From the Chick’s Køkken: Tollhouse Chocolate Chunk Cookies – C-L Style

In Culinary Improv on 07/10/2010 at 22:38

Hello again, gentle readers. Time for another recipe, requested by a classmate of the DH. You know, it is always a pleasant surprise when someone outside of our hygge little home, or outside of our family, asks for a recipe for something. Of course, that may be because we keep most of our goodies for ourselves (as my waistline will attest to), so most folks just don’t get a chance to take part. So, it’s always good to know that we aren’t the only ones who think some of these things are yummy. Though really, how can one go wrong with chocolate chip cookies? Besides perhaps using too little flour (done that), too much flour (done that), or not having chocolate chips (done that). 😮 What?! No chocolate chips?!? The world ends!!! Well, it would for me, as they are almost a required ingredient for any cookie I can think of, except maybe ginger snaps. But I bet butterscotch chips would work in those… mmmmm…

Anyway, after trying chocolate chip cookies once and ‘failing’, the recipe sat gathering dust for a while, until we finally broke down and decided to try again. One small problem – no chocolate chips. They’re not really a Danish thing, at least not like in the States where they come in different flavors (peanut butter, butterscotch, white chocolate, swirls), and industrial-sized bags with enough chips to make cookies for half of Denmark. Here, the ones I’ve found in the shops come in little 125 g bags. Like, a handful or something. Which is what one ends up eating anyway, when making chocolate chip cookies, thus defeating the success of said cookies before one starts, if that’s all you have. So we improvised. One bar of dark chocolate, and one bar of white chocolate later, chopped oh so effectively by the DH’s skilled hands, and heaven landed in our kitchen in the form of Tollhouse Chocolate Chunk Cookies – C-L Style. Feel free to give it a try yourself, substituting your preferred chocolate bar for either the white or dark chocolate, or just adding it in. After all, can you really ever have too much chocolate? I think not. 😀


Tollhouse Chocolate Chunk Cookies – C-L Style

520 grams all-purpose flour (Yes, it seems like a lot, but trust me on this)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
250 grams butter or margarine, softened (easier to work with softened, but cold works as well)
175 grams granulated sugar (or 3/4 of a cup, if you have cup measures; we do, so I use that, but the grams works as well)
175 grams packed brown sugar (or same as for the granulated sugar) (the better it’s packed, the more you can fit into the cup!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 stick of vanilla bean (what we use), scraped and added to the mix)
2 large eggs
340-375 grams of chocolate, chopped relatively fine (we actually used a 200g bar of dark and a 100g bar of white, and the cookies were overflowing with lovely chocolatey-ness. This is almost a taste thing, really… if you love chocolate, stuff more in. If not, leave a little out. The minimum amount to still have decent chocolate to cookie ratio (IMNSHO) is about 225g)

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (170 C if you have hot air)

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a bigger bowl (or mixer bowl if you have one), beat the butter, granulated and brown sugars, and vanilla extract/beans until creamy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating them into the mix well. Gradually beat in the flour mix, then add the chocolate, and mix thoroughly.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet (baking paper FTW!), about 3 cm apart. (usually works out to 16 dough balls per cookie sheet, YMMV depending on how much dough you eat as you set them out) Pop them in the oven for 11-14 minutes, or until golden brown. (which works out to about 14 mins., but your oven may work differently than ours) Take them out and let them cool on the pan for a minute, then transfer them to a rack and start the next round. Rinse and repeat until all cookies are baked and smelling up your kitchen nicely. You should average 5 dozen or so, give or take, depending on how big your scoops of dough are.

Once done, grab a glass of cold milk and a handful of cookies, and enjoy the fruits of your labors. You earned it!


Can I get some service here?

In The Main Beef on 06/10/2010 at 16:29

So, maybe I’ve brought this up a time or two before, but I’m gonna go on about it again.

Customer service is Denmark is… challenged. Ah, in some areas, it really kind of sucks. Which I really don’t get. I mean, these folks get paid decent wages, have regular hours within reason (it is retail, after all), and even have unions to help them fight The MAN if he tries to get too abusive somehow. This is Denmark, part of the civilized world. They don’t allow kids to become sweatshop slaves, and people can actually live off of what they make at the Danish version of Payless Shoes, or McD’s, or the local smoothie shop. You would think that, armed with that knowledge, and even in spite of it being retail work (lots of standing on one’s feet, dealing with demanding customers, potential back strain from restocking shelves, having to watch people like a hawk so they don’t wander off with the goods), the girls at the check out stands could muster up a smile and a quick ‘Find everything’ before taking my money. You would think. But, you would be wrong.

The DH and I went to the local Danish Payless the other day to try and find me some boots. First, let me give props to my man for going shoe-shopping with me. HOLLA!! I love him, I really really do. 😀 Anyway, we pop into the shop and begin the endless (for me, I have weird feet) search for the right pair of boots to keep my tootsies dry and my ankles straight. First, this is not one of those shops where you get asked if you need help. Definitely self-service. We find the boot section, and even run into a few pairs that I want to try on. The DH goes wandering off, only timing me a little, and I start trying. The first thing I notice… the girls who wander the floor seem suddenly extremely interested in the area I happen to be in. Within 5 minutes I saw no less than 5 clerks wander past, picking up shoes, pushing boxes around, doing whatever. I may be a little paranoid (I am American, after all), but that just seemed odd. However, it can be ignored, because I want boots. So, dodging the occasional nosy clerk, I finally find a few pairs that fit, and that I like. After a brief, bloody negotiation with the DH over how many I can carry out of the store (only 2 pair, but they were the best of the lot so it’s all good), we head up to the checkout. Sadly, the DH’s eagle eye kept me from adding the impulse bag and pair of Hello Kitty hjemmesko to my take, but that’s probably good for our bank account, so I can live with it.

Now, so you know, the checkout girls are NOT the same wandering watchdogs I ran into before. These are different girls. I think they handle the front area alone, because they surely didn’t seem to move much from behind the counter. I don’t know how this particular shop is run, so that may be a false assessment, but that’s how it looked to me. I wait patiently, while the checkout chick does her thing with the other customer, and idly wonder if the other girl standing at the counter will help me. She doesn’t, though she does give me a distinctly odd look now and then. I wonder if I have TP stuck to my shoe, but decide that’s not possible since I’ve been taking them off and on for the past half an hour and would have noticed it before. I turn my attention back to the only functioning checkout chick, who seems to be ready for me. Shoe boxes on the counter and a brilliant smile from me. I get… nothing. She goes through both boxes, repacking them (I guess I messed them up with my repacking after trying them on, go figure), then gives me a price. Or rather, she whispered something that the DH heard, luckily, because I didn’t catch much besides ‘mumble mumble kr’. No smile, not even a ghost of one on what should have been a ridiculously pretty face. Instead, if looks could kill, I might just have a smokin’ stump where my head should be. I felt like I had, somehow, interrupted her in the middle of a really important… something… because she’s been standing behind the counter and what else is she doing?! Instead of a beautiful young woman, tastefully made up, with an attractive head scarf and trendy clothes, she looked like some washed up old harridan screaming ‘GET OFF MY LAWN’ at the top of her lungs. I quickly punched in my code to pay for the boots, grabbed my bag, and with a ‘Tak for det’ and a confused glance back, the DH and I were off. Once out the door, we both wondered at just what had happened there… did I expect too much? Did I buy the last pair of boots that she wanted for herself? (I doubt that, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t wear my size, or like the same style I do, based on her outfit) Did I accidentally flip her the bird without realizing it?

I think, however, that the answer is simpler, and more complex, than that. Customer service here leaves something to be desired. I know it’s been falling in the States as well, what with bad wages, stress about the economy, lack of business, etc., but I have a feeling it hasn’t hit quite this level. It’s like the shops here expect us, the customers, to cater to them, not the other way around. They aren’t there to serve us, we are there to keep them in business. Now lest you, gentle readers, think shopping is hell in this little land, it isn’t. Not all shops are like that, many of them do believe that a smile goes further than a frown, and that a tiny bit of attention to a customer will ensure loyalty more than low prices or exotic goods. And I make sure I tell my 10 friends when they have need of such a shop, so that shop stays in business. Hey, be nice to me, I’ll do everything I can to keep your shop around. I like to spend money in a place that makes it nice to do so. I don’t like to spend money in a place where I feel like I’m wasting their precious time somehow. Because I don’t believe I am. Chances are, if I’m in your shop, I intend to make a purchase. Possibly many purchases. Hey, I like to shop, what can I say? All that really needs to cost the people working there is a smile, and perhaps a bit of attention if I have a question. I can be patient and wait until you’re finished with other customers. I’ll speak my best Danish, slowly, so you can understand me. All you have to do is smile, and realize that we’re in this thing together. If there are no customers, you have no shop. If you have no shop, we customers have no place to find whatever it is you offer. So we each have a vested interest in keeping the other around. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either.

Last week, the DH and I went to find Farm Mountain Coffee (site is in danish, but the coffee is to die for, so totally worth it), which has a shop in our little burg. The ladies behind the counter were welcoming, with smiles, asking if we needed help, and generally inviting. And you could see that it was effective, because the shop was busy. Folks in and out, cash register ringing regularly, even the latte lady was busy. Yes, the goods are worth it, excellent coffee, chocolates, other artisan goods, but that’s not the only thing. The people behind the counter have something to do with it as well. They get it. The chick at Deichmann Sko… didn’t.

Life goes by fast; I don’t want to spend too much time dealing with folks who don’t get it. So no more Danish Payless for me.

From the Chick’s Køkken: Apple Pie with Crumble topping

In Culinary Improv on 18/09/2010 at 18:56

I often find it hard to believe some of the marvelous things that my DH manages to create in the torture chamber/hall of hell that is our kitchen. Obviously the room can’t be that bad, since we’ve had a 98% success rate with American recipes translated into danish ingredients and measurements (imagine wafer-thin, extra-crispy tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, product of a bit too little flour we think) and a 99% success rate with our own little inventions, and even the less than perfect entrees that don’t make these hallowed electronic pages were certainly edible by pretty much anyone’s standards. So why do I persist in my views? Because I think our kitchen has it in for me. Not a day goes by that something doesn’t go wrong when I cross the threshold. Like somehow it knows that it’s me walking into the room, versus the DH, and the appliances have a quick powwow with the utensils to determine which one is getting their pound of flesh or life’s blood out of me this time. It’s enough to give a girl a complex, I tell ya!

That having been said, the following recipe was made with no sacrifice of my delicate flesh or sanity, but by the magical hands of myself and the one, the only, the DH! *crowds cheer wildly and throw potholders* (Ok, by us and our bright and shiny new KitchenAid mixer, Berta, in fire engine red! [for the folks who remember fire engines in that color] I’m composing an ode to the lovely Berta now, which will get posted later) So on to the food!

Apple Pie with Crumble topping

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I generally use more, got a thing for cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (again a bit more, to taste, if you don’t like it, don’t use it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (the DH’s favorite spice besides garlic, which just doesn’t work in apple pie in my estimation)
6 cups tart cooking apples (equivalent of 6 medium or so, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices… most recently I ended up with like 15 apples, so we made a double batch and froze half for another pie in our future)

Combine all filling ingredients except apples in large bowl; add apples and toss lightly until everything is good and coated. Set the bowl aside and cover to let it ‘steep’ for a bit, while you make the crust. Makes it all nice and juicy that way. Besides, I always end up doing the apples first, then the crust, instead of being proactive and doing the crust first. I hate the drudge work.

Butter Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter
4-5 tablespoons cold water

(If you have a stand mixer, it makes crusts wonderfully. Just my 25 øre as a proud KitchenAid owner)
Combine flour and salt in large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water just until flour is moistened. Mix thoroughly until you have a nice big ball, then divide dough in half. You can freeze one dough ball, together with your extra apple filling, and have a future pie all ready (how we dealt with the extra ball of dough). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured cutting board or counter. Grease the inside of your 9 inch pie dish (pie dish, tart pan, whatever the heck you’ve got that works, it’s all good), then fit the dough into the dish. Easiest to do if you fold the rolled dough into quarters, then unfold it and press it firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the crust at the edge of the dish, then crimp or flute the edge if you want to add a bit of flair. For extra flair, brush the edge of the crust with a tablespoon of melted butter, then sprinkle some granulated sugar on top.

Crumble topping:
(You can do this after you get the pie crust in the dish, it takes 5 minutes tops, and can very easily be done in your stand mixer to save the squishiness between your fingers)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
(extra) 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or allspice (if you like. I do, so I did)

Combine flour, sugar and butter (and spice if you add it) in a bowl and mix until crumbly. (Could it get any easier? I think not!)

Putting it all together:
Take the wonderfully steeped apple filling and put it in the waiting pie dish, then sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top of the filling, making sure all apples are covered. Pop into a warm oven (400 degrees F, 200 degrees C) and bake for 45-55 minutes. Remove and let cool at least a bit, serve alone or with homemade vanilla ice cream, sharp cheddar cheese, or your favorite side dish for apple pie.



PS:  Whenever a recipe says ‘tart cooking apples’ I am really clueless. Yes, Granny Smiths are the quintessential pie apple, but would others work? We found out with our most recent baking, as we had a big bunch of Dansk-raised Discovery apples that we’d ordered from our greengrocer a couple of weeks back. They were a bit too tart for my taste, as well as too grainy in texture (I prefer Gala, Fuji or JonahGold apples for eating myself, love the crispness), but I didn’t want them to go to waste. So a few slices and dices later, and they became pie. I was a bit worried that they would be too soft, but the DH absolutely LOVED them because of that very fact. They were so wonderfully soft and gooey, I think he prefers them over the Granny Smiths, at least for baking. Just a tip, if you were curious like I was. They worked like a charm in the pie, perfect flavor, good texture, I highly recommend them as a fallback apple for pies.