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!
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.
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
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.
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
Some people, like my wonderful mother, love apple pies and cakes. I actually think she could live on it alone. I, on the other hand, am a little harder to please. Raw apples – delicious. Mushy cooked ones – not so much. I want set cakes, that provide a nice contrast to the soft apples.
This cake has the Hanna seal of approval; it’s cake-y, has a nice crunchy top but is still apple-y enough for the likes of my mother. Happy days!
Crunchy apple cake, serves 8-10
3-6 apples, peeled and slices
1 tbsp caster sugar
a little (1/2 – 1 tsp) cinnamon
190 g caster sugar
70 g plain flour
Place the apple slices in a lined springform. Scatter with sugar and cinnamon. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and mix in the flour. Pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes in 175C. Serve with lightly whipped cream.
Hello dear readers,
Happy New Year!
I hope you haven’t missed me too much the last couple of weeks. I went home to Sweden for Christmas and needed a proper break, seeing friends and family and not sitting in front of a computer.
But I still cooked and ate a lot, so I have lots of new things (and some things from the autumn and even summer of last year!) to blog about.
If you want to see what I get up to outside of the blof, then follow me on Instagram where I am the most active (my username is @scandelights, and there is a link in the right hand margin).
Wishing you all a prosperous new year!
Although this is a food blog, I quite often get the question of which bars to go to, so I thought I’d post a few favourites as and when I’ve been.
One favourite where I recently took my visiting friends from home, Daniel and Maria, is Bar Americain, part of Brasserie Zèdel by Piccadilly. Set in a lovely art deco bar it feels like you’re stepping back in time. Especially as the hostess greets you in a flapper dress and the bartenders and waiters wear bow ties. It’s just one of those comfortable not-quiet-but-not-too-loud bars that I like. It’s busy and buzzing but you can carry a conversation without shouting. And sit comfortably while you sip your cocktail.
Bar Américain, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED