Food: Turnip and Sage Soup

img_9265

Christmas has passed and we’re all beginning to feel the pinch, either in the wallet or around the top button of the jeans! So why not treat yourself to some cheap, easy to make and heartily nutritious soup? Here’s a recipe for a cockle warming Turnip soup.

You’ll need:

  • 5 – 6 small turnips,

  • 1 – 2 potatoes,

  • 1 onion,

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard,

  • Sage (fresh, naturally),

  • 500ml – 1 Litre of water,

  • Rapeseed oil,

Garnish:

  • 3 – 6 fried sage leaves

Begin by roasting the turnips (skin on) in a bit of oil and a crunch or two of salt. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and cook for at least half an hour, checking after 20 minutes and tossing around so they get equal coverage. When they’re done they should be soft enough to run a knife through with little to no resistance. The skins should have browned a bit too. At this point you can allow them to cool a bit while you get on with the base of the soup.

Using a Le Creuset or similar cast iron pan, chop the onion and fry in a little rapeseed oil until soft. Cube the potatoes (skin on or off, depending on how smooth you want the soup to be) and add to the pot. Add the mustard, then the turnips and let them get coated before adding the water. Pour the water (I like to pre-boil the water in the kettle) over until the vegetables are covered and bring to a gentle boil. You’ll want to keep the soup on a medium heat rather than boil it to death.

As the turnips were roasted with a little salt be careful with the seasoning at this point. Season with plenty of black pepper, roughly chop a handful of sage leaves and stir those in too. Leave to simmer for twenty minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked. When they’re done remove from the heat and whizz the whole thing up with a stick blender until smooth.

For the garnish, simply fry the sage leaves in a little oil until dark green and crispy.

I served it with a Nøgne Ø pale ale and a hearty, dense loaf of seeded rye from Brød, Cardiff.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Design: Styling Christmas

Foregoing the British festive decorative tradition of “more is more” in favour of the Scandinavian monochrome look, our Christmases might look tame in comparison with others. To others they may look sparse, cold or even un-Christmassy. But where an abundance of light and colour can overload the senses, a more selective approach to decorating at Christmas can yield equally cosy results. Here’s a quick look at how I’ve styled our home for Christmas.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Scandinavia is the primary source of my inspiration for the interior of my home: full stop. Monochrome interiors, stark whites, shades of grey and coal black touches here and there typify the genre of interior design. You’d think an abundance of black, white and grey would create a cold environment, but you’ve got to remember that this design ethos comes from cultures who are used to the cold and the darkness of winter. They even have words for cosiness that transcend what we take for granted in its meaning. In fact entire books have been written on the subject of hygge and mys that they’ve passed into the subconscious of coffee table discussion.

img_8946

 

There is no more hyggelig a time of year than Christmas and an  absence of abundant colour does not mean an absence of warmth. This year in fact I decided to incorporate the teal of our Made.com Jonah sofa and armchair (last year I had them temporarily upholstered in black for the Christmas period). Colour is unavoidable – there’s the inevitable green of whatever tree or greenery you’re introducing, but then there are the inevitable colours of your furniture. It’s all about arranging what you have to create the mood or atmosphere that you want.

img_8390

On the coffee table I decided to create a winter forest of candles with Kähler hammershøi candle holders, my white tree from Flying Tiger, the tree candles I got from Denmark last October, the numerous tea light holders I got from H&M home and the Ittala Kivi. Dotted among the “trees” is a little plywood Moomin from Lovi, a stag and some DIY nisse I picked up from Søstrene Grene. The composition is designed to echo the “forest” of Ittala Festivo candle holders sitting resplendent on the sideboard. When the whole thing is lit the effect is extremely hyggelig.

IMG_8376.JPG

Our tree is a simple five footer decorated with home-made Himmeli made from black and white paper straws, the idea for these came from Nalle’s house. We’ve also made baubles from black and white patterns printed on card and formed into shape with wire (also from Nalle’s house). A single set of 6 wooden baubles break up the pattern white one set of 100 lights bring light to the tree. Sitting above the tree is our silver star decoration that we got from Home Bargains (of all places!). Clearly intended as a free hanging decoration, the star makes a perfect tree topper to complete the look.

The trick when styling monochrome is to balance heavy and light tones. The easiest way of doing this is by combining tea lights such as glass votives like the Snowballs from Kosta Boda, with a repeated thematic focal point like the himmeli decorations on the tree, which then tie in with the geometric artwork on the walls like the print from Emerybloom, the Kubus candle holder or the Kähler Omaggio vase in the corner. Humour can be used tastefully throughout the arrangement too. As I mentioned in a previous article, the santa hat for the Kay Bojesen monkey was an absolute must while the presence of the white Hoptimist by designer Gustav Ehrenreich gives a breath of life to the stark colour palette. From the opposite side of the room from the tree, the piercing eyes of our Olle Eksell print gaze out across the room, while in the corner sits the Normann Copenhagen tray table, which I’ve mentioned about styling here.

The monochrome shades of the pillows on the sofa and armchair sit beautifully against the teal. I’ve used the combination of a simple grey throw and plain grey cushions from IKEA’s GURLI range, a cushion that we recently picked up from Copenhagen (only 60 Kr!) and my Fine Little Day Gran cushion which keys in with the other patterns, holding the arrangement together. You’ll often find when styling a space that one or two pieces go on to influence a look for a space. The armchair sports a cute mountain cushion from Lagerhaus and the cross cushion from Zana Products.

Monochrome doesn’t have to be oppressive or joyless. In fact I would strongly argue that it’s a smart and surprisingly dynamic avenue to pursue precisely because it runs counter to common consensus. The only drawback is that currently the UK doesn’t really offer much in the way of readily available monochrome ornaments or decorative pieces. Over here black is always paired with gold and silver with white and there the creativity ends. As such, much of my collection has been sourced from abroad. I hope you’ve found some form of inspiration to try something new next year. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and regularly begin sourcing pieces in advance. Be daring, take the plunge and go monochrome.

 

Design: Top 10 for Christmas 2016

 

This is my pick of design pieces and gift ideas that will give your interior some definite Scandi style this Christmas!

 

1.Kay Bojesen santa hat for small monkey

01

Fun & beautifully designed, this would make an awesome gift for a design lover! Made from solid hand-painted beech, this little santa hat is perfect for getting your Kay Bojesen monkey (and other wooden animals!) into the festive mood!

Available here.

2. Moomin Winter 2016 mug by Arabia Finland

01-1

This years mug features more scenes from Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter (1957) and feature Hemulen, Sorry-oo, Moomin and the Snowhorse. It’s a fab gift for any Moomin lover, or Scandiphile and would look perfect, filled with hot cocoa to heat up in this cold period!

Available here.

3. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

41bz5yslhfl-_sx271_bo1204203200_

 

One of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tales and some of the source inspiration of Disney’s Frozen, this chilly tale is a perfect Christmas read, made even better by the new illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Known for her collaborations for Marimekko, this is Annukka’s second HCA book, with her illustarted version of The Fir Tree, out 2012. The art is stunning and the deep blue cloth binding really gives you the chilly winter vibe, its simply amazing!

Available here.

4. IKEA VINTER 2016 decorations

 

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-08-13-39

Usually the UK (in my opinion) lags behind in the Christmas decoration game, compared to Scandinavia, where you can get Traditional busy, red decorations and also sleek monochrome ones too. well, welldone IKEA for bringing these chic, paired back decs to GB!

-I love the origami styling that would look perfect with the Issey Miyake x Iittala collection!

Available here/ in store.

5.Moomin advent calendar

calendars-moomin-christmas-calendar-2016-by-martinex-1_1024x1024

 

This Advent calendar has 24 little Moomin figurines by Finnish company Martinex. I’m in love with it and I wish I had got one!!

Available here.

6.Sarah Edmonds Sami pattern tote

il_570xn-653917501_pyy8

Sarah is an illustrator based in Worthing and has illustrated for Humble by Nature, the books A Dylan Odyssey & Coming to England, Roald’s Cardiff map for Roald 100, maps for Tranås and exhibited in Fika, a Swedish eatery in shoreditch, London. She extensively travelled the Nordic countries, and was inspired from her travels through Lapland and Sapmi to create this tote. The zig-zag patterns come from Sami textiles and would look great stuffed full of books!

Available here.

7. IKEA STRÅLA LED candle bridge

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-08-13-53

Usually I’m not the biggest fan of candle bridges, but once again IKEA are knocking it out of the park with this! The STRÅLA candle bridge looks sleek and very modernist with its stylish black powder-coated steel curves. It could perfectly suit a modern home and be a stand-out piece in a more Traditional home.

Available here / in store

8. Origami-Est topper

origamiest-hb-aug16-131

Available here.

Origami-Est are a small company based in Kent, that make folded paper ornaments, lightshades and books/stationary. At least 10% of the proceeds are donated to Stop the Traffik, a charity helping the victims of traffiking, which is cool AF!

As well as all of that, Esther has released a Christmas collection of cards, ornaments and this tree topper. A Simple folded paper star, with a choice of coloured stars and ribbons, it is sure to look great on top of the tree, whether it be real or artificial!

9.Let’s Hygge print by Gillian Gamble

il_570xn-1098995287_rfke

Gillian Gamble is a talented artist/ illustrator based in County Durham, but grew up in Dundee, Scotland. Gillan nods to her home city in her prints of Dundee marmalade jars. She has illustrated two books The Listening Stone and I Love St Andrews, and has a variety of well executed art styles. Seen as ‘hygge’ one of 2016’s buzzwords, she’s decided to do a little print of a hyggelig scene. Simple & cute, it perfectly captures what hygge is about!

Perfect for cosying up the house in cold winter, or as a gift for the person you’d like to hygge with!

Available here

10.Young Double Dolls

betty

Handmade dolls from the British company, Young Double. Cute & stylish monochrome buddies, they are perfect to add a touch of stylish quick to your interior or a Perfect gift for some chic children. With 4 different screen printed characters to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect companion with these!

 

Available here.

 

 

Design: Normann Copenhagen in Homesense

On Monday evening, perusing around Homesense with Tom, I came across this treasure trove of Scandinavian design. They had boxes and boxes of Normann Copenhagen design. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Agnes Vases in all different shapes & sizes from the mini up to the 32cm one & the fat  ‘plant pot ‘ looking one, all priced from £3.99 up to £7.99, (Which is an absolute bargain considering they usually start at £10 and can go up to as much as Seventy quid!)

The Agnes Vase, designed by Agnes Fries uses Handmade Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen and combines & contrasts it with a top of black hand-painted brush strokes. Its subtle yet striking, graphic and perfect for a monochrome/ Scandinavian styled interior.

I decided to go for the 20cm vase, a Goldilocks among the rest in my opinion. Being ‘Not too big, not too small’ it doesn’t get swallowed up by a room, but it isn’t also too large to be a centrepiece on my small dining table, and at £6.99 instead of £39.99 I just had to get it!

They also had the Floe tealight holder there in so many shades & hues. I picked up two considering they were £3.99 each in coral and dark green, perfect for both my Spring/Summer  & my Autumn/Winter looks! Designed by the Spanish designer Ramírez i Carrillo to echo a traditional antique oil lamp, it gives a small but impacting atmosphere when styled into your interior.

When I got home I immediately had to take them out of the boxes and incorporate into my Winter décor.

IMG_8098.jpg

the Agnes Vase looked perfect on my Normann Copenhagen Block Table, rubbing shoulders with some succulents & my Yule candle from Flying Tiger Copenhagen & Menu X Stokke Austad candle holder. I used a branch, that we had lying around from last christmas and adorned it with some of our homemade baubles & himmeli.

I followed this tutorial by Nalle’s House to make the ornaments. It all fits so well together, with the vase completing the look. Not too ‘out there’ & Kitschy Christmassy. Monochrome, just festive enough & classy!

IMG_8086.jpg

The Floe fits perfectly on my IKEA side table keeping my little Tomte company. It looks great with the Sanna Annukka illustrated ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen underneath, strengthening the green and it also works well with the Iittala Aalto pieces, all creating a nice harmonious look.

Let’s hope some Normann design is at your local Homesense store, but get it quick as it will vanish fast!

Design & Food: Nordic Berlin: The Nordic influence on the German Capital

Recently I went on a cultural exchange trip to Berlin with University, funded by DAAD. Whilst there I noticed the Nordic influence on the city. Whether it’s my Scandi-obsessed mind I don’t know, but I found many influences from the Northern lands on the German Capital.

Architecture

 

 

It is possible to see the Nordic influence within Berlin,with some of its architectural destinations.

 

The Hansaviertel complex, near the Tiergarten has some of the best examples of mid 20th century architecture in the country, Interbau, a competition devised in 1957, for the world’s best architects to come up with a building each, within the complex. Here, you’ll find buildings from the Scandinavian masters of functionalism; Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen and Kay Fisker, along with other international tour-de-forces such as Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier and the famous Bauhaus school founder, Walter Gropius. In recent years, they have uncovered- and restored, a mural on the pavilion of the Aalto building. This mural, is a wave of sinuous, organic lines, that references his famous piece of design, the Savoy vase- now produced by Iittala.

 

Built in 1999, the Nordic Embassies in Berlin house all the diplomatic buildings of the Nordic countries, shoulder to shoulder. Devised by architects Alfred Berger and Tina Parkkinen, the embassies,- all designed by teams of different architects have been arranged geographically, each one reflecting the qualities of each nation. For instance the use of Milk glass in the Norwegian Embassy, references the glaciers of the Norwegian landscape. The Swedish and Danish Embassies proudly display the materials of their homelands, with the Swedish Embassy using white Gotland limestone, and the Danish Embassy highlighting its use of warm wood, and contrasting cold steel- its trademark materials, made famous internationally. The Icelandic Embassy, features a floor, paved with large lava tiles, which are illuminated below with a red light- giving the impression of the stark, volcanic landscape of the country. The Finnish Embassy, even includes two saunas- a nod to the compulsory national past-time of Finnish life. At the heart of the building complex is the Felleshus, or the Pan Nordic Building- which combines a space for exhibition, conference rooms, canteen, auditoriums- for all of the Embassies- and the general public, too. Using a mixture of Nordic materials, this building, expresses the unity of the Nordic countries.

 

The Nordic influence on Berlin can even be seen in the most German of all buildings; The Reichstag Building, housing the Bundestag. Along with the amazing architecture of Norman Foster, the Danish architect Per Arnoldi designed the concept of all the doors and the protocol room.

 

 

 

Shopping

 

Being a capital, Berlin is a shopping haven. The Scandinavian influence shines no less here, with so many Nordic brands to choose from. If you’re looking for clothes shops, stores such as H&M, COS, ECCO, Monki and Marimekko are for you. Design lover? You’re spoilt for choice with stores such as Scandinavian Objects, Iittala, Bolia and Bo Concept. Not forgetting that the big department store,

KaDeWe, stocking the Scandi favourites such as Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Ferm Living, Design House Stockholm and Georg Jensen.

 

 

 

Food & Drink

If you’re fed up with currywurst and pommes and looking for something a bit more Northern in flavour, then the restaurant Munch’s Haus on Bülowstraße is worth a shout. Serving up Norwegian traditional fair, with a twist, I’d recommend a visit!

 

A place that is equally popular in Berlin, as they are in the Nordic countries, is the humble liquorice shop. Loved by Northern Euopeans alike, these small confectionary shops are where you go for your fix of the black gold, or rather salty, black gold- flavoured with Salmiak ( an ammonium salt). In Berlin, Kadó, is where you go. An institution for 18 years, they stock a variety of liquorice products, from subtle Italian stuff, to the punchy (and tongue numbing) Icelandic and Finnish liquorice.

 

Just fancy something light with a coffee? Then look no further than the Oslo Kaffe Bar, at the Nordic Embassies. Wether you’d like to have a ‘kaffee pause’,‘kaffe og kaker’,‘fika’ or ‘kaffee og kage’, the act of having something small, with a coffee (or tea) and an opportunity to catchup with friends is an institution all over Northern Europe. The Oslo Kaffe Bar is a great place to do it too! Sip a well made latte, and eat buttery, cinnamon filled pastries amongst great pieces of design, such as Jacobsen’s iconic Swan chairs. There’s nothing better, I dare you!
 

 

Miscellaneous

 

A few more Nordic influenced perusings on this trip:

 

When the group and I had an opportunity to bake for students at a school, I noticed their cupboards stocked with Rosti Mepal cookware. They seem to be very popular here. Once two brands, Danish Rosti and Dutch Mepal, the companies were combined in 1976. In 1950 the Swedish Sigvard Bernadotte and the Danish Acton Bjørn designed the Margrethe bowl. This stackable mixing bowl, named Margethe after the queen of Denmark, is now in many homes across Northern Europe and Berlin and is a Design classic.

At the U-bahn station in the Gesundbrunnen district, you’ll find a beguiling sight. Osloer Straße isn’t just named after the Norwegian capital, as architect Rainer G. Rümmler designed the station emblazoned with the Norwegian flag, since its conception in 1973.

 

 

Food: Dark chocolate Easter eggs with a salted date caramel filling

With more vegan options this Easter, than ever, I’ve decided to join in and add one of my own. This recipe combines the deep bitterness of dark chocolate with the naturally decadent flavours of date, made into a salted caramel.

 

To make, you’ll need:

  • 400g good quality dark chocolate (70% minimum)
  • 150g dates
  • 180ml water
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Splash of non-dairy milk ( I used Oatly oat milk)
  • Knob of soya butter
  • Pinch of quality sea salt ( I used Halen Môn)
  • 2 tsb non-dairy cream ( I again used Oatly)
  • Easter egg mould

Start by soaking the dates in boiling water for an hour (or in cold water for a couple of hours). Once this is done blitz up the mixture in a food processor until it becomes a thin, sticky sauce. Next melt the butter in a pan, then add the mixture, cream and reduce.

After  a few minutes add the cornflour (slaked in a splash of milk) and stir. Continue reducing until it forms into a thick caramel, this should take 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and set aside. It will thicken even more as it cools.

Once the caramel is cooling you can turn your attention to the chocolate. Chop up the chocolate finely and place into a glass bowl. Keep a third of the chocolate back.

Place the pan over a bowl of simmering water. As it melts stir occasionally. The next step you’ll need to do is temper the chocolate. Tempering the chocolate will ensure it has a glossy finish and a great snap. This reduces the size of the crystals in the cocoa butter leaving you with a smoother product.

The easiest way to do this is to remove the bowl from the pan and add in the third of the chocolate that you kept behind. This will cool the chocolate. Stir until the all the chocolate is melted. It should become nice and glossy.

Use the tempered chocolate to fill the moulds. Pour a ladle of chocolate into the mould and roll it around until the whole of the mould is evenly covered. Pour any excess back into the bowl and scrape around the edge of the mould with a flat knife. Set aside and leave to harden. Once the first layer has set repeat the process until you’re happy with the thickness of the egg shell. Leave to harden and cool completely for a few hours. When it’s done carefully remove from the moulds and spoon the thick caramel into the egg halves and garnish with a pinch more salt.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

 

 

Food: Peking jackfruit pancakes

This is a recipe to make a vegan version of my favourite takeaway dish: Peking duck pancakes. Its super easy to knock up and cheaper than going to the local Chinese 😉

To make the pancakes I used this recipe from the Queen of cookery herself, Nigella. It’s a great recipe and yields loads!

 

To make, you’ll need:

For the Peking Jackfruit:

  • 2 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Nana’s homemade!)
  • 1 tbs golden syrup (agave/corn syrup also good)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • Glug of garlic infused oil
  • Glug of sesame oil
  • Dash of liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs Shaoxing  rice wine
  • 2 tbs Chinese black vinegar
  • 3 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • Splash of water
  • 1 tin green Jackfruit, drained
  • 1 tbs sour plum juice

Also:

  • 
3 spring onions, chopped
  • ⅓ of a cucumber, chopped
  • 4tbs hoisin sauce

To prepare the marinade:

Melt the plum jam in a saucepan with the golden syrup until it begins to caramelise. Agave or corn syrup are good alternatives. Reduce the heat and add the grated ginger, the five spice and the chilli paste and stir together. Add the oils to loosen the mixture and a dash of liquid smoke, the Shaoxing, black vinegar, soy sauce and a splash of water. The mixture should be heady, thick and aromatic. At this point you can add the star anise and let it simmer for ten minutes while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Begin by draining the water then cut the flesh away from the tough core. Cut the pieces into small chunks, stir into the mix when it’s ready and allow to cool. Let the Jackfruit marinade in the mixture for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s ready to cook, place them in a Dutch oven like a Le Creuset and bake in the oven with the lid off for about an hour at 140°c (fan) until dark and sticky.

The pancakes can be a bit fiddly but Nigella’s recipe is easy to follow and produces great results. They can take a bit of time to make so I’d recommend making them while the Jackfruit is cooking. After you’ve made them it’s important to steam the pancakes to give them that light and slightly translucent quality that the real ones have.

For the vegetables simply cut spring onions and cucumber into strips. Prepare a few ramekins for the Hoisin dipping sauce. Serve the whole thing on a platter and begin building!

 

I served the dish with an equally exotic cocktail, the Empress Wu with the flavours of plum, star anise, ginger and citrus – it perfectly compliments the Jackfruit dish.

For the Empress Wu cocktail you will need:

  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 shots of sour plum juice
  • Splash of ginger ale
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 shot orange liqueur
  • 2 shots Shaoxing rice wine
  • 200ml orange juice

Method:
In the first jug add grated ginger to 4 shots of sour plum juice (from a jar of plums – for a recipe on how to use said plums, check out my recipe for vegan apple,plum and ginger crumble). Combine with a splash of ginger ale, the juice of half a lemon and one star anise. Allow them to infuse for five minutes.

Strain the mixture into your serving jug (I used my Iittala Kartio jug – its simple, geometric form and its pop of green suited freshness of this cocktail). Add the orange liqueur and the Shaoxing. Top up the whole thing with orange juice and stir.

 

Enjoy!  享受!