Recipe: Butternut Squash Canapés with Persian Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

Do you guys remember this lovely recipe? I’ve made it many times, and for our Christmas party I made it into bite size canapés, and it worked really well so of course I wanted to share with you what I did differently. Loved these as canapés! They’re a bit fun and different, refreshing amid meaty or heavy canapés and of course perfect for vegetarians. Plus they look gorgeous!

Instead of large wedges I cut the butternut squash into little triangles that I then topped with feta, pesto and pomegranate seeds.

Butternut squash canapés with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds, makes about 30

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe

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

2 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. Cut each wedge into 1 cm thick slices and place on lined baking trays, evenly spread out. Drizzle with oil, add salt and pepper and roast the squash for about 30-40 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly and they’re soft.

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 pieces on a platter, spoon a little pesto on each and top with crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds.

Recipe: Beetroot Cured Salmon Toasts with Dill Cream Cheese and Prawns

This was our starter on Christmas Eve. Not traditional but still with a nod to Christmas. And most important of all; it was so yummy!

It was my first time curing salmon with beetroot but I love the ombre effect and will definitely do it again. The beetroot doesn’t add any flavour – only the intense and lovely colour! But do wear gloves when handling it as the colour can stain your hands easily. And of course, cover your clothes with an apron.

Beetroot cured salmon toast with dill cream cheese and prawns, per toast

1 slice soft white bread

1 tbsp salted butter

2 slices beetroot cured salmon (recipe below)

5 peeled Atlantic prawns 

1 tbsp dill cream cheese (recipe below)

1 slice lemon

1 dill sprig

To serve:

honey mustard sauce mixed with creme fraiche

Fry the bread slice in butter on low-medium meat until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel. Cut off the crusts with a serrated bread knife. Place 1 msk dill cream cheese on the bread and arrange the salmon slices around it. Add the prawns and decorate with a lemon slice and dill. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Beetroot cured salmon

600 g salmon fillet

3 tbsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

3 beetroots, peeled and coarsely grated (use gloves)

Cure the salmon 48 hours before you intend to eat it. Place the salmon in a deep glass or china dish. Mix salt, sugar, grated beetroot and dill in a bowl and pat into the top of the fish. Cover with clingfilm and place something heavy on top of the salmon and place in the fridge for 48 hours.

Once cured, pour away the water and scrape off the beetroot. Rinse quickly in cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel. Cut into thin slices.

Dill cream cheese

180 g (small packet) full fat Philadelphia

3-4 tbsp chopped fresh dill

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt and pepper

Mix Philadelphia with dill and lemon juice in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and mix again.

Recipe: Mini Rösti with Smetana, Bleak Roe and Chopped Red Onions

In Sweden we love our own version of caviar; the bleak roe. It’s orange instead of black and the eggs are a lot smaller, and although quite different in taste than sturgeon caviar it’s just as delicious! And it’s native, so not as expensive and easier to get hold of.

But it’s still very much a special occasion type of food (even if that occasion is just a Friday night); we typically don’t eat it for breakfast on a Tuesday. As I (and I think every single Swede) love it so much, I often eat it when I’m home in Sweden, and always on New Year’s Eve. It’s perfect for nibbles and I love it on a little toast or on pizza (!) but this time I put it on little crispy röstis to avoid having too much bread (we also had the girolle toast so that was enough bread).

Rösti might seem daunting to make but it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a firm potato variety like Maris Piper, a grater and plenty of butter. And you know, salt and pepper and a nice topping.

Mini rösti with smetana, bleak roe and chopped red onions, serves 4 as a canapé

3-4 medium sized firm potatoes, peeled

3 tbsp salted butter

1 msk neutral oil for cooking

salt and pepper

To serve:

1 tub smetana or French full fat creme fraiche

1 tub bleak roe

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch dill, finely chopped

1/4 lemon, the juice

Grate the potatoes on the coarse side of a grater. Gather the grated potatoes into little rounds, approx 1,5 inches in diameter. Heat up half the butter in a (preferably non-stick) frying pan on medium-high heat. Add a splash of oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted and the pan is hot, place the little röstis in the pan with some space in between (you will need to fry a second and maybe a third batch depending on the size of the frying pan). Flatten the potato rounds with a spatula and let it sit undisturbed until golden underneath. Add salt and pepper and turn over, fry undisturbed until golden on both sides. Season on top and remove to a plate covered with kitchen towel to drain. Repeat with another batch or two.

Put some of the rösti on a plate or platter and top with smetana, bleak roe, chopped onions and dill. Add a little squeeze of lemon and serve straight away.

Back in London, Birthday Celebrations and Some Cooking!

The second week of January – and the first week back in London for me – was back to business straight away. I was back at work on Monday, unpacked and tidied up in the evening, made myself some noodles and read a good book.

Tuesday was pretty much the same, while also doing errands, buying gifts and getting organised.

On the Wednesday it was my darling boyfriend’s birthday, so I took him out for a night on the town! First champagne (and a cheeky G&T!) at Sky Pod Bar, taking in the lovely view!

Followed by dinner (and more drinks) at Sushi Samba with more amazing views. Can you sense the theme?!

Thursday was head down working and putting things away at home. I always stock up on everything from cheese to body lotion to mouth wash when I’m in Sweden and it takes me a while to find space for all these extra items.

Friday night we had our usual burger before going to the cinema to see Cats. Not that we expected it to be good (it wasn’t!) but we wanted to make up our own mind. A little bit entertaining, but a total car crash of a film, but mostly it was just REALLY WEIRD! If you’ve seen it you’ll appreciate this little video – it’s spot on!

We stayed in on Saturday night and I cooked. Prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves (this recipe + avocado) followed by…

…homemade Dover sole a’la meunière which was absolutely delicious and so much fun to make! Will post the recipe soon.

For pudding we had Gino with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

On Sunday we had a lie-in and our favourite breakfast and then we decided to go for a refreshing walk on Wimbledon Common.

It was lovely to be outside and get some fresh air and check out the swans and the ducks in the pond. Little pleasures!

Absolutely starving we had a late lunch at The Ivy Café in Wimbledon Village before heading back.

For supper I made us a really nice chicken curry (will post the recipe soon) and we watched some TV before hitting the hay. Such a lovely weekend (and week)!

Updated: Peanut Butter Noodles with Cucumber!

I’ve made Nigella’s peanut butter noodles a lot (A LOT!!) through the years. It’s the easiest ‘instead of takeaway meal’ you can make at home and sooo satisfying. It’s lovely as it is, but when I saw that Deb at Smitten Kitchen added thinly sliced cucumber to her peanut butter noodles I thought I better try that and make sure I’m not missing out on something.

Since I already love Nigella’s noodle recipe and the Smitten Kitchen one seemed more cumbersome to make (the whole point here is ease) I thought I could just add the sliced cucumber to the noodles I usually make and see how that works out. And wow! It’s amazing how the addition of a thinly sliced watery vegetable without that much flavour to it, can take this dish to a whole other level!

When I make the peanut butter noodles I usually omit the vegetables in Nigella’s recipe and I’ve never cared for the sesame seeds, so I just top the noodles with coriander, lime and chopped salted peanuts. So without really trying to, I have changed the recipe enough to warrant an update of it here.

The addition of thinly sliced cucumber (best made using a cheese slicer – not a knife) is now my go-to version to eat it as it adds a freshness to it that’s just amazing together with coriander and lime. But sometimes I also add crispy chillies in oil to the mix as it’s good on practically everything!

Nigella’s peanut butter noodles my way – with sliced cucumber, serves 4

Heavily adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

Dressing:

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

100 g peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

2 tbsp lime juice

salt and pepper

Noodles:

550 g cooked and cooled egg noodles

To serve:

a handful toasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

a bunch coriander, chopped

1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced

4 lime wedges

In a large bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients. Add the noodles and mix well. Divide between bowls and top with chopped peanuts and coriander. Place the sliced cucumber on the side of the bowl and serve with a lime wedge.

Recipe: Bruschetta Bar Winter Edition

When we were tired of heavy Christmas food on Christmas Day (we celebrate on Christmas Eve in Sweden) I threw together this Winter Edition Bruschetta Bar with various goodies we had at home.

A mix of reinvented leftovers, charcuterie and cheese. We had thinly sliced venison with remoulade and crispy onions, sun blush tomato cream cheese spread, olives, pata negra ham, homemade mayonnaise, saucisson, cured salmon and dill cream cheese. As well as cheeses, crackers and sliced pear.

It was the perfect antidote to heavy Christmas food as well as a really good way of using up leftovers. In summer I love tomatoes and burrata for the bruschetta bar, but in winter I think a spread such as this is better (tomatoes are a bit dull in winter), so I hope this could serve as some inspiration.

New Year’s Eve, pizza and dinner parties!

The first week of January actually started in December. That Monday we had a lie-in and after a bit of NYE prep we went to see some friends for dinner.

We had a lovely time playing with the children, eating lots of good food and catching up with the adults. To start we had charcuteries and nibbles in the kitchen while the chef prepared our main course.

Which was pizza! With lots of cheese and mushrooms. Delicious!

And for pudding we had the most luxurious saffron ice cream with crunchy oats on top. Yum!

Next day was New Year’s Eve and I spent the day with my best friend and my god daughter playing and chatting (but also working so didn’t get as much quality time as I would have liked) while the boys were out playing golf. Once they were back we opened up the champagne and gathered around the kitchen island eating canapés and chatting while I occasionally stirred a pot prepping the rest of our dinner.

We had three nibbles, quite substantial as we started early and had dinner late, to accommodate a little lady’s bed time. The girolle toasts were requested by all and will probably be a firm NYE nibble from now on, but we also had the fried rice paper with salmon and mini rosti with bleak roe. So yummy!

The starter was of course lobster, but prepared a bit differently so will post the recipe later.

The main course was also classic with fillet of beef, mushroom and cognac sauce, pommes Anna, broccoli and charred spring onions. Really nice, if I may say so myself!

The pudding was a new version of baked Alaska, with dulce de leche ice cream inside. Recipe to come!

The next morning we had a lie-in and then I cooked us all poached eggs with pancetta, basically forcing our favourite couple onto our hosts, but they loved it (as we thought they would).

When we got back home we unpacked (I basically brought half of mum’s kitchen with me), settled in for a film and hang out with my parents. Then we had some bubbles and Jamon Iberico by the fire before dinner.

Which was pizza! It’s basically tradition to eat pizza on New Year’s Day but I prefer to make my own instead of buying it. I made four different ones and we were so full afterwards we postponed pudding until an hour or so later.

Pudding was homemade ice cream, crispy oat biscuits and chocolate sauce. So yummy!

The following day we hosted a dinner party, and mum and I both cooked making it so easy. I had prepared the crostini we had with some bubbly when our guests arrived. We had the Finnish-Russian mushroom spread and the Öjeby toast – both delicious!

Mamma made the main course, we had wild duck with all the trimmings, which was delicious as usual but I forgot to take any pictures of it. I did photograph the crème brûlée I made for pudding though. We served some saucy raspberries with it. Love this pudding so much!

The next day it was time for my boyfriend to go back to London so we made the most of the day; going for a walk in the woods, playing with the cats and had a late lunch with my parents. Mamma had made her famous (they are seriously the best!!) meatballs and we ate so much it was nice we had a drive ahead of us to digest the food.

When I got back we had some leftover pizza for supper while watching our favourite Swedish game show!

On the Saturday I had a full day with just my parents. We went to the cinema and saw A Piece of My Heart which was actually quite sweet. And quite good!

Then we had alll the seafood for dinner. Oysters au gratin, smoked salmon, langoustines, smoked prawns, homemade mayo, garlic bread. All delicious!

My last day in Sweden I hang out with my parents, packed my bags and just tried to get stuff done. Then we had roast chicken for dinner, before going to the airport. Two weeks just flew by! But I have all the memories.