Recipe: Lobster soup with toast

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For New Year’s Eve my assignment was to make a lobster soup with sherry, so that’s what I set out to do. But as I needed lobster shell for the stock I thought it best to incorporate the lobster meat as well and did so by serving a delicious lobster toast (on butter-fried bread!) along side it. So yummy!

Obviously one can make the soup sans toast the day after a lobster feast or freeze the shells and use them another day. Same goes for prawn shells; you find a great recipe for prawn soup here.

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Lobster soup, serves 8

4 cooked lobsters

2 carrots

1 onion with skin on 

1 fennel or celery 

a bunch dill stalks

1 tsp fennel seeds

300 ml double cream 

50 ml dry sherry

approx 2 tbsp maizena or corn starch to thicken the soup

concentrated lobster stock (to taste)

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1 tbsp butter

a splash of sherry

2 shallots, finely chopped 

1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped 

Remove the lobster meat from the shells and set aside. Chop the shells very coarsley (it’s only so they fit better in the pan later). Place the shell in a large cooking tray with a little oil. Also add large pieces of carrot, onion and celery/fennel. Roast for approx 20 minutes on 180/200C. Transfer the shells and vegetables to a large saucepan with a lid. Add plenty of water (3 litres) and bring to the boil. Add dill stalks and fennel seeds. Place the lid askew and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Sieve the stock and reduce (high heat, no lid) until approx 1 litre remains. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add some concentrated lobster stock if needed. Add the sherry to a clean non-stick pan and let it bubble for a minute. Add the stock and cream and let it thicken. Add the maizena/corn starch to thicken the soup further. Sieve if you see any lumps. Season to taste with concentrate, salt, pepper and sherry. 

From the lobster meat I used approx 1/4 of the meat, the smallest pieces, to place in the soup bowls. Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped shallots. After a minute add the lobster meat and add the sherry. Add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dill. Divide between the bowls and pour in the soup. 

Lobster toast, serves 8

6 slices white bread

2 tbsp butter

remaining lobster meat from the 4 lobsters

1 batch homemade mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon

1 bunch, finely chopped

1 pinch cayenne pepper

salt, pepper

Chop the lobster meat (not too finely). Add 4 tbsp mayonnaise to a bowl and mix in the meat. Add more mayo if needed. Add mustard, dill and cayenne after taste. Season. Place cold until serving. 

Remove the crusts on the bread and cut into two diagonally. Fry the slices golden brown on both sides in butter on medium-low heat. Divide the lobster mayonnaise between the toasts and serve with the soup. 

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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. 

 

Recipe: Classic prawn cocktail

 

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One evening at home in Sweden I decided to make langos, something I’ve only made once before a long long time ago, but as these deep-fried flatbreads with yummy toppings are heavy to say the least, I thought we’d start with a salad. And since we already had peeled a mountain of prawns for the langos, why not throw in some prawns and make a classic prawn cocktail?!

I’d almost forgotten this little treasure (although I sometimes make this version) and really enjoyed its revival! Will share the langos recipe shortly.

 

Classic prawn cocktail, serves 4

3/4 large head of lettuce (I prefer a soft lettuce that’s not bitter for this, so no iceberg please) 

1 large avocado

12 cherry tomatoes

28 peeled Atlantic prawns

Marie Rose sauce:

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 tbsp ketchup

a few splashes Tabasco

lemon juice

salt and pepper

rosé pepper to decorate

Rinse the lettuce and cut into pieces. Rinse the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Slice the avocado. 

For the sauce, mix mayonnaise and ketchup in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. 

Layer lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, sauce and prawns in a dessert glass on a stem. Sprinkle some rosé pepper on top. 

Recipe: Oysters au gratin with parmesan and creme fraiche

 

IMG_8582.JPGHappy New Year and all the best for 2017!

I hope to post more frequently this year and first up is this lovely recipe for oysters au gratin. This creamy topping and a few slices of baguette is all you need to start off a meal, and it was also the starter I made on Saturday, for my last dinner back in Sweden with my parents. They prefer cooked oysters to au natural and loved these!  

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Oysters au gratin with parmesan and creme fraiche, serves 3 as a starter

With a heavy main course two oysters were enough as a starter, but with a lighter main I would recommend three per person.

6 fresh oysters 

3 tbsp creme fraiche

3 tbsp finely grated parmesan

1 tsp lemon juice

a pinch of cayenne 

salt, white pepper

To serve:

6 slices of baguette

tabasco

Open the oysters with an oyster knife and discard the top shell. Cut loose the oysters but keep on the shells and place in an ovenproof dish,. Mix creme fraiche, parmesan, lemon juice and spices in a bowl and spoon over the oysters, Place under the hot grill or in a very hot oven (225C) until bubbly and a little brown, approx 3-5 minutes. Serve with baguette and tabasco. 

Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies

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Recently I’ve been ordering Abel & Cole’s vegetable boxes on a regular basis, and although I love the fresh organic produce, sometimes I find myself wondering what to cook with certain vegetables.

Sure, I have a few butternut squash recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just want to try something new, without knowing what that something new would be… That’s when I’m grateful for my (rather large) cookbook collection. I love to grab a pile of cookbooks and search through them looking for that something I didn’t know I was looking for. This last time it was this wonderful recipe by Sabrina Ghayour from Persiana that caught my eye and I absolutely love it.

I had half of it for dinner the same night and the rest for lunch at work the day after (and received lots of envious looks from my colleagues), but it would work just as well as a starter or a side dish.

Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies, serves 4 as a side dish

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

1 large butternut squash

3 tbsp za’atar

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

Yoghurt sauce:

200 g Greek yoghurt 

a bunch of mint, finely chopped (I didn’t have any mint at home and therefore omitted it)

2 tsp sumac

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp olive oil

zest and juice from 1 lemon

black pepper

To serve:

1 bunch parsley

Pickled red chillies (I couldn’t find any and so brought fresh one, sliced them and covered them in lime juice for approx 20 minutes, then chopped into smaller pieces) 

nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 240C. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper.

Cut the squash horizontally in half at the point of the bulge. Now halve each portion vertically. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard, then halve each piece vertically again until you have 8 pieces. Peel the squash and cut the pieces into any shape you wish. 

Make a paste with the za’atar and olive oil in a small bowl and rub the squash pieces all over with paste until every piece is well coated. Place all the pieces on to the prepared baking sheet. Season with sea salt, then roast for about 40-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces of squash), or until the edges start to brown and almost char a little. 

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the yoghurt with the fresh mint, sumac, coriander, olive oil, lemon zest and juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  

Remove the squash pieces from the oven and place them on a serving platter. Liberally dollop or pour the yoghurt over the wedges, then sprinkle with the parsley. Follow this with a scant scattering of nigella seeds. Lastly scatter over the pickled chillies.  

Recipe: Toast Lingstrom

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You’re probably familiar with Toast Skagen; the iconic Scandinavian starter consisting of butter-fried bread (oh yeah!) topped with a mixture of prawns and dill in mayonnaise?! It’s a true classic that will never go out of style. And so very delicious. My mother serves it at dinner parties and so do I, and sometimes I make one for myself just because I feel like it.

But this thing of placing things on top of butter-fried bread is bigger than just this one dish. It’s a whole food category. And I’m pleased to say I have discovered yet another recipe to add to my repertoire; this wonderful Toast Lingström with ham, named after its inventor, chef Christer Lingström.

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The combination of smoked (or cooked) ham, creamy mayonnaise and a little tartness from the creme fraiche really works with the heat from the horseradish. It’s such a great little starter. Or nibble, in which case the recipe below is enough for 8 nibbles. Just cut the bread slices in half.

Toast Lingström, serves 4

Adapted from Christer Lingström’s recipe.

150 g cooked or smoked ham

100 ml crème fraiche

50 ml mayonnaise

2 tbsp finely chopped chives

1 tbsp grated horseradish 

salt and pepper

4 slices white tin loaf

3 tbsp butter

Slice or dice the ham and mix with creme fraiche, mayo, chives and horseradish. Season to taste. Cut the crusts off the bread slices and fry in butter until golden. Drain the excess fat on kitchen towel. Divide the mixture between the four bread slices, garnish with some more chopped chives, if you like, 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.