Recipe: tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and mushrooms

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I made this pasta with prawns, mushrooms and tomatoes back in Sweden in August for my parents and I for supper and we all really enjoyed it.

It feels fresh and light although it has cream in it and the prawns work so well with both tomatoes and mushrooms.

And it’s actually the tomatoes that steal the show for me! Look out for those little bursts of juicy sweet tomato that comes with almost every bite. I had the luxury of using my mother’s homegrown cherry tomatoes in different colours (they were delicious!) but any small tomatoes in season will work just as well (I’ve made this dish a few times since August using store-bought on-the-vine British cherry tomatoes).

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Tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and button mushrooms, serves 3-4

500 g fresh tagliatelle

1-2 shallots, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

plenty of butter and neutral oil for frying

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

50 ml dry white wine

150 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

300 ml double cream

1/2 stock cube (fish or vegetable) 

400 g frozen Atlantic shell-on prawns, defrosted and peeled (or approx 250 g fresh ones) 

approx 2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

Fry onions and garlic in butter and oil on medium heat without browning. Remove from pan. Add more butter and oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms on medium-high heat until golden brown. Season and remove from pan. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the tomatoes and let them cook on medium geat for a few minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding cream and stock cube (no water). Stir and let the sauce thicken. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper (the sugar will balance the acidity from the tomatoes). You want the sauce to have depth and taste a lot as the pasta will dilute the flavours. Cook the pasta in a large pot and drain.  

Take the sauce off the heat and add the prawns. Stir and add the pasta. Mix properly so every strand of pasta is coated with sauce. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.  

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Seville: lunch at the city’s oldest tapas bar

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My first day in Seville had an early start; I was had checked in at my hotel mid-morning, so after a little rest I set out exploring the city. It was sunny but not that warm, so I walked around taking in some of the sights on my way to lunch. And what better place to start, than from the beginning, with the city’s oldest tapas bar. It’s been around since 1670 and had as much charm as I had hoped.

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It’s quite dark inside El Rinconcillo, especially compared to the sunshine outside, and packed with people trying to order at the bar or grab a table along the sides. Everyone’s talking, eating and having a good time.

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I placed myself strategically behind two people at the bar that looked they were about to leave, and took their spot when they did. Then I ordered a glass of white wine while I studied the menu (the English version as I don’t speak Spanish). I started with some lomo (cured tenderloin from the acorn-fed Pata Negra pigs) and Spanish cheese. And bread, which you receive immediately. And my favourite; Jamón croquetas.

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I also made sure to look around and see what other people ordered. The locals always order the best dishes, and here I could see that the favourites were fried battered cod that looked absolutely delicious, but as I hadn’t fully recovered from my illness earlier in the week I avoided fried food as much as I could. But another very popular dish caught my attention: the espinacas y garbanzos (spinach and chickpeas).  The spinach was wilted and soft and tasted amazing with a hint of picante. Yum!

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When it was time to pay the tab was scribbled down with chalk straight on the bar counter so it was a quick process to settle the bill. And they accept cards, which is great.

While enjoying my lunch and soaking up the atmosphere I also made friends with my bar neighbours on each side and chatted to them about the food and the city. What I loved most about this place was the ambience and that it feels very authentic even though tourists come here too. It feels like a real Seville institution and is a MUST on your itinerary if you’re visiting. You will not be disappointed.

El Rinconcillo, Calle Gerona, 40, 41003 Sevilla, Spain 

Wine tasting at Hällåkra, a Swedish Vineyard

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When I was little Hällåkra was a farm nearby our house, but the last twelve years or so the farm has been transformed into a vineyard. In the south of Sweden. It may sounds strange as some people imagine Sweden as an eternally cold country. But it’s not. Not in the south anyway. My mother has a fig tree, so the climate here is fairly mild. Very similar to Kent in England or even northern France, yet Swedish wine was unheard of until a few years ago.

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Anyway, having a vineyard so close by I’ve been dying to go, but fitting it in on my trips to Sweden has been a little difficult, but this summer I persuaded my friends to come with me, so we went to the wine tasting in the afternoon and then walked back to my parents’ house for dinner in the evening.

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My childhood friend Karl is now a sommelier working at the vineyard and was in charge of our wine tasting. He did a great job keeping it relaxed but informative and interesting at the same time. We asked lots of questions which Karl patiently answered, and despite the heavy (London-like) rain he also took us on a tour among the grapevines.So impressive! And a lovely walk in the sunshine.

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We tried six wines, three whites and three reds, and it was very interesting to compare them.

Two of the whites were from their own production but different vintages, and it was very interesting comparing the two as they were very different. We tried the Solaris (that’s the grape) from 2015 and 2014, which were both really nice but my favourite was the 2014. Of the reds Hällåkra’s Rondo 2013 was lovely as was the Austrian Gut Oggau Josephine 2012.

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In Sweden you (unfortunately) can’t buy wine straight from the vineyards, but they can be bought through the government-owned shop Systembolaget, using what the call private import as it’s not readily available in their shops. More information, here, in Swedish.

Hällåkra Vingård, Hällåkravägen 47, 231 72 Anderslöv, Sweden 

Chicken liver mousse with white wine and rosemary

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I like some DIY action when I host parties, like the blini table I had one year, and the crostinis with different spreads in jars in December.

Not surprisingly, my friends loved the smoked salmon spread (this is like the essence of Scandinavia, Hanna – oh yes!), whereas I prefer the deeper, more complex flavours of the chicken liver mousse. But when my friends had overcome the hurdle of the brown dull colour and tasted it, they also really enjoyed it!

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Chicken liver mousse with white wine and rosemary 

400 g chicken liver (approx 375 g with tendons removed)

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

100 ml dry white wine

4 anchovies from a tin

100 ml homemade chicken stock

50-100 ml cream

 

Remove all tendons and chop the liver coarsely. Fry the onion until soft in butter and oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary, making sure the garlic does not burn. Add the wine and let some of it evaporate. Add the anchovies and let them melt. Turn up the heat and add the liver and fry until cooked through. Add the stock and let some evaporate but still keeping a good amount of liquid in the pan. 

Mix until smooth in a food processor. Add the cream little by little until desired consistency. Push through a fine sieve. Leave to cool and refrigerate. 

Tagliatelle with girolles, white wine and balsamico

There are quite a few speedy pasta recipes in the archive, and that is exactly what I like with pasta – the speedy element. As long as you use good wuality pasta and don’t cook it to mush, you don’t need many ingredients to throw together a quick and delicious meal.

I had some girolles left in my freezer that I added white wine, balsamic vinegar, creme fraiche, parmesan and garlic too. Most important while making a pasta sauce is to use strong flavours. As it gets mixed in with the pasta it will have just enough flavour, but if you start off bland it will only get blander when you add the pasta. I prefer a smallish amount of sauce to pasta, it should only coat and dress the pasta, not let it swim in it.

Tagliatelle with girolles, white wine and balsamico, 1-2 portioner

200-250 g tagliatelle

1 large handful girolles

butter for frying

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 tbsp white wine

100 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp balsamico

parmesan shavings

chopped parsley or persillade

Cook the pasta according to the packet. Melt the butter in a frying pan or sauteuse. Fry the mushrooms on medium-high heat. Lower the heat a bit and add the pressed garlic. After a minute or so, add the wine and let most of it evaporate befpre adding the creme fraiche. Add the balsamic, let the mixture thicken and season to taste.

Drain the pasta but put some of the cooking water to the side. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss with the sauce. Add some pasta water if you want the mixture to be thinner. Plate and add parmesan and either chopped parsley or some persillade.

 

Pig’s cheek ragu with white wine and sage

When you have friends staying over the slowcooker becomes your best friend. It feels a lot safer leaving that on the oven (plus it uses way less energy) and it is so nice to let dinner cook itself when you’re busy socialising with friends.

While we had a day out in Canterbury, the slowcooker made this lovely pork cheek ragu with white wine and sage for us. All you need to do when you get home is to reduce and season the sauce, shred the meat and mix it with the sauce and cook some pasta.

Pig’s cheek ragu with white wine and sage, serves 4-6

spaghetti or tagliatelle, cooked al dente

The ragu – step 1:

1 kg pig’s cheeks

400 g chopped tomatoes

150 ml water

3 stems sage

1 garlic clove

150 ml dry white wine

The ragu – step 2:

salt, black pepper

pinch of sugar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

To serve:

grated parmesan

Place all ingredients for step 1 in the slowcooker, turn on low heat and leave for approx 8 hours. Remove the meat from the pot and reduce the sauce to half and season with the ingredients for step 2. Pull the meat apart and mix with the sauce. Serve.