London: tapas at Rambla, Soho

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The summer is always really hectic for me, especially since I go home to Sweden for two weeks in August, and that’s why this blog post is so late; I’ve been playing catch-up since then.

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The last week in July is also extra busy because it’s both my own and my dear friend Gaby’s birthdays that week. Just before I go home!

The Friday night was Gaby’s night (and her actual birthday) so after doing my last errands for my trip it was so lovely to arrive to Rambla in Soho and have a nice dinner with the girls!

Rambla is a fairly new tapas restaurant in London, with mainly Catalan food and we were all very excited to try it!

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We started with bubbles – always appropriate when there’s a birthday to celebrate! The cava was really nice, so I recommend you all to think of something to celebrate when you go here. IMG_2096.jpg

Then we ordered a bunch of dishes for all five of us to share around the table. First off were the classic padron pappers. They never disappoint with their saltiness!

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Next we had these delicious croquetas with spinach and pine nut. Yum!

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And chorizo! It was all about the classics to start.

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Then we feasted on crispy fried artichokes with saffron aioli and the most tender octopus with fried garlic and herb sauce. Delicious! I so love to eat this way; picking from plates, trying little bites of everything while chatting away with friends sipping cava.

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One of the favourites of the evening was this hearty and cheesy (yum!) oxtail canelones with navat cheese and caramelised onions. Drool!

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The birthday girl divided it evenly, although I think most of us would happily have had one each. But it was too rich. Especially since we had more yummy cheese to eat…

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This whole baked Navat cheese with crudités and bread to dip was divine too! We were scraping the bottom of the dish in the end, never letting a morsel of good cheese go to waste.

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The classic patatas bravas arrived late as an after thought (I think they forgot them to be honest) but we happily mucnhed our way through these lovely crisp potato bites.

The food here is excellent (especially the octopus and the oxtail canalones!) but the service was a bit of a let down. Some things were forgotten and we had to keep reminding the waiters. After two bottles of cava they didn’t have any more cold ones so we had to swap to rosé cava instead. It’s all little things, but things you expect to run smoothly, and since it was a birthday celebration it was very unfortunate.

With this in mind I’ll still highly recommend Rambla – the food is worth it! – and hopefully they’ve sorted out these kinks by now. Race you to the baked cheese?!

Rambla, 64 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4QG

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Recipe: baked mussels two ways

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My love for seafood started at an early age with our family eating prawns every single Friday. I still love it, although it’s difficult to get hold of Atlantic prawns in London. But that means that every time I go back to Sweden I make sure to eat as much seafood as I possibly can.

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One evening this summer I made these baked mussels as a starter, and they went down a treat.

I had two different toppings but I would say they were both equally yummy. The green ones were inspired by Oysters Rockefeller and had spinach and cream in the filling and the white ones were just topped with homemade aioli.

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Baked mussels with aioli

2-3 large mussels per person

1 batch homemade aioli

Rinse the mussels a few times in a colander to remove sand. De-beard the mussels and rinse again. Discard of any mussels that won’t close their shell when tapping on it. Put the mussels in a pan of boiling water with a little salt. Put the lid on and cook for a minute or so or until the mussels have open. Drain in a colander. 

Open the mussels and discard the empty halves. Dollop aioli onto the mussels to they’re covered. Place in a oven-proof dish and bake until golden in 200C or under the grill, about 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. 

Baked mussels a’la Rockefeller

2-3 large mussels per person

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

3 nests of frozen chopped spinach (or the equivalent of fresh spinach)

4 tbsp double cream

grated nutmeg

salt & white pepper

Rinse the mussels a few times in a colander to remove sand. De-beard the mussels and rinse again. Discard of any mussels that won’t close their shell when tapping on it. Put the mussels in a pan of boiling water with a little salt. Put the lid on and cook for a minute or so or until the mussels have open. Drain in a colander. 

Fry the shallots on medium heat in a small saucepan until translucent but not brown. Add the frozen spinach and let the water bubble away. Add the double cream and nutmeg and let the mixture reduce a little. Season well. 

Open the mussels and discard the empty halves. Spoon the spinach mixture into the shells and place in a oven-proof dish and bake until golden in 200C or under the grill, about 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. 

Recipe: udon noodles with spinach and poached egg

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This simple and very comforting dish (funny how foods not involving melted cheese can be comforting, but they can!) I found in Vogue of all places, i.e. not where I usually get my food inspiration from, but it’s nice they write about food as well as fashion.

The only slightly daunting part of this meal is poaching eggs, but if you have the freshest of eggs and a slotted spoon you’re halfway there. Further instructions here.

Udon noodles with spinach and poached egg, serves 1

1 portion udon noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the packet 

2 handfuls fresh spinach

200-300 ml vegetable or chicken stock

1 poached egg 

Heat up the stock. Blanch the spinach in boiling water and squeeze it dry. Pour the stock into a bowl. Add noodles and spinach and lastly the poached egg. Sprinkle with chilli flakes or Aleppo pepper. 

Gnocchi with Stilton sauce and spinach

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Homemade gnocchi is easy to make and unlike when you make pasta you don’t need any machines or tools. Just a bowl, your hands and a fork. I also prefer home made gnocchi to the store bought ones as I find they go soggy faster (and in a different way).

For me, the best ways to serve gnocchi is either boiled with a simple sauce or for a bit more texture, fried with some pancetta and vegetables. During the winter months the sauce option is to prefer and this creamy Stilton sauce with spinach is just wonderful. Pure comfort.

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Gnocchi with Stilton sauce and spinach, serves 2

Inspired by a dish at Carluccio’s in London.

1 batch gnocchi

200 ml cream 

100 g Stilton

grated nutmeg

salt and white pepper

150-200 g fresh spinach

Make the gnocchi ready for the pan. Heat up the cream in a non-stick saucepan and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large sacuepan, add 1 cm water and bring to the boil. Add the spinach and put the lid on. Remove the lid after a minute and stir until the spinach have wilted. Drain from water in a sieve. 

Add the gnocchi to boiling water in a large saucepan. When they float up to the surface remove with a slotted spoon. Heat up the sauce. Divide the gnocchi and spinach between two plates. Spoon over the sauce and serve. 

Creamy spinach dip

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This creamy and amazingly delicious (I dare you to step away from the dip before it’s finished!) is so incredibly easy to make you have your pre-dinner party snack sorted in minutes. But obviously it’s just as nice in front of a film or a football game on the television.

I first encountered this lovely dip at Laura and Tim’s house warming when my friend Amy and I did our best to finish the dip between the two of us. It’s just SO good!

Creamy spinach dip, serves 4-6 as a snack (or maybe just 2)

Adapted from The Food Network’s recipe.

2 tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped 

225 g full-fat cream cheese

280 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

grated nutmeg

salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and soften without browning, for approx 5-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir to melt and combine. Add the spinach and reduce any water. Season to taste with grated nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Serve warm with salted tortilla chips. 

 

Brunch style baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms

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One of the best – and certainly the easiest – ways to cook eggs for a large number of people is undeniably baking them in a large ovenproof dish.

These eggs with wilted spinach and fried mushrooms are really delicious and so very easy to make. I served them at a brunch with crispy bacon (and a smorgasbord of other brunchy things).

Baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms, serves 8

12 eggs

300 g fresh spinach

150 g mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms)

butter for frying

oil for the dish

Rinse and slice the mushrooms. Fry in butter, add salt and pepper. Remove from the saucepan and wilt the spinach in a little butter in the same saucepan. Remove any excess liquid. Grease an ovenproof dish and add the spinach and mushrooms and mix the two. Divide evenly across the dish and make twelve hollows for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the hollows and place the tray in a 200C oven for 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Add salt and pepper before serving. 

Spinach and ricotta omelette

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Omelette is one of my trusty suppers for days when I’m short of time or low on energy when it is time for supper. Usually I make quite a runny one with cheese on but sometimes I make it a bit more interesting like this version with spinach and ricotta.

Spinach and ricotta is a classic flavour combination in filled pastas but it works really well in an omelette too, especially with the addition of parmesan. Yum!

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Spinach and ricotta omelette, makes 1 large omelette

2-3 eggs

3 tbsp milk

ca 100 g ricotta

60 g fresh baby spinach

grated nutmeg

salt, white pepper

grated parmesan

Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the spinach and put the lid on. Cook until wilted, then drain very well. Chop the spinach. 

Beat eggs and milk, add ricotta, spinach and nutmeg. Season and add some grated parmesan (1-2 tbsp).  

Melt a knob of butter on medium-high heat in a frying pan. Add the batter and lower the heat to medium-low. Fry until it has the consistency you like. Serve. 

It is customary to fold the omelette in the pan before serving but if you, like me, prefer a runny omelette this can prove tricky and that is why I didn’t even attempt it this time.