Recipe: Tomato Toast

Hello!

I feel like I finally have time to write on here again. This weekend was the paus button I so very much needed. I feel so lucky to have had such a lovely summer, but we have been on the move quite a lot (Norfolk, London, Sweden, Paris, Norfolk, London, Norfolk and now back in London again) and for some reason, writing blog posts is the first thing to go when I have a lot on. It takes a lot of time, and requires more writing than say Instagram, so although I love it it’s a bigger mountain to climb. But I’m here now and hope I will have time to tackle a lot of the back log this autumn. But if I go quiet on here, you can always pop over to Instagram where I pretty much post every day.

One recipe I really want to share with you before tomato season is truly over for this year, is this simple tomato toast. It’s barely a recipe; more an idea, and a call to really enjoy those last good tomatoes of the season. Because a simple recipe require the ingredients to be good quality. There is little point making this in January with imported tomatoes that have barely seen the sun.

But back to the recipe/idea. When I was little we had a weird and wonderful thing in Sweden; salmon mayonnaise. It came in a tube, was salmon pink and tasted heavenly. I don’t remember it tasting of salmon per se, but it had an umami flavour that paired so well with tomatoes. So I basically grew up eating a version of this open-faced sandwich. Salmon mayonnaise has since been continued in Sweden, but still exists in Finland, so there have been a few rare occasions I have been able to get hold of some.

But this tomato toast is just as good as my childhood version but with readily available ingredients.

It’s my favourite lunch from August to October and the flavours are so so good together I think anyone who likes tomatoes will love this!

Tomato toast, serves 2

2 slices good bread, toasted (flimsy white bread is discouraged here)

salted butter

2 tbsp Hellmann’s mayonnaise

3-4 ripe tomatoes, washed, dried and at room temperature, thinly sliced with a serrated knife

a small bunch chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Let the toasted bread cool a little before spreading a very thin layer of butter on top. Spread a thicker layer of mayonnaise on top. Arrange the tomato slices on the toasts, as closely together as possible. Sprinkle with chives, a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

A most poignant day

I have called London home for fourteen years. I did so a bit tentatively at first, when I stayed with a school friend (on his sofa) for a few weeks while I looked for a flat and a job. But more and more so, as I have immersed myself deeper into the British way of living, through friends and my boyfriend. And at some point, it started to feel permanent. I don’t know where my life will take me, but I know I will never regret moving here. I love London, Britain and its people.

Especially today. When the whole country stopped to mourn their beloved monarch and to say their goodbyes to Queen Elizabeth II.

It is the first public bank holiday of mourning I (and many others) have experienced and the first British state funeral most of us have seen. And I am in awe. In awe of the whole operation that began ten days ago when the Queen, rather suddenly, passed away. The planning and the execution of everything we have witnessed since then, culminating in the processions and the funeral today.

On Tuesday, the week that The Queen passed away, she had met with the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral. The Queen looked frail but smiling in the photos. Two days later we were told on the news that the Queen wasn’t well but was resting comfortably at Balmoral. We heard that message a lot that day, so I wasn’t that surprised when it was later announced that she had died. But it still felt like it happened really quickly, and I know it was a shock for many. She was such a constant in our lives; some people thought she would live until a hundred! But ninety-six is very impressive too. Seventy years of dedicated and unwavering service and I think we – the whole country – are all so grateful we got to celebrate her impressive reign at the Platinum Jubilee in June.

We queued up along the Mall for Trooping the Colour then; saw her waving from the famous Buckingham Palace balcony and watched the impressive fly past celebrating her seventy years on the throne. It was a happy long weekend with bunting everywhere and you could feel how proud everyone was to be part of it.

The day after she passed away my boyfriend and I stopped at Sandringham on our way to London, and left some flowers by the gate. I didn’t queue for the lying in state, but he got up at 3am to join the queue on Thursday and I watched the live feed as he walked past the coffin and paid his respects later that morning. It has been amazing to see so many people queueing up to view processions, the lying in state, leaving flowers and other tributes or to catch a glimpse of the new King.

It truly feels like we are living through history as it is happening. A most peculiar feeling. In one week the world had changed so much; not only did we find ourselves with a new prime minister but also with a new monarch. And watching the two services today (the state funeral at Westminster Abbey and the Committal at St George’s Chapel in Windsor), this shift of course felt even more poignant. It was heartbreaking to see King Charles mourn his mother while also being stoic for his country and his family. But it was also very comforting in a way to see a country come together like this and celebrate and remember a person that has meant so much to so many people in this country, the Commonwealth and around the world. This wonderful outpouring of grief the past ten days has made me uncomfortable and terribly sentimental in equal measure. Being Swedish I’m not used to this public way of grieving but it does make sense when you think about it: Queen Victoria set the precedent when she after Prince Albert’s death mourned him for the rest of her life. And when Diana, Princess of Wales, so suddenly died in Paris, the whole world was mourning her. But it is very different experiencing it first hand, as I am now, compared to seeing it on the news from afar (as I did then). So although I was a bit taken aback by the scale of it all at first; by the publicness and the huge outpouring of love, I am now very proud to have experienced yet another part of British life in this place I call home. Because when it comes to ceremony and tradition, this country – my country – certainly knows how it’s done!

Recipe: Crab Tostadas with Avocado and Gochujang Mayonnaise

It all started with the Huevos Rancheros. That’s how I discovered the joy that is deep-fried corn tortillas. But be aware, not all corn tortillas are created equal. I bought some small ones from a popular brand recently and for some reason they don’t crisp up in the oil. Like, at all. No idea why, but if it doesn’t work once, don’t give up, just try different tortillas!

I hadn’t realised that it was so easy to make tostadas! The crispy fried tortillas are just utterly delicious and a great vehicle for various toppings. Last summer I was very much in the mood for the combination of crab meat, avocado and gochujang mayonnaise and they were a delight! I made them when we were in Norfolk and fresh local (delicious!) crab was readily available and we actually had them as a main course instead of a starter, but they would also be a great way to start off any tex-mex feast!

Crab Tostadas with Avocado and Gochujang Mayonnaise, serves 2

2 large corn tortillas

500 ml vegetable oil

100 ml crab meat

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

1 small bunch coriander

2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle

1/2 lime cut into 3 wedges

100 ml good quality mayonnaise

1-2 tsp gochujang paste

salt and pepper

Heat up the vegetable oil in a large frying pan with tall sides or a saucepan large enough to fit the corn tortillas. Heat the oil to 180C. Fry the tortillas one at the time in the oil until crispy and golden on both sides (turn if needed). It only takes a few minutes. Leave to drain on kitchen towel.

Mix the mayonnaise with the gochujang paste and a little salt in a bowl. Prepare the vegetables. Place your tostadas on plates and start layering. Start the the avocado, then crab, mayonnaise, spring onions and coriander. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Squeeze one of the lime wedges over both plates and serve with more lime.

Recipe: Chocolate Fondue

Even before my boyfriend and I lived together I would spend most weekends at his flat and obviously cook a lot in his kitchen. One day looking through the cupboards for something useful I spotted a chocolate fondue set, complete with chocolate and marshmallows. It had never been used but he knew it had been there a long time so I made sure to use fresh chocolate and marshmallows for our first chocolate fondue. I also added some crispy things like little waffles and wafer rolls to dip, and of course strawberries.

We’ve made it a few times since, and I thought it was the perfect pudding on Valentine’s Day with heart shaped marshmallows (yes, I’m a sucker for things like that)!

It’s actually vey easy to make the chocolate sauce, and as to what to dip – you decide, but I recommend a few different textures and flavours, and definitely something fruity and sharp to cut through all the sweetness. I have listed the dippers we had below and although I love them all I highly recommend the butter crisps.

Chocolate fondue, serves 4

150 g dark chocolate (approx 60% cacao), roughly chopped

50 g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

125 ml single cream

a tiny pinch of sea salt

To dip:

strawberries, rinsed

marshmallows

Jules Destooper butter crisp waffles

wafer curls

Heat up the cream until almost boiling in a non-stick saucepan. Once hot, take it off the hob and add the chocolate. Leave it for a minute or so to melt before stirring well. Add the salt and mix again. Pour into a chocolate fondue pot and serve straight away with a selection of things to dip.

Recipe: Roast Chicken, Chips and Salad with Homemade Mayo

The first time I met my boyfriend’s sister we were invited over for lunch and she and her husband served a lovely roast chicken, a big salad, a large bowl of chips and lots of condiments. It was so effortless but so delicious and that was definitely my inspiration here!

This was actually our supper on Valentine’s Day as it fell on a Monday this year, and I knew I would be tired after a busy work day. But I thought an easy roast chicken, chips and a nice salad was the perfect balance of delicious but low effort in the kitchen. Especially since we had a starter and pudding too, although also of the effortless variety. But I did make a batch of homemade mayonnaise to go with it, because homemade mayonnaise and any storebought variety (even Hellmann’s which I love!) are miles apart. The homemade version is a lot runnier, silkier and doesn’t have that eggy smell to it. I was absolutely inspired by a recent dinner at Bibendum Oyster Bar where I had the Pierre Koffmann fries (they were excellent!!) and homemade mayonnaise and it was definitely the only time I have received a bowl of good mayonnaise to go with my chips in a restaurant. It was so so good and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Granted, Sainsbury’s oven chips where not even half as nice as the Pierre Koffmann fries, but it was still delicious!

Although I often make skin-on oven fries, I sometimes cook chips or fries straight from the freezer and with the addition of some extra oil and a longer cooking time, they come out super crispy and nice. And it saves me cutting a lot of potatoes. I also don’t have a fryer so I’m not even remotely aiming for the perfect fries until I have one in my possession.

The chicken (a small one, I find them juicier) I spatchcocked before cooking, as it both cuts down on cooking time, but it also makes it easier to carve afterwards and gives you a bit more control while cooking as it’s easier to cook it evenly. Before cooking I smothered it with a homemade (very easy to throw together) herb butter and seasoned it well.

Roast chicken, chips and salad with homemade mayonnaise, serves 2

1 small chicken, spatchcocked and trimmed (I cut off excess skin and fat), rinsed and patted dry

50 g softened butter

lemon zest from half a lemon

2 tsp of chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme and rosemary (dried works too)

salt and pepper

2 servings frozen readymade fries

1-2 tbsp mild olive oil

salt and pepper

Mayonnaise:

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp dijon mustard

125-175 ml neutral oil (such as sunflower, groundnut, warm-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil)

1/2 lemon, juice only

table salt and pepper

Serve with:

a nice green salad

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Mix the herbs, lemon zest and salt and pepper with the butter in a small bowl.

Place the chicken on a cutting board and make incisions in the skin at the top of the breasts with a small knife. Run your finger underneath the skin to create a pocket over the breasts. Fill these pockets with some of the herb butter, patting it down so it’s flat and covers the breasts. Make small incisions on each leg and cover with butter. Smother the rest of the butter all over the chicken with your hands. Wash hands and season well. Roast the chicken until golden brown and juices runs clear. The cooking time depends on the size of your chicken and your oven, but somewhere between 30-50 minutes.

Add the fries to a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil and season. Stir well with a spoon or spatula so that the fries are evenly coated with oil. Cook at the same time as the chicken until golden brown and crispy. They will cook faster than the chicken, 15-20 minutes, so either put them in later or take them out when ready and re-heat before serving.

Either make the mayonnaise beforehand and cover it or make it while the chicken is roasting. Add the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard to a mixing bowl. Beat to combine with a whisk. Slowly slowly add the oil drop by drop to start with while whisking. Once the sauce is getting thicker, add the oil in a steady trickle instead, while whisking continuously. Add a little lemon juice to loosen if it feels too thick. Season with table salt and pepper and the lemon until you have a delicious mayonnaise.

Once cooked let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a warm (not hot plate) and a piece of tin foil loosely covering it. (You want the steam to be able to escape so that the chicken skin stays crispy). Don’t wrap the chicken, approach it more like a roof.

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and serve with the fries, homemade mayonnaise and salad.

Recipe: The Easiest Yummiest Starter; Burrata with Tomatoes, Pesto and Olive Oil

If you’re Team Burrata, then this is for you!

I have made so many versions of this starter over the years but this is how I like it best. It’s super easy, just an assembly job really, but oh, so delicious!

We all know burrata is delicious. Especially paired with tomatoes. And basil. But take it one step further and substitute the fresh basil (although I use some for garnish) with fresh (this is important, it has to be fresh pesto, either store-bought – you find it by the fresh pasta and sauces – or homemade) pesto. It has more flavour, more texture and makes it feel more like a proper dish than just tomatoes and burrata together.

Although this is pretty much the only building blocks, I share a few tricks in the below recipe to elevate these flavours as much as possible.

But I also recommend bread of some kind. Either a crusty baguette or a chewy ciabatta or sourdough, or of course, crisp crostini.

Burrata with tomatoes, pesto and olive oil, serves 2

125 g burrata, removed from the fridge an hour before serving

100 g cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved

2-3 tsp fresh pesto

a good quality extra virgin olive oil

fresh basil

sea salt (I like Maldon) and black pepper

a wedge of lemon

Place the burrata in a shallow bowl or on a platter. Arrange the tomatoes around it. Add salt and pepper. Add the pesto to a little bowl and add a tbsp or so of olive oil to loosen it so you can drizzle it. Stir with a teaspoon and drizzle the pesto oil mixture over the burrata and tomatoes. Squeeze over lemon juice. Decorate with basil leaves. Add a little more salt and pepper. And just before bringing it to the table, drizzle with more of the olive oil. Serve with bread or crostini.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Vegetable Soup

When I was little my granny looked after me until I started nursery at four years old, and I still remember being around her every day. We would grow vegetables in the garden and pick them as needed and make lunch together, all the while granny was happy and singing and playing with me. She made everything fun and lighthearted and was such a joy to be around.

I miss her so. But through memories our dear ones live on.

She made a version of this soup quite often, and often boiling a piece of meat first to have on the side and using the broth for the soup. I don’t remember the taste of the meat very well, but the soup has stuck with me and a while ago I decided to recreate it with the vegetables I had on hand.

I started with softening some leeks, then adding carrots and potatoes, cubed small, and cooked until almost soft in homemade chicken stock. Then I added the kale and peas and adjusted the seasoning and removed the bay leaf. It’s probably the most classic vegetable soup there is, and each family have their own version. It’s similar to French pot au feu and the addition of pesto or pistou when serving would work really well. Or just eat it plain tasting each vegetable as it hits your tongue.

Old-fashioned vegetable soup, serves 2

1 tbsp butter or mild olive oil

1 leek, washed, but in half lengthways and then sliced quite thinly

2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed small

2 medium firm potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and cubed small

750 ml -1 litre chicken stock, to cover

1 bay leaf

100 ml frozen petit pois

2 strands of kale, stalks removed and leafs torn into bite size pieces

salt and pepper

Add the butter or oil to a medium-large saucepan and sweat the leeks without browning, for a few minutes until soft. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots and fry for a minute or so in the oil. Add the stock to cover the vegetables generously. Add a bay leaf, put a lid on and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature to medium-low and put the lid half on. Let it cook for approx 10 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are cooked but still a bit firm. Add the kale and peas and cook for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Recipe: Miso Glazed Salmon on Sushi Rice

This recipe from Bon Appetit (the only food magazine I have a subscription to) is just brilliant. It’s easy to make and tastes oh, so good! The sushi rice adds so much flavour and I love the glaze for the salmon, it’s what really makes the dish.

As usual I have made some changes though, as I don’t like my salmon cooked through. Just cook it for longer if you do. I also added my sesame broccoli as I think it goes really well with the dish and it needed some vegetables.

Even though it’s easy to make I think this is a perfect supper on the weekend or for a little dinner party. You could make it as weeknight supper too of course, but I prefer something more straight forward then (there is a bit of waiting time involved here).

Miso glazed salmon on sushi rice, serves 2

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

A little note: I have measuring cups so used them, but I have also converted the amount to ml to make it easier.

Sushi rice:

1 cup (236 ml) sushi rice

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 1/2 tsp sugar

Salmon:

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp white miso

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

2 boneless salmon fillets (approx 220-240 g each)

salt

Sesame broccoli:

150 g tenderstem broccoli, rinsed and trimmed

salt

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

To serve:

3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp sesame seeds

lime wedges

Rinse the rice several times in cold water in a sieve until it runs clear. Transfer for a saucepan and add a pinch of salt and 1 1/4 cups (approx 300 ml) cold water. Stir once, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until water is evaporated and rice is tender, 18–20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

Whisk vinegar, sugar and the salt in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir into rice and let sit (covered so it stays warm) until ready to use.

Mix maple syrup, miso, tamari and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Heat up the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and place in the pan skin-side down. Cook until skin is very crisp and deep golden brown, 3 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook for a minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the glaze. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken, approx 1 minute. Baste the salmon with glaze and cook, basting occasionally, until glaze evenly coats fish, about 1 more minute.

Place the broccoli in a small frying pan and cover with boiling water. Add salt. Bring to the boil, then drain away the water. Place the pan back on medium heat and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Add the sesame seeds and cook for a minute.

Divide the sushi rice on two plates. Place the salmon on top and drizzle with the glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onions. Place the lime wedges on the plate and add the sesame broccoli.

Recipe: Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes with Two Toppings

I love a baked potato, and usually eat them the same way, either with ham, butter, cheese, soured cream and a side salad or as a side to this lovely marinated steak. The former is firmly in weeknight supper territory but the latter has more of a weekend vibe, and that was what I was after here too; a more elevated way to eat baked potatoes on a Friday or Saturday night with a glass of bubbles or wine.

They turned out really well, and it was fun having two different flavours! I used small potatoes so you do need a lot (especially since they’re also cut in half!) and although a bit fiddly to make, it’s easy and straight forward.

If using even smaller potatoes, I think they would be great as a canapé! You could even have a little baked potato bar where each guest get to add their preferred topping to the twice baked potatoes.

Mini twice-baked potatoes with two toppings, serves 2

8-10 small regular (not new) potatoes, washed

vegetable oil

approx 100 ml soured cream (how much depends on the size of the potatoes)

grated cheddar

salt and pepper

Toppings:

more soured cream

1 packet crayfish tails, chopped and mixed with lemon juice and chopped dill (and a tiny bit of mayo if you like)

4-5 slices prosciutto, crisped up in the oven, drained and chopped into flakes

Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Dry the potatoes if needed and rub with vegetable oil. Place in an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, approx 20 minutes but depends on the size of the potatoes.

When cooked, remove from the oven. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop out the inside of the potato with a teaspoon (holding the potatoes in a tea towel), leaving a 1/2 cm edge on the outside and bottom. Mix the potato with soured cream until a thick paste, season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. Top with grated cheese and put them back in the oven until the cheese has melted, approx 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the toppings. Chop crayfish and mix with lemon juice and chopped dill. Maybe add a dollop of mayonnaise.

Place the prosciutto slices on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake until crispy, approx 8 minutes. Drain with paper towel and chop into flakes or crumbs.

When the potatoes are ready place a teaspoon of soured cream on top of each potato halve an add either crayfish or prosciutto crumbs on top. Serve with a salad.

Recipe: Valentine’s Day Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Do you celebrate Valentine’s day? I always have, but never in a big way. Last year when we were in lockdown I just cooked us a nice supper and made som heart shaped cookies with a yummy cream cheese frosting. Pink of course!

The cookies were quite fiddly to make, but really delicious, and the frosting recipe is now a go-to, courtesy of the brilliant Ina Garten.

Valentine’s Day cookies with cream cheese frosting

Recipes adapted from Rachel Parcell (via Mary Orton) and Ina Garten. It’s a large batch for the cookie dough and it can easily be halved.

2 cups (475 ml) butter, softened (I used salted)

6 eggs

2 cups (475 ml) caster sugar, heaped

2,5 tsp vanilla

6 tsp baking powder

6-7 cups (1420-1655 ml) flour

Frosting:

430 g Philadelphia

340 g salted butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

680 g icing sugar

food colouring, optional

sprinkles, optional

Mix wet ingredients with sugar using an electric whisk, then slowly add baking powder and flour. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough until quite thick, approx 3 mm, use a cookie cutter to shape hearts and carefully place them on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 190C, until still pale and soft. Leave to cool on a wire rack before icing.

Mix together the ingredients for the icing using an electric whisk. Add a few drops of food colouring (I prefer the gel colours) to the frosting, mix well and spread onto the cooled cookies with a small spatula. Add sprinkles if using.

I kept the icing in a bowl covered with cling film for a few days, icing the cookies as we ate them so they wouldn’t soften.