Post-holiday Cobb salad with ranch dressing

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Hello dear readers, are you still there?

Sorry about my unplanned break; before the summer I just didn’t have time to update the blog, and then I was away for three weeks and have now been back in London for two weeks. I feel more rested and obviously have lots to tell you about, but I will start easy and share a yummy salad recipe and the best dressing recipe ever with you.

After having seen Cobb salads on almost every single  menu when I was in America, but never felt like it would satisfy my hunger after walking around all day, I couldn’t wait to make it when I got back to Blighty.  It’s a perfect salad to go for if you want something substantial; not just a few lettuce leaves. Make sure you enjoy it while the Indian summer is still here.

 

Cobb salad, serves 2

2 little gem, sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut into pieces

2 tbsp blue cheese of your choice (jag chose my favourite – Saint Agur)

2 chicken thigh fillets

4 slices streaky bacon

2 eggs

Trim the chicken thigh fillets, brown in butter in a frying pan, add salt and pepper and cook in the oven (15-20 minutes). Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on kitchen towel. Cook the eggs how you like them. Hardboiled are best for salads but I personally prefer a looser yolk (6-7 minutes). 

Slice the chicken, bacon and cube the (cool) eggs. 

Divide the salad between two plates or bowls. Add the toppings (it doesn’t have to be in neat rows but I quite like that). Serve with the dressing of your choice. Maybe ranch dressing? Recipe below. 

Ranch dressing, serves 6

Adapted from The Huffington Post recipe.

120 – 180 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) buttermilk

2-3 tbsp sour cream

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

1 tsp finely chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

a few dashes Tabasco

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or add all the ingredients to a jar and shake until smooth. 

Best ever grilled cheese sandwich

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Melted cheese. Is there anything more comforting in the world? OK, a hug from a dear one and a warm duvet perhaps. But next up is melted cheese.

If in the mood for the ultimate comfort food (maybe because of a heavy night the evening before or just feeling a bit meh), I have the perfect recipe for you. This grilled cheese is exactly how I want it. Fried bread, melted cheese oozing out on the sides and a little depth from cayenne.

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Making something as simple as a sandwich, it’s important the ingredients are of great quality. You want a nice sourdough bread and nice cheeses.

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Best ever grilled cheese sandwich, serves 2

4 large white slices of sourdough bread

salted butter

medium cheddar, coarsely grated 

comté, finely grated

small pinch of cayenne 

Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Place a large heap of grated cheddar on two of the slices, on the buttered side. Add comté and a pinch of cayenne. Place another slice of bread, buttered side down, on top so you have two sandwiches. 

Butter one of the outsides of each sandwich and place buttered side down in a frying pan on medium heat. Butter the other side of each sandwich and flip the sandwiches around after a few minutes. Lower the heat if needed. What we want to achieve is melted cheese in the middle and crispy golden bread on the outside. When done, remove the sandwiches from the pan. Add a layer of grated comté to the frying pan and put the sandwiches back in, creating a crispy layer of cheese on the outside of the sandwich. Repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and cut in half (or four). Enjoy! 

Poached egg with girolles, Västerbotten cheese and toasted hazelnuts

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My first attempt at cooking a 63C egg didn’t work too well, as I tried to multitask and wasn’t paying attention the whole time. Big mistake. Huge. So instead I poached eggs. And served it with butter-fried girolles, Västerbotten cheese and toasted hazelnuts. It was delicious but I still dream of perfecting that 63C egg and serve it with girolles. I mean, is there anything better than a runny egg yolk with garlicky mushrooms?! I don’t think so.

Listening to my favourite food podcast (in Swedish) I learnt a new way to toast nuts, in the oven. So much better than in a dry frying pan. It will change your life. I promise. All you need to remember is 150C for 15 minutes.

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Poached egg with girolles, Västerbotten cheese and toasted hazelnuts, serves 2

2 fresh eggs

a splash of vinegar 

200 g girolles

1 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt, pepper

chopped parsley

2 tbsp grated Västerbotten cheese (or comté)  

20 hazelnuts

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Pour the nuts into an oven-proof tray and toast for 15 minutes. Clean the mushrooms and fry in butter with the garlic until golden brown. Add salt, pepper and parsley and put aside. 

Take a large saucepan and fill half of it with water from a just boiled kettle. Bring the water to a gentle simmer (it should not boil) and add the vinegar. Pour ice cold water into a bowl and have a slotted spoon at hand. Crack and egg into a mug or cup. With a spoon, create a whirl in the pan and lower the mug/cup with the egg into the water and pour it out. Repeat with a second egg and let them poach for 3 minutes. Remove with the slotted spoon and place in the cold water for a few minutes. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. 

Re-heat the mushrooms is needed. Divide them between to plates, leaving a hole in the middle for the egg. Scatter with grated cheese. Chop the nuts and scatter. Serve immediately. 

Lovely halloumi wrap for lunch

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I sometimes buy my lunch at Leon, and it’s almost always a halloumi wrap since I seem to have a constant craving for the salty squeaky cheese.

But it only takes a few minutes so make your own wrap so sometimes I do that too, and I must say that my version is even nicer than Leon’s. Sorry, but it’s true!

Halloumi wrap, serves 1

1 flatbread

1 handful lettuce leaves, I used baby spinach 

Hellman’s mayonnaise

sweet chilli sauce

6 slices fried halloumi

1/2 avocado, cut into cubes

Mix equal parts mayo and sweet chilli sauce and spread onto the flatbread. Add spinach, halloumi and avocado. Roll up and enjoy a nice lunch! 

 

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint

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I have quite a large cookbook collection in London (too big for my book case anyhow) so I have to keep some cookbooks in Sweden as well. The ones with easy, summery recipes I keep in the summer house and I just love flicking through Summer by Nigella every time I’m there. This summer I finally tried these lovely aubergine rolls with feta, chilli and mint. They are incredibly easy to make, and utterly delicious to eat.

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

2 large aubergines (each cut thinly lengthwise into about 10 slices)

4 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams feta cheese

1 large red chilli (finely chopped & deseeded or not depending how hot you require it)

1 bunch fresh mint (finely chopped – save some for sprinkling over)

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat.

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chilli, mint and lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. You don’t need salt, as the feta is salty enough. Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaped teaspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.

Place join side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint.

Lunch box inspiration

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The days I forget or don’t have time to prepare a lunch box for work are sad days. I work in the London’s West End with plenty of lunch places on my (office) doorstep but I still fail to find something I want to eat for lunch. Sure, sometimes I’ll go the taco route or succumb to a nice burger, but most of the time I just get bored looking in Eat and Pret A Manger. And all the healthy food places are a no no for my stomach as I can’t have wholegrain anything or any cabbage, and it seems, cabbage is in EVERYTHING.

So without actually doing much cooking, especially if I’m short for time, I try to come up with simple yet delicious lunch solutions I can bring to work.

The salad above is a great example of lunch dishes I love to eat. The only cooking involved was to slice courgette and aubergine and bake them in the oven with some oil and herbs. While that was cooking I made the feta crème (feta, creme fraiche, salt & pepper, thyme and a bit of olive oil) and the next day I just assembled it at work with spinach, cherry tomatoes and serrano ham straight from the supermarket. I never ever mix a salad before I’m about to tuck into it, instead I keep each ingredient in its own little container. It makes it so much fresher!

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When it’s too cold for a salad this warm Jerusalem artichoke purée (boil artichokes, drain and mix with butter, salt and pepper) with some fried leek, mushrooms and pancetta.

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This couscous salad with fried leeks, roasted sweet potatoes and fried halloumi is another quickly made lunch I can eat again and again and apart from the roasting time for sweet potatoes it’s quick to prepare.

The time I struggle the most to make lunch is when I have several nights out in a row, but the night before I try to prep a few lunches and even if I don’t have time to prep for all the lunches at least I don’t have to buy lunch many days either. A good compromise.

Sweet potato fritters with coriander yoghurt and chorizo

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I really like this kind of lighter dishes for my supper. It’s still cooked food so feels like a proper dinner, just not as heavy. The coriander yoghurt is a nice, fresh contrast to the sweeter and earthier flavours of the fritters. Get in!

Sweet potato fritters with coriander yoghurt and chorizo, serves 2

1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated

70 g plain flour

1 egg

60 ml milk

1 tskp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

salt, black pepper

10 cm chorizo, chopped

Sauce:

250 ml thick Greek yoghurt

1 decent bunch coriander 

1/2 lime, the juice

1 tbsp olive oil

salt, white pepper

Mix yoghurt and coriander with a blender. Add olive oil. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper.  

Mix eggs and flour in a bowl. Add the milk and whisk until no lumps. Add the grated sweet potatp, spices, salt and pepper. Fry in butter and oil on medium heat until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and fry the chorizo pieces until crisp. Plate up and serve with the coriander yoghurt and chopped coriander.