Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes

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I received evidence from my mother last week that the wild garlic season has started in Sweden, and therefore probably in the UK as well. Hurrah!

I love these oniony garlicky green leaves so much, I keep a bundle of blanched ones in the freezer at all times. It feels comforting that I can make wild garlic mayo all year round. Or wild garlic pesto. It’s fab with fried gnocchi (it gives them a bit more texture), fresh cherry tomatoes and plenty of grated parmesan.

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Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes, serves 2

1 batch gnocchi 

1 batch wild garlic pesto

150 g cherry tomatoes

finely grated parmesan

Make the pesto and put it aside. Make the gnocchi and cook them. Then fry in butter until golden. Mix with plenty of the pesto. Cut the cherry the tomatoes in half and mix with the gnocchi. Season to taste. Add olive oil if you want a looser consistency. Top with plenty of grated parmesan.

Chicken burger

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Whenever I have the choice of a regular beef burger or a chicken burger I always, always choose the beef version. Because most chicken burgers are either something covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried or a whole (often dry) grilled chicken breast. No thanks.

But this homemade chicken burger, made of minced chicken thighs is a real treat. It has a similar texture to a regular beef burger, but feels so much lighter. I melted cheddar on top, served it with lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles, nice buns (I used Heston for Waitrose burger brioche buns and they were very good!), and a good helping of my favourite burger sauce; the fake shack sauce ,and it was pure happiness. Will definitely make this again!

Chicken burgers, makes 2

3-4 chicken thigh fillets

1/2 egg

50-100 ml breadcrumbs

1 tsp onion powder 

salt, white pepper

Mince the chicken thigh fillets in a food processor. Mix egg, spices and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl and leave to swell for a few minutes. Add the chicken mince. If the mixture is too loose, add more bread crumbs until you can shape the mixture into two big burgers. Fry in butter until cooked through and serve. 

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. 

Tuna tartare with avocado

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I prefer most my fish raw, marinated or cold smoked. Maybe it’s in my Scandinavian genes or maybe it’s because I love sushi so much. Regardless, I like to try new fresh recipes with raw or marinated fish.

This version of tuna tartare is very easy to make, and feels really fresh on your palate, which is just what I like. No need to over-complicate matters when you’re using good ingredients.

Do remember to choose a sustainable tuna, like pole-caught yellow fin tuna.

Tuna tartare with avocado, 2 starter size portions

Most important when eating raw fish is to make sure it’s super fresh. And that you freeze it before you eat it if it’s a wild fish, to kill of any bad bacteria. Farmed fish usually doesn’t have the same bacteria, but if you’re unsure do freeze it first – better to be safe than sorry. Most fish is transported frozen, if that’s the case you don’t need to refreeze it.

120 g sustainable tuna

1 avocado

1 lime, the juice

4 spring onions

small bunch oriander

a few drops Tabasco

1-2 tsp olive oil

a few splashes Worchestershire sauce

salt and pepper

Trim the fish and cut into small cubes. Place in a bowl. Chop the spring onions and coriander. 

Spoon the avocado into a bowl and mash with a fork. Season to taste with lime juice, Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper. 

Season the tuna with Tabasco and lime juice. Add some olive oil to coat it. Add salt and pepper. 

Divide the avocado mash between two plates and shape into circles. Top with the tuna tartare and decorate with spring onions and coriander. 

Seafood feast at home

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Me coming home to visit is usually a good enough reason in my family to break out the bubbly and have a seafood feast! It’s important to celebrate the times we’re all together and make them special so we take every opportunity we get.

It may not be seafood every time we have a feast, but it’s quite often the case. We had this fabulous meal in December when I last visited and it was just wonderful, and the type of food we enjoy cooking, and eating, together.

We started with oysters, that were quite difficult to shuck without an oyster knife (we’d left it in the summer house), so we all did a few each. Good team effort, they’re quite strong the little molluscs. We had the oysters in the most simple, and our preferred, way with just lemon juice and Tabasco. What a treat!

 

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Our second course (although that sounds too fancy for peeling prawns) was smoked Atlantic prawns with home-made mayonnaise (a team effort by dad and me), which I just love. The taste is much more complex than fresh prawns and although it may sound strange to smoke prawns, it really works.

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We had a really nice bottle of bubbly, to drink, a Marquis de Haux Cremant de Bordeaux. It’s not readily available in Sweden, but shouldn’t be hard to find in the UK or the rest of Europe.

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For the main event, we had lobster. Something we usually only have as a starter, but I love it as a main course too. Again it was a team effort getting the food ready. I made the skin-on oven fries (that turned out great by the way), and was also in charge of picking the lobsters apart while mum made the lovely sauce. Good effort, team!

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This is our family version of lobster Thermidor with mushrooms, mustard. cognac and matured cheese and we all find it divine. When we think of something special to eat at home, this is always a contender. Most often we have it as a starter, rather than as a main, but after this meal I find it quite likely we’ll have it as a main-course more often than not.

As these were fresh lobster it was almost (but only almost) a sacrilege to coat them in a creamy sauce, so we all had a claw au natural with a dollop of mayonnaise to really taste the lobster.

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We had a lot of lovely food over the Christmas break, but this was my absolute favourite meal. We just had such a good time cooking together and dining together.

Homemade mayonnaise, serves 3-4

1 egg yolk, at room temperature 

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

approx 200 ml vegetable oil

1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

Most important when making your own mayonnaise: 

  1. All ingredients (especially the egg and the oil) should be at room temperature 
  2. Whisk by hand, usng a balloon whisk (gives a better texture)
  3. Season to taste

Mix egg yolk, dijon and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk it together using a balloon whisk and add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Once the mixture has thickened you can add the oil in a little trickle, whisking continuously. Whisk until you have a thick and pale mayonnaise. Season to taste with lemon, white pepper and plenty of salt. Sprinkle a little paprika on top (to decorate) before serving. 

Skin-on oven fries, serves 4

800 g firm potatoes (Maris Piper is great)

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180-200C, with the fan on. Wash the potatoes and then cut into sticks. Rinse away the starch. Pour the oil into a large oven-proof tray and add the potato sticks. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Massage the oil into the potato sticks using your hands and spread them out on the tray. Bake in the oven for approx 35 minutes or until crispy, golden and blistery on the outside and cooked through. 

Kale soup with pork quenelles

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This, dear fellow foodies, is old-fashioned Swedish peasant food. In a good way. Perfect for this cold time of year this soup is warming and nourishing and so are the pork quenelles, which are basically meatballs cooked in stock instead of pan-fried.

Please note that the quenelles takes longer to make than the soup, so do start with these. If you think the quenelles are strange or you don’t eat meat, garnish your soup with medium-boiled eggs instead. Cut them in half and put them in the soup – it’s also delicious and another common way to eat the soup.

Kale soup, serves 4

Adapted from Hannu Sarenström’s recipe in the book Vinterkalas.

ca 375 g chopped fresh kale

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp plain flour

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

100 ml cream

salt, black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and add the stock little by little while stirring. Add the kale and let simmer for 10 minutes. Mix with a stick  blender and add the cream. Bring to the boil and season to taste. 

Pork quenelles, serves 4-6

500 g pork mince

1 egg

100 ml breadcrumbs

1-2 tbsp water

salt, white pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1,5 litre chicken stock (from a cube is fine)

Break the egg into a bowl and stir in breadcrumbs. Add salt (more than you think) and white pepper. Let the mixture swell for a few minutes. If the mixture is thick add 1-2 tbsp water to loosen it. Stir in the chopped onions and the mince. Mix well and roll the mince into 2 cm thick balls. Rinse your hands in between rolling to make it easier. 

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and let it simmer. Add the quenelles and let them simmer for approx 15 minutes (check with a knife that they’re cooked through, i.e. not pink in the middle). Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the soup bowls. Fill up with kale soup and serve. 

A lovely weekend (with BBQ) in the country

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The weekend before last a friend invited a group of us down to a very nice house in the country. Luckily the weather was good so we could enjoy the pool and play football on the lawn as well as drink wine and eat a lot. What more could one ask for?!

It was one of those wonderful weekends that fill you up with energy, although I have to admit I was a little tired when I got back to London because I took care of the cooking. It was good fun though and I don’t think there was any risk of anyone going hungry.

As we were lounging outside most of the day I thought it best with nibbles instead of a proper started and served three different ones; salmon rolls with horseradish, puff pastry straws with blue cheese, walnuts and honey and my take on bruschetta.

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Then it was time for the big event – the BBQ. I had prepped drumsticks and pork fillet and we also grilled sausages and beef burgers. There were of course a lot of different salads and condiments; potato salad, bean salad with feta, slaw, salad with avocado and spring onions, couscous salad and ketchup, mayo, pickled, mustard, cheese, sliced onions and tomatoes.

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After a proper break we finished the meal with Swedish mud cake, vanilla icecream, butterscotch sauce and berries.

Everybody seem to enjoy themselves and the food and it was good fun prepping it all too! Recipes will follow in separate posts.