Recipe: pizza with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

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I actually had the intention to make a sourdough pizza with this topping but didn’t have enough time in the end, so used my tried and tested Italian pizza dough recipe, courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor.

I also used my go-to simple tomato sauce that I use for everything and my homemade wild garlic pesto. My best tip is to pick lots of wild garlic leaves when in season and blanch some of it, squeeze out the liquid and freeze in little parcels. Perfect to use for pesto or mayonnaise.

The all you need is a good buffalo mozzarella, some asparagus, parmesan and olive oil.

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I promise it’s like tasting spring. Delicious!

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Italian pizza dough, 2 pizzas

500 g 00-flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried yeast

325 ml lukewarm water

Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast. Add the water bit by bit while stirring with a wooden fork. Knead the dough until elastic. Cut the dough into two and shape to round balls. Put the dough balls back in the mixing bowl, sprinkle with flour and cover. Place somewhere warm and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Shape the dough into round pizzas or use a rolling pin to roll it out thinly. Add the toppings you like and bake in 225C, in a low oven, for 8-10 minutes.

Tomato sauce, for one batch pizza dough

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

Fry the garlic in the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the chopped tomatoes, some water and the tomato paste. Cook for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. Season to taste and put aside. 

Wild garlic pesto, approx 250 ml pesto

ca 50-70 g wild garlic (about a bunch as stick as a small banana)

30 g almonds

40 g parmesan

1/2 lemon, juice only 

mild oil, approx 100-150 ml 

salt & pepper

Mix wild garlic, almonds, lemon juice and parmesan with a bit of oil to a paste in a food processor or with a stick blender. Keep adding oil until you have the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days. 

Topping per pizza:

1/2 batch tomato sauce

olive oil

1 buffalo mozzarella

4-5 asparagus, blanched and cut into smaller pieces

3-4 tbsp wild garlic pesto

parmesan

Roll out the dough and drizzle some olive oil on it. Spread out the tomato sauce. Shred the mozzarella into chunks and place on the pizza. Add the asparagus pieces and dollops of wild garlic pesto. Grate over parmesan. Add a little more olive oil and put it in the oven on 225C, middle to low oven for 8-10 minutes.

Recipe: asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon

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Easter was all about about asparagus (and wild garlic) for me. The first asparagus of the season had arrived in the UK before I left for Sweden so I brought two nice bunches home with me. And then we found some lovely Italian asparagus in the supermarket so obviously had to buy that too!

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The first time we kept it simple and ate them with homemade hollandaise sauce. The second and third lots were served with wild garlic mayonnaise (it’s SO good!) and on Holy Saturday we made this dish with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon.

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Asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon, serves 4

12 asparagus 

2 almost hard boiled eggs, chopped 

50 g butter

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp chopped chives 

4 radishes, thinly sliced

salt, black pepper

Place the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Let the butter melt but leave it until it’s foamy. Remove from heat when it’s a nice medium brown underneath the foam and it smells nutty (and divine!). 

Cook the asparagus in boiling water until al dente (approx 3 mins). Drain and place the asparagus on a plate. Season. Add the chopped egg and spoon over the browned butter. Add plenty of lemon juice. Season again and top with chopped chives and sliced radishes. 

Recipe: udon noodles with spinach and poached egg

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This simple and very comforting dish (funny how foods not involving melted cheese can be comforting, but they can!) I found in Vogue of all places, i.e. not where I usually get my food inspiration from, but it’s nice they write about food as well as fashion.

The only slightly daunting part of this meal is poaching eggs, but if you have the freshest of eggs and a slotted spoon you’re halfway there. Further instructions here.

Udon noodles with spinach and poached egg, serves 1

1 portion udon noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

2 handfuls fresh spinach

200-300 ml vegetable or chicken stock

1 poached egg 

Heat up the stock. Blanch the spinach in boiling water and squeeze it dry. Pour the stock into a bowl. Add noodles and spinach and lastly the poached egg. Sprinkle with chilli flakes or Aleppo pepper. 

Roasted Jerusalem artichokes with browned butter mayo

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Jerusalem artichokes. Once they were just a humble root vegetable used for peasant food and then suddenly it’s a gourmet vegetable.

Fine with me; I really like the earthy sweet taste. And if you have a plot of land to grow your own, it’s, according to my mother, the easiest vegetable to grow as it spreads like weed.

I usually use them for soup as I never get tired of the comforting flavour it has, but sometimes I roast them in the oven. Last time I made sort of a sharing dish with browned butter mayonnaise and grated comté. It’s very simple to make (apart form the mayo) and feels luxurious despite the simple ingredients.

Just a note about the mayonnaise: it’s just as easy to make as regular mayonnaise but make sure the butter has cooled down before incorporating into the mayo. And please make it just before serving as mine split after a while in room temperature. It’s not a huge problem though, as you don’t really want to leave any of it – it’s that good!

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Roasted Jerusalem artichokes with browned butter mayonnaise, serves 2 (starter size portions)

200 g small Jerusalem artichokes, washed 

oil for roasting

salt and pepper

grated comté

2 lemon wedges (optional)

Cut the artichokes in half lengthways. Place in a roasting tin and drizzle with some oil. Add salt and pepper and stir around so all pieces are coated with oil and seasoning. Roast in 225C until soft but with crunchy exterior, approx 20 minutes. 

Serve with the mayo below and grated comté. And maybe some lemon juice. 

Browned butter mayonnaise

100 g butter

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

approx 3 tbsp neutral oil

1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

Brown the butter and let cool until room temperature. Whisk egg yolk, mustard and vinegar in a bowl. Add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Once you have the start of a mayonnaise, add the butter little by little while whisking and letting the mixture thicken. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 

Chicken noodles

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Most people probably already have a go-to chicken noodle or stir fry recipe, but not me. So I looked at one of Jamie’s and then amended it a little (that’s usually how I roll). The result was a nice mixture of soft noodles and chicken, crunchy carrots and peanuts and freshness from lime and coriander. And like most stir-fries, it takes mere minutes to make.

Chicken noodles, serves 2

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

oil for frying

1 garlic clove, chopped

a few spring onions, chopped

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges

2-3 chicken thigh fillets

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1/2  broccoli crown, cut into small florets 

2 egg noodle nests

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tbsp fish sauce

a handful peanuts

1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped

salt & pepper

Cook the noodles according to the packet. Rinse and put aside.

Heat up the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Trim the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Fry them until golden. Add salt and pepper. Then add garlic and chilli to the pan and thereafter spring onions, carrot pieces and broccoli. After a minute or so, add the noodles and heat up.  Add soy and fish sauce, squeeze some lime and season to taste. Top with peanuts and coriander. Serve with lime wedges. 

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

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I found this gorgeous (and easy!) recipe on the BBC Food website and just instantly knew I had to make it. It’s courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour who’s lovely cookbook Persiana I absolutely adore. The Persian pesto with pistachios contains dill, a herb that’s very Scandinavian for me, and I like exploring new ways of using it.

I had this for supper one day, but it works just as well at a mezze table, as a starter or on a buffet.

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe

1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on), and seeds removed 

4 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

150 g feta

100 g pomegranate seeds

For the pesto:

100 g pistachios

70 g parmesan

100 ml olive oil

1 small bunch coriander

1 small bunch parsley

1 small bunch dill

1 red chilli

1 lemon, juice only

2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously. Place on the lined baking tray. Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly. Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.  

For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs and a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it. 

To serve, place the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish. 

Creamy spinach dip

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This creamy and amazingly delicious (I dare you to step away from the dip before it’s finished!) is so incredibly easy to make you have your pre-dinner party snack sorted in minutes. But obviously it’s just as nice in front of a film or a football game on the television.

I first encountered this lovely dip at Laura and Tim’s house warming when my friend Amy and I did our best to finish the dip between the two of us. It’s just SO good!

Creamy spinach dip, serves 4-6 as a snack (or maybe just 2)

Adapted from The Food Network’s recipe.

2 tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped 

225 g full-fat cream cheese

280 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

grated nutmeg

salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and soften without browning, for approx 5-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir to melt and combine. Add the spinach and reduce any water. Season to taste with grated nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Serve warm with salted tortilla chips.