Burgers at Dirty Bones, Soho

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One night after work I met up with my friend Gaby in Soho. We were both in  the mood for comfort food and Gaby suggested Dirty Bones, which I hadn’t heard of before. Situated on the top floor in Kingly Court it was really popular, but we got there just in time to get one of the last tables. And the happy hour was still on – amazing!

We started with a cocktail each, called Top Dog, made with vodka, lemon, chambord and prosecco. It was really nice an fresh – not too sweet- and we both really enjoyed it.

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Having sorted the drinks out we decided on food; buffalo chicken wings to start and then a burger each. The chicken wings were very good and seriously spicy. I missed the classic blue cheese dip that is usually served alongside the wings, as it would have been nice with a cooling element.

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With mouths slightly on fire we moved on to the burgers. Gaby ordered the most insane burger ever created, The Mac Daddy with tender beef short rib and mac ‘n cheese. I tried both toppings and they were delicious, but I’m a bit conservative when it comes to burgers so not sure that one’s for me.

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Instead I had the safe option, a burger called The burger. It was what you expect a burger to be, and it was very nicely done! Only strange thing was the piped cheese, but it tasted great!

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It’s an understatement to say we were full after those burgers but we still decided to share a pudding. I mean who can resist cookies and cream; milk ice cream in the glass and a lovely chocolate cookie on the side. Nicely done and very yummy!

Dirty Bones, Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London W1B 5PW

Lunch at Mishkin’s, Covent Garden

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One of my trusted London restaurants is Opera Tavern on Catherine Street. I’ve been there lots of times and every time I have thought to myself that I need to visit the place next door soon, because it just looks so nice.

Soon seems to be a relative term for me; it took me a few years to actually go but a while back I finally went to Mishkin’s! I had lunch here with my friend Marie-Louise who also works in the area and it was just as nice as I had hoped it would be (company included).

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Although part of the Italian restaurant empire Polpo, this is a kind of Jewish deli (at least that’s what it says on their website), so expect things like Reuben sandwiches and salt beef. The whole menu looked great but most irresistible was the mac ‘n cheese with salt beef and mustard, so we ordered one small each and some other nibbles to share. The mac ‘n cheese was really nice with a cheesy layer on top and soft macaroni underneath.

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The sliders with lamb, white bean hummus and feta were also great, and perfect in size.

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We also shared the cod cheek popcorn which were nice, although a little bland without the tartar sauce.

Now that I’ve finally been here, I will definitely take turns between Mishkin’s and Opera Tavern. Might see you around!

Mishkin’s, 25 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JS

Creamy mac ‘n cheese and broccoli slaw

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When the weather is biting cold and one has little energy or body warmth when stepping through the front door I’m of the opinion that mac ‘n cheese is the answer. It’s cheesy and comforting (for me that’s the same thing!), warm and filling and utterly delicious. Although there is no such thing as too much cheese it’s nice with something sharp cutting through the creaminess and this is where the broccoli slaw comes in. It’s fresh, zingy and healthy. The perfect counterpart to the heavy mac ‘n cheese!

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Creamy mac ‘n cheese, serves 3-4

250 g de Cecco, I used the Cavatappi shapes

1 tbsp salted butter

1 tbsp plain flour

100 ml semi skimmed or whole milk

150 ml single cream

1 large handful grated matured cheddar

1 tbsp white wine

salt, white pepper

more grated cheddar to go on top

Cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes. Add the milk a little at the time while whisking and the sauce thickens. Add the cream little by little while whisking until you have a thick bechamel. Add the cheese and stir while it melts on lower heat. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper.  

Drain the pasta and mix with the cheese sauce. Pour the cheesy pasta into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with grated cheddar and place in 200C oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden. 

Broccoli slaw with lime, serves 3-4

1/2 head broccoli

2-3 carrots

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 lime, the juice

salt, black pepper

Slice the broccoli, including the stem and cut into matchsticks. Grate the carrots. Mix mustard and mayo in a bowl. Add the lime juice then add the vegetables. Mix well and season. 

Dijon mac ‘n cheese with panko topping

Last night my flat was transformed into a haunted house, thanks to the creativity of my flatmates. They had organised a proper Halloween party and apart from serving their guests worms, eyeballs and the likes, they also had some mac ‘n cheese. Well, as rather large amount of mac ‘n cheese actually, that I helped cook the day before.

And that reminded me of this slightly different version of mac ‘n cheese I made a couple of weeks ago. This version is flavoured with dijon mustard (works really well) and is topped with both panko (Asian breadcrumbs) and knobs of butter as well as some cheese.

Dijon mac ‘n cheese with panko topping, serves 4-5

250 g macaroni

200 ml creme fraiche

50 ml single cream

50 ml milk (or substitute for more creme fraiche) 

100 g grated cheddar

3 tsp dijon mustard

salt, pepper

1 handful panko or other breadcrumbs

2 tbsp butter

grated cheese

Cook the pasta al dente. Bring creme fraicge, cream and milk to the boil in a saucepan. Add the cheese to melt. Season to taste with mustard, salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir. Pour into a greased ovenproof dish. Top with cheese, panko and butter. Bake for 30 minutes in 180-200C until crispy on the top.

Macaroni and cheese

When I grew up in the rural countryside in Sweden in the 1980s and 1990s, most series on teve were American. In my youth I watched the likes of Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch and grew acustomed to a few American traits. Like eating icecream straight out of a paper tub, when icecream in Sweden only came in a plastic tub or a brick shaped paper carton. Not at all the same as the Ben & Jerry’s you could get in the States. Anyway, I have had plenty of icecream the American way since, and now you can get the American brands of icecream (with the right packaging) in Sweden too.

But there were other foods that seemed just as intriguing. Like a proper burger form a diner or mac ‘n cheese, the ultimate comfort food.

It has taken me until now to make an American version of the mac ‘n cheese, using The Pioneerwoman‘s recipe. And I truly understand now, why this is such a popular dish especially when in need of something comforting.

This recipe contains lots and lots of cheese, but the top layer is the best with the crusty cheese on top. I thought I used a lot of seasoning in this dish, but it needs a little more than you expect.

We ate this with chorizo style sausages

Macaroni and cheese, serves 3

Adapted from The Pioneerwoman’s recipe.

475 ml macaroni (2 cups)

1 beaten egg

4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup)

4 tbsp plain flour (1/4 cup)l

235 ml milk (1 1/4 cup)

1 tsp Colman’s mustard

225 g grated cheese (1/2 lb) for the mixture + extra for the topping

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook macaroni until very firm. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly.

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take a few spoonfuls of the sauce and pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly. Whisk together till smooth.Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in cheese and stir to melt. Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in 200C oven or until bubbly and golden on top.