Girl’s night, book club and an al fresco luncheon

APC_3987.jpegSorry for the radio silence… It’s been non-stop lately but as I have a little time now I’m posting this weekly from late March, so let’s rewind until then. 

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The Monday was a sociable one for me (which is not my usual), with a girlie dinner at home.

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I made prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves to start, then we had chicken satay with jasmine rice and a cucumber salad for mains and chocolate pots (or pudding as I found out it’s called in the US as well). It was such a lovely night catching up with dear friends!

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Tuesday and Wednesday I took it easy in the evenings, but one of those nights I had the first asparagus of the season. With hollandaise sauce. So yummy!

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Thursday night was book club night and Mary-Lou had made her own delicious pho for us! Really lovely evening!

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Friday night I was really tired and didn’t feel well so ordered Shake Shack (love that I can now do that!!) and watched easy series like Grey’s Anatomy and The Rookie.

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Saturday I met up with a friend visiting from New York for lunch. It was a beautifully sunny day so we sat outside in the sunshine at Daylesford Organic and had a lovely afternoon.

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Afterwards I raced home, changed clothes and went to a friend’s birthday party. As always the nibble game was on point and as usual I had too much cheese!

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Sunday was also a lovely day, but a little colder, so venture out for lunch and tried Market Halls by Victoria. Such a nice (but loud!) place.

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Steak, surprise party and SPRING!

 

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The week before last started with a quit day. Just work, and an early night at home.

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On the Tuesday I had some work errands and as it was nice weather I put my trenchcoat on and enjoyed the sunshine as I went from place to place. In the evening I made fried halloumi with potato wedges, roasted peppers and red onions and tzatsiki for dinner. Love this kind of easy cooking on a weekday! And it’s SO yummy!

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The next evening I met up with two girl friends for steak and a catchup at Hawksmoor. We had such a lovely evening drinking wine, eating steak and chatting away.

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On the Thursday I went away with work for the day, but was all shaky and sweaty (very unlike me!) by the time I got to the train station, but luckily some paracetamol helped. But the day felt really long because of the travelling so when I got back to London we ordered burgers for takeaway and watched the first episode of the new series of Billions. Love this series so much!

More errands on Friday but I still felt a bit shaky so took it easy in the evening. And most of Saturday too, but in the evening I put some heels on and went to a friend’s really fun surprise birthday party!

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On the Sunday I slept in and met a friend for a late lunch. It was sunny and although not warm the weather was still nice, so I put my trench and new sneakers on because SPRING! Obviously I got a nasty blister that took over a week to heal, but still…

 

Recipe: salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread cookies

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You might have heard about these cookies already, as they almost broke the internet? If so, see this as a friendly reminder to bake them again. And if not, you’re in for a treat!

Quite literally of course, because these salty buttery cookies with chocolate chunks and a lovely edge of crunchy demerera sugar are INSANELY good. I’m obsessed and can’t wait to bake them again although I sort of know that it’s a bad idea because I will eat them all.

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I think Aliso Roman has invented the PERFECT cookie, which is no small feat. So if you haven’t already, start baking! They’re really easy to make and the reward is HUGE!

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Salted butter shortbread chocolate chunk cookies, makes 24

Adapted from Alison Roman’s recipe via Smitten Kitchen.

255 g salted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

100 g caster sugar

50 g light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

295 g plain flour

170 g dark chocolate, chopped (you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate)

1 large egg

demerara sugar, for rolling

sea salt flaked for sprinkling

Beat the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add flour, and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chunks, mix just until incorporated. Mixture will look crumbly.

Divide between two sheets of parchment paper or cling and use your hands to form the dough halves into log shapes about 5 cm in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, heat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly beat the egg and open up your chilled cookie logs to brush it over the sides. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on the open paper or plastic wrap and roll the logs into it, coating them.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut logs into 1 cm thick rounds. You’re going to hit some chocolate chunks, so saw gently, squeezing the cookie to keep it from breaking if needed. Arrange cookie slices on prepared sheets a few cms apart and sprinkle each with a few flakes of salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to get golden brown. Let cool slightly before transferring to the cookies to a wire racks to cool down.

Not the best week but a great weekend!

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Is it spring now?! The calendar says so but not sure the weather gods got the memo. I’ve been longing for spring for so long now, it seems strange that it’s arrived. But I’m really enjoying the lighter evenings and no longer freezing (just cold!) temperatures. I even dared to put on a trench coat a few times.

But I’m really behind on telling you what else I’ve been up to, so let’s get started.

Week before last. Aaand go!

Well, it wasn’t the best week. I had a nice and relaxing Monday night (which is my preferred way – Mondays are hard anyway). But then on the Tuesday I didn’t feel very well and had to cancel my plans.

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Same on the Wednesday. I had so little energy I ordered takeaway for dinner. Grateful for healthy options as I wasn’t craving burgers or pizza, so a poke bowl was the perfect supper!

Thursday I was a bit better but took it easy so I could enjoy the weekend. Friday was one of those days when it felt like the world (or London – which IS my world) was against me. It was incredibly windy and cold, lots of street were closed for road works or Brexit demonstrations (they all seem to blur into one) and no buses to be seen. So I took a taxi to my meeting the looong way around but luckily was on time. On the way back I thought I’d be good and walked to the bus stop. Where I and lots of other people waited and waited for buses that never arrived. Whitehall was empty (surreal) and the cab I hailed to get me home just breezed through. But after that excursion I was cold and tired and really windswept.

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But I had just enough energy to cook a three course meal for us and a friend in the evening.

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Crostini with smoked salmon spread to start, delizie alla romagnola for mains and chewy lemon cake for pudding. It was so nice with home cooked food after not feeling well all week and the others loved it too!

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Saturday I had a lie-in and a chilled day. I read my book and feel asleep on the sofa but in the evening we went out for dinner to one of our (mine) favourite places for truffle pasta and other lovely food!

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Sunday we slept in, had a cooked breakfast and went to visit friends in the afternoon. We played with Peppa Pig themed toys and in the evening after bed time we (the grownups) had pizza for dinner.

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When we got home I made us hot cocoa with whipped cream and we watched another episode of Goliath.  It’s still really good!

So to sum it up; pretty rubbish week but a lovely weekend!

Recipe: baked Vacherin Mont d’Or

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Anyone else who LOVES melted cheese?! Well, then this is for you. Cheese haters, please look away now.

I’ve only had this amazing cheese (seriously, it’s HEAVEN!) in restaurants before but thought it would be a good supper for Valentine’s Day, especially since we were going to the theatre but needed to eat something afterwards.

This beauty of a cheese; Vacherin Mont d’Or, is a French unpasteurised cheese and is only produced during the winter months (until March or so). The reason for this is that the same cows whose milk normally goes towards the production of Comté and Gruyère, are on a different diet in the winter and so their milk tastes different and is perfect for making this creamy dreamy cheese.

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It’s quite gooey at room temperature but when baked it becomes the best cheese fondue (see below picture) and is both gooey and rich AND light at the same time. The recipe I used is courtesy of David Lebovitz and is of course completely fool proof and the only guidance one needs.

So what to eat with these cheese?! We had a lot of bits for dipping; prosciutto, cooked ham, bresaola, saucisson, cornichons, apple slices (Pink Lady and Granny Smith), crusty baguette and cold cooked new potatoes. Everything worked well, but my favourite was without a doubt the cold new potatoes. You must try it!

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Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or, serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe.

1 Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese 450-500 g, at room temperature

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

60ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap the container of cheese securely in foil, making sure to enclose it so the foil goes up to the top of the outside of the container, but leave the top exposed. Set the wrapped cheese on a baking sheet.

Poke eight-to-ten slits in the top of the cheese with a paring knife and slide the slivers of fresh garlic in them. Pour white wine over the cheese, and bake the cheese until it’s very hot – it will take between 20 and 30 minutes.

 

 

Pancakes, dinners at home and out and a Dior exhibition!

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Last Monday I was tired after a lovely weekend in Norfolk, as we got back quite late on the Sunday night, so after work on Monday I had no energy to cook. Instead I ordered a lovely pizza from Pizza Pilgrims and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. Yay for takeaway!

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Tuesday was Pancake Day and my dear boyfriend was in charge. He’s amazing at making pancakes so it’s becoming a tradition that he cooks pancakes galore for me on Shrove Tuesday. Last year I also introduced a Swedish treat; cream buns, but it was far too much so this year we kept it simple with just pancakes.

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First we had some with savoury fillings, like ham and cheese and crispy pancetta and cheese – both very yummy, and then moved on to sweet toppings.

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I love the traditional sugar and lemon so had to have one of those and then of course one with whipped cream, and as I know it would be my last one (I was so full by this stage) I went all out with both strawberry jam AND Nutella. So yummy! Afterwards we half laid on the sofa (sitting up was too difficult) watching Goliath, a new series we started. It’s so so good! Highly recommend it.

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On Wednesday I med up with a friend after work. We had our heart set on sushi but ended up in Shake Shack instead (yum!!) and then went to a bar for drinks and a nicer ambiance to properly catch up.

Thursday I had a night in after doing some errands in wind and rain (always fun!).

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On Friday night I made another three course dinner and we watched some more Goliath.

 

On Saturday I had a rare afternoon at home by myself without any plans or chores. So I read the new Living Etc magazine featuring Jenna Lyons amazing New York apartment and almost fell asleep! Then I got ready super slowly (love doing my makeup properly taking my time, but most of the time I only have a few minutes to slap it on) and then we went out for dinner.

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Love our date nights and this time we had a lovely steak dinner and the most amazing pudding at Foxlow Soho (will do a proper writeup soon).

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Sunday I met up with a friend to go to the Dior exhibition, using my brand new membership card to get us in. It was so dreamy and magical and just exceeded my (very high) expectations!

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Afterwards we had cream tea and a catch up in the member’s area – such a lovely space.

Recipe: slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce

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In between Christmas and New Year back in Sweden we cooked venison one night, using a recipe from a Swedish cook who also likes to go shooting so I really trust his game recipes.

The original recipe called for elk meat but it worked just as well with venison. The cut is near or around the rump; one that needs to cook slowly to become tender. So this will take a bit of time but it’s not difficult at all and definitely worth it. The tender meat and the creamy sauce (with all the jus from cooking the meat) is just amazing. Serve with Hasselback potatoes and broccoli and tarte tatin and vanilla ice cream for dessert. So yummy!

Slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce, serves 6

Translated from and adapted after Per Morberg’s recipe in the book Morberg Lagar Vilt.

1 kg venison rump (off the bone)

salt and pepper

1 carrot

1 onion

1/2 leek

3 tbsp tomato purée

300 ml game stock

200 ml red wine

2 bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

6 juniper berries

Creamy sauce:

the jus from the meat

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp blackcurrant jelly

salt and pepper

Trim the meat and rub in plenty of seasoning. Brown the meat on all sides in a large casserole dish.

Cut the carrot and onion in large pieces. Wash the leek and cut it into large pieces as well. Add it all to the casserole dish and let it brown for a few minutes. 

Add tomato purée, stock, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat until simmering and let it simmer with the lid on until cooked through (until the meat is 65-70 C in the middle), approx 45-60 minutes (maybe more). Turn the meat and baste it a few times. Remove the steak from the casserole pan and cover with tin foil.  

For the sauce: sieve the jus and pour it into a clean saucepan together with the cream. Bring to the boil and let it slowly thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the jelly and season to taste.

Cut the meat into thin slices across the grain of the fibres. Serve with the sauce and Hasselback potatoes.