Recipe: Queso fundido!

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Mexican cheese dip. With chorizo and peppers. Melting, bubbly and comforting. I simply cannot think of a better way to start a mid-week cold January supper with some of my closest friends. It was like a warming cheesy hug, telling us if we persevered we would get through the month. Et voila!, it’s February!

We also had prosecco, tacos and lots of fun, which helped.

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But back to the dip. It’s very easy to make and so satisfying to eat. But have plenty of napkins to hand as it is a little messy. Also, be patient and wait for the dip to be completely melted when you serve it. I would suggest putting it in the oven 30 minutes or so before the guests are due to arrive. You can always cover it with tin foil and lower the temperature to keep it hot and bubbling.

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The chorizo and peppers add a lot of flavour to the otherwise unexciting grated mozzarella (I was a little worried it wouldn’t be cheesy enough but it was). But I can’t help but thinking it could be made even better with the addition of jalapenos next time. Stay tuned…

Queso fundido, serves 4

75 g cooking chorizo, finely chopped

1/2 pepper, finely chopped

500 g grated mozzarella

oil for frying

a pinch of cayenne or other chilli powder

To serve: tortilla chips

Fry the chorizo in oil until crispy. Set aside and fry the pepper in the chorizo oil. Drain on kitchen roll. 

In an oven-proof dish, put a layer of cheese, then scatter chorizo and peppers on top and repeat the process until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle with cayenne and put in a 200C oven until melted and bubbly (approx 40 mins). Serve immediately with tortilla chips.  

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Almost spring (?) and visitors from home!

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The past week was full-on busy but in a good way! I made sure to celebrate pancake day in both a British and Swedish manner.

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There were savoury pancakes (with cheddar, pancetta, chives and avocado for example) and sweet ones (with nutella, whipped cream and raspberries) and of course a Swedish cream bun (fastlagsbulle) from Swedish bakery Bageriet.

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On Thursday my dear friends Maria and Daniel and their two children arrived in London so I met up with them in the evening for a quick burger at Fire Station and a catch up.

On Friday after work we met up again for a longer dinner at Tredwells, which was as child friendly as I had hoped. In fact all places we ate at were very child friendly.

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On Saturday Maria and I left Daniel to look after the kids while we went to the V&A and the fabulous Balenciaga exhibition. I’ve wanted to see it since it came on ages ago, and am so happy I managed to see it just before it ended.

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Afterwards we treated ourselves to some cupcakes at Hummingbird bakery, a little tradition of ours.

In the evening it got cold (compared to 10C and sunshine during the day) so it was perfect with dinner in the cosiest of pubs, complete with dogs (and dog treats), a fire place and comfort food.

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Yesterday we had a nice relaxed lunch at Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court before we hit the shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and even ventured into Hamleys (phew).

It was so lovely to spend so much time with my lovely friends! It’s far more relaxed when my friends come here than when I go home and try to make time for everyone. Such a treat!

 

Recipe: Kale quiche with almond slivers and mature cheese

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Already in November I celebrated Christmas the Scandi way with the book club. It’s a nice little tradition and this year we outdid ourselves with carol singing! It was so much fun and the perfect way for me to get into the Christmas spirit.

We started the evening with the loveliest mushrooms salad on crostini, plenty of prosecco and my epic Christmas playlist.

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Then we moved on to the main meal of Jansson’s frestelse (grated potato baked with onions, anchovies and cream), two types of meatballs, a salad with pear and walnuts and this kale and almond quiche with Swedish Herrgård cheese.

But the pièce de résistance was Mary-Louise’s pecan and almond pie for pudding. So lovely and timed well as it was around Thanksgiving!

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Kale and almond quiche with Herrgård cheese, serves 8-10

Pastry:

120 g softened butter

300 ml plain flour

1/2 beaten egg

Filling:

500 g kale, trimmed, rinsed and parboiled

50 g almond slivers

200 ml matured Herrgård cheese, grated (matured cheddar works as well) 

3 eggs

100 ml cream

200 ml milk

salt and pepper

Pinch the pastry together and coat a pie dish with it. Use a fork to make small holes in the pastry. Pre-bake it for 10 minutes in 180C. Leave to cool.

Squeeze the water out of the kale and chop it. Add salt and pepper to the kale and place in the the tin. Scatter with almond slivers and add the cheese.  

Beat eggs, cream and milk. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Pour into the tin and press the filling down so it’s all covered with the egg mixture. Bake in 180C for about 40 mins (until set and golden brown). 

 

A very foodie week…

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This week I’ve eaten very well. On Tuesday I had takeaway pizza with parma ham and rocket and the next day nibbles and wine with colleagues at the old favourite Terroirs.

On Thursday I had a nice catch up with a friend in Soho at this lovely Mexican place I will do a write up on later. And on Friday I got treated to a lunch out (a very rare occurrence) at lovely Dishoom.

Saturday I had lunch at a lovely fish restaurant with my friend Helen while her fiancé (the head chef) cooked for us (the scallops on the picture amongst other things)! So delicious! In the evening I saw a very moving and thoroughly amazing play in Dalston. It was only one performance, but it was so good I hope it gets put on again and then you all have to go and see it.

Sunday was nice and quiet and spent in a nice pub with Sunday roast, a glass of wine and the rugby. Now it’s a new week and I have friends coming to visit from Sweden – yay!

 

Gotland: Amazing cider and local produce

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This is a restaurant review I would have liked to post a lot earlier; straight after our visit to Gotland in August. But life happened and suddenly it’s February and about time. 

My childhood friend Karl is a person I very much admire, he has so much drive and passion when he starts a project I wish I had even half. A few years ago he started making cider together with his friend Mikael under the name Fruktstereo (‘Fruit stereo’). It’s made from 100 % fruit, without any additives, so have more in common with crafted wines than commercially made sweet cider.

Mikael hails from Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a real summer paradise, so when my parents and I went there in August, we made sure to book a table at his restaurant Nyplings Mat & Vin in Visby. It’s a summer pop-up serving local ingredients like vegetables from the family farm and meat and dairy from the island.

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It’s sustainable and delicious and we enjoyed our evening here so much! Especially because we started the meal with a bottle of their cider, called Ciderday Night Fever. It was dry and refreshing and so unlike all other ciders I’ve had. In a good way. This was far better!

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We started the meal with a selection of tender raw beans from Mikael’s family farm (picked the same morning!) and a lovely dip.

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Then we moved on to the starters. Dad I wanted to sample them all, and so decided to share two. The ewe tartar with beetroot, cress mayonnaise, wild garlic ‘capers’ and shoestring fries was absolutely delicious!

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But the other starter (which my mother also had) was lovely too. It was a poached creamy egg (almost like a 63 degree egg where the texture of the white and the yolk are similar) with kale, hazelnuts and caramelised whey.

Somewhere here the cider was finished and my mother and I wanted a glass of wine each. We tried to describe what we wanted (two very different wines) to Mikael, and like he could read our minds he poured us a glass each of what we had tried to describe! Very impressive!

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Then we moved on to the main course (we all had the same) of melt-in-the-mouth slowcooked chuck steak with parsnip and radish. We all loved this dish!

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The Swedish summer weather in general was quite poor but we had lovely sunny days on Gotland, although after the sun had set behind the rooftops we got a little cold sitting outside and moved inside the restaurant for our final course.

Which was this humble bowl. Underneath that caramel coloured layer hides blackberries and cookie crumbs, covered by that smooth and fluffy topping of yoghurt, caramelised milk and liquorice. Great flavours and textures to finish off the meal!

We had such a lovely evening here, and it was great fun to try my friend’s cider and meet his very talented business partner. Let’s hope this pop-up is here to stay.

Nyplings Mat och Vin, H10, Hästgatan 10, 621 56 Visby, Gotland, Sweden 

Recipe: Shakshuka with yoghurt and feta

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At the brunch in December I introduced my friends to shakshuka, which they all loved. It’s such a great brunch dish if there is several of you as you can make the tomato sauce ahead and then cooked the eggs in the oven. If I make a smaller portion for lunch or dinner I cook it in a frying pan on the hob and cover the pan with a lid, as it’s quicker than heating up the oven.

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My version of shakshuka has the usual base of peppers, onions and tomatoes as well as tinned tomatoes to make it saucy. After baking the eggs in the oven I add the toppings; Greek yoghurt, crumbled feta and chilli flakes. If I made this just for myself I would have added some Tabasco as well, but here I left it on the side so everyone could help themselves if they wanted more of a kick.

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Bacon isn’t really necessary with this egg dish, but it works so well at brunch (and with the mushroom omelette) I thought it was a nice addition.

Scandelight’s shakshuka, serves 4-6

1 shallots, chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

2 bell peppers (of any colour), chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 large tin (400 g) tinned chopped tomatoes

30 ml water

salt, black pepper

a pinch of sugar

6 medium eggs

200 ml full-fat Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 lemon

chilli flakes

1/2 packet feta 

Pour a little oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Fry the garlic and onions until golden (not brown). Remove from the pan. Fry the peppers until soft and add the fresh tomatoes. Add the garlic and onions and stir on medium heat until nice and soft. Add the tinned tomatoes and water and stir occasionally. Season to taste with plenty of salt, black pepper and sugar if needed. Let the mixture thicken. 

If using a frying pan, make six “holes” in the mixture and crack an egg in each. Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set.

If using an oven, transfer the tomato mixture to an oven-proof dish and pre-heat the oven to 180C. Make “holes” in the tomato mixture and crack an egg in each hole. Bake until the whites are set. 

In the meantime, mix yoghurt with salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste and olive oil. 

When the eggs are cooked, remove from the hob or oven and add dollops of yoghurt to the pan/dish. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chilli flakes. Serve with some nice bread. 

Trying something new…

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At the moment I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed by life in general. My weekends are booking up so fasssst I feel I’ve lost control over my diary and that this year will be over before I know it! So, to maybe gain some control over at least the blog, I want to take some time to update it on a more regular basis and to do that in an easier way, I will mix recipes and restaurant reviews with posts about my every day life.

I love cooking as much as before, but when life is hectic I don’t always allow myself to take the time to cook something exciting for dinner, instead I fall back on some of my tried and tested recipes that I know are quick and satisfying. So boring, I know, but right now that works for me.

The days when I have time to cook for friends or experiment in the kitchen I cherish it, but I don’t want to feel like I have to cook just to fill this blog (well there is a back log of recipes coming your way so don’t fear!), instead I need something that’s easy to write about every week.

It will be a mixture of what I do (and eat!), want to cook if I have the time etc. A little bit more personal but also (a lot) more regular.

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This week for example, I had a yuzu mojito (yum!), chicken bao and ramen at Shoryu, and although lovely, and such a nice catch-up with my friend Laura, I still prefer Bone Daddies for ramen. So it’s pretty exciting news that they’ve opened a branch near Victoria!

It’s in fact next door to Rail House Café where I had an impromptu brunch (eggs benedict, chips and prosecco) on Saturday. This new development by Victoria is so convenient for me, I often meet up with friends there. It’s usually busy, but not so busy that you always have to book in advance, which is great for those impromptu get-togethers.

See you next week!

PS. For more behind the scenes, check out my Instagram.