Recipe: salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread cookies

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You might have heard about these cookies already, as they almost broke the internet? If so, see this as a friendly reminder to bake them again. And if not, you’re in for a treat!

Quite literally of course, because these salty buttery cookies with chocolate chunks and a lovely edge of crunchy demerera sugar are INSANELY good. I’m obsessed and can’t wait to bake them again although I sort of know that it’s a bad idea because I will eat them all.

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I think Aliso Roman has invented the PERFECT cookie, which is no small feat. So if you haven’t already, start baking! They’re really easy to make and the reward is HUGE!

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Salted butter shortbread chocolate chunk cookies, makes 24

Adapted from Alison Roman’s recipe via Smitten Kitchen.

255 g salted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

100 g caster sugar

50 g light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

295 g plain flour

170 g dark chocolate, chopped (you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate)

1 large egg

demerara sugar, for rolling

sea salt flaked for sprinkling

Beat the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add flour, and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chunks, mix just until incorporated. Mixture will look crumbly.

Divide between two sheets of parchment paper or cling and use your hands to form the dough halves into log shapes about 5 cm in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, heat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly beat the egg and open up your chilled cookie logs to brush it over the sides. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on the open paper or plastic wrap and roll the logs into it, coating them.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut logs into 1 cm thick rounds. You’re going to hit some chocolate chunks, so saw gently, squeezing the cookie to keep it from breaking if needed. Arrange cookie slices on prepared sheets a few cms apart and sprinkle each with a few flakes of salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to get golden brown. Let cool slightly before transferring to the cookies to a wire racks to cool down.

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Recipe: baked Vacherin Mont d’Or

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Anyone else who LOVES melted cheese?! Well, then this is for you. Cheese haters, please look away now.

I’ve only had this amazing cheese (seriously, it’s HEAVEN!) in restaurants before but thought it would be a good supper for Valentine’s Day, especially since we were going to the theatre but needed to eat something afterwards.

This beauty of a cheese; Vacherin Mont d’Or, is a French unpasteurised cheese and is only produced during the winter months (until March or so). The reason for this is that the same cows whose milk normally goes towards the production of Comté and Gruyère, are on a different diet in the winter and so their milk tastes different and is perfect for making this creamy dreamy cheese.

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It’s quite gooey at room temperature but when baked it becomes the best cheese fondue (see below picture) and is both gooey and rich AND light at the same time. The recipe I used is courtesy of David Lebovitz and is of course completely fool proof and the only guidance one needs.

So what to eat with these cheese?! We had a lot of bits for dipping; prosciutto, cooked ham, bresaola, saucisson, cornichons, apple slices (Pink Lady and Granny Smith), crusty baguette and cold cooked new potatoes. Everything worked well, but my favourite was without a doubt the cold new potatoes. You must try it!

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Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe.

1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

60ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap the container of cheese securely in foil, making sure to enclose it so the foil goes up to the top of the outside of the container, but leave the top exposed. Set the wrapped cheese on a baking sheet.

Poke eight-to-ten slits in the top of the cheese with a paring knife and slide the slivers of fresh garlic in them. Pour white wine over the cheese, and bake the cheese until it’s very hot – it will take between 20 and 30 minutes.

 

 

Recipe: slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce

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In between Christmas and New Year back in Sweden we cooked venison one night, using a recipe from a Swedish cook who also likes to go shooting so I really trust his game recipes.

The original recipe called for elk meat but it worked just as well with venison. The cut is near or around the rump; one that needs to cook slowly to become tender. So this will take a bit of time but it’s not difficult at all and definitely worth it. The tender meat and the creamy sauce (with all the jus from cooking the meat) is just amazing. Serve with Hasselback potatoes and broccoli and tarte tatin and vanilla ice cream for dessert. So yummy!

Slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce, serves 6

Translated from and adapted after Per Morberg’s recipe in the book Morberg Lagar Vilt.

1 kg venison rump (off the bone)

salt and pepper

1 carrot

1 onion

1/2 leek

3 tbsp tomato purée

300 ml game stock

200 ml red wine

2 bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

6 juniper berries

Creamy sauce:

the jus from the meat

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp blackcurrant jelly

salt and pepper

Trim the meat and rub in plenty of seasoning. Brown the meat on all sides in a large casserole dish.

Cut the carrot and onion in large pieces. Wash the leek and cut it into large pieces as well. Add it all to the casserole dish and let it brown for a few minutes. 

Add tomato purée, stock, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat until simmering and let it simmer with the lid on until cooked through (until the meat is 65-70 C in the middle), approx 45-60 minutes (maybe more). Turn the meat and baste it a few times. Remove the steak from the casserole pan and cover with tin foil.  

For the sauce: sieve the jus and pour it into a clean saucepan together with the cream. Bring to the boil and let it slowly thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the jelly and season to taste.

Cut the meat into thin slices across the grain of the fibres. Serve with the sauce and Hasselback potatoes.

 

 

 

Recipe: Italian meringue covered fruit

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This is a perfect Friday night pudding as it’s quick to whip up (don’t let the Italian meringue scare you, I promise it’s easy!) and feels really fresh after a pizza or whatever Friday night cravings you may have.

Use any (seasonal) fruit and berries you like – they don’t get warm even if you use the grill to brown the meringue, but it’s even easier with a creme brûlée torch, and then you could also put the fruit in a glass so you can see it. Very pretty!

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Italian meringue covered fruit, serves 2

Mixed fruit, cut into pieces and berries (enough to almost fill the vessels you’re using), such as:

1 blood orange

1 apple

blueberries

raspberries

Italian meringue:

1 egg white

75 ml caster sugar 

75 ml water

50 ml caster sugar

To serve:

lightly whipped cream

Divide the fruit between two ramekins (or glasses if not using the oven) – they should be almost full. 

Pour 75 ml caster sugar and 75 ml water into a saucepan and bring it almost to the boil. Once the sugar has melted the syrup is done. Remove from heat. Meanwhile beat the egg white until fluffy with an electric whisk. Pour in some of the remaining sugar and beat some more. Pour in the syrup while beating continuously. Then add the remaining sugar and beat until you have a glossy meringue that is set enough that you can turn the bowl upside down without it sliding out. 

Use a spatula to cover the ramekins with the meringue. Put the grill on the oven to 250C and place the ramekins underneath it. Keep the door open and an eye on the ramekins as the meringue browns quickly and you don’t want it going too dark. Remove with mittens as the ramekins go warm (but the fruit inside doesn’t). Or skip this step all together and use a creme brûlée torch to brown the meringue. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Recipe: orzo with bacon, mushrooms and parmesan

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When I think of this dish an image comes to mind, of Nigella in her silk dressing gown, opening that famous fridge door to get herself a late night snack. The leftovers from this dish would be perfect for midnight snacking and all you need is a bowl and a fork. But it’s really nice for supper a regular week night when you want something fast, easy and filling on the table in 15 minutes flat. It does that and more.

The comforting flavours of earthy mushrooms and salty bacon together with the silky orzo pasta comforts you from within. And it’s that comforting feeling that is sometimes most important for me when I cook for myself on a day that just feels a bit meh. May it be from the incessant London rain, the fact that the weekend feels far away or a rubbish day at work – regardless of the reason you will feel better after a bowl of this. Promise!

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Orzo with bacon, mushrooms and parmesan, serves 3-4

200 ml orzo pasta (the one that looks like rice)

1/2 stock cube, vegetable 

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

ca 120 g bacon, cut into small pieces

150 ml creme fraiche

plenty of grated parmesan

salt and black pepper

Cook the orzo pasta in plenty of water. Add salt and half a stock cube to the water for extra flavour. Cook until al dente (approx 10 minutes or according to the time on the packet). Drain and pour the pasta back into the pan. Stir in some oil or a knob of butter so it won’t become one sticky lump. 

While the pasta is cooking, fry the mushrooms in butter and oil mon medium heat and make sure not to crowd them. If you have a small frying pan fry the in batches instead. Add the garlic towards the end of their cooking time. Add salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Then fry the bacon pieces on medium heat until crispy and brown. Drain on kitchen towel. 

Mix the creme fraîche into the pasta, then add the mushrooms and bacon. Mix well and add in some grated parmesan. Season to taste. Serve in bowl and top with even more parmesan.  

Recipe: nachos with chicken and chorizo

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Sometimes I can really crave nachos. And most of the time I long for the ones I had at Yankee Stadium a few years ago. Although probably really processed the tasted divine!

But the next best thing are definitely homemade ones, and these with chicken and chorizo are absolutely delicious! Also, the secret is in the cheese sauce so although it takes a bit of labour it’s SO worth it!

Nachos with chicken and chorizo, serves 2

ca 150 g salted tortilla chips

75 g chorizo, cut small

1-2 fried chicken thigh fillets, cut small

oil for frying

2-3 handfuls grated cheese

Toppings:

1 batch cheese sauce

1 batch proper guacamole

1 jar creme fraiche

Garnish:

Chopped tomato

Sliced spring onions

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Fry the chorizo in oil on medium heat until they’re crispy. Add the chicken and let it absorb the chorizo flavoured oil.

Cover the base of an oven-proof dish with a thin layer of tortilla chips, top with cheese, chorizo and chicken. Repeat with another layer. Place in the oven for the cheese to melt, approx 5-10 minutes. 

Pour the cheese sauce on top (make this while the nachos are in the oven), guacamole, creme fraîche and the chopped vegetables.

Recipe: blood orange pannacotta

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Blood orange season is still going strong and of course I had to incorporate the little gems into a fragrant pannacotta, using both the zest and juice. Topped with blood orange segments this is a real stunner!

Blood orange pannacotta, serves 2

250 ml double cream

25 ml demerera sugar

the zest from 2 blood oranges

the juice from 1 blood orange

1 + 1/4 gelatin leaves

To serve:

orange segments from the left over blood orange

Pour the cream and sugar into a nonstick pan and put on medium heat. Add the zest and orange juice to the cream and heat it up until almost boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk. 

Meanwhile soak the gelatin in cold water.  

Take the cream mixture off the heat. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add it to the warm cream. Whisk to make sure it has dissolved then pour the mixture through a fine sieve, to remove the zest and any lumps, and into a jug. Leave to cool for a few minutes then divide the mixture between the pots or glasses you will use for serving. Leave to cool. Then transfer to the fridge and leave them to set for 3 hours. 

Before serving, cut the remaining peel off the left over blood orange and cut into segments