Back in London and a weekend in the country

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I’ve been back in London for a little more than a week and my holiday in Sweden is already starting to feel like a distant memory. It’s funny how quickly one settles back into the groove.

Monday was mainly about catching up at work, but I felt up to speed by the end of the day, having caught up with my emails and paper work. When I got home I started to put all my things away from the trip. I always unpack my suitcases as soon as I get home, whatever time of night that is (I like to maximise my time away and often fly back late). I don’t know why but I find it so satisfying to unpack straight away, but I’ve done it for years! But of course I don’t put everything away immediately (that takes too long) so that’s what I did on Monday night. And laundry of course, even though I made sure to do laundry in Sweden too.

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Anyway, the next evening after work the book club girls came over for some nibbles and pizza on the roof terrace followed by pudding back in the flat as the sun had started to set. It was lovely catching up with them and decide on the new book to read (this one if you’re interested) and as all of us contribute to the dinner it’s never stressful to host.

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Wednesday I made pizzas and we watched The Handmaid’s Tale (OMG it’s so good – draining, but SO good). Thursday I packed for the weekend, had some more pizza and watched some more The Handmaid’s Tale.

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I had the day off on Friday which was wonderful so after a lie-in we drove up to Northamptonshire where we stayed over night. Friday night we had dinner and watched Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat at Kilworth House and the next day we just took it easy before going back to London in the evening.

Sunday I did some more chores, unpacked and made another pizza (with leftover dough that I froze on Wednesday). I think I need a break from pizza now actually…

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Seville: modern tapas with exotic elements

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Some days in Seville were lovely and warm with 23C and sunshine. Those days were spent relaxing by the pool, enjoying the sun on my skin and a good book. So in the evening I would get ready for a stroll around town and a nice dinner.

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One such evening I made my way to El Pintón and was extremely lucky to snag a table outside without a reservation. After I got that table they turned away so many people. So make sure to book in advance.

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This place is different to the usual tapas bars around town. They do serve tapas at El Pintón but always at a table, so there is no busy bar area to hang out in. Instead it’s a civilised affair with only table service.

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A concept I was perfectly happy with. Just like I was happy to watch the world go by while sipping an excellent glass of cava.

But I had food too, of course. First a lovely egg dish with truffle. A combination I love. Add to that some crunch and a smooth potato créme. Mmm…

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Next up was the calamari sandwich with lemon aioli. Simple but lovely! And the squid was the most tender I’ve ever had.

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My last dish here (I wish I could have had more, but the portions were rather generous as you can see) was a recommendation from my friendly waiter; presa Ibérica tataki with sweet potato purée and pistachio sauce. The meat was exquisite and so so tender and the sweet but mellow flavours worked so well with the pork.

This; dining on excellent food al fresco, is partly what holidays are about for me. Pure joy!

El Pintón, Calle Francos 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Spring is here!

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Spring. Oh, how I love thee. If I feel tired and gloomy during the cold and dark winter months, I now feel awake again. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning and being outside, even if it’s just walking to the tube, is a pleasure not torture. On Saturday I just walked around town for two hours because the sun was out and it was spring in the air.

Lots of the spring flowers are in full bloom, and the first British asparagus has arrived in some shops together with the wild garlic. This, my dear readers, is my favourite time of year. I love summer and warmer temperatures, but now before summer is here, we have it all in front of us and it feels like the best present ever. Then we blink and it’s September, but I really want to try and enjoy the little things every day between now and then. The taste of all the fresh produce; the asparagus, the jersey royals, the first British strawberries and so on. Sitting in the sun having a coffee or an ice cream, walking to work and hearing the birds chirping. All of that makes me so very happy.

And one of my favourite dishes this time of year, is a real celebration of spring. It’s fresh and simple but full of spring flavours. I’m talking about fresh local asparagus, homemade wild garlic mayonnaise that’s just divine and to top it all off, a drizzle of a nice olive or rapeseed oil and a scattering of parmesan shavings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy SPRING!!

Recipe: Orrechiette with salsiccia

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This is my attempt to recreate one of those amazing food memories I have stored in my head.

My friend Caroline and I were in Bologna last year and although we couldn’t secure a reservation at Osteria Franscescana in nearby Modena, we still decided to visit for the day. We went to Massimo Bottura’s much more unassuming restaurant Franceschetta 58 for lunch and tucked into the small but perfectly assembled lunch buffet. And that’s where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten; their orrechiette with salsiccia. It was utterly heavenly and what I tried to create at home one day, with my last precious salsiccia from the same trip (stored in the freezer of course).

I must add that the very authentic salsiccia help make my version of the dish very good, so go to a good Italian shop to buy those. Without proper salsiccia you needn’t bother with this dish at all.

Orrechiette with salsiccia, serves 3-4

4 portions orrechiette, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

3 salsiccia sausages

ca 3 tbsp soffritto made using the same amount of onions, carrots and celery (I make a big batch and freeze it in portions)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tin (400 g) chopped tomatoes or passata + half the tin filled with water 

1 tbsp tomato puré

100 ml red wine

1 tsp fennel seeds

salt and black pepper

a pinch of sugar if needed

mild olive oil for frying

Heat up the oil in a casserole dish. Remove the skin from the sausages and fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove the sausage meat from the casserole dish and add the soffritto and garlic. Fru on medium heat for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, water, tomato puré and wine. When the sauce has thickened a little, add the sausage meat and fennel seeds. Let the sauce reduce further. Season to taste with salt, pepper and some sugar (to balance the acidity) if needed. Mix into the drained orrechiette and serve with finely grated parmesan. 

Recipe: slow-cooked salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli

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Salmon. Probably the most popular fish in Sweden, but not my first choice to be honest. I blame all the baked (over-cooked) salmon fillets when I was at Uni for that. Although I love the oily fish raw, cured and cold-smoked. And, after trying this recipe, like this; baked in a very low oven and still raw in the middle.

Slow-roasted salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1/2 fennel, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 red or green chili, sliced

4 sprigs dill + more for serving

salt and black pepper

900 g salmon fillet without skin

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 135C. Pour a little oil into a baking dish. Place fennel, lemon, chilli and till in the dish and place the salmon on top. Add plenty of salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or longer if you want it cooked through. 

Shred the fish into smaller pieces. Remove the dill (and substitute with fresh dill) and serve with the baked vegetables. I also had new potatoes and a cold sauce with lumpfish roe with mine.

Cocktails at Tweed Bar, Stockholm

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After dinner with my parents at Den Gyldene Freden, they went back to the hotel and I went on to have drinks with my now Stockholm based childhood friend Carina at Tweed in the old town.

I’ve heard a lot about this bar (mainly through my Instagram feed) and I was so thrilled to finally try it out, as I’m not in Stockholm that often.

When I arrived, a bit early (for once), I had a glass of cava by the bar while I waited for Carina. When she arrived we were shown to our table and Chesterfield armchairs. The whole interior was similar; very colonial, but it worked just as well as an American Bar works in London. It was cosy, busy but not too busy, and the absolute best thing was the sounds proofing; we could easy chat at normal volume while the music was playing. I don’t know many bars where that’s possible!

We moved on to drinks later and I had two perfect pisco sours. Carina joined me for one but also tried a drink with elderflower, raspberries and egg white from the menu – also very nice!

This is such a gem and the perfect place to go when you want to go out but still be able to talk and not have a crazy late one.

Tweed, Lilla Nygatan 5, 111 28 Stockholm, Sweden