Recipe: crostini with mushroom spread

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This Finnish-Russian mushroom salad or spread is absolutely delicious. When it was first introduced to me by fellow food blogger Anna, I couldn’t believe it was made from only a few ingredients (fried mushrooms, smetana, dill and salt). It truly is one of those dishes where the sum if far far greater than its parts.

The fabulous recipe is courtesy or Swedish food writer Jens Linder and was published in one of the leading Swedish newspapers as a dish for Julbordet, i.e. the Christmas smorgasbord, but I prefer it like this, served on crostini as a pre-dinner snack, all year round.

Please note the recipe calls for smetana; the Russian version of creme fraiche/soured cream. If you can’t find it creme fraiche is a good substitute, but smetana works so well here it’s worth going out of your way to find it. Personally, I will place an order for some here next time I get a craving.

I also mixed fresh and dried mushrooms as I prefer the texture of the fresh ones but as it’s not mushroom season, they taste less than the dried porcini and black trumpets I have in my cupboard.

Mushroom salad, makes 1 batch (enough for 12 crostini which serves 3-4 people)

Translated from and adapted after Jens Linder’s recipe.

This salad is so delicious I would urge you to make a double batch straight away. That’s what I did, and it was the perfect amount for five hungry people as a pre-dinner snack.

600 ml fresh or frozen mushrooms, or 50 ml dried mushrooms

2-3 tbsp butter

plenty of sea salt flakes

4 tbsp finely chopped dill

300 ml smetana (or creme fraiche)

12 crostini

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Drain and discard the liquid. If using fresh or frozen mushrooms, finely chop these.

Fry the mushrooms in butter on medium heat until golden. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

Mix the now cool mushrooms with whole sea salt flakes, dill and smetana. The mixture should be plenty salty. Leave for a few hours in the fridge before serving. 

Divide between the crostini and serve. 

 

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. 

Dill-y hummus and pitta chips

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Dill works really well in hummus, I discovered this summer when I thought of trying it for a dinner party. It went down really well with my friends and especially with my best friend Emma who liked it so much she urged me to make it again a few days later when cooking at her house.

Dill-y hummus, serves 4-6

1 can (400 g) good quality chickpeas

100-150 ml nice olive oil

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp tahini

1/2 -1 lemon, the juice only

1 medium garlic clove

1 pot or a large bunch dill

plenty of salt and black pepper

Rinse the chickpeas and pour into a food processor bowl. Add 100 ml olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp tahini, the garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix for a good while until you have a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add more oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper – whatever you think is needed. Add the dill and mix again. Season to taste and adjust the flavours once more if needed. Place in fridge until serving. Keeps for 5 days in the fridge.  

Pitta chips, serves 4

5 pitta bread

olive oil

salt, black pepper

Cut the pitta breads into smaller pieces using a pair of scissors. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper (and any other seasoning you might like) and place in 200C oven for approx 10 minutes (until golden and crispy). Serve immediately.

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

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I found this gorgeous (and easy!) recipe on the BBC Food website and just instantly knew I had to make it. It’s courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour who’s lovely cookbook Persiana I absolutely adore. The Persian pesto with pistachios contains dill, a herb that’s very Scandinavian for me, and I like exploring new ways of using it.

I had this for supper one day, but it works just as well at a mezze table, as a starter or on a buffet.

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe

1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on), and seeds removed 

4 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

150 g feta

100 g pomegranate seeds

For the pesto:

100 g pistachios

70 g parmesan

100 ml olive oil

1 small bunch coriander

1 small bunch parsley

1 small bunch dill

1 red chilli

1 lemon, juice only

2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously. Place on the lined baking tray. Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly. Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.  

For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs and a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it. 

To serve, place the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish. 

Creamy new potato salad with dill and Dijon

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As much as I love a challenge in the kitchen sometimes I like to keep it simple. Very simple.

This classic Scandinavian potato salad is great with fish or barbecued meats (but substitute the dill with parsley and go easy on the lemon to combine with meat) and gives me hope that spring (and summer) is just around the corner.

Creamy new potato salad with dill and Dijon, serves 1

200 g new potatoes

3 tbsp creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s is fine)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 lemon, the juice

1 tbsp finely chopped dill

salt, white pepper

Boil the potatoes and drain. Leave to cool slightly (or have already cold cooked potatoes at the ready from the day before, although lukewarm works well). Dice the potatoes. Mix creme fraiche, mayo, lemon juice and dill in a bowl and add the potato. Season to taste.

Serve with a few slices cold smoked salmon and a lemon wedge. 

Dill mayonnaise

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Crayfish season is typically in August and it’s fine to stretch it to September too, but the end of October is a completely different season, which is why I decided to serve my crayfish as a starter instead of the full spread with Västerbotten cheese quiche, caraway cheese, snaps etc, the other day.

As dill is traditionally used in the brine for the crayfish I chose to enhanced that element further by serving a dill mayonnaise together with the crayfish (still to peel at the table) as well as a nice crusty bread and butter. Simple yet lovely.

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Dill mayonnaise, serves 2-4

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

150-200 ml dill oil (I used a Swedish one from Gunnarshögs gård, pictured)

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, white pepper

1-2 tbsp chopped dill

Place the egg yolk in a mixing bowl and start whisking while adding the oil drop by drop at first and then in a thin stream while whisking continuously until you have a thick mayonnaise. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the chopped dill. 

NYE 2012 – the canapé

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Happy New Year!

And sorry for the silence over the holidays, I was busy cooking and hanging out with friends and family and having a well-earned break.

I have a lot to share with you, and I thought we’d start with some glamour and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

My friends Emma and Claes hosted a lovely dinner, I cooked and they took care of everything else. It was nice to share the responsibility and to be able to focus on only one thing. A great team effort!

When the guests arrived we started off with champagen (Palmer & Co Brut) and this lovely canapé – chives pannacotta with vodka on a bread base, decorated with salmon caviar and dill. Incredibly Scandi and absolutely delicious!

As we had a few non-meat eaters among us I used vege gel as a setting agent, but it is even easier to use gelatin leaves. (2 leaf gelatine to 1 bag vege gel).

Chives pannacotta with vodka on a bread base, decorated with salmon caviar and dill, makes 24-30

Translated and adapted from Pytte’s Swedish recipe.

200 g dark rye bread (Swedish or German style)
80 g butter
100 ml single cream
200 ml soured cream
2 bags vege gel
1 tbsp decent vodka
1 bunch chives
salt and pepper

80 g salmon roe
dill

Mix the bread into crumbs in a food processor. Melt the butter and mix with the crumbs. Line a 20 cm by 25 cm dish with cling film and add the crumbs. Press them onto the bottom of the dish. Let it set in the fridge. Mix the cold cream with the vege gel and heat up in a saucepan while stirring. The mix will thicken so stir continuously for a few minutes. Let it cool a little and mix in the soured cream. If the mixture curdles, push it through a sieve. Chop the chives and add to the mixture. Add the vodka and seasoning. Pour the cream mixture onto the bread base and leave in the fridge to set for a few hours. Before serving either cut into small squares or cut out rounds with a small cutter. Decorate each canapé with a dollop of caviar and some dill.