Summer Plate with Swedish ‘Kantareller’

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One of the most anticipated culinary events of our yearly Swedish Summer holiday, apart from crayfish eating, is going to the local market to buy Swedish ‘kantareller’ (chanterelle in English). The yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped mushroom is a delicacy that can be picked between July and October in most forests in Sweden and it is quite prolific. Mushroom picking is something that many do over here and there is nothing more satisfying than returning back home with a basket full of yellow chanterelle or ‘forest gold’ as it is also called. This years’ Summer heat wave has limited the supply somewhat but you can still find many outdoor markets selling the stunning fungi. It is and always have been, an incredibly popular ingredient that has s natural place at any Swedish Summer table due to its wide variety of culinary uses.

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With locally grown veggies and a selection of yummy dips, you can create something quite simple yet incredibly delicious with this beautiful mushroom.

 

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Summer Plate with Swedish Kantareller: 

3-4 large handfuls of chanterelle (or as many you can get your hands on, they shrink when cooked)

3 charlotte onions

50g butter (if you are vegan you can replace with your preference of oil)

3-4 leaves of romaine lettuce (thinly sliced)

1/2 cucumber (or two mini-cucumber that we have here in Sweden)

Handful of cherry tomatoes – each cut into 4

1/2 feta cheese

Fresh dill

Turkish yoghurt (or any yoghurt you like) enough for a small bowl

New potatoes

salt and pepper

Olive oil and apple cider vinegar

2 small beetroot – cooked and chopped

vegi-naise (vegan mayo – or regular mayo if you like that)

Start by brushing off dirt from the chanterelles with a pastry brush or any other soft brush – not silicon though. The saying is that you don’t rinse them in water although I have friends who says it mays no difference at all to put them in a cold water bath and gently dry them off on a sheet of kitchen roll. Perhaps you can try both methods but I stick to brushing. Once cleaned put in a large frying pan with a dollop of butter (they soak up a lot so be generous) or oil and let saute on low heat. Once cooked place on serving dish. Wash the new potatoes and boil until done, I like a slight bite with mine so I don’t let them cook for too long. Let cool slightly and decorate with generous sprigs of dill (my favorite herb). Chop up 2 charlotte onions into tiny pieces and mix into the yoghurt together with the salt and pepper, add dill in desired quantities. Chop the boiled beetroot and mix with the vegi/mayonnaise, add a bit of sea salt if required and place in a small dish. Chop up the tomatoes, cucumber and one charlotte onion, add salt, pepper, oil and vinegar and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the feta liberally over.

And there you are – take more of some things and less of others. The idea is to a have enough variety to make up a delicious mixture of Summer flavours. Enjoy!! x

 

 

 

 

A Love Plea

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As I wake up to yet another stunning morning here in the sunny Swedish archipelago, a gentle breeze wafting through the curtains framing the french windows and seagulls dancing with tiny swallows in the clear blue skies, it strikes me how very, very lucky we are. Lucky to be living in a country where there is enough food, water AND democracy. On a day-to-day basis we simply don’t worry about our survival. As citizens of a world that is right now experiencing horrific crimes against humanity, it is difficult not to feel powerless and despondent. What can we do? Who’s job is it to fix all of this? Are they doing what they should and is it even possible to fix?

I strongly belive that each of us are immensely powerful in making a difference in other people’s lives. A kind word, a helpful deed, loving thoughts towards someone in need are all ways in which we can change the world around us. Like ripples it spreads and encourages others to do the same. Paralysis is not the response to crisis – instead do what you can, in your own capacity, to share love and a sense of belonging to your immediate surroundings. As a politician you can create policy, issues sanctions and initiate aid. As a human being you can write, protest, discuss, volunteer, be engaged and informed. You can teach your children about the consequences of ignorance and greed, how not to be judgemental to those who are, or choose to be, different. That any colour, any faith, any gender, any nationality are ok because we are all humans sharing this planet.

So… eat well, stay healthy, be alert, love yourself and others and be the best you can be. The world needs it more than ever. I wish you all a beautiful Tuesday. X

 

 

Swedish Pea Salad with Feta and Walnuts

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Greetings from sunny Sweden. We have returned to our roots for a few precious weeks and are delighted by the beautiful weather, warm waters (relatively), pregnant berry bushes and the never ending light. It’s good to be back. This morning my daughter decided to investigate edibles from the many trees and bushes featuring in our amazing garden and stopped by the green peas. They were still flowering beautifully and I had brought much bloom into the house in the days prior but it was the pods that seemed to take my daughters fancy and she asked me what we could do with them. I suggested including them in a salad and she agreed. We spent the afternoon shelling the peas (most of them tiny but perfectly formed) and working out which to use and which to discard. In the end we had a bowl of tiny, green pearl sized peas. We were ready for action. As our holiday fridge is tiny we had to make do with whatever was in it – in other words, we had to be creative.

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We found rocket, feta, a bit of cottage cheese, walnuts and cashews, a yellow pepper, charlotte onions and some oil and vinegar. Sea salt and black pepper was added as a final touch and the salad ended up being fresh, crunchy and tasty, including veg from our garden, lovingly prepared by my daughter. Bliss.

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The end result was utterly delicious….

 

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Our Swedish sunrise…

 

 

Summer Lentil Salad

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One of the nicest things about having holidays with your children is that you can do the little things together that you normally don’t have time for. Such as cooking. If you bring out a variety of vegetables and herbs to be chopped or sliced, you can almost guarantee that the little ones want to have some part of it. In part because it involves using a sharpish knife which is a no-go zone the rest of the time but also because it can imbue a child with a sense of pride for helping out with a meal.

This lentil salad was lovingly prepared by my daughter and her friend and the pleasure they got out of chopping coriander into tiny pieces was a joy to see. Side by side, chopping board and sharp knife at the ready, they sliced, chopped and tailed everything we put in front of them. I can’t say that they also ate the lentil salad once finished but perhaps the concept of a salad made of lentils will one day be of interest, coupled with the hands on experience of using fresh ingredients in its natural state. It is all about being exposed to the right things at an early age and subconsciously, as by osmosis, they may want to emulate one day what they absorbed all those years ago. At least that is my theory.

In any case, the adults thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of their labor and hopefully you will too.

 

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Summer Lentil Salad – serves 8 (small portions or 6 large)

1/2 pack of puy lentils, thoroughly washed

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped

Large glug of good olive or rapeseed oil

Large bunch of fresh coriander, chopped finely

4-5 ripe tomatoes, chopped

Olives (we only had the green ones and that was very yummy)

2 salad onions, chopped

3 limes, juiced

Oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Pour oil into pan and add the garlic whilst heating gently. You don’t want burned garlic. Season with salt/pepper/oregano. Once softened add the washed lentils and stir into the oily garlic mixture for a couple of minutes followed by hot water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes. Check regularly to see if you need to add more water to the pan, the lentils swells quick. Once the lentils are cooked, turn off the heat and let cool for about an hour, alternatively you can cool and then keep cooked lentils in fridge for another occasion. Once cooled,  chop the coriander, tomatoes, onions, olives, juice the limes and mix all into the lentils, stir and season some more if you like. At this stage you can also add other herbs, such as parsley, if you want to. It’s all good. Serve and enjoy! x

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Do Gentle

 

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Spanish peaches…

As much as a holiday is needed, giving you that well-earned break from the daily grind, it can also put a great fat spanner in the works of your good intentions. Away from the gym, the juicer, blender, familiar super markets and supplements, it can feel like things are going downhill fast. But beating ourselves up about what we are NOT doing is hardly the way to go, instead tread gently and enjoy the moment without judging. Our bodies can adapt and adjust. I don’t travel with many supplements nor do I eat on holiday the way I do at home – not by a long shot – and that’s okay. I always try to stick to good water, fruit and as many vegetables as is humanly possible and the rest will take care of itself. Relax and try to find what is good where you are. Here in Spain there is some amazing olive oil, juicy tomatoes and flat, ripe peaches – not to mention some great red wines. That can take you a long way. They even do the organic and free range eggs that I love and crave on a daily basis.

By embracing what we can’t change we let ourselves off the hook, which is the whole point of a holiday. Sleep, love, eat and enjoy, people! With love from Spain. x

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Early morning sun rise..

 

Summer Smoothie with Berries

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Loving the  Summer berries right now…  My smoothies of late have taken on all kinds of interesting shades, thanks to the aforementioned berries, and not all entirely appetizing. The taupe version the other day actually needed to be poured into a blue and opaque jug before sharing with a friend. It was more reminiscent of a Farrow & Ball wall shade than a smoothie. Still, colour aside, the goodness is what is key and the flavour was so sweet. Add some nut butter and you have a nutritious and filling breakfast.

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Summer Smoothie with Berries:

Handful of blackberries

Handful of raspberries

Handful of spinach

10 – 15 brazil nuts or cashews

1/2 cucumber

1 banana

1/2 avocado

2 cups coconut water

1 tbsp coconut oil

Blend the lot and enjoy. Happy Summer! x

 

Petersham Nurseries

 

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Mozzarella and cucumber salad + Grilled vegetables selection – Petersham Nurseries

I’m lucky enough to live close to one of the sweetest lunch spots in South West London. Petersham Nurseries is a rare and unusual oasis, nestled between Richmond Park and the river Thames, that has established its own very special magic, available to locals as a cafe after dropping off children at school as well as for those coming from further afield to admire the plethora of plants.  The combination of a seemingly effortless, bohemian garden with scattered flower pots, eclectic Italian glass and ceramics, shabby chic garden furniture and random seating are beautifully juxtaposed with the slickly run restaurant and the very serious business of gardening which is at the core of this lovely venture. It has that aspirational quality to it as well – if we all fell head first into a fortune, this is how we would want to live.

On any given day you will find one or several amateur artists sketching the bountiful blooms available everywhere. But it is a haven not only for artists and horticulturists but also foodies, both the serious and the casual. You have to book long in advance to secure a table in the excellent restaurant yet on any day you can come and enjoy the home-made salads and cakes available in the charming cafe, all displayed on large rustic plates, probably sourced in a souk or a flea market in India, that will satisfy even the most discerning lunch guest. The randomness and setting of the place, coupled with the irresistible food and artifacts makes every visit a memorable event. If you get a chance to go, I’m sure you too will fall under its spell. x

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Beetroot, rocket and goats cheese salad – Petersham Nurseries

 

Super Green Juice

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I love reading the scathing reports on the latest super foods, health drinks, powders and cook books, generated by the media. We have happily eaten hot dogs, turkey twizzlers, Burger King and  battery farmed chickens for years – yet should someone decide to come up with a supplement or a new way of eating that claims any health benefits then all hell breaks loose. Why is that? Schadenfreude when someone feels and looks good after changing their way of life or just plain suspicion of anything new. The mind boggles. In any case – today’s green juice comes from the much maligned Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book ‘It’s All Good’. This book is filled with gluten and dairy free recipes and drinks – yet includes meat – that  are tasty and fresh. As gluten and dairy are causing allergic reactions and discomfort in many, this book ought to be both helpful and inspiring. I suspect the book would have had a different reception should the author be a civil servant with a couple of gluten intolerant children in tow.  Still, I suspect she cares not much about the critique as her book flew off the shelves.

I very much enjoyed her juice this morning and hope you will do too.

The Best Green Juice (from ‘It’s All Good’ by Gwyneth Paltrow)

5 large leaves of kale, ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped (if kale is not in season use spring greens)

1 lemon, zest and pith removed

1 large apple

1″ piece of fresh ginger

1 sprig of fresh mint

Juice all ingredients. Alternatively, if you have a blender but not a juicer, fret not. Gwyneth’s top tip is to blend all ingredients and then pour the mixture into a fine meshed strainer. Leaving the fiber and ending up with juice only. Happy Saturday to you all! X

 

Japanese Green Bean Salad

 

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This is a celebratory post in honour of the humble salad. Where I grew up, salads were certainly not what they are today. I have memories of bare leaves, mostly iceberg, thick dressings (think Rhode island or blue cheese) and the content of a can of sweet corn and button mushrooms, perhaps a few bits of cucumber too. Or the classic potato salad with more mayo than potato, with added bacon bits from a package. Sweden, where I grew up, was not known for its vegetable culture, that’s for sure.

These days, however, the salad is fast becoming a main event. Traditional pubs are now offering ‘super salads’ on their menu, which really are packed with super greens, seeds and nuts. And salad is a loose term. Leaves are no longer mandatory, instead all kinds of vegetables suffice – green beans, lentils, watercress, rocket, radish, chickpeas, lambs lettuce, beetroot, kale nuts, seeds and so on can be called a ‘salad’. For those tolerating dairy, feta, halloumi, goats cheese and mozzarella can be fab additions too. And what a lovely concept it is, to play with flavours, dressings, leaves, pulses and seeds until you find combinations that are uniquely your own. No rules!

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At a recent BBQ, the meat was a side and instead salads, all varieties, took centre stage at the table. It was a beautiful, varied spread. What are your favorite? I’d love to hear it. Currently, mine is a Japanese green bean salad with sesame dressing (see top). I could eat this every day at every meal. It goes with fish and meats but works beautifully on its own too.

Japanese Bean Salad with Sesame Dressing

Large packet of fine green beans, washed and topped

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1-2 tsp sugar/stevia/agave (depending on the sweetness you require)

Steam the green beans until just tender – you don’t want to overdo it. Put aside and cool slightly. In the meantime add sesame seeds to a small dry frying pan and toast until golden. Grind most of the toasted sesame seeds (not all) with a pestle until almost crushed and the aroma released. Mix tamari/soy with the sugar and add the sesame mixture and pour over the green beans. It may look like the dressing will not go far but keep turning the beans with a pair of tongs and eventually the beans will be beautifully coated in the dark, sweet soy mixture. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top of the bean salad and serve immediately. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Wednesday! X

 

 

Pink Lunch

 

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Feeling too hot to eat today? I did – yet a lunch time smoothie is a perfect compromise of drink and solids. I made this one with less liquids than usual but added ice cubes, creating a consistency reminiscent of the frozen yoghurt I used to have in the States many years ago. I ate it with a spoon, which fooled me into thinking it was pudding, yet it was jam-packed with green goodness and ONE beetroot to make it this perfectly pink!

Pink Lunch Smoothie

1/2 romaine lettuce

1/2 cucumber

1 avocado

1 banana

1 beetroot

2″ ginger root piece, peeled

1/4 fennel

1 lemon

Handful of cashews, not roasted!

Chia seeds

Coconut water

Ice cubes

Blend the lot and depending on the consistency you are after, add more or less coconut water (or regular filtered water if you prefer). Enjoy your Tuesday! x