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.  

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Recipe: Nigella’s slow roasted lemon and garlic chicken

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I’m a planner. Not all the time, but I like to plan ahead in several areas of my life. Especially when entertaining. So I had decided on a menu for the lunch I was hosting for a few friends in Sweden long before I even got to Sweden.

But the draught threw a spanner in the works. Three days before I was leaving for Sweden the government issued a BBQ ban in most areas and it was forbidden to barbecue even on your own property. All to prevent any more wild fires. Totally logical and something we all had to accept. But since my original lunch plan involved lighting the barbecue I had to think of something else to cook. I thought this would magically come to me as ideas so often do, but no.

So, in this moment of crisis (well not really, but I was starting to panic a little as my days were packed full of activities) I turned to my trusted cook book collection in the beach house and as usual they helped me out. This time it was a recipe in Nigella’s book Summer that saved me! This slow-roasted lemon and garlic chicken is summery (and delicious) enough to make you forget all about your beloved barbecue and appreciate a dish that basically cooks itself in the oven.

And if you don’t find butchering chickens as therapeutic as I do, I would suggest you either ask your butcher for help or buy a mixture of skin-on chicken breasts and chicken thighs.

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Nigella’s slow roasted garlic and lemon chicken, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces

1 bulb of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves

1 lemon, cut into chunky eighths

1 bunch fresh thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

75-100 ml white wine

salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Put the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, season and add the oil. Toss the chicken pieces in the oil so they’re coated all over. Place skin side up. Add garlic cloves, lemon chunks and  thyme. Sprinkle over the white wine and put in the oven to cook for 2 hours. 

Turn up the oven to 200°C and cook the chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges. 

 

Recipe: cheese toastie with Maroilles

I don’t know if it was because I’d just seen Nigella make a brie, parma ham and fig toastie on her latest TV show or just the fact that I am perpetually in the mood for a cheese toastie, but as it happens two weekends ago, I knew just how I would use the Maroilles cheese a French colleague had given me the same week. In return he got a nice piece of Swedish Herrgård cheese, matured for 18 months. But back to the Maroilles.

When talking to French people, food as a conversation topic is never far away. And that’s how I found out that this Maroilles cheese, from the area of Picardy, is both delicious and probably the smelliest cheese in the world. To me that’s more intriguing than off-putting and I was super excited when I tried it. Similar to Reblochon, it’s a washed rind cheese with a lot of flavour, but it’s much creamier, and dare I say, delicious.

This cheese toastie is utterly simple to make, but very rewarding when you bite into the crisp bread with melted cheese oozing out on the sides.

Maroilles cheese toastie, per toastie

2 slices Poilâne bread

salted butter

2 thick slices of Maroilles cheese

Butter the two Poilane slices on one side. Place the cheese on one of the buttered surfaces and spread them it out so it covers the whole bread slice. Place the other slice of bread on top, buttered side down (i.e. touching the cheese). Press the sandwich together. 

Now, melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat (3-4 out of 6) and place the sandwich in the pan. You don’t want the butter to burn so if unsure lower the heat. You want the sandwich to be golden on both sides and the cheese to melt inside so it takes a few minutes on each side.

Fry until golden brown on one side, pressing down with a spatula. Turn the sandwich and fry the other side. Once crisp and golden and the cheese has started to ooze out on the sides remove from pan and place on kitchen roll to remove excess butter. Pat the top of the sandwich with kitchen roll too, then cut into half and serve. Yu-um. 

PS. This is what I love the most about food; it brings people together. My colleague thought the Herrgård was a nice addition to his cheese board, with otherwise only French cheeses I presume, and I got to try a cheese I had never heard of until he boasted about the best produce from his region in France. Merci!

Recipe: lamb ribs with nigella seeds

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I tend to bookmark recipes to try all the time, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to actually try them out. This one, is definitely one of those as I first made a mental note while watching the series Simply Nigella, and then literally bookmarking the page in the cookbook, then leaving it for a year or so. But this recipe is worth the wait. It’s incredibly easy to “make” (the oven takes care of it really) and it’s really yummy and packed full of flavour.

If you’re not a fan of lamb meat this may not be for you as the meat flavour is really strong because of the cut and the fat that melts over the meat in the oven. But if you, like me – like lamb – they’re heavenly!

 

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds, serves 6-10

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

4 teaspoons nigella seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 teaspoons regular olive oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely grated, or minced)

24 lamb ribs (cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in)

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Line a large roasting tin with foil and sit a rack on top.

Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

Dip the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won’t be enough for all the ribs, but it is. 

Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking tin and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender. Serve. 

 

 

Nigella’s sumptuous chocolate cake

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I have had a complicated relationship with Nigella through the years. It was definitely because of her and Jamie Oliver I started cooking as a teenager, but as I got better at both cooking and baking I also got a bit disappointed with some of Nigella’s recipes. Sometimes they seem to promise more than they delivered, but then some recipes are so great I still use them 15 years later.

With her new cookbook and series, both named Simply Nigella, I am back in awe of her. I want to try all the recipes, love like the style of cooking (and baking) and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been great.

This cake seemed absolutely delicious and easy to make on her show, and it certainly is a treat, plus it’s vegan – so a good recipe to have in your repertoire. Mine wasn’t entirely vegan though, I must confess. As I couldn’t find any coconut butter in my supermarket I used regular butter in the icing, which worked just as well would you prefer to make it non-vegan.

It is probably the most moist chocolate cake I’ve ever made and I will certainly make it again and again.

Nigella’s dark and sumptuous chocolate cake, serves 10-12

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

For the icing:

60 ml cold water

75 coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)

50 soft dark sugar

1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder – I omitted this 

1 ½ tbsp cocoa

150 dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the cake:

225 plain flour

1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder – I omitted this 

75 cocoa

300 soft dark brown sugar

375 ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle

75 g (90 ml) coconut oil 

1 ½ tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180°C and pop in a baking sheet. Then start with the icing: put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat – but leave the pan on the hob – then quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan to allow the chocolate to sink.  Leave for a minute, then whisk until you have a glossy icing, and leave to cool.

Line the bottom of your springform cake tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, bicarb, salt (and instant espresso) and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.

Mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done.

Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

Give the icing a good stir with a spatula and  pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed. Decorate (Nigella used chopped pistachios and rose petals while I went for snowflake sprinkles) and leave for 30 minutes until serving. 

 

New York blueberry cheesecake

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The Swedish equivalent to Nigella is certainly Leila Lindholm, who despite being a properly trained chef, got famous for her domestic goddess style baking on TV. Her recipes are well-known and very good, so when I wanted to make a proper New York style cheesecake I reached for her recipe.

My colleagues (who seem to be the only ones I bake for) really enjoyed it. And although it split (because I needed the oven and couldn’t leave it in the residual heat) it still looked great! And it’s delicious! It’s not too sweet but still has a nice sweetness, nice texture and freshness from the berries.

New York blueberry cheesecake, serves 12

Base:

300 g digestive biscuits

150 g melted butter

Filling:

600g philadelphia 

250 ml fromage frais

80 g caster sugar

65 g corn flour

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

100 ml double cream

200 g white chocolate of good quality

150 g fresh blueberries 

Pre-heat oven to 175C. Crush the biscuits in a food processor and mix with the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the base of a springform, Ø 24 cm. Bake the base for 10 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Raise the temperature to 200C. Beat cream cheese and fromage frais in a bowl. Add sugar, corn flour and vanilla. Add one egg at the time and then the cream. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and add to the mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes. Cover with tin foil when golden brown on top as to not brown too much. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the residual heat for 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated. 

 

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint

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I have quite a large cookbook collection in London (too big for my book case anyhow) so I have to keep some cookbooks in Sweden as well. The ones with easy, summery recipes I keep in the summer house and I just love flicking through Summer by Nigella every time I’m there. This summer I finally tried these lovely aubergine rolls with feta, chilli and mint. They are incredibly easy to make, and utterly delicious to eat.

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

2 large aubergines (each cut thinly lengthwise into about 10 slices)

4 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams feta cheese

1 large red chilli (finely chopped & deseeded or not depending how hot you require it)

1 bunch fresh mint (finely chopped – save some for sprinkling over)

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat.

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chilli, mint and lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. You don’t need salt, as the feta is salty enough. Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaped teaspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.

Place join side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint.