Recipe: oysters au gratin with Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic

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I love oysters; both au naturelle and cooked. So you can only imagine that I felt like I was in heaven when I visited Cape Cod a few summers ago. I don’t think I ate anything other than seafood while I was there!

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When cooking oysters at home, I think the au gratin concept is the best approach, as it’s easy, quick and seriously delicious!

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This recipe with Swedish Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic is perfect for spring (and you can of course substitute the Swedish cheese with parmesan or even cheddar) and we followed it up with asparagus (some harvested in our own garden!) and hollandaise sauce as well as prawns (cooked and smoked), homemade mayonnaise and wild garlic bread. It was quite the feast and such a treat to enjoy it with my parents! As we don’t see each other all that often we try to make it special when we are together.

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Oysters au gratin with Västerbotten cheese and wild garlic, serves 3 as a starter

With two more courses two oysters each was the perfect amount, but if you’re having a light main course I would recommend three oysters per person.

6 fresh oysters 

3 tbsp double cream

3 tbsp grated Västerbotten cheese

1/2 – 1 tsp Dijon mustard

approx 6 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

salt, black pepper

To serve:

nice bread

Open the oysters with an oyster knife and discard the top shell. Cut loose the oysters but keep on the shells and place in an ovenproof dish. Mix cream and mustard in a bowl and add cheese and most of wild garlic. Season well. Spoon the mixture over the oysters, enough to cover them and sprinkle some more wild garlic on top. Place under a hot grill or in a very hot oven (225C) until bubbly and a little brown, approx 3-5 minutes. Serve with baguette or crusty bread to soak up the juices. 

Short week, cinema and Sunday roast

 

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I love short work weeks! Last week was short because of the early May bank holiday. And it was so nice to have an extra day in Northamptonshire. In the evening I made spaghetti carbonara for dinner before going back to London late that evening.

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Tuesday was a regular work day and in the evening I just took it easy at home. the next evening I met up with friends and ex colleagues for drinks, snacks and a catch up.

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On the Thursday I worked in the New Forest all day and was too tired to cook when I got home so ordered takeaway for dinner.

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The Friday was also chilled out; after work I made broccoli cheese for dinner and then I went to the cinema (haven’t been for ages) and saw Long Shot.

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On the Saturday I had a lovely lie-in, did some chores at home and stayed in all day because it was raining so hard. The weather got better in the evening so I went up to the roof terrace to get some air. I had cheese and charcuterie for dinner and had a TV night. First I watched one episode of Tin Star (it’s sooo good but very intense) followed by Darkest Hour.

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On Sunday the weather was better so we had a Sunday roast and rosé at a cosy pub before hitting the driving range. In the evening I cooked supper and we caught up on Billions (love that series!).

 

London: Hoppers (finally!)

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I almost went to Sri Lanka on holiday with two girl friends a few years ago. But the plan fell through for various reasons and I ended up going on a lovely trip to Cambodia and Vietnam with another friend instead.

But since almost booking that holiday the dream of Sri Lanka has stayed with me, so I was super excited when Hoppers open the first (at least that I’ve heard of) Sri Lankan restaurant in London.

I tried to go there multiple times but as the Soho outfit was tiny and the place seriously popular the waiting time was always too long for hangry me.

But since they recently opened a second restaurant, still in Central London, but not bang in the hustle and bustle of Soho, where you can BOOK tables I’ve finally been. Yay!

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In cold January I met up with my former flatmate and now friend Daisy for supper here. The restaurant was warm and cosy inside (especially compared to the sub-zero temperatures outside) and although we weren’t rushed the food arrived more or less at the same time so we felt a bit hurried to eat it and leave so they could have the table back. I get it – they’re still hugely popular and of course they want to be accommodating but it would have been nice if it was a little more chilled.

Anyway, we had lots of nice, but quite heave dishes! But while we were choosing from the menu we also enjoyed a really nice gin cocktail and plantain chips.

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First up we had the mutton rolls which were crispy and stuffed with lovely meat. Loved these!

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Next we had the really rather spicy calamari but it was also lovely and crispy!

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Our third dish was what I’ve been most eager to try; their bone marrow roti. Which turned out to be a bone marrow curry (so much yes!!) and the flakiest roti I’ve ever had. Just amazing! And so so filling. (This is where we started to realise that we had probably ordered too much…)

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We also shared two larger dishes, a seafood kari and pork ribs. The curry was again quite spicy but nice but the pork was more interesting with it’s multiple layers of flavours.

We were SO full after this meal and yet we didn’t finish most of the dishes. They were all quite rich as well (which I hadn’t expected!) so will definitely order less next time. Or order a few dishes, eat those and see if we could eat some more.

I will definitely come back for the bone marrow roti (loved that!!) but totally forgot to order the hoppers (which the restaurant is named after) and can’t wait to try one next time. They almost look like a bowl made of thin thin (almost see-through) rice flour dough and it often has an egg or something else in the bottom of it. They look really impressive!

Hoppers, 77 Wigmore Street, London W1U 1QE

Brunswick House and a long weekend in Northamptonshire

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The end of April, beginning of May the weather was all sorts again. But we’ll persevere and hope summer is around the corner.

The Monday that week was a typical Monday with work and a quiet night in. The fridge was still empty (apart from all the Swedish food I brought back but sadly I couldn’t make up a supper from cinnamon buns, cheese and fish roe) so I ordered a poke bowl. If I don’t order a burger I usually order this, as it’s something I would cook myself when I have the ingredients.

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On Tuesday we went up to the roof terrace of my building for a gin and tonic while watching the sun set over London. Afterwards we walked over the river to dinner at beautiful Brunswick House. We had the house cured pancetta and bread to start followed by the gorgeous côte de boeuf to share.

Wednesday evening I packed by weekend bag again while watching The Rookie. I’m quite liking this new Nathan Fillion series. The next evening we drove north to Northamptonshire where we had a nice dinner of steak and dauphinoise potatoes on arrival.

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I worked remotely on the Friday (which made the weekend – because it was a bank holiday weekend – seem really long!) and in the evening we drove to Market Harborough to have a look around and we found this chocolatier with the most amazing hot chocolate, I will tell you more about later. In the evening I made potato salad with asparagus and wild garlic pesto that we ate with grilled chicken.

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Saturday we did some gardening (we were here to help with that!) and I made asparagus with hollandaise sauce followed by lamb shank with potato mash and peas for dinner,  which we ate in front of the fire and afterwards we watched The Greatest Showman.

We did more gardening on the Sunday and in the evening we went out for dinner but it wasn’t very good so I didn’t take a single picture (!). We still had a lovely evening and watched Billions and drank wine when we got back.

 

Recipe: chocolate pots (or chocolate pudding)

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These chocolate pots are a childhood favourite of mine, and this version with actual chocolate (and not just cocoa) is the best one I’ve come across yet. Mamma found the recipe in a cookbook by Anna Bergenström and kindly passed it on me.

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I like these really cold with pillowy cream on top and preferably sprinkles on top of that for a hint of sweetness and crunch, but it probably looks more grownup like this, with just some sieved cocoa powder on top!

When I made these for two of my American friends, they told me these are called chocolate pudding in the US (just like the Swedish name!), whereas here in the UK a pudding is any dessert.

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Chocolate pots (or chocolate pudding), serves 4

Adapted after and translated from Anna Bergenström’s recipe.

600 ml whole milk

75 ml corn flour

4 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

50 g dark chocolate

For serving:

lightly whipped cream

sieved cocoa or sprinkles

Add everything apart from the chocolate to a medium sized sauce pan. Bring it to a gentle simmer while whisking, until the mixture has thicken quite a lot. Stir or whisk continuously 

Break up the chocolate. Remove the sauce pan from the stove and add the chocolate pieces to the mixture. Stir until it’s melted. Pour the mixture into a sieve to remove lumps and pour into small bowls or glasses. Cover them with cling (all the way down to the surface) and leave to cool. When cool, place in the fridge for 3 hrs to thicken. Serve with lightly whipped cream and either sieved cocoa or sprinkles.

Norfolk, takeaway and a long weekend in Sweden!

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We were still in Norfolk on the Easter Monday. We went to the beach in the morning with the children and played in the sand. I even dipped my toes in the water but it was seriously cold! Afterwards we all had lunch together at the golf club before breaking up for the weekend.

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We stayed the whole day though, going to Sandringham, the Queen’s private residence, in the afternoon. It’s open to the public when the Queen isn’t there (she usually spends the winter months around Christmas there) and I was so happy to finally go. It’s been on my hit list for quite a while. And we really enjoyed our visit to the house, the museum and the lovely park and gardens. We even had time to peek into the church on the estate on the way home.

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Back in the house we packed our bags and emptied the fridge and made my best to use up as many leftovers as possible in a toasted sandwich I made us for supper. It had chicken, wild garlic mayo, Philadelphia, cheddar and parmesan in it and was topped with a fried egg. It turned out really great actually and perfect food before a long drive home.

Tuesday was a regular work day for me and in the evening I packed my bags once again, to go home to Sweden the following evening. As I was only home in London for a night I had a takeaway from Bleecker for supper.

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After work on Wednesday I flew home to Copenhagen (and then went across the bridge to Sweden). My parents and I had a late night cup of tea catching up before going to bed – a little tradition of ours. So cosy!

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The next morning I had a lie in and just enjoyed having a day off at home with my parents. Mamma and I went shopping in a few nearby shops and bought nice local charcuterie for dinner. Afterwards we had grilled steaks and asparagus with roasted Amandine potatoes and homemade bearnaise sauce. Love dinners like that at home!

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On the Friday i had my hair cut and afterwards I had my favourite soft serve ice cream with daim sprinkles in the sunshine. For dinner I made roasted chicken with roast vegetables, a Greek-ish salad and tzatziki – proper summer food!

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Om Saturday we drove to the summer house and harvested three (!) asparagus spears that we had for dinner that day together with store-bought asparagus and hollandaise sauce, oysters au gratin and smoked and regular prawns with homemade mayonnaise and wild garlic bread.

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Sunday we had an impromptu photo shoot (you’ll see the result soon!) and I made chocolate covered meringue buns for dad because he likes them so much and they seemed fun to make! For dinner (before heading to the airport) we had mamma’s homemade meatballs (i.e. the best in the world!) with boiled potatoes, creamy gravy, pickled cucumber and lingonberry jam. Loved being home for a few days just spending time with the family! Need to do that more.

Recipe: crispy rice paper with salmon, avocado and spicy mayo

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This is a new favourite starter of mine! I just adore the combination of crunchy fried rice paper (which is much more delicate here than in a prawn cracker) and smooth raw fish and the fresh toppings. Such a lovely mouthful with lots of subtle flavours coming together. And it pairs perfectly with a glass or two of bubbles, if you need an excuse to open a bottle.

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A note on raw fishÖ Most fish we buy in the supermarkets as fresh have been frozen in transport killing off any bacteria. But if you’re worried ask the people at the fish counter for sushi fish so they know you’re going to eat it raw.

Or, buy a nice piece of salmon and freeze it for 48 hours, and defrost it slowly in the fridge and you won’t even notice it’s been frozen but you know you’re safe from bacteria.

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Crispy rice paper with salmon, avocado and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 sheets rice paper 

500 ml neutral oil 

80 g raw salmon

1/4 cucumber, peeled and cut into small triangles 

1/2 avokado, thinly sliced

100 ml mayonnaise, homemade or Hellman’s

1/2-1 tsp gochujang or 1-2 tsp soy sauce

fresh coriander, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, pickled 

Pour oil into a large saucepan, approx 2,5 cm high. Heat it to 180C. Fry one rice paper at the time and let it puff up. It takes approximately 5 seconds. Remove with tongs and drain on kitchen roll. Let the oil cool before you dispose of it. 

Cut the fresh salmon (or freeze it for 48 hrs and slowly defrost it, to kill off any bacteria) in 2 mm thin slices. Mix mayonnaise with gochujang (or soy sauce for a milder flavour). 

Break each puffed up rice paper in approx 5 pieces, most important is that the pieces are big enough to hold the toppings. Start adding the toppings first avocado, then salmon, followed by cucumber and radishes. Pipe or spoon on the mayonnaise (I put it in a small ziplock bag and made a tiny whole in one corner for piping). You can make both mayos and do half and half too. Top with pickled red onions and chopped coriander. Serve with napkins!