Food: Bougie PB&J

I had half a punnet of strawberries that needed using up, so I decided to make them into a bougie conserve. So with it an easy way to pimp up your standard PB&J. Here’s how to do it. You can totally scale up the recipe, but I’m just jotting down what I had to work with.

For the Strawberry, lime & white rum jam

  • 100g strawberries, de-stalked
  • 50g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 shot of white rum (optional)

 

to make, simply put a pan on the hob on medium-high and place in the sugar, strawberries and the water. It should take a few minutes for it all to start bubbling, but when it does it will come together quite quickly, so don’t get distracted as it can burn easily. Cook for 5-7 minutes on high until you can see it all becoming a pan of red, strawberry flavoured loveliness. When you see that happening, take it off the heat and add in the lime zest, juice and the rum. As it will still be hot, be careful when mixing it in. Pour into a glass jar and leave on the countertop to cool before putting it in the fridge to set, preferably overnight.

 

The next day the jam should have set and be halfway between a jam and a firm compote.

 

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This is what I had left of the jam after scoffing it all down!

The next step to make is the peanut caramel. To make you’ll need:

  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 20g peanuts (I used roasted peanuts, but you can use un roasted too)
  • Pinch of salt. I used some exquisite Anglesey sea salt with Tahitian vanilla from Halen Môn

Like the jam,  add in the sugar and the water and cook in a hot pan until they start forming a light caramel, then add in the peanuts. Roll them around in the pan, without using a spoon or spatula and enrobe them in the caramel. Cook the caramel mixture out until it turns golden brown. Pour onto a silicone baking sheet (you can use a spatula now) and sprinkle with the salt. The flavour of Halen Môn’s vanilla salt will compliment the lime and strawberry of the jam perfectly. Leave to cool and harden.

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Halen Môn’s Anglesey Sea Salt with Tahitian vanilla.

Now to make the foundation of it all, the toast. I used some great sourdough from a local bakery here in Malmö, Organic Bakery, that I rescued with this great app here in Sweden and also in London called Karma. They work with local businesses to sell their ‘end of the day’ produce at a reduced price. Meaning the consumer reduces food waste, supports local businesses and gets amazing quality food for a fraction of the price. (Not a sponsor but if you’re in London or Sweden it would be silly not to check them out!).

Anyway, back to the toast…

Top that warm toast off with some tasty dairy-free ‘butter’ and top with a thick layer of peanut butter. Spread the jam on one half and place pieces of the now cooled salted peanut caramel brittle on the other. Top with a few sliced strawberries and devour!

 

Enjoy!

 

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Food: Brekkieklubben launch

Whilst being here in Malmö, I’ve noticed the lack of breakfast options. Sure, Malmö is a culinary hotpot of different cultures & cuisines, but they don’t really ‘do’ breakfasts here. Sure, there’s the Scandi style cold-cuts frukost and then on the weekend plenty of places offer a ‘brunch’ but, it’s yet again a buffet affair, where people queue up and many miss out to what they want. Seeing the gap in the market, this is where Brekkieklubben (literally, The Brekkie Club) comes in.

Together with my Aussie mate, and fellow Swedexpat, Anya Trybala (who I’d check out her music project & label Ninoosh & Synth Babes Records) came together to bring the best of a Melbourne & British Brekkie to Sweden! And as I’d been listening to a lot of Kate Bush that morning and with Stranger Things 2 (then) on its way to be released, we wanted it to have a cool 80s & early 90s vibe.

We’ve been working together with Gro’up, an amazing community run space & restaurant founded by Nina Christensson (one of the founders of both SMAK & Bastard) and run by the bloody stellar duo of Project manager, Edith Salminen and Head Chef Marcus Schön. They are such a great addition to the food scene in Malmö and conveniently around the corner from our apartment.

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So, myself, Anya and Tom spent from the end September to mid November honing our idea & concept, Tom creating original art for the project with his illustration business, Jom Tones Illustration, myself pitching the idea at Ideon’s ‘Pitcher’s Corner’, until we set the date for our launch on Sunday the 26th of November. Selling Tickets through Eventbrite, we managed to drum up both trade, in the guise of 19 tickets (plus a further 4 walk-in orders) and interest by regularly updating our social media channels. With the menu written up, containing our spin on British & Aussie favourites and classics such as Eggs Benedict that you simply cannot get easily here, we were ready for the launch!

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The prices for the tickets were 146kr for a Brekkie plate (that you ordered, in advance, especially for you), coffee & a special surprise (which were vegan bread & butter puddings, inspired by the very British combo of ‘tea, toast and marmelade’, topped with Oatly fraîche. I Even made my own bitter orange marmelade for them!). We catered to people of all diets with a gluten free ‘Punked Porridge’ option and I made it my mission that most of the dishes were or could be made Vegan Friendly.

 

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On The launch day itself, Edith thankfully helped us through our very first service. It went amazingly well considering, albeit, I’m an accomplished cook and have worked in the service industry, but I had never been this side of the kitchen before. We got the food out, with relative ease and every customer was satisfied, together with some 80s & early 90s hits rocking out on the speakers. Edith then gave us a de-briefing on how to improve next time.

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Check out Brekkieklubben on

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Brekkieklubben

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brekkieklubben

So, people of Malmö look out for the next opening of Brekkieklubben, very soon!

 

 

Drink: Banana, apricot, vanilla & passionfruit Oatly smoothie

One way of getting by in Malmö, on a budget (for me, at least) has been to shop at my local ‘livs’ store. ‘Livs’ stores are small, little corner shops, come greengrocers. They often have great prices on veg and sometimes reduce great quantities as the day goes by. This it where it really gets fun (AND CHEAP!). My local ‘livs’ store, last week had huge bags of passionfruit, bananas & apricots all reduced to 10kr (just under £1), and I had used them in a myriad of different ways, but time came to that the last few needed using up. This is one great way of using up leftover fruit, that has maybe gone a-bit-too ripe, to make a nutritious & healthy breakfast option.

 

To make you’ll need:

  • 400ml water
  • 4tbs rolled oats
  • 4 ripe bananas, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 ripe apricots, de-stoned & roughly chopped
  • 1tsp Vanilla bean paste/ vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1tsp Maca powder (optional), sifted
  • 1tsp Young barley grass powder (optional), sifted
  • Pinch of salt

 

For the yogurt top:

  • 200ml dairy-free yogurt (I used Oatly)
  • 1 Passionfruit

 

Start by placing the water and the oats in your blender and pulse until you get a creamy, thick solution. Then, add about half of the rest of the ingredients, remembering to keep pulsing it down. Once you start getting a creamy & fruity mix you know you’re on the right track. blend it with the final portion of ingredients and pour into a jug/pitcher. In a separate bowl mix up the yogurt with the passionfruit pulp & seeds. To prep the passionfruit, I’d recommend using a small, serrated knife to cut the fruit in half and then scoop out the tart & sweet pulp with a spoon.

To serve, pour the smoothie mix into your desired cup/ bowl/ glass. If the mixture is a bit too thick, then try thinning it out with a splash of water. After, you have the desired amount,  spoon the yogurt on top and drink.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Pancakes of love

Here’s a recipe for some easy vegan pancakes to whizz up for Valentine’s for your sweetheart, works well for Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen (25th January) too!

You’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 100g self raising flour,
  • 50ml non-dairy milk (I used Oatly)
  • 1 mashed banana,
  • 2tbs golden syrup/agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt

For the strawberry & raspberry lovebomb:

  • Handful of frozen raspberries
  • Handful of frozen strawberries
  • Splash of water
  • 1tbs golden syrup/agave nectar
  • Splash of gin (I used Brecon Gin by Penderyn Distillery)
  • A few fresh raspberries and strawberries

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 1 tbs non dairy cream (I used Oatly)
  • 10ml of water
  • 20g sugar
  • Pinch of good quality salt (I used Halen Môn vanilla salt)

 

To make, start with the lovebomb, so it has plenty of time to set. Start by heating up the frozen raspberries, strawberries, water and golden syrup/agave nectar in a pan. Simmer until they start to release their juice, add the gin and stir. Remove from the heat and whizz in a food processor until it forms a coulis. Set aside and leave to cool. When it’s cool pour the contents into a heart shaped mould (I used a heart shaped cookie cutter on a plate) and put in the freezer to set.

For the salted caramel, dissolve the sugar and the water in a pan. Raise the heat until it starts to form a caramel then add the non-dairy cream and stir in a pinch of Halen Môn. Set aside and leave to cool.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and begin to pour in half of the non-dairy milk, stirring gently with a whisk the whole time. Now add the mashed bananas and bring together into a thick batter, making sure you whisk out any lumps in the flour. At this point you can judge how much more milk you need – for Scotch or American style pancakes it needs to be quite thick. Whisk in the sugar and the salt. When it’s ready, pour into a lightly oiled, hot frying pan and watch like a hawk. When the sides start to cook and the middle is bubbling flip it over with a fish slice. Adjust the temperature of the pan to suit your needs. When each side is golden brown set aside. After frying they might need 5-10 mins in the oven to make sure they are cooked through.

When you’re ready to assemble, stack the pancakes high and be as creative as you like with soy whip, caramel sauce and top it with the love bomb. I hope your other half appreciates the effort ;)!

Food:Pep up your porridge!

Everyone knows a good breakfast is the cornerstone of a good day, right?

 

Sometimes we skip it, thinking we’ll grab something on the way, or worse sometimes, we settle for a breakfast that’s merely adequate rather than sublime.

Now, most people wouldn’t think of porridge as being sublime, but the nice people at GRØD would humbly disagree. This Danish company has taken porridge (Grød, after all, is the Danish word for porridge) and in 2011 was determined to “show the world that porridge can be delicious, delicate and versatile”. It’s more than just chucking a load of ingredients in and hoping for the best, there is a knack to it.

Ever since I visited their porridge boutiques in Copenhagen, I’ve been inspired to make an original and interesting bowl of porridge every Sunday morning.

So, with that in mind, here’s a handy guide to bringing your ‘A Game’ to breakfast.

Compotes & jams.

Jams can make what was a dull, hearty gloop into a sweet treat! But, as much as ‘a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’ you can use jams and compotes to elevate the humble porridge gastronomically.

Whenever I go abroad, I stock up with all of the interesting jams that you can’t get back home. For instance, In Germany I found a raspberry & passion fruit jam, in Poland – chokeberry, Sweden – Cloudberry and in Denmark – Sea buckthorn. My case is normally bulging from the jars & pots of things I’m determined to return home with! Whilst I’m not asking you to travel the world and smuggle kilos of sugary, interesting goodness back home, I’m asking to think laterally about the traditional flavour combinations that we regularly fall into doing in this country.

Compotes are an easy way to make your own flavour combinations. As I work in a supermarket, I tend to try and snaffle any reduced fruit they have, to make compotes. It’s a challenge sometimes, as some of the fruit I’ve never had before! However, through trial and error I’ve come up with some stonkingly good ones, like peach & rosemary, pomegranate & rose or liquorice and blackberry. Plus, making a compote couldn’t be easier.

Simply fill a pan, quarter way up with water, add a sugar of your choice and then the fruit. Bring up to a boil. This is now the time to add in the spices/herbs/botanicals of your choice, turn down to a simmer and allow to thicken. Once all the flavours are in harmony take off the heat to cool.

Salts.

Hear me out. If you look up the Traditional Scottish porridge they salt their oats, then add the sweetness later. Plus, salt over the past 10 to 15 years has become far more than just a seasoning.

These days you can get salts for everything in a variety of different flavours, all designed to bring some extra dimension to your culinary creations. Seasoning porridge is absolutely essential, otherwise, regardless of whatever else you add to it, the basic ingredient will be bland and lifeless.

So, why not go a little gourmet and interesting? One of my “go to” salts comes from Halen Môn, a homegrown company based in Anglesey (Ynys Môn). Their vanilla salt is a delight sprinkled on caramel, anything chocolate or used as a base for porridge. While the salt brings out the sweetness, the vanilla enhances it. If you’re looking for a variation you can go with Norður Salt, an Icelandic company, who specialise in a range of interesting flavours. They do a blueberry salt and a rhubarb salt which can be paired brilliantly with the other ingredients you decide to add to it.

Perhaps my absolute favourite (though, I may have one or two detractors on this one!) is Saltverk’s Liquorice Salt.
Creamy toppings.

Nothing seals the deal on a great bowl of porridge like a bit of cream! It helps balance the flavours, brings sharpness and adds a touch of velvety luxury. As I tend to cook plant based, the creams are dairy-free. I’ve found that a dollop of ‘Oatly crème fraîche’ (made from oats, naturally) is perfect for giving that extra bit of decadence to what was once a peasant staple. I also use soya products from Alpro like their soy yogurt and quark substitute, ‘Alpro Go On’. I have found that the soya yogurt tends to be flavoursome, a little sweet and quite runny, while the quark gives great acidity and has a great thickness.

Combine the salts, compotes and creamy toppings and you not only improve upon a very simple and hearty breakfast, but personalise it too. The combinations and possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Be creative, flex those flavour muscles and try something new!

Food: Nordic Blueberry Bagel

Continuing on the Nordic theme, this is a recipe for a satisfying sweet Scandi-themed breakfast.

This recipe was also an excuse to open my Oatly cream cheese/påMackan that I brought back from my recent holiday in Copenhagen & Malmö. It’s only available in Sweden atm, so you’ll have to substitute it for other Vegan cream cheese.

I thought, what better than to partner it with with a Scandi themed compote to compliment the cream cheese

To make the compote, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs blueberry jam
  • 100g sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 1 shot of snaps/akvavit
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 50g blueberries
  • 1tsp cornflower, slaked in 1tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of quarter of a lemon

To make, simply put a pan on the hob on low and add the sugar, blueberry jam and water. When it all begins to dissolve, add in the blueberries, lemon zest, snaps and the spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the cornflower mixture. Take out the cinnamon stick by this point. Stirring, so it all comes together, cook out until it becomes a thick, sticky mixture. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Once the compote is sufficiently cool, cut and toast a bagel (I used a sesame bagel) then slathered on a thick layer of Oatly cream cheese/påMackan. Now its’ time to spread a layer of the delectable Nordic fruity spread. Add the lid of the bagel, pick it up and devour- with a coffee of course 😉 !

Enjoy!

 

Design & Food: Our Trip to Copenhagen part II (i)

The second day was a very important day indeed, it was my 22nd birthday! So we had planned to cram in as much as possible. On Theis’ recommendation it was off to Nørreport to a food hall called Torvehallerne. He recommended it to us when we told him about Borough market, in London. A quick hop on the train from Forum and we were there. It’s around the corner from the station, so it wasn’t long before my rumbling tummy was sated. You can’t miss it too, with its glass box construction reflecting the sun’s light. We got there quite early, most of the stalls hadn’t yet opened, but the ones that had were good enough!

Stopping for a coffee and some wienerbrød, this was an amazing start to my birthday. We both shared some snegl (a cinnamon swirl) and a Træstamme ( a marzipan & rum flavoured cake). It was amazing, and the coffee complimented the warm spicy tones of the snegl.

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Another stall which was open (only just!) was the liquor & vinegar seller. As soon as I saw it, I had to get some real akvavit/ snaps. The only Scandinavian liquor I can get readily back home is the akvavit from IKEA in Cardiff, so to get proper stuff was a must! I had plans of using it for my Danish themed christmas, to serve with the starter of smørrebrød. Buying it was a bit weird though. As myself and Tom had gone ‘hand luggage only’ we were limited to a max of 100ml to take home with us, which wasn’t enough, so we bought two 100ml bottles albeit being more expensive than the 200ml bottle. Oh well! The small bottles are a lot cuter.

Our last stop at the food hall was at a food stall Grød (meaning porridge). Now, don’t get me wrong porridge is ok, it’s healthy and filling etc but it can be a bit boring. Not here! The Danes have taken porridge and given it some well needed pizzazz. Already filled up on pastries we didn’t have enough room for a bowl each, but we had to try some. Put before us, two spoons, ice cold milk puddling in the steaming hot oat porridge, and the toppings!  Roasted almonds, crunchy fresh apple and a big dollop of sickly sweet dulce de leche. More of a dessert than a breakfast. But, a perfect Bday treat.

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Wanting to burn off a little of the food before our next destination we decided to scout the area, popping into a few of the shops nearby. The thing about Denmark, even their cheap shops are pretty stylish. Whereas back home, to find something stylish in our little ‘pound shop’ style stores is like finding a needle in a haystack. Design in Scandinavia is taken so seriously that it has filtered down to cater for all budgets. I found some awesome little grid pattern glass pots for 15 DKK (£1.50) that were just calling out to be filled with salt scrub. Oh and this happened.

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Time was ticking on, so we made a move and hopped on the next train to Louisiana art gallery.  The scenery on the train journey was a pleasant surprise, as we passed many residential areas of the outer boroughs of Copenhagen, which you wouldn’t normally see on a city break holiday. Stopping at the Humblebæk station, you’d never think that were were in the midst of a cutting edge modern art gallery. The surrounding  area was well, very quaint. A quiet suburb with lots of big wooden houses (stained black) with immaculate gardens and the odd Danish flag. But sure enough, around the corner, by a wall of trees in their Autumnal glory it stood there camouflaged in a skin of ivy. The trees in hues of ochre, umber and russet contrasted beautifully with the bright green of the gallery.

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Adding to the Autumnal tones were three big statues in bronze of gourds and pumpkins by Japanese Pop artist Yaoi Kusama. Bespeckled with her trademark polkadot pattern, these were a taster of what we had come to see, a retrospective of her works, as well as the gallery’s extensive permanent collections.

– In the next post I’ll describe and review the gallery, the exhibitions and my birthday meal, courtesy of my childhood friend and her Danish partner.