Kent: Michelin star luncheon at The Sportsman

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This Michelin star restaurant has been on my to-eat-list (yes, I have one of those…) for quite some time and I was thrilled when my Kent-based friends Helen and Pete suggested we go there for lunch together. We booked it several months before and finally went in May this year (sorry it’s taken me forever to do the write up!).

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Quite unlike most other one star places The Sportsman is really relaxed and rustic. You place your order at the bar (while looking at the daily changing menu noted down on the black board next to it) and go sit down.

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The food takes a similar approach and is really well prepared out of the best ingredients but with a rustic no-fuss approach. Which people love! Especially chefs, who vote this as their favourite restaurant year after year.

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I obviously like the approach too, and from the get-go it’s pure perfection. The three different types of bread are all very good, the olives are of the buttery kind and the butter is just heavenly. A good start.

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Pete and Helen are just as excited as I am, although they’ve been here before and Pete and I can’t resist the oysters, which were served two ways and both delicious!

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It was only also Pete and I who ordered starters, but we shared them at the table. The terrine with mustard, pickles, grilled sourdough and crispy scratchings was so nice. Everything was just perfectly executed.

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My tomato, burrata and pesto may look simple, but it was perfectly put together and had the best pesto I’ve ever tasted.

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Helen had the beef and Yorkshire pudding which was pure perfection as well. Just look at that plate.

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My pork was incredibly tender and was served with a deliciously fluffy mash and a mustard jus. Just perfect.

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Pete had cod, again cooked to perfection, with asparagus and a delicious chorizo sauce. It’s classic food, but still with a few twists.

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I was quite full after my pork but would not turn down pudding in a place like this and so ordered the rhubarb soufflé with rhubarb ripple ice cream. It’s was amazingly good. Strong but subtle flavours and the softest soufflé!

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Helen’s warm chocolate mousse with with salted caramel and milk sorbet was equally dreamy and although familiar flavours, the fun texture is a great addition.

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The whole lunch was really relaxed and cosy, with two well-behaved children, and such a treat! Afterwards we went out into the sunshine and down the beach to look for sea shells and fossils. Such a wonderful day – and lunch!

The Sportsman, Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP

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Recipe: blueberry galette

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My last day in Sweden for the summer was a Sunday in August and instead of just making it a travel day (i.e. boring!) I invited by best friend and her family to the summer house for a nice lunch with me and my parents.

As a group we get on so well and you wouldn’t think we weren’t all the same age! I love it and as it’s also stress-free inviting people over who you know so well it was the perfect ending to my two+ weeks in Sweden.

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As my best friend and her husband has a baby who now walks on her own but then was desperate to master the walking we decided against a sit down starter. Instead we had some cheese straws and wine standing up chatting and running after the little one. For the main course we had arctic char with boiled potatoes, vegetables and a sauce with lumpfish roe. Very traditionally Swedish!

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And for pudding I made this blueberry galette! It was an instant hit (Emma, bestie, sorry it’s taking me so long to write this up – but here you finally have the recipe!), although my dad would have liked it a little bit sweeter. I, on the other hand, like the fact that it’s not too sweet as you can really taste the freshness of the blueberries this way, and it doesn’t feel all that indulgent serving it with ice cream, but pouring cream or lightly whipped cream would work well too.

Blueberry galette, serves 4-6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe

Dough:
205 g (385 ml) plain flour 
2 tsp caster sugar
115 g chilled salted butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
350 g blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp potato flour (or cornstarch)
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
60 ml caster sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tbsp milk or cream

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the softened butter and either work with your fingers until you have a sandy consistency or pulse in a food processor until you reach that sandy texture. 

Add 4 tbsp cold water and mix into a dough. Add another tbsp if needed until the dough has formed. Shape into a disc, cover with cling and chill for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 190°C. Toss blueberries, potato flour, lemon juice and caster sugar in a large bowl.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 30 cm diameter. Carefully transfer the rolled out dough to a parchment-lined baking tray. Mound blueberries in the middle of the of the galette, leaving 5 cm as a border. Fold the edges over, overlapping slightly. Brush dough with milk/cream and sprinkle generously with caster sugar.

Bake until the crust is dark golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 45–50 minutes. Leave to cool before serving.

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! ❤

Recipe: salmon en crôute

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When I had friends over for an al fresco luncheon at the summer house in August, this salmon en crôute was a great success. I have Gordon Ramsay to thank for the excellent recipe, although I tweaked it slightly, using puff pastry instead of shortcrust and doubled the recipe.

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I served the salmon with buttery amandine potatoes with peas and dill, provencale tomatoes and a lovely sauce I will tell you all about in another post. Everybody liked it, including the children!

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It was just the perfect summer’s day to sit outside sipping rosé and catching up with dear friends.

I did make too much salmon though, but that just meant I had lunch for the next day. And heated up in the oven (a microwave will make the pastry soggy) it was as good as the day before!

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Salmon en crôute, serves 4

Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe.

I doubled the recipe and made two parcels, and also substituted the shortcrust pastry for puff as I like the buttery flakiness better.

1 side of salmon (as even as possible), about 900 g, skinned

a little olive oil

60 g butter, softened

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

generous handful of basil leaves, chopped

small handful of dill leaves

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 roll puff pastry with butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

Check the salmon for pin bones, removing any that you find. 

Mix the softened butter with the lemon zest, basil, dill and some salt and pepper in a bowl. 

Pat the salmon fillets dry with kitchen paper, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the herb butter over one side and place the salmon with the buttery side down on the rolled out puff pastry. Spread the mustard on top and bring up the edges and tuck them in before folding the rest of the pastry over to form a neat parcel. Carefully turn the whole thing over so that the seam is underneath and place on a parchment lined baking tray.

Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Lightly score a herringbone or cross-hatch pattern using the back of a knife. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover loosely and chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C. 

Bake the salmon for 20–25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Rest the salmon for 5 minutes, then cut into portions. 

 

New Year’s Eve luncheon

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I know a lot of people think NYE is a real anti-climax, but I really enjoy celebrating it. Any excuse to dress up and drink champagne works for me!

Growing up, my parents and their friends made it special, always making it an occasion. Us children got to play with each others new toys (one NYE turned into Super Mario tournament), but also celebrate with the grown-ups, cheering with alcohol free cider instead of champagne, watching the fire works through the windows (to this day I still don’t like to go outside in the cold on the stroke of midnight), and watch the speech and the countdown on Swedish Television. It felt magical and that’s the feeling I carry with me now on New Year’s Eves with friends.

Nowadays the food make it special, and we really enjoy the Kalix roe, lobster and fillet of beef, but we have also realised that it’s really nice to do something on the day. So we prep as much as we can the day (or days, depending on the ambition) before NYE, so that we have the day free to hang out together until it’s time to get ready and cook dinner.

 

 

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This year, we thought a lunch in Malmö would be ideal. We went to Copenhagen last year for lunch and although lovely it felt a little rushed. But, it turned out, no restaurants in Malmö were open for lunch on New Year’s Eve. Maybe it’s un-Swedish to go out for lunch before a big evening celebration, who knows?! Luckily, after a lot of googling, we did find ONE restaurant open for lunch so we quickly booked a table and enjoyed a nice French lunch.

La Bonne Vie is a cosy French restaurant in the middle of town, just on Davidshalls Torg, and when we arrived for a late-ish lunch the restaurant was full up. And, just like us, most guests were drinking bubbly.

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The lunch menu was classic French with a few Swedish touches and very affordable. Emma and I both had the Toast Skagen with a very generous portion of prawns with mayonnaise and dill on butter-fried bread. Delicious!

Claes had the moules frites and also received a very generous portion of mussels, nice crispy fries and rouille.

We had a lovely lunch and will certainly be back this year too. Thank you for staying open!

La Bonne Vie, Davidshallstorg 7, Malmö, Sweden