Recipe: tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and mushrooms

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I made this pasta with prawns, mushrooms and tomatoes back in Sweden in August for my parents and I for supper and we all really enjoyed it.

It feels fresh and light although it has cream in it and the prawns work so well with both tomatoes and mushrooms.

And it’s actually the tomatoes that steal the show for me! Look out for those little bursts of juicy sweet tomato that comes with almost every bite. I had the luxury of using my mother’s homegrown cherry tomatoes in different colours (they were delicious!) but any small tomatoes in season will work just as well (I’ve made this dish a few times since August using store-bought on-the-vine British cherry tomatoes).

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Tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and button mushrooms, serves 3-4

500 g fresh tagliatelle

1-2 shallots, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

plenty of butter and neutral oil for frying

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

50 ml dry white wine

150 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

300 ml double cream

1/2 stock cube (fish or vegetable) 

400 g frozen Atlantic shell-on prawns, defrosted and peeled (or approx 250 g fresh ones) 

approx 2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

Fry onions and garlic in butter and oil on medium heat without browning. Remove from pan. Add more butter and oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms on medium-high heat until golden brown. Season and remove from pan. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the tomatoes and let them cook on medium geat for a few minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding cream and stock cube (no water). Stir and let the sauce thicken. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper (the sugar will balance the acidity from the tomatoes). You want the sauce to have depth and taste a lot as the pasta will dilute the flavours. Cook the pasta in a large pot and drain.  

Take the sauce off the heat and add the prawns. Stir and add the pasta. Mix properly so every strand of pasta is coated with sauce. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.  

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Recipe: Girolle toast 2.0

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE mushrooms, and especially girolles! They’re coming into season at the same time as my beloved crayfish, so to start off the little crayfish party we had in Sweden (a must when you have a London visitor in August!), we had these absolutely delicious little girolle toasts with cognac and cream. (I’ve made similar ones before but this version is even better, I promise!)

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They went down a treat and I got praise like “I could eat these EVERY day!”, and I must agree that they were divine. The combination of mustard and cognac with the smooth cream is just delicious and the grated cheese to finish adds an extra layer of flavour.

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You simply must try them, either as little canapés (in which case I would cut each bread slice into four instead of two) or like this; as a little starter with a glass of pink champagne.

With the crayfish we had some more girolles, because why not?!, on top of the Västerbotten cheese quiche. If you’re planning a crayfish party you simply must try it!

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Kantarelltoast 2.0, serves 4 as a starter

5 slices regular white bread, crusts removed and the slices cut on the diagonal into triangels

2 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying the bread

150 g girolle mushrooms, rinsed

1 large shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

4 tbsp butter + a splash of oil for frying onions, garlic and mushrooms

2 tbsp cognac

100 ml double cream

1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

To garnish:

finely grated Västerbotten cheese (parmesan would work too)

Fry the bread in butter and a little oil on medium-low heat until golden brown on both sides. Leave to drain on kitchen towel. 

Fry the onions and garlic in some of the butter and oil ton medium heat until golden. Remove from the pan and fry the mushrooms with more butter and oil on medium-high heat. When the mushrooms are cooked, turn the temperature down to medium and add the garlic and onions to the pan. Season. Add the cognac and let some of it evaporate before adding the cream. Add the mustard and taste until you’re happy with the flavour. Adjust the seasoning and add a little more cognac if needed. Stir with a whisk while the sauce thickens. It should be thick but still a touch runny when it’s done (and full of flavour). Add the parsley and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the fried bread slices and top with grated cheese.

Reminder: Västerbotten cheese quiche

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In Sweden crayfish season is in full swing, and I wanted to remind you all that one of the most important things for a crayfish party (apart from the crayfish and snaps) is this Västerbotten cheese quiche. You can buy the cheese from Ocado (love their Swedish shop!) but you could also substitute it for a sharp cheddar if you prefer.

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We had a little crayfish party when I was home in Sweden and I love this non-holiday more than some actual holidays. The crayfish are just delicious, but we went all out with both fresh and smoked prawns (they’re delicious!) as well.

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And yes, we had snaps (Linie Aquavit, pictured above) and silly hats.

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Bread and cheese is also needed to soak up the alcohol (snaps is strong!) and maybe some homemade mayonnaise for dipping.  And don’t forget the finger bowls – this is a very messy (but really fun!) affair!

Skål!

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Västerbotten cheese quiche, serves 6

Dough:

120 g softened butter

300 ml plain flour

1/2 beaten egg

Filling:

250 g grated Västerbotten cheese (or a sharp cheddar will do)

2 egg yolks

2 eggs

200 ml cream

salt

Topping:

100 g girolles

2 tbsp salted butter

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt, pepper

chopped parsley

Mix the ingredients together for the dough and press it out in a quiche dish. Use a fork to pierce the dough all over. Pre-bake the dough for 10 mins at 175 C.

Mix the grated cheese with the cream, eggs and yolks and pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for another 20 mins.

Fry the girolles in butter on medium-high heat until almost done. Add the shallots and garlic and fry until golden. Season well and add the parsley. Place on top of the quiche just before serving. 

London: brilliant Bao

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I’m a bit behind on updating this blog, and have been since probably the beginning of the year. My life seems to just speedily whirl by, and I’m left with lots of things to write about but haven’t got enough time to actually write. But sometimes I have a little window, and I try to really grab it with both hands and put these posts together. Wish me luck!

Anyway, I went to Bao  sometime in the spring, i.e. a very long time ago, but I still want to tell you about this great little place.

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Gaby and I queued for a little more than an hour, which is a very long time if you’re hungry, but passes quite quickly if you’re chatting away with a friend. Either way, it’s totally worth the wait.

We started off with trotter nuggets (brilliant idea!) with a tonkatsu type sauce that really cut through the pork flavour. Delicious!

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We then moved on the the baos (filled steamed Korean buns). Their ‘classic’ with braised pork and peanuts was utterly divine and my favourite. I actually ordered one more; it was that good!

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The confit pork bao sounded promising (I love any confit) but it wasn’t as good as the classic. Still nice, but I would skip this next time and go straight for the classic.

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We then had the fried chicken bao with mayonnaise, which actually came in a different type of bun, but it was also really nice!

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We didn’t have just buns though; we also sampled some of the small dishes on the menu, like the mushrooms and century egg. It was a real umami bomb and quite different. I liked it.

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But the scallop with yellow bean and garlic was even better. The powder was just delicious and the bean paste just worked so well together with the sweetness of the scallop.

Since we were here, Bao has opened up another restaurant, but the queues seem to remain at the Soho branch. But go with a friend, chat away in the queue and before you know it you can bite into these delicious baos. Yep. Worth it.

Bao Soho, 53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS

Pizza with fillet of beef and bearnaise sauce

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It may seem a strange pizza topping, but I assure you it’s not. Most pizzerias in Sweden offer this and it’s probably the best hangover cure in the world, right up there with a kebab pizza. Yes, that’s also a thing in Sweden!

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You see, most pizzeras in Sweden are not authentic Italian ones but conveniently located in small towns, even villages and the go-to place for a takeaway. The menu is often eclectic and most have one called ‘pizzeria name’ + special, which is their take on the beef and bearnaise sauce pizza. It’s rarely you get nice beef though, it’s more similar to kebab meat but it’s still nice.

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Since bearnaise sauce on pizza is not a thing in the UK (sob), I made my own the other day. With proper rare fillet of beef. It was so delicious and I can’t wait to have it again. Because although the Swedish pizza with beef and bearnaise sauce have a special place in my heart and something I have to have at least once a year when I go home, this was SO much better.

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I was tempted to make my own bearnaise sauce to put on the pizza, but was afraid it might split on the hot pizza base so I decided to play it safe and use a store bought, more stable version.

Homemade pizza with fillet of beef and bearnaise sauce, per pizza

1 batch pizza dough (makes 2 pizzas, or halve it if you only want to make 1) 

Tomato sauce:

1 garliv clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

5 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 buffelo mozzarella

oregano

70 g fillet of beef

butter for frying

a few spoonfuls good quality bearnaise sauce (I imported mine from Sweden)

Make the dough. When it’s raising, make the tomato sauce: Fry the garlic in the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the chopped tomatoes, some water and the tomato paste. Cook for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. Season to taste and put aside. 

Once the dough has risen, roll out a pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and distribute torn chunks of mozzarella on the pizza. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with orgeano. Bake in 225C oven for approx 10 minutes until cooked through. 

Season the beef and fry it in butter while the pizza is in the oven. It only needs 1-2 minutes per side. Let the meat rest for a few minutes, then slice it thinly. 

Remove the pizza from the oven. Add the beef and bearnaise sauce. Serve immediately!  

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.  

 

 

 

This year’s Christmas drinks party

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I had some of the girls over for Christmas drinks the first Saturday in December and it was so much fun! Last year I had a larger gathering with both girls and boys, but this year I just didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare something big, but rather than not organising anything at all I preferred to scale it down. I do hope I have more time and energy last year for a proper Christmas party with lots of canapés, but I’m not making any promises.

To start with we had prosecco (and quite a lot of it!) and savoury canapés, starting with warm crisps with browned butter, grated comté, lemon juice and cress. I love these so so much! I know it’s making crisps even unhealthier, but it is so worth it. I mentioned the browned butter right?!

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Thereafter I put out a little DIY project with crostinis. I had a large bag filled with crostinis and three jars on a silver tray with different spreads to put on top; bean spread with sage, hot smoked salmon spread (the girls favourite!) and a new version of chicken liver parfait (recipe to follow soon) and cornichons.

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After that I passed around a board of prosciutto parcels filled with cream cheese mixed with chopped sunblush tomatoes. It’s the easiest recipe ever (three ingredients!) but always goes down well.

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We then moved on to the hot food. First up were these puff pastry squares with mushrooms, grated cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. IMG_7468

Then the mini Janssons frestelse that all my London friends adore! Janssons frestelse is like a creamy potato bake (with grated potato) with anchovies. It sounds rather odd I know, but everyone who’s ever tried it loves it, I promise!

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Having finished the savoury canapés it was time for the sweets and glögg! I put it all out on the table at once to people cook pick and choose. The rocky road I made this year is probably the best one yet (recipe to follow), mainly because it has honeycomb in it and it really works!! I also tried to pretty them pieces up with snowflakes (which I tend to use on everything this time of year!) and edible glitter.

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I also served gingerbread with blue cheese, but this time I substituted Stilton for St Agur, which works even better.

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I also made these mini saffron pannacottas that I like to make every year – I’m so lucky my friends are happy to eat!