Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands! 

 

London: Scandi lunch at Aster

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The building works near Victoria station has been going on for years, but now some parts of the development are finally ready. The rest is still a building site but the whole Nova area is brand new and quite exciting. There’s a Shake Shack (yum!), Franco Manca (yes, please!) and lots more restaurants to explore. The Scandinavian one was the first one I tried out, with my dear friends Gaby and Rowena for lunch one weekend.

Aster, as the restaurant is called, has a very nice interior (like all D&D London restaurants) and has a café area, restaurant area, bar and deli.

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We had lunch in the café area but it still felt restauranty enough for a lunch.

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With lots of familiar items on the menu it was difficult to choose but we got there in the end.

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Gaby had the meatballs with potato mash, cream sauce and lingonberries. Really nice and I got a small case of food envy (even though my homemade meatballs are really nice too!).

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I went for the smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches). One with pork belly, apple sauce and lovely crackling on rye.

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And one with prawns and mayonnaise. The pork sandwich was lovely and ticked all the boxes but I was disappointed with the prawn sandwich. It tasted nice, but I would have expected at least the double amount of prawns. Smørrebrød always have more toppings than bread but here that wasn’t the case.

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Rowena had the Aster Caeser salad with prawns, smoked vendace and rye croutons, but it arrived without the fish on the plate (!) and we had to ask for it. Then it took quite a while until the complete salad arrived and it was also smaller in size than the first one.

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The food was nice though (not wow – but nice) so we had pudding as well. Rowena had the apple cake with custard above which was really nice.

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And Gaby and I had a cinnamon bun each which was amazing. Still warm, buttery and lovely. We also spied people around us having afternoon tea which looked great so definitely want to go back and try that.

There are definitely a few tweaks to be done here, both when it comes to food and service (it was rather slow and wobbly) but hopefully it was all teething problems and it’s fixed now.

Aster restaurant, 150 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5LB

Recipe: Langos (Hungarian fried bread)

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This Hungarian speciality of yummy deep-fried bread is interestingly quite popular in Sweden. As a child I came across langos stalls at Festivals and markets and when I was in my early twenties and sailed in the archipelago on the West Coast of Sweden I discovered langos stalls everywhere, so you could grab one on your way home from the nightclub. (A brilliant idea by the way!)

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In Hungary langos are usually topped with garlic butter, smetana and cheese, among other toppings, but in Sweden we tend to use prawns, fish roe and creme fraiche. Both are delicious and you can use anything you want really. Thankfully, crispy deep-fried bread goes with most things.

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Langos, maked 8 (which easily serves 4, maybe more)

Translated from and adapted after Jennys Matblogg’s recipe.

25 g fresh yeast (or 2 tsp dry yeast)

300 ml finger warm water

1 tsp salt

1 medium cold boiled potato, pressed

approx 420 g plain flour

1 litre neutral oil for deep-frying 

Toppings:

50 g melted salted butter + 1 small garlic clove, pressed

300 ml smetana, sour cream or creme fraiche 

1 large red onion, finely chopped

500-600 g Atlantic prawns, peeled

1 jar red or black (lump)fish roe

Add the flour to a bowl. Add the pressed potato. Pour in yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Mix in the finger warm water and work into a loose dough. Cover and leave to rise for approx 40 minutes. 

Pour out the dough on a floured work surface. Cut into eight even pieces and roll them out thinly, using more flour if the dough is sticky. Leave to rise again, on a floured parchment paper, for approx 10-15 minutes. (This last step can be omitted). 

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and heat it up until 180C (try by putting in a small piece of bread – when it turns golden brown the oil has the right temperature). Deep-fry the breads a few at the time (depending on the size of the saucepan) until golden on both sides and crispy. Drain on kitchen towel, then brush on some of the garlic butter and add the toppings. Eat while hot. 

Recipe: Classic prawn cocktail

 

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One evening at home in Sweden I decided to make langos, something I’ve only made once before a long long time ago, but as these deep-fried flatbreads with yummy toppings are heavy to say the least, I thought we’d start with a salad. And since we already had peeled a mountain of prawns for the langos, why not throw in some prawns and make a classic prawn cocktail?!

I’d almost forgotten this little treasure (although I sometimes make this version) and really enjoyed its revival! Will share the langos recipe shortly.

 

Classic prawn cocktail, serves 4

3/4 large head of lettuce (I prefer a soft lettuce that’s not bitter for this, so no iceberg please) 

1 large avocado

12 cherry tomatoes

28 peeled Atlantic prawns

Marie Rose sauce:

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 tbsp ketchup

a few splashes Tabasco

lemon juice

salt and pepper

rosé pepper to decorate

Rinse the lettuce and cut into pieces. Rinse the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Slice the avocado. 

For the sauce, mix mayonnaise and ketchup in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. 

Layer lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, sauce and prawns in a dessert glass on a stem. Sprinkle some rosé pepper on top. 

Classic Swedish fare at Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm

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Den Gyldene Freden in Stockholm is probably the most classic Swedish restaurant I have ever visited, and having dinner here was a very enjoyable experience.

The restaurant is located in Stockholm’s Old Town, Gamla Stan, and is several floors deep with cave-like vaulted ceilings. The ambiance is both cosy and a little formal.

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The food here is classic Swedish (this is where to go if you want proper meatballs), but still up to date enough to not feel stuffy.

For our starter my mum, dad and I all had the same; a traditional landgång sandwich. Yes, it’s a glorified open sandwich, but a seriously delicious one! It’s named after a gangway plank, probably because it’s longer than a regular sandwich, and has more toppings. This long slice of rye bread was adorned with eggs, prawns, cured salmon, hot smoked fish, asparagus, wild garlic crème and pickled onions.

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Dad also had a snaps with his starter – very traditional – and something not many restaurants serve nowadays. Mum and I were happy with our wine but dad was in good company as two tables nearby also had snaps and sang snaps songs.

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Dad and I chose the same main course as well; duck sausage with thinly sliced duck breast, seasonal vegetables and a deliciously smooth potato purée. This dish was a lovely mix of rustic and gourmet. Delicious!

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Mum chose the catch of the day; fried pike-perch with new potatoes tossed in butter and chives and it was also absolutely delicious. The portions were very generous here as you can see, and no, I couldn’t finish the whole sausage even if I made a good attempt.

We were too full for pudding but lingered with our wine for a while before I went on to meet a friend and my parents headed back to the hotel.

Dad had been to this place before and really liked it, so that was the reason for going, but we all really enjoyed it! Everything about this place is classic; the interior, the food, the service. And the snaps.

A little gem I hope can stay in its spot for many more years to come, looking after our culinary heritage. As a tourist I urge you to go. Try this and a place serving New Nordic cuisine to get the whole range of Swedish food. Because this is traditional, but done very well.

Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51, 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Tapas at home

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We had some wonderful summer evenings in Sweden and on one of them, we pretended we were in Spain, eating a few homemade tapas dishes. Washing it down with a glass of rosé it was easy to imagine us being near the Mediterranean, instead of the Baltic.

We started with a few pinxtos with salmon and mayonnaise. I’ve eaten many of these in Spain, but they look a bit different in the Basque pinxtos bar, with the salmon chopped and mixed in with the mayonnaise. Flavour wise they’re the same though, and the reason I skipped the shopping was because I was already hangry and prolonging the intake of food would just make matters worse.

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I also made my first ever tortilla! It tasted wonderful, but it’s much flatter than they usually are because I halved the recipe as it was for 6 people. I recommend you make the full recipe so it looks proper though, and the leftovers are yummy to eat the following day too.

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My dad LOVES chorizo so we decided to fry some and serve it with soft peppers in oil. This worked perfectly together with the eggy tortilla.

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Another favourite of ours is the garlicky prawns we order every time we have tapas. This was the first time I made them at home and thought they tasted ‘right’, which just proves how good the cookbook I found the recipe in actually is. Large prawns are best for this dish, but as Sweden has lots of the smaller cold water prawns we used mainly those and it still tasted great!

We also had some other nibbly bits like olives, cured ham (sadly not Spanish Jamon but prosciutto works too) and pickled garlic. I had the intention of making ham croquetas as well but they take a while to make and we were out and about during the day. Instead I made them the day after as a starter and they were divine. Recipe to follow in a separate post.

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Tortilla de patatas (Spanish tortilla), serves 6

Adapted from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved 

1 onion, peeled and halved 

8 eggs

sea salt 

400 ml olive oil

Thinly slice the potato halves, cut  side down. Do the same with the onion.

Pour the olive oil into a deep frying pan and add the thinly sliced onion. Place over a high heat. Once the onion starts to sizzle (this should take about 5 minutes), add the sliced potatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are soft and cooked through. The potatoes and onions should have browned on the edges. Remove the potatoes and onions from the pan and set aside. 

Break the eggs into a large bowl but don’t whisk them. Add the hot potatoes and onions to the eggs season with salt while the potatoes are sitting on top. Carefully mix through; use a fork to break up the eggs but don’t over-mix – just give the mixture a few loops with a fork. If you can, leave the mixture to rest for half an hour to allow the flavours to develop. 

To make the tortilla place a non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the pan is hot add the egg mixture. Do not stir the contents of the pan! 

After about 3 minutes you should be able to ease the tortilla from the edge of the pan using a spatula. At this point, cover the pan with a plate (it needs to be larger than the pan). Hold firmly with both hands and flip the pan over on to the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the pan for the other side to cook. Place back on the heat for another 2 minutes (the inside will then be a little runny, but if you want it cooked through, just lower the heat and cook for a few more minutes). 

Chorizo with peppers, serves 3

1 chorizo ring 

oil for frying 

1/2 jar grilled peppers in oil

Remove the skin on the chorizo and cut into 7 cm long pieces. Cut in half lenthways and fry for about 5 minutes on both sides in some oil. Drain the peppers and cut into strips. Add to the chorizo in the pan until warm. Transfer to a bowl and serve. 

Gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns), serves 2

Adapted from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy.

12 raw king prawns 

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

100 ml olive oil

3 dried chillies (I didn’t have any so used a pinch of cayenne pepper instead)

sea salt

1 tbsp chopped parsley

Peel the prawns and sprinkle with salt. Add oil, garlic and chilli to a frying pan and place over high heat. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the prawns. Cook for 1 minute on each side, until they just turn pink. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and served immediately in a bowl. Preferably with some bread to dip in the lovely oil. 

Cold water prawns with black garlic dip

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Most Fridays of my childhood life before I moved to London we would have prawns for supper. When I grew up it was an easy supper to prepare for my mother who worked full time and we never grew tired of it. Even at university we had prawns for supper regularly and I do miss it at times.

Of course there are prawns in the shops here too, but often peeled and therefore less tasty. But when I was shopping at Waitrose for this Friday’s little dinner party they had plenty in the fish counter.

I admit it was a bit alien for my friends to peel prawns for dinner, but they all got into it. And the black garlic dip I served them with was such a nice change from mayonnaise or aioli. Much more depth in flavour I will definitely make this again.

Describing the flavour of the fermented garlic is near impossible as it is rather complex. But compared to regular garlic it is much milder, sweeter and rounder in flavour.

Black garlic-dipp, serves 5-6

Translated and adapted from Pytte’s recipe.

4 cloves black garlic

300 ml full fat creme fraiche

1 lemon wedge, juice only

salt and pepper

Press the black garlic and mix with the creme fraiche. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and b beat with a stick blender for a few minutes for a fluffy dip.