Which makes it a bit tricky to come up with a good, but not too big lunch. Because in the evening we usually have a big dinner. First world problems, absolutely. But recently I have come up with some good lunch options like the green tortilla pizza we both love and more recently I’ve made us pinxtos!
It stated with us out on an afternoon walk one weekend and getting hungry on the way back. Popping into a supermarket to buy some lunch I wanted something quick, with no cooking involved and so I raided the deli aisle and grabbed a baguette and got to work.
I personally love pinxtos and although these lack the finesse of some of the pinxtos bars in San Sebastien they are still lovely to eat, either for lunch like we did, or as a weekend starter or light supper. What you choose to top your baguette slices with is up to you, but I highly recommend ham and manchego, and if you have any omelette or frittata leftover that’s great too. A creamy cheese and cucumber is lovely and if you have smoked salmon it’s delicious mixed with mayonnaise.
Pinxtos, serves 2
10 slices fresh baguette
Various toppings such as:
Serrano + manchego
Le Roulé cheese + cucumber
Leftover frittata (heated up)
Bresaola + mayonnaise + crispy onions + tomato
Don’t butter the bread, just add the toppings! Serve straight away.
When I was quarantining in our summer house by the beach in Sweden one of the little pleasures (apart from walks along the beach, Netflix and rediscovering the vinyl collection) was of course the food. I had given mamma a shopping list beforehand so she could order the food and stock up before I got there. One of the things I was longing for (alongside Swedish sweets and my favourite cheese) were prawns in abundance. In my family we’ve had prawns pretty much every single Friday night. My parents still do. In London that feels like a real indulgence as you only buy prawns in small quantities, so I made sure to make myself a proper prawn sandwich while at home.
But with the heating on high, snuggled up under blankets and with warm socks on a cold sandwich wasn’t all that tempting. So I made sure the egg wasn’t fridge cold and cooked it just before assembling the sandwich, AND I fried the bread in butter. Frying bread in butter, if you haven’t tried it, is genius and so delicious I promise you will become obsessed and it was so the right decision for a winter version of my beloved Scandi prawn sandwich!
Prawn sandwich on butter-fried bread, serves 1
1 large egg, boiled to your preference (I like mine runny so I’m a 5-6 minute gal), cooled, peeled and sliced
1 slice of white good quality bread
2 tbsp salted butter
1-2 lettuce leafs such as little gem
plenty (approx 4 tbsp) good quality mayonnaise (i.e. Hellmann’s or homemade)
250-300 g large shell-on cold water prawns, peeled (shell on prawns have more flavour so I prefer to peel my own)
2 slices cucumber
1 slice of lemon
sprig of dill
Fry the bread in butter, 1 tbsp per side, on medium-low heat until golden brown. Drain on kitchen roll. Place the fried bread on a plate and add a thin layer of mayo (to hold the lettuce in place). Place the lettuce on top and then distribute the sliced egg. Top with a very generous amount of mayonnaise. Then place the prawns on top. Decorate with lemon, cucumber and a sprig of dill.
One of my favourite foods is undoubtedly burrata. It’s just so creamy and delicious and a nice weekend treat. But, it’s also the easiest thing to use for a lovely starter. When you have burrata you don’t have to work so hard with the rest; just make sure it goes well together.
So for a lovely spring time starter a few weekends ago I made minimal work. Apart from taking the burrata out of the fridge an hour ahead of eating I really didn’t do much; my appliances did all the work for me. The oven slow roasted the cherry tomatoes until jammy and sweet and the food processor made a really delicious wild garlic pesto to smother the burrata with. Add to that some bread and Bob’s your uncle.
Burrata with slow-roasted tomatoes and wild garlic pesto, serves 2
Preheat the oven to 150C. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Place them in an oven-proof dish and drizzle with mild olive oil. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and mix to coat. Place in oven for approx 1 hour.
Take the burrata out of the fridge an hour before it’s needed. Make the pesto.
To assemble, place the burrata on a deep plate, place the tomatoes around the burrata and dollop the pesto on top. Drizzle with a grassy olive oil and add salt and pepper. Serve with bread.
We only managed one baked Vacherin night this Mont d’Or season but it was a good one! I didn’t have any opened white wine so used a dry sherry instead and it worked so well, I wanted to share it here. I skipped the garlic as I don’t think it’s needed so it’s super simple to make.
Last year we learnt how amazing the baked cheese was together with cold (not fridge-cold, but cooled after cooking) new potatoes (a bit like raclette) so those were a must have. We also had bread which is a given, and I like something crusty like a baguette to give a bit of a contrast to the soft melted cheese texture wise. (I love it the most when it’s starting to cool down slightly and coats the bread or potatoes with a thick layer of cheese.) Charcuterie is also a must for me and I wan’t something with acidity as well so cleanse the palate in between. We had radishes and cornichons, but crispy apple slices or small pickled onions work well too.
I’m salivating as I’m writing this, and am already looking forward to the next Vacherin season (December-March) but I’m also very ready for spring and summer right now. It’s already wild garlic season and I cannot WAIT for the British asparagus to come up!
Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 2
1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature
60 ml dry sherry
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Unwrap the cheese from any plastic and place on a baking sheet. Make a few slits in the top and pour in the sherry. Bake until melted and hot, approximately 30-45 minutes. Serve with a platter of nice things to dip into the cheese such as cooked cooled new potatoes, sliced baguette, charcuterie, radishes and cornichons.
While we’re patiently waiting for spring and tomato season, or as I prefer to call it; TOMATO AND BURRATA season, because there is no better combination of flavours ever, I have another easy burrata recipe to share. One that is as simple as slicing a tomato and tear a burrata into chunks. Well almost.
It’s a completely different flavour profile with earthy but fresh mushrooms, grassy olive oil and some lemon to brighten it all up, paired with that delicious creamy burrata. Serve with or on top of crostini for more texture.
Mushroom carpaccio with burrata and crostini, serves 2 as a starter
1 small burrata, at room temperature, torn into chunks
100 g button mushrooms, as fresh as possible
small bunch of parsley or chives, finely chopped
a drizzle of grassy olive oil
1/2 lemon, the juice
salt and pepper
Slice the baguette thinly. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a 180C oven until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool.
Wash, pat dry and trim the mushrooms, then slice them as thinly as possible. Arrange on a plate or platter either underneath or on top of the burrata. Scatter with herbs, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Serve the crostini on the side.
If you’ve followed me for a while you probably already know that a) I love nibbles, and b) I don’t like to waste food.
So when I emptied my London cupboards before going to the countryside in lockdown, I encountered a packet of breadsticks (probably from a Christmas party more than a year earlier, but if sealed these things don’t really go off) that I thought would be good for a little nibble.
About six week later I still hadn’t figured out what to do with it. Usually I have it with taramasalata but I didn’t think the others would be too happy with this suggestion, so I consulted the internet. (Honestly, a lockdown without the internet would have been so scary!). And I found a recipe so easy and yummy I made it twice in two weeks.
It’s just an assembly job really, but it looks impressive and is utterly delicious with a pre-dinner glass of white wine.
Prosciuttowrapped grissini with pesto cream cheese dip, serves 8
I was so pleased to get hold of some of my favourite foods during lockdown; British asparagus and burrata. So grateful Natoora opened up their restaurant delivery slots to the public. Because during this period I have lived for food. I took it upon myself to cook every night, make cakes and make sure we could enjoy nice food even though we couldn’t go out to restaurant. So yes, I’ve eaten very well during lockdown, but I have also been mindful, stretching food to go longer, and have mixed expensive foods with very economical dishes.
The best quality asparagus and burrata wouldn’t feel so special if we ate it every day, but you also want to make sure you make the most out of the short asparagus season.
I’m very pleased with this simple dish – which is more an assembly job than proper cooking. And that’s how to best enjoy the freshest of produce, in the simplest of ways. Asparagus with hollandaise or wild garlic mayo are two of my favourite ways to eat it, and now I have a third way: this!
Asparagus with burrata, wild garlic oil and lemon, serves 3
9 asparagus stems (preferably nice and thick)
125 g burrata, at room temperature
1 large handful wild garlic leaves, washed
100 ml vegetable oil
1/2 lemon, the zest
sea salt flakes and black pepper
Trim the wooden ends off the asparagus. Blanch them quickly in boiling water. Drain and fry with a tiny amount of oil in the pan until they’ve browned a little. Mix the wild garlic leaves with oil using a stick blender.
Divide the asparagus among the plates. Divide the burrata. Drizzle with wild garlic oil (approx 1 tbsp per plate). Add lemon zest and plenty of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
As the tomato season is almost here (hurrah!) this post might be slightly redundant, but the tomato season is short and if you can’t get hold of really good tomatoes just yet, then this is a great way to get them to taste more.
I would make this dish with really good tomatoes too though, especially on a colder overcast summer’s day when all you need is something summery and warming.
Although you let the tomatoes cool a little after they’ve been roasted to sweet perfection in the oven I like them to be warm enough to make the mozzarella melt a little, so you can scoop it all up on some crusty bread.
125 g good quality buffalo mozzarella, at room temperature, torn into large pieces
Preheat oven to 180C. Toss tomatoes, garlic, thyme and oil in a rimmed oven-proof dish and season with a little salt. Spread out in a single layer and roast until tomatoes are bursting and lightly browned, 40-45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Arrange mozzarella on a platter and spoon warm tomato mixture with juices over. Sprinkle with salt and peppar. Drizzle with more oil if needed. Serve with crusty (preferably still warm) bread.
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
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
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.
This was our starter on Christmas Eve. Not traditional but still with a nod to Christmas. And most important of all; it was so yummy!
It was my first time curing salmon with beetroot but I love the ombre effect and will definitely do it again. The beetroot doesn’t add any flavour – only the intense and lovely colour! But do wear gloves when handling it as the colour can stain your hands easily. And of course, cover your clothes with an apron.
Beetroot cured salmon toast with dill cream cheese and prawns, per toast
1 slice soft white bread
1 tbsp salted butter
2 slices beetroot cured salmon (recipe below)
5 peeled Atlantic prawns
1 tbsp dill cream cheese (recipe below)
1 slice lemon
1 dill sprig
honey mustard sauce mixed with creme fraiche
Fry the bread slice in butter on low-medium meat until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel. Cut off the crusts with a serrated bread knife.Place 1 msk dill cream cheese on the bread and arrange the salmon slices around it. Add the prawns and decorate with a lemon slice and dill. Serve with the sauce on the side.
Beetroot cured salmon
600 g salmon fillet
3 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 beetroots, peeled and coarsely grated (use gloves)
Cure the salmon 48 hours before you intend to eat it. Place the salmon in a deep glass or china dish. Mix salt, sugar, grated beetroot and dill in a bowl and pat into the top of the fish. Cover with clingfilm and place something heavy on top of the salmon and place in the fridge for 48 hours.
Once cured, pour away the water and scrape off the beetroot. Rinse quickly in cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel. Cut into thin slices.
Dill cream cheese
180 g (small packet) full fat Philadelphia
3-4 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 lemon, the juice
salt and pepper
Mix Philadelphia with dill and lemon juice in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and mix again.