Recipe: Lockdown Courgette Quesadillas Two Ways

I cooked with courgette a lot during lockdown, as it’s such an inexpensive versatile vegetable. And it turns out, it really works in bulking out your quesadillas.

I made the first version, with fried courgette and coriander, served with soured cream and guacamole, when I was alone in London and liked them so much I made a similar version for lunch a few weeks later.

But this time I also added some ham, spring onions and fresh coriander, simply because I had it to hand, and served the quesadillas with a yummy sauce with creme fraiche and basil I made up on the spot, and lime wedges on the side.

Both versions are equally delicious so why not try both and see which you like better?!

Also, a note on frying quesadillas. For an every day lunch I prefer to fry them in a dry pan, as I think the addition of butter is then too much. But if you make quesadillas as nibbles for a party, when you eat much less of them, they’re wonderful fried in butter (and drained on kitchen towel to stay crispy!).

Courgette and coriander quesadillas with guacamole, serves 1

2 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 small courgette, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

75 ml grated cheddar

To serve:

guacamole (scale down to 1 avocado)

a large dollop soured cream

a few drops hot sauce

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander and chilli flakes towards the end of cooking. Season well and set aside.

Place one tortilla bread on a flat surface and scatter half of the grated cheese on top. Add the fried courgettes and top with remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla bread on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add the quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with guacamole, soured cream and a little hot sauce.

Courgette, coriander and ham quesadillas, serves 3

6 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 1/2 medium courgettes, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

1/2 bunch fresh coriander

3 spring onions, chopped

2 slices cooked ham, chopped

200 g grated cheddar

To serve:

3 lime wedges

creamy basil sauce (recipe below)

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Season well and set aside.

Place three tortilla breads on a flat surface and divide half of the grated cheese between them. Add the fried courgettes, coriander, spring onions and ham and top with the remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla breads on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add a quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Repeat with the other two quesadillas. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with lime wedges and the basil sauce (recipe below).

Creamy basil and lime sauce, serve 4

200 ml soured cream

finely grated zest from 1/2 lime

2 tbsp roughly chopped basil

salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a bowl. Season to taste.

Recipe: Bruschetta Bar Winter Edition

When we were tired of heavy Christmas food on Christmas Day (we celebrate on Christmas Eve in Sweden) I threw together this Winter Edition Bruschetta Bar with various goodies we had at home.

A mix of reinvented leftovers, charcuterie and cheese. We had thinly sliced venison with remoulade and crispy onions, sun blush tomato cream cheese spread, olives, pata negra ham, homemade mayonnaise, saucisson, cured salmon and dill cream cheese. As well as cheeses, crackers and sliced pear.

It was the perfect antidote to heavy Christmas food as well as a really good way of using up leftovers. In summer I love tomatoes and burrata for the bruschetta bar, but in winter I think a spread such as this is better (tomatoes are a bit dull in winter), so I hope this could serve as some inspiration.

Recipe: bruschetta bar!

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On several occasions over the last month I have trialled a great new concept for entertaining, *drum roll* –  the bruschetta bar!

I can’t take any credit though, as What’s Gaby Cooking was the one who cleverly coined the term!

As you readers already know, I’m an avid fan of everything crostini and bruschetta and this blog is evidence of that (you’ll find the classic bruschetta; one with burrata; crostini with a mushroom spread to die for; with ricotta, ham and peaches; smoked salmon spread etc etc) but instead of serving already topped crostini of one or two varieties, the bruschetta bar is more of a DIY job. It’s so much easier for the organiser; just fill a big platter with heaps of crostini and a nice spread of toppings, and more fun for the guests who can create their own flavour combinations and partake more. It feels more relaxed and the toppings can be varied after season, inspiration or whatever you can find in your fridge and larders. I can even see this becoming the ultimate fridge forage dinner with lots of fun bits!

I must say I’m a little peeved I didn’t come up with the idea myself (especially as I for one party organised a blini bar and the concepts are pretty similar AND for dinner parties in the past I have served crostini this way too ), but I’m also so grateful for other bloggers inspiring me and sharing great ideas!

As I said, I have trialled this concept a few times already and all the different occasions had slightly different spreads, so to give you a few ideas I’ve listed them all below.

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The all-in birthday celebration. This was my first, AND it was for my birthday, so of course I went all out. I did focus on pasteurised cheeses and less charcuterie though as one of the guests was pregnant, but if that wasn’t the case all I would have done differently would be to add more charcuterie and choose different cheeses!

Serrano ham
Saucisson
Sliced cheddar
Classic bruschetta topping
Ricotta
Boursin cheese
Creamy chantarelles
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Large white beans with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika 
Pea pesto
Fresh figs
Acacia honey 
Vanilla jelly
Truffle mayo
Grilled peppers in oil

Extra: two types of crisps, small carrots and cucumber to sticks, two dips, nocellara olives, prosecco, rosé and sparkling elderflower.

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The last minute spread with caprese salad. This was super last minute so we threw together what we found in the supermarket we passed on our way home.

Caprese salad (mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil and olive oil)
Thinly sliced truffle salami 
Creamy girolles
Grilled peppers in oil
Serrano ham
Creamy gorgonzola

On the side: fig jam, honey

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The greatest hits. When you have time to think about the spread and the supermarket has it all in stock (I’m looking at you burrata!). Perfect as a starter for four people.

Burrata, sliced red and yellow tomatoes, basil and olive oil 
Thinly sliced truffle salami 
Prosciutto
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Homemade pesto (just swap wild garlic for basil)
Grilled peppers in oil

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The pot luck spread. When the book club girls come over and you organise the spread together.

Burrata, sliced red and yellow tomatoes, basil and olive oil 
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Store-bought fresh pesto
Brie
Cranberry cheese 
Mild goat’s cheese log
Grilled peppers in oil
Chorizo
Saucisson
Salami
Prosciutto
Spansk soft rind cheese
Large Spanish beans in oil

Extra: two types of crips and dip 

Recipe: pea pesto for crostini

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For my little rooftop birthday party I made platters with crostini and topping, inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking, and I also made her pea pesto as I thought it was a nice addition to the spread.

It’s delicious on a crostini on it’s own, but also with ricotta or burrata and cured ham. I like that it’s fresh and filling (for a spread) and has a hint of spice to it!

Pea pesto spread, serves 6

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

150 g frozen petit poi, thawed

a handful fresh basil (or mint)

1/2 garlic clove

3 tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 lemon, the juice

1/4 tsp chilli flakes 

salt and pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients in a food processor or using a stick blender, but not too fine as you want a little texture. Season to taste. Serve with crostini. 

Recipe: nachos with chicken and chorizo

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Sometimes I can really crave nachos. And most of the time I long for the ones I had at Yankee Stadium a few years ago. Although probably really processed the tasted divine!

But the next best thing are definitely homemade ones, and these with chicken and chorizo are absolutely delicious! Also, the secret is in the cheese sauce so although it takes a bit of labour it’s SO worth it!

Nachos with chicken and chorizo, serves 2

ca 150 g salted tortilla chips

75 g chorizo, cut small

1-2 fried chicken thigh fillets, cut small

oil for frying

2-3 handfuls grated cheese

Toppings:

1 batch cheese sauce

1 batch proper guacamole

1 jar creme fraiche

Garnish:

Chopped tomato

Sliced spring onions

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Fry the chorizo in oil on medium heat until they’re crispy. Add the chicken and let it absorb the chorizo flavoured oil.

Cover the base of an oven-proof dish with a thin layer of tortilla chips, top with cheese, chorizo and chicken. Repeat with another layer. Place in the oven for the cheese to melt, approx 5-10 minutes. 

Pour the cheese sauce on top (make this while the nachos are in the oven), guacamole, creme fraîche and the chopped vegetables.

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.  

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.