Recipe: caramelised garlic sauce

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Once again I have Nigella to thank for the inspiration. In her book Simply Nigella she uses caramelised onions in a yoghurt sauce, and since then I’ve started using caramelised garlic in just anything I can think of.

The taste is sweet and humble and far from the fierce raw garlic you but into the oven, which means you can actually use a lot of it, so put a few extra garlic bulbs in the oven, just in case! They’re highly addictive, so you can thank me later!

PS. It goes really well with the chicken dish I posted the last week and potato wedges.

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Caramelised garlic sauce with creme fraiche, serves 10

2 large garlic bulbs

1 litre creme fraiche

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

bunch of chives, chopped 

salt, white pepper

oregano and thyme flowers to decorate

Caramelise the garlics when you’re using the oven anyway – they take up little space and won’t make anything taste of garlic as they’re wrapped in tin foil.

Cut off approx 1/2 cm of the garlic bulb on the top so you can see the cloves. Wrap separately in tin foil and place in the oven until soft (just squeeze them to check if they’re ready). It doesn’t really matter what temperature the oven is at, everything between 150 – 220C works, just be aware the cooking time will differ. 

Leave to cool slightly. Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Unwrap the garlic bulbs and squeeze out the soft garlic paste and add to the sauce. Make sure you get every morsel. Mix well and adjust the seasoning. Leave for a little while before serving. Add the chives and herb flowers when ready to serve.  

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Recipe: Nigella’s slow roasted lemon and garlic chicken

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I’m a planner. Not all the time, but I like to plan ahead in several areas of my life. Especially when entertaining. So I had decided on a menu for the lunch I was hosting for a few friends in Sweden long before I even got to Sweden.

But the draught threw a spanner in the works. Three days before I was leaving for Sweden the government issued a BBQ ban in most areas and it was forbidden to barbecue even on your own property. All to prevent any more wild fires. Totally logical and something we all had to accept. But since my original lunch plan involved lighting the barbecue I had to think of something else to cook. I thought this would magically come to me as ideas so often do, but no.

So, in this moment of crisis (well not really, but I was starting to panic a little as my days were packed full of activities) I turned to my trusted cook book collection in the beach house and as usual they helped me out. This time it was a recipe in Nigella’s book Summer that saved me! This slow-roasted lemon and garlic chicken is summery (and delicious) enough to make you forget all about your beloved barbecue and appreciate a dish that basically cooks itself in the oven.

And if you don’t find butchering chickens as therapeutic as I do, I would suggest you either ask your butcher for help or buy a mixture of skin-on chicken breasts and chicken thighs.

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Nigella’s slow roasted garlic and lemon chicken, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces

1 bulb of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves

1 lemon, cut into chunky eighths

1 bunch fresh thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

75-100 ml white wine

salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Put the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, season and add the oil. Toss the chicken pieces in the oil so they’re coated all over. Place skin side up. Add garlic cloves, lemon chunks and  thyme. Sprinkle over the white wine and put in the oven to cook for 2 hours. 

Turn up the oven to 200°C and cook the chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges. 

 

Second week of holiday!

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My second week in Sweden I tried to take it a bit easier than the first. Try to wind down, not set an alarm and lower the pace. The first day that didn’t happen as I had invited eight adults and five children over for lunch, but I think I managed OK the rest of the week.

But back to the lunch. I skipped a starter so the children didn’t have to sit still for too long; instead everybody could mingle around with a glass of rosé in hand and snacking on these lovely crisps with browned butter, lemon juice and grated cheese.

For the main course I made chicken with lots of garlic and lemon, potato wedges, caramelised garlic sauce and a nice salad.

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And for pudding I let everybody put together their own pudding of soft meringue (everybody loves this one!), ice cream, lightly whipped cream, chocolate sauce. berries and figs.

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In the evening I had a simple supper consisting of Danish red pølse and all the trimmings. So yummy!!

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The next day I went to the beach in Skanör with friends and their three children.

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They brought a lovely picnic and there was a lot of swimming with the kids mixed with chatting to their parents. Such a lovely day that we finished off with a late lunch in the harbour nearby followed by ice cream.

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Wednesday I slept late and spent my time in the sun in the garden before going for dinner at a friend’s new house! They’d made salmon with salad, potato wedges, two sauces and nice bread and for pudding we had rhubarb pie with ice cream. A perfect summer’s evening.

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The next day was another quiet one, with some rain but also some time on the beach (yay!) before having dinner with my parents in the evening. I made lots of pizzas which I will blog about later.

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Friday started off the same way (not bad eh?! three lazy days in a row!) and finished with dinner at Badhytten with all the seafood!

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My last full day in Sweden I spent partly with my best friend, partly with my parents. Friends of the family came by for fika in the afternoon and in the evening my parents and I had something we never get tired off; fillet of beef with homemade bearnaise sauce. This was the first time we had dinner indoors as the weather turned, but I’m grateful for the sunny days I got!

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Sunday was my last day and my best friend and her family came over for lunch with my parents. I got lots of cuddles from my god daughter but we also had some lovely food. Mamma cooked arctic char with potatoes, mange tout, carrots and two sauces; one with caviar and this one with apple. The pudding was a huge success too (although dad would have liked a sweeter version) and I will blog all about it later.

Then off I went to the airport with a quick pit stop at my parents’ house where I hadn’t been all summer. Thank you, near and dear ones, for a lovely two weeks! ❤

BBQ, theatre and a(nother) lovely weekend!

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I’m enjoying my summer so much right now, and my holiday hasn’t even started yet. Must be a good sign for the next few weeks!

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Monday I had a cheeky after work drink with a colleague, which was much needed. Not the drink in itself but catching up outside of the office.

Tuesday was less indulgent; instead I cooked a simple supper at home, did some chores and tidied up.

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Wednesday a friend had us round for a barbecue which was lots of fun and really yummy! Loving all the summer evenings spent in friend’s gardens sipping rosé and chatting away.

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On Thursday we first had burgers at Bleecker’s pop-up on the Southbank (love their burgers) before going to National Theatre to see Julie, a modern adaptation of Strindberg’s classic play. It was such a good play and Vanessa Kirby was AMAZING as Julie. Never have 1 hr 25 minutes gone by so fast!

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The weekend started with an impromptu dinner at The Orange with friends on Friday night, followed by a lie-in the next morning.

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After a late breakfast we walked around Battersea Park and had lunch in the beer garden at The Prince Albert.

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Then we went for another stroll and had an ice cream before leaving the park.

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In the evening I made some sharing food (caprese, parma parcels with figs and rocket, saucisson, cheese and bread) and we started two new TV series. First The Handmaid’s Tale which was brilliant but so hard to watch I couldn’t watch two episodes in a row, so instead we started on Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which also was very good.

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Yesterday I had another lie-in to make up for the late weeknights, and had a rather chilled out day. For supper I made a slow cooked pasta bolognese with garlic bread and afterwards we saw Incredibles 2 in the cinema!

Recipe: Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

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Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, Bao London should be very flattered that I attempted to make my own version of their amazing pork bao buns.

No, it’s nowhere near as good as theirs, but that was never the goal, instead it’s a very nice homemade version of the real thing. And for being a first attempt I think i did pretty well!

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The recipe I used for the dough, is actually from Bao but I used regular plain flour rather than bleached so the buns look a little dull compared to the ones you see in restaurants or Asian supermarkets. I also added more flour as couldn’t shape mine otherwise, but I will publish the recipe I used rather than my version of it, but if you have the same problem as I did, then it works to add more flour.

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I steamed the buns in a regular bamboo steamer with parchment paper at the bottom. So easy!

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The finished buns looked pretty good!

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While making the buns this pork belly was cooking in the oven. So yum!

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And here you see my condiments (clockwise from top left); quick-pickled cucumber, chopped coriander, hot mayo, chopped spring onions and chopped peanuts.

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I made a second version with leftover bulgogi chicken and used the mayo, coriander and spring onions for that one, and for the pork bao I used the mayo, pickled cucumber, peanuts and coriander. Both were really yummy but I must say the pork one was my favourite!

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Bao buns, makes around 20 (you need 2-3 per person)

Adapted from Bao London’s recipe.

500 g plain flour – bleached if you can find it in Chinese supermarkets (it gives that brilliant white colour)
2 tsp yeast
145 ml warm water
2 pinches salt
50g sugar
15 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
145 ml milk

Mix flour, yeast and warm water together in a bowl. Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it comes together as one.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes – it will be sticky but gradually become more elastic.

Break off 40 g dough and give it a quick knead, forcing it into an oval shape. Roll it out until around 2-3 mm thick and brush one side with vegetable oil.

Fold one side over the other and press down gently so it forms an oyster shell shape. Place on parchment paper in a warm bamboo steamer and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Steam for 15 minutes – the bun will rise and puff up but will be easy to break open.

Pork belly

1 pork belly 

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork in a buttered dish. Massage the salt into the rind and season the meat all over. Put in the oven and cook for two hours or until the meat is very tender.

Turn the heat up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling is nice and crispy.

Spicy mayo

100 ml Hellman’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

a pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

Pickled cucumber

1/2 cucumber

1 tsp salt

75 ml caster sugar

acetic acid solution, also called sweet vinegar (1 part acetic acid  + 6-7 parts water)

1 tbsp water

Thinly slice the cucumber. This is easily done with a cheese slicer or potato peeler. Put the cucumber in a jar or bowl and pour in the salt and sugar, next add the acetic acid solution and water. Stir and make sure the salt and sugar dissolves. 

Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

bao buns, as above

pork belly, as above – cut into slices

spicy mayo, as above

pickled cucumber, as above

salted peanuts, finely chopped

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two slices of pork belly on top, add a dollop of mayo and pickled cucumber. Scatter with chopped peanuts and coriander. 

Bao buns with bulgogi chicken, spicy mayo and spring onions

bao buns, as above

bulgogi chicken

spicy mayo, as above

spring onions, thinly sliced

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two -three pieces of chicken on top, add a dollop of mayo and scatter with spring onions and coriander. 

 

Recipe: chicken bulgogi

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This Korean chicken dish has everything I want from a dish; plenty of flavour, seriously tender meat and a little heat.

The first time I made it I had it with rice, thinly cut carrots and pickled cucumber (using rice vinegar instead). The second time I used to fill steamed buns (recipe to come) and both ways were delicious.

Apart from flattening the chicken this recipe is as easy as making a marinade and forgetting about the chicken until the next day, when it takes a mere 5 minutes to cook it.

The recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz via Koreatown: A Cookbook.

Chicken bulgogi, serves 4

Adapted from David Leibovitz’s recipe.

125 ml soy sauce

1-2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce gochujang 

1 small onion, finely chopped of puréed

2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp mirin or rice vinegar 

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

black pepper

2 tsp sesame seeds (I omitted these)

4-5 chicken thigh fillets  

Mix soy, chilli sauce, onions, sugar, mirin/rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and ginger in a large ziplock bag. Also add black pepper and sesame seeds.

Cover a plastic chopping board with cling. Place a chicken thigh fillet (or two) on top. Cover with cling and flatten it by bashing it gently with a rolling pin. Repeat with all the chicken. 

Add the chicken to the marinade in the ziplock bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Place it in the fridge overnight. 

Grill or fry for approx five minutes of medium-high heat. Brush with extra marinade while cooking. Slice thinly and serve. 

 

Cape Cod: Spanky’s Clam Shack in Hyannis

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The second day in Cape Cod, we managed to catch the boat to Nantucket and explored the pretty island for the day (top tip: book your ferry in advance!). When we arrived back into Hyannis, we headed straight for dinner, eager to eat at a more socially acceptable time than the evening before.

We went o Spanky’s Clam Shack, which seemed like the place to eat in this little town, and joined the queue at the bar. I’m really not a fan of waiting or queuing in general but when I can sit at a bar and sip a drink (in this case frozen strawberry daiquiri) I really don’t mind.

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When we were shown to the table (after only a ten minute wait) we got snacks straight away, like they could sense our hunger. I really liked the crab dip and crackers, although the presentation could have been improved on. But this is one busy restaurant so I can see why they like plastic bowls and wrapped crackers.

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We got our starters quickly too. Sinead got another mountain of crispy calamari with a tomato chilli dip.

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I tried something completely new for me; a stuffed quahog (no, not a Family Guy reference, it’s the actual name of the clam). It’s a huge clam filled with breadcrumbs, butter and herbs, and I really liked it. But it’s quite compact and therefore really filling.

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While we were munching on our starters we saw lobster after lobster leaving the kitchen.

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We got the main courses while we were still eating our starters (we had already sent them back once so felt bad if we did it again). But considering the size of the starters it would have been nice with a pause in between courses.

Anyway, Sinead’s chicken with kale and fries was really nice.

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But I think my clam bake was even better. The lobster was huge and perfectly cooked and the corn was the best I’ve ever had. I also had a plate full of a local type of clam and as I hadn’t come across them before I got a lesson in how you peel and eat them from our lovely waitress (it required removing them from the shell, pull of a membrane and then soak them in stock for quite a while to remove the sand). It’s always fun to try new things, and the clams were quite nice but I prefer the regular sweet ones. I also got a baked potato which I barely touched as the lobster, corn and clams were more than enough for me.

I really liked this place, but be prepared for big huge portions and a quick pace.

Spanky’s Clam Shack, 138 Ocean St., Hyannis, MA 02632