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. 

Hot smoked salmon spread for crostinis

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The London crayfish party was a success and so much fun! There was only ten of us but we managed to demolish 5 kgs crayfish and drink two bottles of snaps (as well as beer and wine) and sing snaps songs. Thank you to everyone involved for embracing my country’s silly traditions and being such fun guests!

Before we started on the crayfish though, we had some prosecco and nibbles. I usually start a dinner party with nibbles as I think it’s such a nice informal way to start the evening and get people chatting. One of the nibbles I made was this hot smoked salmon spread. I just put it in a bowl and the guests assembled their own crostinis.

Hot smoked salmon spread, enough for 5 people as a nibble

Adapted after and translated from Arla’s recipe.

350 g hot smoked salmon fillets (no bones)

200 ml soured cream

2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish

1/2 bunch chives

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, black pepper

Check the salmon for bones and remove them and any skin. Place in a bowl and mush it with a fork. Add soured cream, horseradish (Ocado has the fresh stuff) and lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Keep refrigerated until serving. 

Crisps with browned butter and Comté cheese

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To make the commute on the tube a bit more tolerable I’ve started listening to podcasts to and from work. I mainly listen to Swedish food podcasts, and one favourite is Klas Lindberg & Klas Lindberg. It’s two guys with the same name, one well-renowned chef and one journalist with an interest in food and they are just so lovely and inspiring to listen too.

One of the recipes I was dying to try after I listened to it, was these crisps with browned butter and Comté. It just seemed so simple and delicious and it certainly was. Ask my parents, who I made it for when they were visiting. Together with a bottle of champagne (Philipponnat Grand Blanc NV) it was such a lovely start to our meal. Can’t wait to make this for more dinner parties (or just for me when watching a good film)!

Crisps with browned butter and Comté, serves 4

Adapted from and translated after Klas Lindberg & Klas Lindberg’s recipe 

1 bag slightly salted nice crisps (I used Tyrrell’s)

30 g matured Comté, finely grated

50 g butter, browned

1/2 lemon, juice only

Place the crisps in an oven-proof tray and put in a 100C oven for a few minutes (they heat up quickly). Meanwhile brown the butter and put aside. Finely grate the Comté. 

Remove the crisps from the oven and put on a serving tray or plate. Drizzle with 3-4 tbsp browned butter and add the grated cheese. Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve. 

Creamy spinach dip

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This creamy and amazingly delicious (I dare you to step away from the dip before it’s finished!) is so incredibly easy to make you have your pre-dinner party snack sorted in minutes. But obviously it’s just as nice in front of a film or a football game on the television.

I first encountered this lovely dip at Laura and Tim’s house warming when my friend Amy and I did our best to finish the dip between the two of us. It’s just SO good!

Creamy spinach dip, serves 4-6 as a snack (or maybe just 2)

Adapted from The Food Network’s recipe.

2 tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped 

225 g full-fat cream cheese

280 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

grated nutmeg

salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and soften without browning, for approx 5-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir to melt and combine. Add the spinach and reduce any water. Season to taste with grated nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Serve warm with salted tortilla chips. 

 

Anchovies puff pastry rolls

The third nibble for the party was these anchovies puff pastry rolls that everybody raved about. Thank goodness!, as I hadn’t tested the recipe beforehand.The whole reason I made these was to honour the host who is a serious anchovy lover. Luckily the others liked them too.

The recipe is courtesy of Swedish chef Leila Lindholm, with a few changes; I used puff pastry instead of pizza dough to get a crispy flaky snack. And it really worked.

(Picture courtesy of TV4/Recept.nu; I was to slow to photograph these.)

Anchovies puff pastry rolls, makes about 40

2 rolls ready made butter puff pastry 

200 g softened salted butter

4 garlic cloves

4-6 anchovies fillets, finely chopped

2 tbsp honey

plenty of grated parmesan 

a large bunch of fresh oregano, chopped 

a large bunch of rosemary, chopped 

a little black pepper 

Mix all the ingredients apart from the puff in a bowl. Roll out the pastry and spread a thick even layer of butter on top. Roll into a tight roll from the long edge and cut into 1 cm thick rolls. Place on parchment paper on a tray and bake for 200C until golden and crisp, approx 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Gougères

 

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This year I introduced a new snack with the New Year’s Eve champagne – these lovely cheese puffs.

They’re made using a regular choux pastry with the addition of grated mature cheese. I made mine two days in advance and heated them up in the oven just before serving to make them crispy again. So either follow my lead or serve them straight away as they do lose the crispiness quite quickly.

The recipe is courtesy of Simon Hopkinsons and it was easy to work with. I made a few adjustments; mainly piping mine out instead of spooning the mixture onto the tray. If piping do use a large nozzle to avoid the grated cheese getting stuck (alternatively grate the cheese very finely). I also made mine smaller so the recipe probably yielded 50 smaller ones (as compared to Simon’s 30 large ones).

Gougères, makes 50

250 ml water

80g butter

1tsp sea salt

100g plain flour, sifted

4 eggs

150 g grated Gruyère

1/3 nutmeg, grated

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Boil together the water, butter and salt in a roomy pan. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour all in one go.

Whisk together until fully blended and the mixture almost coming away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Leave the mixture for 3-4 minutes to cool just a little, then add the first egg and whisk it in thoroughly.

Add the remaining three eggs one by one, repeating the process (you may not need the fourth egg if the mixture is pipe-able). Tip in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper and, once again, whisk to blend; the cheese may not fully become smooth, but this is just fine.

Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment. Pipe the mixture onto the baking tray about an inch apart. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden and verging on light brown, well puffed and light to the touch when lifted from the tray; undercooked, they will deflate on cooling. Lift the gougères onto a cooling rack, then repeat with the remaining mixture

Truffled mushroom crostini

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Twice in December I made these truffled mushroom crostinis for my friends. Above with chantarelles and chestnut mushrooms and below with only chestnut mushrooms as I was feeding lots of people and fresh chantarelles aren’t exactly cheap. What’s great about the recipe is that it can feed anyone. It’s vegan and works for people sensitive to dairy, and if you make glutenfree crostinis this works for coeliacs as well.

When using the chantarelle mushrooms I added a bit of cream for added creaminess, so feel free to do that if you like, but plenty of oil (or use butter) is enough moisture for me.

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Truffled mushroom crostini (vegan), makes quite a few

1 large baguette

mild olive oil

400 g mixed mushrooms

oil for frying

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 tbsp porcini mushroom and truffle paste (I used this one)

salt, black pepper

chopped parsley for serving

Slice the baguette, place the slices on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 180C oven until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Slice the mushrooms. Fry until golden in oil on medium heat (preferably in batches). Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so. Add the truffle paste, salt and pepper. Divide between the crostini and topped with chopped parsley.