Recipe: Girolle toast 2.0

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE mushrooms, and especially girolles! They’re coming into season at the same time as my beloved crayfish, so to start off the little crayfish party we had in Sweden (a must when you have a London visitor in August!), we had these absolutely delicious little girolle toasts with cognac and cream. (I’ve made similar ones before but this version is even better, I promise!)

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They went down a treat and I got praise like “I could eat these EVERY day!”, and I must agree that they were divine. The combination of mustard and cognac with the smooth cream is just delicious and the grated cheese to finish adds an extra layer of flavour.

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You simply must try them, either as little canapés (in which case I would cut each bread slice into four instead of two) or like this; as a little starter with a glass of pink champagne.

With the crayfish we had some more girolles, because why not?!, on top of the Västerbotten cheese quiche. If you’re planning a crayfish party you simply must try it!

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Kantarelltoast 2.0, serves 4 as a starter

5 slices regular white bread, crusts removed and the slices cut on the diagonal into triangels

2 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying the bread

150 g girolle mushrooms, rinsed

1 large shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

4 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying onions, garlic and mushrooms

2 tbsp cognac

100 ml double cream

1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

To garnish:

finely grated Västerbotten cheese (parmesan would work too)

Fry the bread in butter and a little oil on medium-low heat until golden brown on both sides. Leave to drain on kitchen towel. 

Fry the onions and garlic in some of the butter and oil ton medium heat until golden. Remove from the pan and fry the mushrooms with more butter and oil on medium-high heat. When the mushrooms are cooked, turn the temperature down to medium and add the garlic and onions to the pan. Season. Add the cognac and let some of it evaporate before adding the cream. Add the mustard and taste until you’re happy with the flavour. Adjust the seasoning and add a little more cognac if needed. Stir with a whisk while the sauce thickens. It should be thick but still a touch runny when it’s done (and full of flavour). Add the parsley and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the fried bread slices and top with grated cheese.

Reminder: Västerbotten cheese quiche

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In Sweden crayfish season is in full swing, and I wanted to remind you all that one of the most important things for a crayfish party (apart from the crayfish and snaps) is this Västerbotten cheese quiche. You can buy the cheese from Ocado (love their Swedish shop!) but you could also substitute it for a sharp cheddar if you prefer.

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We had a little crayfish party when I was home in Sweden and I love this non-holiday more than some actual holidays. The crayfish are just delicious, but we went all out with both fresh and smoked prawns (they’re delicious!) as well.

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And yes, we had snaps (Linie Aquavit, pictured above) and silly hats.

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Bread and cheese is also needed to soak up the alcohol (snaps is strong!) and maybe some homemade mayonnaise for dipping.  And don’t forget the finger bowls – this is a very messy (but really fun!) affair!

Skål!

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Västerbotten cheese quiche, serves 6

Dough:

120 g softened butter

300 ml plain flour

1/2 beaten egg

Filling:

250 g grated Västerbotten cheese (or a sharp cheddar will do)

2 egg yolks

2 eggs

200 ml cream

salt

Topping:

100 g girolles

2 tbsp salted butter

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt, pepper

chopped parsley

Mix the ingredients together for the dough and press it out in a quiche dish. Use a fork to pierce the dough all over. Pre-bake the dough for 10 mins at 175 C.

Mix the grated cheese with the cream, eggs and yolks and pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for another 20 mins.

Fry the girolles in butter on medium-high heat until almost done. Add the shallots and garlic and fry until golden. Season well and add the parsley. Place on top of the quiche just before serving. 

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: gravadlax (cured salmon) with apple and dijon crème

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I served this lovely canapé at the crayfish party in September, but you can make it any time of year; in Sweden we eat gravad lax all year round. We have it at Christmas, for Easter, Midsummer and in between.

I liked the idea of serving a canapé on forks, especially as I knew the guests would mingle around the garden, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use plastic ones (they’re hideous, bad for the environment and usually break), and the wooden ones don’t taste nice. Instead I bought silver plated vintage forks on eBay and Etsy; much better quality and much more me.

I cured the salmon according to this recipe, but the mustard crème and the general recipe idea is courtesy of Pytte and her lovely (Swedish) book Bjud hem!

Cured salmon with apple and dijon crème, approx 30 canapés

400 g cured salmon

2 apples, cut into small cubes

Dijon crème:

100 ml creme fraiche

1 tbsp dijon

2 tsp runny honey

salt and pepper

To decorate:

extra dill, chopped

Mix the ingredients for the crème, season to taste and leave in a cool place until serving. Slice the salmon and put on forks. Place the forks on a serving tray or platter and top with apple cubes, dijon crème and maybe some extra dill. 

Puff pastry squares with girolles and Västerbotten cheese

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The second nibble we had with the pre-crayfish prosecco was these lovely puff pastry squares with fried girolles and Swedish Västerbotten cheese (any other sharp cheese will do, but Västerbotten is a must with crayfish). I’m so pleased I can now by girolles with my food orders from a decent supermarket I come up with any excuse to buy them and this is a good way to use them. But to make them go a bit further (as they’re not the cheapest of shrooms) I threw in some chestnut mushrooms as well.

Puff pastry squares with girolles and Västerbotten cheese, serves 5 people as only nibble

1 roll  all butter puff

600 g mushrooms (I had approx 400 g girolles and 200 g chestnut mushrooms) 

a knob of butter for frying 

1 garlic clove, chopped 

1 bunch parsley, chopped

30 g Västerbotten cheese, finely grated

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Roll out the puff onto a parchment paper covered baking tray and cut into squares. Clean the mushrooms and slice. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the mushrooms until golden in batches. Add the garlic towards the end. Add salt, pepper and parsley. Leave to cool. 

Distribute the mushrooms on the puff. Scatter grated Västerbotten cheese on top and bake until golden. Serve immediately. 

Hot smoked salmon spread for crostinis

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The London crayfish party was a success and so much fun! There was only ten of us but we managed to demolish 5 kgs crayfish and drink two bottles of snaps (as well as beer and wine) and sing snaps songs. Thank you to everyone involved for embracing my country’s silly traditions and being such fun guests!

Before we started on the crayfish though, we had some prosecco and nibbles. I usually start a dinner party with nibbles as I think it’s such a nice informal way to start the evening and get people chatting. One of the nibbles I made was this hot smoked salmon spread. I just put it in a bowl and the guests assembled their own crostinis.

Hot smoked salmon spread, enough for 5 people as a nibble

Adapted after and translated from Arla’s recipe.

350 g hot smoked salmon fillets (no bones)

200 ml soured cream

2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish

1/2 bunch chives

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, black pepper

Check the salmon for bones and remove them and any skin. Place in a bowl and mush it with a fork. Add soured cream, horseradish (Ocado has the fresh stuff) and lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Keep refrigerated until serving. 

Crayfish!

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As I’m hosting a crayfish party tonight I thought I’d share these pictures from my last crayfish dinner in Sweden. I managed to eat crayfish twice in the two and a bit weeks I was at home, and lots of other lovely seafood too, but I am just as excited about tonight’s festivities with my London friends.

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But back to the crayfish party in Sweden. It was just a family affair so we started with rösti, Kalix roe (bleak roe from Kalix), creme fraiche and chopped red onions. This is such a Swedish classic it’s almost a cliché but I absolutely love it (as do most Swedes!). IMG_6758

We had two types of crayfish, both fresh, Swedish and Turkish. They were both nice but the Swedish ones were the nicest. 
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We also had a typical Västerbotten cheese quiche (here with fried girolles on top) which is a must with the crayfish, bread, cheese and of course snaps. 

Crayfish party or not – have a nice weekend!