Recipe: garlic and herb sauce

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Growing up in the countryside in the south of Sweden I didn’t realise how lucky I was to grow up in such an idyllic place. Fast forward to present time living in a big city, where getting fresh herbs and locally grown vegetables can be quite tricky at times.

So my first night in Sweden this summer I cooked us a fairly standard summer meal of pork fillet, salad and potatoes. Normally I would cook the meat on the barbecue to get that charred flavour, but due to the first barbecue ban in my life time (even in your own garden – it was that dry) I had to make do with the stove and oven. And sitting outside in the sunshine it was still a lovely meal.

Mainly because of the sauce I literally threw together on the spot. It’s a simple cold sauce with mainly creme fraiche and a little mayonnaise as a base (us Swedes make sauces like this ALL the time), but what made it so nice was the mix (and quantity) of fresh herbs from the garden. An absolute treat for this city girl and something I used to take for granted when I lived at home.

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Garlic and herb sauce, serves 3-4

300 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Acacia honey

3/4 small garlic clove, finely chopped

approx 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley 

salt and pepper

Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Then add mustard, honey, garlic and herbs and leave for a while for the flavours to develop before serving. Season to taste.

 

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Copenhagen: dinner at Bæst

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As you know I like to eat, and when I once a year have my day with friends (who luckily also likes their food) in Copenhagen, we make the most of it. Which is why we could fit in tacos for lunch (followed by some smørrebrød because why not?!), fika at our favourite place, wine and cheese pre-dinner at this nice little spot and then still had room for dinner. The August heat and the walking helped though.

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Bæst, our dinner spot for the evening was recommended by Daniel and all three of us loved it. It was laid back and cosy, and obviously a popular spot because it filled up as we sat there.

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The menu reflects the casual atmosphere and has the emphasis is on good local organic produce and sharing plates. Just what we like!

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The grilled courgette and kale salad what we started with was really nice. It had texture, a nice charred flavour on the courgette and acidity and freshness as well. It’s the kind of vegetable dish that makes you feel good.

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Next up we had a huge plate of chicken wings, covered in a herb-y finger-licking sauce. Delicious! And a lot fresher on the palate than regular buffalo wings (which I love, but this version was more interesting).

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After that we were ready for the main event; the pizzas!

Cooked in a 500C (!) oven these blistery, still soft but cooked just enough pizzas are to die for.

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Especially the classic margherita. With a delicious tomato sauce, their own (!) mozzarella and basil.

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I mean, look at this. Pizza perfection.

Bæst, Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N

Stockholm: dinner at Hillenberg

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Saturday night in a sunny Stockholm. After a long day walking around the beautiful city we had a little breather in my friend’s flat before we got ready for a night on the town. It was actually a relief for my tired feet to swap my flats to heels, and taking a taxi to the restaurant obviously helped too.

Hillenberg, the restaurant I had booked, is the more relaxed one of Niklas Ekstedt’s (quite the frequent guest on Saturday Kitchen in the UK) two restaurants and I was super excited to try his cooking.

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On arrival we were shown to our table (with a sofa each to sit on) and started to study the menu. The service was a little slow at times, but that meant I had enough time to translate the menu and plenty of time to ponder it too.

Although I would have liked to try many things, I couldn’t resist the classic Toast Skagen, which I expected would come with a little twist. And indeed it did, as it was a deconstructed version. It was really lovely and I especially liked the dill dust on the side. Amazing mayonnaise too. Yum!

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My dinner companion had the nettle soup with äggost (a type of curdled cheese) and trout roe. Delicious!

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I was really indecisive when it came to my main course and so let our waiter influence me to try the monkfish bourguignon. It was really delicious and the “meaty” fish worked well with the powerful flavours. But the highlight was almost the velvety potato puré that was served alongside it. So rich, but beautiful!

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My dinner date had the lamb and was presented a very generous portion with lamb rack, artichokes and aubergine. Really lovely as well!

Unsurprisingly, we were too full to even be tempted by pudding. Instead we sat back (loved those sofas!) and finished our bottle of wine and just enjoyed life. Very content we weren’t completely finished with our night out and so walked around the corner to Riche for another glass of wine and lots of people watching.

Hillenberg, Humlegårdsgatan 14, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm highlights

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Unless you’ve been to Scandinavia in the summer, I don’t think you could understand how magical the summer is there.

Of course, summer in Britain is gorgeous too, but in Scandinavia summer is what everybody lives for. The dark and cold (and frankly, rather miserable) winter months are so depressing that summer is the goal; the light at the end of the tunnel.

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It may sound dramatic, but it’s true. So to experience the gorgeousness of Swedish summer already in the beginning of May was such a treat, I don’t think I can explain the elevation I felt.

Stockholm is a pretty city all year round, but in summer it really comes to life and is more beautiful than ever.

So the highlights I am about to share with you, are in majority linked to this beautiful summer weather. We didn’t see the point of being indoors in a museum when the sun was shining. Alas, there are many many more great things to do in Stockholm, especially in other seasons, this is just a selection.

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Brunch with friends

On the Saturday dear friends of mine invited us over for a delicious brunch in their home, and afterwards we sat in the sun on their balcony, sipping rosé and eating a crumble with strawberries and ice cream. Such a wonderful start to our weekend!

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Exploring Gamla Stan (Old Town)

I’ve been to Stockholm many times before but as it’s my capital I have not explored it the way I have London. Therefore it was great fun seeing the city through a non-Swede’s eyes. We found beautiful churches and statues I had never heard of, and obviously checked out the palace and Storkyrkan as well.

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Fika!

We do eat a lot of fika in Sweden and it’s so easy to walk to a bakery, order something yummy and sit in the sun to enjoy it. We had amazing cinnamon buns at Fabrique, who also have a café in London.

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Exploring the city by foot

Stockholm is perfect for walking or cycling and it’s by far the best way to explore the city. When we felt we “knew” the way pretty well we went on detours to explore some more.

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Visiting friends in the suburbs

An old friend of mine has recently moved to Täby with his family, so we went to visit them and it was so cosy and serene outside of the city. I would recommend visiting Zetas Trädgård (a beautiful nursery with a café) for a similar experience.

Djurgården

This beautiful island is easy to get to by tram or boat and is Stockholm’s equivalent to Richmond Park. The nature is beautiful and you can go for amazing walks here. There is a beautiful nursery with a café/restaurant; Rosendals Trädgård, as well as the fairground Gröna Lund and several museums.

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Good restaurants

We had lunch at Rolfs Kök and nibbles and wine at Tranan.

I have a few more great places to tell you about, in more detail, so stay tuned!

 

Gotland: Amazing cider and local produce

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This is a restaurant review I would have liked to post a lot earlier; straight after our visit to Gotland in August. But life happened and suddenly it’s February and about time. 

My childhood friend Karl is a person I very much admire, he has so much drive and passion when he starts a project I wish I had even half. A few years ago he started making cider together with his friend Mikael under the name Fruktstereo (‘Fruit stereo’). It’s made from 100 % fruit, without any additives, so have more in common with crafted wines than commercially made sweet cider.

Mikael hails from Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a real summer paradise, so when my parents and I went there in August, we made sure to book a table at his restaurant Nyplings Mat & Vin in Visby. It’s a summer pop-up serving local ingredients like vegetables from the family farm and meat and dairy from the island.

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It’s sustainable and delicious and we enjoyed our evening here so much! Especially because we started the meal with a bottle of their cider, called Ciderday Night Fever. It was dry and refreshing and so unlike all other ciders I’ve had. In a good way. This was far better!

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We started the meal with a selection of tender raw beans from Mikael’s family farm (picked the same morning!) and a lovely dip.

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Then we moved on to the starters. Dad I wanted to sample them all, and so decided to share two. The ewe tartar with beetroot, cress mayonnaise, wild garlic ‘capers’ and shoestring fries was absolutely delicious!

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But the other starter (which my mother also had) was lovely too. It was a poached creamy egg (almost like a 63 degree egg where the texture of the white and the yolk are similar) with kale, hazelnuts and caramelised whey.

Somewhere here the cider was finished and my mother and I wanted a glass of wine each. We tried to describe what we wanted (two very different wines) to Mikael, and like he could read our minds he poured us a glass each of what we had tried to describe! Very impressive!

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Then we moved on to the main course (we all had the same) of melt-in-the-mouth slowcooked chuck steak with parsnip and radish. We all loved this dish!

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The Swedish summer weather in general was quite poor but we had lovely sunny days on Gotland, although after the sun had set behind the rooftops we got a little cold sitting outside and moved inside the restaurant for our final course.

Which was this humble bowl. Underneath that caramel coloured layer hides blackberries and cookie crumbs, covered by that smooth and fluffy topping of yoghurt, caramelised milk and liquorice. Great flavours and textures to finish off the meal!

We had such a lovely evening here, and it was great fun to try my friend’s cider and meet his very talented business partner. Let’s hope this pop-up is here to stay.

Nyplings Mat och Vin, H10, Hästgatan 10, 621 56 Visby, Gotland, Sweden 

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

Visiting home and wild garlic fever!

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After four days in Italy, I had six days back home in the south of Sweden. I tried to keep it low key and just spend time with the family, and as usual we enjoyed some wonderful food together.

Spring had arrived in Sweden too, even if it was a little behind the Italian version. But the wood anemones flowered and the wild garlic was ready to eat, so I was pretty happy!

The evening I came home my mum and I (dad doesn’t like wine as much as we do) shared a lovely bottle of  Crèmant from Alsace, to celebrate we were together again!

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Another evening we enjoyed a cheese board with my Italian favourite Erborinato, Brie de Maux and Saint Albray. We also had some biscuits, pear slices, honey, rose hip jam and port. So yummy!

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I also picked wild garlic in the woods, as you can see it’s easy to forage; it’s everywhere!

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I also picked some wood anemones. It’s a spring ritual for me.

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We also cooked with wild garlic and one evening we had this great dish as a starter; asparagus (that I bought in Italy) with wild garlic mayo, parmesan and rapeseed oil.

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Afterwards we had cod loin cooked in the oven with wine and dill, potato purée, peas and carrots. And browned butter. Just. Amazing.

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One day we did a road trip to Höganäs and also stopped in Mölle by the sea to enjoy the view and the sunshine.

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In Höganäs we found an amazing fishmonger who sold fresh Swedish bleak roe so we of course had to buy some.

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We had it with rösti, creme fraiche and chopped red onions as a starter that evening.

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The rest of our dinner that night was a bunch of nibbles: leftover asparagus and wild garlic mayo, serrano ham, smoked prawns, some smoked mussels, tomatoes and wild garlic bread.

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One night we had friends over for a dinner of tried and tested recipes. We started the evening with champagne and Nigella’s prawn cocktail in lettuce leaves. Love this!

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The main course was fillet of beef with hasselback potatoes, broccoli, carrots and two sauces: bearnaise and peppercorn. Delicious!

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After a breather we enjoyed a rhubarb crumble with mum’s homemade custard. Such a wonderful evening!

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My last evening in Sweden was on a Sunday, and for dinner we had wild garlic soup to start.

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Followed by wonderfully tender pheasant with cream sauce, boiled potatoes, jelly, broccoli and carrots.

Thank you, Sweden, for a lovely time!