Recipe: baked Vacherin Mont d’Or

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Anyone else who LOVES melted cheese?! Well, then this is for you. Cheese haters, please look away now.

I’ve only had this amazing cheese (seriously, it’s HEAVEN!) in restaurants before but thought it would be a good supper for Valentine’s Day, especially since we were going to the theatre but needed to eat something afterwards.

This beauty of a cheese; Vacherin Mont d’Or, is a French unpasteurised cheese and is only produced during the winter months (until March or so). The reason for this is that the same cows whose milk normally goes towards the production of Comté and Gruyère, are on a different diet in the winter and so their milk tastes different and is perfect for making this creamy dreamy cheese.

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It’s quite gooey at room temperature but when baked it becomes the best cheese fondue (see below picture) and is both gooey and rich AND light at the same time. The recipe I used is courtesy of David Lebovitz and is of course completely fool proof and the only guidance one needs.

So what to eat with these cheese?! We had a lot of bits for dipping; prosciutto, cooked ham, bresaola, saucisson, cornichons, apple slices (Pink Lady and Granny Smith), crusty baguette and cold cooked new potatoes. Everything worked well, but my favourite was without a doubt the cold new potatoes. You must try it!

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Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe.

1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

60ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap the container of cheese securely in foil, making sure to enclose it so the foil goes up to the top of the outside of the container, but leave the top exposed. Set the wrapped cheese on a baking sheet.

Poke eight-to-ten slits in the top of the cheese with a paring knife and slide the slivers of fresh garlic in them. Pour white wine over the cheese, and bake the cheese until it’s very hot – it will take between 20 and 30 minutes.

 

 

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NYE 2018

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I’m very fond of New Year’s Eve and have been since I was a child. It always felt like a special night and think it still does today. I like to dress up, eat and drink well and spend it with dear ones.

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This year it was just four of us and a little toddler, but it was a lovely evening. The boys played golf while Emma and I cooked and played with the little one and as soon as the boys were back we got some nibbles and wine out. Then we continued with champagne and more nibbles until my goddaughter was asleep.

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I had made three types of nibbles; crisps with smetana, bleak roe, chopped red onions and dill, Toast Lingstrom and my girolle toasts 2.0. I love all of these snacks and they were substantial enough to keep us going for a while. The champagne we had was delicious too and definitely one I will buy again: Pol Roger Brut Vintage, 2009.

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After the nibbles we sat down for a three-course meal. First lobster with garlic butter, browned butter and lemon.

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Followed by fillet of beef with garlic butter, potato terrine with cheese and herbs, green beans, tenderstem broccoli and red wine jus.

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And for pudding we had a well-loved classic; churros with cinnamon sugar, chocolate sauce and three minute ice cream.

Recipe: Girolle toast 2.0

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE mushrooms, and especially girolles! They’re coming into season at the same time as my beloved crayfish, so to start off the little crayfish party we had in Sweden (a must when you have a London visitor in August!), we had these absolutely delicious little girolle toasts with cognac and cream. (I’ve made similar ones before but this version is even better, I promise!)

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They went down a treat and I got praise like “I could eat these EVERY day!”, and I must agree that they were divine. The combination of mustard and cognac with the smooth cream is just delicious and the grated cheese to finish adds an extra layer of flavour.

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You simply must try them, either as little canapés (in which case I would cut each bread slice into four instead of two) or like this; as a little starter with a glass of pink champagne.

With the crayfish we had some more girolles, because why not?!, on top of the Västerbotten cheese quiche. If you’re planning a crayfish party you simply must try it!

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Kantarelltoast 2.0, serves 4 as a starter

5 slices regular white bread, crusts removed and the slices cut on the diagonal into triangels

2 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying the bread

150 g girolle mushrooms, rinsed

1 large shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

4 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying onions, garlic and mushrooms

2 tbsp cognac

100 ml double cream

1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

To garnish:

finely grated Västerbotten cheese (parmesan would work too)

Fry the bread in butter and a little oil on medium-low heat until golden brown on both sides. Leave to drain on kitchen towel. 

Fry the onions and garlic in some of the butter and oil ton medium heat until golden. Remove from the pan and fry the mushrooms with more butter and oil on medium-high heat. When the mushrooms are cooked, turn the temperature down to medium and add the garlic and onions to the pan. Season. Add the cognac and let some of it evaporate before adding the cream. Add the mustard and taste until you’re happy with the flavour. Adjust the seasoning and add a little more cognac if needed. Stir with a whisk while the sauce thickens. It should be thick but still a touch runny when it’s done (and full of flavour). Add the parsley and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the fried bread slices and top with grated cheese.

Recipe: baked feta with tomatoes and red onions

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I love feta. That salty tangy cheese is just heaven for me. But it wasn’t until recently I discovered how nice it is baked. Silly really, since I have baked plenty of camembert and brie in my day.

The feta doesn’t become as runny as those two types of cheeses though, but as it gets warm it becomes creamer and is simply delicious like this; baked with a splash of olive oil, some dried (or fresh) oregano and some juicy cherry tomatoes.

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It works as a light supper, lunch or as a starter. Or why not serve it with olives, charcuterie and a salad?! And bread. You definitely need bread with this. I had flatbread but tortilla chips, pitta or a crusty baguette will work just as well.

Baked feta with cherry tomatoes and red onions, serves 2 as a starter

Inspiration from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

1 feta cheese

200 g cherry tomatoes, on the vine

1/2 red onion, cut into wedges

olive oil to drizzle

1-2  tsp dried oregano

black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Place the feta in a small oven-proof dish. Add the tomatoes and red onions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, until warm and soft. Serve with flatbread or tortilla chips.

Recipe: baked mussels two ways

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My love for seafood started at an early age with our family eating prawns every single Friday. I still love it, although it’s difficult to get hold of Atlantic prawns in London. But that means that every time I go back to Sweden I make sure to eat as much seafood as I possibly can.

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One evening this summer I made these baked mussels as a starter, and they went down a treat.

I had two different toppings but I would say they were both equally yummy. The green ones were inspired by Oysters Rockefeller and had spinach and cream in the filling and the white ones were just topped with homemade aioli.

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Baked mussels with aioli

2-3 large mussels per person

1 batch homemade aioli

Rinse the mussels a few times in a colander to remove sand. De-beard the mussels and rinse again. Discard of any mussels that won’t close their shell when tapping on it. Put the mussels in a pan of boiling water with a little salt. Put the lid on and cook for a minute or so or until the mussels have open. Drain in a colander. 

Open the mussels and discard the empty halves. Dollop aioli onto the mussels to they’re covered. Place in a oven-proof dish and bake until golden in 200C or under the grill, about 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. 

Baked mussels a’la Rockefeller

2-3 large mussels per person

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

3 nests of frozen chopped spinach (or the equivalent of fresh spinach)

4 tbsp double cream

grated nutmeg

salt & white pepper

Rinse the mussels a few times in a colander to remove sand. De-beard the mussels and rinse again. Discard of any mussels that won’t close their shell when tapping on it. Put the mussels in a pan of boiling water with a little salt. Put the lid on and cook for a minute or so or until the mussels have open. Drain in a colander. 

Fry the shallots on medium heat in a small saucepan until translucent but not brown. Add the frozen spinach and let the water bubble away. Add the double cream and nutmeg and let the mixture reduce a little. Season well. 

Open the mussels and discard the empty halves. Spoon the spinach mixture into the shells and place in a oven-proof dish and bake until golden in 200C or under the grill, about 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. 

Recipe: Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

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Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, Bao London should be very flattered that I attempted to make my own version of their amazing pork bao buns.

No, it’s nowhere near as good as theirs, but that was never the goal, instead it’s a very nice homemade version of the real thing. And for being a first attempt I think i did pretty well!

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The recipe I used for the dough, is actually from Bao but I used regular plain flour rather than bleached so the buns look a little dull compared to the ones you see in restaurants or Asian supermarkets. I also added more flour as couldn’t shape mine otherwise, but I will publish the recipe I used rather than my version of it, but if you have the same problem as I did, then it works to add more flour.

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I steamed the buns in a regular bamboo steamer with parchment paper at the bottom. So easy!

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The finished buns looked pretty good!

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While making the buns this pork belly was cooking in the oven. So yum!

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And here you see my condiments (clockwise from top left); quick-pickled cucumber, chopped coriander, hot mayo, chopped spring onions and chopped peanuts.

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I made a second version with leftover bulgogi chicken and used the mayo, coriander and spring onions for that one, and for the pork bao I used the mayo, pickled cucumber, peanuts and coriander. Both were really yummy but I must say the pork one was my favourite!

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Bao buns, makes around 20 (you need 2-3 per person)

Adapted from Bao London’s recipe.

500 g plain flour – bleached if you can find it in Chinese supermarkets (it gives that brilliant white colour)
2 tsp yeast
145 ml warm water
2 pinches salt
50g sugar
15 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
145 ml milk

Mix flour, yeast and warm water together in a bowl. Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it comes together as one.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes – it will be sticky but gradually become more elastic.

Break off 40 g dough and give it a quick knead, forcing it into an oval shape. Roll it out until around 2-3 mm thick and brush one side with vegetable oil.

Fold one side over the other and press down gently so it forms an oyster shell shape. Place on parchment paper in a warm bamboo steamer and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Steam for 15 minutes – the bun will rise and puff up but will be easy to break open.

Pork belly

1 pork belly 

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork in a buttered dish. Massage the salt into the rind and season the meat all over. Put in the oven and cook for two hours or until the meat is very tender.

Turn the heat up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling is nice and crispy.

Spicy mayo

100 ml Hellman’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

a pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

Pickled cucumber

1/2 cucumber

1 tsp salt

75 ml caster sugar

acetic acid solution, also called sweet vinegar (1 part acetic acid  + 6-7 parts water)

1 tbsp water

Thinly slice the cucumber. This is easily done with a cheese slicer or potato peeler. Put the cucumber in a jar or bowl and pour in the salt and sugar, next add the acetic acid solution and water. Stir and make sure the salt and sugar dissolves. 

Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

bao buns, as above

pork belly, as above – cut into slices

spicy mayo, as above

pickled cucumber, as above

salted peanuts, finely chopped

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two slices of pork belly on top, add a dollop of mayo and pickled cucumber. Scatter with chopped peanuts and coriander. 

Bao buns with bulgogi chicken, spicy mayo and spring onions

bao buns, as above

bulgogi chicken

spicy mayo, as above

spring onions, thinly sliced

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two -three pieces of chicken on top, add a dollop of mayo and scatter with spring onions and coriander. 

 

Recipe: Queso fundido!

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Mexican cheese dip. With chorizo and peppers. Melting, bubbly and comforting. I simply cannot think of a better way to start a mid-week cold January supper with some of my closest friends. It was like a warming cheesy hug, telling us if we persevered we would get through the month. Et voila!, it’s February!

We also had prosecco, tacos and lots of fun, which helped.

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But back to the dip. It’s very easy to make and so satisfying to eat. But have plenty of napkins to hand as it is a little messy. Also, be patient and wait for the dip to be completely melted when you serve it. I would suggest putting it in the oven 30 minutes or so before the guests are due to arrive. You can always cover it with tin foil and lower the temperature to keep it hot and bubbling.

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The chorizo and peppers add a lot of flavour to the otherwise unexciting grated mozzarella (I was a little worried it wouldn’t be cheesy enough but it was). But I can’t help but thinking it could be made even better with the addition of jalapenos next time. Stay tuned…

Queso fundido, serves 4

75 g cooking chorizo, finely chopped

1/2 pepper, finely chopped

500 g grated mozzarella

oil for frying

a pinch of cayenne or other chilli powder

To serve: tortilla chips

Fry the chorizo in oil until crispy. Set aside and fry the pepper in the chorizo oil. Drain on kitchen roll. 

In an oven-proof dish, put a layer of cheese, then scatter chorizo and peppers on top and repeat the process until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle with cayenne and put in a 200C oven until melted and bubbly (approx 40 mins). Serve immediately with tortilla chips.