Recipe: cheese toastie with Maroilles

I don’t know if it was because I’d just seen Nigella make a brie, parma ham and fig toastie on her latest TV show or just the fact that I am perpetually in the mood for a cheese toastie, but as it happens two weekends ago, I knew just how I would use the Maroilles cheese a French colleague had given me the same week. In return he got a nice piece of Swedish Herrgård cheese, matured for 18 months. But back to the Maroilles.

When talking to French people, food as a conversation topic is never far away. And that’s how I found out that this Maroilles cheese, from the area of Picardy, is both delicious and probably the smelliest cheese in the world. To me that’s more intriguing than off-putting and I was super excited when I tried it. Similar to Reblochon, it’s a washed rind cheese with a lot of flavour, but it’s much creamier, and dare I say, delicious.

This cheese toastie is utterly simple to make, but very rewarding when you bite into the crisp bread with melted cheese oozing out on the sides.

Maroilles cheese toastie, per toastie

2 slices Poilâne bread

salted butter

2 thick slices of Maroilles cheese

Butter the two Poilane slices on one side. Place the cheese on one of the buttered surfaces and spread them it out so it covers the whole bread slice. Place the other slice of bread on top, buttered side down (i.e. touching the cheese). Press the sandwich together. 

Now, melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat (3-4 out of 6) and place the sandwich in the pan. You don’t want the butter to burn so if unsure lower the heat. You want the sandwich to be golden on both sides and the cheese to melt inside so it takes a few minutes on each side.

Fry until golden brown on one side, pressing down with a spatula. Turn the sandwich and fry the other side. Once crisp and golden and the cheese has started to ooze out on the sides remove from pan and place on kitchen roll to remove excess butter. Pat the top of the sandwich with kitchen roll too, then cut into half and serve. Yu-um. 

PS. This is what I love the most about food; it brings people together. My colleague thought the Herrgård was a nice addition to his cheese board, with otherwise only French cheeses I presume, and I got to try a cheese I had never heard of until he boasted about the best produce from his region in France. Merci!

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Visiting home and wild garlic fever!

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After four days in Italy, I had six days back home in the south of Sweden. I tried to keep it low key and just spend time with the family, and as usual we enjoyed some wonderful food together.

Spring had arrived in Sweden too, even if it was a little behind the Italian version. But the wood anemones flowered and the wild garlic was ready to eat, so I was pretty happy!

The evening I came home my mum and I (dad doesn’t like wine as much as we do) shared a lovely bottle of  Crèmant from Alsace, to celebrate we were together again!

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Another evening we enjoyed a cheese board with my Italian favourite Erborinato, Brie de Maux and Saint Albray. We also had some biscuits, pear slices, honey, rose hip jam and port. So yummy!

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I also picked wild garlic in the woods, as you can see it’s easy to forage; it’s everywhere!

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I also picked some wood anemones. It’s a spring ritual for me.

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We also cooked with wild garlic and one evening we had this great dish as a starter; asparagus (that I bought in Italy) with wild garlic mayo, parmesan and rapeseed oil.

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Afterwards we had cod loin cooked in the oven with wine and dill, potato purée, peas and carrots. And browned butter. Just. Amazing.

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One day we did a road trip to Höganäs and also stopped in Mölle by the sea to enjoy the view and the sunshine.

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In Höganäs we found an amazing fishmonger who sold fresh Swedish bleak roe so we of course had to buy some.

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We had it with rösti, creme fraiche and chopped red onions as a starter that evening.

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The rest of our dinner that night was a bunch of nibbles: leftover asparagus and wild garlic mayo, serrano ham, smoked prawns, some smoked mussels, tomatoes and wild garlic bread.

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One night we had friends over for a dinner of tried and tested recipes. We started the evening with champagne and Nigella’s prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves. Love this!

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The main course was fillet of beef with hasselback potatoes, broccoli, carrots and two sauces: bearnaise and peppercorn. Delicious!

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After a breather we enjoyed a rhubarb crumble with mum’s homemade custard. Such a wonderful evening!

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My last evening in Sweden was on a Sunday, and for dinner we had wild garlic soup to start.

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Followed by wonderfully tender pheasant with cream sauce, boiled potatoes, jelly, broccoli and carrots.

Thank you, Sweden, for a lovely time!

Eataly, our saviour

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Our last day in Italy wasn’t fun at all food wise. It started fine with a nice breakfast at the hotel in Ravenna and we had a good drive back to Bologna as well, but then it went downhill from there. Sob.

We really wanted to have lunch at Casa Minghetti (the cute bar and restaurant where we had a pre-dinner drink on the Saturday), but they were closed. So we then walked to a restaurant Caroline got recommended by a friend, that according to Google was open, only to find another closed door. Most places were open the other holiday days, but for some reason everything was closed on Easter Monday.

So we walked back to the centre of town to find only a handful of restaurants open for business, serving the same amount of people as the other days when everything was open which of course resulted in full restaurants and massive queues. By this point we were both hangry and about to cry. So we had to decide between a shorter queue for a lighter meal (it seemes less popular) or longer queue for proper cooked food. In desperation we chose the former and went to Eataly (they have a restaurant in New York too, that you may have heard of) as they had lots of tables and a fairly short queue. We weren’t really in the mood for cheese and charkuterie, but as we sat down with it in front of us it was heaven. The mortadella was actually the best one I had during the whole trip!

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The charkuteries from left to right (top pic): mortadella, serrano, pancetta and salami and the cheese from left to right (above pic) were: a nice hard cheese I don’t know the name of, mozzarella, parmesan and dolcelatte.

After lunch our plan was to buy food we wanted to take home with us. We had eyed up courgette flowers at every greengrocer since our first day here but as they wilt quickly we wanted to buy them fresh on our last day. That back-fired as most the food shops were closed as well. What was going on?! In the end I managed to find parmesan, ricotta, salsiccia, erborinato cheese and asparagus to take home, but it was a real mission. Still quite happy with our efforts we drove to the airport only to find out that our flight was two hours delayed. No probs, we read magazines and enjoyed a glass of wine in the lounge. But there was no food, so after consulting an online map of the airport we thought we’d have dinner at one of the two restaurants after security.

Again, things back-fired. There was only one restaurant and one cafeteria after security but the restaurant was closed and the café didn’t really sell anything edible apart from two scary looking sandwiches, ice cream and snacks so we had another glass of wine and some parmesan snacks for dinner. Now, it’s almost funny how we could have such a bad food day in Italy of all places. But in the moment it wasn’t funny at all. I’ve never been so happy to come back to Heathrow and see an open M&S late at night!

The rest of our trip was absolutely fab, and luckily both Caroline and I react the same way to not getting fed, so at least we were in it together.

Eataly, Via Degli Orefici 19, 40126 Bologna, Italy

Italy in spring

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For Easter my friend Caroline and I went to Italy, to enjoy glorious spring weather and eat copious amounts of pasta. That’s our type of holiday.

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We spent most of the time in Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region, but we also drove to Modena, Cierva and Ravenna. Driving in Italy was an, ehum, experience but we got into it after a while.

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It was lovely to see all the fresh produce at the greengrocers. Bright red tomatoes, asparagus and courgette flowers made the mouth water, and strawberries were in season too!

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We of course enjoyed pasta, cheese and charkuteries as well. And fish and seafood.

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Just a change of scenery and pace was lovely, but also to enjoy some sunshine and be able to sit outside was amazing. I’m such a spring and summertime person I feel I came alive again!

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I have plenty to tell you about the restaurants we went too, so hope you’re up for a few posts on Italy!

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New Year’s Eve 2014

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New Year’s Eve was just as great as we’d hoped. Our little gang (Emma, Claes, Linus and me) started with lunch at Marchal in Copenhagen (review to come), walked around the city and stopped for cava at a bar before taking the train back to Sweden. After a change of clothes we were ready for the evening festivities.

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We started with my favourite champagne (Pol Roger Brut Réserve), gougères (recipe to follow later) as well as butter-fried bread, Kalix caviar (Swedish bleak roe), creme fraiche and chopped red onions. A real Scandi classic that we never get tired of!

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We then continued on the ‘simple yet delicious’ theme with fresh lobsters with garlic and parsley butter and baguette and Les Sétilles, Bourgogne 2012 to drink.

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The main course was a bit more complex, but I had prepped most of it in advance. Fillet of beef with potato parcels, Jerusalem artichoke purée, oyster mushrooms, steamed carrots and red wine jusBrolio Chianti Classico 2012 to drink.

And here somewhere we lost track of time and realised 30 minutes before midnight that we would not have time for pudding beforehand, so instead we went outside to watch the fire work display organised by Malmö town, which was really nice! To toast in the new year we had Charles de Fère Brut Mérite; a nice French sprarkling.

IMG_9611Back in the flat again I made my way into the kitchen and made a baked Alaska with crispy oats, passionfruit and raspberries that went down really well around 1am! (Recipe to follow).

Christmas 2014

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I had two weeks off work during Christmas and it was wonderful spending that much time back home in Sweden. There was a lot of food involved as we entertained and saw friends often for a meal.

At the moment I’m more in the mood for soups and vegetables than three course meals (who knew I would ever utter those words), but I fondly look back on all the nice meals we had during the Christmas break.

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We only had traditional Christmas food on Christmas Eve, and we decided that was the perfect amount for our family. The traditional dishes are all rich and stodgy so one day is enough! In the evening we started with a smörgåsbord of cured and smoked salmon, meatballs and sausages, Jansson’s temptation, Christmas ham, brown and red cabbage, bread and cheeses. Thereafter we had salted ling with a warm mustard sauce and boiled potatoes (although I had cod instead) and a seriously rich rice pudding (Ris a’la Malta) with plenty of whipped cream and berry sauce to finish.

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The other days we enjoyed whatever we were in the mood for. Mummy made this gubbröra on toast as a starter one day. It’s chopped eggs, anchovies, dill and onions in butter. Very yummy! (Recipe to follow).

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We actually had a lot of fish, like this gratin with plaice fillets and prawns.

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But also a lot of meat, sauce and potatoes. Above seriously tender wild duck cooked by mummy with Hasselback potatoes and Brussel sprouts but we also had rib-eye and bearnaise sauce as well as roasted chicken.

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While entertaining we of course had puddings too, like this favourite tarte tatin with ‘raw’ custard. The oven cooks a bit unevenly and we forgot to move it around, hence the colour difference, but it was still very delicious!

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One of the last days we had some more fish as not much can beat fried Arctic char fillets with boiled potatoes and the best sauce for fish ever!

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A few days before Christmas and New Year we even had snow, and although I’m not a fan of icy roads and cold temperatures, the garden looked rather pretty clad in white.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break. Happy New Year!

Christmas indulgence

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We didn’t host Christmas Eve this year, so I haven’t got a single picture of what we ate that day. Instead I left the camera at home and just focused on being in the moment.

Besides, traditional Swedish Christmas food is not my favourite type of food. I love Jansson’s temptation (the potato bake with anchovies) and meatballs with allspice but am happy to skip the herring, Christmas ham and cabbages.

This post will instead focus on what we ate all the other days around Christmas. Staying with my parents for two weeks was a great excuse to indulge in lots of eating and cooking. Most of the food was quite festive and a little something extra, but we also squeezed in some everyday food.

We also made very good use of mother’s Christmas china service with the the words ‘God Jul’ which means Merry Christmas in Swedish; it features on most pictures. jul6

Charkuterie board: smoked sausage, cured ham, parmesan and crema di balsamico, olives.

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Wild duck breast, peanut fingerling potatoes, port sauce, broccoli and rowanberry jelly.

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Fresh crab, prawns, mayonnaise, bread and salad.

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Almost as important as food – bubbly and candles

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Poached halibut, boiled potatoes, lovely creamy sauce and carrots

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Creme brulee

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Weekday food: Christmas meatballs (seasoned with allspice) and creamy potato mash with extra butter

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Fried shallots and carrot matchsticks, scallops and wild garlic oil

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Classic Lobster Thermidor

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Swedish pizza and coke on New Year’s Day

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Lots of nice cookies made by mother (favourites are the chocolate ones and the crispy rolls)

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Fish soup with prawns, aoili

It was a lovely Christmas last year!