Recipe: Lobster soup with toast

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For New Year’s Eve my assignment was to make a lobster soup with sherry, so that’s what I set out to do. But as I needed lobster shell for the stock I thought it best to incorporate the lobster meat as well and did so by serving a delicious lobster toast (on butter-fried bread!) along side it. So yummy!

Obviously one can make the soup sans toast the day after a lobster feast or freeze the shells and use them another day. Same goes for prawn shells; you find a great recipe for prawn soup here.

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Lobster soup, serves 8

4 cooked lobsters

2 carrots

1 onion with skin on 

1 fennel or celery 

a bunch dill stalks

1 tsp fennel seeds

300 ml double cream 

50 ml dry sherry

approx 2 tbsp maizena or corn starch to thicken the soup

concentrated lobster stock (to taste)

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1 tbsp butter

a splash of sherry

2 shallots, finely chopped 

1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped 

Remove the lobster meat from the shells and set aside. Chop the shells very coarsley (it’s only so they fit better in the pan later). Place the shell in a large cooking tray with a little oil. Also add large pieces of carrot, onion and celery/fennel. Roast for approx 20 minutes on 180/200C. Transfer the shells and vegetables to a large saucepan with a lid. Add plenty of water (3 litres) and bring to the boil. Add dill stalks and fennel seeds. Place the lid askew and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Sieve the stock and reduce (high heat, no lid) until approx 1 litre remains. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add some concentrated lobster stock if needed. Add the sherry to a clean non-stick pan and let it bubble for a minute. Add the stock and cream and let it thicken. Add the maizena/corn starch to thicken the soup further. Sieve if you see any lumps. Season to taste with concentrate, salt, pepper and sherry. 

From the lobster meat I used approx 1/4 of the meat, the smallest pieces, to place in the soup bowls. Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped shallots. After a minute add the lobster meat and add the sherry. Add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dill. Divide between the bowls and pour in the soup. 

Lobster toast, serves 8

6 slices white bread

2 tbsp butter

remaining lobster meat from the 4 lobsters

1 batch homemade mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon

1 bunch, finely chopped

1 pinch cayenne pepper

salt, pepper

Chop the lobster meat (not too finely). Add 4 tbsp mayonnaise to a bowl and mix in the meat. Add more mayo if needed. Add mustard, dill and cayenne after taste. Season. Place cold until serving. 

Remove the crusts on the bread and cut into two diagonally. Fry the slices golden brown on both sides in butter on medium-low heat. Divide the lobster mayonnaise between the toasts and serve with the soup. 

Cape Cod: Spanky’s Clam Shack in Hyannis

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The second day in Cape Cod, we managed to catch the boat to Nantucket and explored the pretty island for the day (top tip: book your ferry in advance!). When we arrived back into Hyannis, we headed straight for dinner, eager to eat at a more socially acceptable time than the evening before.

We went o Spanky’s Clam Shack, which seemed like the place to eat in this little town, and joined the queue at the bar. I’m really not a fan of waiting or queuing in general but when I can sit at a bar and sip a drink (in this case frozen strawberry daiquiri) I really don’t mind.

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When we were shown to the table (after only a ten minute wait) we got snacks straight away, like they could sense our hunger. I really liked the crab dip and crackers, although the presentation could have been improved on. But this is one busy restaurant so I can see why they like plastic bowls and wrapped crackers.

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We got our starters quickly too. Sinead got another mountain of crispy calamari with a tomato chilli dip.

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I tried something completely new for me; a stuffed quahog (no, not a Family Guy reference, it’s the actual name of the clam). It’s a huge clam filled with breadcrumbs, butter and herbs, and I really liked it. But it’s quite compact and therefore really filling.

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While we were munching on our starters we saw lobster after lobster leaving the kitchen.

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We got the main courses while we were still eating our starters (we had already sent them back once so felt bad if we did it again). But considering the size of the starters it would have been nice with a pause in between courses.

Anyway, Sinead’s chicken with kale and fries was really nice.

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But I think my clam bake was even better. The lobster was huge and perfectly cooked and the corn was the best I’ve ever had. I also had a plate full of a local type of clam and as I hadn’t come across them before I got a lesson in how you peel and eat them from our lovely waitress (it required removing them from the shell, pull of a membrane and then soak them in stock for quite a while to remove the sand). It’s always fun to try new things, and the clams were quite nice but I prefer the regular sweet ones. I also got a baked potato which I barely touched as the lobster, corn and clams were more than enough for me.

I really liked this place, but be prepared for big huge portions and a quick pace.

Spanky’s Clam Shack, 138 Ocean St., Hyannis, MA 02632

Eating NYC: amazing ABC Kitchen

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When I was in New York in August I met up with two friends I know from London. One has moved there for the first time, and one has moved back. And they both recommended ABC Kitchen to me. As I trust these friends, I made a reservation that day. For the same evening!

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So off we went, Sinead, her friend Hazel from home, and I. After waiting only a few minutes at the bar our table was ready (which was good as it proved near impossible to get a drink at the bar). As we walked through the restaurant I noticed the lovely interior. Part Scandi chic with lots of clean lines and white, part romantic with a few rustic touches and pretty pastel flowers.

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We ordered wine and some starters and really enjoyed our dishes. My crab toast with lemon aioli was lovely and fresh. And Sinead’s salad of roasted carrots, avocado, crunchy seeds and citrus was amazing! (I got a little food envy actually.)

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Hazel’s heritage tomato toast was simple but nice. Good produce goes a long way.

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For her main course Hazel had the lovely fettucine with peas, sweet onions and basil and pistachio pesto.

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Sinead had the fried chicken with collard greens and a basil and hot sauce butter. A little spicy but really nice.

I decided to go all out with a whole baked lobster with oregano and a lemon and chilli vinaigrette. And mash on the side. Maybe not the most conventional choice but the kind waiter assured me plenty of people order lobster and mash. The lobster was seasoned very differently to what I’m used to but stunning! Can’t wait to come back here on my next New York trip.

ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

Seafood feast at home

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Me coming home to visit is usually a good enough reason in my family to break out the bubbly and have a seafood feast! It’s important to celebrate the times we’re all together and make them special so we take every opportunity we get.

It may not be seafood every time we have a feast, but it’s quite often the case. We had this fabulous meal in December when I last visited and it was just wonderful, and the type of food we enjoy cooking, and eating, together.

We started with oysters, that were quite difficult to shuck without an oyster knife (we’d left it in the summer house), so we all did a few each. Good team effort, they’re quite strong the little molluscs. We had the oysters in the most simple, and our preferred, way with just lemon juice and Tabasco. What a treat!

 

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Our second course (although that sounds too fancy for peeling prawns) was smoked Atlantic prawns with home-made mayonnaise (a team effort by dad and me), which I just love. The taste is much more complex than fresh prawns and although it may sound strange to smoke prawns, it really works.

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We had a really nice bottle of bubbly, to drink, a Marquis de Haux Cremant de Bordeaux. It’s not readily available in Sweden, but shouldn’t be hard to find in the UK or the rest of Europe.

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For the main event, we had lobster. Something we usually only have as a starter, but I love it as a main course too. Again it was a team effort getting the food ready. I made the skin-on oven fries (that turned out great by the way), and was also in charge of picking the lobsters apart while mum made the lovely sauce. Good effort, team!

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This is our family version of lobster Thermidor with mushrooms, mustard. cognac and matured cheese and we all find it divine. When we think of something special to eat at home, this is always a contender. Most often we have it as a starter, rather than as a main, but after this meal I find it quite likely we’ll have it as a main-course more often than not.

As these were fresh lobster it was almost (but only almost) a sacrilege to coat them in a creamy sauce, so we all had a claw au natural with a dollop of mayonnaise to really taste the lobster.

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We had a lot of lovely food over the Christmas break, but this was my absolute favourite meal. We just had such a good time cooking together and dining together.

Homemade mayonnaise, serves 3-4

1 egg yolk, at room temperature 

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

approx 200 ml vegetable oil

1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

Most important when making your own mayonnaise: 

  1. All ingredients (especially the egg and the oil) should be at room temperature 
  2. Whisk by hand, usng a balloon whisk (gives a better texture)
  3. Season to taste

Mix egg yolk, dijon and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk it together using a balloon whisk and add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Once the mixture has thickened you can add the oil in a little trickle, whisking continuously. Whisk until you have a thick and pale mayonnaise. Season to taste with lemon, white pepper and plenty of salt. Sprinkle a little paprika on top (to decorate) before serving. 

Skin-on oven fries, serves 4

800 g firm potatoes (Maris Piper is great)

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180-200C, with the fan on. Wash the potatoes and then cut into sticks. Rinse away the starch. Pour the oil into a large oven-proof tray and add the potato sticks. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Massage the oil into the potato sticks using your hands and spread them out on the tray. Bake in the oven for approx 35 minutes or until crispy, golden and blistery on the outside and cooked through. 

New Years Eve 2015

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New Year’s Eve. A bit like Marmite – some people hate it, some people like it. I’m definitely in the latter category. I like all the cosiness Christmas brings, but I’m not a fan of the stodgy food that we traditionally eat in Scandinavia, so New Year’s is for me the perfect opportunity to cook and eat food I really like. Food worthy to end the year.

The last few years I’ve spent the evening with my closest friends and we have worked out the perfect New Year’s Eve menu, for us at least.

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We start off with champagne, Swedish Kalix (bleak) roe, butter-fried bread, creme fraiche and chopped red onion., with champagne. It’s the most simple thing – yet incredibly delicious (and very Scandi!).

Next we have lobster, usually with melted garlic butter, and this year I opted for caramelised garlic butter – another simple and delicious dish!

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For mains we usually have fillet of beef, with potatoes and greens. This year the beef fillet was served with mini Pommes Anna (made in a muffin tin), mange tout and a mushroom sauce with Dijon mustard.

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For pudding we had individual chocolate pavlovas with chocolate crème and creme fraiche (whipped cream would be better but I forgot it), decorated with daim and Noblesse chocolate thins. A jug of chocolate sauce was put on the table so everyone could help themselves.

Lobster with caramelized garlic butter, serve 4

2 lobsters, cooked 

1 whole garlic

100 g salted butter, at room temperature

a bunch of parsley 

1 slice of lemon, cut into 4

4 slices of baguette

The day before (or at least a few hours ahead of) serving: Wrap the garlic in tin foil and bake for 40 mins in 180C oven (until soft). Leave to cool.

Mix the butter with as much caramelized garlic you like. It’s sweeter and not as strong as fresh garlic, so I thought 5 cloves was a good amount. Chop the parsley and mix in. Add pepper too. Roll into a roll and cover with cling. Place in the fridge to set. 

To serve: Cut the lobsters in half lengthways, remove the gooey bits in the head and the bowel string. Rinse the shell with the meat still inside. Crack the claws and get the meat out. Place in the shells and place the shells in an ovenproof dish. Cut the butter into thick slices and distribute on the lobster halves. Place in 180C oven for approx 10 mins until the lobsters are hot and the butter has melted. Serve immediately with a piece of lemon and a slice of baguette. 

Mini Pommes Anna with thyme, serve 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

850 g potato of a firm variety (Maris Piper works well)

100 g butter

a bunch of fresh thyme 

salt, black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C . Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush 8-10 wholes in the muffin tin all over with butter. Line bottoms with parchment-paper rounds. Arrange 1-2 small thyme sprigs in center of each round. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon butter into bottom of each cup.

 

Add chopped thyme and garlic to remaining butter in saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

 

Using food processor, moulinex or mandoline, slice potatoes crosswise into very thin rounds , placing them in a large bowl as you work. Pour herb butter over and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat well.

 

Divide potato slices among muffin cups, layering overlapping slices to create a circular pattern. Lightly press center of each to make compact. Drizzle any remaining butter and seasoning from bowl over.

 

Cover muffin pan tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake until potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife and are golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Remove foil; invert a rimmed baking sheet over pan. Turn, lightly tapping on counter, releasing potatoes onto sheet. Rearrange any slices that may have fallen out. Discard parchment.
Individual chocolate pavlovas, served 4

Translated from and Adapted after Roy Fares’ recipe.

Chocolate crème:

50 g dark chocolate

30 g (3) egg yolks

37,5 g caster sugar

15 g maizena corn starch

1/2 tsp vanilla

175 ml milk

10 g butter

Pavlovas:

37,5 g dark chocolate

70 g (2) egg whites

110 g caster sugar

4 g maizena corn starch

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar 

Chocolate sauce:

50 ml caster sugar

50 ml cocoa

50 ml cream

15 g butter

To decorate:

300 ml lightly whipped cream

1/2 packet daim balls (or a chocolate bar, chopped)

12 Noblesse chocolate thins or similar 

4 sparklers

Chocolate cream: Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Mix egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and vanilla in another bowl. Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan and mix it into the egg yolk mixture (little by little as to not scramble the eggs). Pour the egg yolk milk mixture into the saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Cook for another 2 minutes, on low heat, to get rid of the corn starch flavour. Pour the custard over the chocolate, add the butter and mix until the chocolate has melted. Cover with cling and place in fridge until cold. 

Pavlovas: Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl, melt either over boiling water or in the microwave. Pre-heat oven to 150C. 

Beat the egg whites until foamy and add the sugar bit by it while beating until stiff and glossy. Add the corn flour and vinegar and mix carefully with a spatula. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and create a marbled effect by folding the mixture 2-3 times with a spatula. Divide the meringue mixture into four small rounds on a lined baking tray. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven while cooling. Let the meringue discs cool completely. 

Chocolate sauce: Mix sugar, cocoa and cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

Assembling: Place a meringue disc on each plate. Fill up with the crème and top with whipped cream. Decorate with daim, noblesse and sparklers. Heat up the sauce and serve it in a jug on the side.  

 

 

 

NYE 2013

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My bestie Emma and I have always liked a good party and quite often organised New Year’s Eve parties ourselves. Although it has always been lots of fun it takes quite a lot of time and effort to do it well so, in lieu of a big NYE party to go to, we decided to go back to basics for once. Just a few people, four in fact. Easy but classic and very tasty food, champagne and nice wines to drink and just lots of fun because you’re among great friends.

I wouldn’t mind a repeat this year, guys!

After watching some ice hockey in the afternoon (the Junior World Championship was on in Malmö) we started our evening with Champagne and canapès consisting of crispy bread fried in butter topped with creme fraiche, Swedish caviar (löjrom), red onions, dill and lemon slices. It doesn’t require much cooking but it is so delicious it still impresses your guests!

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Our starter was lobster with melted garlic butter and puff pastry twists. Again very simple, but absolutely gorgeous!

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The even bigger hit was the main course with incredibly tender fillet of beef that I managed to buy in a regular (but very good) supermarket (where I also found bone marrow  – I was in heaven!). Served rare with a wonderful mushroom crème, tenderstem broccoli, caramelised shallots, Hasselback potatoes and creamy red wine sauce, I think this was everyone’s favourite dish. So so delicious!

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I made the same dessert as last year, as it was such a success! Fluffy parfait with chopped dark chocolate and caramelised hazelnuts served with honeycomb and butterscotch sauce. Delicious!

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Just before midnight we walked down to the Opera in Malmö where the fire work display was going to be, toasted in some more bubbly, watched the fireworks and went back inside to eat and drink some more. It was a great evening!

The Recipes

Swedish caviar with butter-fried bread, serves 4

4-6 slices of nice white bread

2 tbsp salted butter for frying 

1 packet Swedish caviar (löjrom – bleak roe)

200 ml creme fraiche

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

dill lemon slices to decorate

Heat up a frying pan on medium heat and melt half the butter but don’t let it burn. Fry the bread slowly first on one side and then on the other until crispy and golden brown. Add more butter when you turn the bread. Cut into smaller pieces. 

Chop the red onion and let it soak in icecold water a few minutes before serving to lose some of the sharpness. Drain before serving. 

Either place a dollop of creme fraiche, caviar and some red onion, dill and a small lemon segment on each bread piece or serve in bowls and let people assemble their own canapès. 

Lobster with garlic butter and puff pastry twists, serves 4

2 fresh lobsters

100 g salted butter, at room temperature 

1 medium garlic clove, pressed

1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

white pepper

1 roll all butter puff pastry 

sea salt flakes

lemon slices to serve

Start with the puff pastry twists. Cut the roll of puff pastry into 2 cm wide strips. Twist each strip a few times and place on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and bake in 225C oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Leave to cool. Keep in an airtight container. 

Mix the softened butter with garlic, parsley and some white pepper.

Cut the lobsters in half lengthways with a sharp yet sturdy knife. Remove the black vein and any roe. Rinse very carefully. Remove and open the claws and keep the claw meat on the side. Place the lobster halves on a baking tray, spread with butter and place in a 200C oven for about 10 minutes. Serve with a lemon wedge, a fresh claw each and the puff pastry twists. 

Fillet of beef with Hasselback potatoes, tenderstem broccoli, mushroom crème, caramelised shallots and creamy red wine sauce, serves 4

1 kg good quality beef fillet, trimmed of any tendons and cut into 3-4 cm thick medallions 

1 kg medium Maris Piper potatoes (or another firm type)

2-3 broccoli stems per person

1 batch red wine juswith approx 400 ml liquid

200 ml double cream

Start with the sauce, crème and onions (recipes below). Add the cream to the red wine jus, let it thicken and season to taste. Can be reheated before serving. 

Peel the potatoes and cut in half lengthways. Put them flat side down and make small incisions creating a ridged effect with a sharp knife. Don’t cut all the way through and leave 1-2 mm between the incisions. Place the potato halves on an oiled baking tray, drizzle with mild oil and add salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden brown, approx 30-40 minutes in 200C. 

Brown the meat on all sides. Season well with salt and black pepper. Place in oven on 150C until the inside temperature of the meat is 55C (for medium-rare). Rest the meat a few minutes before serving. 

Cook the broccoli in salted water until soft but not mushy. Drain and add some more salt. 

Plate with the mushroom crème underneath the meat. 

Mushroom crème, serves 4

125 g chestnut mushrooms

1 handful dried ceps (porcini) in pieces 

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Cognac

50 ml double cream

salt, white pepper

Soak the ceps for a few minutes then squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop all the mushrooms roughly. Heat up a knob of butter in a frying pan/sauteuse on mediun heat and add shallots, garli and mushrooms. Fry slowly adding more butter if needed. Once the mushrooms have browned, add the mustard and Cognac and let the liquid evaporate. Add the cream and let the mixture thicken. Blend to a smooth paste using a stick blender. Adjust the seasoning. Heat up again before serving.

Caramelised shallots, serves 4

10-12 shallots, peeled and cut in half

1 knob salted butter

200 ml red wine

100 ml beef stock

2 tsp Acacia honey

salt, pepper

Use a non-stick pan. Caramelise the onions in the butter on medium heat, it takes about 5 minutes. Add red wine, stock and honey and let the liquid evaporate (without a lid) until you have sticky dark brown onions. Add salt and pepper.