Recipe: creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence

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I came up with this easy chicken dish last week when I was making baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella for supper; something I could have eaten on it’s own with just a side salad, but as my boyfriend prefers aubergine in moderation I also roasted some potatoes, courgette and peppers in the oven and made this chicken dish. My thought were to echo the cheese and tomato elements in the baked aubergine but using cream instead of cheese. It worked really well and I will definitely serve these together in the future too!

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Creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence, serves 2 

4 chicken thighs (with skin on), washed and trimmed (I like to trim off excess skin and fat) 

butter and oil for frying

50-100 ml dry white wine

400 ml double cream

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp soy sauce

1/4 stock cube chicken

1 tsp herb d’Provence  

salt and pepper

Fry the chicken thighs skin side down on medium-high heat in butter and oil until golden (approx 5 minutes), then fry the other side for the same amount of time. Add salt and pepper. Add the wine and lower the heat to medium-low. Add cream, tomato paste, soy sauce and the stock cube. Let the sauce thicken while stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the chicken a few times so it cooks evenly. When the chicken is cooked through (test it with a knife), after aprox 5-10 minutes, add the herbs and season to taste. If the sauce gets too thick, add more cream or a splash of wine and adjust the seasoning. 

Girls night, pub dinner and another concert!

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I started last week with a terrible head cold, so apart from work I didn’t do much the first three days of the week. Monday I worked, heated a frozen pizza for dinner (oh, the glamour!) which I ate in bed in front of Chicago Med before going to bed early.

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Tuesday I substituted the pizza for a Shake Shack delivery and on Wednesday I ordered a gyros, but otherwise the days were very similar.

By Thursday I finally felt well enough to leave the house in the evening and met up with my friend Laura for a burger and a catch-up which was SO lovely!

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Friday I did some work errands in the day (coincidentally the weather was lovely!) and in the evening we had dinner (calamari, steaks and fries) at the pub in the beer garden. So nice to sit outside and eat!

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On Saturday we slept in and had eggs and pancetta for breakfast. Then we just chilled and watched some How I Met Your Mother before we got ready to go to yet another Wembley concert.

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We wanted to get there early so as not to miss the bands we wanted to see and the concert started already in the afternoon. We really enjoyed Kaiser Chiefs, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and of course the main attraction – The Who! Such fun!

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For dinner we got burgers as soon as they opened at 5pm, as everyone in our little group of four either already were, or were about to be, hangry. We had some drinks too and before The Who came on stage two of us got a Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and ice cream to share. Yum! As the concert ended we left as soon as we good and as it was raining we walked as soon as we could to the tube station. So lucky not to have to queue like we have done in the past.

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Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in (while somebody else was playing golf), ate cold pizza for breakfast and read on the sofa with a face mask on.  In the afternoon I went food shopping and later I cooked us a nice dinner of baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella, creamy chicken thighs and roasted vegetables and salad. For pudding we had berries and lightly whipped cream. We also managed to book flights for a little trip in August!

 

Recipe: pork fillet with lemon and thyme

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This thinly sliced and seriously tender pork fillet is such a good recipe to have to hand in the summer months as it can be served warm or cold and goes with pretty much anything. I personally think a potato salad, a nice green salad and some cold pale rosé is perfect, but it would work equally well with an array of different salads, pasta salads and sides on a buffet. And this parmesan créme is delicious to serve with it!

A quick note on pork: I prefer to cook mine slightly pink as it makes the meat so much more tender. The reason we have always been told to make sure pork is well done is because of trichinosis, but there has not been a single case of it from meat produced in the UK for more than 30 years because of rigorous testing (the last case in Sweden was almost as long ago; in 1994) , so it’s perfectly safe to cook it pink. Interesting article here.

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Pork fillet with lemon and thyme, serves 2

1 pork fillet, ca 500 g 

Marinade:

100 ml rapeseed oil or mild olive oil

1 garlic clove, sliced

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 lemon, sliced

sea salt and black pepper

For cooking:

butter for frying

Decoration:

sea salt and black pepper

1/2 lemon, juice only

approx 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (taken off the sprigs)

1 tbsp thyme oil or nice olive oil 

Trim away any sinews and fat on the pork fillet. Season all over. Place in a ziplock bag (or bowl) and add garlic, lemon, thyme and oil. Close the bag and make sure the marinade is evenly distributed around the meat. Place in fridge overnight. 

Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you intend to cook it. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add butter to the pan. When melted, add the meat whole and brown it on all sides (even de the ends). Add a little salt and pepper. Place the meat in an oven-proof dish and cook in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes (a few minutes longer if you want to make sure it’s not pink in the middle, but it does cook on the residual heat as well). Cover with foil and let rest for five minutes. Slice thinly and arrange on a platter. Add salt and pepper and decorate with thyme leaves. Drizzle with thyme oil and lemon juice.  

 

 

Opera and a sunny weekend in Norfolk!

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Last week was great fun, but as usual I started the week quite calmly. On Monday I had Ocado deliver my food order and for dinner I just had an oven pizza. Not terribly exciting but I was so tired from all the concerts the week before.

I had another evening at home on Tuesday when I watched the latest episode of Big Little Lies and made a cheese toastie with pancetta for dinner. Another chilled night as I tried to get rid of my cold.

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Wednesday it was nice weather and I went down to The New Forest for work. I had breakfast on the train down and lunch outside in the sunshine. The train was freezing as always but I came prepared with two large wraps despite the sunshine!

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Thursday was also lovely and in the evening we went to Opera Holland Park to see Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera about Swedish king Gustav III and the masquerade ball, really enjoyed it! I didn’t have time to eat dinner before leaving work so I was very happy when I could have a big hotdog and camembert popcorn in the interval. Great dinner!

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I cooked a lot more on the weekend though… We went up to Norfolk on Friday night and went straight to the beach for a sundowner.

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Then back to the house to cook. We had a an elevated caprese salad as a starter, with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, basil, tomatoes and rocket.

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For the main course I barbecued pork fillet which had been marinated with lemon, garlic and herbs, a potato salad and parmesan crème.

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We had pudding (strawberries and ice cream) inside as it got really cold in the evening, but still it was such a lovely evening first on the beach and then eating outside. And love a barbecue!

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On Saturday we had breakfast in the garden before we went to the beach.

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We had brought a picnic for lunch and as it was lovely and hot (30C) we even swam in the sea. Well, I didn’t really swim, but I did go in twice! The North Sea was cold but it was still really refreshing on such a hot day.

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We lit the barbecue again in the evening, but not until we’d each had a nice shower and an ice cold gin and tonic.

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Our starter was ham and melon (so simple but very summery!) and pan con tomate.

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For our main course we had barbecued chicken (I spatchcocked a whole chicken and marinated it in a barbecue type sauce), with it we had sweet potato oven fries, Mexican corn salad and homemade mayo. So yummy!

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For pudding we had strawberries and ice cream again while watching Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

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The weather was a bit cooler on Sunday so I stayed in resting and trying to get rid of my cold and read a book. For dinner we finished off all the leftovers before going back to London. It was such a lovely weekend it felt like a mini holiday! Much due to the gorgeous weather – more of that, please!

A week of concerts!

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Last week started with grey skies and boring weather, but as Mondays are my least favourite day of the week the weather fit my mood quite well (and no, it’s not working I have a problem with – it’s the Monday morning alarm!). For dinner I had leftovers from Saturday’s tapas (one gets many portions out of an eight egg tortilla, I can tell you!), did some chores and watched the new episode of Big Little Lies. Then I went to bed early (before 10pm) as I needed to catch up on sleep after the concert the night before.

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Tuesday was also grey and rainy (seriously, what happened to summer?) and I had another night in. I made a lovely salad with new potatoes, rocket, lardons and girolles for dinner, watched an episode of Tin Star (love it) and Madam Secretary before bed.

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It rained all day Wednesday but it had stopped in the evening so I seized the moment and went for a walk along the Thames. About halfway on my walk it started raining again so I was rather soggy by the end of it, but still lovely to go outside, breathe fresh air and listen to a good podcast.

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Thursday the weather wasn’t bad! It wasn’t that sunny but around 20C and no rain. I had chicken and potato salad for lunch and in the evening we went to Twickenham to see Metallica perform. It was a great concert and a real stage show with fire and flames – just what one would expect really! And they played lots of the old songs I like. The food and queues however were not to my liking, but all in all a great night!

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We finally had nice weather on Friday (hurrah!) when it was time for another concert – Bon Jovi, supported by Manic Street Preachers! Jon Bon Jovi was even more charismatic on stage than I had imagined and he had so much energy! One could really see how much he loved being on stage performing, and it was so special seeing them perform live in front of a completely full Wembley Stadium. Pretty epic with a 90,000 people singalong!

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Saturday we had a much needed lie-in, followed by a cooked breakfast and some chilling in the park. It was nice weather so we walked to St James’s Park near me, put down our hammam towels and just enjoyed the sun on our faces. For lunch we shared a toasted sandwich from the park café and had some homemade cookies we’d brought with us.

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For an early dinner we had some pasta back at mine befor meeting up with friends and going to the third concert of the week – the legend Billy Joel! It was another amazing evening and such a treat to hear his classic songs like Piano Man and Uptown Girl live. I swear I had goosebumps!

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I was pretty tired the next day, but we had a lazy morning and my dear boyfriend cooked me breakfast. As the weather was quote cloudy we stayed inside and watched the last episode of Billions in the afternoon. We also had some visitors calling and then we were off to Wembley yet again.

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This time to see the Eagles, but Sheryl Crow opened for them. In between acts we had a quick dinner of burger and chicken and chips at one of the restaurants and then we sat down to enjoy our final concert of the week.

 

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It was really great and of course everybody loved Hotel California. The stadium vibrated as they played the opening chords. So special to experience a song I grew up with like that! Afterwards we hung back to allow the crowds to dissipate before we left, celebrating our amazing week with a drink. It will definitely take a while to digest it all!

Recipe: pan con tomate

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Last weekend I made tapas at home, and although I’ve made both croquetas (so yummy!) and tortilla before for some reason I had never attempted pan con tomate.

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It’s very easy to make though, and you’ll figure out how to grate the tomato (yes, that’s the secret!) pretty quickly. I love this toasted bread with plenty of olive oil, a bit of garlic, tomato pulp and salt so much that I will probably incorporate it into every summer lunch and dinner from now on, tapas or not!

It just tastes like summer! Picture a sunny day by the mediterranean, glass of rosé in hand and a plate of these to tuck into with your friends. Yum!

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Pan con tomate, serves 4

1 large baguette 

4 large vine tomatoes 

good quality extra virgin oil 

1 clove garlic

sea salt

Cut the baguette in half lenghtways and cut into four so you have eight pieces. Place them, cut side up, on a parchment covered baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and put in a 180C oven for approx 10 minutes or until golden and toasted. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the garlic, cut side down, over the bread. 

Half the tomatoes and grate them with the cut side to the grater with a plate underneath. Grate only the inside of the tomato, press the tomato to the grater so the skin remains intact. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the bread and drizzle generously with olive oil. Add salt, plate and serve with napkins. 

Recipe: creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam

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For me, cooking is mostly relaxing. Instead of yoga for me. And even though I’m a good cook and super efficient under pressure (before a party when I’ve taken too much on for example) it’s less fun to cook under those conditions.

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And if cooking in general is my yoga, then making a risotto is mindfulness. Just standing by the stove stirring slowly and adding another ladle of stock and then stirring some more… it relaxes me.

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I like a creamy and saucy risotto, preferably with some interesting flavour combinations on top. This combination of pan-fried scallops, saffron foam and brown butter might seem daunting to make, and yes, maybe it’s not for beginners, but if you already know how to make a risotto is pretty easy to add the ingredients for the foam to a saucepan while simultaneously cooking scallops and making browned butter, as each of these elements are simple. Just don’t let yourself get stressed. Also, all these things benefit from resting. You can take the risotto off the heat and let it sit for a while without losing heat, after you’ve fried the scallops they like to rest for a few minutes. The browned butter doesn’t need any attention once it’s done and the saffron foam can be re-heated.

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Creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam, serves 2 (with some leftovers)

2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

2 tbsp soffritto (equal parts (finely chopped with a stick blender or food processor) onions, carrots and celery – I usually make a big batch and freeze it in small portions) 

1 small shallots, finely chopped

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped 

200 g carnaroli rice

150 ml dry white wine

approx 1 l vegetable stock

30 g butter

plenty grated  parmesan

salt and pepper

Saffron foam:

100 ml cream

1 tsp saffron powder or strands + 1 tbsp water 

1 tbsp dry white wine

a little corner of a stock cube (vegetable) crumbled in

salt and pepper

Topping:

6 large scallops, cleaned + butter for frying

2 tbsp browned butter

lemon zest

a little lemon juice

chopped parsley 

Add butter and oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and add the soffritto. Fry for a minute or so, then add the shallots and garlic and fry without browning. Add the rice and stir well so it can soak up all the butter. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding a ladle of stock. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, then add another ladle and repeat until the rice is cooked (takes approx 15-20 minutes) and you’ve used up all the stock. As I prefer my risotto quite saucy so I don’t let all the stock from the last ladle absorb into the rice.  Lower the heat and mix in butter and plenty of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and put aside. 

Mix water and saffron in a little bowl. Add all the other ingredients for the foam to a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the saffron mixture when dissolved and mix well. Season to taste and set aside. 

Add large knob of butter to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Dry the scallops with kitchen roll and fry them until golden, approx 2 minutes on each side (they should be cooked on both sides but still opaque in the middle). Season and set aside. 

Divide the risotto between low bowls and top with the scallops. Foam up the cream mixture with a stick blender and spoon the foam over the scallops and risotto. Spoon on some browned butter. Finish off with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.