Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands! 

 

Recipe: broccoli cheese

 

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We all know cauliflower cheese, right?! The lovely side dish almost mandatory at any British Sunday lunch.

Now just substitute the cauliflower with broccoli. Why? Well, mainly because then I can eat it. My stomach rules my life and has decided cauliflower is out of the question. Obviously I obey, as it’s pretty painful not to.

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But, I also discovered that using broccoli instead of cauliflower made the whole dish a lot lighter, even though the brassica is more or less covered with a heavy and delicious cheese sauce. And, served on it’s own with either some wild garlic bread, a few slices of prosciutto or a salad to make it more of a meal, it’s a perfect summer supper. Satisfying, healthy-ish (thanks Bon Appetit for coining this term) and lovely.

 

Broccoli cheese, serves 2 as a main course

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s excellent cauliflower cheese recipe.

2 medium heads broccoli

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

salt and black pepper 

475 ml milk, whole milk or semi-skimmed

155 g grated strong cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Trim broccoli and remove the core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Par-boil for 6 to 7 minutes until firm but tender. Drain and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and black pepper. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer while stirring with a whisk. The mixture should thicken. Reserve 2 tbsp of the cheddar and add the rest to the sauce a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place the broccoli florets in an ovenproof dish. Spoon over sauce  and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

 

 

Recipe: courgette and chilli fritters

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Sometimes I forget how genius some dishes are. Like fritters. They’re always satisfying to eat (any time of day) but never too heavy. And they contain vegetables which basically means they’re healthy right?!

 

Courgette fritters, makes approx 10

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

2 medium courgettes

1 tsp sea salt flakes + extra to taste

1/4 red chilli, finely chopped 

1 egg

black pepper

72 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the ends of the courgettes and grate coarsely. Place in a bowl and mix in 1 tsp salt. Leave for 10 minutes the wring out the courgette either using your hands or a clean tea towel. 

Mix the grated courgette with a bit more salt for seasoning (1/4 tsp is perfect), the chopped chilli, black pepper and egg. Mix flour and baking powder and stir into the courgette batter. 

Heat up a frying pan on medium heat, pour in oil. Drop dollops of the mixture into the pan and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and place on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until crisp and cooked through.  

Parmesan yoghurt crème

200 ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 lemon, zest only 

2 tbsp grated parmesan

salt, black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste. 

 

 

Delia’s potato salad with vinaigrette

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This simple, yet quite sophisticated potato salad is one of Delia’s creations, and as I trust her ability I didn’t actually test this recipe before I made it for a dinner party; I just knew it would be nice. And of course it was. One can always trust Delia.

The only change I made was to cut down a bit on the shallots, as chopping onions really makes me cry. I think I gave up after having chopped eight shallots for double the amount of potatoes below.

Potato salad with vinaigrette, serves 8

Adapted from Delia Smith’s recipe.

900 g washed new potatoes

6 shallots, finely chopped

4 tbsp finely chopped (ot cut with scissors) chives

salt

Vinaigrette:

1 dessertspoon sea salt 

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 dessertspoon mustard powder

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

150 ml olive oil

black pepper

Steam or boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, for approx 20 minutes. Leave to cool a little and cut into smaller pieces if needed. 

Meanwhile make the vinaigrette using a pestle and mortar: crush the salt coarsely, then add the garlic. Crush it, mixing it with the salt, creating a purée. Add the mustard powder and really work it in, after that add some black pepper. 

Then add the vinegars and really work them in. Then add the oil, but switch to a small whisk and give everything a really good whisking. 

Stir in the vinagrette while the potatoes are still warm and add the shallots. Add the chives just before serving. Can be served still warm or cold.

Post-holiday Cobb salad with ranch dressing

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Hello dear readers, are you still there?

Sorry about my unplanned break; before the summer I just didn’t have time to update the blog, and then I was away for three weeks and have now been back in London for two weeks. I feel more rested and obviously have lots to tell you about, but I will start easy and share a yummy salad recipe and the best dressing recipe ever with you.

After having seen Cobb salads on almost every single  menu when I was in America, but never felt like it would satisfy my hunger after walking around all day, I couldn’t wait to make it when I got back to Blighty.  It’s a perfect salad to go for if you want something substantial; not just a few lettuce leaves. Make sure you enjoy it while the Indian summer is still here.

 

Cobb salad, serves 2

2 little gem, sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut into pieces

2 tbsp blue cheese of your choice (jag chose my favourite – Saint Agur)

2 chicken thigh fillets

4 slices streaky bacon

2 eggs

Trim the chicken thigh fillets, brown in butter in a frying pan, add salt and pepper and cook in the oven (15-20 minutes). Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on kitchen towel. Cook the eggs how you like them. Hardboiled are best for salads but I personally prefer a looser yolk (6-7 minutes). 

Slice the chicken, bacon and cube the (cool) eggs. 

Divide the salad between two plates or bowls. Add the toppings (it doesn’t have to be in neat rows but I quite like that). Serve with the dressing of your choice. Maybe ranch dressing? Recipe below. 

Ranch dressing, serves 6

Adapted from The Huffington Post recipe.

120 – 180 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) buttermilk

2-3 tbsp sour cream

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

1 tsp finely chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

a few dashes Tabasco

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or add all the ingredients to a jar and shake until smooth. 

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.