Near the top of my list of dream places to travel (second, actually) is Denmark, or really, Scandinavia generally. Back when I had cable, I used to watch a show about the Baltic Coast every morning while I made my breakfast, and I fell in love with the beauty of the area. Additionally, my great-grandfather emigrated from Denmark, so I grew up hearing about my Danish heritage from my mom.

Chopping onions really small
Chopping onions really small

My sister had a short layover in Copenhagen when she visited Europe last month, and she brought me back a recipe book from Denmark. The food is beautiful, and I would especially like to try some of the fish dishes. However, my sister wanted me to make her something from the book, and she does not like seafood.

Bread crumbs, pork, and onions
Bread crumbs, pork, and onions

The recipe book states that Danish meatballs “may very well be the national dish of Denmark,” and says that every Dane has a family recipe variation. I knew my sister would like the tasty, flattened patties of pork.

With gravy, of course
With gravy, of course

“Frikadeller,” as they are called in Danish (my boyfriend speaks Danish and very much likes to say Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish words with the correct pronunciation) are not really round like the Italian variety. Rather, the instructions say to flatten the patties. To me, they resembled very small sliders.

Frikadeller and potatoes
Frikadeller and potatoes

I am pretty familiar with Swedish meatballs (of the IKEA variety), and I was curious as to the difference. The wise Internet tells me the real difference is that Danish meatballs always have pork. My boyfriend told me he had reindeer meatballs while living in Sweden — does anyone have some hookups for ground reindeer?

Frikadeller, gravy, potatoes, and my sister's thoughtful gift.
Frikadeller, gravy, potatoes, and my sister’s thoughtful gift.

The meatballs were savory and, with the ground pork, incredibly moist. They were good for a weeknight, and this dish is for sure going in my regular rotation. My sister said she likes these better than Swedish meatballs (that’s our Danish heritage coming out). I found the potato side dish online, small fingerlings with a caramelized sugar glaze.

Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller)
1 lb ground pork (can also mix 1/2 lbs ground beef and 1/2 pounds ground pork, or half veal and half pork)
1/2 cup grated or diced really small
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup whole  milk
5 tbs butter

For Gravy:
Drippings from the meatballs
butter (as needed)
1-2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream, half & half, or whole milk
salt & pepper

Instructions
In a small bowl, beat the eggs well. In a separate bowl, mix the minced meat, breadcrumbs, and chopped onions together until well blended. Mix in the beaten egg. It is easier to use your hands rather than a spoon.

Add the milk, salt and pepper to the bowl and continuing mixing until all the ingredients are blended to make a soft, moist mixture. This might take a bit of time; I was worried there was too much milk, but it ended up OK in the end!

Refrigerate the mixture for 15-30 minutes. This really helps soak up the milk.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Form 16-20 small patties about 1.5 inches across, and slide the mixture onto the pan. Cook in batches of four or five for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Keep the pan drippings when you are finished for the gravy.

For the gravy
Add the flour to the drippings to form a roux, adding butter if necessary. Slowly add milk or cream until mixture reaches gravy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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On Veteran’s Day, I took the opportunity of an extra day off to tackle a recipe I have tried a few times since tasting it for the first time last year: beef bourguignon. This is a truly divine dish from France, which was brought into American kitchens by the cooking icon Julia Child.

The great words of Julia
The great words of Julia, Louisette, and Simone

Two days later, after my sister, my boyfriend and I had enjoyed this fabulous French dish, Paris was attacked in heartless, brutal fashion. When news of the attacks broke, I was glued to the New York Times reading anything I could. It is a fitting tribute that France is the country I “visited” this week.

My sister makes fun of me for loving the multicolored carrots, but I do.
My sister makes fun of me for loving the multicolored carrots, but I do.

If you don’t have Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you are missing out on a truly informational book. It is full of instructions on how to *really* cook, and not just French cooking. Also, the book includes instructions that are not found on any version of this recipe online. For example, it explains that you have to boil the bacon prior to sauteeing it because French bacon is not as smokey as American bacon. (And, if you did not, the entire dish would only taste of bacon).

Mmmmm, bacon
Mmmmm, bacon

I have attempted this dish a few times, and this was by far my best attempt. I made sure I followed every instruction, and it paid off. I served this with French-style green beans (blanched for 8-10 minutes, then sauteed in butter).

I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!
I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!

Beef bourguignon takes quite a bit of time to prepare — roughly 4 hours total — so make sure you set aside some time for this (and don’t fall asleep like Julie in “Julie & Julia”). But it is well worth the effort. It is wonderful for entertaining, and also only gets better after a day in the fridge (for lunch the next day).

The final product
The final product

Don’t be afraid to try this recipe. Yeah, it has a lot of steps, but you will be happy you did it! Bon appetite!

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When I was younger — quite a few years ago now, really! — I went with a good group of girlfriends to (wild and crazy) Sacramento and San Francisco for a bachelorette party. While in Sac, we visited one of my oldest friends, Anna, at her place at the time, and she took us to an awesome restaurant in San Francisco called Burma Superstar. We ate family style and tried a ton of different dishes; I was instantly hooked. It’s one of those restaurant experiences that I’ve never forgotten, and I try to visit every time I’m in San Francisco. My sister was even an awesome sport and went even though she was scared to try something from a country in Asia she may or may not have heard of previously.

A few years ago, Rajan bought me a book called Burma: Rivers of Flavor. It is absolutely fabulous. It is one of the most used cookbooks in my collection, and it is packed-full of spicy, salty, lick-your-fingers goodness.

Awesome recipe book
Awesome recipe book

In some ways, I had a hard time picking just one recipe from this book, and this may not be the last one I highlight. I still haven’t attempted the fish curry/stew that is well-known in Myanmar and was highlighted during Anthony Bourdain’s trip in Parts Unknown. And equally as often as this beef curry recipe, I make a chicken recipe that Rajan absolutely adores from the ethnic-Nepalese living in Myanmar.

Beautiful, tasty colors of food.
Beautiful, tasty colors of food.

This recipe, Saucy Spiced Meat and Potatoes, is an easy recipe suitable for a weeknight or for a large dinner party. When I get tired of using ground meat to make tacos, burgers, or meatballs, this recipe is an awesome way to turn a pound of the stuff into something warming and magical. Plus, what American can’t get down with a little bit of meat and potatoes?

Meat and potatoes... mmmm
Meat and potatoes… mmmm

As Ms. Duguid describes in her book, this recipe is highly versatile. I personally always follow the alternative ingredients at the bottom of the page in the book and add green chiles to add an extra kick. When I made it for the blog, I also took her suggestion and added mushrooms. In a pinch once, I even used cauliflower instead of potatoes when I had the former and not the latter.

This is a recipe not to be missed, and I think it will become a staple of your culinary repertoire too!

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My sister recently returned from an awesome trip to Europe. She planned and waited for months, and the trip finally came to fruition for her last month. She spent almost two weeks traveling to Paris, England, Copenhagen, Rome, and Florence. When she came back, her very first text to me was: “I know what I want you to make me for your blog.” That dish was spaghetti a la carbonara, and I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect recipe.

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All you need to make these simple dish of goodness.

I’ll be frank. I’ve been avoiding Italian food when I’ve been hunting for recipes for the blog. Italian food, according to my friends who know, has been grossly Americanized here, and the dishes you would get off the beaten path in Italy are a far cry from what Olive Garden would serve you. I’m sure this won’t be the only time Italy appears on the blog; I’m still waiting for some of my Italian friends to send me recipes (hint, hint, you know who you are).

My sister probably will be mad I posted this photo. But at any rate, she is not amused.
My sister probably will be mad I posted this photo. But at any rate, she is not amused.

I stumbled upon this recipe (and very well-researched blog post) while hunting down something that didn’t contain peas, bacon, or cream sauce. I was very happy, and my sister told me that the photo looked exactly like what she had in Rome.

Beautiful yolks
Beautiful yolks

What I very much enjoyed about this recipe was the simplicity of it. It requires very little, but it is pure, simple goodness. It is definitely indulgent; this is not a dish I would be able to eat once a week. But it is a flavorful, rich pasta dish.

My sister twirling pasta.
My sister twirling pasta.

I wasn’t able to track down guanciale in Northern Nevada, so I substituted pancetta. My sister said it still tasted just like in Rome.

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Served with a bit of Sangiovese, because I had no chianti.

Try out this recipe for a little piece of Rome. You won’t be disappointed.

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