Recipe: crostini with mushroom spread

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This Finnish-Russian mushroom salad or spread is absolutely delicious. When it was first introduced to me by fellow food blogger Anna, I couldn’t believe it was made from only a few ingredients (fried mushrooms, smetana, dill and salt). It truly is one of those dishes where the sum if far far greater than its parts.

The fabulous recipe is courtesy or Swedish food writer Jens Linder and was published in one of the leading Swedish newspapers as a dish for Julbordet, i.e. the Christmas smorgasbord, but I prefer it like this, served on crostini as a pre-dinner snack, all year round.

Please note the recipe calls for smetana; the Russian version of creme fraiche/soured cream. If you can’t find it creme fraiche is a good substitute, but smetana works so well here it’s worth going out of your way to find it. Personally, I will place an order for some here next time I get a craving.

I also mixed fresh and dried mushrooms as I prefer the texture of the fresh ones but as it’s not mushroom season, they taste less than the dried porcini and black trumpets I have in my cupboard.

Mushroom salad, makes 1 batch (enough for 12 crostini which serves 3-4 people)

Translated from and adapted after Jens Linder’s recipe.

This salad is so delicious I would urge you to make a double batch straight away. That’s what I did, and it was the perfect amount for five hungry people as a pre-dinner snack.

600 ml fresh or frozen mushrooms, or 50 ml dried mushrooms

2-3 tbsp butter

plenty of sea salt flakes

4 tbsp finely chopped dill

300 ml smetana (or creme fraiche)

12 crostini

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Drain and discard the liquid. If using fresh or frozen mushrooms, finely chop these.

Fry the mushrooms in butter on medium heat until golden. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

Mix the now cool mushrooms with whole sea salt flakes, dill and smetana. The mixture should be plenty salty. Leave for a few hours in the fridge before serving. 

Divide between the crostini and serve. 

 

Copenhagen: Balthazar champagne bar

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After the sushi lunch and some quick shopping for me, it was time to try Denmark’s only champagne bar; Balthazar (to my knowledge not related to the New York and London restaurants).

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Although located in the famous D’Angleterre hotel the bar has its own entrance off the street (Ny Østergade), but I’m sure it’s connected to the rest of the hotel in some way. We came here in the late afternoon on a weekday between Christmas and New Year, so it wasn’t exactly buzzing but a few tables were occupied and the ambience was really nice.

So was the service. Our waitress was very attentive but also left us to enjoy our drinks. Three of us had champagne (Pol Roger if you’re wondering) while the fourth person wanted a cocktail not on the menu, but the bar staff were happy to oblige.

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I must say I really like Balthazar. Partly because they serve many decent champagnes by the glass, but also because they’ve managed the not so small feat of balancing a luxurious feeling with a relaxed vibe. Make sure to visit on your next trip to Copenhagen!

Balthazar, Ny Østergade 6, 1101 København K, Denmark

Recipe: Rice Krispie Mars bar treats

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I find it fitting that I, on Australia Day, am posting the one recipe my Australian friend Debs has has shared with me. The recipe, although not typically Australian (I think) is very good and easy. These little sweets are nice all year round; Debs introduced them to me at a summer barbecue and I made them for Christmas.

Crispy Mars Bar Treats, makes approx.  20

120 g mars bar

75 g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

700 ml rice krispies

185 g chocolate, chopped

Melt the mars bars, butter and golden syrup in the microwave or in a nonstick saucepan on the stove (it will take a little time; the mars bar is rather stubborn). Remove from heat and stir in the rice krispies. Spread out the mixture in a parchment paper lined tray. Refrigerate.  

Melt the plain chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie and spread onto the now firm rice krispie mixture. Leave to cool.

Cut into squares and serve.

Copenhagen: lunch at Sticks ‘n Sushi

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In between Christmas and New Year my best friend Emma and I had planned a whole day in Copenhagen with her husband and his friend. We took the train across the bridge (yes, that bridge) and got to Copenhagen just in time for lunch at Sticks ‘n Sushi. For a chain, they have really good sushi, and I love that they have restaurants in London too.

We started off with roasted cauliflower snacks and spicy edamame, then we had some nigiri and maki rolls, a salmon tartare to share and some of the sticks. And wine, of course.

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The snacks vanished in seconds and then we got started on the sushi. All the nigiri (we had salmon, tuna and seared yellow tail) were nice, but the maki rolls are really really good. We shared a spicy tuna, crunchy ebi (prawn) and a pink Alaska (with salmon and cream cheese) and couldn’t decide which was the best one as they were all lovely.

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The salmon tartare was not very impressive and the sticks with emmenthaler cheese and bacon we didn’t even finish, but we did like the chicken teriyaki skewers, but the sushi is definitely the star here.

After lunch we went to a few bars, did some shopping and had a four course dinner, so stay tuned for more Copenhagen posts.

Sticks ‘n Sushi, Borgergade 13, 1300 København K, Denmark

Recipe: Langos (Hungarian fried bread)

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This Hungarian speciality of yummy deep-fried bread is interestingly quite popular in Sweden. As a child I came across langos stalls at Festivals and markets and when I was in my early twenties and sailed in the archipelago on the West Coast of Sweden I discovered langos stalls everywhere, so you could grab one on your way home from the nightclub. (A brilliant idea by the way!)

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In Hungary langos are usually topped with garlic butter, smetana and cheese, among other toppings, but in Sweden we tend to use prawns, fish roe and creme fraiche. Both are delicious and you can use anything you want really. Thankfully, crispy deep-fried bread goes with most things.

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Langos, maked 8 (which easily serves 4, maybe more)

Translated from and adapted after Jennys Matblogg’s recipe.

25 g fresh yeast (or 2 tsp dry yeast)

300 ml finger warm water

1 tsp salt

1 medium cold boiled potato, pressed

approx 420 g plain flour

1 litre neutral oil for deep-frying 

Toppings:

50 g melted salted butter + 1 small garlic clove, pressed

300 ml smetana, sour cream or creme fraiche 

1 large red onion, finely chopped

500-600 g Atlantic prawns, peeled

1 jar red or black (lump)fish roe

Add the flour to a bowl. Add the pressed potato. Pour in yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Mix in the finger warm water and work into a loose dough. Cover and leave to rise for approx 40 minutes. 

Pour out the dough on a floured work surface. Cut into eight even pieces and roll them out thinly, using more flour if the dough is sticky. Leave to rise again, on a floured parchment paper, for approx 10-15 minutes. (This last step can be omitted). 

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and heat it up until 180C (try by putting in a small piece of bread – when it turns golden brown the oil has the right temperature). Deep-fry the breads a few at the time (depending on the size of the saucepan) until golden on both sides and crispy. Drain on kitchen towel, then brush on some of the garlic butter and add the toppings. Eat while hot. 

Malmo: lunch at Kockeriet

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I’ve been wanting to try Tareq Taylor’s (a Swedish TV chef I adore) restaurant Kockeriet in Malmö and I finally did on the second day of the year. My London friends Nick and Janet were on a Scandinavian tour and when they stopped over in Malmö we met up here for lunch.

It was a really cold day so it was nice to step into the cosiness at the restaurant. The old exposed wooden beams and candles made it feel warm and welcoming. They had two lunch dishes to choose from (this is fairly common in Sweden, as the lunch menu changes daily); one meat and one vegetarian. Both seemed nice but all three of us decided on the meat option.

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But first we got some lovely sourdough and whipped butter and water carafes that were refilled a few times. Good service!

The pork with soft celeriac, onions and a creamy sauce was both fresh and comforting and perfect on this cold January day. It was a lovely luncheon and I can’t wait to go back and try the evening menu (and great looking wine list!).

Kockeriet, Norra Vallgatan 28, 211 25 Malmö, Sweden

Recipe: Classic prawn cocktail

 

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One evening at home in Sweden I decided to make langos, something I’ve only made once before a long long time ago, but as these deep-fried flatbreads with yummy toppings are heavy to say the least, I thought we’d start with a salad. And since we already had peeled a mountain of prawns for the langos, why not throw in some prawns and make a classic prawn cocktail?!

I’d almost forgotten this little treasure (although I sometimes make this version) and really enjoyed its revival! Will share the langos recipe shortly.

 

Classic prawn cocktail, serves 4

3/4 large head of lettuce (I prefer a soft lettuce that’s not bitter for this, so no iceberg please) 

1 large avocado

12 cherry tomatoes

28 peeled Atlantic prawns

Marie Rose sauce:

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 tbsp ketchup

a few splashes Tabasco

lemon juice

salt and pepper

rosé pepper to decorate

Rinse the lettuce and cut into pieces. Rinse the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Slice the avocado. 

For the sauce, mix mayonnaise and ketchup in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. 

Layer lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, sauce and prawns in a dessert glass on a stem. Sprinkle some rosé pepper on top.