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!

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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.  

London: amazing pasta at Sorella

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Some restaurants just has that little bit extra, that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that makes you like a place straight away. It’s a bit like clicking with someone on a first date; you can’t really pinpoint what you like about the person, but there’s something.

That’s the feeling I (and I think my dinner companion too) got when we walked into Sorella in Clapham. Something about the ambience felt nice, the staff was friendly and the food amazing.

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The menu consists of snacks and sharing plates as well as a few main courses, that are also perfect for sharing. To start off with we ordered some bread (much needed when you’re verging on hangry) and a starter to share.

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The restaurant made ricotta with the softest pea purée and a flavoursome oil was a delicious start. Smooth, soft and subtle but still with lots of flavour.

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Then we moved on to what we came here for; the pastas. The tagliatelle with a slow-cooked ragu was heavenly.

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But it was soon overshadowed by the dreamy linguine with morels cheese and heaps of truffle. IMG_6469.jpg

I still of dream of this dish, that’s how magnificently delicious it was. I hope this stays on the menu forever.

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After the pasta we had a little breather before getting started on the main course.

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We had perfectly cooked cod with Swiss chard and a lovely jus.

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And on the side the crispiest potatoes I’ve ever come across. Wonderful!

But what really stayed me were the pasta dishes. It’s hand to heart some of the best I’ve had.

Race you back?!

Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor St, London SW4 6BX

Recipe: proper spaghetti carbonara

 

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Recipes are not protected by copyright law, probably as they are evolving all the time. And as much as I like to keep to tradition when it comes to certain dishes I love to experiment with others.

When it comes to pasta there is no reason to always stick to the traditional recipes, but I think it’s good to try to master them first.

Growing up in Sweden in the 1980s and 1990s, we had a lot of traditional Scandinavian dishes, usually including meat and potatoes. Italian dishes then, when the world seemed a bigger place, were often (very) bastardised versions of the real thing, and therefore not of great inspiration to me. Because I only had the school dinner version of lasagne to sample I thought for a long time I didn’t like the dish. But it turned out it was just that terrible (yes, terrible) version I didn’t like. It was the same with ravioli (and other non-Italian dishes); my reference points were bad. Whereas everything my mother (or grandmothers) cooked was always delicious, but more Scandinavian in heritage.

Now my relationship with Italian food is quite different. I have been to Italy a few times and tried the real thing, and also cooked proper Italian dishes at home. And the emulsion of water and Parmesan keeps fascinating me. First of all, it’s DELICIOUS, but also, once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult at all as this recipe proves. And once and for all, you do not need cream to make a creamy carbonara, just a little patience and using the method below. But I must admit I added one tablespoon of it during my first attempt, although it’s not needed. As always Gennaro Contaldo’s recipes are spot on. Grazie.

Spaghetti Carbonara, serves 2

Adapted from Gennaro Contaldo’s for Jamie Oliver recipe.

3 large free-range egg yolks

40g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

150g good quality pancetta, diced

200g dried good quality spaghetti

1 clove of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

black pepper

Put the egg yolks into a bowl, finely grate in the Parmesan, season with pepper, then mix well with a fork and put to one side. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Fry the pancetta in a little oil over medium-high heat. Peel the garlic and crush it and add it to the pan for flavour – remove if it browns or when finished cooking. Reserve some cooking water and drain the pasta and add it to the pancetta pan. Toss well over the heat so it really soaks up all that lovely flavour, then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the pasta back to the spaghetti pan, season and add a splash of the cooking water, then pour in the egg mixture (the pan will help to cook the egg gently, rather than scrambling it). Toss well, adding more cooking water until it’s lovely and glossy. Serve with a grating of Parmesan and extra pepper. 

Book Club, Street Party and a relaxing weekend

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The summer weather seems to have disappeared, but that’s completely normal for midsummer, which is later this week.

Sadly I won’t be celebrating it, but I’m meeting up with friends so it will still be a nice day. There are of course midsummer celebrations in London, but celebrating with lots of people in Hyde Park doesn’t appeal to me.

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Monday last week was a quiet one (that’s how I like my Monday’s – the shock of getting up early and going to the office is enough for me) and I made a yummy pasta with cream, sherry and last year’s girolles (picked by my auntie) from the freezer. So yummy and a perfect start to the week!

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Tuesday we met up with the book club at Marie-Lou’s and she has prepared a feast as usual. It was lovely to meet up and discuss the book and catch up!

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On Wednesday I went to the Motcomb Street Party which was lots of fun with entertainment, charity auction, food stalls and flowing prosecco. All the food stalls looked good but I decided on a brioche bun with roast beef and creamed horseradish. Really yummy!

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The rest of the work week was quieter; on Friday I watched the Portugal-Spain game at home and just chilled out. Saturday I met up with Laura in Surbiton for a walk along the river, lovely lunch and a cheeky ice cream. So nice to catch up!

The remainder of the weekend was unplanned which was just lovely. I can’t remember the last time I could catch up on sleep like this, binge on TV series and just chill. Such a treat!

 

 

Recipe: fabulous lemon spaghetti

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Right now we have normal Spring weather in London (as one would expect in May), but when I made this lemony pasta for the book club girls we had summer temperatures in April (!). If it hadn’t been so windy, I would have liked to eat outside but indoors had to do.

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Because of the nice weather I wanted to make something summery, but more filling than a salad, so when my colleague suggested this River Café recipe I had a hunch it would be perfect.

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And it was!

Looking at the ingredients list it might seem like a heavy dish but the acidity from the lemon makes it appear as light as air (well almost). It’s so fresh and really tastes of summer. So much so that it’s easy to dream of Mediterranean holidays…

But back to London and reality. The pasta went down a treat (everybody had seconds) and Mary-Louise even asked for the recipe. She has since reported back that she made it twice in one weekend and that it works just as well with the pasta shape bucatini. Thank you M-L!

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Lemon spaghetti with Parmesan and basil, serves 6

Adapted from River Café’s recipe.

250 g spaghetti

juice of 3-4 lemons, preferably Amalfi lemons

150 ml olive oil

150 g Parmesan, freshly grated

2 handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and finely chopped

finely grated lemon zest 

Cook the spaghetti in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly and return to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, then stir in the Parmesan; it will melt into the mixture, making it thick and creamy. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add more lemon juice to taste.

Add the sauce to the spaghetti and shake the pan so that each strand of pasta is coated with the cheese. Finally, stir in the chopped basil and some grated lemon zest.

 

Spring and a rather decadent Saturday night

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As soon as the snow melted spring arrived. Hallelujah! I’ve swapped my ankle boots for ballet flats and it feels so much lighter.

The snow disappearing certainly put me in a good mood for the week and I’ve had a lovely one. I had some time to do chores at home (love to get organised!) but also made it to the cinema to see Red Sparrow (it was alright but not as good as I had hoped) and had a girlie night in with Ro and Gaby watching rubbish TV, eating a lovely pasta dish that Gaby cooked and some pampering in the shape of gold (!) face masks.

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The weekend was quite packed as well with after work drinks at Gordon’s Wine Bar on Friday, outside but under heaters. Saturday I got some more things done at home and I finally feel back on track, before going out for a lovely dinner in the evening.

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I finally made it to a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while (review to come) and after a lovely dinner there we carried on with champagne at The Charlotte Street Hotel and Kettner’s Townhouse in Soho. It was such a treat! I just love discovering new places in this amazing city!