Spring is here!

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Spring. Oh, how I love thee. If I feel tired and gloomy during the cold and dark winter months, I now feel awake again. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning and being outside, even if it’s just walking to the tube, is a pleasure not torture. On Saturday I just walked around town for two hours because the sun was out and it was spring in the air.

Lots of the spring flowers are in full bloom, and the first British asparagus has arrived in some shops together with the wild garlic. This, my dear readers, is my favourite time of year. I love summer and warmer temperatures, but now before summer is here, we have it all in front of us and it feels like the best present ever. Then we blink and it’s September, but I really want to try and enjoy the little things every day between now and then. The taste of all the fresh produce; the asparagus, the jersey royals, the first British strawberries and so on. Sitting in the sun having a coffee or an ice cream, walking to work and hearing the birds chirping. All of that makes me so very happy.

And one of my favourite dishes this time of year, is a real celebration of spring. It’s fresh and simple but full of spring flavours. I’m talking about fresh local asparagus, homemade wild garlic mayonnaise that’s just divine and to top it all off, a drizzle of a nice olive or rapeseed oil and a scattering of parmesan shavings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy SPRING!!

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgette and feta

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I snapped this picture as I was throwing this pasta together for lunch the next day, but I must say it exceeded my expectations so much I wish I had allowed myself time to take a nicer picture.

This is another dish where the sum is (much) greater than the individual parts; it’s just a simple dish that works. I love every bite of the slightly al dente pasta coated in fresh wild garlic pesto, the crunch from the raw thinly sliced baby courgettes, the bigger bits of tender-but-not-too-tender broccoli and the slightly melted pieces of tangy feta. I urge you to try it for your next picnic, barbecue or quick weekday supper.

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgettes and feta, serves 2

200 ml orzo 

2-3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

1 baby courgette, thinly sliced

4 stems tenderstem broccoli 

100 g feta

a little olive oil if needed 

salt & pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Put the broccoli in boiling salted water and cook until a little tender but still al dente and cut each stem into four. Drain the pasta in a sieve and pour it back into the empty saucepan. Stir in the pesto and add a little olive oil if needed. Add the courgette slices and the broccoli. Mix together and season to taste. Add the crumbled feta and stir once more before serving. 

Visiting home and wild garlic fever!

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After four days in Italy, I had six days back home in the south of Sweden. I tried to keep it low key and just spend time with the family, and as usual we enjoyed some wonderful food together.

Spring had arrived in Sweden too, even if it was a little behind the Italian version. But the wood anemones flowered and the wild garlic was ready to eat, so I was pretty happy!

The evening I came home my mum and I (dad doesn’t like wine as much as we do) shared a lovely bottle of  Crèmant from Alsace, to celebrate we were together again!

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Another evening we enjoyed a cheese board with my Italian favourite Erborinato, Brie de Maux and Saint Albray. We also had some biscuits, pear slices, honey, rose hip jam and port. So yummy!

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I also picked wild garlic in the woods, as you can see it’s easy to forage; it’s everywhere!

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I also picked some wood anemones. It’s a spring ritual for me.

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We also cooked with wild garlic and one evening we had this great dish as a starter; asparagus (that I bought in Italy) with wild garlic mayo, parmesan and rapeseed oil.

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Afterwards we had cod loin cooked in the oven with wine and dill, potato purée, peas and carrots. And browned butter. Just. Amazing.

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One day we did a road trip to Höganäs and also stopped in Mölle by the sea to enjoy the view and the sunshine.

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In Höganäs we found an amazing fishmonger who sold fresh Swedish bleak roe so we of course had to buy some.

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We had it with rösti, creme fraiche and chopped red onions as a starter that evening.

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The rest of our dinner that night was a bunch of nibbles: leftover asparagus and wild garlic mayo, serrano ham, smoked prawns, some smoked mussels, tomatoes and wild garlic bread.

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One night we had friends over for a dinner of tried and tested recipes. We started the evening with champagne and Nigella’s prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves. Love this!

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The main course was fillet of beef with hasselback potatoes, broccoli, carrots and two sauces: bearnaise and peppercorn. Delicious!

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After a breather we enjoyed a rhubarb crumble with mum’s homemade custard. Such a wonderful evening!

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My last evening in Sweden was on a Sunday, and for dinner we had wild garlic soup to start.

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Followed by wonderfully tender pheasant with cream sauce, boiled potatoes, jelly, broccoli and carrots.

Thank you, Sweden, for a lovely time!

Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes

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I received evidence from my mother last week that the wild garlic season has started in Sweden, and therefore probably in the UK as well. Hurrah!

I love these oniony garlicky green leaves so much, I keep a bundle of blanched ones in the freezer at all times. It feels comforting that I can make wild garlic mayo all year round. Or wild garlic pesto. It’s fab with fried gnocchi (it gives them a bit more texture), fresh cherry tomatoes and plenty of grated parmesan.

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Fried gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and cherry tomatoes, serves 2

1 batch gnocchi 

1 batch wild garlic pesto

150 g cherry tomatoes

finely grated parmesan

Make the pesto and put it aside. Make the gnocchi and cook them. Then fry in butter until golden. Mix with plenty of the pesto. Cut the cherry the tomatoes in half and mix with the gnocchi. Season to taste. Add olive oil if you want a looser consistency. Top with plenty of grated parmesan.

New potato salad with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

IMG_1431It’s not peak season for wild garlic anymore (sob) but I have been slightly too busy lately to be able to post on the blog regularly. I’m hoping to redeem myself with this delicious (and super easy) recipe and higher posting frequency going forward.

If you don’t happen to stumble on some fresh wild garlic in an usually shady part of the woods you can use blanched frozen wild garlic too, or bookmark the recipe for next year.

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New potato salad with grilled asparagus and wild garlic pesto, serves 4

450 g new potatoes

200 g asparagus

1 batch wild garlic pesto

salt, black pepper

Make the pesto. Boil the new potatoes in salted water. Drain and leave while you fry the asparagus on a griddle pan until semi-soft. Cut each stalk into 3-4 pieces and cut the potatoes into chunks. Toss with pesto in a bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve with various barbecued meats or this lovely pork fillet.  

Wild garlic pesto

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When I was in Sweden last my mother gave me a large bag of wild garlic she picked for me, so back in London I made a batch of lovely pesto that I’ve been eating lately. The same day I made it I just had it with spaghetti and (more) grated parmesan as a light lunch. Delicious!

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Wild garlic pesto, approx 250 ml pesto

ca 50-70 g wild garlic (about a bunch as stick as a small banana)

30 g almonds

40 g parmesan

1/2 lemon, juice only 

mild oil, approx 100-150 ml 

salt & pepper

Mix wild garlic, almonds, lemon juice and parmesan with a bit of oil to a paste in a food processor or with a stick blender. Keep adding oil until you have the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days. 

Cooking is my yoga (and a three course dinner)

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Sometimes I forget how much I love to cook. It’s true. When I have a busy work week and come home exhausted in the evenings and haven’t hatched a plan for what to cook for my evening meal I usually surrender to a cheese toastie or just toast with cheese and cucumber slices, which in my world does not constitute cooking.

On Friday I had promised to cook for my flatmate as it was one of those rare occasions when we were both spending a night in. Although I almost regretted my decision as I noticed how very tired I was when I was on the tube home.

But when I got home, put my pinny on and started prepping I got second wind. And it was so much fun! I wasn’t stressed because my flatmate Daisy was happily perched on the sofa in front of the TV with a glass of wine in hand and I let the cooking take its time. Because it’s usually the time aspect that is my downfall. I can be a bit of a time optimist and when I realise that I am running late I get stressed and become clumsy and a not-so-great cook. But when cooking without the time pressure I am truly happy. Cooking is my yoga. It relaxes me and keeps me sane.

What I cooked? My favourite spring time starter; steamed (British) asparagus with wild garlic mayonnaise and Parmesan shavings (and some watercress) followed by caramelised pork fillet, an amazing mushroom crème, roasted new potatoes and steamed purple sprouting broccoli. To finish vanilla icecream, chewy meringues, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Eating it would make anyone happy, so lucky me who got to cook it too.