Recipe: creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam

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For me, cooking is mostly relaxing. Instead of yoga for me. And even though I’m a good cook and super efficient under pressure (before a party when I’ve taken too much on for example) it’s less fun to cook under those conditions.

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And if cooking in general is my yoga, then making a risotto is mindfulness. Just standing by the stove stirring slowly and adding another ladle of stock and then stirring some more… it relaxes me.

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I like a creamy and saucy risotto, preferably with some interesting flavour combinations on top. This combination of pan-fried scallops, saffron foam and brown butter might seem daunting to make, and yes, maybe it’s not for beginners, but if you already know how to make a risotto is pretty easy to add the ingredients for the foam to a saucepan while simultaneously cooking scallops and making browned butter, as each of these elements are simple. Just don’t let yourself get stressed. Also, all these things benefit from resting. You can take the risotto off the heat and let it sit for a while without losing heat, after you’ve fried the scallops they like to rest for a few minutes. The browned butter doesn’t need any attention once it’s done and the saffron foam can be re-heated.

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Creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam, serves 2 (with some leftovers)

2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

2 tbsp soffritto (equal parts (finely chopped with a stick blender or food processor) onions, carrots and celery – I usually make a big batch and freeze it in small portions) 

1 small shallots, finely chopped

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped 

200 g carnaroli rice

150 ml dry white wine

approx 1 l vegetable stock

30 g butter

plenty grated  parmesan

salt and pepper

Saffron foam:

100 ml cream

1 tsp saffron powder or strands + 1 tbsp water 

1 tbsp dry white wine

a little corner of a stock cube (vegetable) crumbled in

salt and pepper

Topping:

6 large scallops, cleaned + butter for frying

2 tbsp browned butter

lemon zest

a little lemon juice

chopped parsley 

Add butter and oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and add the soffritto. Fry for a minute or so, then add the shallots and garlic and fry without browning. Add the rice and stir well so it can soak up all the butter. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding a ladle of stock. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, then add another ladle and repeat until the rice is cooked (takes approx 15-20 minutes) and you’ve used up all the stock. As I prefer my risotto quite saucy so I don’t let all the stock from the last ladle absorb into the rice.  Lower the heat and mix in butter and plenty of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and put aside. 

Mix water and saffron in a little bowl. Add all the other ingredients for the foam to a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the saffron mixture when dissolved and mix well. Season to taste and set aside. 

Add large knob of butter to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Dry the scallops with kitchen roll and fry them until golden, approx 2 minutes on each side (they should be cooked on both sides but still opaque in the middle). Season and set aside. 

Divide the risotto between low bowls and top with the scallops. Foam up the cream mixture with a stick blender and spoon the foam over the scallops and risotto. Spoon on some browned butter. Finish off with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley. 

London: Loved every bite at Kricket Soho

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It feels like almost every day a new fun restaurant opens its doors in Soho. Maybe not quite, but I love how this part of London evolves quicker than the rest.

One of the latest additions to Soho’s Denman Street is the opening of Kricket Soho. Kricket started out in a shipping container in Brixton and created such a following with their trendy Indian dishes that they opened a proper restaurant in Soho.  My friend Felicity, and also my dinner companion this evening, has frequently visited the Brixton restaurant and so was my menu guide here.

Some dishes were completely new additions to the menu, which our waiter kindly highlighted for us. And when I queried if the Grüner Veltliner would work well with the food he poured us a taster so we could decide. And yes, the slightly fruity (but not sweet) Grüner Veltliner complimented the array of dishes perfectly.

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Our first dish of the evening, and a must for Felicity, was the bhel puri – one of their classics consisting of puffed rice, raw mango, tamarind, sev and yoghurt. Sublime!

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The Hyderabad baby aubergines with coconut and curry leaves we had next were nice, but lacked a little oomph compared to the other dishes, we thought.

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The Lasooni scallop with goan sausage, poha and seaweed (we had one each) were really nice! Perfectly cooked, the roe still attached and full of flavour.

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Next we had another seafood dish; butter garlic crab with seaweed papad (papadums) which was also delicious. It was served warm but we still had some left towards the end of the meal and it was just as nice cold.

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The kathi roll with duck leg was utterly moreish and perfectly paired with the peanut chutney and pickled cucumber.

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Although it may not look that special, this kulcha bread with bone marrow and cep was amazing!

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The last dish we had were these grilled lamb chops that we could see on the pass when we arrived and I knew straight away from the smell that they would be delicious. They certainly were and the two sauces; yoghurt with black stone flower and wild garlic chutney were lovely too!

Although using lots of Indian flavours and ingredients there is definitely an element of cross-over here, by using wild garlic and creating dishes full of flavour but not too spicy. I’m sold! And will be back shortly. Probably with Felicity as we both loved it!

Kricket, 12 Denman Street, London W1D 7HH

Copenhagen: four course dinner at Uformel

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The highlight of our day in Copenhagen was definitely the four course meal with matching wines at Uformel. It was my first time visiting the restaurant and we thoroughly enjoyed everyhing from the relaxed atmosphere to the quirky details (black cutlery!) and of course the delicious food.

We started our meal with a glass of bubbly each and some snacks; pork scratchings with sourcream dip. Pork scratchings are actually more popular in Denmark than in the UK and they’re sold in every supermarket. The supermarket varieties are nice but these were amazing, especially together with the dip.

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Then we started our four course meal with lovely sourdough bread and delicious butter and this first course consisting of scallops, pickled green strawberries and olive oil. It was a nice fresh start to the meal, but didn’t blow me away.

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But the next course certainly did! This was how it was presented, and the thinly sliced mushrooms made me think of woods and earthy flacours.

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But hidden underneath was the most amazing steak tartare with mayonnaise and crispy bread. Loved this!

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Next up was this duck with grilled pointy cabbage (but in my case grilled little gem instead) and the most amazing sauce. it was proper minimalism on a plate but it really worked.

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The pudding with apples, crumble, custard and a frozen lid with apple was a nice finish to the meal and very refreshing. We also got some petit fours with our coffees but we were too full to appreciate them.

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But the fullness didn’t last that long as we didn’t have many carbs, and we’d been walking around Copenhagen all day. This is not a criticism however, if we hadn’t been walking around all day this meal would have been enough, but after some bar hopping especially Emma and I got hangry and we had to eat something more. Unfortunately all the pølse trucks were closed at this point so we had to go to Burger King (it was an emergency!).

And the wines? They were all nice and expertly paired with the dishes, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that. Both the food menu and with wine flight were very reasonably prised though, and the ambience in the restaurant nice and relaxed. Highly recommend a dinner here!

Uformel, Studiestræde 69, 1554 København V, Denmark

Cape Cod: Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis

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The first evening in Cape Cod, we decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants in the Hyannis Harbour. We’d been driving around the Cape during the day so got to the restaurant we had decided on,  Black Cat Tavern, quite late. We were the last guests to arrive and eventually we were the only people left (bar the staff).

We thought that was why our main courses arrived while we were in the middle of eating our starters. I don’t like to be rushed when eating as it always give me a stomach ache, but we were to polite to say anything as the restaurant was emptying out around us.

But the following evening when we went to another restaurant, the same thing happened, although we had dinner much earlier and the restaurant was full. In the middle of our very substantial starters, we actually told the waitress we wanted to wait. She completely understood but the kitchen seemed to insist to get the food out, so when it arrived again, after five minutes we let them put it on the table.

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I don’t understand this culture of rushing your guests through a (large) meal. Is it just in this area, or is it because of tourist season or what’s the reason?! Please do tell me if you have an idea.

Anyway, the food was nice in both the places, and I really like how understated the seafood is here. In Europe where oysters and lobster are luxurious and quite expensive it’s served a certain way or in certain places. Here, where you have lobster and oyster in abundance, you can enjoy it in your flipflops straight from the beach and I really liked that.

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At Black Cat Tavern I had Oysters Rockefeller (baked oysters with a spinach and cheese topping and in this case cured ham as well) as my starter and they were really nice. Generous portion too!

Sinead had a minor mountain of calamari with a chillie dip – also really nice!  As I was a little bit stressed by the time our maincourses arrived I only manage to snap a picture of my own plate of bakes scallops (a first for me), with baked potato and creamy lobster sauce, but I do know that Sineads food was nice as well.

Black Cat Tavern, 165 Ocean St, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA

NYE 2012: starter II

IMG_2675The second starter on New Year’s Eve, was also a seafood dish. Nice big scallops fried on high heat with a truffled celeriac puré, apple caramel and crispy apple. Sooo good!

The recipe is courtesy of Daniel Clifford, and I found it in an Electrolux folder I picked up at the Taste of Christmas fair.

Pan-fried scallops with truffled celeriac puré and apple caramel, serves 9

Adapted from Daniel Clifford’s recipe.

The scallops are best cooked really quickly on high heat. Treat it them as a steak. You want the maillard effect or the surface to caramelize, but they shouldn’t be cooked all the way through, nicer with a slight wobble in the middle. If overcooked they are often rubbery.

The celeriac puré can be made in advanced and reheated when serving., just like the apple caramel. The apple sticks can be cut ahead of time too; just make sure you cover them with lemon juice and place them in an airtight container to prevent discolouring.

18 large scallops, side muscles removed

butter for frying

salt, pepper

1 lemon, the juice

Celeriac ipuré:

700 g peeled celeriac cut into pieces

milk and water

300 ml double cream

truffle oil

Apple caramel:

1 litre freshly pressed apple juice 

Garnish:

1 green apple, cut into matchsticks

truffle oil

Place the celeriac in a sauceoan and cover with half milk half water. Add salt. Bring to the boil and cook on medium heat until tender. Drain. Bring the cream to the boil in a seperate saucepan. Mix celeriac and cream to a puré. Add lemon juice and truffle oil to your liking. Season. 

Pour the apple juice in a saucepan and let it reduce on high heat until 1/3 of the liquid is left. Or reduce further until you have a thicker liquid. 

Heat up a frying pan on high heat. Add butter. Dry the scallops on a towel to remove liquid so they can brown easier. Season well and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, only turning them over once. Place on a plate to rest. Squeeze with lemon juice.

Plate; first the puré, then the scallops on top (2 per person). Spoon over the caramel and drizzle with truffle oil. Top with the apple matchsticks. 

Sunday supper at home in Sweden

A few weekends ago, I went home to my beloved Skåne, to meet food bloggers and see my parents. The Sunday was the 40th (!) wedding anniversary of my parents and we celebrated it quite low-key with good food and wine at home.

To start we had fried scallops in saffron sauce. Mother had found these big and juicy scallops which we fried rapidly on very high heat to caramelize. The sauce is almost a soup and absolutely wonderful. Some raw chopped shallots gives texture and some heat.

As a maincourse we had a really nice fillet steak, cooked in three different ways to accomodate everyone. Served with baked potato rounds, a mushroom sauce with cognac and dijon mustard and steamed vegetables.

In apple season, tarte tatin is wonderful. I have tried quite a few diffrent versions, but the best one I have come across is this recipe courtesy of brilliant Rick Stein. It suggests cognac but this time we used armagnac which worked just as well. (Even better, according to mother).

 

Scallops with bacon and wild garlic mayonnaise

This is a great throw-together starter, that still has that something extra. Just serve with some nice bread.

I know that wild garlic is not in season now, but I happen to have quite a lot of it in the freezer, so I can use it for special occasions. I totally adore the flavour!

Scallops with bacon and wild garlic mayonnaise, serves 2

1 batch wild garlic mayonnaise

3 slices streaky bacon

6 large fresh scallops

mixed baby leaf salad

extra virgin olive oil or coldpressed rapeseed oil

salt

Make the mayonnaise. Cut the bacon into smaller pieces and fry until crispy. Drain on kitchen towel. Dress the salad with oil and salt. Cut off the muscles on the scallops (the tough white part) and fry in butter on high heat until just cooked through. Season. Plate and serve straight away.