Two weeks in Sweden!

“Dig where you stand” is a popular saying in Sweden, and that’s how I’m trying to get back into the groove of writing on here after my very much unplanned (and rather long) hiatus.

So I thought I would start by looking back at my two weeks in Sweden. Show you what I got up to, and more importantly, ate!

My first supper in Sweden was a simple one, but I had craved proper (smoked) Swedish sausages for a long time, so sausages with buns and mamma’s homemade mash was perfect!

Christmas 2020, when I was in Sweden for a month (first isolating then staying with my parents) my parents and I ate so much we tried to dial it down this time, with some regular food in between the celebration dinners. And we felt much better for it! Case in point: homemade Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy prosciutto crumbs and mamma’s homemade bread.

But we also indulged in the foods we love, like bleak roe toast and prawns! And pudding!

Our tree this year was probably the best we’ve ever had! So tall and handsome (and a lot bigger than our little London tree!).

I introduced my mamma to mince pies as I made them for the first time (on request) for our mini Christmas party in London. It’s not something I love, but this recipe with frangipane is excellent and they’re fun to make. I made them both regular size (here) and canapé sized for the party.

We had our traditional Christmas food on the 23rd, which we in Sweden call Lillejul (it translates to little Christmas) and it’s a day we’ve always celebrated in some ways. We usually see friends for glögg and when I was little we celebrated the 23rd with the same family friends every year and us children got to open a few presents (that we gave each other) early! It was really special. But these days we eat the traditional Christmas food (our favourites) that evening and have more a more festive dinner on Christmas Eve. It just suits us better.

We actually had a white Christmas this year! (Not a common thing in southern Sweden at all). It was really beautiful actually. This is the view from my bedroom and I just love it.

We opened our stockings (we only do it for fun, it’s not actually a Swedish tradition) before we had eggs, herring and other Christmassy things for lunch.

In the evening we had some nibbles and pink champagne to start off the evening.

Our Christmas Eve table!

This year we celebrated Christmas with fillet of beef, Hasselbacks potatoes (they’re Swedish you know) and homemade bearnaise sauce and for a little Christmas touch, brussels sprouts with butter and bacon.

Our pudding was very traditional, ris a’la Malta, which is basically a rice porridge (a bit looser than a rice pudding) served cold and with lots of lightly whipped cream mixed in. It’s delicious but SO heavy, I can only manage a small bowl.

Christmas Day was gorgeous so we drove to the beach for a lovely walk.

And by the time we came back home the sun was setting and the views were beautiful.

I made very decadent hot cocoas for pappa and I when we got back. With milk, real chocolate, whipped cream a plenty and marshmallows. So yummy!

We had turbot for dinner, cooked whole in the oven, with potatoes, the most delicious sauce, peas and mange tout.

One of the days after Christmas we used the leftovers to make Danish smørrebrød. It’s basically an open-faced sandwich with a small piece of bread and a lot of toppings (so you can eat more than one). It was so yummy and a genius idea as Christmas leftovers are always a bit tricky to use up (at least for us).

I had a lot of lovely family time but also met up with some friends. Sadly not as many as I had planned due to illnesses (Covid and others) but I was grateful for the ones I got to see. I had a few lovely walks (and fika) in the woods with friends, and I can’t believe I haven’t done that before. It’s so lovely to walk and talk (I always struggle to exercise when I’m home as most of my time is spent socialising and eating with friends and family), get fresh air, look at the scenery and such an easy way to see a friend. No need to book anything, dress up etc. Hope to do this more even post-pandemic!

Happy New Year!

Hello! Hope you’re all well and have a lovely break over Christmas and New Year!

I had two lovely weeks in Sweden over Christmas and really enjoyed a slightly slower pace than I have managed there before. I had more dinners at home with my dear parents than I usually do, and loved it. Every year is trial and error as I try to work out the best way of seeing my friends, spending time with family AND having some time to relax after a busy autumn. I definitely haven’t cracked it yet, but this trip was more restoring than usual, which is great.

As I got back to London I quickly repacked to go to Norfolk for New Year’s Eve. It was so lovely with a little break; no snow, and walks by the beach.

This week has mainly been about getting back into the work groove, pack away our Christmas decorations and tick things off the to-do list.

I hope you all got off to a lovely start of the year. Have you got any new year’s resolutions. I haven’t other than that I will try to write on here more regularly. I have so many recipes to post but have lacked both the time and inspiration to write, but I hope that will change.

Recipe: Triple Chocolate Loaf Cake with Chocolate Icing

As you probably know by now, tea time has become a very sacred ritual for us, mainly because my boyfriend is British and loves (!!) his cup of tea in the late afternoon early evening. And as we all know (right?), tea and cake go very well together. I grew up with tea and cake most evenings after supper so I obviously like it too. Sometimes we have biscuits but loaf cakes are a favourite because one can easily eat just a slice and pick it up with one’s hands.

This cake is my regular chocolate cake recipe scaled down to a loaf tin size, with added chocolate chunks and an icing, so more tried and tested than groundbreaking Because the batter is quite thin all the chocolate sinks to the bottom while baking, but I quite like that. The top is crunchy and has the icing and the bottom is soft but hides all the chocolate pieces.

My favourite thing about this cake though is that it lasts. It doesn’t get dry after two days, so there is no rush to eat it, just enjoy it when you want a slice. I would say it lasts well for up to a week, but it will probably get eaten much sooner than that! It also freezes well. Such a good cake!

Triple chocolate loaf cake with chocolate icing, serves 6-8

400 ml caster sugar

330 ml plain flour

4 tbsp cocoa

2,5 tsp vanilla sugar

2,5 tsp baking powder

135 g melted butter

3 eggs

200 ml recently boiled water

40 g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

40 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Icing:

100 ml icing sugar, sifted

1 tbsp cocoa, sifted

1-2 tbsp water

Mix the dry ingredients. Add eggs, butter and water, stir to incorporate. Add the chocolate. Pour into a greased loaf tin, lined with parchment paper. Bake in a low oven, 175 C for 35-45 minutes. Leave to cool.

Mix the ingredients for the icing in a bowl and spread onto the cake while it’s still warm but has cooled down a little.

Recipe: Huevos Rancheros

Deep-frying corn tortillas until cripsy has been a revelation. I suppose it’s the same as the hard shells you can buy at the supermarket, but it tastes so much better!

That fried corn tortilla is the base for huevos rancheros, a dish I wasn’t sure I would like, but I absolutely adore it. I do cheat with store-bought refried beans, because the M&S ones are really good and comes in a small tin perfect for two portions of huevos rancheros. The other toppings are of course optional but I think there should be avocado, soured cream, some kind of salsa or tomatoes, a fried egg obviously, grated cheese and plenty of coriander and lime.

I could never eat this for breakfast (it is a breakfast dish!); it’s much too filling, but it would be great for brunch or for supper, which is how we’ve eaten it.

Huevos rancheros, serves 2

Inspiration from Matrepubliken.

2 corn tortillas

200 ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 small tin refried beans (I buy from M&S) or homemade

Toppings:

1 avocado, sliced

soured cream

salsa

grated cheese

2 lime wedges

coriander

Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan until 170C. Place one tortilla at the time in the oil and fry until crispy and golden, approx 30 seconds. Turn it around so it’s golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel.

In a separate frying pan fry the eggs on high heat. Heat up the beans. Place the crispy tortillas on plates. Add a fried egg to each, divide the beans and follow with the toppings, salt and pepper. Eat while it’s warm.

Recipe: Creamy Langoustine Pasta with Garlic Butter Langoustines on the Shell

This summer, which I mainly spent in Norfolk, was heaven. Apart from the weather. But we had lots of barbecues and ate a lot of lovely local seafood.

But one day at the fishmongers, while also buying local crab, I couldn’t resist the beautiful looking Scottish langoustines. And that night I turned them into this stunning pasta dish with wine, tomatoes, cream and of course lots of langoustine meat.

I was quite generous with three each; half of the meat went into the sauce and the other half I kept in their shells, covered with garlic and parsley butter and put under the grill before placing them on top of the silky pasta. It was creamy, buttery and pure heaven to eat.

If I had had more time I would have made a quick stock from the shells to use in the pasta sauce but it wasn’t actually needed. Instead I put them in the freezer and made langoustine soup a few days later using a quick stock, a splash of wine and cream. Delicious!

Creamy langoustine pasta with garlic butter langoustines on the shell, serves 2

6 langoustines

1/2 shallot, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

100 g cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

a small pinch of sugar

3 tbsp dry white wine

150 ml cream

salt and pepper

250 g spaghetti

4 tbsp salted butter, softened

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Start with the langoustines. Cut them all in half lengthways and get rid of the vein. Keep six halves in their shells but take the meat out of two of the claws, keep four as they are. Pick all the meat out of the remaining six half and cut into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente according to the packet. Then start the sauce by placing a large frying pan on medium heat and add the butter. Cook the onions for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the wine and let it bubble away. Add sugar. Then add the cream and let it thicken slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix together the butter with garlic and parsley. Place the six langoustines halves shell on in an oven-proof dish. Spread with plenty of butter and place under a hot grill (250C) until bubbling and hot, it only takes a minute or two.

Heat up the sauce, add the langoustine meat, the drained pasta and a splash of pasta water and cook for a minute or so in the sauce while moving the pasta around the whole time. Once it is coating every strand of pasta in a satisfying manner, divide the pasta between two bowls. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then place the shell on langoustine halves on top, three in each bowl. Add two claws to each bowl and serve.

Recipe: Spaghetti with Buttery Tomato Sauce and Burrata

I take inspiration from all around me and my cooking philosophy (and perhaps generally in life too) is that everything can be improved upon. So even though I thought my regular tomato sauce could hold is own, I was intrigued when I saw Swedish food writer Sofia Wood add butter and honey to her tomato sauce on Instagram.

Not long after I saw that I made this spaghetti with tomato sauce and burrata and the butter, honey and lemon juice really improved my already quite good tomato sauce. The butter just makes it more mellow (in the best possible way) while also adding depth. I highly recommend trying this at home! The honey is less controversial as I always add sugar to my tomato sauce to take away sharpness, but honey works really well and you don’t have to be scared you added too much like you can with sugar. Lastly, the lemon juice added back a bit of sharpness after having removed some with adding butter and honey, but it adds a different kind of sharpness than the tomatoes have naturally – it’s fresher!

So with all these little tweaks my tomato sauce was taken to the next level and it was SO good paired with creamy burrata, olive oil and basil that I urge you, yes URGE you, to try it too!

Spaghetti with buttery tomato sauce and burrata, serves 2

1 burrata, 200 g

300 g spaghetti

1 tbsp olive oil for frying

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

400 g passata

50 ml water

2 tbsp honey

3 tbsp salted butter

1-2 tsp lemon juice

1 small bunch basil, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Topping:

torn basil

extra virgin olive oil

grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Take the burrata out of the fridge. Add the oil to a large sauce pan on medium heat. Fry the garlic for a few minutes but don’t let it get too brown. Add the passata and water and let it reduce for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add honey and butter to the sauce and let it melt while stirring. Add the lemon juice and basil and season well to taste.

Add the drained spaghetti to the sauce and a little pasta water if needed. Continue to cook the pasta in the sauce while moving the pasta around in the pan with tongs until each strand of spaghetti is evenly coated with tomato sauce. Remove from heat and divide between bowls.

Tear the burrata in two and divide between bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter with basil and add extra salt and pepper. Finish it off with a generous scattering of grated parmesan.

Recipe: Raspberry and White Chocolate Loaf Cake

Tea and cake has become almost a sacred ritual for us since the first lockdown. Although it’s not conducive to eat cake every single day (or is it?!) we do treat ourselves quite often and always when we have friends to stay.

I made this cake for the first time one rather stressful day before our friend Ravi came to stay with us and I just crossed my fingers and hoped it would turn out alright. Luckily it turned out beautifully, apart from the icing which was a bit lumpy, but I can live with that.

The chunks of white chocolate that almost caramelise in the oven is my favourite part, but I like every aspect of this cake. It has a nice crumb texture (I did base it on a Mary Berry recipe so would expect nothing less!), just enough moisture and flavour from the raspberries, a little hint of lemon to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate and a simple icing on top. Do try this at home and enjoy with a lovely cup of tea! Or it can easily be turned into a pudding by adding a generous dollop of lightly whipped cream and some fresh raspberries to the plate and maybe grate some white chocolate on top.

Raspberry and white chocolate loaf cake, serves 8

175 g caster sugar

175 g self-raising flour

175 g softened butter

3 eggs

finely grated zest from 1/4 lemon

3/4 level tsp baking powder

80 g white chocolate, roughly chopped

80 g fresh raspberries

For the icing:

100 ml icing sugar, sifted

1-2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Beat together the eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter, baking powder and lemon zest until smooth in a large mixing bowl. Add the chocolate and raspberries and mix. Pour the batter into a buttered and lined loaf tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 mins, or until golden brown, shrinking away from the sides of the tin and springy to the touch.

Leave to cool a little, then make the icing by mixing together the sugar and water and pour over the cake. Leave to cool and loosen the sides of the cake, then lift the cake out of the tin.

Recipe: Smashed Potatoes with Gruyère and Spring Onions

We’ve been eating these delicious smashed potatoes all spring and summer long, for good reason. They are very easy to throw together, and yet they elevate any supper or lunch while still keeping it casual.

The soft melted cheese combined with the sharp hints of spring onions and the crispy edged, yet soft inside potatoes, is just heaven! And they pair particularly well with barbecued steak or charred barbecue chicken and the most versatile sauce.

Smashed potatoes with Gruyère and spring onions, serves 4

800g-1kg baby new potatoes

3 tbsp mild olive oil

salt and pepper

4 tbsp grated gruyére

4 spring onions, washed, trimmed and finely sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Drizzle about 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large ovenproof dish and add the potatoes. Season well and push them around with a spatula so that they are evenly coated with oil.

Place in the oven for approx 20 minutes or until golden brown and soft (larger potatoes take a little longer). Press down on each potato with a potato masher until flattened and “smashed”. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil (this will crisp up the edges as they continue to cook), scatter over the grated cheese and sliced spring onions. Add a little more salt and pepper and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy and the cheese had melted.

Recipe: Chicken Wings Two Ways (barbecue + creamy wild garlic)

Isn’t it funny how restaurant visits from years ago can inspire your home cooking now, several years later?!

During one of my many trips to Copenhagen with my friends Daniel and Maria we had dinner at Bæst and I remember we ordered the most gorgeous chicken wings, slathered with a creamy herb sauce and topped with fresh herbs. At the time, I loved them, but their wonderful pizzas stole all the attention. But then earlier this year when I was plotting cooking chicken wings at home, I could almost recall the taste of those ones and so decided to make my own version, as I had no idea what was actually in the creamy herb sauce.

These definitely don’t taste exactly the same, but they are still similar in ways and just as delicious! A perfect homage and the best I could do years later. Maybe it’s because restaurants have been closed so much this past year and a half but I do dream of past dinners out a lot, and hope to visit Bæst again soon.

The other kind of chicken wings are more traditional; slathered in a mixture of barbecue sauce (a store-bought one, but it’s an American one and the real deal). They were both delicious but what made me so very happy is that I’ve finally cracked how to make perfectly crispy chicken wings at home! Hurrah!

Chicken wings two ways, serves 2-3

400-500 g chicken wings (each wing cut into two)

150 ml barbecue sauce

2 tbsp salted butter, melted

3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

120 ml soured cream

500 ml – 1 litre vegetable oil

Place the chicken wings in a colander and rinse thoroughly with boiling water (this will help to crisp up the skin). Leave to drain. Then place on a rack with a tin foil covered baking tray underneath. Cook for 35-40 minutes in 180C, turning halfway. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare the two sauces in large bowls so you have room to coat the chicken wings. Mix barbecue sauce with melted butter. Mix soured cream with wild garlic pesto.

Heat up the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or saucepan and heat to 180C. Deep-fry the chicken wings in batches until golden, for approx 5 minutes, then drain on kitchen towel before tossing in the two sauces. Serve straight away.

Recipe: Wild Garlic Hummus with Crispy Za’atar Mince, Vegetables and Pitta

While browsing my fellow food blogger Charlotta’s site I came upon a recipe of crispy mince with hummus that immediately brought me back to my trip to Syria ten years ago. Hummus is often served with toppings in the Middle East, rather than on its own.

So without even glancing at her instructions, I decided to make my own version. I usually make my dill hummus, but this time I substituted the dill with wild garlic (I’ve put it in everything this spring!) and it was so good!

I fried beef mince really crispy in oil and seasoned it with za’atar, salt and pepper and added cucumber, tomatoes and pickled red onions. And pitta bread to scoop it all up, of course!

Loved this! And know I will make it often for supper as it’s quick but delicious!

Wild garlic hummus with crispy za’atar mince, vegetables and pitta, serves 2

1 batch wild garlic hummus (recipe below)

250 g beef mince

2 tbsp mild olive oil

2 tsp za’atar

salt and pepper

a squeeze of lemon

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

10 cm cucumber, sliced in 1,5 cm slices and cut into four

pickled red onions

5 large mint leaves, thinly sliced

small bunch of parsley, chopped

2 toasted pitta breads to serve

Fry the mince on high heat in the oil until brown and crispy. Add more oil it it seems dry. Add za’atar, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Place a large dollop of hummus in a bowl and spread it out. Top with the mince, cucumber, tomatoes, pickled red onions and herbs. Serve with toasted pittas.

Wild garlic hummus

1/2 can (200 g) good quality chickpeas, drained and rinsed

50-75 ml mild olive oil

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 lemon, the juice only

small bunch (5-6 large leaves) wild garlic

plenty of salt and black pepper

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a food processor, mix the chickpeas with tahini, olive oil and wild garlic until smooth. Add lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Keeps for 5 days in the fridge.