Truffled mushroom crostini


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.


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. 

Blini buffet


As I’ve mentioned before, I set up a little blini station for the drinks party before Christmas, a concept I will definitely use again.

It was the first time ever I made blinis and although time-consuming (the batter need to rise twice and then you have the fry them all) it was so much fun and I love these little Russian pancakes.


I also made some vegan pancakes and some glutenfree ones as well as vegan toppings (marinated beetroot with horseradish and aubergine caviar). The general toppings were very classic; gravadlax (cured salmon), creme fraiche, caviar (not the fancy kind) and chopped red onions.



This was all set up on a table so people could help themselves in between canapés as well as in the beginning when I was busy greeting the guests.

Blinis, makes about 80-90 (at least)

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe from the book The Hors D’oeuvres Handbook

2 tsp dry yeast

350 ml warm water

350 ml plain flour 

350 ml buckwheat flour

3 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites 

5 tbsp melted butter 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

350 ml warm milk

Mix yeast and water in a large mixing bowl. Place in a warm place until the mixture is creamy and foamy, about 10 minutes. 

Slowly add the flower to the mixture. Whisk to combine and remove any lumps. Cover the bowl with cling and put it in a warm place to rise, about 1 hour. 

In a separate bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, egg yolks, 4 tablespoons of the butter, salt, sugar and milk. Whisk to combine and remove lumps. Use a spatula to stir in the buckwheat mixture into the risen mixture. Combine well. Cover with cling and set in a warm place to rise by about half, and bubbly, about 1 hour. 

Beat the egg whites with a whisk until stiff but not dry. Fold gently into the batter. 

Heat a frying pan och blini pan over medium heat and brush with some of the butter. Pour 1 teaspoon of butter per blini into the pan; try to fit as many as your pan can fit, leaving space between them (I cooked four at the time). Cook until the bottom turns golden and bubbles appear on top, about 45 seconds. Flip and cook until golden and cooked through, about 30 seconds more. Repeat with the remaining batter.Stack the blinis as they’re ready.

They can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days but are best freshly prepared. They do not freeze well. 

Serve with creme fraiche, lumpfish caviar, chopped red onions. 


300 g salmon fillet

1 tbsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp caster sugar 

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Freeze the fish if fresh and defrost it (to remove any bacteria). Mix sugar, salt and dill and pat into the fish all over. Place in a shallow dish and cover with clingfilm. Place something heavy on top. Place in the fridge for 48 hours. 

Remove the liquid and pat the fish dry. Slice thinly and serve. 

Aubergine caviar 

Adapted from miscellaneous recipes (especially one by Gordon Ramsay) found on the web.

1 aubergine

1 garlic clove, sliced

olive oil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

Cut the aubergine in half lenghtwise and make cuts in a check pattern into the ‘flesh’. Place the garlic pieces in the cuts and pat the aubergine with oil. Add the dried herbs and put the aubergine back together and wrap the whole thing in tin foil. Bake in 200C oven until soft all the way through, approx 30-40 minutes. 

Remove the foil and scrape out the inside of the aubergine onto a chopping board. Chop t up with a knife, transfer to a bowl, season and add more oil if needed. Serve cold.

Marinated raw beetroots with grated horseradish

4-5 fresh beetroots

1/2 lemon, the juice

2-3 tsp mild olive oil

salt, white pepper

fresh horseradish

Peel the beetroots (use plastic gloves) and slice thinly with a mandolin or cheese slicer. Place in a bowl and add the lemon juice and oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add grated horseradish before serving. 

Glutenfree pancakes

Adapted from Doves Farm’s recipe.

200 g glutenfritt mjöl från Doves Farm

2 eggs

1 tbsp sunflower oil

500 ml milk

Add flour and egg to a mixing bowl. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Leave to rest for a bit and whisk again before making the pancakes. Heat up some oil in a frying pan and pour in 1 tbsp batter per pancake. Fry until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until golden on that side too. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

Vegan pancakes 

250 ml plain flour

2 tbsp baking powder 

1 pinch salt

250 ml soy milk

2 tbsp mild oil 

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add soy milk and oil and whisk to a smooth batter. Heat up a splash of oil in a frying pan, add a tbsp of the batter per pancake and fry until golden brown at the bottom. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown. 

Sweet potato and lemongrass soup

With the big freeze hitting London, all I want to eat it food that warms you through. This soup is definitely warming, filling and of course – tasty.

The slight ‘exotic’ combination of sweet potato and lemongrass really works and it is a nice alternative for a mid-week meal.

The vegetable puré itself is velvety and thick enough without the addition of dairy product, however I think a dollop of creme fraiche while serving adds another flavour, and it cuts through the lemongrass nicely.

(To make this vegan, use vegetable stock and omit the creme fraiche.)

Sweet potato and lemongrass soup, serves 2

2 sweet potatoes

1 lemongrass

1 tbsp olive oil

400 ml chicken or vegetable stock

salt, black pepper

To serve: a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of olive oil

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into even-sized pieces. Cut the lemongrass in half lengthways and then across so you have four pieces. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the lemongrass and sweet potato and stir for a few minutes to enhance the flavours. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Then cook with the lid halfway on for about 15 minuter or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the two thickest pieces of lemongrass then puré the everything into a thick soup consistency. Add more stock or hot water until it has the thickness you want. Bring to the boil again and season. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of a flavoursome oil. 

Oven roasted cherry tomatoes, marinaded mozzarella, vegan pesto swirls

On Saturday Natalie and I went to Jenny and James’ for a nice evening in. I brought some nibbles and Jenny had made a gorgeous garlicky chicken made with lots of garlic with roast potatoes for maincourse and strawberry cupcakes for dessert.

Since James is a vegan I made sure most of the nibbles were vegan so he could enjoy them as well. I made oven roasted cherry tomatoes, bought some nice olives and made some vegan pesto swirls with (vegan) puff pastry. It is all very easy to make, but really nice. For the non-vegans I also marinaded some mozzarella, so simple yet delicious.

Oven roasted cherry tomatoes, serves 4 with other nibbles

1 packet cherry tomatoes

olive oil

Italian herb seasoning

salt, white pepper

Turn the oven on 150C. Rinse and cut the tomatoes in half and place in a greased ovenproof dish. Drizzle with with olive oil, plenty with Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Leave to cool.

Marinaded mozzarella, for 3-4 people

1 good quality buffalo mozzarella

olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Shred the mozzarella and place on a plate. Drizzle with oilve oil and balsamic vinegar. Decorate with a few basil leaves.

Vegan pesto swirls, serves 4

3 bunches basil

1 handful almonds

1 garlic clove

1/2 lemon, the zest

salt, white pepper

50-100 ml rapeseed oil

1 packet vegan puff pastry

Place everything but the olive oil in a food processor and mix to a paste. Pour in the oil bit by bit until the pesto has the texture you like. Leave the flavours to develop in the fridge for a few hours.

Roll out the puff pastry and spread out the pesto on top. Roll it up from the short side and pinch to secure the roll. Cut in 1/2 cm thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes in 180C or until golden brown.

A vegan New Year’s Eve menu

I like to be challenged in the kitchen, and that is why I thought it was a good idea to cook for my friend Jenny and her boyfriend James on NYE before heading to a party. Last time I invited James I cooked a whole lot of mezze dishes inspired from my trip to Syria and Ottolenghi’s book Plenty.

I wanted the NYE menu to be quite traditional, nice and vegan and because it was just for the three of us I kept it quite simple.

~ The New Year’s Eve menu 2011 ~


Crostini with bean spread


Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk and fried chestnut mushrooms

Rustic baguette, olive oil and balsamico


Butternut squash risotto with spinach

Salad with romaine lettuce, romano peppers, avocado and pomegranate


Vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit


We had champagne to start as well, and thanks to Waitrose I got a great bottle of bubbly half price. At the champagne tasting at Harrod’s I tried some champagnes from Duval-Leroy, but not thiis one; their regular Brut NV, but because I liked the others and it is a good quality champagne house I bought this bottle and it was really good.

Vega Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk, serves 3 as a starter

1 shalot, finely chopped

1 tbsp oliv oil

500 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled


2 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

50 ml coconut milk

salt, white pepper

Topping: fried, sliced chestnut mushrooms

Fry the onion until soft in the oil. Add the artichokes to the pan and fry for a minute or so, Add hot water to cover and add salt. Bring to the boil and cook until very soft. Remove half the water, but keep it on the side, and puré the rest with the artichokes. Add the coconut milk and then adjust the thickness with the left over water. Add concentrated stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil again and serve.

Vegan butternut squash risotto with spinach, serves 4

1/2 butternut squash

1/2-1 onion

olive oil

100 ml dry white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

400 g aborio rice

2 handfuls fresh spinach

salt, white pepper

Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut it into chunks and place them in a roasting tray, add oil, salt and pepper and mix. Place in 200C for 35 minutes or until soft.

Fry the onions in olive oil in a casserole dish or large saucepan but don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two. Add the wine and watch most of it evaporate. Then add a ladle of the hot stock and continue to stir while it cooks in. Add another ladle and repeat the procedure until all the stock is used up and the rice is soft. it usually takes 18-20 minutes depending on the type of rice. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and add the butternut squash. Feel free to serve with parmesan if you’re not vegan.

Vegan vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit, serves 3

400 ml soy cream

2-3 tbsp vanilla essence

50-75 ml jelly sugar, or the same amount of caser sugar + enough veggie set or agar flakes for the amount of liquid

3 passionfruits

I tried my way through when I cooked this, to get rid of the particular aftertaste soy products have, and I recommend you do the same.

Add the cream to a sauce pan and the smaller amount of sugar and vanilla and heat it up. Then add the sugar and vanilla little by little until you are satisfied with the taste. Add the jeling agent if not using jelly sugar. Bring to the boil and stir so the sugar melts. Pour into dessert coupes or ramekins and leave to cool. Place in the fridge for a minimum of four hours to set. 

Before serving, place the inside of the passionfruits in a bowl and place enough on each pannacotta to cover the top. Serve and enjoy.

A reminder: Bruschetta

I came down with a terrible cold on Sunday. Just bam it hit me, and I got the lot; sore throat, runny nose, fever… At least it broke out quickly and the recovery seem pretty quick as well. Fever is gone, I’m back at work and my taste sensation has come back as well. Yay!

Before this hit me, on Friday we had a lovely little basil-themed dinner. It just happened like that and it was really nice! We had one of my favourite starters to begin with – bruschetta. It is best this time of year when the tomatoes taste like they should, full of sun and happiness. Paired with lots of basil, some garlic and nice crusty bread this is a winner every time. I just wanted to remind you of that.

Bruschetta, serves 2 as quite a large starter

6 largeish pieces of ciabatta

4-6 medium tomatoes

a handful of basil, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed

salt, pepper

Chop the tomatoes wuite finely and put it into a sieve to get rid of the excess water. Transfer to a bowl, add basil, pressed garlic, olive oil and spices.

Place the bread pieces on an oven tray and pour garlic on them. Rub the recently used garlic press over the bread to give it a hint of garlic. Roast in 200C oven for about 5 minutes (or until crusty on top).

Place generous spoonfuls of the tomato mixture on each piece of bread. Serve immediately – with napkins.

Classic tomato salad

After seeing this the other day, I craved tomato salad, something I haven’t eaten since I was in Provence in 2007. Weird, since it is such a nice and refreshing little salad. And incredibly easy to make. Just make sure you have nice tomatoes and this will be a perfect little side dish, especially with meat.

Classic tomato salad, serves 2

4 medium tomatoes

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


black pepper

Slice the tomatoes and place them on a plate. Sprinkle the onion on top, and salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk together mustard, vinegar and oil and pour over the salad. 

And a little dessert…

The vegan dessert I had planned was almond biscuits with rose water buttercream wedged in between. But that didn’t happen.

Apparently it is very difficult to make a vegan buttercream that involves rose water. Ifailed. Three times.

So I had to come up with plan B. Said almond biscuits fresh strawberries, perfectly ripe mango and a splosh of rose water on the fruit. Nice too, but not what I had in mind.

Oh well, shit happens sometimes, and the best you can do is to make it work with what you’ve got.

Almond discs with sesame and cadamom, makes 25

100 g ground almonds

3 tbsp sesame seeds

100 ml caster sugar

100 g margarine

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp soy milk

1 tsp ground cardamom

Melt the maragine in a sauce pan, add the other ingredients. Cook for a few minutes while stirring, until you have an even batter. Place dollops of teaspoon size onto a baking sheet, with plenty of space in between. Bake for 6 mins, 175C, leave to cool on a flat surface, then store in an airtight container. 

Mezze: amazing lamb scewers and Damascene lentil salad

Another recipe courtesy of the carismathic Syrian chef is this phenomenal lentil salad with pasta. Unfortunately my stomach does not allow me to eat lentils, but I still wanted to make this for my friends.

Pasta is actually quite common in the Middle East among with other Italian influences such as pizza. This dish requires lasagne sheets, but I couldn’t find any egg-free lasagne sheets (to make it vegan) in the shops near work so I used fusilli instead. It worked well but I used a little bit too much pasta to get the perfect pasta-lentils ratio, so do use the measurements below. It was still a very tasty dish and this is great buffet food. (And cheap too.)

Damascene lentil salad (Harra s’bao), serves 4

230 ml lentils

2 lasagne sheets, semi-cooked, cut in finger-sized strips

1,4 l water

2 tsp salt

4 lonions, finely chopped

1/2 bunch coriander, chopped

4 garlic cloves, pressed

juice from 2 lemons

3-4 tbsp pomegranate molasses

240 ml olive oil

250 ml pomegranate seeds

Arabic croûtons

Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add salt, lentils and 1 tbsp olive oil. Cook for 2o mins, covered, stirring occasionally.

Add the pasta after 20 minutes and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the pasta is cooked.

While the lentils are cooking, fry the onion brown in a frying pan, transfer to a bowl. In the same pan, fry the coriander for a minute (until wilted), add the garlic and fry on low heat. Place with the onions.

When the lentils are done, add olive oil and the rest of the ingredients. Top with Arabic croûtons and pomegranate seeds. 

As I told you earlier, everything was vegan apart from one meat dish, and that is the lamb scewers above. It might not be strictly Middle Eastern influences in this recipe, but it has the chilli and the cumin, and besides, it was too nice not to try!

And if you will be barbecuing just one thing this summer, make sure it is these scewers! The recipe is courtesy of the lovely Rejina at Gastrogeek and you find the recipe here.

I marinated the meat for 2 days to cram in as much flavour as possible, but since we don’t have a barbecue (or a garden, sob) I cooked them in the oven for 15 minutes or so and a few minutes under the grill at the end.

Mezze: Fatoush and Maroccan carrot salad

At least one salad is compulsory when having mezze, and the most common one is probably tabbouleh, but I chose to make fatoush instead, the same way we made it in Syria when cooking with the chef.

I completely forgot to take a photo of it, but it looks like a regular green salad with tomatoes and peppers, chopped herbs and some Arabic coûtons on top. These:

Fatoush, serves 6-8

4 cucumbers, roughly diced

4 tomatoes, roughly diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 head of lettuce, romaine lettuce, roughly chopped

1 bunch mint, only the leaves, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped

(2 bunches purslane, chopped hackad – if available)

cider vinegar

pomegranate molasses



Arabic croûtons (deepfried left over pitta/flatbread)

Mix the vegetables. Add the chopped herbs. Season to taste with vinegar, molasses and spices. Add the croûtons just before serving. 

I also made this Maroccan carrot salad from Plenty that was very appreciated. This would work well as a side dishtoo, for something that can handle the spice.

Maroccan carrot salad, serves 4-6

1 kg carrots, peeled and sliced

80 ml olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp caster sugar

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1 spring onion, chopped

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1-2 tbsp pickled lemon peel (I used the same amount grated lemon peel)

1 bunch coriander, chopped

(120 ml Greek yoghurt (I omitted this, soygurt would not have worked)

Peel the carrots and cut them in 1 cm slices. Boil in salted water 10 minutes or until they have softened but still are crunchy. Drain.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions for 10-12 minutes until soft and brown. Add the carrots and the rest of the ingredients apart from the fresh coriander (and yoghurt). Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Leave to cool completely and sprinkle with coriander just before serving. Ottolenghi suggests serving this in individual bowls with yoghurt on top.