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