Stockholm: dinner at Hillenberg

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Saturday night in a sunny Stockholm. After a long day walking around the beautiful city we had a little breather in my friend’s flat before we got ready for a night on the town. It was actually a relief for my tired feet to swap my flats to heels, and taking a taxi to the restaurant obviously helped too.

Hillenberg, the restaurant I had booked, is the more relaxed one of Niklas Ekstedt’s (quite the frequent guest on Saturday Kitchen in the UK) two restaurants and I was super excited to try his cooking.

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On arrival we were shown to our table (with a sofa each to sit on) and started to study the menu. The service was a little slow at times, but that meant I had enough time to translate the menu and plenty of time to ponder it too.

Although I would have liked to try many things, I couldn’t resist the classic Toast Skagen, which I expected would come with a little twist. And indeed it did, as it was a deconstructed version. It was really lovely and I especially liked the dill dust on the side. Amazing mayonnaise too. Yum!

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My dinner companion had the nettle soup with äggost (a type of curdled cheese) and trout roe. Delicious!

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I was really indecisive when it came to my main course and so let our waiter influence me to try the monkfish bourguignon. It was really delicious and the “meaty” fish worked well with the powerful flavours. But the highlight was almost the velvety potato puré that was served alongside it. So rich, but beautiful!

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My dinner date had the lamb and was presented a very generous portion with lamb rack, artichokes and aubergine. Really lovely as well!

Unsurprisingly, we were too full to even be tempted by pudding. Instead we sat back (loved those sofas!) and finished our bottle of wine and just enjoyed life. Very content we weren’t completely finished with our night out and so walked around the corner to Riche for another glass of wine and lots of people watching.

Hillenberg, Humlegårdsgatan 14, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden

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London: Taco fever!

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Tacos. It’s quite easy to get some decent ones to eat in London, there are chains everywhere, but finding some really good ones is much harder. But the search is over. Breddos Tacos (you can find them in Soho and Clerkenwell) serve up some lovely tacos and lots of nice dishes too!

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I met my friend Daisy here for dinner one night and decided to start off the evening with margaritas. That’s always a good idea, right?!

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This one with passion fruit was absolutely delicious!

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But we were hungry too and ordered some snacks. This corn and n’duja dip was amazingly good!

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And so were the baja fish tacos! This is the real deal, but my easy homemade ones are pretty good too.

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Next we had barbecued onglet which was so tender and full of flavour. Loved this! The charred spring onion and sauce was a nice accompaniment.

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I can never resist aubergine and seeing as it’s a healthy vegetable I think that’s a good rule. This grilled aubergine with tomatillo and almonds was a real delight. Soft and light but with some charred notes from the grill and acidity from the tomatillo.

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We also had the crispy pork belly tacos that were recommended to us, but I didn’t think they quite measured up to the fish ones. Can’t wait to eat my way through all the different tacos. And next time I think I’ll try the crab and bone marrow nachos too. Great menu!

I love all these smaller (although it has two levels so not tiny) restaurants in Soho where you can eat really well without breaking the bank. Most of those have a first come first serve policy but luckily Breddos Tacos take bookings, which I’m so grateful for. Queuing when hangry is hard…

Breddos Tacos, 26 Kingly St, London W1B 5QD

Wonderful food at Honey & Co, Fitzrovia

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I’ve wanted to go to Honey & Co, a small all day restaurant on Warren Street, run by a seriously passionate couple, for ages now. It’s difficult to get a table, so book ahead.

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I went here with my friend Daisy on a Friday night and the small space was filled to the brim with guests and staff. The atmosphere was nice and busy without being too loud.

We started our meal with three different types of mezze as they all sounded so nice! My favourite was the poached quince with curd cheese and hazelnuts (top), the flavour combination was just fantastic. The citrus and tomato salad with za’atar (above) was also nice, but not as amazing.

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The hummus with fried mushrooms, crispy onions and pitta was one of the best hummuses I’ve ever eaten. The mushrooms worked so well with it, I feel the urge to instantly copy it at home.

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The mezzes were all really big, so three was too mush for two people but we really wanted to try them all so ate as much as we could.

We decided to share two main courses as well. The barbecued aubergine with tahini crust and jewelled rice salad (above) was just amazing.

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And the slow-cooked duck with clementines and apricots baked in kadaif pastry was tasted like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was a little sweet and a little sour and just full of flavour. The meat was very tender and rich and the crispy pastry was a nice contrast.

Apart from the bad lighting (too white for an evening), I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here. The service could have been a little more switched on, but they did a decent job and besides the amazing food makes up for everything else.

Honey & Co, 25A Warren St, London W1T 5LZ

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint

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I have quite a large cookbook collection in London (too big for my book case anyhow) so I have to keep some cookbooks in Sweden as well. The ones with easy, summery recipes I keep in the summer house and I just love flicking through Summer by Nigella every time I’m there. This summer I finally tried these lovely aubergine rolls with feta, chilli and mint. They are incredibly easy to make, and utterly delicious to eat.

Griddled aubergine with feta, chilli and mint, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

2 large aubergines (each cut thinly lengthwise into about 10 slices)

4 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams feta cheese

1 large red chilli (finely chopped & deseeded or not depending how hot you require it)

1 bunch fresh mint (finely chopped – save some for sprinkling over)

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat.

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chilli, mint and lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. You don’t need salt, as the feta is salty enough. Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaped teaspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.

Place join side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint.

Creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in tomato sauce

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The weekend before last I enjoyed an ice cream in the sun in Berlin (without a coat on) so there is hope that spring is on it’s way to London too, even though it is a little too cold for my liking at the moment.

But before it’s all barbecues and salads, let’s indulge in the comfort food of colder seasons, like this very creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in a rich tomato sauce. Yes, let’s!

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Creamy polenta with aubergine and chorizo in tomato sauce, serves  2

Tomato sauce:

a little olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

1/2 aubergine, peeled and cut into cubes

1/2 chorizo ring, peeled and sliced

oil for frying

Polenta:

600 ml chicken or vegetable stock 

150 g polenta

50 g butter

150 ml finely grated parmesan

2 garlic cloves, pressed

salt, white pepper

Fry the pressed garlic in some oil in a non-stick saucepan on medium heat for a minute. Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and a splash of water. Let the sauce cook for 15-20 minutes until it’s thickened nicely. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Fry the aubergine cubes in oil until golden. Remove from pan and fry the chorizo slices. Add to the tomato sauce when it’s done. 

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta bit by bit, stir with a wooden spoon while it thickens (this happens pretty quickly). Remove from heat and add butter, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. Serve with the tomato sauce. 

 

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds

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In the midst of excursions and heavy rainfall in Skåne, I actually managed to cook a little. Among other things this delicious aubergine dish courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour’s amazing cookbook Persiana. I definitely have a thing for aubergine and absolutely loved this and so did the few friends that got the opportunity to try it!

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted and translated from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

2 large aubergine

olive oil for frying

2 good pinches saffron threads

1-2 tbsp boiling water

250 ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 lemon, the juice

sea salt

2-3 tbsp pomegranate seeds

parsley

Rinse and slice the aubergines lengthways. Either fry the slices in olive oil in a frying pan on the hob or on a baking tray in the oven until soft. Mix saffron and hot water and leave to cool. Mix yoghurt with the saffron water, season to taste with salt (maybe a tad of white pepper) and lemon juice. Chop the parsley. 

Distribute the aubergine slices on a platter, drizzle with saffron yoghurt and scatter pomegranate seeds and parsley on top.

Aubergine parmesan with mozzarella

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This lovely recipe is courtesy of the October edition of my latest obsession; the American food magazine Bon Appetit which I read religiously on my iPad every month.

I am slightly obsessed with aubergine – as you can see in the archives. I just like the soft texture and mellowness you get when they’re roasted and how well they pair with cheese (another of my obsessions).

This dish is more or less a non-layered Parmigiana di Melanzane and I must say I prefer it this way. The aubergine is firmer in these bigger pieces and therefore less floppy and the whole dish requires less sauce so the flavours are more distinct. The finished dish just has a little more finesse and is worthy as starring as the main course at any dinner party.

Eggplant parmesan with mozzarella, 4 portioner

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

olive oil

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tin (400 g) crushed tomatoes (or whole)

2 medium aubergines

4 sprigs oregano (I used dried)

150 ml fresh breadcrumbs

250 g buffalo mozzarella

ca 40 g grated parmesan

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin from rounded side of each eggplant half, leaving a 1 cm strip of skin around the cut edges. Oil an edged baking sheet and place the aubergines cut side down. Drizzle with more oil, add salt, pepper and oregano as well as three whole garlic cloves. Cover with tin foil and bake until soft, 40-45 minutes. 

In the meantime, make the tomato sauce: Add one clove of grated garlic to a non-stick saucepan on medium heat. Stir for a minute or so, add the tomato purée followed by the tinned tomatoes and a splash of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes. Season and set tomato sauce aside.

Toss breadcrumbs with oil. Transfer eggplants, oregano, and garlic to two large shallow baking dishes (or simply use the same one), placing eggplants cut side up. Top eggplants with tomato sauce and mozzarella, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake until mozzarella is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, 25–30 minutes.

Serve immediately with a green salad and nice bread.