Recipe: oysters au gratin with Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic

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I love oysters; both au naturelle and cooked. So you can only imagine that I felt like I was in heaven when I visited Cape Cod a few summers ago. I don’t think I ate anything other than seafood while I was there!

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When cooking oysters at home, I think the au gratin concept is the best approach, as it’s easy, quick and seriously delicious!

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This recipe with Swedish Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic is perfect for spring (and you can of course substitute the Swedish cheese with parmesan or even cheddar) and we followed it up with asparagus (some harvested in our own garden!) and hollandaise sauce as well as prawns (cooked and smoked), homemade mayonnaise and wild garlic bread. It was quite the feast and such a treat to enjoy it with my parents! As we don’t see each other all that often we try to make it special when we are together.

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Oysters au gratin with Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic, serves 3 as a starter

With two more courses two oysters each was the perfect amount, but if you’re having a light main course I would recommend three oysters per person.

6 fresh oysters 

3 tbsp double cream

3 tbsp grated Västerbotten cheese

1/2 – 1 tsp Dijon mustard

approx 6 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

salt, black pepper

To serve:

nice bread

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 cream and mustard in a bowl and add cheese and most of wild garlic. Season well. Spoon the mixture over the oysters, enough to cover them and sprinkle some more wild garlic on top. Place under a hot grill or in a very hot oven (225C) until bubbly and a little brown, approx 3-5 minutes. Serve with baguette or crusty bread to soak up the juices. 

Recipe: crispy rice paper with salmon, avocado and spicy mayo

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This is a new favourite starter of mine! I just adore the combination of crunchy fried rice paper (which is much more delicate here than in a prawn cracker) and smooth raw fish and the fresh toppings. Such a lovely mouthful with lots of subtle flavours coming together. And it pairs perfectly with a glass or two of bubbles, if you need an excuse to open a bottle.

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A note on raw fishÖ Most fish we buy in the supermarkets as fresh have been frozen in transport killing off any bacteria. But if you’re worried ask the people at the fish counter for sushi fish so they know you’re going to eat it raw.

Or, buy a nice piece of salmon and freeze it for 48 hours, and defrost it slowly in the fridge and you won’t even notice it’s been frozen but you know you’re safe from bacteria.

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Crispy rice paper with salmon, avocado and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 sheets rice paper 

500 ml neutral oil 

80 g raw salmon

1/4 cucumber, peeled and cut into small triangles 

1/2 avokado, thinly sliced

100 ml mayonnaise, homemade or Hellman’s

1/2-1 tsp gochujang or 1-2 tsp soy sauce

fresh coriander, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, pickled 

Pour oil into a large saucepan, approx 2,5 cm high. Heat it to 180C. Fry one rice paper at the time and let it puff up. It takes approximately 5 seconds. Remove with tongs and drain on kitchen roll. Let the oil cool before you dispose of it. 

Cut the fresh salmon (or freeze it for 48 hrs and slowly defrost it, to kill off any bacteria) in 2 mm thin slices. Mix mayonnaise with gochujang (or soy sauce for a milder flavour). 

Break each puffed up rice paper in approx 5 pieces, most important is that the pieces are big enough to hold the toppings. Start adding the toppings first avocado, then salmon, followed by cucumber and radishes. Pipe or spoon on the mayonnaise (I put it in a small ziplock bag and made a tiny whole in one corner for piping). You can make both mayos and do half and half too. Top with pickled red onions and chopped coriander. Serve with napkins!

Recipe: baked Vacherin Mont d’Or

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Anyone else who LOVES melted cheese?! Well, then this is for you. Cheese haters, please look away now.

I’ve only had this amazing cheese (seriously, it’s HEAVEN!) in restaurants before but thought it would be a good supper for Valentine’s Day, especially since we were going to the theatre but needed to eat something afterwards.

This beauty of a cheese; Vacherin Mont d’Or, is a French unpasteurised cheese and is only produced during the winter months (until March or so). The reason for this is that the same cows whose milk normally goes towards the production of Comté and Gruyère, are on a different diet in the winter and so their milk tastes different and is perfect for making this creamy dreamy cheese.

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It’s quite gooey at room temperature but when baked it becomes the best cheese fondue (see below picture) and is both gooey and rich AND light at the same time. The recipe I used is courtesy of David Lebovitz and is of course completely fool proof and the only guidance one needs.

So what to eat with these cheese?! We had a lot of bits for dipping; prosciutto, cooked ham, bresaola, saucisson, cornichons, apple slices (Pink Lady and Granny Smith), crusty baguette and cold cooked new potatoes. Everything worked well, but my favourite was without a doubt the cold new potatoes. You must try it!

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Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe.

1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

60ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap the container of cheese securely in foil, making sure to enclose it so the foil goes up to the top of the outside of the container, but leave the top exposed. Set the wrapped cheese on a baking sheet.

Poke eight-to-ten slits in the top of the cheese with a paring knife and slide the slivers of fresh garlic in them. Pour white wine over the cheese, and bake the cheese until it’s very hot – it will take between 20 and 30 minutes.

 

 

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: mushroom toast with brie and rosemary

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Mushrooms. Is there anything better than mushrooms fried in butter?! With garlic of course. Well, this sourdough toast with both mushrooms and gooey melted brie is certainly a contender.

It’s definitely for the colder parts of the year, but it’s sooo good! The perfect little evening indulgence on a cold and windy day.

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Mushroom toast with brie and rosemary, serves 1

1 slice white sourdough bread

1 tbsp salted butter for frying

6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

a small handful dried forest mushroom (I had a mixture of black trumpet, porcini and chantarelles)

1 tbsp butter + 1 msk oil for frying

1/2 (or 1 small) garlic clove, finely chopped

1-2 tsp chopped rosemary

1 large slice ripe brie (I used Sainsbury’s Somerset brie which is surprisingly good and ripe) 

Garnish:

1 sprig rosemary

Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water. Fry the sourdough in butter on medium heat until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel.

Squeeze the excess water out of the no-longer-dry mushrooms. Fry together with the fresh mushrooms in butter and oil on medium-high heat until nicely browned. Add the garlic and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper. 

Place the fried sourdough on a parchment paper covered oven tray. Top with the fried mushrooms and put the slice of brie on top. Place in the top of the oven in 200C, until the cheese has melted, approx 5 mins.  

Plate and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. 

 

Recipe: burrata with figs and prosciutto

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Fresh figs everyday. A Mediterranean dream or reality in the south of Sweden? The latter. I know people think we have polar bears walking the streets (not true!) but Sweden in the summer is often warmer (and less humid) than the UK, at least in the south where I’m from. And in my parents’ garden we have peach trees and fig trees bearing fruit each year.

The two weeks I was in Sweden earlier this month we had fresh figs every day. So many in face we had to come up with various ideas of how to eat them. This starter was one of the winners and it’s a simple assembly job with no actual cooking required. Perfect for a summer lunch or to start off a more casual dinner party. (Yes, it goes perfectly with rosé.).

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Burrata with figs and prosciutto, serves 2-3 as a starter

1 burrata

4-6 fresh figs, washed and cut into quarters

6 slices prosciutto or other cured ham

2 handfuls rocket or mixed salad leaves

nice olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt & black pepper

Take the burrata out o the fridge a good hour before you need it so it’s not fridge cold. Take a serving plate and cover the base with rocket leaves. Place the burrata whole in the middle of the plate and arrange the ham sliced and fig quarters around it. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season well. 

Recipe: Girolle toast 2.0

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE mushrooms, and especially girolles! They’re coming into season at the same time as my beloved crayfish, so to start off the little crayfish party we had in Sweden (a must when you have a London visitor in August!), we had these absolutely delicious little girolle toasts with cognac and cream. (I’ve made similar ones before but this version is even better, I promise!)

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They went down a treat and I got praise like “I could eat these EVERY day!”, and I must agree that they were divine. The combination of mustard and cognac with the smooth cream is just delicious and the grated cheese to finish adds an extra layer of flavour.

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You simply must try them, either as little canapés (in which case I would cut each bread slice into four instead of two) or like this; as a little starter with a glass of pink champagne.

With the crayfish we had some more girolles, because why not?!, on top of the Västerbotten cheese quiche. If you’re planning a crayfish party you simply must try it!

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Kantarelltoast 2.0, serves 4 as a starter

5 slices regular white bread, crusts removed and the slices cut on the diagonal into triangels

2 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying the bread

150 g girolle mushrooms, rinsed

1 large shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

4 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying onions, garlic and mushrooms

2 tbsp cognac

100 ml double cream

1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

To garnish:

finely grated Västerbotten cheese (parmesan would work too)

Fry the bread in butter and a little oil on medium-low heat until golden brown on both sides. Leave to drain on kitchen towel. 

Fry the onions and garlic in some of the butter and oil ton medium heat until golden. Remove from the pan and fry the mushrooms with more butter and oil on medium-high heat. When the mushrooms are cooked, turn the temperature down to medium and add the garlic and onions to the pan. Season. Add the cognac and let some of it evaporate before adding the cream. Add the mustard and taste until you’re happy with the flavour. Adjust the seasoning and add a little more cognac if needed. Stir with a whisk while the sauce thickens. It should be thick but still a touch runny when it’s done (and full of flavour). Add the parsley and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the fried bread slices and top with grated cheese.