The summer holidays have flown past and all of a sudden our children are back at school for another year and we have some clear head-space to focus on food. Thoughts turn to the blog and our next Cookbook Supperclub. The book circulated around each of us over the summer, this time around we’re cooking from “under the walnut tree: great recipes from our kitchen” by Swedish sisters Anna and Fanny Bergenstrom. The name derives from them creating the book from their summer house in the countryside, outside which stood an old walnut tree. The book is beautiful, one of my personal favourites, it often rests on the cookbook stand on my kitchen island, rather than languishing on a shelf. I love to pick up this book, reading it, looking at the pictures. It’s an eclectic collection of recipes, sorted by ingredient rather than by course type, almost forcing you towards your own favourite ingredients, rather than reading the book in order. Whilst the book clearly shows the sisters family heritage of Scandinavian cuisine there is evidence of their travels far and wide, throughout the book.
It was my friend Paula’s turn to host the supperclub and we followed a simple menu design of starter; soup; main with side; and finishing with dessert. First to serve was Michelle who made a tapas style selection of starters, using potatoes and courgettes from her own garden. The starters included: potato and herb galette; garlic and herb roasted courgette and artichoke heads with garlic, thyme and chilli. Michelle had a moment of panic whilst preparing the galette as the bread dough was very loose, she needed the dough hook on her mixer as there would be no way to prepare by hand. However panic aside she ended up with a beautiful light bread that we all devoured. The two salad’s Michelle served alongside worked really well with the bread, however the real revelation were the artichokes which she told us afterwards had actually come from a tin, as per the recipe. I’ve bought artichoke hearts in jars with olive oil but never used then from a tin. Served simply with a chilli and herb dressing the artichokes were a real hit with us all, cheap and simple food, quickly prepared, we will be making this again.
Laura was responsible for the side dish, but as this was simple to prepare she added a quick soup course to the evening. Laura selected Anna’s avocado soup, served warm. Michelle and I will admit to being somewhat sceptical about eating warm avocado, however this light and delicious soup, made using only avocado, stock, cream and a touch of seasoning proved our fears wrong! It was delicious and a perfect light dish to serve as a soup course with dinner.
Our host Paula was responsible for the main course, a one pot chicken dish with tarragon, lemon and artichoke. This was a warm and hearty dish, again making good use of tinned artichoke hearts. The one criticism Paula had of the dish was that the recipe asked for too much water and she did confess to reducing the amount she added. That said the leftovers were easily turned into a tasty soup the following day. The main was served with Laura’s Feta and bean salad, a delicious salad with roasted vegetables that would work well as a side but also as a main dish for lunch.
We ended the meal with my dessert, a raspberry mousse gateau served with raspberry coulis. I love Scottish raspberries so I headed straight to the raspberry section of the book. This dessert was simple to prepare, the most onerous task straining the fruit through a sieve. The scary part of of the dessert was the fact that until I’d turned it out onto the plate to serve I didn’t now if it had worked! Laura admits to hoping, just a little, to a similar landslide as her mango and strawberry lasagna had on our Italian supperclub, she was disappointed as it turned out beautifully. We all loved the dessert, the perfect end to the night. If I were to criticise anything it would be the portion size. The recipe states it serves 10-12 people and to use a 22-24cm springform tin – it produced far more servings than this. I filled a deepsided 26cm tin (which I took to my sisters later in the weekend) as well as the 22cm shallow sided tin you see in the photographs. Far larger than 10-12 servings stated.
Our food matched beverages for the evening included:
Apperitive: Akvavit, Sweden
Main: Sauncerre, French
Dessert: Moscatel de Valencia, Spanish
Cocktails: Moscow Mules made with Dutch Ketel One Vodka
To sum up the book simply, we all loved it! As always the rules of supperclub state that you must follow the recipe to the letter, no deviations, and no using your own initiative, otherwise the review of the recipe cannot be accurate. We will not deny there were times when we feared the recipe going wrong, case in point Michelle’s panic at a very loose bread dough mid way through. However the recipe held true and we ended up with a delicious potato bread that we will all make again. I’ve loved this book since buying it, we’ve now all cooked from it and I love it more. A go to favourite and one that will grace my bookcase, or perhaps the cookbook stand, for many years to come!3