When it comes to New Years Eve I like to keep it super classic. Champagne (or other bubbly), of course. Lobster in one way or another. Nice meat. A decadent pudding. And good friends! That’s the most important ingredient of all!
Our plan is to have canapés and champagne quite early in the evening. It’s the best part of the evening (we think so at least!) and something we really treasure so I’m making our favourites. One delicious mushroom toast on butter-fried bread (requested by my best friend), another toast with lobster (yum!!) and another little dish with bleak roe because we love it so much.
Then we’re going straight for the main course; fillet of beef, crispy potatoes, nice vegetables and a creamy mushroom sauce to bring it all together.
I’m really happy with the menu. Sometimes I like to experiment but on New Years Eve I prefer to keep it classic and stick to tried and tested favourites. All so even the chef (aka moi) can relax and not spend too much time in the kitchen. Living abroad it’s so rare to have an evening like this with friends from home so we’re making the most of it when we can!
My key to success here is of course to prep ahead. I write a list for the day before and start to tick it off. I will even measure up ingredients for the evening so I can chat and sip champagne while I cook without thinking too much about quantities and recipes.
And as we always have homemade pizza with my parents on the 1st January I will prep that too. Just the dough and the tomato sauce but that will make the assembly so much easier that evening. I have discovered a great recipe for pizza dough I will share with you soon. You make the dough a day or two ahead of time and let it slowly rise in the fridge.
I received a comment and a request on my Swedish blog, to write about my cooking now, in lockdown. Something I of course have addressed on my instagram accounts, which are more ‘in the moment’ than the blog.
I completely understand it might not be of interest for you readers to read my reviews of restaurants from before lockdown, that are now shut. But the reason I have carried on ‘as normal’ (or as normally as I can right now) is because I think those good restaurants that I didn’t have time to write about before lockdown need to be mentioned. My blogs don’t have a huge following, but they are read by a few of you and if I could have some influence on where you spend your money when all this is over of course I want to contribute to that. To cast a limelight on restaurants I really like, large or small. Regardless of what kind of backing some restaurants had before lockdown, I think all business owners are now in the same boat; worrying if they can bounce back. If they can afford to take this hit or if it’s better to throw in the towel.
But I hear you; that’s the past, and the present is strange and can be tricky to navigate, especially when you’re forced (more or less, depending on where you live), to cook more at home, to come up with new dishes, while maybe not having access to all the food items you’re used to.
I feel quite equipped for this, strangely. Maybe because I taught myself how to cook when I lived away from home for the first time (with a patient mamma at the end of the phone guiding me when I got stuck), or because I made sure I would enjoy cooking for one after a breakup when I was around thirty, or because I loathe throwing food away and get immense satisfaction out of using up every single little morsel leftover; be it a quarter of an onion, a small piece of chicken or a little hunk of cheese. I use them all up and have come up with some interesting lunches over the years. And maybe also, because I love to cook for other people.
You see, the first three weeks of lockdown I utilised all my cooking for one tips, as I was alone in London making sure I didn’t develop the virus. At this point it was hard for people to get food in general so I relied on my freezer stash, my ability of using up food and coming up with good substitutions and to buy food where the regular person wouldn’t shop. I felt this was a small thing for me to do, but could mean that somebody else (maybe a whole family) could access that delivery slot or those groceries, because frankly they needed it more than I did. I waited for Natoora, one of my favourite vegetable and delicatessen shops, to open up their restaurant slots to the general public and bought lovely things like British asparagus, burrata and dolce latte. This might seem extravagant in a crisis, but my thinking was that I get more satisfaction out of these more luxury food items than the average person, I can afford it, and I don’t eat very much and can therefore stretch the produce quite far if I need to. And I wanted to support a wonderful business that with restaurants closing had a huge excess of food they needed to sell. Which I, of course, was oh so happy to take off their hands.
So I ate very well those three weeks. But I didn’t eat much meat, because they don’t sell it (other than in delicatessen products), and I made sure to buy some flour (any flour!) so that if I couldn’t get a delivery slot at least I could make bread, pasta or pizza. I wanted to avoid shops as at this point they were still crowded which scared me!
Then after those three weeks, feeling safe enough I didn’t carry any nasties with me, I went out to the countryside to join my boyfriend and his mother, who were in the midst of moving house. So I put on my apron and started cooking for them. Which was very different than cooking for just myself. But very helpful to both them and me. I have invented new dishes (so satisfying), come up with different ways to cook something because of a lack of ingredients (also very satisfying) and although the food look (and taste) great it’s not as glamorous as instagram suggests of course (check out my stories to see failed experiments, substitutions and lots of leftovers). Yes, all the leftovers get eaten!! Sometimes reimagined as something else and sometimes just reheated as they are.
So in the coming weeks I will try to share some helpful recipes where I’ve had to think differently, using what I’ve had to hand. Being in the countryside has proved a lot easier when it comes to food though. Two small local shops carry necessities like eggs, milk and bread. And one of them is a greengrocer too! The village farm sells eggs like they always do, and we have managed to get slots to pick up food from supermarkets (some far away, but we could get slots) and since Ocado opened up more slots a couple of weeks ago I have used them too. So I realise we’re very lucky. But I hope most of you are too. That if you can’t go out somebody can deliver to you or a neighbour could do the shopping for you.
PS. Moving house in lockdown was really hard work, so I haven’t been able to post very much, but I hope I will have more time in the coming weeks.
As we’re bang in the middle of the mushroom season (and it looks like a great mushroom year this year, judging from the bounty my foraging friends present) I thought it appropriate with a little homage to the lovely girolle. Which also happens to be one of my favourite mushrooms!
I think mushrooms and pasta go well together, and I have several great recipes on the blog already, but as I learned to perfect a proper carbonara I couldn’t help but experiment with it too. You see, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that the addition of girolles to the creaminess and saltiness of a carbonara would work really well, and so I tried it out on my favourite guinea pigs; my best friend, her husband and my boyfriend.
As I really wanted the girolles to take center stage I was afraid the salty pancetta would take over, but with the double amount of girolles compared to pancetta in weight, it worked really well. I also fried the mushrooms separately to the pancetta, adding plenty of butter, garlic and seasoning to really make them hold their own.
Hope you like my little experiment as much as I do. For me, this is just the perfect Friday night pasta, especially in autumn, obviously paired with a large glass of smooth red wine and great company.
Spaghetti carbonara with girolles, serve 4
6 egg yolks
80 g parmesan + extra for serving
175 g good quality pancetta, diced
350 g fresh girolles, washed and patted dry
2 tbsp butter
400 g dried good quality spaghetti
2 garlic cloves
salt and black pepper
Put the egg yolks. in a bowl and grate the parmesan into the bowl. Add some pepper and mix thoroughly with a fork. Put to the side. Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
Fry the mushrooms in butter and a little oil on medium-high heat. Finely chop a garlic clove and add it to the pan. Season well. Pour the mushrooms into a bowl and leave to cool a little. Fry the pancetta in oil on medium-high heat. Peel a garlic clove, crush it with the palm of your hand and add to the pan – remove it if it browns or when the pancetta is cooked. Drain the cooked pancetta on kitchen towel.
Fill a mug or small jug with pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Mix the spaghetti with the pancetta and mushrooms and remove from heat. Pour everything back into the pasta pan, add some pepper and some of the pasta cooking water. Add the egg and parmesan mixture and mix well. Add more pasta water if the mixture is too dry. Divide into bowls and serve with grated parmesan and black pepper.
If I lived closer to a good fishmonger or a supermarket with a good fish counter, this could easily become a Friday tradition; buying a net of juicy mussels, cooking them the classic way with wine and cream, open a nice bottle of white wine to go with them and eat them with some nice crusty bread.
And if I wanted to make the supper a bit more substantial – I would just add potato. I know the potato part isn’t all that classic, but it’s a really nice way to make the mussels more into a main course. And since I use the same recipe I’m basically giving you a two for one here.
Classic Moules Marinère, serves 2
1 kg fresh mussels
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil
100 ml dry white wine
300 ml double cream
(3 firm potatoes, peeled and diced)
chopped parsley for serving
Rinse the mussels to get rid of any grit. Remove the beards and throw away any mussels that are broken or don’t close if tapping them.
Add butter and oil to a large pan and put on medium heat. Fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes without browning. Add the wine and let it bubble a little. Add the cream and stir. Add the mussels and cook with the lid on for a few minutes until the mussels have opened their shells. Season to taste. Scatter with freshly chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread for dipping.
If you want to add the potato; cook the diced potato in salted water until soft when piercing with a knife. Drain and add to the mussels before serving.
The first week in February was not too busy for me, and that was great since I had to battle a cold. But apart from resting a bit to get rid of said cold and working of course, I also managed to get back into the cooking groove.
When I’m out a few nights a week I feel it tricky to figure out what to cook the nights I stay in. But when I stay in more I really get into it. I made a nice omelet one day, my go to poke bowl (same ingredients as in this recipe) and pulled pork in brioche buns with aioli.
I also got a bunch of tulips that lasted surprisingly long and I just love the fact that spring is here and with it TULIP SEASON!
On the Wednesday we went to the cinema to see Can You Ever Forgive Me and although it wasn’t amazing I liked it. Interesting true story and great acting.
I cooked even more at the weekend. We stayed in every night so I planned it all in advance and ordered everything from Ocado. Much more inspiring than just popping into the small neighbourhood supermarket only to find out that they’re out of stock of the chicken you wanted.
If you want to follow my day to day life a bit more you can follow @scandelights on Instagram as well. As blogging takes a lot of time, I find my instagram account a great compliment of what I eat and do on a more daily basis. Hope to see you there too!
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).
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.
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!
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.
I bought mussels that I cooked that night with white wine, cream and potatoes. So yummy!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Friday night we went out for a pub supper before seeing First Man at the cinema. Great film – highly recommend it!
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.
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!