Recipe: garlic and herb sauce

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Growing up in the countryside in the south of Sweden I didn’t realise how lucky I was to grow up in such an idyllic place. Fast forward to present time living in a big city, where getting fresh herbs and locally grown vegetables can be quite tricky at times.

So my first night in Sweden this summer I cooked us a fairly standard summer meal of pork fillet, salad and potatoes. Normally I would cook the meat on the barbecue to get that charred flavour, but due to the first barbecue ban in my life time (even in your own garden – it was that dry) I had to make do with the stove and oven. And sitting outside in the sunshine it was still a lovely meal.

Mainly because of the sauce I literally threw together on the spot. It’s a simple cold sauce with mainly creme fraiche and a little mayonnaise as a base (us Swedes make sauces like this ALL the time), but what made it so nice was the mix (and quantity) of fresh herbs from the garden. An absolute treat for this city girl and something I used to take for granted when I lived at home.

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Garlic and herb sauce, serves 3-4

300 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Acacia honey

3/4 small garlic clove, finely chopped

approx 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley 

salt and pepper

Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Then add mustard, honey, garlic and herbs and leave for a while for the flavours to develop before serving. Season to taste.

 

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Recipe: caramelised garlic sauce

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Once again I have Nigella to thank for the inspiration. In her book Simply Nigella she uses caramelised onions in a yoghurt sauce, and since then I’ve started using caramelised garlic in just anything I can think of.

The taste is sweet and humble and far from the fierce raw garlic you but into the oven, which means you can actually use a lot of it, so put a few extra garlic bulbs in the oven, just in case! They’re highly addictive, so you can thank me later!

PS. It goes really well with the chicken dish I posted the last week and potato wedges.

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Caramelised garlic sauce with creme fraiche, serves 10

2 large garlic bulbs

1 litre creme fraiche

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

bunch of chives, chopped 

salt, white pepper

oregano and thyme flowers to decorate

Caramelise the garlics when you’re using the oven anyway – they take up little space and won’t make anything taste of garlic as they’re wrapped in tin foil.

Cut off approx 1/2 cm of the garlic bulb on the top so you can see the cloves. Wrap separately in tin foil and place in the oven until soft (just squeeze them to check if they’re ready). It doesn’t really matter what temperature the oven is at, everything between 150 – 220C works, just be aware the cooking time will differ. 

Leave to cool slightly. Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Unwrap the garlic bulbs and squeeze out the soft garlic paste and add to the sauce. Make sure you get every morsel. Mix well and adjust the seasoning. Leave for a little while before serving. Add the chives and herb flowers when ready to serve.  

Rapeseed oil, mustard and herbs

At the food bloggers’ meetup we went around the countryside in Österlen, Skåne (Scania) visiting different food producers. The first stop was Gunnarshög’s farm, where we got to see how rapeseed oil is produced. I found this particularly interesting because I grew up around the wonderfully yellow and sweet smelling rapeseed fields.

Erik, our guide at (and owner of) the farm was really excited to tell us about his passion. He’s holding a rapeseed plant.

Rapeseed ready to be harvested (left) and the seeds when harvested (right).

The rapeseeds are harvested and then sifted to get rid of straw etc. The seeds are then dried until a certain water percentage remains and are then pressed for oil. (see above).

Freshly cold pressed rapeseed oil

The remnants of the seeds: rapeseed cake (or pellets)

After sedimentation and filtration the oil is ready to be bottled.

Did you know that rapeseed oil contains more Omega-3 and less saturated fats than olive oil? Rapeseed oil is sensitive to light and changes in temperature. Store in a cool and dark place (i e the fridge) and it keeps for twice as long as stored at room temperature.

At the end of our visit we got to sample all the different oils; the regular cold pressed oil and the flavoured ones. I particularly liked the dill and the wild garlic flavours.

Next stop was Petersborg’s farm, one of very few farms in Sweden growing mustard seeds. Most Swedish mustard is actually farmed abroad. Broadly there are two types of mustard seeds; yellow and brown. To make mustard you simply grind the seeds and mix the mustard powder with water and vinegar for the flavours to develop.

In the farm shop they sell their own mustards, for instance one flavoured with lavender, one with whisky and one really strong one.

The last stop was at Österlenkryddor (Österlen spice) where we got to try a raspberry and rosemary snaps (you know the shot we have with everything from herring to crayfish).

Many herb blends have funny local names. I ended up buying a jar of Greek oregano (for souvlaki) and a jar of lovage (works as a substitute for stock apparently).