Recipe: pizza bianco with butter-fried girolles and Västerbotten cheese

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For once I feel like I’ve had a proper summer. It’s been warm and sunny both here in London and in Sweden. I’ve still got a tan and I swam in the sea several times. Had al fresco meals and lots of rosé. One might think I’ve had enough of summer for now, but I would happily continue the summer for another few months. But, because we had a real summer I am also, at the same time, looking forward to autumn. To cosy nights in, lit candles, blankets, darker colours and heartier dinners. And red wine instead of rosé.

And just like the trench coat and the leather jacket are good transitional pieces in our wardrobes I feel this pizza is the ultimate transitional dinner dish.

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Mushrooms always get me excited about autumn and their earthy taste is just what I’d want right now. Before the soups and stews. And, luckily – this pizza goes well with both red and rosé!

Pizza bianco with butter-fried girolles and Västerbotten cheese, makes 1 pizza

1/4 pizza dough 

flour for rolling

2-3 tbsp creme fraiche

1/4 buffalo mozzarella, torn into smaller pieces

100 ml grated Västerbotten cheese (mature cheddar works too) 

200 g girolles

2-3 tbsp butter

a splash of oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

chopped parsley

sea salt and black pepper

finely grated Västerbotten cheese for serving

Roll out the dough with the help of a rolling pin on a floured surface. Place the rolled out pizza base on a parchment paper covered baking tray. Spread out the creme fraiche on the pizza base. Divide the mozzarella and the grated Västerbotten cheese.  Bake in a 220C (200C fan) oven for 8-10 minutes, until the base is crisp, the cheese has melted and the whole thing is golden brown.

In the meantime, fry the girolles in butter and oil on medium-high heat. When the mushrooms are almost done, add the garlic and fry until golden (but no longer). Remove the pan from the heat and season well. Add the chopped parsley. 

Remove the pizza from the oven, divide the mushrooms onto the pizza, top with finely grated cheddar and cut into slices. 

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Recipe: cream of mushroom soup with sherry

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This creamy mushrooms soup with sherry is a new favourite of mine. The humble ingredients really come together here creating a delicious soup, definitely worthy of becoming your next dinner party starter but also perfect for a warming weeknight supper with some crunchy bread to go with it.

Cream of mushroom soup with sherry, serves 2

1/2 onion, sliced

1 small garlic clove, sliced

oil and butter for frying

250 g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters

50-75 ml fino sherry

300-400 ml boiling water

1/2 stock cube

salt

1 proper sprig of thyme

5 pieces dried porcini mushrooms

30 ml single cream

salt, white pepper

Fry the onion and garlic until soft in the butter and oil in a large saucepan, without browning too much. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes until the mushrooms have shrunk somewhat. Add the sherry and let some of it evaporate. Add the water and stock cube, a small pinch of salt and the thyme. Also add the dried porcini. Bring to the boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. 

Remove the thyme and then mix everything until smooth in a blender. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and add the cream. Bring to the boil again and add the cream. Season with salt and white pepper. Serve in bowls and garnish with a few drops of cream and a sprig of thyme. 

Crunchy apple cake

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Some people, like my wonderful mother, love apple pies and cakes. I actually think she could live on it alone. I, on the other hand, am a little harder to please. Raw apples – delicious. Mushy cooked ones – not so much. I want set cakes, that provide a nice contrast to the soft apples.

This cake has the Hanna seal of approval; it’s cake-y, has a nice crunchy top but is still apple-y enough for the likes of my mother. Happy days!

Crunchy apple cake, serves 8-10

3-6 apples, peeled and slices

1 tbsp caster sugar

a little (1/2 – 1 tsp) cinnamon

3 eggs

190 g caster sugar

70 g plain flour

Place the apple slices in a lined springform. Scatter with sugar and cinnamon. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and mix in the flour. Pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes in 175C. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Slow cooked lamb shank with herb polenta

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This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!

The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.

The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.

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Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2

1 lamb shank

a knob of butter

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges

1 carrot, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

salt, pepper

1/2 bottle red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.

Creamy herb polenta, serves 3

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)

700 ml vegetable stock

50 g butter

300 ml polenta

a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)

150 ml finely grated parmesan 

Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.

Autumn in Sweden

The heading might strike you as peculiar, as we have autumn in the UK as well. But you see, these is a vast difference between the semi-autumn we have here in London, with temperatures around 20C, muggy weather and the coloured leaves and the proper autumn in the south of Sweden. When I went to visit last weekend it was around 10C and crisp lovely air as well as the coloured autumn leaves.

The countryside is wonderful around Malmö, where I’m from, and I went for a slow walk in the woods, trying to find some mushrooms and snapping away on my camera.

When we got back to my parent’s house I continued to take photos in my mother’s beautiful garden. Ok, it belongs to my dad as well, but mother is the one designing it and looking after it. It is so pretty that it has featured in one gardening magazine in Sweden and an agricultural magazine. Well done, mother!

We spent some time in the kitchen as well. On Saturday we had mushrooms (chanterelles and black trumpets) on toast followed by a meat fondue in oil, with potato wedges and bearnaise sauce. After a little break we finished the meal off with a tarte tatin from local apples and icecream.

On Sunday we had a traditional (Swedish) roast with venison, boiled potatoes, creamy gravy, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and jelly. A perfect end to a perfect country weekend.