Recipe: Smash Burgers at Home

One of the foods I really missed in lockdown was a good burger. As we were in the countryside we couldn’t even get a takeaway, although I believe most burger restaurants were closed anyway.

§So there wasn’t much to do but make my own. And since I had a hot Aga to cook on, I thought it was the perfect time to finally try the smash burger. It sounds complicated, but it’s in fact a super simple burger, made from only minced beef, salt and papper, that you sort of smash down on a hot surface to cook, creating lovely crispy bits as it’s not round and uniform. My favourite burger chain Shake Shack does this and their patties are lovely!

I made smash burgers a few times and even though they all turned out quite well, I did learn a few things through trial and error that I thought would be helpful to share:

  1. The cooking surface (be it an Aga – if so use the hottest plate, a frying pan, or a sheet pan on the barbecue – yes, I’ve tried that too!) needs to be HOT. Very hot! Sizzling hot. Especially as I like my burger a bit pink in the middle.
  2. Divide the mince into smaller burgers creating thin crispy patties that you can layer, rather than one fat patty. This was you get more crispy bits, a juicier centre and all around a nicer burger.
  3. The coarseness of the mince matters. I’ve found that finely ground mince works the best here as it holds together better and makes it easier to make flat patties.
  4. The fat content matters a lot. The best would of course be to buy beef and fat and mince it yourself at home, but if you buy minced beef in the shop make sure you get as much fat as you can. Minimum 12% but 20% is the dream. Lean beef is not for burgers as the flavour is in the fat.

Smash burgers, serves 2

This is based on two double burgers, if you prefer a single burger just add more buns and toppings.

400 g finely ground good quality 20 % fat beef mince

neutral oil

salt and pepper

4 plastic cheese slices

2 good quality (the softer the better!) brioche burger buns

2 lettuce leaves

2 tomato slices

1 batch Fake Shack sauce

other toppings of choice

Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before cooking. Once at room temperature, divide the meat into 4 sections that hold together. Unwrap the cheese and get the lettuce, sauce and tomatoes ready. Cut the buns in half.

Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Add a little bit of oil to coat your cooking surface (frying pan, Aga sheet or oven tray on the barbecue) and heat on really high heat.

Add the meat, leaving lots of space around. Do batches rather than crowding the pan if not much room and flatten the meat down hard with a spatula. Hold down to get crispy bits. Turn the burger around and cook the other side. Season well on both sides and add cheese. Let it melt properly then remove from pan to a plate and let rest for a minute.

Toast the burger buns in the oven for approx 30 seconds. Then build your burger. Shack sauce on both bun halves. Lettuce on the bottom half, followed by the burger, tomato slice and top bun.

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Short Rib with Caramelised Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This comforting hug of a dish was a real hit! Both to cook and, of course, to eat. Cooking wise the oven does most of the work for you; tenderising those short ribs so that they completely fall off the bone when you try to pick them up. Together with the caramelised garlic for the mash, also cooking in the oven at the same time, the scents in the kitchen were a pure delight, and a good indicator of how nice our supper would be.

And indeed it was! Is there anything more joyful than a comforting plate of food that just fits together like peas in a pod?! Soft succulent umami full short ribs marriages so perfectly with the velvety and fluffy mashed potatoes with a lovely hint of earthy and sweet caramelised garlic.

The short rib recipe is courtesy of the brilliant What’s Gaby Cookinghttps://whatsgabycooking.com/garlic-red-wine-braised-short-ribs/, although a bit modified, but the caramelised garlic mashed potato recipe is all my own.

Red wine braised short ribs, serves 2-3

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

900 g bone-in short rib of beef

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 -1 bottle red wine

a few sprigs each of parsley, thyme, oregano and rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

400 ml beef stock

Preheat oven to 180C. Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a casserole dish on medium-high heat. Brown short ribs on all side and transfer to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add the short ribs back in. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, approx 2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Strain sauce from pot and spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on a pillow of caramelised garlic mashed potatoes.

Caramelised garlic mashed potatoes, serves 2-3

2 heads of garlic

650 g King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into similar sized pieces

3 tbsp salted butter

approx 50 ml whole milk

salt and pepper

While the short ribs are cooking, cut the top off the garlic heads and wrap in tin foil. Place them in the oven until soft, approx 40-60 minutes. Remove until needed for the mashed potatoes.

Boil the potatoes just about covered with salted water on medium-low heat until soft, approx 15-20 pieces, depending on the size of the potato pieces. Drain water and let them sit uncovered for a minute. Add butter and some of the milk and either mash with a masher or beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add more milk as you go. Take the foil off the garlic heads and squeeze out the caramelised garlic into the mashed potatoes. Stir well and add more as you taste. Season well and serve with the short rib.

Recipe: Fillet of Beef, Pommes Anna, Mushroom Sauce with Cognac and Charred Spring Onions

New Year’s Eve feels so far away. Was it only three months ago?! But I still remember the lovely evening we had, and the food I cooked of course.

After plenty of bubbly and nibbles we had lobster with beurre blanc, and after that we had fillet of beef with pommes Anna, mushroom sauce with cognac, broccoli and charred spring onions. So yummy!

I cooked the fillet of beef whole, giving the end bits to Emma who prefers her more cooked, the medium pieces for the boys and the rarest for me. My guess work worked out well but I suggest you use a thermometer to get it just right.

I made the sauce the day before and heated it up while the rest was cooking but the rest I did the same evening. Luckily my friends have an open plan kitchen dining room so it’s easy to cook and be sociable at the same time.

Fillet of beef, Pommes Anna, mushroom sauce with cognac, broccoli and charred spring onions, serves 4

800-1000 g fillet of beef

butter and oil for frying

salt and pepper

1 kg maris piper (or similar firm potatoes), peeled and thinly sliced

150 g salted butter, melted

salt and peppar

300 g tenderstem broccoli

1 bunch spring onions, washed and trimmed

Mushroom sauce:

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

100 g fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced

30 g dried black trumpet mushrooms (porcini works too but then you probably need a bit less)

400 ml double cream

1/4 vegetable stock cube

1-2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp cognac

salt and pepper

Start with the potatoes as they need the longest time to prepare (and can be kept warm if needed). Add some melted butter to a cast iron (or oven proof – if you haven’t got one, use a springform) frying pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of potato slices. Add more melted butter, salt and pepper and continue to layer (each slice overlapping others) until it’s full. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and add something heavy and oven proof as a weight on top. Place in 200C oven for approx 15 minutes, then remove the weight and the paper and cooked until golden on top and soft in the middle (pierce with a pairing knife), approx 45 minutes all together. If it’s getting too brown cover with tin foil. Can be kept warm until needed covered in foil on a 150 C heat.

Next brown the beef on all sides in butter and oil on high heat. Add salt and pepper and place on an oven tray covered in oil. Add garlic and maybe some herbs and place in a 200 C oven until a few degrees shy of the temperature you want. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into 1cm though slices. If you want your beef really rare, brown it early but don’t put it in the oven until the potatoes and the sauce are well on their way. You can cook the vegetables as the meat is resting.

For the sauce, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water in a bowl for a few minutes. Fry the onions and garlic until soft in butter and oil. Remove from pan, add more butter and oil if needed and fry the fresh mushrooms. Season and add it to the fried onions. Lastly, fry the rehydrated dried mushrooms and season. Add the other mushrooms and the onions back to the pan and lower the heat. Add the cream and stock cube and bring to a gentle boil. Add the dijon mustard and cognac and season to taste. If it’s too thick add a little water or fresh cream to make it thinner. Keep warm or reheat just before serving.

Boil the broccoli for approx 3 minutes, until it’s softened a bit but is still a bit crunchy. Drain and cover with kitchen towel. Fry the spring onions in a fry frying pan on high heat until charred.

To plate, cut the Pommes Anna into wedges, add the sauce, vegetables and the meat on top. Add some extra salt and pepper and enjoy!

Recipe: Beef and Ginger Stir-fry with Rice and Sesame Broccoli

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This recipe is so easy to make that I managed it when I was tired and shaky and almost wished I had ordered a takeaway. But it doesn’t take long to make at all, and tastes so good it just can’t compare to a takeaway.

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It’s full of flavour and feels silky and light although you’re eating steak. It’s so delicious it has become one of my new favourite recipes – especially suitable for Friday nights in when we want something fast but delicious enough to celebrate the end of a work week and this fits the bill perfectly.

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Beef and Ginger Stir-fry with Rice and Sesame Broccoli, serves 4

Adapted from Bon Appétit’s recipe.

ca 450 g skirt steak (I used bavette which worked really well)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp + 1 tbsp soy sauce 

1 tsp salt + more

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium sweet onion, sliced 

7cm ginger, peeled, very thinly sliced

ground black pepper

80 ml water

3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To serve: 

cooked rice 

Cut the steak into large strips. Toss in a bowl with sugar, sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp salt to coat and let sit 20 minutes.

Heat up oil in a frying pan on high heat and let it coat the bottom of the pan. The oil should be shimmering and you should see some wisps of smoke—if it’s not hot enough, the meat will steam instead of getting deeply browned.

Add the steak to the pan in an even layer and cook, undisturbed, until brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Turn steak over and add onion, ginger, lots of pepper, and the water. Cook, tossing often, until onion is just tender and ginger is softened, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add butter, lemon juice, and remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce. Toss until butter is melted and coats the steak. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Divide rice among bowls and top with beef stir-fry and serve with sesame broccoli. 

Sesame broccoli, serves 4

2 packets tenderstem broccoli (approx 300 g)   

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil  rostad sesamolja

4 tsp sesame seeds 

1/2-1 lemon or lime, the juice 

salt and pepper 

Trim the dry ends of the broccoli. Place in a large frying pan and almost cover with boiling water. Add salt and cook for about a minute on high heat. Drain and return to the hot pan. Add sesame oil and squeeze with lemon. Toss and add sesame seeds and season. Serve alongside the rice and beef stir-fry. 

Recipe: pork fillet en croûte (v. 3) with mushroom crème

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This mushroom crème is EVERYTHING! I have used it in the past with meat both at a New Year’s Eve party and for more casual suppers and now I’ve incorporated it into a new recipe.

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It works SO well with the pork and puff pastry, and adds that lovely earthiness that mushrooms have to the dish, along with plenty of flavour and a bit of creaminess. Just love this so much. You can obviously use it in a Beef Wellington as well but there is just something about pork and mushrooms that work so well!

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Pork fillet en croûte with mushroom crèmeserves 2-4 (four as part of a three course meal, two as a stand alone dish)

1 large pork fillet (500g+)

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp neutral oil

salt, black pepper

1 roll all butter puff pastry 

1 egg, beaten

Mushroom crème:

125 g chestnut mushrooms

1 handful dried ceps (porcini) in pieces 

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Cognac

50 ml double cream

salt, white pepper

Brown the pork fillet on all sides in the butter and oil and medium heat. Season well. Leave to cool completely.

Soak the ceps for a few minutes then squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop all the mushrooms roughly. Heat up a knob of butter in a frying pan/ on medium heat and add shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Fry slowly adding more butter if needed. Once the mushrooms have browned, add the mustard and Cognac and let the liquid evaporate. Add the cream and let the mixture thicken. Blend to a smooth paste using a stick blender. Adjust the seasoning. Leave to cool completely. 

Take the puff pastry from the fridge and roll it out. Spread out the mushroom crème but leave the edge without filling. Place the pork fillet on top of the puff pastry and roll into a parcel. Pinch together the edges to seal. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray and decorate the top of the pastry with a small knife. Make two holes (chimneys) to let the steam out. Brush with beaten egg. Bake in a 200C oven until the pastry is golden brown and the meat almost cooked through, approx 12-15 minutes (or until the temperature of the meat is 62C). Rest for 5 minutes, then cut into thick slices and serve.

Recipe: pork fillet with lemon and thyme

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This thinly sliced and seriously tender pork fillet is such a good recipe to have to hand in the summer months as it can be served warm or cold and goes with pretty much anything. I personally think a potato salad, a nice green salad and some cold pale rosé is perfect, but it would work equally well with an array of different salads, pasta salads and sides on a buffet. And this parmesan créme is delicious to serve with it!

A quick note on pork: I prefer to cook mine slightly pink as it makes the meat so much more tender. The reason we have always been told to make sure pork is well done is because of trichinosis, but there has not been a single case of it from meat produced in the UK for more than 30 years because of rigorous testing (the last case in Sweden was almost as long ago; in 1994) , so it’s perfectly safe to cook it pink. Interesting article here.

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Pork fillet with lemon and thyme, serves 2

1 pork fillet, ca 500 g 

Marinade:

100 ml rapeseed oil or mild olive oil

1 garlic clove, sliced

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 lemon, sliced

sea salt and black pepper

For cooking:

butter for frying

Decoration:

sea salt and black pepper

1/2 lemon, juice only

approx 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (taken off the sprigs)

1 tbsp thyme oil or nice olive oil 

Trim away any sinews and fat on the pork fillet. Season all over. Place in a ziplock bag (or bowl) and add garlic, lemon, thyme and oil. Close the bag and make sure the marinade is evenly distributed around the meat. Place in fridge overnight. 

Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you intend to cook it. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add butter to the pan. When melted, add the meat whole and brown it on all sides (even de the ends). Add a little salt and pepper. Place the meat in an oven-proof dish and cook in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes (a few minutes longer if you want to make sure it’s not pink in the middle, but it does cook on the residual heat as well). Cover with foil and let rest for five minutes. Slice thinly and arrange on a platter. Add salt and pepper and decorate with thyme leaves. Drizzle with thyme oil and lemon juice.  

 

 

Recipe: slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce

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In between Christmas and New Year back in Sweden we cooked venison one night, using a recipe from a Swedish cook who also likes to go shooting so I really trust his game recipes.

The original recipe called for elk meat but it worked just as well with venison. The cut is near or around the rump; one that needs to cook slowly to become tender. So this will take a bit of time but it’s not difficult at all and definitely worth it. The tender meat and the creamy sauce (with all the jus from cooking the meat) is just amazing. Serve with Hasselback potatoes and broccoli and tarte tatin and vanilla ice cream for dessert. So yummy!

Slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce, serves 6

Translated from and adapted after Per Morberg’s recipe in the book Morberg Lagar Vilt.

1 kg venison rump (off the bone)

salt and pepper

1 carrot

1 onion

1/2 leek

3 tbsp tomato purée

300 ml game stock

200 ml red wine

2 bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

6 juniper berries

Creamy sauce:

the jus from the meat

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp blackcurrant jelly

salt and pepper

Trim the meat and rub in plenty of seasoning. Brown the meat on all sides in a large casserole dish.

Cut the carrot and onion in large pieces. Wash the leek and cut it into large pieces as well. Add it all to the casserole dish and let it brown for a few minutes. 

Add tomato purée, stock, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat until simmering and let it simmer with the lid on until cooked through (until the meat is 65-70 C in the middle), approx 45-60 minutes (maybe more). Turn the meat and baste it a few times. Remove the steak from the casserole pan and cover with tin foil.  

For the sauce: sieve the jus and pour it into a clean saucepan together with the cream. Bring to the boil and let it slowly thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the jelly and season to taste.

Cut the meat into thin slices across the grain of the fibres. Serve with the sauce and Hasselback potatoes.

 

 

 

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: 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: lamb ribs with nigella seeds

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I tend to bookmark recipes to try all the time, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to actually try them out. This one, is definitely one of those as I first made a mental note while watching the series Simply Nigella, and then literally bookmarking the page in the cookbook, then leaving it for a year or so. But this recipe is worth the wait. It’s incredibly easy to “make” (the oven takes care of it really) and it’s really yummy and packed full of flavour.

If you’re not a fan of lamb meat this may not be for you as the meat flavour is really strong because of the cut and the fat that melts over the meat in the oven. But if you, like me – like lamb – they’re heavenly!

 

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds, serves 6-10

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

4 teaspoons nigella seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 teaspoons regular olive oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely grated, or minced)

24 lamb ribs (cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in)

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Line a large roasting tin with foil and sit a rack on top.

Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

Dip the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won’t be enough for all the ribs, but it is. 

Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking tin and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender. Serve.