Food & Design: Uncommon Delights

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As you may or may not be aware the last few months have been a tad turbulent, to say the least! But now things are starting to settle into a rhythm here in Malmö and there are exciting things on the horizon. With that in mind I’ve decided to do a Top Ten list of some design and food products that are essential for a new home. I’ve curated my list from UncommonGoods.com who have an extensive range of gift ideas for men, women and the home, to name but a few. I don’t know what your priorities are for feeling at home after you’ve moved in somewhere new, but mine centre around food, wine and home decor so check out these links for more great ideas!

Sustainability is at the heart of Uncommon Goods’ mission as well as providing environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. They work with a wide range of producers and companies, both large and small. I particularly admire their mission to become as paper free as possible, moving the majority of their business to online. In addition to that they’re keen to promote handmade, recycled and organic products wherever possible and this is all to the good. There are plenty of big companies out there that offer amazing products but there are also plenty of smaller producers struggling to make their mark.

 

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1 – Infused Oil & Vinegar Trio

Anyone who knows me (or has read the rest of my blog) knows I’m a sucker for flavoured oils and vinegars. Doesn’t matter what you’re cooking, sweet or savoury, they add a flavour kick that can knock your cooking into overdrive. Consisting of Blood Orange, Lavender and Basil flavours consider this your new home starter kit for transforming your salads, desserts, side dishes and even your breakfasts (if don’t believe me then try some of the Blood Orange Oil in porridge with a dollop of marmalade and some vegan crème fraîche!).

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2 – Flavoured Simple Syrup Set

In a similar vein this little set of syrups can be used equally creatively to up-level your cooking or indeed form the basis of some delicious cocktails. Featuring some really interesting flavour combinations including cucumber habanero and grapefruit basil, combine with a flavourless oil to impress your friends and family with some daring dressings for your salads.

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3 – Salts of the World Test Tube Set

Salts can be used in a variety of ways and not only to simply sprinkle on top of your dishes before serving (although that’s also totally legit!). Try the Himalayan Crystal Pink Fine Grain salt on the rim of a cocktail glass for a touch of class or combine the Spanish Saffron Salt with some classic rice pudding for an extra dimension.

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4 – Wine Aerating Tool

We all enjoy a good bottle of wine but sometimes you can forget to give it time to breathe before you serve. Every kitchen drawer should contain one of these little beauties for those moments when you’ve been rushed off your feet but still demand that your wine tastes its absolute best.

 

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5 – Wine Pairing Towel Set

Now this one is basically a cheat sheet for anyone who doesn’t know their chablis from their chiantis! We can’t all pretend to be Jilly Goolden but these towels will give you a bit of a head start, if nothing else you’ll definitively know whether to serve a red, white or a rosé with your food. No one wants a creamy risotto with a rich, full bodied red so make sure you’re clued up. Alternatively, this could be a great present for that friend or relative who needs a little revision!

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6 – Oval Oak Salt and Pepper Shakers

These classy shakers from Sagaform will definitely add a dimension of class to your dinner table. Scandinavian design classics, these will flexibly fit in with country kitchen or sleek and minimalist styled decor. And as I own the matching wine carafe, these would suit my interior to a tee.

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7 – Boxcar Planter Set

These delightful little planters are a great addition to any modern interior. Handmade in Portland, Oregon, from gorgeous deep walnut, these are the best way to show off your succulent/cacti collection. Plus, artist and designer, Joe Gibson was inspired by the classic American boxcar design, so these moveable planters, look good alone or next to one-another.

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8 – Sea Spell Doormat

This cute doormat would go perfectly in our new apartment in Malmö! Not only is it in my favourite colour, teal, but look at the cat-mermaid. I repeat, CAT MERMAID. That is all 😉

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9 – Kitchen Utensil and Tablet Holder 

How much of a cool product is this?! It’s so useful for someone who, like myself, loves cooking in the kitchen. This handmade stoneware utensil pot, gives you an easy way to follow a recipe on your tablet. Or if you find cooking to be an arduous task that needs to be endured rather than enjoyed then you can put your tablet in the holder to listen to music/watch videos whilst you get on with the job!

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10 – White Earthenware Bowl with Stand

This cute bowl is totally Mid-Century inspired, with it’s copper legs giving you that atomic vibe. Channel that Don-Draper (or for that matter Peggy Olson) vibe into your place and be the hippest cat in town!

 

 

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Design: Housfolk #featurefriday

I’m so chuffed that the Instagram group Housfolk, an Interior inspiration group who are as in love with Scandinavian, Mid-Century & Modern design as I am, have featured me in their most recent #featurefriday post. Run by the 3 admins of the Facebook group where it all began; Neena, Laura & Natalie are lovely lassies (Laura & Natalie are Scottish ;)) all with stunning homes & a penchant for Nordic/retro design. A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Laura if I’d like my home included, I jumped at the chance.

 

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I feel so blessed that even as a Swansea boy on a tight budget, that people, other than myself actually like what I’ve done with the place. Considering, here in the UK the crisp white walls of the Nordic interiors palette are more common to find in an art gallery than in ones home. But why not make your home a gallery, let the pieces of furniture sing like great paintings I say!

Housfolk was a great find to not only drool over other peoples interiors & antique finds, but also a great place to communicate with likeminded people, troubleshoot any problems or to share a great bargain deal, so that they could join in with finding that little bit of cheap, Scandi-inspired design on our very lackluster British Highstreet.

They even do #winitwednesday giveaway competitions, working with brands & artists to bring you amazing pieces that you can win.

Check them out!

 

Food: Apple, Plum & ginger crumble

Here’s a recipe for a hearty and warming crumble with a speculoos/speculaas topping.

Makes 6 portions.

To make, you’ll need:

For the filling:

  • 8 medium apples,
  • 1 jar of sour plums,
  • Half the liquid from the plum jar,
  • 1 star anise,
  • Thumb size piece of ginger (grated),
  • 125ml of apple cider,
  • 20g of crystallised ginger,
  • 1 knob vegan butter,
  • 80g of brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon,
  • 1 tbs of golden syrup (agave/ corn syrup will work as well),

For the topping:

  • 120g of plain flour,
  • 60g of brown sugar,
  • 60g of vegan butter,
  • 60g speculoos biscuits,

 

To make the filling:

Peel, core and slice the apples then set aside. Begin by melting the butter in a pan, add the sugar and allow them to caramelise. Add the apples and stir them around until they’re coated. Then add the plums along with the juice, the apple cider, the star anise and allow to simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes with the lid off.

When the mixture has reduced add the grated fresh ginger, the crystallised ginger, the zest and juice of half a lemon and the golden syrup. Stir until combined and the golden syrup has loosened and melted. Spoon into a medium sized baking tin until you’re ready with the topping.

To make the topping:

Measure out and combine the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and breadcrumb by rubbing between your fingers. Smash the biscuits in a pestle and mortar (or in a plastic bag and bashed with a rolling pin) until they’re a mixture of crumb and rubble sized pieces. Combine the two and sprinkle over the mixture.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for forty minutes until the topping is rich and golden. Once out of the oven, leave it cool slightly and serve with some soy custard 😉

Enjoy!

 

Food: Kycklingpytt

After wanting to make something Scandinavian (that wasn’t fish or meatballs) I started doing some research and found the Swedish dish called Pyttipanna or ‘bits in a pan’. Perfect. Essentially it’s a hash – how Swedes would use up their leftover meat and potatoes, but I wanted to elevate this from a leftover supper into a Posh Dish.

To do this you’ll need:

(Feeds 2)

  • 1.5 Chicken breasts
  • a handful of wild mushrooms – I used some Chanterelles
  • 3 large-ish new potatoes (or 1 large potato)
  • a packet of lardons
  • a handful of dill
  • a handful of parsley
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • some pickled beetroot

Earlier in the day I poached the chicken in a liquor of boiling water, a spoonful of mustard – I used dijon – a small glass of Vermouth, some leftover mushroom stalks, a good crack of black pepper and 1tbs of dried thyme and a few stalks of fresh thyme. Poach until the juices of the chicken run clear. Separate the breasts from the liquid and set aside. With the liquor I simply strained and filtered it, then when cool put it in the freezer – it would be a shame to throw it out when I could use it as a base of a great stock. Waste not want not as they say…

Whilst the chicken is poaching, there’s time to deal with the potatoes. Peel and chop into small cubes. The smaller the better, this step really tested my patience – but you’ll have to deal with it as nearly everything needs to be chopped in this dish, however the result is amazing, so bear with it. Par-boil  the potatoes in salted water, strain and set aside.

Once the chicken is cool, you’ll need to do the same and shop into small pieces.

Now you’re ready to make the dish.

Fry the lardons in a shallow pan. I used my Descoware shallow casserole, a mid-century heirloom and one of my favourite pans in the kitchen. Very versatile. Once they have browned a bit and let out their delicious smokey oil add in a finely diced onion. Cook until translucent. Once this is done, you can chop the mushrooms up, yes, you guessed, finely.

Next, add the potatoes and sauté . Add the mushrooms along with some chopped fresh dill and parsley, a splash of cider vinegar and a knob of butter. Finally add the chicken and season. Add to your plate or bowl, I used some IKEA STOCKHOLM deep bowls, for that sophisticated edge. Nearly done, I promise.

Place some chef’s rings in a frying pan with a drop of oil. If you’re thinking ‘where on earth do you get chef’s rings’ well eBay is probably worth a try but I got mine from TIGER, in Swansea – weirdly marketed as ‘cheesecake rings’ – a bargain at £3 for 4 and a press. Heat and fry two eggs. Once fried, top the hash with the eggs and some slices of pickled beetroot (an extra frond of dill won’t hurt 😉 ). I used my own homemade caraway pickled beetroot, that I’d made the week before. We served ours with some crusty baguette and a nice glass of red wine.

Now, break the yolk so it makes a rich sauce and consume!

 

Food: Brød, Cardiff

The other weekend, with Broen/Bron/The Bridge back on our screens, my partner  & I were feeling peckish for something Scandi for breakfast, so jumped in the car and made for Pontcanna, Cardiff, to visit the new Danish bakery, Brød, that had opened two weeks previous.

Brød, situated in the old  Philip Morgan and Son premises and was set up by Betina Skovbro. Originally from Copenhagen and inspired by her grandfather, a baker, the vision was to bring a slice of Denmark to Cardiff, with Ben Davies (an ex-Starbucks supervisor) in charge of the coffee and Danish baker Simon Stokholm in charge of making their delectable pastries & breads.

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With an interior to make a mid-century fanatic drool and peppered with Danish flags, the place definitely is a little Scandinavian grotto, in the heart of Cardiff, Skovbro even imported her grandmother’s furniture, for that sense of Scandi-authenticity.

Arriving 20 minutes after it opened, the place was already buzzing with a variety of people, from families grabbing a Saturday morning treat to friends gossiping and laughing about the night before. Being greedy I fancied trying everything on the menu, but it being early, they hadn’t quite finished making everything. So we had one of each (of what was available) and two lattes. It all came to £15! Bargain :O !

On a big wooden platter we had a chocolate cinnamon swirl (snegl); a Danish crown (spandauer); two kinds of pastry slice – one being  a Copenhagen slice (Købehavner); a chocolate topped pastry (chokolade bolle) and a danish raisin bun (not pictured).

So buttery, so decadent and the best pastry I’ve had in a while. It simply transported me back to our little holiday to København, that we had in October! (More of which to come!)

After a long chat with the owner – she’s so  lovely, very friendly – it was time for us to be on our way. With my usual ‘eyes bigger than belly’ syndrome (we ordered way too many!)  a doggy bag was definitely needed. Plus, I couldn’t help but buy a fresh rye sourdough loaf on my way out (which was lovely, topped gravadlax and pickles, I have to add!) it was time to book.

I would recommend this little slice of Denmark to anyone; anyone looking for a great coffee, great pastries and a great atmosphere.

Mange Tak Brød!

https://www.facebook.com/thedanishbakery

@TheDanishBakery

126 Wyndham Crescent

CF11 9EG

Design: IKEA time!

(Picture taken from here)

Yesterday, was our second trip to IKEA of 2015 (we went a total of 8 times in 2014!) This time the goal was to get more napkins (as you know I love dressing a table with colourful napkins) and to get the BROMMÖ loungers for the garden.

The BROMMÖ chairs had been on my internal design shopping list for a while, but as we did not have a house last year, it seemed a total illogical frippery to buy them (and to store them) – plus the Ikea in Cardiff – IKEA Wales hasn’t always got what the other Ikeas in the UK in stock, as it’s a smaller store.

Anyway, I had been looking for some Mid Century inspired chairs for the garden, and we came across two options, the first being an Acapulco inspired chairs in Habitat, and the other being the BROMMÖ lounger. We decided on the BROMMÖ as Tom thought it was more comfortable.

The BROMMÖ is built from accaica (stained with a Teak finish, for that Danish look) and Polypropylene rope. The chair is basically a Mid Century gumbo pot of Poul Kjærholm’s 1951 PK 25 and Han’s Wegner’s 1949 Folding Chair. Albeit an inspired piece (obviously an orignal would be lovely!) for £40 per chair, the form is pretty good! Although, I will have to keep on top of them, if I want them to last, by regularly oiling them and keeping them from getting bleached in the sun.

The next item burning an ever bigger hole through our pockets was the Ikea LILLÖN barbecue. With its shiny black exterior (also available in green) and insect-ilke legs, this is definitely the Juicy Salif of the barbecue world. Giving off a Jetsons meets War of The Worlds vibe, it’s so Mid Century, you could imagine Don Draper cooking up some class A burgers on it. Plus it’s height is adjusted to 2 heights, one as a standalone barebecue for a cook-out, the other as a tabletop grill, for a picnic etc. For £90 we could get a bigger charcoal barbecue, but we just had to get it!

We had also picked up some more napkins and a couple of Marimekko Sukat makkaralla inspired SKOJA glasses for the picnicware set, and a few other bits and bobs.

Stocked up and checked out we then loaded up the car before having something to eat in the Ikea Cafeteria. It was surprisingly rather easy to get everything in the car- as normally it’s like the game of Tetris from hell.

We then grabbed something to eat, the compulsory köttbullar with plenty of grädsås and lingonsylt, it is an Ikea institution, after all!

And on the way back down, we had to stop at their Swedish Food Market for some pick & mix and some Påsk must. Yes, Påsk must, exactly the same as Jul must, but every time I see it I’m a sucker for it.

Full up on citron läppar, Licqorice and köttbullar, it was time to go home. Until the next time…

Food: Fika with the inlaws

This morning, I found out Tom’s parents were coming over to help with the floor in the living space (building site), so I got out the teapot, percolator and the necessary cake for a little Fika.

So, out came the Marimekko teapot, Mid century Iittala Solaris crystal plates by Tapio Wirkkala, Alessi forks and my vintage Hornsea creamer.

We had some Valencian orange and almond cake, leftover from my Spanish dinner party, yesterday,

– homemade Spanish Amarguillos served in my Georg Jensen leaf dish

– representing Italy were Amaretti di Saronno in a vintage Deka ‘Cathrineholm style’ lotus bowl

– representing Denmark were some Romkugler in an Iittala Aalto dish

And…

– representing good ‘ol Blighty were some custard creams in a Marimekko/Iittala Maribowl.

Even though it was last minute, thankfully they enjoyed. Tom’s mam even praised the Little My Moomin Arabia Finland mug 😉 – these days she even can recognise Marimekko 🙂