Christmas party, steak lunch and a country weekend

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The second week of December was very busy and great fun! The office Christmas party was on the Monday night, at Smith & Wollensky as usual, and really nice.

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And then the rest of the week followed in a similar pattern.

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On the Tuesday it was one of my colleague’s birthday so a group of girls went out for a nice lunch with steak and champagne at Flatiron. Wednesday night started with work drinks and after that I went to a lovely event at Tate Britain.

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Thursday night was calmer and spent at home packing for the weekend. Because on Friday night we had a Christmas dinner in London (with turkey!) and afterwards we drove to the countryside to spend the weekend there.

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It was Christmas carols in the village church, lovely dinners and time sat in front of the fire and on the Sunday we went out for a lovely dinner with entertainment before driving back to London again.

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The week was pretty full on (avoid parties on Mondays if you can, is my advice) but great fun, and although it’s tiring I try to prepare myself that the three weeks in December that I spend in London and the UK are always full on like this.

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London: wonderful sushi at Sushi Atelier

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When it comes to sushi restaurants, by best source is my colleague Matt. He introduced me to Yashin ages ago and earlier this year he suggested Sushi Atelier in Marylebone.

My first impression of the restaurant was that it was quite Nordic in its interior with a lot of light wood (birch perhaps?) and not much else. Like the interior was taking a step back so guests could concentrate fully on the food experience.  The food presentation was also rather simple, but in a good way; most of the time less really is more.

 

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We ordered a few different dishes, but I couldn’t resist ordering a classic salmon and avocado roll. I love them and this one was definitely among the best I’ve had.

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The nigiri was amazing as well. Especially the butterfish with truffle, but they were all delicious.

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The rainbow roll was another favourite and almost a work of art!

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But my absolute favourite was the California roll, with crab, avocado, tobiko and Japanese mayo.

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I came here with my friend Therese when she was visiting, but a dear male friend of mine came along as well and since he doesn’t love sushi as much as Therese and I do, we also ordered this more meaty dish. And I suppose we should be really grateful to him for coming along as this dish was utterly amazing and I’m not sure we would have ordered it if it was just us girls.

This divine thing was Iberico pork served on a piping hot cast iron plate with the lovely sauce still bubbling away. It had it all; amazing flavour, lots and lots of umami, wonderful meat and sweet mushrooms. Loved it! And it was really nice to finish off the sushi with something different. Yum! Top marks all round!

Sushi Atelier, 114 Great Portland St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6PA

Christmas dinner, Lucia concert and a nice weekend

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The first Monday in December I woke up in Norfolk and stayed there for most of the day, had eggs for breakfast and a lovely day off work. Then we drove back to London in the afternoon, went food shopping and as soon as I got home I started prepping for the Christmas dinner with the book club the following evening.

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I really like our Christmas tradition; it’s so lovely to catch up with the girls before Christmas.

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We started the evening with a Prosecco cocktail and nibbles and then moved onto Swedish meatballs, Jansson’s temptation, a kale dish and this lovely butternut squash dish with pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds.

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To finish off the dinner we had saffron cake, clementines and sliced gingerbread with St Agur.

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Wednesday and Thursday I concentrated on work, early nights and eating leftovers. But on Friday night we went to a wonderful Lucia concert in Westminster Cathedral. So pretty!

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Afterwards a group of us went for dinner at Hai Cenato nearby.

On the Saturday we saw friends and most of Sunday I made gingerbread but also had time to watch a film. I really wasn’t sure this film was for me, but somebody persuaded me and it turns out he was right. Such a sweet film!

 

 

Recipe: Clementine prosecco drink with rosemary

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Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope you’re all having a wonderful time celebrating with dear ones.

We celebrated yesterday (as is customary in Sweden) and I will tell you all about it later, but thought I would post a quick cocktail recipe – perfect to make any leftovers feel a bit more festive!

I made this for the book club Christmas dinner, and we all loved it! It feels wintery and festive without being to sweet. I also made star-shaped canape’s with puff pastry, blue cheese, walnuts and honey and they always go down a treat.

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Clementine prosecco drink with rosemary, makes 6

Adapted from Ica’s recipe.

2 sprigs rosemary

3 tbsp caster sugar

400 ml freshly squeezed clementine juice

400 ml tonic water

1 bottle prosecco

rosemary sprigs to garnish (optional) 

In a pestle and mortar, mix together the rosemary and sugar. Mix the rosemary sugar with the juice. Divide between glasses. Fill up with prosecco and add some tonic to finish. Serve straight away. 

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.

 

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!