Recipe: Orrechiette with salsiccia

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This is my attempt to recreate one of those amazing food memories I have stored in my head.

My friend Caroline and I were in Bologna last year and although we couldn’t secure a reservation at Osteria Franscescana in nearby Modena, we still decided to visit for the day. We went to Massimo Bottura’s much more unassuming restaurant Franceschetta 58 for lunch and tucked into the small but perfectly assembled lunch buffet. And that’s where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten; their orrechiette with salsiccia. It was utterly heavenly and what I tried to create at home one day, with my last precious salsiccia from the same trip (stored in the freezer of course).

I must add that the very authentic salsiccia help make my version of the dish very good, so go to a good Italian shop to buy those. Without proper salsiccia you needn’t bother with this dish at all.

Orrechiette with salsiccia, serves 3-4

4 portions orrechiette, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

3 salsiccia sausages

ca 3 tbsp soffritto made using the same amount of onions, carrots and celery (I make a big batch and freeze it in portions)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tin (400 g) chopped tomatoes or passata + half the tin filled with water 

1 tbsp tomato puré

100 ml red wine

1 tsp fennel seeds

salt and black pepper

a pinch of sugar if needed

mild olive oil for frying

Heat up the oil in a casserole dish. Remove the skin from the sausages and fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove the sausage meat from the casserole dish and add the soffritto and garlic. Fru on medium heat for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, water, tomato puré and wine. When the sauce has thickened a little, add the sausage meat and fennel seeds. Let the sauce reduce further. Season to taste with salt, pepper and some sugar (to balance the acidity) if needed. Mix into the drained orrechiette and serve with finely grated parmesan. 

Recipe: slow-cooked salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli

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Salmon. Probably the most popular fish in Sweden, but not my first choice to be honest. I blame all the baked (over-cooked) salmon fillets when I was at Uni for that. Although I love the oily fish raw, cured and cold-smoked. And, after trying this recipe, like this; baked in a very low oven and still raw in the middle.

Slow-roasted salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1/2 fennel, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 red or green chili, sliced

4 sprigs dill + more for serving

salt and black pepper

900 g salmon fillet without skin

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 135C. Pour a little oil into a baking dish. Place fennel, lemon, chilli and till in the dish and place the salmon on top. Add plenty of salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or longer if you want it cooked through. 

Shred the fish into smaller pieces. Remove the dill (and substitute with fresh dill) and serve with the baked vegetables. I also had new potatoes and a cold sauce with lumpfish roe with mine.

Recipe: cod loin with lemon, capers, red onions and browned butter

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Maybe it’s because of my Scandinavian heritage but I really do like cod. I didn’t use to as a child, but back then my mother used to serve the cod poached *shudders* whereas I like to cook mine in the oven which keeps it firmer. My only “problem” with cod is that it looks so beige on the (white) plate, but adorning the cooked fish with pink, yellow and green accessories like in this recipe effectively solves that problem. Luckily the lemon segments, red onions and capers also elevates the cod to a rather sophisticated dinner party dish, which the addition of that amazing browned butter cements even further.

Thank you Bon Appetit for the inspiration and sorry for butchering your recipe, but this version is more Scandi.

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Cod loin with lemon, red onions, capers and browned butter, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1 kg cod loin

2 lemons

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp small capers

salt & pepper

500 g salted butter

Cut the cod loin into smaller pieces. Peel the lemon and cut into segments in between the membranes and place in a bowl. Slice the onion thinly and place in a bowl and cover with lemon juice. Place the cod in a buttered or oiled ovenproof dish and season well. Cook in 150C oven for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through. Leave to rest for a few minutes.   

While the fish is cooking, place the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat until nice and browned. Keep warm. 

Mix the lemon segments with the red onions (but not the juice) and capers on a bowl. Put the fish onto a clean serving plate and top with cod pieces with the lemon and onion mixture. Spoon over some browned butter. Serve with potato purée, peas and carrots and serve the rest of the browned butter on the side, it’s the only sauce you need. 

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: Langos (Hungarian fried bread)

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This Hungarian speciality of yummy deep-fried bread is interestingly quite popular in Sweden. As a child I came across langos stalls at Festivals and markets and when I was in my early twenties and sailed in the archipelago on the West Coast of Sweden I discovered langos stalls everywhere, so you could grab one on your way home from the nightclub. (A brilliant idea by the way!)

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In Hungary langos are usually topped with garlic butter, smetana and cheese, among other toppings, but in Sweden we tend to use prawns, fish roe and creme fraiche. Both are delicious and you can use anything you want really. Thankfully, crispy deep-fried bread goes with most things.

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Langos, maked 8 (which easily serves 4, maybe more)

Translated from and adapted after Jennys Matblogg’s recipe.

25 g fresh yeast (or 2 tsp dry yeast)

300 ml finger warm water

1 tsp salt

1 medium cold boiled potato, pressed

approx 420 g plain flour

1 litre neutral oil for deep-frying 

Toppings:

50 g melted salted butter + 1 small garlic clove, pressed

300 ml smetana, sour cream or creme fraiche 

1 large red onion, finely chopped

500-600 g Atlantic prawns, peeled

1 jar red or black (lump)fish roe

Add the flour to a bowl. Add the pressed potato. Pour in yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Mix in the finger warm water and work into a loose dough. Cover and leave to rise for approx 40 minutes. 

Pour out the dough on a floured work surface. Cut into eight even pieces and roll them out thinly, using more flour if the dough is sticky. Leave to rise again, on a floured parchment paper, for approx 10-15 minutes. (This last step can be omitted). 

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and heat it up until 180C (try by putting in a small piece of bread – when it turns golden brown the oil has the right temperature). Deep-fry the breads a few at the time (depending on the size of the saucepan) until golden on both sides and crispy. Drain on kitchen towel, then brush on some of the garlic butter and add the toppings. Eat while hot. 

Recipe: udon noodles with spinach and poached egg

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This simple and very comforting dish (funny how foods not involving melted cheese can be comforting, but they can!) I found in Vogue of all places, i.e. not where I usually get my food inspiration from, but it’s nice they write about food as well as fashion.

The only slightly daunting part of this meal is poaching eggs, but if you have the freshest of eggs and a slotted spoon you’re halfway there. Further instructions here.

Udon noodles with spinach and poached egg, serves 1

1 portion udon noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

2 handfuls fresh spinach

200-300 ml vegetable or chicken stock

1 poached egg 

Heat up the stock. Blanch the spinach in boiling water and squeeze it dry. Pour the stock into a bowl. Add noodles and spinach and lastly the poached egg. Sprinkle with chilli flakes or Aleppo pepper. 

Delia’s potato salad with vinaigrette

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This simple, yet quite sophisticated potato salad is one of Delia’s creations, and as I trust her ability I didn’t actually test this recipe before I made it for a dinner party; I just knew it would be nice. And of course it was. One can always trust Delia.

The only change I made was to cut down a bit on the shallots, as chopping onions really makes me cry. I think I gave up after having chopped eight shallots for double the amount of potatoes below.

Potato salad with vinaigrette, serves 8

Adapted from Delia Smith’s recipe.

900 g washed new potatoes

6 shallots, finely chopped

4 tbsp finely chopped (ot cut with scissors) chives

salt

Vinaigrette:

1 dessertspoon sea salt 

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 dessertspoon mustard powder

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

150 ml olive oil

black pepper

Steam or boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, for approx 20 minutes. Leave to cool a little and cut into smaller pieces if needed. 

Meanwhile make the vinaigrette using a pestle and mortar: crush the salt coarsely, then add the garlic. Crush it, mixing it with the salt, creating a purée. Add the mustard powder and really work it in, after that add some black pepper. 

Then add the vinegars and really work them in. Then add the oil, but switch to a small whisk and give everything a really good whisking. 

Stir in the vinagrette while the potatoes are still warm and add the shallots. Add the chives just before serving. Can be served still warm or cold.