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. 

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Taking it easy

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I was ill again last week. So typical. So I stayed in bed Monday and Tuesday but felt better on Wednesday and could go to work. So the rest of the week I just took it easy after work, to rest as much as possible. I really don’t want to get ill again between now and Christmas (or on my Christmas break!), too much to do!

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The weekend was quiet as well, which was nice. On my lunch break on Friday I went to Whole Foods to buy some nice things for the weekend. Love it there and it’s a treat to go now when I don’t have one close to me anymore.

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I bought mussels that I cooked that night with white wine, cream and potatoes. So yummy!

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On Saturday we slept until noon, had poached eggs for breakfast and then went for a walk around Wimbledon Common. It air was crisp but the sun was out and it was perfect weather for an autumnal walk.

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When we got backed we watched a bit of the tennis and some rugby before going for a drink at the local pub followed by dinner nearby.

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Sunday treated me to another lie-in and then I pottered around, making pudding for supper and prepping ahead. For dinner I made a lovely pasta dish I will post about later, and lemon posset for pudding. Then we cuddled up on the sofa watching The Handmaid’s Tale and when I couldn’t take it anymore, an episode of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

The next month will be busy, but I hope I can squeeze in another cosy weekend without plans. Sleeping until one wake up naturally is just the best!

Recipe: tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and mushrooms

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I made this pasta with prawns, mushrooms and tomatoes back in Sweden in August for my parents and I for supper and we all really enjoyed it.

It feels fresh and light although it has cream in it and the prawns work so well with both tomatoes and mushrooms.

And it’s actually the tomatoes that steal the show for me! Look out for those little bursts of juicy sweet tomato that comes with almost every bite. I had the luxury of using my mother’s homegrown cherry tomatoes in different colours (they were delicious!) but any small tomatoes in season will work just as well (I’ve made this dish a few times since August using store-bought on-the-vine British cherry tomatoes).

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Tagliatelle with prawns, tomatoes and button mushrooms, serves 3-4

500 g fresh tagliatelle

1-2 shallots, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

plenty of butter and neutral oil for frying

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

50 ml dry white wine

150 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

300 ml double cream

1/2 stock cube (fish or vegetable) 

400 g frozen Atlantic shell-on prawns, defrosted and peeled (or approx 250 g fresh ones) 

approx 2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

Fry onions and garlic in butter and oil on medium heat without browning. Remove from pan. Add more butter and oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms on medium-high heat until golden brown. Season and remove from pan. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the tomatoes and let them cook on medium geat for a few minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding cream and stock cube (no water). Stir and let the sauce thicken. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper (the sugar will balance the acidity from the tomatoes). You want the sauce to have depth and taste a lot as the pasta will dilute the flavours. Cook the pasta in a large pot and drain.  

Take the sauce off the heat and add the prawns. Stir and add the pasta. Mix properly so every strand of pasta is coated with sauce. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.  

Cooking, series and a lovely weekend!

Hello,

And sorry for the silence. I’ve spent most of this week in bed being poorly but am finally on the mend. And since I’m behind with my weekly “report” I thought it best to write it up straight away. So, here’s what I got up to last week…

I had a quiet week without too much socialising and I noticed how much more energy I had in the evenings when I just went home to cook (which I did every night) and watched a few episodes of a series or read my book, than when I’m out for dinner and drinks several times a week.

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Cooking wise it was quite simple meals, proper weekday grub, which was nice. I made a batch of tomato sauce on Monday for supper that same evening and the night after (love planning ahead like that!). Half of the tomato sauce was used for shakshuka (isn’t it just the best supper dish?!) with onions and carrots and topped with creme fraiche and feta. Similar recipe here.

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On Tuesday I spiced up the rest of the tomato sauce and used it to make enchiladas. Yum! Wednesday I cooked a new recipe but I want to photograph it again before I put it on the blog, so stay tuned.

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Thursday I had a sudden craving for dauphinoise potatoes and so made a small gratin and ate it with some roasted chicken from the freezer and steamed broccoli.

I continued to watch The Truth of the Harry Quebert Affair (not many episodes left now!) but also started watching Killing Eve on the BBC which is really good!

Friday night we went out for a pub supper before seeing First Man at the cinema. Great film – highly recommend it!

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On Saturday I met up with my foodie friend Anna and her daughter, visiting from Sweden, for some shopping and a lovely afternoon tea at Zetter Townhouse in Marylebone. In the evening I went for drinks before cooking a late pasta supper at home.

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Sunday we had a lie-in and a nice cooked breakfast at home before going for a pub lunch and a walk by the river. It was freezing so afterwards we cosied up on the sofa watching Murder on the Orient Express (which wasn’t that great but had an amazing cast) followed by some more of  The Handmaid’s Tale. For dinner I made this chicken gratin and for pudding we had vanilla ice cream, homemade raspberry coulis and  crushed biscuits, for a bit of crunch.

Apart from the sudden cold weather it was a good week!

Recipe: garlic and herb sauce

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Growing up in the countryside in the south of Sweden I didn’t realise how lucky I was to grow up in such an idyllic place. Fast forward to present time living in a big city, where getting fresh herbs and locally grown vegetables can be quite tricky at times.

So my first night in Sweden this summer I cooked us a fairly standard summer meal of pork fillet, salad and potatoes. Normally I would cook the meat on the barbecue to get that charred flavour, but due to the first barbecue ban in my life time (even in your own garden – it was that dry) I had to make do with the stove and oven. And sitting outside in the sunshine it was still a lovely meal.

Mainly because of the sauce I literally threw together on the spot. It’s a simple cold sauce with mainly creme fraiche and a little mayonnaise as a base (us Swedes make sauces like this ALL the time), but what made it so nice was the mix (and quantity) of fresh herbs from the garden. An absolute treat for this city girl and something I used to take for granted when I lived at home.

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Garlic and herb sauce, serves 3-4

300 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Acacia honey

3/4 small garlic clove, finely chopped

approx 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley 

salt and pepper

Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Then add mustard, honey, garlic and herbs and leave for a while for the flavours to develop before serving. Season to taste.

 

A nice week!

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The past week was a bit quieter (although it probably doesn’t seem like it) than the previous, so although tired (as always on a Monday) I feel like I had a really nice week.

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On Monday I went straight home after work and made a big batch of soup with broccoli and cheese (I will post the recipe later). Sometimes I just love cooking at a slow pace, stirring the pots and taking pleasure in the fact that I’m creating something from scratch. Obviously this approach doesn’t work when I’m hangry; then my it’s less serene in my kitchen.

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On Wednesday it was my Swedish friend Anna’s birthday and she invited a group of us to her flat for a combined birthday and belated house warming party. It was so lovely and I really enjoyed meeting some new people. On Thursday I tagged along to a comedy evening at a micro brewery in Wandsworth, which was a first for me on so many levels. I don’t really like stand up comedy, but still enjoyed most of the acts (while quietly praying they wouldn’t talk to me). I really liked the set up and although I don’t like beer all that much either it was really nice beer and a well organised event! I really enjoy seeing what this city has to offer and trying new things.

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On Friday I was pretty tired but met up with Gaby for a quick burger after work and then had an early night and a long lie-in the next day; my preferred way to start the weekend.

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The rest of the weekend was quiet and I spent most of it at home. I did laundry, organised my wardrobe, pampered myself with face masks and cooked nice breakfasts but also had time to watch some TV series (Vanity Fair and The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair) and some films (Election, Gorillas in the Mist) and yesterday I went to the cinema to see the amazing A Star Is Born.

Recipe: pizza bianco with pears and Saint Agur

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The last one of the pizzas I made in Sweden in the summer is this one with pears and my favourite blue cheese St Agur. It’s a very classic flavour combination that works really well on the bianco base. And I can assure you it was as yummy as it looks!

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But, as I always strive towards perfection, I do think it would be even nicer with some added crunch in the form of chopped walnuts and an extra hint of sweetness with a drizzle of Acacia honey. I tried to find both these ingredients in the beach house but as it’s not as well stocked as our regular kitchen I came out empty. As you can tell I didn’t really plan all the pizza toppings beforehand, but got carried away mid-baking.

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Pizza bianco with pears and Saint Agur, makes 1 pizza

1/4 pizza dough 

flour for rolling

2-3 tbsp creme fraiche

1/4 buffalo mozzarella, torn into smaller pieces

100 ml grated Präst cheese (mature cheddar works too) 

2 pears, thinly sliced lenghtways

40 g Saint Agur, broken into smaller pieces

sea salt and black pepper

To serve:

chopped walnuts and a drizzle of acacia honey 

Roll out the dough with the help of a rolling pin on a floured surface. Place the rolled out pizza base on a parchment paper covered baking tray. Spread out the creme fraiche on the pizza base. Divide the mozzarella and the grated Präst cheese. Add the pear slices and distribute the Saint Agur. Season. Bake in a 220C (200C fan) oven for 8-10 minutes, until the base is crisp, the cheese has melted and the whole thing is golden brown. Remove from oven, add walnuts and honey and cut into slices.