Pasta with mushrooms and leek

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New year’s resolutions. Usually I am against them myself although others seem to do well with a dry or healthy January (well done, guys!). I actually made a small resolution this year and it is totally food related of course; to cook more from my cookbooks.

I have a bit of a, ahem, cookbook addiction and since I don’t want to stop buying new shiny ones I thought I’d better utilise the ones I’ve got. So far I have already cooked a few things from my newly acquired ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course‘, among other things this pasta recipe with mushrooms and leek.

It sounds very ordinary and it sort of is, yet very delicious. The sauce is silky without being too rich (especially with a splash of white wine added to cut through the cream) and the fried mushrooms and leek are very tasty. I also like that the pasta in this dish is lasagne sheets although the dish is quite far from a regular or even open lasagne. But it really works and I prefer it to many other pasta shapes.

Pasta with mushrooms and leek, serves 2

Adapted from ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cooking Course‘.

For once I followed the recipe dutifully, apart from one small addition; a splash of white wine in the cream sauce.

8 chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

1 leek, washed, trimmed, quartered and sliced

oil for frying

salt, pepper

250 ml chicken stock

100 ml double cream

1 tbsp white wine

4-6 lasagne sheets

To serve: grated parmesan, optional

Heat up the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Add the garlic after two minutes and the leek after another two. Fry until the mushrooms are golden and the leek has softened. Season.

Add the chicken stock and let it reduce for five minutes. 

In the meantime, cook the lasagne sheets in salted water until al dente, for four minutes. Add the cream to the mushrooms and a splash of wine and let it thicken. Season to taste. Remove from heat and submerge the lasagne sheets in the sauce. Plate prettily and serve with or without grated parmesan.  

Bean salad with leek, dijon and feta

bean salad

On Monday we met with the book club to discuss this book; our summer read. Although it is a book club we care a lot about the food too. We each bring a few things each time and the hostess sets the theme, if any. This time I brought along this bean salad I prepared the day before. It went really well with Anna’s couscous salad with chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes, garlic bread and celery sticks and dip and to finish we had apple crumble and custard. Such a nice meal! And I will definitely be making this salad again soon.

Bean salad with leek, dijon and feta, serves 4-5

1 tin (400 g) cannellini beans

1 tin (400 g) flageolet beans

1 leek, chopped

oil and butter for frying

1 garlic clove, grated

salt, pepper

2-3 tsp dijon mustard

1.5 tsp sherry vinegar

chopped parsley

100 g crumbled feta

olive oil to finish

Fry the leek until soft in butter and oil. Once it starts to brown transfer the leek to a large bowl. Rinse the beans and drain. Add more oil and butter to the frying pan and add the beans, cook until warmed through. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so. Season. Transfer to the bowl and mix with the leek.Add dijon and vinegar and leave to cool. Once cool add the chopped parsley and crumbled feta. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Store covered in the fridge until serving. Keeps for 2-3 days.

Thursday’s canapés – the savoury

In an attempt not to bore you too much with the nibbles we had at Thursday’s party I have divided the food into two posts. This one with all the savoury stuff and another with the sweets.

When the guests arrived we greeted them with some mulled cider and the tables were already prepped with some nibbles for hungry guests; gingerbread with blue cheese, crisps and pretzels.

The first appetizer was a shot of warming butternut squash soup flavoured with cumin, chilli and garlic.

Next was my mother’s fabulous meatballs. They are always really fluffy and moist and the way to achieve this is to use egg, breadcrumbs and water or cream to the mince – not milk, that makes them hard.

I put each meatball on a toothpick to make it easier to dip them into the feta sauce in the middle. A cream accompaniment to meatballs and burgers.

Above is a large quiche I made with only crust underneath to make it easier to cut into squares as they all look the same this way. It is quicker than mini quiches and feeds many. I had leeks and blue cheese in this one.

My favourite canapé of the evening was the polenta square with marinaded pork fillet on top. Something green on the top like pea shoots or parsley would be a great addition as they do look a bit dull, but I promise you that they are anything but dull when you put them in your mouth.

Butternut squash soup, makes 20 shots in shot glasses

1 butternut squash

1 onion

1/2 red chilli

chicken stock

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

100 ml cream

salt, white pepper

Peel the squash and take out the seeds. Cut into smaller pieces. Finely chop the onion and fry it in oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes without browning. Chop the chilli and add it to the pan. Then add the butternut squash too. Fry for a few minutes and add chicken stock to cover. Bring to the boil and cook until the squash is very soft. Then drain half the liquid and purée the rest.

Add more water if needed and bring to the boil. Add garlic, cumin and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into shot glasses and put some pumpkin seeds on top. Serve hot.

Meatballs, makes 50

500 g beef mince

500 g pork mince

2 eggs

200 ml plain breadcrumbs

1 large onion, finely chopped

salt, white pepper

Crack the eggs into a bowl and break them up, add salt (more than you think), pepper and breadcrumbs. Leave it for a couple of minutes to swell. If the mixture seems very firm, add 1-2 tbsp water and stir it in. Next add the chopped onion and the mince. Make sure you incorporate it well, the mince has to mix as well as mixing it with the breadcrumbs. This is easiest done with a wooden fork or spoon. When it is all incorporated, roll the mixture into balls. Dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water in between rolling each ball, it makes it easier to roll. Fry them in butter on medium-high heat at first, until they are nice and crisp and brown on the outside, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let them cook through. Roll them around a lot as not to burn and to brown evenly.

Feta dip

150 g Greek feta

200 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp thyme

2 tsp lemon juice

white pepper

Mush up the cheese with a fork in a bowl. Mix in the creme fraiche, then add the oil and lemon juice. Add thyme and pepper. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavours develop.

Quiche pieces with leek and blue cheese, makes 50 pieces

1 batch shortcrust

2 leeks, rinsed and sliced

200 g creamy blue cheese

5 eggs

500 ml cream

salt, pepper

Make the crust and press it into a rectangular dish with sides. Pre bake the crust for 10-15 minutes in 200C. Scatter the leek slices and crumble the cheese onto the base. Beat eggs and cream, season and pour it into the dish. Add some grated cheese if you like. Bake for 40 minutes in 200C. Leave to cool and cut into squares.

Polenta squares, makes about 40

750 ml vegetable stock

120 g polenta

40 g butter

120 g grated parmesan

salt, pepper

Bring the stock to the boil and whisk in the polenta. Cook for as long as it says on the packet. When it starts to thicken and is done add the butter and cheese and stir to melt. Season to taste. Pour the mixture into a greased rectangular dish and let it cool and set. Cut into squares before serving.

Marinaded pork fillet, makes 40 canapés

450-500 g pork fillet

200 ml olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 solo garlic, sliced

2 tbsp lemon juice

salt and plenty of black pepper

Trim the fillet and brown it in butter on high heat in a frying pan. Place it in a 200C oven for about 15 minutes or until just cooked through, or until it has the inside temperature of 70C. Leave to cool. Mix the other ingredients. Slice the meat thinly and add to the marinade. Let it marinade for at least 2 hours. Place one slice of pork fillet on each polenta square and fasten it with a toothpick. Add something green or top or sprinkle with black pepper.

Brunch and Henley Royal Regatta

In England some happenings are bigger than others. The Ascot’s, Goodwood and Henley Royal Regatta are a few of those, and so far I have only been to Henley.

Last year we had a picnic with friends there, but in the afternoon so many people arrived that we no longer could see the river although we were meters from it.

To avoid such nuisance we bought tickets to the Regatta enclosure, and this is (at least for us) the way forward. When we ventured out of the enclosure to look at the shops etc., it was too many prople everywhere.

Malin and Martin, Jess and Chris and us, started the dat with a brunch at our flat. We had champagne, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, croissants, mini quiches, blueberry muffins, bread, ham and cheese and things. It was a lovely start to the day and we all enjoyed it. But then again, who does not enjoy champagne?!

To brighten up the train journey out of London we had some more bubbly, then we switched to Pimm’s at the regatta. I love events like these, when you sit by the river, watching fit men row, looking around at all the pretty (and some horrible ones) dresses, Panamas and stripy blazers.

We enjoyed the early evening best though. When the serious people started to leave and the party crowd had not yet arrived. It was quiter and we could sit front row watching the rowing.

When the enclosure closed, we walked over the bridge into the village and had a nice meal. We must have been very lucky, walking in the six of us and managed to get a table!

Back at the train station, it was mayhem. There had been an accident on the tracks and several hundred people were fighting over the few taxis. Jess managed to find us one, and waiting for it we escaped the chaos and had a drink in a pub.

It was a perfect day with nice, but not too warm, weather and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Thanks guys!

Perfectly creamy scrambled eggs, serves six on a buffet

6-8 eggs

100 ml single cream

knob of butter

salt and pepper after taste

Heat up a teflon frying pan or sauté pan on medium heat. Add the butter. Beat the eggs with cream and season. Pour into the pan and lower the temperature. Stir the whole time with a wooden fork or a spatula, and watch the eggs slowly thicken. Remove from heat when a bit undercooked and keep stirring. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Mini-quiches with Saint Agure and leek, 12 stycken

80 g softened butter

200 ml plain flour

1/3 beaten egg

100 g Saint Agure in cubes

10 cm leek, sliced

2 + 2/3 eggs (left over form the dough making)

300 ml cream

100 ml grated cheese

Mix butter, eggs and flour to a dough. Line 12 aluminium cases with it. Place blue cheese and leeks in the pastry cases. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Mix eggs and cream, season with salt and pepper and divide between the cases. Bake in 200C for 20 minutes. Serve cold, luke warm och warm.

Blueberry muffins with almonds and lemon, makes 12

Oroginal Swedish recipe here. I made mine into larger muffins than the recipe suggests.

200 ml blueberries

125 g melted butter

150 g ground almonds

1 tbsp lemon zest

400 ml icing sugar

80 ml plain flour

5 eggwhites (about 160-170 ml)

Mix almonds, zest, icing sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the egg whites and mix. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly. Place a few berries in each cake case, divide the mixture between the cake cases (fill them to 2/3). Bake in 200 C for about 15-20 minutes.  

Fried leeks with paprika sauce

We enjoyed a tapas style dinner on Saturday (for a while at least, then I got a tummy ache and had to lie down *sigh*) and I made these nice little things. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but I didn’t follow it exactly. The sauce I made up myself and it worked really well with the leeks.

Fried leeks with paprika sauce, serves 2

3 leeks, trimmed

1 egg, beaten

 breadcrumbs

salt, white pepper

at least 500 ml vegetable oil

200 ml creme fraiche

juice from 1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

1-2 tsp paprika

Cut the leeks into 5 cm long pieces. Boil in salted water until soft (about 15 mins). Drain. Heat up the oil in a pan. Dip the leeks first in the beaten egg then in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel.

Mix creme fraiche, lemon juice and spices. Serve.