Bank holiday weekend in Stockholm!

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The beginning of last week was pretty rubbish; I was ill and the weather was horrible in London.

I felt better on Tuesday and saw The Ferryman play after work. It was really amazing! Before the theatre we had a quick burger at Café Monico next door.

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Wednesday I met up with a friend at Champagne + Fromage in Covent Garden, where neither of us had been before. We had some lovely champagne and a charcuterie and cheese board.

Thursday I packed for the bank holiday weekend in Stockholm as we left straight after work on Friday. Dinner was on board a plane but I made up for it the following days with lots of nice food!

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My friend Carina hosted a lovely brunch on the Saturday, with eggs and bacon, salmon and BBQ followed by rosé and fika on the balcony. After brunch we walked around town taking in the beauty of it. Stockholm is definitely prettiest in the sunshine, with the sun reflections in the water.

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We saw the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, walked around Gamla Stan (Old Town), past City Hall and back towards Vasastan.

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In the evening we had a lovely dinner at Hillenberg and then a drink and awesome people-watching at Riche.

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On Sunday we had brunch at Mr Cake, and it was just as fabulous as I had imagined it to be! (Full post to come).

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After brunch we went out to Täby, one of the suburbs and stayed with my friend Linus and his family. We had fika in the woods, a lovely dinner and lots of quality time.

On Monday it was lunch at my fave Rolfs Kök and then drinks with Carina at Tranan before heading to the airport!

Such a lovely weekend, with great company, good food and the best weather!

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Spring and snow in the same week!?

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Friday was such a wonderful day here in London; it was 14C and sunny and it felt like Spring really was here. Fast forward until the next day and it was -1C and snow. Most of the snow has melted again now and I really hope this is it. Spring, please come back!

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Apart from the weather changes it was a lovely week. I had some time to myself to just relax and catch up on feel good series such as Grey’s Anatomy (don’t judge!), Madam Secretary and Elementary (yes, crime makes me feel good. Any questions on that?).

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But I also had quality time with friends. On Tuesday I met up with my friend Laura at Flesh & Buns for sushi, fried squid, steamed buns with duck and wonderful doughnuts with black sugar caramel.

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On Friday I had sushi again, at Sticks ‘n Sushi and an early night. Saturday started with a long lie-in and a blissfully quiet morning before I reorganised my whole wardrobe and tidied up at home. So nice to get it done and so needed!

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Yesterday I met up with dear friends from Sweden in town. We had a lovely afternoon with lunch at Carluccio’s, a trip to the playground in the snow (!) and tea and cake to warm up afterwards.

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So lovely to spend quality time with my friends in London. It’s always such a whirlwind trying to fit everybody in when I go home so this was a real treat!

Gotland: going south

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Our second full day on Gotland we wanted to cover as much of the remaining half of the island as we could. We drove south and the first stop was near Djupvik to try to get a glimpse of the two islands called Karlsöarna. The large one is barely visible to the left but the small one you can see very well to the right in the photo.

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The coast here is gorgeous with wild flowers and clear water. It was too cold for a dip, sadly, but still enjoyable.

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We got back into the car and drove further south, stopping when a photo opportunity presented itself (which it did quite often). The roads here are quite small so it’s easy to stop and get out with the camera.

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Eventually we made our way down to Burgsvik and got out for a walk around the little harbour.

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The local smokehouse had a food truck there, so we bought some lunch to take with us to our next stop.

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Which was Hoburg, on the south-west corner of the island. There are large stone formations here, just by the waterfront. One of the large rocks is shaped like the face of a man and so the rock is called Hoburgsgubben (the old man from Hoburg).

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I struggled to see it though, but apparently this is him, but from the wrong angle.

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It was lovely to just walk around here, though. And grab one of the picnic tables and eat our lunch. We had smoked prawns (they are SO delicious!), aioli and fresh crusty bread from a bakery. So lovely!

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Next we stopped at Folhammar to look at more raukar (the unusual stone formations local to Gotland). It’s so cool to see and so different to the part of Sweden where I grew up.

 

Snow in London and a weekend in Sweden

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It snowed in London last week and everything came to a grinding halt like it always does. Although there is a slight improvement year to year. At least they don’t cancel ALL the buses anymore. But some more salt and grit on the pavements wouldn’t go amiss.

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Once it settled it was rather pretty (I must admit) but I’m so glad it’s all melted again.

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As it was freezing as well, I made some soup to warm me up one night. I used to make soup all the time and I must get back into it; it’s so warming and delicious and takes only minutes to make!

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I also went to the cinema and saw Phantom Thread and managed to celebrate a friend’s birthday despite the snow disruptions. But the best part of the week was my weekend in Sweden. a) Because I actually got there – which wasn’t certain at all because of the snow, and b) because I was the godmother at the christening of my best friend’s baby girl. It was such a special moment that I will treasure forever.

Because there was a lot of snow in Sweden too I just stayed in with my parents for the rest of the weekend which was lovely. We had a lovely dinner on Saturday night and just enjoyed having quality time together!

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 

Recipe: Shakshuka with yoghurt and feta

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At the brunch in December I introduced my friends to shakshuka, which they all loved. It’s such a great brunch dish if there is several of you as you can make the tomato sauce ahead and then cooked the eggs in the oven. If I make a smaller portion for lunch or dinner I cook it in a frying pan on the hob and cover the pan with a lid, as it’s quicker than heating up the oven.

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My version of shakshuka has the usual base of peppers, onions and tomatoes as well as tinned tomatoes to make it saucy. After baking the eggs in the oven I add the toppings; Greek yoghurt, crumbled feta and chilli flakes. If I made this just for myself I would have added some Tabasco as well, but here I left it on the side so everyone could help themselves if they wanted more of a kick.

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Bacon isn’t really necessary with this egg dish, but it works so well at brunch (and with the mushroom omelette) I thought it was a nice addition.

Scandelight’s shakshuka, serves 4-6

1 shallots, chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

2 bell peppers (of any colour), chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 large tin (400 g) tinned chopped tomatoes

30 ml water

salt, black pepper

a pinch of sugar

6 medium eggs

200 ml full-fat Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 lemon

chilli flakes

1/2 packet feta 

Pour a little oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Fry the garlic and onions until golden (not brown). Remove from the pan. Fry the peppers until soft and add the fresh tomatoes. Add the garlic and onions and stir on medium heat until nice and soft. Add the tinned tomatoes and water and stir occasionally. Season to taste with plenty of salt, black pepper and sugar if needed. Let the mixture thicken. 

If using a frying pan, make six “holes” in the mixture and crack an egg in each. Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set.

If using an oven, transfer the tomato mixture to an oven-proof dish and pre-heat the oven to 180C. Make “holes” in the tomato mixture and crack an egg in each hole. Bake until the whites are set. 

In the meantime, mix yoghurt with salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste and olive oil. 

When the eggs are cooked, remove from the hob or oven and add dollops of yoghurt to the pan/dish. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chilli flakes. Serve with some nice bread. 

Recipe: chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle

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The last couple of years I’ve had a standing brunch around Christmas time for some of my Swedish friends and their families. As their brood is getting bigger brunch seemed like the ideal concept; there is something for everyone and you don’t have to sit down to eat at the same time.

Sadly, this brunch in December will probably have to be the last one as there’s now too many of us and apart from cooking for a large amount of people there is quite a lot of furniture carrying required to make it happen. But we’ll see, maybe I can work out a way to make it easier… Any ideas welcome!

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The concept has been more or less the same every year; people arrive at midday, and I provide both savoury (always eggs, bacon, different types of bread with toppings such as cheeses, jams, paté, ham etc. – we love our open-faced sandwiches in Sweden as you know) and sweet (usually two types of cake) dishes, and we eat and chat and eat and chat and play with the children.

This year I substituted the usual brunch eggs with my take on shakshuka (recipe to follow) and mum made an large omelette with creamed mushrooms on top as well.

Although people always love the savoury element I seem to have gathered a group of friends with very sweet teeth so I always try my best to come up with something super yummy on the sweet side.

This year I was quite pleased with my efforts of serving madeleines (best recipe ever!) straight from the oven and just lightly dusted with icing sugar. And although people liked them, this chocolate cake was the star of the show: chocolate cake with pieces of white chocolate dispersed like little surprises, covered with a white chocolate truffle and colourful smarties (although you can of course decorate it however you like). The texture is quite dense and chewy (in a good way – just don’t expect a fluffy cake) and rather filling, so one cake could probably feed 10-12 people, but as my friends love sweets I thought it safer to count 8-10 people per cake.

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It’s (sadly) not my own concoction at all, but I know I can always trust fabulous Annika and her reliable recipes.

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Chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle, serves 8-10

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe.

The cake itself (without the truffle) freezes well and can be made ahead of time. Defrost slowly and add the truffle and decorations a few hours before serving so it has time to set.

2 eggs

240 g golden caster sugar 

2 tbsp vanilla sugar or 4 tsp vanilla 

1/2 tsp salt

100 g melted butter

4 tbsp cocoa

90 g plain flour

100 g white chocolate, broken into 1 cm large pieces

Truffle:

150 g white chocolate

50 ml double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 175 C. Line the bottom of a springform with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the edges of the tin. 

Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Stir in the melted butter. Sieve cocoa and flour and fold into the batter. Pour the butter into the tin and press down the chocolate pieces.

Bake in a low oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool and cover the tin and let it set overnight. 

Truffle:

Heat up the cream in a saucepan. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the warm cream. Mix slowly until smooth. Leave to set, then spread it onto the cake. Keep in the fridge until just before serving. Decorate with smarties or other sweets, sprinkles, chopped nuts etc. Serve with lightly whipped cream.