Thai inspired lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli

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Sometimes, especially when the weather changes more or less daily between Indian summer and autumn, I find myself in the mood for something fresh and light but something more substantial than a salad. These little lettuce parcels with turkey mince, cucumber, spring onions and Thai flavours with a sweet chilli dip really hit the brief!

You don’t need to follow the recipe religiously, the most important thing is to taste the mince and find a good balance of flavours.I used turkey mince in these, since it is readily available in any supermarket but chicken mince or pork would work just as well.

I had some leftovers that made a great tortilla wrap for lunch the next day, I just put the dipping sauce in the wrap instead of dipping it and it’s just as delicious!

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Thai lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli, serves 4

500 g turkey mince

oil for frying

salt, white pepper

1 lime, juice only

1 1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 pinch of sugar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

3 spring onions, chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

a handful coriander, chopped

2-3 little gems

Fry the mince in oil. Season. Mix lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the mince with spring onions, chilli and cucumber and add the lime mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Add chopped coriander and fill the lettuce leaves with the mince mixture. Roll into wraps and dip in the sauce below.

Sweet chilli dip, serves 4

300 ml creme fraiche

1-2 tbsp sweet chili sås

a pinch of salt

Mix creme fraiche and sweet chilli sauce after taste. Season with salt.  

Lunch at La Bodeguilla, Palma de Mallorca

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Although I loved going back to two favourites, I also wanted to make sure to try a new (for me) restaurant in Palma. La Bodeguilla was high on my list and open on Sundays (result!), so I booked a table online for lunch.

I instantly took a liking to the place. Impossible not to when you’re greeted by a huge jamon ready for carving! The interior is cosy and semi-formal. It has white table runners and napkins but still feels relaxed. And walking into the restaurant you can sneak a peek into the kitchen behind the bar, which further adds to the relaxed ambiance.

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Seated we had a look at the menu and ordered some tapas to share and received an amuse bouche almost immediately after ordering the food. I actually don’t know what it was, but the creamy concoction was very nice!

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We had some classic tapas that were very well executed. The croquetas with jamon and ceps were full of flavour, but not as perfectly delicate as at Puro Chef. Still very nice though!

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The jamon bellota, was of course melt in the mouth delicious. I wish we had ham like this more readily available in the UK.

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The calamari was really nice too, the batter was light and very crispy and the fish very tender.

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The pan con tomate on granary bread was nice but I must say that I prefer it on white bread, that way the tomato make more of an impression, and doesn’t have to compete with the bread.

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The patatas bravas were also well executed, full of flavour and both sauces were spot on.

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We also had one proper cooked tapas; pig’s cheeks that were extraordinarily tender. They came with a jus and root vegetable puré which worked really well with the cheeks.

I will definitely come back to La Bodeguilla. The menu was a good mix of traditional tapas and more exciting ones and everything we had was cooked really well. It’s not as easy at it seems to cook simple food perfectly.

La Bodeguilla, Carrer de Sant Jaume, 3, 07012 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain

Two favourites in Palma revisited

During the last few years I have come to love Spanish cuisine. In London there are plenty of authentic and nice tapas around, at Barrafina, Barrica and the Saltyard group for example.

Palma has plenty of nice restaurants and it was especially two I couldn’t wait to go back to; Tast and Puro Chef.

Tast

On Saturday we had lunch at Tast in the middle of the town centre. There are cold pinxtos at the bar to pick yourself and warm pinxtos and tapas on the menu to order. Further in there is a proper restaurant serving more filling maincourses but I prefer the all day bar menu. We ordered some pan con tomato because the neighbouring table had some and it looked amazing. And it was. Of the cold pinxtos we had crab mayonnaise with smoked salmon, white fish with pickled pepper and fried quail’s egg and beef with tomato and mayonnaise. The marinated camembert (looks like a fish tartar) was the only one we didn’t like – the others were amazing! From the menu we ordered a crab and gulas (mini eels) gratin each (so so good!), a kebab with monkfish, king prawn and peppers and a mini toastie with the local sombrassada sausage and cheese. All great!

I like the fact that Tast is unpretentious, nice but not fancy and that the food is consistently good. Everything is well-cooked but simple and you can pop in for a proper dinner or just a glass of wine and nibbles. The wines, by the way, are very good and very reasonably priced!

Tast, C/ Unión, 2, 07001 Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Puro chef

Another afvourite is Puro Chef in Santa Catalina. Here they take pinxtos to gourmet level, serve nice tapas, proper maincourses and puddings. I never seem to be able to order anything other than the amazing gourmet pinxtos and a few tapas to share.

The jamon iberico croquetas were the best I have ever had (and I have sampled my fair share). They came out piping hot, were incredibly delicate and creamy and of course the flavour was spot on. How they were able to deep-fry anything so soft is a mystery to me! The amuse bouche was a creamy concoction with tuna and eggs served on sourdough. Of the gourmet pinxtos we both had the scallops with paprika purée which was delicious. Laura had the anchovies and lime toast full of salty goodness that she really liked and I couldn’t help but order the crispy suckling pig with Spanish sauce that I fell in love with last time. And it was just as delicious as I remembered. But the star of the evening was a brand new pinxtos the waitress recommended to us. Octopus with potato foam. It was utterly amazing. The foam was rich and light at the same time and had the most amazing flavour and hidden underneath were pieces of wonderful octopus.

Puro Chef, c/ Sant Magí 66, Palma De Mallorca, Spain

Postcard from Palma, Mallorca

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I spent the weekend in lovely Palma with 30C, clear blue skies and lounging by the pool mostly. My friend Laura had signed up for the half marathon and convinced me to keep her company for the weekend. And easy job, since I love Palma and wanted an excuse to go back. It’s such a pretty city, so before I start telling you about all the amazing pinxtos and tapas we had I thought I’d share some scenic photos with you.

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Dinner at Polpo, Soho

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A few weeks ago my Uni friend Lena was in town and suggested meeting up on a Monday night. We hadn’t seen each other since we were actually at Uni in Lund in Sweden, several years ago, so it was lovely to see her again!

We met after work looked in some shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and as we walked past Polpo on Beak Street, we thought why not go there for dinner! It was a 45 minute wait for a table which we spend in the basement bar having a drink and catching up.

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We were starving when we sat down and followed the waiter’s suggestion of three dishes each. It was actually too much food for us, but we enjoyed sampling it all.

The first dish (top picture) was a wonderful bruschetta with mozzarella, nectarine and pea shoots. Also the pizza bianco with prosciutto, rocket and parmesan (above) was very good! 
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We wanted something green to balance all the heavy food and without a simple green leaf salad on the menu we settled for the fennel salad with almonds which was really fresh!

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The cuttlefish risotto with ink was absolutely fantastic. The terrible picture (it was dark and I used my iPhone) doesn’t do it justice at all. That and the bruschetta were the highlights of the evening!

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The meatballs made from pork and beef in tomato sauce were soft and full of flavour and a reoccurring dish on the menu.

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The lamb stew with tomato was also nice, but not as nice as the other dishes.

Polpo describes itself as a Venetian bàcaro; a simple restaurant serving rustic, well-cooked food. And that’s exactly what they do! And they do it very well. It’s cosy, a bit noisy and a nice atmosphere and there are plenty branches to choose from all around London.

Polpo Soho, 41 Beak Street, London W1F 9SB

Brunch at Idala Gård, Skåne, Sweden

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September was filled with weddings for me. Two were in Britain and one at home in Sweden. All the weddings were great fun and when in Sweden for the weekend I wanted to do as much as possible. I got to have lunch and get ready for the wedding with four friends that later stayed over and the day after the wedding I went for an Italian themed brunch very locally, at Idala Gård.

The farm is very rustic and the restaurant’s interior is a mixture of old Swedish farmhouse furniture and Italian accents and the food has the same mixture of Italian and local influences.

The wines are all Italian so ordered a lovely Gavi di Gavi before filling our plates at the buffet. The cold spread was amazing, lots of nice charkuterie, pasta salads, hot and cold smoked salmon, eggs, even crayfish (love!), crostinis with rocket crème, Insalata Caprese with lovely mozzarella and so on.

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The cheeses were great too! I ate a lot but preferred the cold nibbly bits to the cooked more substantial food, but I can assure that was very nice too as my dad sampled it all. The only hot dish I tried was a lovely mash with pancetta and rosemary.

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There were three puddings to choose from so we chose one each and tried them all. The chocolate torte was dense and very chocolatey like it should be, the pannacotta was very smooth and the tiramisu almost perfect!

Strangely I was positively surprised. Although I have been here before – at an amazing wedding with great food for example – I didn’t expect the brunch to be this good. Maybe perhaps because brunches in general aren’t. But I am very happy Idala Gård is at my parents’ doorstep, I will definitely visit soon again.

Idala Gård, 231 91 Trelleborg, Sweden

Zuleika cake (chewy almond base with custard topping)

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When I last baked for the office, this cake from the Swedish baking bible Swedish Cakes and Cookies, was very popular. I have a similar recipe on the blog already, that I must say I prefer, but it is always fun to try different recipes and make comparisons.

This is still a very nice cake, it’s smaller than the other recipe and especially the custard tastes different, almost lighter actually.

Zuleika cake, serves 10

From Sju Sorters Kakor (the Swedish version of Swedish Cakes and Cookies).

Base:

100 g almonds, ground

3 egg whites

100 ml / 80 g caster sugar 

Topping:

3 egg yolks

75 ml / 60 g caster sugar

200 ml double cream

50 g butter

35 g almond slivers

BUtter a regular cake tin. Beat the egg whites stiff. Mix the ground almonds and sugar in a bowl and fold in the stiff egg whites. Spread out the mixture in the tin. Bake in the bottom of the oven, 160C (fan oven) for 30 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Mix egg yolks, sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan. Simmer until thick while stirring. Leave to cool a little. Pour over the base. Garnish with almond slivers. Best served really cold.