Mushroom Soup with Brunost

I met up with a good friend recently and after we’d finished scaring each other silly about the stories we’d read online about Putin having a nuke that could take out Great Britain which was planning to use for that very purpose (I almost decided to go back on my alcohol free month at this moment. Who wants their last month alive sober?), conversation turned to Brunost as she is part Danish and as I recently discovered, I am 20% Norwegian (though my thunder was stolen a bit recently when I found out my brother in law is 50% Norwegian). Brunost is a brown cheese that originates in Norway and is as popular as cheddar is here. It’s made with the parts of the cheese you’d normally discard in the cheese-making process. Of course, I had to try it so I ordered some from a Scandinavian food supplier. (It’s readily available on Amazon but I thought I would pick up some pickled herring too.) I would describe this cheese almost like a savoury fudge, it tastes caramelly and buttery. In Norway, they often serve brunost melted on toast but I decided to do something more elaborate with it. I saw a recipe on this Nordic food blog ‘North Wild Kitchen’ for mushroom soup. I am a big lover of mushrooms so it really stood out to me. Sometimes I wonder if I love mushrooms and cherries so much just because my mum hates them though to be honest she hates anything that has a flavour (red wine, blue cheese, whiskey). It was a great idea to put Brunost in this soup, it really elevates it and was worth the order from Scandinavian Kitchen.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 500g mushrooms (I used a mix of portabello and chestnut but you could go more fancy)
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 litre stock (I used Massel chicken flavour)
  • 100g brunost (I used Gudbrandsdalen)
  • 150ml double cream
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Wash and chop up the mushrooms and set aside.

2.) Peel and finely dice the shallots.

3.) In a large casserole dish, melt the butter and add the shallots and porcini.

4.) Cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft.

5.) Add the mushrooms and cook for another 7 minutes.

6.) While these are cooking, grate the brunost and make up the stock.

7.) Add the stock to the casserole dish and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

8.) Add the brunost and cream and heat for a few more minutes to melt the brunost.

9.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Okonomiyaki

I’m excited to post this Okonomiyaki recipe as I’ve basically been obsessed with okonomiyaki ever since I went to Japan three years ago. It’s a Japanese savoury pancake served with Japanese mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce which is a bit like brown sauce and then some bonito flakes which are dried fish. There are 2 regional variations that are the most famous – the Osaka version and the Hiroshima version, the Hiroshima take adds noodles to the mix. I’ve had both and I have to say the Hiroshima version is the best so that’s what I’ve tried to replicate here with some success. In Japan they just have a large hot plate which they cook the okomiyakis all in a line. I’ve made this a couple of times before and this was the best it’s ever turned out. I think it’s to do with the ratio of ingredients to the pan. I was feeling a bit indulgent and it was the weekend so I had salmon, prawns and scallops but you can pretty much put whatever you want in an okonomiyaki. You can maybe get away with leaving out the bonito flakes and also even subbing the okonomiyaki sauce for HP sauce but I think the Kewpie mayonnaise is an absolute must.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 300g white cabbage (about half a cabbage)
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 fillets salmon
  • 6 small scallops
  • 100g raw prawns
  • 300g ready to wok noodles
  • bonito flakes
  • kewpie mayonnaise
  • okonomiyaki sauce

Method

1.) Cut the cabbage into shreds. Dice the spring onions. De-skin the salmon and chop into large chunks.

2.) Break the eggs in a measuring jug, add the flour and beat. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil.

3.) In a large oven proof frying pan, heat some oil and add the cabbage and fry for 3 minutes or so.

4.) Add the salmon and spring onion and fry for a couple more minutes. Turn on the grill to preheat.

5.) Add the prawns and scallops and cook for a few more minutes, flipping the prawns over so they start to become pink on both sides.

6.) Now add the noodles and break them up a bit with the spoon. Cook for a couple more minutes.

7.) Move the ingredients around the pan so that it’s all evenly distributed and then pour in the batter.

8.) Cook for about 4 minutes until the bottom is set.

9.) Put under the grill for 3 – 4 more minutes until the top is starting to brown.

10.) Sprinkle over the bonito flakes and then drizzle the mayo and the okonomiyaki sauce all over the pancake and serve.

Chickpea Curry

Recently I started watching the Andy Warhol documentary on Netflix as I am a fan of art even though I know very little about it. During Warhol’s life he was a very private person and no one knew much about him but after his death his diaries were found, edited and published (they’re winging their way to me as we speak). What I really loved in the first episode is that the editor of his diaries said that some of the people he had written about resented what he’d said about them but she said this diary is Warhol’s narrative, if you want to tell your own narrative, write your own diary. Other people can disagree with you, but they can’t invalidate your opinions, your feelings are your own. So, in summary, don’t piss me off because I can totally write about you here, it’s my narrative :P. The documentary uses David Bowie’s ‘Andy Warhol’ song to open which is quite funny because for one, Andy Warhol didn’t like David Bowie. Also, David Bowie did idolise Warhol but despite that, you could hardly call his song flattering with lyrics such as ‘Andy Warhol, looks a scream, hang him on my wall. Andy Warhol, Silver Screen, can’t tell them apart at all’.

Here is another chickpea curry recipe that I found on BBC Good Food. It did have eggs but I didn’t so it’s eggless but feel free to add eggs or whatever kind of protein you like.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cm ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 450g tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 200g spinach
  • 3 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • rice to serve

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the onion. Melt some ghee in a large pan and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes until the onion is soft.

2.) Whilst this is cooking, put some rice in another pan with some boiling water and cook on a low heat. Peel and finely dice the garlic. Slice off the ginger skin and grate the ginger. Chop up the tomatoes.

3.) Add the garlic, ginger, spices, chilli flakes and tomatoes to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes.

4.) Drain the tin of chickpeas and add the chickpeas to the pan with 100ml water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

5.) Chop up the coriander leaves whilst this is cooking.

6.) Once this has finished, remove the lid and add the spinach, Cook for 3 more minutes until the leaves have wilted.

7.) Stir through the yoghurt and sprinkle over the coriander leaves. Serve with the rice.

Shakshouka with Pitta Bread

Whilst staying in Paris, our friend cooked us a delicious shakshouka so as I had some eggs to use up I thought of this and decided to make it for myself with some pitta bread. I’ve tried making pitta before but this time using the BBC Good Food recipe it came out really well. I made enough for three people to have some leftovers and I halved the pitta recipe to make four pitta breads. Pitta is a flat bread, in English we use the Greek word pitta but in the Middle East, i.e. the home of shakshouka, it’s called ‘fatteh’.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 10g parsley
  • 500g passata
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 3/4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 250g bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil + extra for oiling the bowl.

Method

1.) Make the dough for the bread by adding the yeast to 150ml tepid water and leaving it to brew for 10 minutes.

2.) Add the salt to a bowl and then pour on the flour. Pour on the yeasty water and the olive oil. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook or knead by hand for 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smelling yeasty.

3.) Oil a large bowl, place in the dough then cover with a tea towel or cling film. Leave to rise for one hour.

4.) After 30 minutes, start on the shakshouka. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Peel and chop up the onion.

5.) Cook the onion in some oil until soft. In the meantime, peel and chop up the garlic and the pepper and finely chop up the parsley.

6.) Cook the garlic and pepper for a couple of minutes then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.

7.) Add the passata and turn to a low heat. Make some holes in the passata and crack the eggs in them.

8.) Flour a large baking tray and when the bread dough is ready, divide into four and roll into thin oval shapes.

9.) Place the dough on the baking tray, you may need to do two batches.

10.) Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. They will puff up and brown as below.

11.) Move the pittas to a cooling tray and bake the other 2 if need be. Set to one side to cool down a bit. Continue to cook the shakshouka until the eggs are set – about 8 minutes. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

Prawns in beer sauce

I’m now doing a month’s alcohol detox as I never made it through dry January so it was a little sad to use beer in cooking without being able to drink any but this was a tasty dinner which I enjoyed. In the last couple of years I’ve really started to enjoy porter and stout beers and a result of my detox I’ve found a really great alcohol free Milk Stout from the company Big Drop. Also, I had a girly dinner at Salvi’s Italian restaurant in Manchester yesterday and they had Crodino on the menu which is like an alcohol free Aperol spritz but actually a little nicer in my opinion as it’s a little sweeter. So there’s a couple of ideas for you if you’re doing non-alcohol. The beer prawn recipe was again in the Vietnamese Market Cookbook. I did change it up a bit by adding tomatoes to the sauce and serving it with rice noodles and broccoli to make it more of a meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 250ml beer (I used Birra Morreti)
  • 1 bunch fresh lemongrass
  • 300g prawns
  • 250g tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • rice noodles
  • 200g broccoli
  • 10g coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the lemongrass into stalks

2.) Chop up the tomatoes

3.) Add both to a large frying pan and add the beer

4.) Cook down the tomatoes and lemongrass until the tomatoes really break down and most of the beer has cooked down into a sauce

5.) Add the prawns and simmer until cooked through. Chop up the coriander leaves finely. Slice the lime in half.

6.) Add the rice noodles into a sauce pan with the broccoli. Cover with boiling water and cook until the noodles and broccoli is tender.

7.) Take the lemongrass and discard. Squeeze the lime juice into the sauce. Serve the noodles and broccoli with the prawns and sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Soup

Whilst in Paris, our friend made us a delicious rhubarb crumble and it reminded me that rhubarbs do exist as they’re so underutilised. I was hugely intrigued by this Vietnamese soup from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ as to use rhubarb is by itself interesting but to use rhubarb in a savoury recipe is something I’ve never seen before. It seems that the authors added the rhubarb as a happy accident as they just had some rhubarb to use up. The rhubarb adds the sour element and then you get the sweetness from the pineapple. I bulked the soup out with some smoked tofu which also added some protein. I could only find tinned rhubarb but if you get the fresh stuff, do remember that the leaves are poisonous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin rhubarb
  • 160g pineapple
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the tomatoes

2.) In a casserole dish, heat up the oil and add the garlic

3.) Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, the sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a splash of water.

4.) Bring to the boil.

5.) Rinse the rhubarb and chop up the tofu, pineapple and the coriander leaves and spring onion,

6.) Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the water and the pineapple and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the tofu and rhubarb and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Season with the fish sauce

9.) Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander.