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. 

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Clams with sherry and potatoes

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Seafood for me is Friday food. Probably because we had Atlantic prawns every Friday of my childhood (it’s pretty normal in Sweden, actually). First of course, because it’s yummy and, second, it doesn’t take long to prepare, which is why my mother thought (and still thinks) it’s the ultimate way to start the weekend.

These clams with cream, sherry and potatoes are just amazing as a Friday evening dish. Serve with bread and maybe some aioli if you want a more elaborate meal. For me, this and a glass of bubbly is all I need.

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Clams with sherry and potatoes, serves 2

500 g clams

3 medium potatoes

a knob of butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

50 ml dry sherry

100 ml cream

salt & pepper

chopped parsley

Peel and cube the potatoes. Boil until soft, approx 15 minutes. Drain. 

Rinse the clams in a colander and discard any clams not closing. Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion for a few minutes on medium heat without browning. Add the sherry and let some of it evaporate. Add the cream and then the clams. Put the lid on and wait for a minute or two. Check that the clams have opened. (If not, put the lid on for another minute.) When the clams have opened, season the sauce and add the potatoes. Scatter with parsley and serve immediately. 

Seafood feast at home

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Me coming home to visit is usually a good enough reason in my family to break out the bubbly and have a seafood feast! It’s important to celebrate the times we’re all together and make them special so we take every opportunity we get.

It may not be seafood every time we have a feast, but it’s quite often the case. We had this fabulous meal in December when I last visited and it was just wonderful, and the type of food we enjoy cooking, and eating, together.

We started with oysters, that were quite difficult to shuck without an oyster knife (we’d left it in the summer house), so we all did a few each. Good team effort, they’re quite strong the little molluscs. We had the oysters in the most simple, and our preferred, way with just lemon juice and Tabasco. What a treat!

 

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Our second course (although that sounds too fancy for peeling prawns) was smoked Atlantic prawns with home-made mayonnaise (a team effort by dad and me), which I just love. The taste is much more complex than fresh prawns and although it may sound strange to smoke prawns, it really works.

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We had a really nice bottle of bubbly, to drink, a Marquis de Haux Cremant de Bordeaux. It’s not readily available in Sweden, but shouldn’t be hard to find in the UK or the rest of Europe.

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For the main event, we had lobster. Something we usually only have as a starter, but I love it as a main course too. Again it was a team effort getting the food ready. I made the skin-on oven fries (that turned out great by the way), and was also in charge of picking the lobsters apart while mum made the lovely sauce. Good effort, team!

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This is our family version of lobster Thermidor with mushrooms, mustard. cognac and matured cheese and we all find it divine. When we think of something special to eat at home, this is always a contender. Most often we have it as a starter, rather than as a main, but after this meal I find it quite likely we’ll have it as a main-course more often than not.

As these were fresh lobster it was almost (but only almost) a sacrilege to coat them in a creamy sauce, so we all had a claw au natural with a dollop of mayonnaise to really taste the lobster.

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We had a lot of lovely food over the Christmas break, but this was my absolute favourite meal. We just had such a good time cooking together and dining together.

Homemade mayonnaise, serves 3-4

1 egg yolk, at room temperature 

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

approx 200 ml vegetable oil

1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

Most important when making your own mayonnaise: 

  1. All ingredients (especially the egg and the oil) should be at room temperature 
  2. Whisk by hand, usng a balloon whisk (gives a better texture)
  3. Season to taste

Mix egg yolk, dijon and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk it together using a balloon whisk and add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Once the mixture has thickened you can add the oil in a little trickle, whisking continuously. Whisk until you have a thick and pale mayonnaise. Season to taste with lemon, white pepper and plenty of salt. Sprinkle a little paprika on top (to decorate) before serving. 

Skin-on oven fries, serves 4

800 g firm potatoes (Maris Piper is great)

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180-200C, with the fan on. Wash the potatoes and then cut into sticks. Rinse away the starch. Pour the oil into a large oven-proof tray and add the potato sticks. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Massage the oil into the potato sticks using your hands and spread them out on the tray. Bake in the oven for approx 35 minutes or until crispy, golden and blistery on the outside and cooked through.