Friday, 21 December 2012

Spiced apple caramels

One of my favourite food blogs is Smitten kitchen, who recently came out with a cook book that I have to get! She recently posted a recipe for apple cider caramels, and this is my slightly adapted version of the recipe. These caramels taste of hot apple cider and are utterly delicious!

I made these tonight to bring with me when I'm going home tomorrow to Sweden to celebrate Christmas. My tiny flat (aka the shoe box) now smells of apple, cinnamon and caramel :)

Merry Christmas and God Jul!

Spiced apple caramels (25-30 caramels)
1 litre of fresh apple juice
2 dl white sugar
1 dl light brown sugar
115 g butter, cut into chunks
1 dl double cream
0.5 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch cardamon
2 tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon for example

Boil the apple juice in a pan on high heat until its reduced to a dark and thick syrup, about 1.5 dl in volume. This takes 30-40 min. Stir occasionally.

Line the bottom and sides of a 20 cm square baking pan with baking parchment

Once the apple juice has reduced down, remove it from the heat and stir in butter, sugar, cream and all spices except the sea salt

Return the pot to medium to high heat, nad let it boil for 5-15 min. Test that the caramel is ready by dropping a tiny spoonful into a glass of cold water. The caramel is ready when it becomes firm, chewy, and able to plied into a ball.

Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and then pour the caramel into the prepared pan

Let it sit until cool and firm, then cut into squares either using a sharp kitchen knife that has been oiled with a neutral oil, or using kitchen scissors

Keep in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Smoked salmon, saffron, and orange pirogues

Look who's back :) I've had such a crazy busy autumn with quite an intense mix of work, studying, moving, and although I have been cooking, there just haven't been enough time and energy to also blog about it.

Anyhow, I made these little pirogues or pasties recently. Saffron and oranges are two common flavourings for a lot of typically Swedish Christmas treats. Here I incorporated saffron and oranges with smoked salmon in puff pastry pirogues. The results is a salty tasty treat with a hint of sweet citrusy zest, perfect as a starter or served with drinks. The pirogues can be made the day before, and served cold or hot.

I was lazy and bought puff pastry. If you too feel like not making your own, buy a high-quality all butter puff pastry.

Smoked salmon, saffron and orange piroges (30 mini pirogues)
1-2 packages of puff pastry
300 g smoked salmon
200 g cream cheese
0.5 g saffron
1 dl chives, finely chopped
1 dl dill, finely chopped
1 orange
black pepper
pinch of chili flakes
1 egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 200C

Prepare the saffron; I find it easiest to grind the saffron threads with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar to a powder. I then add a little water, this makes it easier to transfer the saffron and infuse it into the other ingredients

Mix salmon, cream cheese, saffron, chives, dill, chili flakes, zest from one orange, and juice from half an orange in food processor to a coarse mix. Season with black pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry, and cut it into squares roughly 4 x 4 cm

Add 1-2 tsp of the filling to each square, fold over the pastry to a triangular shape and join the edges. Crimp the edges using a fork to form a seal

Transfer the pirgoues to a lightly oiled baking tray and brush the top with egg wash

Bake for 10-20 min until golden brown

Transfer to a cooking grid to cool, or serve directly

Smaklig måltid!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Meet Mr Kenwood

I have finally bought myself a food processor, and hopefully that means less blood in the coleslaw and more grated beetroot salads!

I've been ill for the past week, got a pesky cold and nasty cough. I'm feeling really sorry for myself, in particular as it meant that I spent last bank holiday weekend in bed. Not fun :(

Anyhow, since I bought this beautiful machine earlier, I could treat myself to mango milkshakes, yummy! Highly recommended when you feel sorry for yourself. Just blend one ripe and juicy mango with 1-2 generous scoops of vanilla ice cream and enough cold milk to make one pint of tropical sunshine to enjoy :)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Summer holiday and food in Sweden

The beautiful Swedish west coast
Back in a hot and sunny London after a fantastic holiday in Sweden. One week full of great times with family and friends, and of course lots of food. Swedish cheeses, sausages, my dad's BBQ pork, crayfish, filmjölk (soured milk, you eat like yoghurt for breakfast), cinnamon and cardamon buns, salty licorice, my mum's citrus aioli, chantarelles, raspberries, fermented herring, licorice ice cream....

I know, it sounds like I did nothing but eat, but in between all meals I also managed to visit the west coast with both my Swedish and Danish family, my home town Uppsala, and Stockholm, and see lots of my friends and their kids, including the newest addition, the tiny 5 day old son of two of my best and oldest friends. Not bad for one week ;)

Here's a couple of pictures from my holiday

Grundsund on the west coast

Reimersholme in Stockholm, where I had ice coffee and cardamon buns with Sofia by the water just outside her flat

Beef cheeks with truffle potato mash at Rolf's kitchen in Stockholm with Sigrid. Read her blog (Swedish only) here

My parents place outside Uppsala

Toast with chantarelles - possibly the best thing ever

Raggmunk - Swedish potato pancakes with bacon and lingon berries

Fermented herring on crisp bread with fresh potatoes and red onion - and of course schnapps

My grandma's beautiful raspberry cake

Friday, 10 August 2012

Peanut butter truffles

I'm going home to Sweden today for one week, so looking forward to just relaxing and meeting family and friends! I wanted to bring a small treat home with me, and decided to make salted caramel chili chocolate truffles. That does sound awesome, doesn't it? As you may have noticed though, this post is not called salted caramel chili chocolate truffles...

The reason is that I couldn't get the caramel to work. Seriously annoying, it shouldn't be that difficult! The first batch I had too much water in as I decided to freestyle and not read any recipes before. Second batch I burned and then spent 20 min cursing as I tried to get the caramel mess out of the pot. Third batch, well, the less that is said about the third batch the better. Then I was out of sugar, and patience. Clearly this was not the day to make caramel!

So what to do instead? I was after that combination of salt and sweet and chocolate, so what could I do instead? Peanut butter truffles of course! I tweaked this recipe from Joy of baking, and it was so easy to do, no pesky caramel to make, and are crunchy, salty and sweet. Quite like one of my favourite sweets from the US, Reese's peanut butter cups.

Have a great weekend wherever you are, I'm going on vacaaaaaaation :)

Peanut butter truffles (makes approx 30 truffles)
300 g of crunchy peanut butter
30 g of butter
approx 1-2 dl icing sugar
approx 1-2 tsp salt
200 g dark chocolate (60-70%), chopped

Add peanut butter and butter to a bowl, and microwave for 1 min to soften. This could be done in a pot on the stove as well

Combine well, then add enough sugar to make a loose dough that can be easily rolled

Add salt to taste. Obviously adding the sugar in the step above will make it sweeter, and if you're a salt aficionado like me, you need to balance it with adding more salt

Roll the dough into balls and leave on tray in the freezer for 1h or overnight

Melt the chocolate

Dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and place on a baking sheet

Leave in the fridge for 1 h

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze

Merguez and feta sandwich with tomato jam and pickled red onion

Not to brag, but this could possibly be one of the best sandwiches ever. Spicy sausage with salty feta, sweet tomato jam with middle eastern spices, tart pickled red onions and the zing of fresh mint. Yummy yummy yummy.

I've posted the recipe for pickled red onions before, see below for the recipe for the tomato jam. This tomato jam has a middle eastern touch, with cardamon and cinnamon. If preserved properly, it will last for a long time, otherwise use within one week. Tomato jam is great on sandwiches, or together with poached eggs or an omelette. Basically anything you can serve with ketchup, you can serve with tomato jam instead.

Merguez and feta sandwich with tomato jam and pickled red onion (serves 1)
1 ciabatta or small baguette, toasted
1 merguez sausage (I bought mine from the great butcher at Natural kitchen in Marylebone), fried and sliced
feta cheese, sliced
salad leaves of your choice, for example iceberg, ruccola, spinach or little gem
tomato jam
pickled red onion
fresh mint, chopped

Toast the bread in the oven or in a frying pan, drizzle the bread with a little olive oil

Add salad leaves and tomato jam, then merguez sausage and feta cheese

Top with pickled red onion and fresh mint leaves

Tomato jam
1 kg of tomatoes, chopped
1 dl brown sugar
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large lemon, zest and juice
3 bay leaves
2 star anise
5 cardamon pods
1 tbsp salt
5 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp black pepper

For the tomato jam, combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot

Bring to the boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer

Let simmer for 1-2 h, stirring occasionally, until it has a thick and jammy consistency

Taste and adjust the seasoning

Add to clean glass jars and store in the fridge for up to a week

Pasta with green pea pesto and feta cheese

I think I have mentioned previously that I'm going to start on a part-time MBA program in September. I love science, but I want to learn more about business and finance and hopefully that will give me more opportunities in the future.

Anyhow, the MBA tuition fee isn't exactly cheap, so right now I need to save a lot of money. Fingers crossed, I might get a scholarship, but otherwise I'll have to live on quite a restricted budget for the next two years. One area I need to spend less money on is food. I'm already quite good at saving money when it comes to food as I cook most of my own meals for example and I try to eat according to the seasons (so no expensive strawberries in January for example). Still, I need to improve. So from now on (or actually since beginning of the summer, this is a recipe I did earlier but didn't manage to post at the time), this will be a gourmet on the cheap blog. It is possibly to eat great food for very little money.

This dish is one example that food doesn't have to cost a lot, or be complicated to do, to be delicious. I used one of my staples, frozen green peas, in this dish. If you have fresh green peas you can use that instead, but green peas is one of the few vegetables that I think freeze really well.

I use the term 'pesto' in the loosest possible way here, as there is no pine nuts or parmesan in this recipe, just peas, basil, onions and spices blended to a 'pesto' like sauce.

Pasta with green pea pesto and feta cheese (serves 4-6)
500 g pasta, I used conchiglie
5 (3 +2) dl green peas, fresh or frozen
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 lemon, zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 dl chicken stock
1 pinch of chili flakes
2 dl fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
200 g feta cheese, diced
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start with heating up a large pot with salted water for the pasta.

Add the pasta to the boiling water.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

If you use frozen peas, cover the peas with boiling water for 1 min, then drain

In a frying pan, saute the onion, garlic, chili flakes and lemon zest for a couple of minutes.

Add 3 dl of peas and the chicken stock to the frying pan, simmer for a couple of minutes

Add the peas with the stock and spices to a blender, add the basil, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil and mix to a smooth consistency. Taste, and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice if required.

Drain the pasta, stir in the pea pesto, 2 dl green peas, and the feta cheese.

Smaklig måltid!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Pizza with radicchio and gorgonzola

I and my sister J went to Sardinia for a weekend earlier this year. We both live abroad, I in London and J in Århus in Denmark. We see each other a couple of times a year, but I do miss my sister and want to see her more. So last year we decided to start going for a weekend away just the two of us once a year instead of buying Christmas and birthday presents. The first sister weekend was this year in Alghero on Sardinia. We had a lovely time, despite quite a lot of rain, and of course we had a lot of good food. In Alghero I had one of the best pizzas I ever had was with radicchio and gorgonzola.

When I got home, I decided to try to recreate it. The recipes I used for the pizza dough and tomato sauce are both recommendations from J, who got them from the Swedish food magazine Allt om mat The result was great, with crisp thin dough topped with slightly bitter radicchio and cheesy gorgonzola. Yum yum yum.

The recipe below is for one large pizza. Any leftover dough can be used to make bread rolls or can be frozen and used later. Likewise leftover tomato sauce can be used on pasta or frozen to be used another day.

Pizza with radicchio and gorgonzola (serves 2)
Pizza dough
3 dl water
15 g dried yeast, I use Sainsbury's fast action dried yeast
4 dl strong flour
1.25 tsp salt
1.25 tbsp olive oil

Tomato sauce
1 can of whole tomatoes of good quality
1 garlic clove, minced
5 tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

4 small radicchio heads, roughly chopped
250 g gorgonzola, cubed
100 g mozzarella, sliced
olive oil
black pepper

Start by making the dough by mixing flour with yeast and salt.

Heat up the water to 45C and add to the flour mix. Knead the dough for 10-20 min. If necessary, add more flour

Add the olive oil to the dough and knead for another 5 min. The dough should be elastic and easy to work with. Add additional flour if necessary

Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 40 min

Take up the dough and knead for a couple of minutes and then divide the dough into two balls. Lightly dust the dough with flour and leave on a tray covered with a lightly damp tea towel to prove for another hour

While the dough is proving, make the tomato sauce

First lightly fry the garlic in the olive oil in a medium sized pot

Add all spices, herbs and sugar and saute for 1 min, then add the tomatoes. Lightly crush the tomatoes

Cover the pot with a lid, and simmer the sauce on low heat for 30 min

Mix the sauce using a blender or stick blender to a smooth consistency. Add salt to taste. Let the sauce cool down before use

Heat up the oven to 300C. If you have a pizza stone, heat it up, otherwise do like I did and heat up a large flat oven tray

With a rolling pin, roll out one of the dough balls into a thin rectangular shape the same size as the oven tray for one large pizza. I do this on a baking sheet dusted with flour, as I think it makes it easier to transfer the pizza to the oven tray. If one dough ball is not enough, use also part of the other one. Otherwise you can freeze the leftover dough for another day

Cover lightly with tomato sauce. Don't add a thick layer, as it will usually make the pizza too doughy and it won't cook properly

Drizzle the radicchio with olive oil and sprinkle it over the pizza. It will look like a lot of radicchio, but it will wilt and shrink when it's cooking. Sprinkle over the cheese

Take out the hot tray or pizza stone from the oven, slide on the pizza and put it back in the oven

Cook for 5-10 min

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper

Smaklig måltid!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Glorious food in China

Jingshaling Great Wall of China

I went to China for the second time for three weeks in May. The main reason for the trip was my friend P's wedding in SuZhou, a beautiful city close to Shanghai. The wedding was amazing, with a banquet with 18 dishes including lobster! After SuZhou I first went to HangZhuo and did a walk around the West lake there. The day after, I jumped on the bullet train up to Beijing. I had a great time in Beijing, it's an interesting city with lots to see and experience, including of course trips to the Great Wall. However, it's quite polluted so I decided to go down to Qingdao on the coast for a bit of fresh air and time on the beach. My last stop was in Shanghai, another vibrant city and quite a contrast to the more traditional Beijing.

It was interesting to see another side of China, as the first time I went to China I was mainly in the southwest regions, Sichuan and Yunnan and did lots of trekking in the mountains, this time it was mainly the big cities. The only trekking I did was 2 days on the Great Wall, and let me tell you, that is hard work! It is so incredibly steep and lots of endless steps. But the views are well worth it. All in all, a fantastic trip with great experiences and memories, and of course food. Some of the food I had are below.
Won ton soup

Soup dumplings, a speciality in SuZhou and Shanghai, filled with hot soup and a pork meatball. Delicious, but tricky to eat without scalding yourself....

Sichuan dandan noodles and dry fried green beans
Peking duck - a must when you're in Beijing

For something different: Korean bulgogi and kimchi
Spicy noodle soup and cool sesame marinated cucumber

Best breakfast with a view: Soup dumplings at People's square in Shanghai

Dim sum

Very spicy Hunan dishes: Pork with green beans, and spicy aubergine

Lovely tapas at Opera Tavern

Padron peppers

A couple of months ago, I went with my sister and brother-in-law to the Opera tavern. Opera tavern, in a converted pub close to Covent Garden, and serves Italian and Spanish influenced tapas. After reading lots of great reviews about the Opera tavern from other food blogs like a A girl has to eat and the blog from a fellow London Swede, Matarkivet, I had to go there.

We went early on a Friday evening, and were seated upstairs in the relaxed and airy dining room. We started off with a very well deserved G&T, and then it was time for tapas heaven. In addition to traditional dishes like Padron peppers, a must for me anytime I can find them on a menu, some of the more memorable dishes we ordered were goat cheese filled courgette flowers and of course the mini Iberico pork and foie gras slider. The courgette flowers is one of my favourite dishes also found at Saltyard, not suprisingly as both restaurants are run by the same people.

Courgette flowers filled with goat cheese

The Iberico pork and foie gras mini burger must be one of the most written about dishes in London during the last year, and I had very high expectations. I must say every expectation was fulfilled, it was glorious, meaty, and delicious! Probably one of the best burgers you can have in London.

Iberico pork and foie gras sliders

Other dishes that really stood out was the desserts, like a divine creamy ice cream with rosemary and rhubarb, and great combination of beetroot and chocolate.

Ice cream with rosemary and rhubarb

Beetroot and chocolate combination

All in all it was very enjoyable meal and I'll be happy to go back there and try more of their dishes. And of course have one more of those sliders....

Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce

I've tried making gnocchi before, and it was a disaster. Instead of beautiful fluffy potato pillows, I got chewy and doughy clumps...., quite disgusting. I wanted to give gnocchi another go, and after reading loads of different recipes, I decided to use one of my food heroes, Jamie Oliver's, recipe. This recipe use baked potatoes instead of boiled potatoes, the idea is that this will result in drier and fluffier potatoes for the gnocchi, thus requiring less flour and lighter gnocchi. I was so right to trust Jamie, the result was great! I served the gnocchi with tomato sauce and Parmesan, but if you want to be really indulgent, serve with Gorgonzola cheese and fried sage....

If you aren't cooking all the gnocchi, they can be frozen on a tray. Once frozen, they can be stored in bags and then cooked by dropping directly into boiling water for 1-2 min, super easy when you need a quick meal.

Gnocchi with tomato sauce (serves 4)
750 g potatoes
1-2 egg yolks (1 large or 2 small)
1 tsp salt
1-2 dl flour
0.5 tsp black pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg

Tomato sauce
1 can of high quality tomatoes
1 garlic bulb, cloves sliced in thin sections
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
0.5 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of chili flakes
1 pinch of sugar
salt and black pepper

olive oil

Parmesan cheese, grated
black pepper

Bake the potatoes at 225C for about an hour until soft

While the potatoes are cooking, make the tomato sauce. First saute the garlic in olive oil in a pot on gentle heat for 2-3 min, then add the capers and chili flakes. Saute for another minute, then add tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and herbs. Simmer for 30 min. Add water during the cooking if the sauce starts to get to thick or dry. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Let the potatoes cool slightly, and then, while they are still warm, scoop out the flesh. Put the potatoes through a ricer or sieve into a large bowl

Add the egg yolk(s), salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stir into the potatoes. Add enough flour to bind the mixture until you have a doughy consistency. The dough should keep together, but be soft and supple without being wet or sticky. Be careful not to add too much flour as the more flour added the firmer the gnocchi will be.

Divide the dough into three parts, and on a flour dusted surface, roll each part out into long roll around 2 cm wide

Cut the rolls into 1-2 cm long pieces, and using a fork lightly press down on each piece to make a ribbed pattern

Let the gnocchi rest for 10-15 min on a floured tray.

Cook the gnocchi in gently boiling salted water for 1-2 min, or until they float to the surface

Serve with the tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper

Smaklig måltid!

Korean cucumber salad

I spend way too much time daydreaming about traveling. I love to make plans and to have something to look forward to. This year I've been to Thailand, Italy, China, Sweden, and Denmark. I wish I could go somewhere new next year, maybe South Korea, Argentina or Peru? But I will be skint for the next 2 years because I'm starting on a part-time MBA program in September and ALL my money will go to paying the tuition fees (please everyone, fingers crossed that I get a scholarship!).

In the meantime, I'm lucky to live in a metropolitan city like London where you can eat yourself around the world. As I've written about before, I go out quite frequently for Korean food. To me, one of the best things eating at Korean restaurants is the banchan - side dishes served with the meal, often different types of kimchi, fermented cabbage and vegetables, and namul, seasoned vegetable/salad dishes. One common namul is a lightly pickled cucumber salad seasoned with sesame.

Similar dishes are served also in Sichuan (often with an addition of Sichuan pepper and red chili), Japan and Thailand (with fish sauce instead of soy, and an addition of birdseye chili and coriander). In Sweden we also do a cucumber dish with lightly pickled cucumber, pressgurka, with cucumber slices marinated in salt, sugar, and white or pickling vinegar (ättika), this is traditionally served with meat stews, meatballs or roast meat.

Below is my take on a Korean cucumber salad. This is a tweaked version of recipe I found at a gret Swedish food blog, Lilla matderiven. This is of course great with Korean dishes like bulgogi, but also with any bbq meat or fish. I've had it as a side dish with tuna sashimi and miso soup.

Korean cucumber salad
1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
0.5 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 tsp chili flakes or korean red pepper

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan at high heat.

Combine all of the ingredients to the marinade.

Add the cucumber to the marinade and toss, make sure all the cucumber slices gets coated with the vinegar

Let marinate for at least 10 min before serving

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Green beans with garlic, lemon and chili

The Olympic Games are on now in London, but so far I've hardly noticed it (except for in the newspapers, where everything is about the Games). I live next to Lord's cricket ground, one of the venues, but there is no more people here than usual. Well, I guess archery isn't really a big public sport... Actually feels like less people overall in central London, and less people for sure at Marylebone station in the mornings.

If the weather is good I might go and try to see some of the triathlon in Hyde park on Saturday, but don't think I'll see anything else. I'm already quite bored with the Games to be honest. The chance of this blog turning into a sports blog is close to zero....Though I thought the opening ceremony was much better than I expected, I really liked that they paid tribute to NHS. Universal healthcare rules! I will never ever understand why people in the US are against healthcare for all.

Anyhow, I was starving when I got home today and wanted something warm and comforting as summer apparently is over after just one week. I rummaged through the freezer and found a bag of green beans. I love green beans (haricot vertes if you want to be fancy) as a side dish or in a salad for example, and I usually have a bag in the freezer. This dish takes no more than 10 min to do, it's buttery, spicy and delicious, and is enough for four as a side dish or two as a main. This will go well with almost any type of fish, meat or bird. I went for the supereasy option to have it with just a simple omelette. Quick, easy, cheap, and tasty. Go and cook it now!

Green beans with garlic, lemon, and chili (serves 2-4)
400 g green beans, fresh or frozen
0.5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zest
1 red chili, finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce

If you use fresh green beans, start by steaming the beans lightly. If you use frozen, cover with boiling water for 2 min and then drain

Heat up a large frying pan with the olive oil

Add the green beans, fry for 3-5 min until the beans and pan is really hot

Add butter, garlic, lemon zest, red chili to the pan and stir until the butter has melted

Remove pan from the heat to prevent the garlic from burning

Stir in the soy sauce

Taste and add more soy sauce or salt if necessary

Smaklig måltid!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Pickled red onion

Here is another condiment that is great on a sandwich, in a salad or together with a grilled spicy sausage. I made a baguette with merguez sandwich, spinach, feta, tomato jam (recipe to come) and pickled red onion, and that was definetly one of the best sandwiches I ever had. Another more simple but still yummy sandwich is crisp bread with mature cheddar cheese and pickled onion.

The recipe is based on this one by Jonas Cramby, where he made a fabulous looking sandwich with pulled pork and pickled onion.

Pickled red onion
2 large red onions, finely sliced
1 red chili, finely chopped
2 dl apple cider vinegar
0.5 dl sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of mint

Heat up the vinegar with the sugar, salt and bay leaf

Stir in the onions and cook for 30 sec

Remove from the heat and add the red chili and sprig of mint

Let marinate for at least 2 h

Remove the mint, and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week 


Sorry for the absence, but I've been busy travelling and working and generally feeling stressed and anxious over everything. I've actually cooked loads to try to relax, maybe some of these recipes will make it all the way to the blog.

Anyhow, I went to a friend's house for BBQ yesterday, first one for me this year after an abysmal summer here in the UK. I decided to make baconnaise, what could be a better condiment to grilled burgers? I've wanted to baconnaise for ages as I love anything with bacon in it. Bacon is one of the main reasons I can't be a vegetarian, that salty smokey flavour, mmmmm.

So I did a bit of research and read a couple of recipes on various sites, and this is the recipe I came up with. It includes actual bacon, not just bacon fat, as I really wanted a strong bacon flavour. It was yummy, but yes, you can kind of feel your arteries clog up while you eat it. I fried 12 rashers of bacon, and used 6 of the rashers in the baconnaise. Though if you're like me, you will have no problem finding use of the remaining 6 crispy rashers...

I used to hate making mayonnaise, that it was so difficult and took ages to get really thick. Then I learned how to make mayonnaise using a hand blender, and suddenly it took 2 min to make perfect mayonnaise, amazing! I describe the method below. If you don't have a stick blender, you can slowly add the bacon fat to your egg mix like you would for a normal mayonnaise.

12 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

neutral oil
3 egg yolks
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
0.5 tsp chili flakes
black pepper

Fry the bacon rashers in a pan until crispy, remove rashers to plate to cool

Pour the bacon fat into a bowl to cool

Finely chop 6 of the bacon rashers to a grainy powder

In a tall beaker, add egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, garlic and spices

Pour the bacon fat through a sieve into the beaker. Add more neutral oil if necessary to make up a total volume of fat/oil to 1.5 dl

Take a stick blender and push it to the bottom of the beaker. Turn the blender on, it will now create a vortex where the oil is pulled into the eggs. After 1-2 min, slowly pull the blender up. Voila, you should now have perfect mayonnaise! 

Add the bacon powder to the beaker and give it all a quick mix

Taste and add more vinegar, spice, black pepper and salt to taste

Enjoy this piece of bacon heaven as a condiment for BBQs or on sandwiches

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Quick lunch at Natural kitchen

Teriyaki salmon with butternut squash, Greek salad and mange tout

I had a great weekend in a mostly sunny London. Saturday was one of those days when you have no idea what to wear, I had both sun glasses and umbrella with me, and a cardigan, and ended needing all of them at some point. Though I did lose my cardigan somewhere when bar hopping in Angel later. Can live with losing the cardigan, but quite sad that I also lost my favourite scarf :( I really need to get better on keeping track of my possessions!

Earlier on Saturday I managed to go to the gym and then went for a quick lunch on Marylebone high street. I went to Natural kitchen, which is a combination of deli and cafe, and ordered from their counter on the ground floor. At Natural kitchen, they have a long counter with loads of different salads, quiches, chicken and salmon to choose from. You can also order from a selection of cakes and drinks at the counter, and then take a seat at one of their tables. Upstairs they have a more formal cafe with table service.

I got teriyaki salmon with three different salads, butternut squash with pine nuts and sage, Greek salad with tomatoes and feta, and mange tout and green beans with Parmesan cheese. The salmon was tasty, and the salads were yummy as well, in particular the one with butternut squash. To drink, I ordered a refreshing kiwi, apple and mint smoothie, and cafe latte. All together for £14, which I though was pretty reasonable.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Smoked salmon mousse canapes

For the Easter celebrations, I did a smoked salmon mousse served on crostini as canapes. To me this is a very Scandinavian dish, with a traditional combination of smoked salmon, dill and lemon. To make it more festive, you can top the canapes with caviar, I used red caviar, which comes from lumpfish (stenbit), and sea roe, which comes from the capelin fish (lodda). In Sweden, you can buy jars of different types of caviar in every supermarket and it is used in a lot of different seafood dishes. The most common type of caviar sold in Sweden though is smoked cod roe, this is sold in tubes (Kalles kaviar) and a popular spread on crisp bread or on boiled eggs. I love Kalles kaviar, I can eat it as it is directly from the tube... It is one of the things I really can get serious cravings for.

In the UK, caviar is not as common, I usually only find the red or black from lumpfish at Waitrose, or I buy it from one of the Swedish shops, Scandinavian kitchen or Totally Swedish. Not everyone I served caviar to has really liked it though, I remember once when I still worked at KCL, when to celebrate finally publishing a paper, I brought cava and canapes with red caviar to work. The only people that really liked it where from Luxembourg, Russia, Scandinavia and France....

Anyhow, caviar is delicious, and if you get a chance you should try it. However it's actually not an ingredient in this salmon mousse, so don't worry if you're not a caviar fiend. This is an incredibly quick and easy festive dish, done in minutes.

Smoked salmon mousse canapes (around 30)
200 g smoked salmon, finely chopped/minced
150 g philadelphia cheese
0.5 dl creme fraiche
1 dl dill, finely chopped
0.5 dl chives, finely chopped
0.5-1 lemon, juice and zest
1 small pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper, or a few drops of Tabasco sauce
1 pinch of black pepper

Stir together the smoked salmon, soft cheese, creme fraiche and herbs. If you want a smoother texture and pinker colour, you can mix it using stick blender but I like it a bit coarser

Add chili flakes/cayenne/Tabasco and black pepper, and the zest from half a lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon, salt, and pepper if necessary

Serve on for example crostini or crackers, or you could serve this on crisp lettuce leaves as well. Garnish with caviar, dill, chives, slices of smoked salmon or lemon

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Imaginative brunch at Providores

Chorizo with sweet potato, egg, garlic labne
and star anise cashew nut praline

Providores at Marylebone high street is by far one of my favourite places to eat brunch, and is considered by many as one the best places for brunch in London. They have a lot of interesting dishes with influences from all of the world, like Turkish eggs with yoghurt and chili butter, but also traditional fry-ups. A word of advice though, if you want to have brunch when they open at 10 am on weekends, you better get there before they open, as it is very popular and fill up quickly.

I last went to Providores a couple of weeks ago, and had a beautiful plate of grilled chorizo with sweet potato and miso hash, a soft boiled egg, garlic labne and star anise cashew nut praline. It sounds a bit weird but worked very well. The star anise praline added an interesting dimension to the dish, giving it a bit of crunch and a sweet yet salty aniseed flavour. The hash though was more like a mash. A very nice mash, but I guess I was looking forward to more of hash or hash brown with a crunchier texture. It was still very tasty, and an excellent start to the weekend together with a nice cup of flat white coffee.

Asparagus, egg, and spinach on toasted cornbread

My company choose a dish with British asparagus, egg, and spinach on toasted cornbread that went down very well, but a dish of sweet potato tortilla with feta and urfa chili yoghurt was a slightly disappointing as it was served cold. As this was quite a chilly morning with a light drizzle, it was not the right dish for the day.

Tortilla with sweet potato and feta

Anyhow, if you want a brunch with imaginative dishes, I recommend a visit to Providores. They also do amazing tapas in the evening, but if you want to go to the tapa room on the ground floor, where the brunch is also served, you might have to queue for awhile unless you arrive early. Upstairs, in their dining room, they also serve tapas and larger dishes, and it is possible to reserve a table there.

Mussels with garlic, chili and bacon

I know it's a bit late to now, in beginning of April, to write about new years resolutions, but better late then never. One of my resolutions this year is to cook more things I rarely or never cook, and to be honest, this may be the only resolution I have any chance of fulfilling...

I feel like a need a bit of a challenge, and hope this will give me a chance to improve as a cook. Among the things I wanted to try is spare ribs, that I did for the first time earlier this year (Korean spare ribs), and other dishes include mussels, squid, duck, quail, pate, crab, and souffle.

First out after the spareribs was mussels. I love mussels, but I hardly ever cook them. Stupid really, because they cook really quickly, are cheap and delicious. I decided to do a version of the classic moules mariniere with an addition of smokey bacon and a little heat from red chili. The result was so tasty that I vowed to cook a lot more mussels during this year!

Mussels with garlic, chili and bacon (serves 2)
1 kg of mussels, cleaned
3 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped
1 dl white wine
0.5 dl single cream
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

First clean the mussels under running cold water and remove the beards/barnacles. Discard all open mussels unless they close directly when you tap on the shell.

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and saute garlic, chili and bacon for a couple of minutes on high heat.

Add the mussels, wine and cream, and cover the pot with a lid.

Steam the mussels for 3-4 min. Stir the mussels after 2 min of steaming.

Stir in the parsley. Discard any mussels that are not fully open.

Serve in large bowls with the broth and fresh bread.

Smaklig måltid!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Fantastic dinner at Roti Chai

From front to back: Thoran, hyderbadi haleem, chicken chaat

A couple of weekends ago I went to Roti Chai, an Indian restaurant close to Marble arch, with my sister and brother in law. They are also fellow foodies, and whenever they come over to London I try to find interesting new places for us to eat. I had read a lot of good reviews of Roti Chai, and the restaurant more than delivered. The food was amazing, the service was good, and it was a nice venue with a lively atmosphere, I really recommend a visit!

The restaurant has a bar and seating area on the ground level for their street food inspired dishes, and below that a dining room with a more extensive menu. We went to the dining room, and realized we were quite lucky to manage to book a table that same very day, as the restaurant filled up quickly. On the menu they have small plates of street food inspired dishes, that you can either have as a starter or combine in the manner of tapas, main courses from different Indian regions, and a couple of desserts.

When we went there was on offer as part of the London restaurant fortnight, with a cocktail, starter, main and dessert for £25. We all choose to take the set menu, and as you could choose between four different starters and mains, we all took different ones so that we could share all of them between us. As I had read a lot of positive comments regarding their chicken 65, a common Indian street food dish with spicy chicken, we also ordered that.

Chicken 65, coconut and guava bellini

We started with a coconut and guava bellini which was tasty with a light coconut flavour. The cocktail list was amazing, and I'll definitely will go back just to try more of their cocktails. The starters we ordered, in addition to the chicken 65, was chicken chaat, a tandoori style chicken dish, crispy thoran, a dish with stir fried curried vegetables, and hyderbadi haleem, a stew of pounded wheat and lamb. All dishes were divine! The Chicken 65 carried a serious punch of chili heat, the chicken chaat was light and with zesty citrus kick, the vegetables in the thoran were so light and crispy with a lovely curry flavour, and the hyderbadi haleem, a dish I never had before, had a light cardamon flavour and a creamy, almost cheesy texture. It was a great start to the meal!

Front: Rajma chicken, chicken ishtu, spicy potatoe wedges
Back: Roti and naan, tarka dahl, Keralan fish kary

Next we had ordered three mains, Keralan fish kary, rajma chicken and chicken ishtu. These were served with steamed rice, roti, and we also ordered a garlic naan. In addition, we got two more dishes as compliments from the kitchen, spicy fried potato wedges, and possibly the best yellow lentil tarka dahl I have ever had. Seriously, I could just have had that tarka dahl and I would have been happy. The Keralan fish curry had a light coconut and curry flavour, very tasty. The rajma chicken was a stew of chicken and red kidney beans, flavoured with cardamon and cinnamon, delicious! Again something I haven't had before. The chicken ishtu was a chicken coconut stew, with a light flavour of ginger, curry and anise, also very good. I need to also mention the bread, the cumin flavoured roti and the garlic naan were all very very good, light and not greasy.

Chai creme brulee

After all that, we were all groaning after eating far more food than we should. But how could we not? The food was so yummy! Somehow we still managed to find space for dessert though, a lovely silky chai flavoured creme brulee. It was a great finish to an amazing meal. I will definitely go back, for a full meal or just for a couple of cocktails and small plates of street food inspired dishes.

Artichoke and feta dip

I don't know how you feel when you leave work, but I'm usually starving. In fact, I would say that I'm pretty ready at that stage to do almost anything for something to eat. And I hate anyone who gets on the train with food (I'm talking to you, blonde girl who gets on in Harrow with a hamburger every night!), because I so envy them.

This is the worst time for me when it comes to trying to eat healthily, as I have absolutely no will power when I'm hungry and it is so easy to buy some nuts, a muffin or crisps on my way home. I've tried taking fruit with me to eat on the train home, but find that it doesn't really satisfy me, and for awhile I've instead brought mini houmus pots and some vegetables.

I really like houmus, I do, but recently I find it quite boring, and the full fat one is quite heavy on the calories anyway. The broccoli dip I posted about quite recently is an attempt at getting away from houmus, but it's really best when freshly made, so not ideal for me as I like to be able to do a batch and use it for a week.
Check Spelling
So I needed to come up with something new. A dip that would be salty, savoury, easy to make, and could be done as a batch. The solution was this artichoke and feta cheese dip. It is not pretty, to cite my friend Sigrid - the winner of Swedish Masterchef, 'I do ugly food that tastes good'. So no, it won't win any beauty contests, but wow, does it taste good! This is definitely my new favourite dip. Great as a dip for vegetables, and also as a spread on bread. You could also have it on crostini and serve as canapes.

Artichoke and feta dip
180 g of grilled artichokes
100 g feta cheese
2 tbsps quark (or you could use cream cheese, sour cream or creme fraiche)
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
0.5 tsp honey
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch chili flakes

Mix all the ingredients, I used a stick blender

Taste, and add more lemon or spices if needed

Serve as a dip for vegetables or as a spread on bread

Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, it will last up to one week (well, it can be stored that long, but if you're like me, it really won't last that long...)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Salty licorice chocolate truffles

Hi, my name is Saga and I'm addicted to salty licorice.

Salty licorice is hugely popular in Scandinavia, and it is by far my favourite type of sweets. I really do get cravings for it, and I cannot have it at home without devouring it immediately. Anytime anyone comes to visit me from Scandinavia, they have to bring salty licorice to me. When the cravings gets to bad, I also usually go to Scandinavian kitchen at Great Titchfield st or Totally Swedish on Crawford st for a hit. Cyber candy in Angel and Covent garden also have salty licorice, but the most impressive store is a new sweets shop in Covent garden on Long Acre, Sugar sin. It is owned by two Swedish sisters, and they have an impressive range of Scandinavian sweets that you can pick n mix. The shop is so cute, with old-fashioned sweets jars. I highly recommend a visit if you like sweets, and in particular if you share my addiction of salty licorice.

Sugar Sin. Picture borrowed from Hop Interiors, where you can see more pics and read an interview with the owners of Sugar Sin.

I love the combination of salty licorice and chocolate, it is a match made in heaven combining to great things into one! My favourite one is Fazer's Salmiakki, with a soft salty licorice centre encased in milk chocolate. Marabou Black, with milk chocolate and splinters of salty licorice, is pretty good too. Inspired by these two, I decided to try to make my own chocolate truffles with salty licorice. After a quick googling I found a recipe at Söta saker, that I tweaked by adding milk chocolate and adding more salty licorice. The result was delicious! I will definitely make these again.

Salty licorice chocolate truffles (20 truffles)
100 g milk chocolate, chopped
100 g 60% dark chocolate, chopped
1 dl double cream
1-1.5 dl salty licorice (I used Turkisk peppar), crushed

Start by splintering the salty licorice. Place the salty licorice caramels into double plastic bags, and place onto a tea towel. Using a hammer, crush the caramels. You want a quite coarse powder with some larger pieces.

Heat up the cream, and pour into a bowl over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and you have a soft even mix

Stir in the salty licorice. Reserve 1-2 tsp of the finer powder for decoration. How much salty licorice to add is a matter of taste, I added quite a lot.

Pour the truffle mix into a small square tray lined with baking paper. The truffle mix should be approx 1 cm high.

Sprinkle with the licorice powder, then leave the tray in the fridge for about one hour

Transfer the now hardened truffle to a cutting board and remove the paper. Using a sharp knife, cut it into 2 x 2 cm square truffles

Store in the fridge until serving