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.

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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. 

London: fabulous Frenchie

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It was a rainy evening the other side of summer when I met up with my old friend Mattias for dinner. He wanted to go somewhere new and fun and  I’m so glad I managed to grab the last two seats at Frenchie in Covent Garden that evening, because we had such a wonderful meal.

To avoid food envy we decided to share the snacks and starters (it was encouraged by the staff), choose the same main course and then share the puddings as well. I highly recommend this strategy as it’s easier to focus on the food when you get to try everything. And trust me, you want to try everything at Frenchie.

First up was the delicious egg Mimosa. Don’t they look stunning?!

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Then we moved on to maple syrup and bacon scones which were a-ma-zing!

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Then the first proper starter; green asparagus with parmesan crème, smoked egg yolk and puffed barley. A modern take on the classic asparagus with hollandaise and it was just heavenly.

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We then had the most tender squid, served with petit poi, white asparagus and raspberries. A rather unusual combination but it worked; spring freshness on a plate.

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When it was time for the main course we were simply stunned; the hanger steak was truly amazing, full of flavour and cooked to perfection. The artichoke purée and goat’s curd further elevated this star of a dish. I really struggle to describe it but it was one of the best dishes I’d had in a long time.

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The puddings were just as nice; and this dark chocolate crème with crumble and bacon ice cream is a must-order dish. Divine!

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The Brillat Savarin cheesecake with raspberries, pistachio and elderflower was also delicious and provided a nice contrast to the dark chocolate.

I simply adore this place and can’t wait to go back. Frenchie has everything I want when I go out for a meal; food that’s utterly delicious and chef-y enough that I can’t replicate it at home, as well as a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. Top marks!

Frenchie Covent Garden, 16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8QH

Classic Swedish fare at Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm

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Den Gyldene Freden in Stockholm is probably the most classic Swedish restaurant I have ever visited, and having dinner here was a very enjoyable experience.

The restaurant is located in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and is several floors deep with cave-like vaulted ceilings. The ambiance is both cosy and a little formal.

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The food here is classic Swedish (this is where to go if you want proper meatballs), but still up to date enough to not feel stuffy.

For our starter my mum, dad and I all had the same; a traditional landgång sandwich. Yes, it’s a glorified open sandwich, but a seriously delicious one! It’s named after a gangway plank, probably because it’s longer than a regular sandwich, and has more toppings. This long slice of rye bread was adorned with eggs, prawns, cured salmon, hot smoked fish, asparagus, wild garlic crème and pickled onions.

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Dad also had a snaps with his starter – very traditional – and something not many restaurants serve nowadays. Mum and I were happy with our wine but dad was in good company as two tables nearby also had snaps and sang snaps songs.

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Dad and I chose the same main course as well; duck sausage with thinly sliced duck breast, seasonal vegetables and a deliciously smooth potato purée. This dish was a lovely mix of rustic and gourmet. Delicious!

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Mum chose the catch of the day; fried pike-perch with new potatoes tossed in butter and chives and it was also absolutely delicious. The portions were very generous here as you can see, and no, I couldn’t finish the whole sausage even if I made a good attempt.

We were too full for pudding but lingered with our wine for a while before I went on to meet a friend and my parents headed back to the hotel.

Dad had been to this place before and really liked it, so that was the reason for going, but we all really enjoyed it! Everything about this place is classic; the interior, the food, the service. And the snaps.

A little gem I hope can stay in its spot for many more years to come, looking after our culinary heritage. As a tourist I urge you to go. Try this and a place serving New Nordic cuisine to get the whole range of Swedish food. Because this is traditional, but done very well.

Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51, 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Crowd pleaser: platters of asparagus and lemon mayonnaise

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A few weeks ago I catered food for a friend’s party (where I was also a guest). There were 35 of us altogether enjoying ourselves in the garden drinking wine, playing croquet or table tennis or splashing around the pool. As it was this type of relaxed party the ‘starter’ for the dinner were three different nibbles served on platters and they went down a storm.

We steamed a lot of asparagus and it was all gobbled down by the crowd and I must say I will definitely do this for parties again. It’s perfect finger food, healthy and delicious!

Asparagus with lemon mayo, serves many

a few bunches asparagus

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

300 ml neutral oil

1-2 lemons, juice only

salt, white pepper

Break/cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. 

Make the mayo: Beat the egg yolks with an electric whisk, add the oil drop by drop then in a thin line while whisking. The mixture will thicken nicely and when it’s nice and wobbly you have a perfect mayo. Add lemon juice (liberally) to taste, as well as salt and white pepper. The acid in the lemon juice loosens the texture a bit so add a bit more oil if you want a thicker mayo. 

Cook the asparagus in salted water for approx 3 minutes; until softened but still crunchy. Drain, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Serve immediately. 

New potato salad with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

IMG_1431It’s not peak season for wild garlic anymore (sob) but I have been slightly too busy lately to be able to post on the blog regularly. I’m hoping to redeem myself with this delicious (and super easy) recipe and higher posting frequency going forward.

If you don’t happen to stumble on some fresh wild garlic in an usually shady part of the woods you can use blanched frozen wild garlic too, or bookmark the recipe for next year.

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New potato salad with grilled asparagus and wild garlic pesto, serves 4

450 g new potatoes

200 g asparagus

1 batch wild garlic pesto

salt, black pepper

Make the pesto. Boil the new potatoes in salted water. Drain and leave while you fry the asparagus on a griddle pan until semi-soft. Cut each stalk into 3-4 pieces and cut the potatoes into chunks. Toss with pesto in a bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve with various barbecued meats or this lovely pork fillet.  

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Asparagus is probably my favourite vegetable, at least during the time it is in season. The rest of the year it is probably in second place behind the aubergine.

One reason I think I love asparagus so much is its compatibility with buttery sauces. If it didn’t work so well with hollandaise it probably wouldn’t be my favourite.

Last time I had asparagus and hollandaise I flavoured the sauce with chives and added some crispy pancetta to the plate. It was really delicious and a dish I will cook again and again. I had it as a starter but I would happily eat it for brunch too with an added poached egg.

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Asparagus with chives hollandaise and pancetta, serves 2

6-8 asparagus stems

6 thin slices pancetta

1 batch chives hollandaise (receipe below)

Break off the wooden part of the asparagus stems and cook in simmering water for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Fry the pancetta until crisp in a frying pan or in the oven. Make the sauce. Plate up and serve.

Chives hollandaise, serves 2-4

3egg yolks

150 g salted butter

1/2 – 1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and white pepper

1 bunch chives, chopped

Mix egg yolks and lemon juice in a non stick sauce pan (start off with only half a tbsp lemon juice if you don’t want the sauce too sharp, you can add more towards the end). Cut the butter into cubes and put one or two into the egg yolks, while whisking. Let all the butter melt before adding more butter cubes and repeat this until all the butter is used. The sauce will slowly thicken and when it is thick enough, remove it from heat, still stirring, season and add the chopped chives. Serve.