Theatre, theatre and Norfolk

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I’m behind again. Sorry! Every year I feel prepared for a busy December, but EVERY year it feels slightly overwhelming. It’s great fun, but such a rush to fit everything into this extremely short month for me, as I leave on the 20th. By then I need to have packed, sorted out Christmas cards and gifts, made plans with my friends in Sweden to some extend (to avoid total choas) all while simultaneously working and eating and drinking my way through many a festive event. How does the calendar fill itself up like that?!

Anyway, back to the week before last. When it was still November and less hectic.

The Monday and Tuesday were lovely and quiet with chores and early nights in. That’s how I want every week to start if I’m honest. I’m not a huge fan of Mondays and need to ease my way into the week.

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But by Wednesday I was ready for a night out. First an early dinner at an old favourite; Opera Tavern in Covent Garden, followed by theatre at Donmar Warehouse.

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We saw Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure which I really enjoyed. Great performances all around! Afterwards we had a glass of wine at cosy The 10 Cases nearby to debrief.

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The next evening I was in the office so late I almost missed a dear colleagues leaving drinks. It was ending as I got there so we had a late night supper at Barrafina Drury Lane instead to end the evening.

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Friday I skipped out of work a bit earlier and we drove to Northampton to watch a play. A children’s play actually, called The Worst Witch, but we knew one of the actors and were there for support. Lovely play if you’re a little, but I appreciated it as a grownup as well. Afterwards we stayed and mingled as it was the premiere night and had supper at McDonald’s. So fancy but we didn’t have time to get anything beforehand because of traffic so no choice really.

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We stayed the night in Northamptonshire and after a nice breakfast and puppy cuddles we drove to Norfolk. We had dinner out in the evening and a lovely lie-in on the Sunday.

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After breakfast we went for a walk; half on the golf course and half on the beach, with sandwiches at the club house afterwards.

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In the evening I cooked Boeuf Bourguignon and potato purée and made an apple crumble and custard whip for pudding. Proper winter comfort.

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On the Monday (I had the day off) we had another lie-in, cooked breakfast and then I made sliced gingerbread (yum!) before heading back to London.

 

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Recipe: broccoli cheddar soup

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I love broccoli! Which you can see in the archives here at Scandelights. And luckily broccoli is one of those rare vegetables that both taste nice AND is good for you. Hurrah!

This soup, however, might be more good for the soul than the waist, as it has a hefty amount of cheese in it. But, isn’t that what we need this time of year?! Something warm and comforting in a bowl, that’s both delicious and nutritious (thanks to the broccoli).

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Broccoli cheddar soup, serves 4-6

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

4 tbsp butter

1 small onion, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

60 ml plain flour

120 ml milk

120 ml cream

950 ml vegetable or chicken stock (from a good quality cube is fine) 

1 bay leaf

salt and black pepper

565 g broccoli, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

225 g grated mature cheddar + extra for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add the stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the pan and simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning if needed, but keep in mind the cheese will add some salt as well. Mix the soup with a stick blender to your desired texture. Back on the stove, add cheese and whisk until melted, about 1 minute.

Serve in bowls, garnished with grated cheddar. Serve with crusty bread. 

Pretty ‘lagom’

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Balance. That’s what I really try to achieve, but so far I haven’t been all that successful, until a few weeks ago when I had a nice balanced week with some early nights in and a few sociable events as well. But last week was pretty good too. In fact it was what we in Sweden call ‘lagom’. In Goldielocks’ words: just right.

Monday and Tuesday I stayed in after work. Did laundry and other chores, went to bed early and watched TV series. I’ve discovered another two really good ones; Homecoming with Julia Roberts and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The former is a slow-paced thriller with great acting and I love the way it’s filmed. The latter is more fast-paced but also with great actors and the story is told from different angles which I really like.

Wednesday was a sociable evening; dinner with good friends before they’re heading to sunny Australia for two whole months! The dream!!

Thursday night a bunch of colleagues and ex-colleagues went out for drinks which was also really nice, but after two late nights in a row I was very happy to curl up with baked camembert for dinner on the Friday night and going to bed early.

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After a nice lie-in on Saturday I cooked us dinner and then we headed to a 40th birthday party in the evening. I didn’t really know anyone there but met lots of nice people, including a few Swedes!

Sunday was a nice cosy day inside. I cooked (roast chicken, skin-on fries, broccoli cheese and for pudding Swedish kladdkaka) and we cosied up on the sofa watching some good TV. Of course The Handmaid’s Tale but also David Attenborough’s new seies Dynasties which is excellent!

 

London: tapas at Rambla, Soho

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The summer is always really hectic for me, especially since I go home to Sweden for two weeks in August, and that’s why this blog post is so late; I’ve been playing catch-up since then.

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The last week in July is also extra busy because it’s both my own and my dear friend Gaby’s birthdays that week. Just before I go home!

The Friday night was Gaby’s night (and her actual birthday) so after doing my last errands for my trip it was so lovely to arrive to Rambla in Soho and have a nice dinner with the girls!

Rambla is a fairly new tapas restaurant in London, with mainly Catalan food and we were all very excited to try it!

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We started with bubbles – always appropriate when there’s a birthday to celebrate! The cava was really nice, so I recommend you all to think of something to celebrate when you go here. IMG_2096.jpg

Then we ordered a bunch of dishes for all five of us to share around the table. First off were the classic padron pappers. They never disappoint with their saltiness!

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Next we had these delicious croquetas with spinach and pine nut. Yum!

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And chorizo! It was all about the classics to start.

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Then we feasted on crispy fried artichokes with saffron aioli and the most tender octopus with fried garlic and herb sauce. Delicious! I so love to eat this way; picking from plates, trying little bites of everything while chatting away with friends sipping cava.

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One of the favourites of the evening was this hearty and cheesy (yum!) oxtail canelones with navat cheese and caramelised onions. Drool!

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The birthday girl divided it evenly, although I think most of us would happily have had one each. But it was too rich. Especially since we had more yummy cheese to eat…

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This whole baked Navat cheese with crudités and bread to dip was divine too! We were scraping the bottom of the dish in the end, never letting a morsel of good cheese go to waste.

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The classic patatas bravas arrived late as an after thought (I think they forgot them to be honest) but we happily mucnhed our way through these lovely crisp potato bites.

The food here is excellent (especially the octopus and the oxtail canalones!) but the service was a bit of a let down. Some things were forgotten and we had to keep reminding the waiters. After two bottles of cava they didn’t have any more cold ones so we had to swap to rosé cava instead. It’s all little things, but things you expect to run smoothly, and since it was a birthday celebration it was very unfortunate.

With this in mind I’ll still highly recommend Rambla – the food is worth it! – and hopefully they’ve sorted out these kinks by now. Race you to the baked cheese?!

Rambla, 64 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4QG

Taking it easy

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I was ill again last week. So typical. So I stayed in bed Monday and Tuesday but felt better on Wednesday and could go to work. So the rest of the week I just took it easy after work, to rest as much as possible. I really don’t want to get ill again between now and Christmas (or on my Christmas break!), too much to do!

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The weekend was quiet as well, which was nice. On my lunch break on Friday I went to Whole Foods to buy some nice things for the weekend. Love it there and it’s a treat to go now when I don’t have one close to me anymore.

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I bought mussels that I cooked that night with white wine, cream and potatoes. So yummy!

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On Saturday we slept until noon, had poached eggs for breakfast and then went for a walk around Wimbledon Common. It air was crisp but the sun was out and it was perfect weather for an autumnal walk.

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When we got backed we watched a bit of the tennis and some rugby before going for a drink at the local pub followed by dinner nearby.

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Sunday treated me to another lie-in and then I pottered around, making pudding for supper and prepping ahead. For dinner I made a lovely pasta dish I will post about later, and lemon posset for pudding. Then we cuddled up on the sofa watching The Handmaid’s Tale and when I couldn’t take it anymore, an episode of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

The next month will be busy, but I hope I can squeeze in another cosy weekend without plans. Sleeping until one wake up naturally is just the best!

Balance (for once)!

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Last week was actually pretty balanced. (Not often I can say that!) And it’s definitely I want to aim for in the future.

After work on Monday it took me ages to get home because of really bad traffic, so I had frankfurters and mash for supper. Not very exciting but perfect when you’re starving!

Tuesday was also quiet; I did laundry (which I actually love doing) and pottered at home. Wednesday was cinema night with the usual burgers before. The film we saw was Widows which I really enjoyed, despite the opening scene, ahem. Viola Davis was great, I loved the way it was filmed and the story was interesting and a bit unusual.

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On Thursday I went to an event at Fortnum & Mason (aka heaven!) and had lots of nice food, drank champagne, mingled around and looked at their Christmas display. It was (of course) lovely and it really put me in the Christmas spirit.

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I might have done a little shopping as well but didn’t go crazy with the ornaments, but it was tempting.

The weekend was super quiet, which was much needed. I slept in, finished two books (!), watched TV and cosied up inside with scented candles.

Yep – that’s what balance looks like for me. A few days out doing fun things, a few doing chores and a few for relaxing. More of that, please!

Recipe: tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and mushrooms

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I made this pasta with prawns, mushrooms and tomatoes back in Sweden in August for my parents and I for supper and we all really enjoyed it.

It feels fresh and light although it has cream in it and the prawns work so well with both tomatoes and mushrooms.

And it’s actually the tomatoes that steal the show for me! Look out for those little bursts of juicy sweet tomato that comes with almost every bite. I had the luxury of using my mother’s homegrown cherry tomatoes in different colours (they were delicious!) but any small tomatoes in season will work just as well (I’ve made this dish a few times since August using store-bought on-the-vine British cherry tomatoes).

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Tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and button mushrooms, serves 3-4

500 g fresh tagliatelle

1-2 shallots, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

plenty of butter and neutral oil for frying

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

50 ml dry white wine

150 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

300 ml double cream

1/2 stock cube (fish or vegetable) 

400 g frozen Atlantic shell-on prawns, defrosted and peeled (or approx 250 g fresh ones) 

approx 2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

Fry onions and garlic in butter and oil on medium heat without browning. Remove from pan. Add more butter and oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms on medium-high heat until golden brown. Season and remove from pan. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the tomatoes and let them cook on medium geat for a few minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding cream and stock cube (no water). Stir and let the sauce thicken. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper (the sugar will balance the acidity from the tomatoes). You want the sauce to have depth and taste a lot as the pasta will dilute the flavours. Cook the pasta in a large pot and drain.  

Take the sauce off the heat and add the prawns. Stir and add the pasta. Mix properly so every strand of pasta is coated with sauce. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.