Recipe: Puff Pastry Squares with Speck, Cream Cheese, Tomato and Chives

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I’m so pleased with these nibbles! They went down extremely well at our Christmas party. Some even claimed them their favourite canapé of the evening! Which is great because they are ridiculously easy to make, yet a real crowd pleaser.

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The base is store bought ALL BUTTER puff pastry covered with creme fraiche and grated cheese and then baked until golden and flaky.

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The combination of salty speck (or any other cured ham) with the cream cheese and sun blush tomato mixture works really well with the buttery puff and a sprinkling of chopped chives makes it look pretty while also giving it a little flavour.

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Puff pastry squares with speck, cream cheese, tomato and chives, makes 20

The base:

1 roll all butter puff pastry 

100 ml creme fraiche

2 handfuls grated cheddar

salt and pepper

Topping:

180 g (small tub) Philadelphia cheese

3/4 tub sun blush tomatoes in oil

salt and pepper

5 slices speck, each torn into 4

bunch of chives, finely chopped

Place the puff pastry on top of a parchment paper covered baking tray. Spread a layer of creme fraiche on top. Scatter with grated cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in 200C oven until crispy and golden. 

Remove the tomatoes from the oil and chop finely. Mix with cream cheese and season well. 

Cut the puff pastry into 20 squares and place on a serving platter. Add a piece of ham to each, then a dollop of the cream cheese mixture on top and top with chopped chives. 

 

 

Prep, party and going home for Christmas!

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The third week in December was also a busy one. December is usually a crazy month, even though I try my best to prevent that from happening, I never seem to succeed.

Monday I went down to The New Forest for work (train lunch above) and when I got back to London in the evening I hit the shops for some last Christmas shopping. Thank god the shops are open in the evenings!

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The next day I worked from home and prepped for our party the next day. In the evening we went to a lovely drinks party and when we got back I continued the prepping.

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Wednesday night was our party and it was so much fun!! I didn’t take a single picture of people but snapped some of the food.

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The next day I worked from home again and we had leftovers for both lunch and dinner.

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In the evening a friend helped us eat the leftovers as he couldn’t make the party and the three of us had a lovely evening drinking champagne and stuffing ourselves.

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Friday night I flew home to Sweden and back home we had tea and sandwiches in the middle of the night.

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The next day I unpacked, wrapped Christmas gifts (which I love to do) and spent time with my parents.

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In the evening we made boeuf bourguignon and it was so nice to be home and have dinner with mamma and pappa.

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The next day I spent time with my best friend Emma  and we had a lovely brunch with allll the seafood and even champagne. So lovely to be reunited again!

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We had such a lovely day just hanging out and it was the perfect ending to a fairly hectic week.

 

 

Updated: Tagliatelle with Tomato, Burrata and Crispy Parma Ham Crumbs

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As you may know by now, I like to change and perfect recipes until I’m 100 per cent satisfied. Take the dish of Spaghetti with tomato, burrata and crispy parma ham for example; it’s utterly delicious and I have cooked it many times since it’s inception, making little changes here and there, really evolving the recipe until it’s in Goldilocks words is ‘just right’. 

So, let me present to you the new and improved version of my tomato, burrata and crispy parma ham pasta!

The flavour was spot on from the beginning, but I found that the pasta shape could be improved upon and this creamy tomato-y sauce coats tagliatelle so much better than the more slipper spaghetti. And the parma ham. Although perfectly crisp and delicious it just didn’t work as well with a whole slice on top (both aesthetically and flavour wise) as the parma ham chopped small and covering the whole dish like sprinkles on an ice cream; deliciously interspersed with every bite! And it turned out the addition of parmesan was actually redundant. I can’t believe I just wrote than sentence, but sometimes less is more. Just trust me on this. Instead I added more burrata and a little more cream to the sauce so the dish is now rather indulgent. And so it should be!

Small changes, absolutely. But worth mentioning as the impact is huge and I always strive for pasta (and burrata!) perfection.

So do try this at home; it’s almost as fun to make as it is to eat!

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Tagliatelle with tomato, burrata and crispy parma ham crumbs, serves 3

400 g tagliatelle

6 slices parma ham

1 garlic clove, finely chopped 

1 tbsp light olive oil 

270 g cherry tomatoes, halved 

100 ml white wine

chopped basil

2 tsp caster sugar 

salt, black pepper

6 tbsp tomato sauce 

1 tsp herbs de provence

50 ml double cream

To serve:

2 smaller or 1 large burrata, at room temperature

more chopped basil

Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Place the ham slices on parchment covered baking tray and put it in the oven for 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, chop into small pieces. 

Cook the spaghetti al dente according to the instructions on the packet. In the meantime, make the tomato sauce. Add oil to a medium sauce pan and put it on medium heat. Add the garlic and shortly after the cherry tomatoes. Let them soften and caramelise. Once mushy add the wine and basil and stir occasionally. Add sugar to taste.

For more sauciness, add 6 tbsp tomato sauce and the herb de Provence. Add the cream and lower the heat while the sauce is thickening a little. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar.  

Drain the pasta and add it to the saucepan. Mix throughly and divide between bowls. Top with the burrata torn into smaller pieces. Finish off with chopped basil and scatter generously with the crispy parma ham crumbs.    

Recipe: Oven-Baked Cod with Beurre Blanc and Salmon Roe

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I wish I had known earlier how easy it is to make beurre blanc. I mean, I’ve been making bearnaise and hollandaise sauce for years and that’s difficult in comparison.

To me, beurre blanc seemed like such a chef-y thing to do, I never gave it a go. Until recently. It was really easy to make and such a lovely companion with fish, potatoes and peas. And to make the dish a little extra I added some salmon roe. Despite it containing a lot of butter it actually feels really light, so don’t let that put you off.

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Oven-baked cod loin , serves 2

ca 300 g cod loin

butter for frying 

salt and pepper

Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof frying pan (no plastic) on medium heat. Cut the fish in half and pat dry with kitchen towel. Season well. Fry the fish until it’s browned a little, approx 3 minutes on each side. Place the frying pan in a 200C oven for approx 5 minutes. The fish should be slightly raw (opaque) in the middle and soft. Let it rest for a few minutes. 

Beurre blanc, serves 2

1 shallots, chopped 

100 ml white wine

100 g salted butter, cut into cubes

1/4 lemon, the juice only 

black pepper

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

To serve:

2 tbsp salmon roe

Put the onion and wine in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and boil until the liquid has reduced to half. Remove from the heat and add the butter cubes and whisk until you have a silky sauce. Add some lemon juice and black pepper. Pour the sauce through a sieve and add the chives.

Can be made in advance (but put the chives in just before serving) and reheated before serving.

Serve with the baked cod, boiled new potatoes, cooked peas and and a heaped spoon of salmon roe. 

 

Theatre, Lucia and my first côte de boeuf!

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The second week of December was a busy (and fun!) one! We went to a Christmas party on the Monday night and I was so busy chatting I didn’t take a single picture.

Tuesday we had eggs for breakfast before work.

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And in the evening we met up with the book club. Our hostess Mary-Lou made a lovely three cheese mac ‘n cheese and I contributed with pudding; spiced sponge with cream cheese and pomegranate seeds.

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Wednesday evening we had a lovely supper at The Palomar before seeing The Book of Mormon.

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We finished the evening with some bubbly at Bar Americain.

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Thursday I had a lovely night in (so needed) and ate all the comfort food. First nachos and then some Toblerone for pudding. Yum!

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Friday night we went out again, and had an early supper at Bread Street Kitchen before…

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…we went to the Lucia concert in St Paul’s Cathedral. It was so wonderful to celebrate this Swedish tradition with lots of fellow Swedes in this beautiful space. And it felt extra special because I got to share it with my boyfriend and his family.

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After some mulled wine the others headed home and we headed to a second supper at Hawksmoor. We shared a (smaller than usual) steak with fries and bearnaise sauce and a sticky toffee pudding. Yum!

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On Saturday I baked the soft gingerbread again and lots of sliced gingerbread!

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And in the evening I cooked my first ever côte de boeuf! It turned out great and we ate it with dauphinoise potatoes, broccoli and bearnaise sauce.

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The next morning we slept in and ate breakfast in our dressing gowns with the sun shining in through the windows.

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The rest of the day we continued prepping for the party the following week and in the evening we had tagliatelle with bolognese, marinated tomatoes and garlic bread.

London: The Best Croque Monsieur!

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I have been to The Wolseley numerous times. It’s my favourite place for breakfast, but I have also enjoyed many lunches, dinner and even afternoon tea here. But it took me the better part of eleven years to discover their amazing Croque Monsieur!

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One early Saturday evening in December, tired from Christmas shopping and in need of a bite to eat since I had skipped lunch, I passed The Wolseley and thought that would be an excellent place for an early solo supper. They are always fully booked but keep several tables available for walk-ins and I was lucky enough to nap one in the café area. It was actually the first time I’d been in that part of the restaurant and it was cosy and cute and had plenty of people eating by themselves, just like I did.

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Eyeing up the menu the Croque Monsieur caught my eye (always in the mood for melted cheese!) and it was just as perfect as I had hoped. The bread was crusty and thick, filled with melted cheese and a nice slice of ham and topped with béchamel and some more cheese. It was very cheesy but in the best possible way and different textured made it such a treat to eat.

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Sitting there full and happy, resting my tired legs and watching the world in the restaurant go by, I was so content. A perfect London moment. And a perfect meal.

The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB

Recipe: Gingerbread Sponge with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pomegranate Seeds

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I first made this cake for a book club meet-up and it went down so well I made it one December weekend as well. And that’s also when I tweaked the recipe to what it is below. The original recipe called for lingonberry jam which I omitted even the first time, but I thought the spices could come through a bit more as well and after my tweaks I’m very happy with it!

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So next time you want a festive cake, try this! I promise it’s a welcome change from mince pies and other cakes heavy on dried fruit. This is still a spiced cake but much lighter and, dare I say – fresher – with its cream cheese frosting and juice bursting pomegranate seeds!

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Gingerbread sponge with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds, serves 8

Adapted from Brinken Bakars recipe.

75 g butter

1 1/2 eggs

135 g caster sugar

125 g plain flour

3 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp ground ginger 

1 tsp ground cloves 

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150 g buttermilk 

Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Butter a baking tin. Melt the butter and put aside. Mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and bicarb in a bowl. In another bowl whisk eggs and sugar pale and fluffy with an electric whisk. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Add the buttermilk and lastly the melted butter and mix well. Pour the batter into the baking tin and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. 

Cream cheesefrosting

75 g softened salted butter

80 g icing sugar 

1 tsp vanilla

150 g cold cream cheese (preferably full fat Philadelphia) 

110 g pomegranate seeds

Cream the butter for approx 5 minutes using an electric whisk. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat for another few minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated. 

Let the cake cool and put it on a cake plate. Spread the frosting on top and decorate with pomegranate seeds.