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. 

 

Dill-y hummus and pitta chips

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Dill works really well in hummus, I discovered this summer when I thought of trying it for a dinner party. It went down really well with my friends and especially with my best friend Emma who liked it so much she urged me to make it again a few days later when cooking at her house.

Dill-y hummus, serves 4-6

1 can (400 g) good quality chickpeas

100-150 ml nice olive oil

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp tahini

1/2 -1 lemon, the juice only

1 medium garlic clove

1 pot or a large bunch dill

plenty of salt and black pepper

Rinse the chickpeas and pour into a food processor bowl. Add 100 ml olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp tahini, the garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix for a good while until you have a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add more oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper – whatever you think is needed. Add the dill and mix again. Season to taste and adjust the flavours once more if needed. Place in fridge until serving. Keeps for 5 days in the fridge.  

Pitta chips, serves 4

5 pitta bread

olive oil

salt, black pepper

Cut the pitta breads into smaller pieces using a pair of scissors. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper (and any other seasoning you might like) and place in 200C oven for approx 10 minutes (until golden and crispy). Serve immediately.

Confit garlic bread

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I found a recipe for confit garlic in an issue of Bon Appetit and I liked the idea, but thought using butter as the recipe suggested seemed a bit risky so I did it my own way, with oil.

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It still amazes me how different garlic can taste depending on how it’s prepared. I love the sweetness from caramelised garlic and the punch of frying fresh chopped garlic with mushrooms for example. The confit garlic is somewhere in between the two; it’s less sweet than caramelised garlic but a lot softer in flavour than raw. I used the confit garlic to make garlic bread and it was, as I suspected, absolutely delicious!

Why not try wild garlic bread or cheesy garlic bread next?

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Confit garlic

1 whole garlic

approx 100 ml neutral oil

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Peel the garlic and place the cloves in a ramekin. Cover with oil. Place in the oven until the garlic is soft, approx 30 minutes. Leave to cool. Remove the garlic. Save the oil for roasting potatoes and vegetables in the oven. Keeps in the fridge. 

Confit garlic bread

the confit garlic above

100 g salted butter, softened 

a bunch of parsley, finely chopped 

1 baguette or other preferred bread

Remove the garlic from the oil and mush into the butter. Add parsley and mix well.

Make slits in the bread and spread with the butter. Wrap in tin foil and bake for 10 minutes in 180C until the butter has melted. 

Place the remaining butter on a sheet of cling. Shape into a roll and place in the fridge or freezer. Use for garlic breads or as a flavoured butter for fish or meat. 

Sweet potato muffins with feta

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Savoury muffins are great as a snack in between meals or for breakfast on the go, and these lovely ones with sweet potato (the best vegetable there is according to Jamie Oliver!), spring onions, chilli and feta are absolutely delicious!

The recipe is courtesy of Jamie’s latest cookbook, but I have substituted feta for parmesan and white flour for wholemeal. Obviously, the picture above is before they went into the oven; I was so mesmerised by the smell when they were done I just dove straight in and forgot all about photographs. Sorry, but if you make them you’ll understand.

Sweet potato muffins with feta, serves 12

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

olive oil

600 g sweet potatoes

4 spring onions

1-2 red chillies

6 eggs

3 tbsp cottage cheese

250 g self-raising flour

1/2 packet of feta 

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and coarsely grate into a large bowl. Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side. Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.

Divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Add a slice of chilli to each one. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. They freeze well. 

 

 

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! 

Proper guacamole

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My go-to guacamole recipe has always been my own concoction from when I was younger and tacos became the staple Friday dinner for all Swedish families. It’s very nice (my best friend can testify to that), but as it contains creme fraiche it’s far from a proper guacamole. So a few weeks ago when I found the best tortilla chips ever in my local Whole Foods (oh, how I love saying that!) I thought it was about time to try a slightly more authentic version of guacamole.

And the result was amazing! It’s so easy to make, and quite healthy (if you don’t count the tortilla chips) and it has become my new obsession.

Proper guacamole, serves 4

2 perfectly ripe medium Hass avocados, 

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

1 bunch coriander

Tabasco (the red one)

1 lime

Worchestershire sauce

salt, black pepper

Spoon the avocados into a bowl and mush up with a fork. Add the chopped tomatoes and onions. Add lime juice (start with the juice from half a lime, add more to taste), a few drops of Tabasco and Worchestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper and mix well.  Chop the coriander and add to the guacemole. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve with tortilla chips or with any Mexican or Tex Mex dish. 

Puff pastry squares with girolles and Västerbotten cheese

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The second nibble we had with the pre-crayfish prosecco was these lovely puff pastry squares with fried girolles and Swedish Västerbotten cheese (any other sharp cheese will do, but Västerbotten is a must with crayfish). I’m so pleased I can now by girolles with my food orders from a decent supermarket I come up with any excuse to buy them and this is a good way to use them. But to make them go a bit further (as they’re not the cheapest of shrooms) I threw in some chestnut mushrooms as well.

Puff pastry squares with girolles and Västerbotten cheese, serves 5 people as only nibble

1 roll  all butter puff

600 g mushrooms (I had approx 400 g girolles and 200 g chestnut mushrooms) 

a knob of butter for frying 

1 garlic clove, chopped 

1 bunch parsley, chopped

30 g Västerbotten cheese, finely grated

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Roll out the puff onto a parchment paper covered baking tray and cut into squares. Clean the mushrooms and slice. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the mushrooms until golden in batches. Add the garlic towards the end. Add salt, pepper and parsley. Leave to cool. 

Distribute the mushrooms on the puff. Scatter grated Västerbotten cheese on top and bake until golden. Serve immediately.