Recipe: The Perfect Lemon Drizzle Cake

In these strange times I have baked more than ever. Partly because tea and cake in the late afternoon every day has been a lovely ritual in an otherwise chaotic and strange time.

I’ve made some old favourites (my favourite chocolate cake, the yummiest carrot cake, tosca cake and of course a classic Victoria sponge) but I’ve also tried some new recipes. And this lemon drizzle cake recipe, courtesy of baking queen Mary Berry, was of course perfect in every way.

It’s incredibly easy to make (place all ingredients in a bowl and mix) and utterly delicious. I love the crunchy top (finally that substituted bag of granulated sugar was put to good use!) and the perfectly balanced lemon flavour.

My only problem was that I was out of self-raising flour, but it was easily substituted by plain flour and baking powder (2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g plain flour) and worked perfectly.

Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle cake, serves 8

Adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe.

175 g caster sugar

175 g self-raising flour

175 g softened butter

3 eggs

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

¾ level tsp baking powder

For the lemon drizzle topping:

100 g granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Beat together the eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter, baking powder and lemon zest until smooth in a large mixing bowl and pour into a buttered loaf tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 mins, or until golden brown, shrinking away from the sides of the tin and springy to the touch.

While the cake is still warm, make the lemon drizzle topping. Mix together the sugar and lemon juice, and pour over the warm cake. Leave to cool a little and loosen the sides of the cake, then lift the cake out of the tin.

Recipe: Lockdown Courgette Quesadillas Two Ways

I cooked with courgette a lot during lockdown, as it’s such an inexpensive versatile vegetable. And it turns out, it really works in bulking out your quesadillas.

I made the first version, with fried courgette and coriander, served with soured cream and guacamole, when I was alone in London and liked them so much I made a similar version for lunch a few weeks later.

But this time I also added some ham, spring onions and fresh coriander, simply because I had it to hand, and served the quesadillas with a yummy sauce with creme fraiche and basil I made up on the spot, and lime wedges on the side.

Both versions are equally delicious so why not try both and see which you like better?!

Also, a note on frying quesadillas. For an every day lunch I prefer to fry them in a dry pan, as I think the addition of butter is then too much. But if you make quesadillas as nibbles for a party, when you eat much less of them, they’re wonderful fried in butter (and drained on kitchen towel to stay crispy!).

Courgette and coriander quesadillas with guacamole, serves 1

2 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 small courgette, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

75 ml grated cheddar

To serve:

guacamole (scale down to 1 avocado)

a large dollop soured cream

a few drops hot sauce

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander and chilli flakes towards the end of cooking. Season well and set aside.

Place one tortilla bread on a flat surface and scatter half of the grated cheese on top. Add the fried courgettes and top with remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla bread on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add the quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with guacamole, soured cream and a little hot sauce.

Courgette, coriander and ham quesadillas, serves 3

6 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 1/2 medium courgettes, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

1/2 bunch fresh coriander

3 spring onions, chopped

2 slices cooked ham, chopped

200 g grated cheddar

To serve:

3 lime wedges

creamy basil sauce (recipe below)

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Season well and set aside.

Place three tortilla breads on a flat surface and divide half of the grated cheese between them. Add the fried courgettes, coriander, spring onions and ham and top with the remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla breads on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add a quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Repeat with the other two quesadillas. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with lime wedges and the basil sauce (recipe below).

Creamy basil and lime sauce, serve 4

200 ml soured cream

finely grated zest from 1/2 lime

2 tbsp roughly chopped basil

salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a bowl. Season to taste.

Recipe: Lockdown Chicken and Courgette Pasta

Cooking every single day is in a way easier than cooking a few days a week like I usually do. Cooking every day gives you a different continuity and it makes it a lot easier using up leftovers. In my regular life I sometimes have to throw away leftovers I had planned to use up because plans changed and they got too old. I really don’t like that. But London life is (usually) fast pace with drinks here and dinners there and impromptu plans. Which I love. It’s less conducive to meal planning though. But I do utilise my freezer as much as I can even in normal life.

But using up leftovers has become a sport of mine in lockdown. I don’t want to throw a single little thing away. I keep parmesan rinds in the fridge until I can throw them into a béchamel sauce, and add the leftover grated carrot from a carrot cake baking session to a salad. If some vegetables need using up they get used in a soup, quesadillas, salad or frittata.

And this chicken and courgette pasta is one example of using up every single little bit of chicken meat. One night we had a roast chicken with potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Two days later I reheated some of the leftover chicken pieces for lunch and made a potato salad with some already cooked new potatoes. After that there weren’t that much meat left, even though I picked every last little bit off the carcass before it went into the stock pot. So the obvious answer to how to use up the rest was of course pasta. Mixing proteins with carbs and some veg and lots of grated Parmesan is one of the best magic tricks of the kitchen craft.

This one, with lemon, soft courgette, plenty of olive oil and said parmesan felt very appropriate of spring but I could myself eating it on a sunny patio with a glass of ice cold pale rosé too.

Lockdown chicken and courgette pasta, serves 3

300 g tagliatelle

1 medium courgette, cut in half lengthways and sliced

approx 100 g leftover roast chicken

50 g parmesan, finely grated

lemon zest from 1/2 large lemon

50 ml olive oil

25-50 ml pasta cooking water

salt and pepper

Add a little olive oil to a roasting tray and add the courgettes. Toss in the oil, add salt and pepper and cook in 200C for 10- 15 minutes, until soft and a little browned.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions in saucepan.

Add the chicken pieces to the courgette to heat up and add more olive oil. Add the lemon zest and some of the parmesan and mix. Add the cooked pasta. Reserve a mug of pasta water and pour some into the roasting tray with the pasta. Add more parmesan and put the roasting tray on medium-low heat. Stir the pasta with tongs until it has the sauce consistency you like (a little gloopy). Add more pasta water if needed. Adjust the seasoning and divide between bowls. Add more grated parmesan to finish.

Cooking in lockdown

I received a comment and a request on my Swedish blog, to write about my cooking now, in lockdown. Something I of course have addressed on my instagram accounts, which are more ‘in the moment’ than the blog.

Courgette quesadillas with soured cream and guacamole

I completely understand it might not be of interest for you readers to read my reviews of restaurants from before lockdown, that are now shut. But the reason I have carried on ‘as normal’ (or as normally as I can right now) is because I think those good restaurants that I didn’t have time to write about before lockdown need to be mentioned. My blogs don’t have a huge following, but they are read by a few of you and if I could have some influence on where you spend your money when all this is over of course I want to contribute to that. To cast a limelight on restaurants I really like, large or small. Regardless of what kind of backing some restaurants had before lockdown, I think all business owners are now in the same boat; worrying if they can bounce back. If they can afford to take this hit or if it’s better to throw in the towel.

But I hear you; that’s the past, and the present is strange and can be tricky to navigate, especially when you’re forced (more or less, depending on where you live), to cook more at home, to come up with new dishes, while maybe not having access to all the food items you’re used to.

I feel quite equipped for this, strangely. Maybe because I taught myself how to cook when I lived away from home for the first time (with a patient mamma at the end of the phone guiding me when I got stuck), or because I made sure I would enjoy cooking for one after a breakup when I was around thirty, or because I loathe throwing food away and get immense satisfaction out of using up every single little morsel leftover; be it a quarter of an onion, a small piece of chicken or a little hunk of cheese. I use them all up and have come up with some interesting lunches over the years. And maybe also, because I love to cook for other people.

You see, the first three weeks of lockdown I utilised all my cooking for one tips, as I was alone in London making sure I didn’t develop the virus. At this point it was hard for people to get food in general so I relied on my freezer stash, my ability of using up food and coming up with good substitutions and to buy food where the regular person wouldn’t shop. I felt this was a small thing for me to do, but could mean that somebody else (maybe a whole family) could access that delivery slot or those groceries, because frankly they needed it more than I did. I waited for Natoora, one of my favourite vegetable and delicatessen shops, to open up their restaurant slots to the general public and bought lovely things like British asparagus, burrata and dolce latte. This might seem extravagant in a crisis, but my thinking was that I get more satisfaction out of these more luxury food items than the average person, I can afford it, and I don’t eat very much and can therefore stretch the produce quite far if I need to. And I wanted to support a wonderful business that with restaurants closing had a huge excess of food they needed to sell. Which I, of course, was oh so happy to take off their hands.

So I ate very well those three weeks. But I didn’t eat much meat, because they don’t sell it (other than in delicatessen products), and I made sure to buy some flour (any flour!) so that if I couldn’t get a delivery slot at least I could make bread, pasta or pizza. I wanted to avoid shops as at this point they were still crowded which scared me!

A new creation using up leftover bolognese sauce

Then after those three weeks, feeling safe enough I didn’t carry any nasties with me, I went out to the countryside to join my boyfriend and his mother, who were in the midst of moving house. So I put on my apron and started cooking for them. Which was very different than cooking for just myself. But very helpful to both them and me. I have invented new dishes (so satisfying), come up with different ways to cook something because of a lack of ingredients (also very satisfying) and although the food look (and taste) great it’s not as glamorous as instagram suggests of course (check out my stories to see failed experiments, substitutions and lots of leftovers). Yes, all the leftovers get eaten!! Sometimes reimagined as something else and sometimes just reheated as they are.

So in the coming weeks I will try to share some helpful recipes where I’ve had to think differently, using what I’ve had to hand. Being in the countryside has proved a lot easier when it comes to food though. Two small local shops carry necessities like eggs, milk and bread. And one of them is a greengrocer too! The village farm sells eggs like they always do, and we have managed to get slots to pick up food from supermarkets (some far away, but we could get slots) and since Ocado opened up more slots a couple of weeks ago I have used them too. So I realise we’re very lucky. But I hope most of you are too. That if you can’t go out somebody can deliver to you or a neighbour could do the shopping for you.

PS. Moving house in lockdown was really hard work, so I haven’t been able to post very much, but I hope I will have more time in the coming weeks.

Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Parmesan and Crispy Chorizo Crumbs

Sometimes I have breakfast quite late in the day. I’m not a morning person so sometimes I have my eggs in the afternoon and sometimes I have breakfast for supper, just because I like it.

In those cases I usually want the eggs to feel a little bit more special than my regular breakfast. I love scrambled eggs and toast but with the easy additions of grated parmesan (some in and some on top of the eggs), crispy chorizo crumbs and tomatoes this breakfast dish suddenly seems more appropriate as supper or a late lunch.

I like the crispy chorizo for flavour and texture and instead of thick slices I like these little nuggets in every mouthful, but you could of course go heavier on the chorizo if you prefer!

Scrambled eggs with parmesan and crispy chorizo crumbs, serves 1

2 eggs

5 tbsp cream

salt and peppar

1 tbsp butter

approx 3 tbsp grated parmesan

1 piece of cooking chorizo, 5-10 cm long

1 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve:

cherry tomatoes, halved

chives, chopped

buttered toast

Start by peeling the skin off the chorizo and chop it into tiny pieces. Heat up oil in a small frying pan on medium heat and fry the chorizo crumbs until crispy. Set aside while you make the eggs.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cream and season well (approx 1 tsp sea salt flakes and a good grinding of pepper). Heat up the butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium-low. Once the butter has melted pour in the eggs and push them around with a plastic spatula or whisk while they slowly thicken, once they look like a custard with bits in set aside (it cooks further in the hot pan). Stir half of the parmesan into the eggs and adjust the seasoning if needed. Heat up the chorizo crumbs if needed and plate up. Scatter the eggs with the remaining grated parmesan. Scatter with chives and add the chorizo crumbs and tomatoes and tuck in.

Recipe: vanilla crème brûlée once again

It’s great fun hosting dinner parties together with mamma, because that means we share the cooking! At a dinner party at home in early January I made two types of crostini to start off with it. The main course (which mamma was in charge of) was rather substantial so we opted for nibbles and bubbles on the sofa instead of a starter at the table. Mammas slow-cooked was absolutely wonderful and this very classic pudding was a perfect end to our dinner. I made the vanilla creme brûlée I’ve made for years, but I realised it was quite hard to find on the blog, so wanted to highlight it again.

The original recipe, courtesy of Swedish chef Tina Nordström, had cardamom in it, which I removed but in essence this is her recipe and the only one you will ever need for creme brûlée. I have adapted it a few times too, here is a delicious Amarula Cream version and here is a summery elderflower adaptation.

Vanilla creme brûlée, serves 4-6

5 egg yolks

100 ml caster sugar

350 ml double cream

150 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod

2 tbsp caster sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 110C. Bring the cream and milk to a boil in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways and add it to the cream mixture. Stir the egg yolks and the sugar together in a bowl – no beating required. Pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir (don’t beat or whisk) until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the vanilla pod. 

Pour the mixture into crème brûlée dishes and bake for 35-40 min (my oven needed about 1 hour). Remove from oven and let cool in room temperature. Sprinkle the caster sugar on top and caramelise it using a blow torch just before serving.

Nights in, dinner out, Valentine’s and a trip to the cinema

February’s second week was with hindsight really lovely. Like every pre-coronavirus week of my entire life. It gives you perspective, this pandemic…

Anyway, back to February this year. The Monday passed by quietly. I didn’t even document what I had for supper. So I will assume I worked and went to bed early, which is my preferred way to handle the start of the work week.

The next day I made broccoli cheese for lunch and went out for supper in the evening. My friend Amy and I decide to meet up somewhere on the tube line in between our homes, and I thought Parsons Green with its many pubs and restaurant was a safe bet.

We went to Megan’s near the station and had a lovely time even though the restaurant was quite quiet this Tuesday evening. I had halloumi and aubergine to start and a lovely chicken kebab as my main course.

Wednesday I worked from bed (I remember it being cold outside so under a blanket was the only place to be).

For lunch I had a toasted bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill. So lovely!

On Thursday evening I ordered a poke bowl for supper and watched TV in bed.

But on Friday night (also known as Valentine’s Day) I cooked properly! To start we had Toast Skagen because it’s easy yet delicious.

And for our main event I cooked Côte de boeuf with skin-on oven fries and bearnaise sauce. Yum!

And for pudding I made another crowd pleaser; heart shaped molten chocolate cakes with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce. So much yum!

The next morning I made our usual eggs and pancetta and topped the eggs with the leftover bearnaise sauce. A perfect start to the weekend!

In the afternoon we went to see Parasite in the cinema and we were blown away by how good it was. A must see if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. And before that we had Five Guys for lunch.

In the evening I made our favourite crab pasta for supper. So yummy!

On the Sunday we met up with two sets of friends and their kids in Pizza Express for late lunch/early supper and although completely chaotic (apparently only families with young children visit Pizza Express at this time) it was so lovely to see everyone and hang out.

Welcoming May!

Time flies even when it is lockdown, it seems. And although we can’t enjoy the arrival of May the usual way (with picnics and barbecues galore with friends and family), the passing of time seems comforting somehow. Life goes on. And we can celebrate it with the smallest of things. In solitary or over Zoom with friends. Using fresh local produce and eating seasonal. For me, food is so important right now and I’d like to share some of my favourite spring recipes with you here!

First up is this super simple and utterly delicious lemon and basil pasta courtesy of The River Café. It’s so good that when I made it for book club they all asked for the recipe and one of the girls cooked it three (!) times the coming week.

If you have the luxury of a garden, utilise it for cooking. Meat tastes best on the barbecue, even if you’re only cooking for one or two people. And this lemony marinade with honey and herbs is so easy to throw together but elevates your meat no end. Perfect for chicken and pork!

With barbecue meats you need a nice sauce and this garlic and herb (yes, that is the taste of spring to me!) one is super easy to make and is delicious with any oven roasted potatoes, or even chips.

One of my best recipes from last year was this charred and sticky barbecue chicken. It’s simply delish and I urge you to make it!

Although I’m super excited about barbecue season my enthusiasm for the asparagus season is still at an high and this recipe is just what I’m craving; cooked green asparagus with crispy pancetta and a buttery lemony hollandaise with chives. Yum!

This recipe is more for gatherings than lockdown, but scale it down and it’s the easiest starter: cooked asparagus to be eaten with your fingers and dipped in homemade lemon mayo! So delicious!

A Scandi classic that I love a bit extra at this time of year is the bleak roe pizza. It’s best as a starter although I wouldn’t turn down a whole one all to myself!

Moving on the sweet stuff. It’s still rhubarb season and luckily also ice cream season, so why not combine the two into this amazing rhubarb parfait?! It’s easier to make than ice cream (no churning) but so so good!

Another rhubarb favourite is this vanilla pannacotta topped with soft rhubarb. Just to die for and can be made well in advance!

The first British strawberries have arrived and although I prefer to eat the first ones with just during cream and sugar, after a while I like to mix it up, and this muscovado ice cream with lime marinated strawbs is just lovely on a sunny day!

Another spring favourite of mine, is this fantastic key lime pie! I can’t wait to make it this year!

London: Lorne – a neighbourhood restaurant at its best!

I love discovering new restaurants, especially in my own neighbourhood. One evening earlier this year I was meeting up with my friend Daisy for dinner. We had planned to meet around South Ken but as things got moved around we ended up meeting near Victoria instead. We hadn’t booked anywhere to eat but wanted to eat somewhere nice, so popped into A Wong to see if they had had any cancellations. Sadly they hadn’t. But closed to it was Lorne looking all cosy and full of happy people. So we went insid and tried our luck. Lo and behold, they had a table for us in about 20 minutes time. So we popped across the road for a quick drink and as we came back to the restaurant we were seated by bar stools by the door looking out onto the street.

Quite a cosy spot as it was a bit tucked away from the rest of the restaurant, and we could chat undisturbed!

We ordered a few dishes to share straight away, because by this stage we were both quite hungry! The deep fried mac ‘n cheese bites were really delicious and paired well with our cold bottle of white.

Next we shared two starters; crispy egg with haddock and curry sauce (above) and roast quail with butternut squash, pear and hazelnuts (below).

They were both really delicious! Quite delicate in flavour, but lovely combinations and really well prepared. Our waitress was lovely too recommending the quail to us and going through the whole menu and describe the dishes so I could figure out which ones I could have. So helpful!

Our last dish was a main course that we also decided to share, and knowing that the kitchen prepared a smaller plate each for us! So lovely and nice! And the dish; seabass with confit chicken wings, Jerusalem artichoke and pancetta was also utterly delicious!

We had such a lovely evening and felt like we literally stumbled upon a gem! In my own neighbourhood nonetheless. I will definitely go back as soon as I am allowed as this is the type of restaurant everyone should have in their neighbourhood and they so deserve the support.

Lorne, 76 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1DE

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Short Rib with Caramelised Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This comforting hug of a dish was a real hit! Both to cook and, of course, to eat. Cooking wise the oven does most of the work for you; tenderising those short ribs so that they completely fall off the bone when you try to pick them up. Together with the caramelised garlic for the mash, also cooking in the oven at the same time, the scents in the kitchen were a pure delight, and a good indicator of how nice our supper would be.

And indeed it was! Is there anything more joyful than a comforting plate of food that just fits together like peas in a pod?! Soft succulent umami full short ribs marriages so perfectly with the velvety and fluffy mashed potatoes with a lovely hint of earthy and sweet caramelised garlic.

The short rib recipe is courtesy of the brilliant What’s Gaby Cookinghttps://whatsgabycooking.com/garlic-red-wine-braised-short-ribs/, although a bit modified, but the caramelised garlic mashed potato recipe is all my own.

Red wine braised short ribs, serves 2-3

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

900 g bone-in short rib of beef

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 -1 bottle red wine

a few sprigs each of parsley, thyme, oregano and rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

400 ml beef stock

Preheat oven to 180C. Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a casserole dish on medium-high heat. Brown short ribs on all side and transfer to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add the short ribs back in. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, approx 2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Strain sauce from pot and spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on a pillow of caramelised garlic mashed potatoes.

Caramelised garlic mashed potatoes, serves 2-3

2 heads of garlic

650 g King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into similar sized pieces

3 tbsp salted butter

approx 50 ml whole milk

salt and pepper

While the short ribs are cooking, cut the top off the garlic heads and wrap in tin foil. Place them in the oven until soft, approx 40-60 minutes. Remove until needed for the mashed potatoes.

Boil the potatoes just about covered with salted water on medium-low heat until soft, approx 15-20 pieces, depending on the size of the potato pieces. Drain water and let them sit uncovered for a minute. Add butter and some of the milk and either mash with a masher or beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add more milk as you go. Take the foil off the garlic heads and squeeze out the caramelised garlic into the mashed potatoes. Stir well and add more as you taste. Season well and serve with the short rib.