Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands! 

 

Recipe: broccoli cheese

 

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We all know cauliflower cheese, right?! The lovely side dish almost mandatory at any British Sunday lunch.

Now just substitute the cauliflower with broccoli. Why? Well, mainly because then I can eat it. My stomach rules my life and has decided cauliflower is out of the question. Obviously I obey, as it’s pretty painful not to.

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But, I also discovered that using broccoli instead of cauliflower made the whole dish a lot lighter, even though the brassica is more or less covered with a heavy and delicious cheese sauce. And, served on it’s own with either some wild garlic bread, a few slices of prosciutto or a salad to make it more of a meal, it’s a perfect summer supper. Satisfying, healthy-ish (thanks Bon Appetit for coining this term) and lovely.

 

Broccoli cheese, serves 2 as a main course

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s excellent cauliflower cheese recipe.

2 medium heads broccoli

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

salt and black pepper 

475 ml milk, whole milk or semi-skimmed

155 g grated strong cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Trim broccoli and remove the core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Par-boil for 6 to 7 minutes until firm but tender. Drain and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and black pepper. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer while stirring with a whisk. The mixture should thicken. Reserve 2 tbsp of the cheddar and add the rest to the sauce a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place the broccoli florets in an ovenproof dish. Spoon over sauce  and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

 

 

Recipe: courgette and chilli fritters

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Sometimes I forget how genius some dishes are. Like fritters. They’re always satisfying to eat (any time of day) but never too heavy. And they contain vegetables which basically means they’re healthy right?!

 

Courgette fritters, makes approx 10

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

2 medium courgettes

1 tsp sea salt flakes + extra to taste

1/4 red chilli, finely chopped 

1 egg

black pepper

72 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the ends of the courgettes and grate coarsely. Place in a bowl and mix in 1 tsp salt. Leave for 10 minutes the wring out the courgette either using your hands or a clean tea towel. 

Mix the grated courgette with a bit more salt for seasoning (1/4 tsp is perfect), the chopped chilli, black pepper and egg. Mix flour and baking powder and stir into the courgette batter. 

Heat up a frying pan on medium heat, pour in oil. Drop dollops of the mixture into the pan and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and place on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes until crisp and cooked through.  

Parmesan yoghurt crème

200 ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 lemon, zest only 

2 tbsp grated parmesan

salt, black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste. 

 

 

Recipe: lamb ribs with nigella seeds

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I tend to bookmark recipes to try all the time, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to actually try them out. This one, is definitely one of those as I first made a mental note while watching the series Simply Nigella, and then literally bookmarking the page in the cookbook, then leaving it for a year or so. But this recipe is worth the wait. It’s incredibly easy to “make” (the oven takes care of it really) and it’s really yummy and packed full of flavour.

If you’re not a fan of lamb meat this may not be for you as the meat flavour is really strong because of the cut and the fat that melts over the meat in the oven. But if you, like me – like lamb – they’re heavenly!

 

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds, serves 6-10

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

4 teaspoons nigella seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 teaspoons regular olive oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely grated, or minced)

24 lamb ribs (cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in)

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Line a large roasting tin with foil and sit a rack on top.

Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

Dip the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won’t be enough for all the ribs, but it is. 

Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking tin and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender. Serve. 

 

 

Recipe: Cacio e pepe

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Cacio e pepe, this heavenly dish consisting only of pasta, pecorino and black pepper (and a little cooking water from the pasta) has always seemed so daunting to make. I have enjoyed it cooked to perfection in Rome (it’s a Roman dish) but I never thought I could recreate it at home. But then I read Felicity Cloake’s article about the perfect cacio e pepe and decided to have a go as she made it seem so easy. And it turns out, with her guidance, it actually was!

The receipt is perfect. I didn’t change a thing and it worked perfectly the first time. If you’re a cacio e pepe novice like I was I highly recommend reading the article beforehand just to understand the elements of the dish better. And I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the ingredients are; buy some good dried pasta (I love de Cecco) and some really nice pecorino ( I got mine from Natoora) and your finished dish will be just as nice as the one you had in Rome on your holiday.

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Cacio e pepe, serves 2

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s recipe.

2 tsp black peppercorns

200 g spaghetti 

80 g pecorino romano, at room temperature, finely grated 

Toast the peppercorns in a very hot, dry pan then roughly crush with a pestle and mortar.

Bring a wide shallow pan of well-salted water to the boil, then add the pasta; it should be covered but not by much. Stir occasionally during cooking and, five minutes into the cooking time, scoop out 250 ml water into a wide bowl to allow it to cool slightly.

Drain the pasta and leave it to cool for a minute. Meanwhile, put the cheese and most of the pepper in a large, heavy bowl or pan and beat in some of the pasta water very gradually to make first a paste, and then a sauce the consistency of bechamel. Add the pasta and toss furiously while adding enough of the water to make a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti.

Divide between warm bowls, sprinkle over a little more pepper, and serve immediately.

 

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.