Theatre, cinema and a chilled weekend

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Last week was a short work week, as the Monday was a bank holiday, but it felt longer somehow. Why is that always the case after a long weekend!?

As I was tired I stayed in on Tuesday, unpacked the last bits from the weekend and just took it easy.

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But on Wednesday I went to the National Theatre (about time after having lived in London for ten years…) to see Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was very dramatic and very, very good!

Before the play we had dinner at one of the restaurants in the theatre. Very convenient, rather than rushing from place to place and nice food.

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Thursday was another quiet evening at home, and I enjoyed every second. Friday I went to the cinema and saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was cute and very British (about half the cast were previously in Downton Abbey) but not amazing, much as I expected.

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Saturday and Sunday were very chilled, and as the weather was rubbish I thoroughly enjoyed staying indoors with scented candles, nice food and binge watching Madam Secretary. Sometimes I really crave some down time and that’s exactly what I needed this weekend. Now I feel ready to tackle another busy week!

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Recipe: rhubarb meringue pie

 

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We have a good thing going in my family. We all like mayonnaise and bearnaise sauce A LOT so we use a lot of egg yolks. Not wanting to waste food the egg whites go into little containers in the fridge (they keep for weeks!). But conveniently my dad loves everything meringue-y so we get to use up the egg whites quite frequently too.

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The whole little family (there’s only three of us; mother, father and me) loved this rhubarb meringue pie. It still has the tang of a lemon meringue pie but is slightly less heavy as no butter or egg yolk in the rhubarb filling.

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The pie on the pictures had approx 500 g rhubarb in the filling which was fine taste wise but looked a little silly with all that meringue, so in the recipe below I’ve adjusted the recipe to 800 g rhubarb. It cooks down a lot in the oven, so I promise it’s not too much.

Also, when making the meringue, please note that it needs a lot of beating with an electric whisk and that it’s important the syrup boils and reaches (or almost reaches) 118C.

Rhubarb meringue pie, serves 8

Pastry:

180 g plain flour

100 g softened butter

2 1/2 tbsp cream or water

Rhubarb filling:

800 g frozen rhubarb pieces

3 tbsp potato flour (starch)

4-5 tbsp caster sugar

 

Italian meringue:

4 egg whites

120 g caster sugar

Syrup:

120 g caster sugar

100 ml water

Mix all the ingredients to the dough in a bowl or using a food processor. Press into a Ø 20 cm pie dish. Bake in a low oven using baking beads at 180C, for approx 10-15 minutes or until golden and baked through. Leave to cool. 

Place the defrosted rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish and scatter with potato flour and sugar. If using fresh rhubarb I would start off by using less potato flour adding more if needed.  Place in a 200 C oven for approx 20 minuter. The mixture should be bubbling, almost caramelised and thickened. Leave to cool. 

Make the meringue: Add egg whites and sugar to a clean bowl and beat for 10 minutes with an electric whisk. Meanwhile make the syrup by adding water and sugar to a saucepan and bring to the boil (don’t stir). Remove when 118C (the boiling point for sugar). Add the hot syrup to the meringue and beat for a further 15 minutes, until you have a thick and glossy meringue. 

Assemble: Add the rhubarb mixture to the pie crust once both are cool. Spread the meringue on top and burn the edges with a brulee torch. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb

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As much as I love this time of year when you suddenly have an abundance of fresh spring produce, I get a bit stressed by it too because they all come at the same time. For me, choosing between rhubarb and strawberries or asparagus and broad beans, would be a bit like choosing between your children. I love them all and want to cook as much with them all without forsaking the others. Sadly, that’s impossible.

But when I have time to cook I try and make the most of it, and last Saturday I invited my friend Maria over for a supper consisting of wild garlic soup (I’m obsessed with wild garlic, I admit it), squid and chorizo with beans and spinach followed by this pannacotta with rhubarb.

In Sweden we call the rhubarb prepared this way for melted rhubarb, which indeed it is. The rhubarb releases juice because of the heat which mixes with the sugar and creates the most wonderful rhubarb syrup full of soft rhubarb bits. It is wonderful served warm on vanilla icecream or with just some cold pouring cream, but I must say it was wonderful in this pannacotta too.

Make sure you don’t use an aluminium pan as the oxalic acid in the rhubarb will free the aluminium and you will end up with rhubarb with aluminium which is poisonous.

Vanilla pannacotta, serves 4

500 ml single cream

1 vanilla pod

50 ml caster sugar

2 gelatin leaves

Cover the gelatin leaves with cold water in a bowl. Make a cut lengthways in the vanilla pod (too free the seeds) and add to a saucepan. Add sugar and cream. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for a few minutes while stirring. Remove from heat. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin and add to the pan. Stir to dissolve. Divide between four small bowls or glasses. Leave to cool then let them set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. 

Melted rhubarb (or rhubarb compote)

300 g rhubarb, washed and trimmed

80-120 g caster sugar

1/4 lemon, the juice

Slice the rhubarb coarsely and place in an ovenproof dish (not aluminium, see above). Scatter the sugar on top (start with the smaller amount if you like) and place in 180C oven. Stir after 10 minutes and taste. Add more sugar if needed. Leave in the over for 30-40 minutes more until the syrup has thickened. Add the lemon juice and stir. Leave to cool.  

Top the pannacottas with a few spoonfuls of the melted rhubarb and serve. 

Rhubarb crumble

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When visiting my parents this past weekend it was (as usual) a lot of focus on food and seasonal produce.

My mother loves gardening and even though she doesn’t grow as much as she used to when I was younger, there is still plenty of fruit and vegetables to pick in the garden throughout the summer. Around this time of year it is only really the rhubarb that’s ready for picking, so that’s what we did.

And for me, there is nothing better than making a crumble out of the first fruit of the season, and this crumble recipe (a modified Delia-ism) is absolutely divine, especially when served still warm with either vanilla icecream or homemade raw custard (N.B. contains raw eggs so not suitable for everyone).

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Rhubarb crumble, serves 4

ca 250 g rhubarb, washed and cut into smaller pieces

100-120 g soft brown sugar (to balance the acid from the rhubarb)

Crumble:

100 g softened butter

200 g plain flour

135 g soft brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

Butter an ovenproof dish. Place the rhubarb pieces in the bottom. Scatter the sugar on top. Combine the ingredients for the crumble in a mixing bowl using a wooden fork. Pour on top of the rhubarb. Place in 175C oven for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is soft and the top golden brown. 

Rhubarb cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

On Sunday it was typical British weather with heavy rain and grey dull skies, so what is a girl to do when she doesn’t want to go out and get wet? She puts on her pinney of course and starts baking and spreading the lovely scent of cupcakes in the flat, and a cloud of dusty icing sugar… I have yet to learn how to make frosting without leaving the kitchen looking like it has snowed in there…

I brought these cupcakes to the office on Monday and they diappeared extremely quick, even the boys loved them and asked for the recipe! The recipe for the cake is from the Swedish blog Mumsfillibaba and the frosting is courtesy of a Swedish TV chef called Leila (but I made 1,5 batches).

Rhubarb cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, makes 18

Cake:

125 g softened butter
200 ml caster sugar
2 eggs
150 ml milk
450 ml plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 rhubarb stem, sliced

Frosting:

90 g softened butter
750 ml icing sugar
(1,5 tsp vanilla sugar)
1,5 tbsp lemon juice (I used rhubarb purée instead)
150 g Philadelphia cheese

Place 2-3 rhubarb pieces in each cupcake case. Beat butter and sugar white and creamy. Add one egg at the time. Mix in the other ingredients and divide between the cake cases. Fill them to 2/3. Bake in 175C for 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Beat butter, icing sugar and liquid creamy with an electric whisk. Add the cream cheese and beat until glossy. Decorate the cupcakes when cooled completely.