Post-holiday Cobb salad with ranch dressing

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Hello dear readers, are you still there?

Sorry about my unplanned break; before the summer I just didn’t have time to update the blog, and then I was away for three weeks and have now been back in London for two weeks. I feel more rested and obviously have lots to tell you about, but I will start easy and share a yummy salad recipe and the best dressing recipe ever with you.

After having seen Cobb salads on almost every single  menu when I was in America, but never felt like it would satisfy my hunger after walking around all day, I couldn’t wait to make it when I got back to Blighty.  It’s a perfect salad to go for if you want something substantial; not just a few lettuce leaves. Make sure you enjoy it while the Indian summer is still here.

 

Cobb salad, serves 2

2 little gem, sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut into pieces

2 tbsp blue cheese of your choice (jag chose my favourite – Saint Agur)

2 chicken thigh fillets

4 slices streaky bacon

2 eggs

Trim the chicken thigh fillets, brown in butter in a frying pan, add salt and pepper and cook in the oven (15-20 minutes). Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on kitchen towel. Cook the eggs how you like them. Hardboiled are best for salads but I personally prefer a looser yolk (6-7 minutes). 

Slice the chicken, bacon and cube the (cool) eggs. 

Divide the salad between two plates or bowls. Add the toppings (it doesn’t have to be in neat rows but I quite like that). Serve with the dressing of your choice. Maybe ranch dressing? Recipe below. 

Ranch dressing, serves 6

Adapted from The Huffington Post recipe.

120 – 180 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) buttermilk

2-3 tbsp sour cream

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

1 tsp finely chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

a few dashes Tabasco

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or add all the ingredients to a jar and shake until smooth. 

New potato salad with girolles and bacon

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This wonderful potato salad is an old favourite. I saw a Swedish chef make it on TV many years ago and then made it myself a few times in Sweden and loved it. But moving to London girolles were no longer a staple mushroom in the supermarket so I forgot all about this dish until this summer when I cooked it for my parents. Luckily it was just as nice as I remembered it!

New potato salad with girolles and bacon, serves 4

Adapted from Gert Klötzke’s recipe.

10-12 baby new potatoes, cooked

1 packet rocket

1 litre girolles, cleaned

4 slices smoked bacon (at least)

1 chopped onion 

2 garlic cloves, chopped 

50 g thinly sliced cheddar 

butter for frying

salt, pepper

50 ml mustard vinaigrette (mix 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil)

Dice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Fry the bacon until crisp, dice and mix with the potato. Fry the onion and garlic in butter until softened, add the mushrooms and fry until golden. Season. Add the mushroom to the bowl and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Mix well and lastly add the rocket and cheese. Mix again and serve. 

Avocado and cucumber salad

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I was lucky enough to have two weeks of fairly decent summer when I was in Sweden in August. So I seized the opportunity to cook as many summery dishes I could think of. This delicious salad is cool and soothing – perfect with a BBQ after a day at the beach. But just as nice now in the beginning of autumn when we can’t quite let go of summer just yet.

Recipe courtesy of one of my favourite food blogs; Smitten Kitchen.

 

Avocado and cucumber salad, serves 4

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

1/2 cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks

1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 large avocado, pitted and diced

2 tbsp mayonnaise (homemade or Hellman’s)

1/2 lime, juice only

hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

salt

chopped coriander or parsley to garnish

Combine cucumber, spring onions and avocado in a bowl. Whisk together mayo, lime and seasonings, adjusting to taste. Drizzle (or in my case, mix) salad with dressing and garnish with herbs. 

 

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint

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I have quite a large cookbook collection in London (too big for my book case anyhow) so I have to keep some cookbooks in Sweden as well. The ones with easy, summery recipes I keep in the summer house and I just love flicking through Summer by Nigella every time I’m there. This summer I finally tried these lovely aubergine rolls with feta, chilli and mint. They are incredibly easy to make, and utterly delicious to eat.

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

2 large aubergines (each cut thinly lengthwise into about 10 slices)

4 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams feta cheese

1 large red chilli (finely chopped & deseeded or not depending how hot you require it)

1 bunch fresh mint (finely chopped – save some for sprinkling over)

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat.

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chilli, mint and lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. You don’t need salt, as the feta is salty enough. Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaped teaspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.

Place join side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint.

Homemade pinxtos

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Mother and I made pinxtos for our guests at two separate occasions this summer. I often serve crostini or bruschetta at dinner parties and this is obviously similar. Only difference is that you usually don’t toast the bread for pinxtos (which we did) and the toothpick securing the toppings. In Spain you can serve almost anything on or as pinxtos, but most common are crab and mayonnaise, prawns with mayonnaise, baby eels, morcilla or jamon.

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Ours were pretty simple, like tomato (from my parents’ garden), basil (also from the garden), buffalo mozzarella and olive oil.

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Cold-smoked ham with grilled peppers in olive oil.

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And one with crayfish, dill and rosé pepper. At the second dinner party we varied ourselves with toast Öjeby, which also worked really well.

Crayfish pinxtos with dill and rosé pepper, makes about 8

8 slices baguette

olive oil

1 tub crayfish tails, drained 

100 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tsp crushed rosé peppercorns 

chopped dill

salt, white pepper

lemon and dill to decorate

Place the bread slices on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 200C for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool. Mix creme fraiche and mayo in a bowl. Chop the crayfish tails and add to the mixture. Then add in rosé pepper and dill. Season to taste. Divide between the baguette slices. Decorate with lemon and dill and serve immediately. 

Tandoori chicken drumsticks and more

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About a month and a half have passed since my summer party back in Sweden and you can really tell that summer’s over. It’s windy, grey and it has started raining again. But I think all Londoners are happy about the fact that we actually had a decent summer this year, so we are mentally prepared to embrace autumn and winter.

Luckily the recipes for the food I cooked for my friends that summer’s day in August works just as well at this time of year – just choose less summery sides.

So, finally, I give you the recipes!

We started off with a simple yet very tasty pre-dinner cocktail made from vodka, mummy’s homemade elderflower cordial, lemonade, lime and mint together with some amazing Parmesan biscuits I have posted on here before. Do try them if you like cheese at all, they are simply divine!

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As I mentioned before, this was a pretty relaxed party, so the starter was served on platters. On a bed of rocket, cucumber and radishes I had piled squares of Ottolenghi’s caramelized garlic tarte high which looked pretty rustic. I simply adore this tarte and all my friends loved it too – such a crowd pleaser! I also made some rustic baguettes after my blog friend Helena’s recipe. She calls them faux sourdough baguettes and that’s a very fitting description; they’re chewy and nice but far easier to make than real sourdough baguettes.

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For the maincourse I served two types of meat; rare roast beef with a homemade aromatic butter and tandoori chicken drumsticks with a minty yoghurt dip. Not all my friends like red meat so I always try to serve chicken as well and although Indian food is far less common in Sweden this went down really well with everyone. I had also made two substantial salads which went with both meats; one with roasted new potatoes, spinach, spring onions and cucumber and one with roasted peppers, courgettes and aubergines with rocket and feta. Both dressed with a nice olive oil and a touch of balsamic.

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For dessert I let everybody serve themselves a sundae with vanilla and mango icecream, whipped cream, blueberries, raspberries and homemade oat crisps. Super easy to prepare in advance and very popular with my friends!

Tandoori chicken drumsticks, serves 4

Adapted from Simon Hopkinson’s recipe.

The only labour intensive part of this recipe is skinning the drumsticks, which is especially tedious if you make five batches at once like I did. But I assure you, it is worth it.

1,75 g chicken drumsticks

a pinch of salt

2 lemons, juice only

500 g plain yoghurt

3-4 tbsp tandoori spice mix

Remove the skin from the drumsticks, then cut deep incisions in the flesh with a knife. Place the chicken into a bowl and sprinkle over the salt and the juice of two lemons, massaging into the chicken until well coated. 

Mix the yoghurt and tandoori spice mix together in a bowl. Pour the marinade onto the chicken and massage into the flesh. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the grill to high. Lift the drumsticks from the tandoori mixture and gently shake off any excess. Place a wire rack over a roasting tin and lay the drumsticks upon it. Grill for 20 minutes, turning regularly, or until richly burnished and the chicken is cooked through. Add more lemon juice to taste.

Yoghurt dip

3-4 tbsp plain yoghurt

a pinch salt

a pinch sugar

5 sprigs of mint

1 green chilli, deseeded and sliced

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve alongside the chicken drumsticks.

Faux sourdough baguettes, makes 3

Translated and adapted from Helena’s receipe.

3 pea sized pieces of fresh yeast (or the equivalent of dry yeast)

300 ml lukewarm water

1.5 tsp salt

25 ml wheat bran

about 380 g strong white flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until all combined and you have a loose dough. Cover with cling and let it rise overnight or at least for five hours.

Turn out the dough on a floured surface and fold the dough in on itself once so both sides of the dough are floured. Pull the dough into a rectangle shape, about 15 x 25 cm. Divide into three equally sized portions and flour all around. Twist the dough pieces into baguettes and place them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Let rest while preheating the oven to 275C. Before placing the baking tray in the oven spray the inside of the oven with water both up and down, which will contribute to a nice crust. Bake the breads for 13-15 minutes, the leave to cool on a wire rack uncovered. 

Aromatic butter for meat

250 g softened butter

2-3 tsp paprika

1 garlic clove, pressed or grated

1 handful parsley, finely chopped

salt

white pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, season to taste. Using clingfilm shape into a roll and cover it with cling. Leave to set in the fridge. Slice before serving. 

Squid with samphire and lime herb butter

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The past weekend was a complete write-off with a terrible flu, hay fever and the badly, for me, timed heat wave. In general I love heat and am always cold, but not when I am poorly. So apart from staying in bed and trying to keep cool I did little else than alternate between reading Gone Girl and watching series.

Luckily I had a well-stocked fridge so at least I could treat myself to some nice suppers. This ridiculously simple and summery dish was such a treat. I love that samphire taste like the sea and frying squid only takes a minute or two.

Squid with samphire and herb butter, per portion

80 g samphire

120-150 g squid, either just the tubes or baby squid with tentacles 

salt, pepper

Lime herb butter:

50 g softened salted butter

3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs; I used mint and parsley

1/2 tsp lime zest

some ground black pepper

Mix together the herbs, zest and butter and put aside. Clean the squid and slice the tubes. Quickly fry the squid in some neutral oil. Season using only a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 

Steam the samphire for 2-3 minutes. (No need to season as salty in itself). 

Serve with a wedge of lime and some nice bread.