Smørrebrød — A Taste of Denmark

I’m a fan of ethnic cooking. And although I have a long ways to go before coming close to sampling a majority of the food treasured by the different cultures of the world, my list is getting longer every day.

But one of the countries whose food I’ve never tasted is Denmark. That may change soon, as my interest in Danish food has been piqued.

What put me on the path to trying the cuisine of this Scandinavian country was reading about the 2009 Independent Publisher’s Living Now Book Award for the Ethnic Cookbook category. which was given to Stig Hansen for his "Cooking Danish — A Taste of Denmark" ($34.95, available through  

Hansen, who grew up in Denmark, first published this cookbook in 2007. It’s written in English and calls for American measurements. He guarantees the book’s authenticity and every recipe’s accuracy in weekly telephone conversations with his parents, who still live in Denmark.

Among the dishes presented in "Cooking Danish" are aebleskiver, the traditional Danish pancakes (some call them doughnuts), and smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich. I’ve never had either but know that co-worker and longtime features editor Marilyn Hagerty, a full-blooded Dane, makes the former.

While researching Danish cooking, I came across a recipe for smørrebrød, which follows, and hope to try it soon.

And I’ll try to overlook a comment about Danish food by a friend, Darrel Koehler, himself part Dane, who said it’s a lot like Norwegian food only more fattening.

Beef and Onion Smørrebrød
8 teaspoons butter, softened
8 slices Danish pumpernickel or other rye bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
8 thin slices rare roast beef (about ½ pound)
8 teaspoons dairy sour cream
½ cup canned crisp-fried onions, crumbled
8 thin tomato wedges
8 parsley or watercress sprigs, for garnish
Spread 1 teaspoon butter on each slice of bread, being sure to cover each completely. Spread each generously with mustard. Place 1 slice roast beef on top of each, gathering or ruffling the slice so beef covers bread but does not extend over sides. Top each beef slice with 1 teaspoon sour cream. Sprinkle with crumbled onions, top with a tomato wedge. Garnish with parsley or watercress.
Yield: 8 sandwiches.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 251 calories, 50 percent calories from fat, 13 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 14 grams  fat (5 grams saturated), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 530 milligrams sodium.