Recipe: Cacio e pepe

IMG_8607.JPG

Cacio e pepe, this heavenly dish consisting only of pasta, pecorino and black pepper (and a little cooking water from the pasta) has always seemed so daunting to make. I have enjoyed it cooked to perfection in Rome (it’s a Roman dish) but I never thought I could recreate it at home. But then I read Felicity Cloake’s article about the perfect cacio e pepe and decided to have a go as she made it seem so easy. And it turns out, with her guidance, it actually was!

The receipt is perfect. I didn’t change a thing and it worked perfectly the first time. If you’re a cacio e pepe novice like I was I highly recommend reading the article beforehand just to understand the elements of the dish better. And I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the ingredients are; buy some good dried pasta (I love de Cecco) and some really nice pecorino ( I got mine from Natoora) and your finished dish will be just as nice as the one you had in Rome on your holiday.

IMG_8615.JPG

Cacio e pepe, serves 2

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s recipe.

2 tsp black peppercorns

200 g spaghetti 

80 g pecorino romano, at room temperature, finely grated 

Toast the peppercorns in a very hot, dry pan then roughly crush with a pestle and mortar.

Bring a wide shallow pan of well-salted water to the boil, then add the pasta; it should be covered but not by much. Stir occasionally during cooking and, five minutes into the cooking time, scoop out 250 ml water into a wide bowl to allow it to cool slightly.

Drain the pasta and leave it to cool for a minute. Meanwhile, put the cheese and most of the pepper in a large, heavy bowl or pan and beat in some of the pasta water very gradually to make first a paste, and then a sauce the consistency of bechamel. Add the pasta and toss furiously while adding enough of the water to make a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti.

Divide between warm bowls, sprinkle over a little more pepper, and serve immediately.

 

Recipe: chicken bulgogi

bul.jpg

This Korean chicken dish has everything I want from a dish; plenty of flavour, seriously tender meat and a little heat.

The first time I made it I had it with rice, thinly cut carrots and pickled cucumber (using rice vinegar instead). The second time I used to fill steamed buns (recipe to come) and both ways were delicious.

Apart from flattening the chicken this recipe is as easy as making a marinade and forgetting about the chicken until the next day, when it takes a mere 5 minutes to cook it.

The recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz via Koreatown: A Cookbook.

Chicken bulgogi, serves 4

Adapted from David Leibovitz’s recipe.

125 ml soy sauce

1-2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce gochujang 

1 small onion, finely chopped of puréed

2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp mirin or rice vinegar 

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

black pepper

2 tsp sesame seeds (I omitted these)

4-5 chicken thigh fillets  

Mix soy, chilli sauce, onions, sugar, mirin/rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and ginger in a large ziplock bag. Also add black pepper and sesame seeds.

Cover a plastic chopping board with cling. Place a chicken thigh fillet (or two) on top. Cover with cling and flatten it by bashing it gently with a rolling pin. Repeat with all the chicken. 

Add the chicken to the marinade in the ziplock bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Place it in the fridge overnight. 

Grill or fry for approx five minutes of medium-high heat. Brush with extra marinade while cooking. Slice thinly and serve. 

 

Recipe: Orrechiette with salsiccia

sal1.jpg

This is my attempt to recreate one of those amazing food memories I have stored in my head.

My friend Caroline and I were in Bologna last year and although we couldn’t secure a reservation at Osteria Franscescana in nearby Modena, we still decided to visit for the day. We went to Massimo Bottura’s much more unassuming restaurant Franceschetta 58 for lunch and tucked into the small but perfectly assembled lunch buffet. And that’s where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten; their orrechiette with salsiccia. It was utterly heavenly and what I tried to create at home one day, with my last precious salsiccia from the same trip (stored in the freezer of course).

I must add that the very authentic salsiccia help make my version of the dish very good, so go to a good Italian shop to buy those. Without proper salsiccia you needn’t bother with this dish at all.

Orrechiette with salsiccia, serves 3-4

4 portions orrechiette, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

3 salsiccia sausages

ca 3 tbsp soffritto made using the same amount of onions, carrots and celery (I make a big batch and freeze it in portions)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tin (400 g) chopped tomatoes or passata + half the tin filled with water 

1 tbsp tomato puré

100 ml red wine

1 tsp fennel seeds

salt and black pepper

a pinch of sugar if needed

mild olive oil for frying

Heat up the oil in a casserole dish. Remove the skin from the sausages and fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove the sausage meat from the casserole dish and add the soffritto and garlic. Fru on medium heat for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, water, tomato puré and wine. When the sauce has thickened a little, add the sausage meat and fennel seeds. Let the sauce reduce further. Season to taste with salt, pepper and some sugar (to balance the acidity) if needed. Mix into the drained orrechiette and serve with finely grated parmesan. 

Recipe: slow-cooked salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli

sal2.jpg

Salmon. Probably the most popular fish in Sweden, but not my first choice to be honest. I blame all the baked (over-cooked) salmon fillets when I was at Uni for that. Although I love the oily fish raw, cured and cold-smoked. And, after trying this recipe, like this; baked in a very low oven and still raw in the middle.

Slow-roasted salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1/2 fennel, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 red or green chili, sliced

4 sprigs dill + more for serving

salt and black pepper

900 g salmon fillet without skin

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 135C. Pour a little oil into a baking dish. Place fennel, lemon, chilli and till in the dish and place the salmon on top. Add plenty of salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or longer if you want it cooked through. 

Shred the fish into smaller pieces. Remove the dill (and substitute with fresh dill) and serve with the baked vegetables. I also had new potatoes and a cold sauce with lumpfish roe with mine.

Recipe: Sloe gin spritz

IMG_8540.JPG

Happy Valentine’s day, dear readers!

It seems like the perfect day to share this sloe gin spritz recipe with you. Don’t we all need a drink on Valentine’s day?! Either to celebrate or commiserate?

I made sloe gin last year (very British, I know!) using this method and wanted to use it in a drink a little more exciting than a sloe gin & t, so I was very pleased to find this sloe gin spritz recipe in an issue of Bon Appetit.

Sloe gin, 70 cl

1 bottle (70 cl) gin 

500 g ripe sloe berries (pick them after the first frost) 

Simple syrup:

100 ml caster sugar

100 ml water

Freeze the berries. Defrost and mix with the gin in a large jar/bottle. Seal the jar and keep in a dark place for 3 months. Shake/stir it once a week or so.  

After three months, sieve the mixture and remove the berries. Bring the simple syrup to the boil and let it cool. Add syrup to the gin after taste. Done! 

 

Sloe gin spritzer, per glass

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recept.

4 parts prosecco

1 part sloe gin, either homemade or bought 

soda water

Mix prosecco and sloe gin in a glass (with or without ice). Fill up with soda water. Decorate with frozen raspberries or a sprig of mint. B

Recipe: cod loin with lemon, capers, red onions and browned butter

torsk1.jpg

Maybe it’s because of my Scandinavian heritage but I really do like cod. I didn’t use to as a child, but back then my mother used to serve the cod poached *shudders* whereas I like to cook mine in the oven which keeps it firmer. My only “problem” with cod is that it looks so beige on the (white) plate, but adorning the cooked fish with pink, yellow and green accessories like in this recipe effectively solves that problem. Luckily the lemon segments, red onions and capers also elevates the cod to a rather sophisticated dinner party dish, which the addition of that amazing browned butter cements even further.

Thank you Bon Appetit for the inspiration and sorry for butchering your recipe, but this version is more Scandi.

torsk2.jpg

Cod loin with lemon, red onions, capers and browned butter, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1 kg cod loin

2 lemons

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp small capers

salt & pepper

500 g salted butter

Cut the cod loin into smaller pieces. Peel the lemon and cut into segments in between the membranes and place in a bowl. Slice the onion thinly and place in a bowl and cover with lemon juice. Place the cod in a buttered or oiled ovenproof dish and season well. Cook in 150C oven for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through. Leave to rest for a few minutes.   

While the fish is cooking, place the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat until nice and browned. Keep warm. 

Mix the lemon segments with the red onions (but not the juice) and capers on a bowl. Put the fish onto a clean serving plate and top with cod pieces with the lemon and onion mixture. Spoon over some browned butter. Serve with potato purée, peas and carrots and serve the rest of the browned butter on the side, it’s the only sauce you need. 

Recipe: crostini with mushroom spread

IMG_8536.JPG

This Finnish-Russian mushroom salad or spread is absolutely delicious. When it was first introduced to me by fellow food blogger Anna, I couldn’t believe it was made from only a few ingredients (fried mushrooms, smetana, dill and salt). It truly is one of those dishes where the sum if far far greater than its parts.

The fabulous recipe is courtesy or Swedish food writer Jens Linder and was published in one of the leading Swedish newspapers as a dish for Julbordet, i.e. the Christmas smorgasbord, but I prefer it like this, served on crostini as a pre-dinner snack, all year round.

Please note the recipe calls for smetana; the Russian version of creme fraiche/soured cream. If you can’t find it creme fraiche is a good substitute, but smetana works so well here it’s worth going out of your way to find it. Personally, I will place an order for some here next time I get a craving.

I also mixed fresh and dried mushrooms as I prefer the texture of the fresh ones but as it’s not mushroom season, they taste less than the dried porcini and black trumpets I have in my cupboard.

Mushroom salad, makes 1 batch (enough for 12 crostini which serves 3-4 people)

Translated from and adapted after Jens Linder’s recipe.

This salad is so delicious I would urge you to make a double batch straight away. That’s what I did, and it was the perfect amount for five hungry people as a pre-dinner snack.

600 ml fresh or frozen mushrooms, or 50 ml dried mushrooms

2-3 tbsp butter

plenty of sea salt flakes

4 tbsp finely chopped dill

300 ml smetana (or creme fraiche)

12 crostini

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Drain and discard the liquid. If using fresh or frozen mushrooms, finely chop these.

Fry the mushrooms in butter on medium heat until golden. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

Mix the now cool mushrooms with whole sea salt flakes, dill and smetana. The mixture should be plenty salty. Leave for a few hours in the fridge before serving. 

Divide between the crostini and serve.