I’m a planner. Not all the time, but I like to plan ahead in several areas of my life. Especially when entertaining. So I had decided on a menu for the lunch I was hosting for a few friends in Sweden long before I even got to Sweden.
But the draught threw a spanner in the works. Three days before I was leaving for Sweden the government issued a BBQ ban in most areas and it was forbidden to barbecue even on your own property. All to prevent any more wild fires. Totally logical and something we all had to accept. But since my original lunch plan involved lighting the barbecue I had to think of something else to cook. I thought this would magically come to me as ideas so often do, but no.
So, in this moment of crisis (well not really, but I was starting to panic a little as my days were packed full of activities) I turned to my trusted cook book collection in the beach house and as usual they helped me out. This time it was a recipe in Nigella’s book Summer that saved me! This slow-roasted lemon and garlic chicken is summery (and delicious) enough to make you forget all about your beloved barbecue and appreciate a dish that basically cooks itself in the oven.
And if you don’t find butchering chickens as therapeutic as I do, I would suggest you either ask your butcher for help or buy a mixture of skin-on chicken breasts and chicken thighs.
Nigella’s slow roasted garlic and lemon chicken, serves 4
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces
1 bulb of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
1 lemon, cut into chunky eighths
1 bunch fresh thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
75-100 ml white wine
salt and black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Put the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, season and add the oil. Toss the chicken pieces in the oil so they’re coated all over. Place skin side up. Add garlic cloves, lemon chunks and thyme. Sprinkle over the white wine and put in the oven to cook for 2 hours.
Turn up the oven to 200°C and cook the chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.
This creamy mushrooms soup with sherry is a new favourite of mine. The humble ingredients really come together here creating a delicious soup, definitely worthy of becoming your next dinner party starter but also perfect for a warming weeknight supper with some crunchy bread to go with it.
Cream of mushroom soup with sherry, serves 2
1/2 onion, sliced
1 small garlic clove, sliced
oil and butter for frying
250 g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
50-75 ml fino sherry
300-400 ml boiling water
1/2 stock cube
1 proper sprig of thyme
5 pieces dried porcini mushrooms
30 ml single cream
salt, white pepper
Fry the onion and garlic until soft in the butter and oil in a large saucepan, without browning too much. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes until the mushrooms have shrunk somewhat. Add the sherry and let some of it evaporate. Add the water and stock cube, a small pinch of salt and the thyme. Also add the dried porcini. Bring to the boil and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Remove the thyme and then mix everything until smooth in a blender. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and add the cream. Bring to the boil again and add the cream. Season with salt and white pepper. Serve in bowls and garnish with a few drops of cream and a sprig of thyme.
I’m a very seasonal person. Despite the mainly chilly weather at the moment I can’t face putting tights or warm jackets on. Because it is summer. Instead I layer up on my upper body but keep my legs bare (if I’m wearing a skirt or dress for work). I’m used to this approach but people in the office think I’m a little strange. Fair enough, I think.
But when it comes to food it’s harder. Sure, I incorporate as much asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and new potatoes into my diet as I possibly can, but instead of craving salads I still want warm filling food. So while this autumnal recipe of gnocchi with a lovely creamy butternut squash sauce with both cream and parmesan may suit the post-bikini season better it’s what I fancy eating right now. Until summer arrives. Then bring on the salads!
Gnocchi with creamy butternut sauce, serves 2
1/2 butternut squash
salt & pepper
approx 300 g gnocchi, cooked according to the instructions on the packet
50-100 ml single cream
finely grated parmesan
a few sprigs of thyme (sage works too!)
Peel the squash and remove the strings and seeds. Cut into even-sized pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Stir to coat all the pieces with oil. Place in the oven and roast until the pumpkin is soft, approx 35 mins in 200C.
Cook the gnocchi and keep it warm.
Purée the roasted squash with a stick blender. Add (cold) cream until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper and grated parmesan. Heat up the sauce in a non-stick saucepan while stirring, if needed. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi, top with more grated parmesan and some thyme leaves.
I had a little gathering on the first Sunday of Advent treating my friends to some traditional Swedish Christmas treats as well as some other things. We started off with this heavenly smooth chicken liver mousse served with crispy crostinis. It went down really well and I am very pleased with the flavour combination of liver, red wine and thyme.
Even if you are not a serious charcuterie or offal fan, a chicken liver mousse is always a good place to start. Chicken liver is very mild in flavour compared to calf’s or lamb’s liver. And the other ingredients in this mousse don’t really enhance the liver flavour; it mere complements it.
To make the crostinis, all you need is a day-old baguette and some oil. Slice the baguette in 5 mm thick slices slightly on the diagonal and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a nice olive or rapeseed oil, place in 200C oven until crisp and golden brown; it takes about 15 minutes.
Chicken liver mousse with red wine and thyme, 1 batch
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbsp oil for frying
450 g chicken livers (about 350 g once tubes/tendons removed), roughly chopped
1tbsp butter + 1 tbsp butter
50 ml red wine
1/2 tsk dried thyme
salt and pepper
65 ml double cream
Fry the onions in the oil on low heat until translucent, add the garlic and fry for another minute.
Turn the heat up and add 1 tbsp butter and the liver. Fry until the liver pieces are cooked all the way around but pink in the middle. Add the anchovy (whole), more butter, red wine and thyme. Fry while stirring until half the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and pour into a food processor. Add the cream and mix until as smooth as possible. Season to taste with salt, pepper and maybe a pinch of sugar. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, into the serving container. The mixture is a bit liquid at this stage but it will set in the fridge. Refridgerate for several hours (about 4-5) for the mousse to set and the flavours to develop.
I found this wonderful recipe on a Swedish blogg called Remsan’s bistro and decided to make it. But being incapable of following orders or recipes, I of course made a few changes. But the essence of the original recipe is still there; the combination of girolles with thyme and cognac.
Try this, pretty please? You will regret it if you don’t…
Girolle cannelloni, serves 2-4
Adapted after Emmy’s recipe.
16 cannelloni tubes, De Cecco
1/2 medium onion, chopped
200 g fresh button mushrooms, diced in small pieces
100 g girolles, diced
200 ml crème fraiche
2 tbsp cognac
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of the dried variety)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crema di balsamico
200 ml single cream
200 ml crème fraiche
300 ml grated cheese
salt, white pepper
Fry the onion soft in butter. Add the mushrooms and fry until golden brown. Add salt and pepper. Add creme fraiche, cognac, stock, balsamico and spices. Simmer for a few minutes.
Fill the cannelloni tubes with the mushroom mixture and place in a greased gratin dish. Mix cream, creme fraiche, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour it into the dish and distribute evenly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 20-30 mins in 180-200C. Serve with a nice salad and a glass of wine.