FINALLY! It’s summer in London and I’m loving it. Plus it’s the World Cup and I’m of course supporting both Sweden and England. And soon Wimbledon starts too.
London summers are always busy, probably because we try to embrace every outdoor eating and drinking opportunity we can find this time of year! And that’s exactly what I embraced the past week.
On Tuesday it was lovely and sunny in the evening, so a friend and I had pre-dinner prosecco and snacks on the roof terrace. So lovely and something I hope to enjoy many more evenings this summer. As it was a work night and I hadn’t have much time to prep, I for once used shortcuts. Something I’m usually reluctant to do, but it was actually really nice to avoid the last minute scramble I usually have to endure to get a dinner going. Instead I turned to the supermarket for nibbles so all I did was take it out of it’s packaging, which meant I only had an easy main course and some whipping to do. Amazing!
The main course was a proper Spaghetti Carbonara (will post the recipe soon) served with a simple green salad, and for pudding I made Eton Mess with store-bought meringues.
On Thursday two colleagues invited me along to a work event so it was networking, champagnes and canapés all evening (part of it outside!).
On Friday I met up with Gaby and Rowena for an al fresco dinner at Ham Yard Hotel. So lovely. Eventually it got cold but then we moved inside to a comfortable table with a sofa.
Saturday and Sunday were more relaxed; I could catch up on chores and sleep. Had time for face masks (very important), sunbathing on the roof terrace, watching the football and a nice long walk at dusk. Oh, and a trip to the cinema. I feel thoroughly recharged and ready for the next few busy weeks until I go home to Sweden at the end of July.
Mexican cheese dip. With chorizo and peppers. Melting, bubbly and comforting. I simply cannot think of a better way to start a mid-week cold January supper with some of my closest friends. It was like a warming cheesy hug, telling us if we persevered we would get through the month. Et voila!, it’s February!
We also had prosecco, tacos and lots of fun, which helped.
But back to the dip. It’s very easy to make and so satisfying to eat. But have plenty of napkins to hand as it is a little messy. Also, be patient and wait for the dip to be completely melted when you serve it. I would suggest putting it in the oven 30 minutes or so before the guests are due to arrive. You can always cover it with tin foil and lower the temperature to keep it hot and bubbling.
The chorizo and peppers add a lot of flavour to the otherwise unexciting grated mozzarella (I was a little worried it wouldn’t be cheesy enough but it was). But I can’t help but thinking it could be made even better with the addition of jalapenos next time. Stay tuned…
Queso fundido, serves 4
75 g cooking chorizo, finely chopped
1/2 pepper, finely chopped
500 g grated mozzarella
oil for frying
a pinch of cayenne or other chilli powder
To serve: tortilla chips
Fry the chorizo in oil until crispy. Set aside and fry the pepper in the chorizo oil. Drain on kitchen roll.
In an oven-proof dish, put a layer of cheese, then scatter chorizo and peppers on top and repeat the process until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle with cayenne and put in a 200C oven until melted and bubbly (approx 40 mins). Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
In between Christmas and New Year my best friend Emma and I had planned a whole day in Copenhagen with her husband and his friend. We took the train across the bridge (yes, that bridge) and got to Copenhagen just in time for lunch at Sticks ‘n Sushi. For a chain, they have really good sushi, and I love that they have restaurants in London too.
We started off with roasted cauliflower snacks and spicy edamame, then we had some nigiri and maki rolls, a salmon tartare to share and some of the sticks. And wine, of course.
The snacks vanished in seconds and then we got started on the sushi. All the nigiri (we had salmon, tuna and seared yellow tail) were nice, but the maki rolls are really really good. We shared a spicy tuna, crunchy ebi (prawn) and a pink Alaska (with salmon and cream cheese) and couldn’t decide which was the best one as they were all lovely.
The salmon tartare was not very impressive and the sticks with emmenthaler cheese and bacon we didn’t even finish, but we did like the chicken teriyaki skewers, but the sushi is definitely the star here.
After lunch we went to a few bars, did some shopping and had a four course dinner, so stay tuned for more Copenhagen posts.
Sticks ‘n Sushi, Borgergade 13, 1300 København K, Denmark
When I had the girls over for dinner, I started the evening with a prosecco cocktail and crisps with toppings. I’ve already introduced you to the bleak roe version (so yum!) but this, much more accessible version with feta, pomegranate and parsley is just as nice. Perfect for the holidays!
Crisps with feta crème, pomegranate seeds and parsley, serves 6 as a nibble
1/2 bag salted (nice) crisps
1/3 packet feta
100 ml creme fraiche
Find the nicest looking crisps in the bag and put them on a plate/platter. Whip creme fraiche and feta until smooth. Season with pepper. Place a small dollop of the feta crème on each crisp, top with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Serve.
Dill works really well in hummus, I discovered this summer when I thought of trying it for a dinner party. It went down really well with my friends and especially with my best friend Emma who liked it so much she urged me to make it again a few days later when cooking at her house.
Dill-y hummus, serves 4-6
1 can (400 g) good quality chickpeas
100-150 ml nice olive oil
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp tahini
1/2 -1 lemon, the juice only
1 medium garlic clove
1 pot or a large bunch dill
plenty of salt and black pepper
Rinse the chickpeas and pour into a food processor bowl. Add 100 ml olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp tahini, the garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix for a good while until you have a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add more oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper – whatever you think is needed. Add the dill and mix again. Season to taste and adjust the flavours once more if needed. Place in fridge until serving. Keeps for 5 days in the fridge.
Pitta chips, serves 4
5 pitta bread
salt, black pepper
Cut the pitta breads into smaller pieces using a pair of scissors. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper (and any other seasoning you might like) and place in 200C oven for approx 10 minutes (until golden and crispy). Serve immediately.
My go-to guacamole recipe has always been my own concoction from when I was younger and tacos became the staple Friday dinner for all Swedish families. It’s very nice (my best friend can testify to that), but as it contains creme fraiche it’s far from a proper guacamole. So a few weeks ago when I found the best tortilla chips ever in my local Whole Foods (oh, how I love saying that!) I thought it was about time to try a slightly more authentic version of guacamole.
And the result was amazing! It’s so easy to make, and quite healthy (if you don’t count the tortilla chips) and it has become my new obsession.
Proper guacamole, serves 4
2 perfectly ripe medium Hass avocados,
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1 bunch coriander
Tabasco (the red one)
salt, black pepper
Spoon the avocados into a bowl and mush up with a fork. Add the chopped tomatoes and onions. Add lime juice (start with the juice from half a lime, add more to taste), a few drops of Tabasco and Worchestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Chop the coriander and add to the guacemole. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve with tortilla chips or with any Mexican or Tex Mex dish.
This year I introduced a new snack with the New Year’s Eve champagne – these lovely cheese puffs.
They’re made using a regular choux pastry with the addition of grated mature cheese. I made mine two days in advance and heated them up in the oven just before serving to make them crispy again. So either follow my lead or serve them straight away as they do lose the crispiness quite quickly.
The recipe is courtesy of Simon Hopkinsons and it was easy to work with. I made a few adjustments; mainly piping mine out instead of spooning the mixture onto the tray. If piping do use a large nozzle to avoid the grated cheese getting stuck (alternatively grate the cheese very finely). I also made mine smaller so the recipe probably yielded 50 smaller ones (as compared to Simon’s 30 large ones).
Gougères, makes 50
250 ml water
1tsp sea salt
100g plain flour, sifted
150 g grated Gruyère
1/3 nutmeg, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Boil together the water, butter and salt in a roomy pan. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour all in one go.
Whisk together until fully blended and the mixture almost coming away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Leave the mixture for 3-4 minutes to cool just a little, then add the first egg and whisk it in thoroughly.
Add the remaining three eggs one by one, repeating the process (you may not need the fourth egg if the mixture is pipe-able). Tip in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper and, once again, whisk to blend; the cheese may not fully become smooth, but this is just fine.
Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment. Pipe the mixture onto the baking tray about an inch apart.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden and verging on light brown, well puffed and light to the touch when lifted from the tray; undercooked, they will deflate on cooling. Lift the gougères onto a cooling rack, then repeat with the remaining mixture