Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Koldt Bord and Smørrebrød

Every year, sometime close to New Year's Day, we make a grand buffet of appetizer-type foods and spend all day eating and watching something---usually bowl games, or old BYU football games (which we can get online). We love it. When we learned about the Danish custom of a koldt bord on Christmas Day (or "Second Christmas Day," the 26th), the children begged to do that instead. A koldt bord is basically the Danish version of the Swedish smorgasbord, the "cold table" with all kinds of finger foods and such. And the crowning glory of the table is the makings for smørrebrød, the famous Danish open-faced sandwich. We learned that smørrebrød is as much about beauty as it is taste---the Danes create aesthetic masterpieces with their sandwiches. They also have lots of complicated rules on how to eat it (herring before beef, and so forth) and they use lots of ingredients we haven't ever heard of, or at least don't have access to---strange (to us) things like liverwurst and remoulade and picked herring and white caviar.

We decided that even if our smørrebrød components weren't absolutely authentic, for our koldt bord, we'd replace our usual favorite appetizers (things like vegetable bars and artichoke dip) with the best and most creative sandwich ingredients we could think of, and try to create works of smørrebrød art like the ones pictured here. I wish we could have found/made some good rye bread, but we made do with some white bread I made, and a multigrain loaf from the store.
The older boys delighted in helping Sam and me come up with interesting spreads to go on the sandwiches. (I have been letting Sebby, especially [he shows the most interest], help me make sauces since he was a little boy, and he loves to taste, tilt his head, and say, "a liiiitle more lemon juice!") We made a horseradish mayonnaise for the roast beef, a (mock)-hollandaise sauce, an andalouse sauce (Belgian), tsatziki, a somewhat-spicy mustard, and an artichoke spread. We also had crabapple jelly, a green chili sea salt and an African-spiced sea salt, and some flavored balsamic vinegars. And then there were, of course, all our vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meats. It was a feast fit for kings and queens! More food than we could eat, too, but we made a nice dent in it that first day and are still eating it several days later. Yum!
Isn't our table lovely? It was a work of art itself. You'd be amazed how good Abe and Seb are at making things beautiful---they love the challenge of it. I told them to try to make everything look like it came from a fancy restaurant. Then I gave them a bunch of pretty platters and things to use for garnish, and they did all the arranging and setting-out themselves. Heaven forbid I should try to set something out in a bowl that wasn't "fancy enough"! They insisted on the best.

They were most proud of their meat and cheese tray. Prettier than the ones you buy ready-made at Costco!

The best and most fun part was crafting our smørrebrød. I thought some of the boys' ideas were strange, but their willingness to try unusual combinations often yielded surprisingly good sandwiches. (For example, Seb made a sandwich with crabapple jelly, apples, sprouts, and havarti cheese that was delicious!) Even Malachi wouldn't eat anything without finding something pretty to garnish it with first. A few of our prettiest and tastiest attempts:
This was a really fun thing to try and I think we'll probably do it again. Lots of work, but it's fun work! And we need to have some friends come help us eat it next time! My only regret was how quickly I got full.

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