Recipe: The easiest Pavlova!

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December is pretty stressful for all of us, so when I can simplify things I try to do just that. I write my Christmas cards in advance, do most my Christmas gift shopping online etc.

The same applied when I after a party weekend away for my dear colleague wanted to bake some cakes for her actual birthday in the office. In my head I wanted to do this lovely chocolate Pavlova, but when I came home tired after a great party and having had to deal with snow (!) in London, I lowered the bar somewhat.

And I’m so glad I did. Sometimes less really is more and all my colleagues loved this cake. I topped it with Maltesters but throw on whatever chocolate, fruit or berries you like.

Pavlova, serves 8

4 egg whites

220 g caster sugar

Topping: 

450 ml whipping cream

1 bag of Maltesers

cocoa for dusting 

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar a little at the time while beating. Once added beat until stiff peaks form and you have a glossy firm meringue (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down wihout the meringue moving). 

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a spatula, pour the meringue out onto the parchment paper and shape it into an even circle. 

Bake for 60 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar until the oven has cooled down. Leave to cool completely. 

Turn the cake upside down onto a cake plate and remove the parchment paper. Lightly whip the cream and spread on top of the meringue. Top with Maltesers and dust with cocoa. Serve immediately. 

 

 

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Recipe: weeknight fish tacos

 

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As much as I sometimes like to make an elaborate all-from-scratch meal on weeknights I am often tired and temped to reach for my phone and Deliveroo. But, most of the time I manage to resist because I can come up with a quick and lovely meal that takes only minutes to cook but gives as much satisfaction as a takeaway.

These fish tacos definitely belongs in that category, and although you can bread your own fish it’s not that much better than the good ones you find at M&S or Waitrose, so I take the easy way and buy it. And since I love these tacos so much, I always buy more breaded lemon sole goujons than I need so I can put some in the freezer for the next time the laziness (or craving) hits.

So, when the fish is cooking in the oven, all you have to do is cut some vegetables (out of the suggestions below I find avocado, lettuce and spring onions most pertinent – although my supermarket was out of spring onions when I took the photos – the rest are nice if you have them to hand already but no need to pop to the supermarket to get them) and mix the spicy mayo, which literally takes minutes, and once the fish is cooked, you just assemble and tuck in.

Plus it’s ready before your takeaway would even arrive, which is quite important for us hangry people.

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Weeknight fish tacos, serves 2

4 soft corn or flour tortillas

6-8 store-bought lemon sole goujons

1 little gem

1 avocado

a handful of cherry tomatoes

1/4 cucumber

1/2 lime

spring onions

coriander

100 ml Hellmann’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang paste (or if you prefer a smokier flavour; chipotle paste)

Pre-heat the oven to 180-200C. Line an ovenproof dish with parchment paper and place the fish on it. Place in the hot oven for approx 15 minutes until cooked through and crisp. 

Mix mayonnaise and Gochujang paste together in a bowl and set aside. 

Cut the vegetables into chunks. Slice the spring onions and chop the coriander. When the fish is ready, take it out of the oven and tear the goujons into chunks. Heat up the tortilla breads in the oven for 30 seconds and start the assembly. I prefer to start with some spicy mayo spread onto the tortilla, then fish, more mayo, vegetables and last the spring onions and coriander. Finish with a squeeze of lime and some salt and dig in. 

PS. Since I have a sensitive stomach I’ve only listed the vegetables I use myself, but Rosie’s fish tacos with cabbage looks just as scrummy!

Recipe: cheese toastie with Maroilles

I don’t know if it was because I’d just seen Nigella make a brie, parma ham and fig toastie on her latest TV show or just the fact that I am perpetually in the mood for a cheese toastie, but as it happens two weekends ago, I knew just how I would use the Maroilles cheese a French colleague had given me the same week. In return he got a nice piece of Swedish Herrgård cheese, matured for 18 months. But back to the Maroilles.

When talking to French people, food as a conversation topic is never far away. And that’s how I found out that this Maroilles cheese, from the area of Picardy, is both delicious and probably the smelliest cheese in the world. To me that’s more intriguing than off-putting and I was super excited when I tried it. Similar to Reblochon, it’s a washed rind cheese with a lot of flavour, but it’s much creamier, and dare I say, delicious.

This cheese toastie is utterly simple to make, but very rewarding when you bite into the crisp bread with melted cheese oozing out on the sides.

Maroilles cheese toastie, per toastie

2 slices Poilâne bread

salted butter

2 thick slices of Maroilles cheese

Butter the two Poilane slices on one side. Place the cheese on one of the buttered surfaces and spread them it out so it covers the whole bread slice. Place the other slice of bread on top, buttered side down (i.e. touching the cheese). Press the sandwich together. 

Now, melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on medium-high heat (3-4 out of 6) and place the sandwich in the pan. You don’t want the butter to burn so if unsure lower the heat. You want the sandwich to be golden on both sides and the cheese to melt inside so it takes a few minutes on each side.

Fry until golden brown on one side, pressing down with a spatula. Turn the sandwich and fry the other side. Once crisp and golden and the cheese has started to ooze out on the sides remove from pan and place on kitchen roll to remove excess butter. Pat the top of the sandwich with kitchen roll too, then cut into half and serve. Yu-um. 

PS. This is what I love the most about food; it brings people together. My colleague thought the Herrgård was a nice addition to his cheese board, with otherwise only French cheeses I presume, and I got to try a cheese I had never heard of until he boasted about the best produce from his region in France. Merci!

Gotland: Sylvis döttrar café on Fårö

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A real ‘must’ when visiting Fårö, the little island just north of Gotland, is a fika (coffee and cake) at Sylvis döttrar, a bakery and café on the island. My friends mentioned it like an institution; it must have been around for years, so we made sure to visit in the afternoon.

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The place was very popular with a long queue of tourists waiting to buy their baked goods, but we were not all that impressed.

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Both mother and I are keen bakers and we all found the cakes a little basic. And some slightly dry. I got a sense that the café was past its prime, living on its reputation from years ago.

A real shame, when so many people come here for fika all summer long.

Sylvis döttrar, Fårö Bukleks 1526, 624 67 Fårö, Sweden 

Gotland: north, east and Fårö

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Our first full day on Gotland we wanted to discover as much as possible and decided to head north and east (the next day we went south and west) and our first stop was the Lummelunda Cave, one of Scandinavia’s biggest caves.

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It’s pretty touristy, but well worth a visit as it’s both pretty cool to see, but it’s also interesting to hear how the cave was discovered. I remember visiting when I was four years old, and although it was probably more amazing experiencing the cave as a child it was still nice to come back as an adult and experience it in a different way.

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After the cave experience we took the car ferry to Fårö where the nature is absolutely amazing. The island is barren and stony, but also eerie and pretty. And there’s sheep (and sheep huts) almost everywhere (Fårö translates as Sheep Island). 

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We found the most amazing café here, just by following a sign I thought looked promising, that I would recommend everyone to visit, but we also stopped for fika at the famous and more traditional Sylvis Döttrar bakery. Reviews to follow.

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After that we drove back to Gotland and headed east to Furillen, a former limestone quarry that’s extremely beautiful. The restaurant was closed unfortunately, but it was worth stopping here for the nature alone.

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We covered quite a lot of the island just driving around (and stopping when we saw a good photo opportunity).

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Although Gotland is small there are things to see and do (and eat!) just about everywhere, so it’s good to be selective. The Gotland Guide from the ferry over is great to use and we kept one in the car the whole time.

Visby: dinner at Donners Brasserie

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We arrived Visby in the afternoon, having been up since 5am, so we were quite happy just walking around the town for a bit (taking some photos) and then have an early no-fuss dinner.

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We ended up at Donners Brasserie and sat outside people-watching (so much fun when most people were dressed in medieval attire). You could tell it was the end of the season as none of the restaurants were full up but at least we were not alone dining here.

The menu was quite simple and although the smoked prawns for a starter appealed we were all hungry starving and went straight for the main course.

Mother had arctic char with potatoes baked in tin foil and served with a coriander mayo. Not ground-breaking but it was cooked well.

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I had the steak with bearnaise sauce and fries. The meat was slightly over-cooked but still nice.

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Father had the largest portion (so generous!) of lamb racks I’ve ever seen, with sautéed vegetables and a potato salad.

The food was nice, and not very elaborate but I can see it appealing to the crowds in the summer. It was all fresh and cooked well just lacking a bit of oomph.

Donners Brasserie, Donners plats 3, 621 57 Visby, Sweden 

Sweden: The medieval city of Visby, Gotland

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Gotland is the largest island in Sweden and a real summer island. I imagine it’s pretty much only locals here during the rest of the year, but during the summer the tourists come invading – both Swedish and from abroad –  and they’re joined by summer guests making the city all buzzing with parties and people milling about.

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Visby, the only city on the island, is the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and hosts an annual medieval festival in the summer. The city dates back to around 900 AD, which you see traces of all over town.

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The city wall is the most prominent feature, but there are also lots of church ruins, a medieval cathedral and lots of houses dating back to that time. It feels like even the cobbled streets tell a story of olden times. So much heritage!

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We, my parents and I, were here during the medieval festival (by coincidence) and it was great fun walking around the city seeing people dressed in medieval outfits – some more elaborate than others.

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Visby has a modern side too though, with a nice harbour, lots of restaurants and shops and a nice botanical garden.

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They also have these super cute sheep cast from cement scattered all over town which are modelled after the local Gotland variety gute sheep.

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Stay tuned for more posts about this lovely island!