local growers not only helps their economies but also shows them that we appreciate the hard work, care and thought that they put into their products on a daily basis. As in most things in life, a show of appreciation results in motivation to do better, to constantly improve, which in turn results in even better produce for all. A perfect win win if ever there was one.

If you decide to brave the elements this summer and drive out into the Danish countryside you will most certainly pass by small roadside stalls where local growers big and small - usually small - offer their freshly picked and harvested fruits and vegetables - a fun sight evoking simpler times. But what makes this a uniquely Danish experience are the small money boxes which can take the form of anything from shoe- and cigar boxes to proper money boxes set out right there with the produce and next to signs kindly asking that you place the 15 or 20 kr in the box. And the truly marvelous part..... the stands.....they are unmanned. The grower simply trusts that the buyer will put the correct amount in the box. A system based on trust, now there's a novel idea.

On Fyn (Funen), where I like to spend my summer, these stands are everywhere. I do miss my Aarstiderne boxes, but I try to make up for them by buying my strawberries, potatoes, asparagus, onions, cherries, raspberries at these fun - often homemade - stands. I just have to make sure I always have plenty of change in my pocket as I suspect it will be a while before the stands offer a credit card option.

(Isabella Mousavizadeh Smith)

Saturday 7 July 2012

A meeting of minds - Aarstiderne's pop-up shop

It's a match made in heaven. If you care about what you eat then you probably care about how it looks when you put it on the dinner table. On Wednesday mornings when I unload my Aarstiderne meal box, I always pause to soak up the aesthetic pleasure of seeing bunches of carrots, punnets of red tomatoes, jars of pesto and passata and purple green heads of lettuce vying for space on the shelves of my fridge. It always looks so colourful! And when a meal has been prepared, beautiful presentation only adds to the enjoyment of the experience.

Whether it is a herb planter, the strainer used to wash vegetables or a carafe for serving a fresh juice, good food and good design go hand in hand. It is therefore no surprise to have discovered the Aarstiderne pop-up shop in the design emporium, Normann, at their  Østerbro flagship store. For the month of July only, you can snap up your organic store cupboard favourites in the city and browse for stylish tableware and kitchen essentials at the same time.

And so, bottles of Aarstiderne's passata, sparkling apple drinks and cook books share shelf space with Normann herb stands, rubber washing up bowls and strainers and beautiful glass carafes.

It's wonderful to have you in the neighbourhood, Aarstiderne!!

Visit the Aarstiderne pop-up shop at Normann, 70 Østerbrogade, 2100 Copenhagen. Call 35 55 44 59 or visit for more details.
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