Roasted beetroots with butter and grated horseradish

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Roasted beetroots may not sound too exciting, but trust me, these ones which were roasted with plenty of butter and served with grated fresh horseradish are delicious! Another veggie dish for Christmas, perhaps?!

Roasted beetroots with butter and grated horseradish, serves 4

750 g fresh beetroots

1 small splash mild oil

3 tbsp salted butter

grated fresh horseradish

salt, pepper

Use plastic gloves to avoid red hands. Peel the beetroots with a potato peeler and cut in half. Add some oil to an roasting dish and add the beetroots. Add a tbsp butter and season. Roast in 180C oven until soft, for approx 40 minutes.Turn them once in a while and add another tbsp butter halfway through cooking. Once soft, remove from the oven and toss them in some more butter. Add grated horseradish and serve. 

Brunch at Roka, Canary Wharf

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Five months after her actual birthday, my friend Gaby invited a few of us to a birthday brunch at Roka in Canary Wharf. It was definitely one of the best brunches I’ve seen; plenty of Japanese food (it just kept on coming), yummy bellini on arrival and as much wine (it was perfectly drinkable) you wanted.

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The birthday girl was also quite happy with her choice!

2014-11-29 14.02.59It was definitely a decent buffet with sushi, seafood, vegetables, sashimi, meats and lots of it. And the chefs really worked hard at refilling it at the same pace we kept filling our plates (not an easy task!). 
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Apart from the buffet we also got some nibbles at the table, delicious dumplings and crispy calamari.

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And a main course each was included as well. We were a group of eight and decided on four different dishes to share between all of us. The barbecued rib-eye was absolutely delicious and so was the dipping sauce.

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The poussin with miso dressing was also utterly delicious!

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The ribs were thickly glazed and nice too. We also had some terikayi salmon but I didn’t try it.

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As it that wasn’t enough food we also got some puddings to share. Beautifully presented on platters we had fresh fruit, a chocolate mousse type thing with sorbet (very good) and a very fluffy vanilla mousse in the little pots.

It was a great brunch with a good selection and wonderful food. The buffet selection was very tidy and everything on there was really fresh. So good!

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After the brunch we went outside and had another drink my the ice rink where it was this Christmassy and cosy. What a wonderful day!

Roka, 1st Floor, 4 Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, Canary Wharf Group, London E14 5FW

Creamed kale

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I was hosting the last book club gathering of the year and as it was Christmas themed I made meatballs and Jansson’s temptation but also a few vegetarian dishes, like this creamed kale. It’s very popular in Sweden for Christmas but not a traditional item on my family’s julbord, so it was fun to make it. It’s really nice too, full of flavour and not too creamy.

Creamed kale, serves 4-6

400 g chopped kale

5 dl vegetable stock (or beef stock)

1 tbsp butter

100 ml double cream

a small pinch of sugar

salt, white pepper

Rinse the kale, cook until soft in the stock, approx 25 minutes. Melt the butter in a sauteuse pan. Remove the kale from the stock with a slotted spoon and transfer to the pan. After a minute or so, add the cream and cook for approx 10 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and white pepper. 

Dinner at Asia de Cuba, Covent Garden

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A few weeks ago Karin, Niklas and their friend Ania and I had dinner at Asia de Cuba, a fusion restaurant serving Asian Cuban food served on plates to share.

The starters appealed to us more than the main courses so we shared a bunch of those, starting with some ceviche. The one with kingfish, curry and passion fruit (above) was nice but my favourite was the prawn, snapper and confit watermelon ceviche. Both were served with enormous prawn crackers and plantain crisps.

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We also shared a crispy spring onion pancake topped with smoked salmon which was delicious! One of my favourite dishes that evening.

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The Asian noodle box with Cuban vegetables and mushrooms was alright, but nothing special. A dish I actually could have done without.

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The tuna tartar on crispy wontons was, on the contrary, another favourite!

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Spiny lobster served with palm cajou hearts (whatever that is, Google couldn’t help me) and a spicy sauce. It was nice but not wow.

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Confit duck leg on lettuce with hoisin sauce was a take on crispy aromatic duck that was really nice.

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So far, we were happy guests (despite the draft from the air con) and we were looking forward to the desserts that were carried in on large platters to share but we were utterly disappointed. Our giant banana split looked quite impressive, but the brownie was really floury, the vanilla ice cream all icy and the biscuits not very nice. The bananas, chocolate ice cream and store-bought mini marshmallows were all fine, but I expect more from a restaurant cooking savoury food this well – like them having a decent pastry chef.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cream. It was really sweet and probably from a can. Poor.

Asia de Cuba, 45 St. Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4HX

Chocolate Viennese whirls

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I found this recipe in one of my Christmas cookbooks and thought they looked super cute. And since it’s chocolate I knew they would go down well at the office. Needless to say I was right.

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Chocolate Viennese whirls, makes 12

200 g softened butter

100 g caster sugar

200 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

25 g cocao

30-50 ml milk

100 g dark chocolate

Beat butter and sugar pale and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking powder and cocoa. Add the milk bit my bit until the batter is loose enough to be piped.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe the batter into cupcake cases in a circle, leaving a whole in the middle. 

Press a whole in the middle of each cake (or make the one there is a little bigger). Break the chocolate into pieces and melt over a bain marie. Pour a spoonful of chocolate into each whole. Leave to cool/set. 

Bocca di Lupo, Soho – revisited

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A few weeks ago we had a leaving dinner for Phuong – another American friend of mine to return to the US of A. While I don’t blame her for choosing sunny California over dreary England, she’ll still be missed!

The venue Phuong chose for her leaving dinner is one of my favourite restaurants in town; understated and cosy Italian Bocca di Lupo in Soho.

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We started with some bubbly and the Bocca Prosecco was very good! We also got some bread, grassy olive oil to dip the bread in and some olives while we had a look at the menu.

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We then shared quite a lot of starters. First calamari with baby squid which was really good!

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Our waiter recommended the crescentine; deep-fried flatbreads, with cream cheese and salmon roe. He wasn’t wrong, they were delicious!

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The fried sweetbreads with crispy artichoke I’ve had before and it was just as nice this time. The sweetbreads were nice and soft but with a crispy exterior.

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We also had a plate of crudo consiting of tuna tartar with pine nuts, wonderfully sweet marinated prawns and delicious scallops. Especially the prawns were absolutely wonderful!

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We then continued with primi and pasta. Again we shared a few dishes. First up was gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and mozzarella. Really nice and the gnocchi were amazing!

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The tortelloni with prosciutto and cheesy sauce was also really nice.

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But the orecchiette with n’duja, red onions and tomato was the winner – amazing! A nice combination of spicy, creamy and a little acidity.

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Finally we shared some roasted pumpkin with parmesan…

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… and this absolutely wonderful saltimbocca (the picture does not do it justice) and creamy polenta. We were too full to even consider pudding – but what a feast! Writing about it I’m already longing to go back.

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Literally the last night with the gang… :(

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB

Creamy mac ‘n cheese and broccoli slaw

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When the weather is biting cold and one has little energy or body warmth when stepping through the front door I’m of the opinion that mac ‘n cheese is the answer. It’s cheesy and comforting (for me that’s the same thing!), warm and filling and utterly delicious. Although there is no such thing as too much cheese it’s nice with something sharp cutting through the creaminess and this is where the broccoli slaw comes in. It’s fresh, zingy and healthy. The perfect counterpart to the heavy mac ‘n cheese!

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Creamy mac ‘n cheese, serves 3-4

250 g de Cecco, I used the Cavatappi shapes

1 tbsp salted butter

1 tbsp plain flour

100 ml semi skimmed or whole milk

150 ml single cream

1 large handful grated matured cheddar

1 tbsp white wine

salt, white pepper

more grated cheddar to go on top

Cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes. Add the milk a little at the time while whisking and the sauce thickens. Add the cream little by little while whisking until you have a thick bechamel. Add the cheese and stir while it melts on lower heat. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper.  

Drain the pasta and mix with the cheese sauce. Pour the cheesy pasta into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with grated cheddar and place in 200C oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden. 

Broccoli slaw with lime, serves 3-4

1/2 head broccoli

2-3 carrots

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 lime, the juice

salt, black pepper

Slice the broccoli, including the stem and cut into matchsticks. Grate the carrots. Mix mustard and mayo in a bowl. Add the lime juice then add the vegetables. Mix well and season.