Recipe: pizza with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

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I actually had the intention to make a sourdough pizza with this topping but didn’t have enough time in the end, so used my tried and tested Italian pizza dough recipe, courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor.

I also used my go-to simple tomato sauce that I use for everything and my homemade wild garlic pesto. My best tip is to pick lots of wild garlic leaves when in season and blanch some of it, squeeze out the liquid and freeze in little parcels. Perfect to use for pesto or mayonnaise.

The all you need is a good buffalo mozzarella, some asparagus, parmesan and olive oil.

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I promise it’s like tasting spring. Delicious!

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Italian pizza dough, 2 pizzas

500 g 00-flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried yeast

325 ml lukewarm water

Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast. Add the water bit by bit while stirring with a wooden fork. Knead the dough until elastic. Cut the dough into two and shape to round balls. Put the dough balls back in the mixing bowl, sprinkle with flour and cover. Place somewhere warm and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Shape the dough into round pizzas or use a rolling pin to roll it out thinly. Add the toppings you like and bake in 225C, in a low oven, for 8-10 minutes.

Tomato sauce, for one batch pizza dough

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

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. 

Wild garlic pesto, approx 250 ml pesto

ca 50-70 g wild garlic (about a bunch as stick as a small banana)

30 g almonds

40 g parmesan

1/2 lemon, juice only 

mild oil, approx 100-150 ml 

salt & pepper

Mix wild garlic, almonds, lemon juice and parmesan with a bit of oil to a paste in a food processor or with a stick blender. Keep adding oil until you have the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days. 

Topping per pizza:

1/2 batch tomato sauce

olive oil

1 buffalo mozzarella

4-5 asparagus, blanched and cut into smaller pieces

3-4 tbsp wild garlic pesto

parmesan

Roll out the dough and drizzle some olive oil on it. Spread out the tomato sauce. Shred the mozzarella into chunks and place on the pizza. Add the asparagus pieces and dollops of wild garlic pesto. Grate over parmesan. Add a little more olive oil and put it in the oven on 225C, middle to low oven for 8-10 minutes.

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Spring is here!

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Spring. Oh, how I love thee. If I feel tired and gloomy during the cold and dark winter months, I now feel awake again. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning and being outside, even if it’s just walking to the tube, is a pleasure not torture. On Saturday I just walked around town for two hours because the sun was out and it was spring in the air.

Lots of the spring flowers are in full bloom, and the first British asparagus has arrived in some shops together with the wild garlic. This, my dear readers, is my favourite time of year. I love summer and warmer temperatures, but now before summer is here, we have it all in front of us and it feels like the best present ever. Then we blink and it’s September, but I really want to try and enjoy the little things every day between now and then. The taste of all the fresh produce; the asparagus, the jersey royals, the first British strawberries and so on. Sitting in the sun having a coffee or an ice cream, walking to work and hearing the birds chirping. All of that makes me so very happy.

And one of my favourite dishes this time of year, is a real celebration of spring. It’s fresh and simple but full of spring flavours. I’m talking about fresh local asparagus, homemade wild garlic mayonnaise that’s just divine and to top it all off, a drizzle of a nice olive or rapeseed oil and a scattering of parmesan shavings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy SPRING!!

Recipe: Oysters au gratin with parmesan and creme fraiche

 

IMG_8582.JPGHappy New Year and all the best for 2017!

I hope to post more frequently this year and first up is this lovely recipe for oysters au gratin. This creamy topping and a few slices of baguette is all you need to start off a meal, and it was also the starter I made on Saturday, for my last dinner back in Sweden with my parents. They prefer cooked oysters to au natural and loved these!  

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Oysters au gratin with parmesan and creme fraiche, serves 3 as a starter

With a heavy main course two oysters were enough as a starter, but with a lighter main I would recommend three per person.

6 fresh oysters 

3 tbsp creme fraiche

3 tbsp finely grated parmesan

1 tsp lemon juice

a pinch of cayenne 

salt, white pepper

To serve:

6 slices of baguette

tabasco

Open the oysters with an oyster knife and discard the top shell. Cut loose the oysters but keep on the shells and place in an ovenproof dish,. Mix creme fraiche, parmesan, lemon juice and spices in a bowl and spoon over the oysters, Place under the hot grill or in a very hot oven (225C) until bubbly and a little brown, approx 3-5 minutes. Serve with baguette and tabasco. 

Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce

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I’m a very seasonal person. Despite the mainly chilly weather at the moment I can’t face putting tights or warm jackets on. Because it is summer. Instead I layer up on my upper body but keep my legs bare (if I’m wearing a skirt or dress for work). I’m used to this approach but people in the office think I’m a little strange. Fair enough, I think.

But when it comes to food it’s harder. Sure, I incorporate as much asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and new potatoes into my diet as I possibly can, but instead of craving salads I still want warm filling food. So while this autumnal recipe of gnocchi with a lovely creamy butternut squash sauce with both cream and parmesan may suit the post-bikini season better it’s what I fancy eating right now. Until summer arrives. Then bring on the salads!

Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce, serves 2 

1/2 butternut squash

olive oil

salt & pepper

approx 300 g gnocchi, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

50-100 ml single cream

finely grated parmesan

a few sprigs of thyme (sage works too!)

Peel the squash and remove the strings and seeds. Cut into even-sized pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Stir to coat all the pieces with oil. Place in the oven and roast until the pumpkin is soft, approx 35 mins in 200C. 

Cook the gnocchi and keep it warm.  

Purée the roasted squash with a stick blender. Add (cold) cream until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan. Heat up the sauce in a non-stick saucepan while stirring, if needed. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and some thyme leaves. 

Franceschetta 58, Modena

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We rented a car on our second day in Bologna and I got a crash course in how the Italians drive, i.e. a bit crazy, but it was fun too.

The car took us to Modena, the city most famous for balsamic vinegar and the second best restaurant in the world right now; Osteria Francescana.

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We were sadly not lucky enough to nab one of the twelve tables there, despite being waitlisted for every meal, so I guess we’ll just have to come back. I would sooo like to try Massimo Bottura’s iconic cooking.

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But when I researched restaurants in Modena I discovered that chef Bottura has another restaurant in town; the much more low key Franceschetta 58, so that’s where we had lunch. They only serve a buffet for lunch, but it was very very good. I would have liked to try the a’la carte as well though, so I need to come back here one evening.

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The buffet had both a cold and a warm section. The cold section (above) contained charcuterie, parmesan, bread, salads and cakes for pudding.

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I tried most things from the cold buffet and everything was excellent. The charcuterie was very nice, just like the aged Parmesan. I also got to try proper ricotta (light years away from what we can buy in a packet at Waitrose), and it was mild but salty and very fluffy in texture. The salads were also very good and I especially enjoyed the one with bitter leaves, pears and crutons but also liked the one with farro, feta and courgette.

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The hot dishes the staff plated for us. We had the pasta as primi and then came back for the main courses.

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Both pasta dishes were amazing! The spaghetti hoops to the left (does anyone know the proper name for this pasta shape?) with speck, walnuts and endive was very earthy in flavour and very nice. But the orecchiette with salsiccia and tomato sauce was out of this world. I still dream about it; it was that good.

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The main courses were great too. I absolutely loved the beef stew with cream and mustard (top right) and the sweet roasted vegetables. The potato purée was heavenly creamy and the pork stew with an undefined bitter vegetable was nice too.

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There were two types of cake for pudding, one with chocolate and nuts that was rather dry in texture and not really my thing, but Caroline liked it. I preferred the other one with apple and pears.

If you find yourself in Modena I urge you to go here. It’s one of the best buffets I’ve ever had. And although it’s simple cooking and not extravagant in any way it’s done very very well. It’s also very good value for money; all of this gorgeous food only cost €17!

Franceschetta 58, Via Vignolese, 58, 41124 Modena, Italy

Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes

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I received evidence from my mother last week that the wild garlic season has started in Sweden, and therefore probably in the UK as well. Hurrah!

I love these oniony garlicky green leaves so much, I keep a bundle of blanched ones in the freezer at all times. It feels comforting that I can make wild garlic mayo all year round. Or wild garlic pesto. It’s fab with fried gnocchi (it gives them a bit more texture), fresh cherry tomatoes and plenty of grated parmesan.

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Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes, serves 2

1 batch gnocchi 

1 batch wild garlic pesto

150 g cherry tomatoes

finely grated parmesan

Make the pesto and put it aside. Make the gnocchi and cook them. Then fry in butter until golden. Mix with plenty of the pesto. Cut the cherry the tomatoes in half and mix with the gnocchi. Season to taste. Add olive oil if you want a looser consistency. Top with plenty of grated parmesan.

Slow cooked lamb shank with herb polenta

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This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!

The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.

The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.

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Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2

1 lamb shank

a knob of butter

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges

1 carrot, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

salt, pepper

1/2 bottle red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.

Creamy herb polenta, serves 3

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)

700 ml vegetable stock

50 g butter

300 ml polenta

a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)

150 ml finely grated parmesan 

Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.