Monday 2 July 2012

The rye-ight cuisine

                         Rye field - a staple diet of Denmark         photo: E.Goldman

Anna Colquhoun, the “Culinary Anthropologist”, author of the Eat Slow Britain book, runs great cooking classes and, luckily for me - after my new found love for the Nordic cuisine –, she has teamed up with Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food from Copenhagen, to teach the innovative use of seasonal, wild, smoked and preserved food found in Nordic cuisine. 

The class started with a herbal tea infused with lemon balm, sea buckthorn and other herbs. After that, Mia brought us our breakfast: a Danish pancake called Klatkager, which is made with barley porridge and was served with strawberry jam and fresh lemon verbena leaves. Delish! Then we were ready to be hands on with the rest of the menu (which you can see in the pictures below).

The rye crispbreads were very easy to make and tasted delicious. I enjoyed them so much that, on the next day, I made some for my family and friends who were visiting, and I received great compliments. In class we had the crispbread served with the interesting and flavoursome Hay-smoked brie that Anna showed us how to make. To complement that she showed us how to make the honey and vinegar-baked rhubarb, which I also made at home using raspberry vinegar, to give a sweeter taste, instead of the apple cider vinegar (see below). You can always make a batch of the rye crispbreads and have it with a lovely piece of cheese and jam or chutney, pickled herring or with whatever you fancy.

We also learned to make beautiful rye breads. In fact, I have always being a bit disappointed with my loaves, but the ones I learned to make on Friday were a huge success! I think I will return to Anna’s well reviewed bread-making class to master some skills.

The atmosphere in Anna’s kitchen was lovely and Mia’s cooking was very inspiring. All the ingredients were of great quality and carefully chosen. Throughout the class, both Anna and Mia picked some herbs from the garden to use with the meals. What I love about Nordic cuisine is the simplicity in their cooking but, at the same time, the amalgamation of flavours and texture they create. It goes without mention that it’s really healthy too. You can read more about Nordic cuisine here.

Mia Kristensen in Ana Colquhoun's kitchen
Sea-buckthorn, lemon balm and other herbs infused tea and
the traditional Danish breakfast - 
Klatkager (fried porridge pancakes)
Buttermilk marinade for the lamb, Sage and mint leaves
inside the butterflied lamb, tying the string to hold the lamb meat
together and finally browning the lamb in butter.
Making the rye crispbread
Hay-smoking the brie
Hay-smoked brie with honey & vinegar
baked rhubard served on rye crispbreads.
Mia showing how to make the Rye bread with seeds
and dark beer
Buttermilk-marinated and herb-crusted roast lamb. It was tender, juicy
and simply divine.
The lamb was served with potato salad with strawberries,
bacon and bitter herbs; and "summer salad" of smoked cream
cheese, cucumber, radish and chives.
To finalize, we had the lightest cake I've ever eaten:
sponge with meringue, hazelnuts, cherries and
The lovely hostess Anna Colquhoun
And now, the rye crispbreads and honey & raspberry vinegar rhubarb made in my kitchen

Put all the ingredients, except the seeds and water and blend.
Add the water until everything comes together as a dough.
Then roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Bake
the crispbreads for 15-20 minutes
They come out of the oven golden and crispy
The ingredients for the honey & vinegar rhubarb: raspberry vinegar, rhubarb
a pinch of black pepper and raw honey
Mix all the ingredients...
and bake for 20-25 minutes
The lovely rye crispbreads with the deliciously tangy honey and
vinegar rhubarb on Bath soft brie cheese!
Danish baker’s rye crispbreads (recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food
Makes:  up to 10 large or 20 small crispbreads.


225g rye flour (preferably, freshly ground – you can use a coffee bean grinder
50g plain flour
30g unsalted butter
6 tbsp nut oil or rapeseed oil (I used olive oil)
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 ½ tsp sea-salt
a pinch of caraway seeds (optional)
water (approx. 50ml)
50g flaxseed or rye flakes
50g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc)


Preheat the oven to 160 C. 

Mix all the ingredients, except the water and seeds, in a mixer or food processor. 

Blend for one minute and then add the water, little by little, just until everything comes together as a dough.

Tip the dough out onto the table and knead in the seeds. 

Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and then cut it into serving sized squares or irregular shapes. 

Bake the crisp breads on a lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and fully set. Leave them to cool before serving. 

Honey and vinegar-baked rhubarb (recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food
Serves 4


2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp apple or cider vinegar (I used raspberry vinegar)
A pinch of black pepper
4 stalks of rhubarb


Heat the oven to 175C.

Stir together the honey, vinegar and black pepper.

Cut the rhubarb into 3-4cm pieces and toss in the honey-vinegar mixture

Spread them out over a heat-proof dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on their thickness, until soft but still holding their shape.

Some of the ingredients and their functional benefits

Rye (Secale cereale): it’s high in carbohydrates and provides small quantities of protein. It contains potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. According to the Ayuverdic medicine, rye clears liver stagnancy, increases strength and endurance, renews arteries, helps muscle formation and supports nail, hair and bone formation. Paul Pitchford claims in his book Healing with Wholefoods that, when one eats rye in its raw state or as soaked flakes, one will benefit from its fluorine content increasing tooth enamel strength.

Rye is also a great source of insoluble fibre, which helps to prevent gallstones and lower cholesterol. Fibre has the ability to bind to toxins and helps eliminate them from the body. Rye contains potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, B3, folic acid, and it’s full of antioxidants.
When you are shopping for rye bread, check the labels. Sometimes, what is labelled "rye bread" can be wheat bread coloured with caramel colouring.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) an excellent source of calcium which is an essential mineral for the bones and teeth; vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system; and fibre which helps regulate the digestive system. Rhubarb also contains vitamin K a nutrient that helps to form blood clot. It contains a compound called Lutein that helps keeping the health of the eyes. Studies have shown that rhubarb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.

Till next week!

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