Dinner, Chicken, Korean

It’s a strange thing how quickly you phase out once something occupies most of your time – I was hoping to get in at least a weekly update of the blog while finishing the thesis draft, but that obviously didn’t happen! I’m hoping now that things have settled down a wee bit I’ll be able to update more regularly. I handed in the draft last Monday actually, but I’ve still been catching up on things and finishing off little bits. At this point I've pretty much given up trying to explain to people why the process of finishing your thesis takes so long (with draft submissions, final submission, viva, corrections etc.), but it really has been a life defining experience and I'm very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this for the past four years.

Since the weather has been fantastic here I thought it was time to get a barbecue going. For some reason, I’ve never actually done it here in Scotland. It made sense, I suppose, when I lived in a second floor flat, but no excuses anymore! Back over in Sweden our family always get in a couple of grill sessions and it’s always a special treat. Anyway, I decided to get a small portable grill, but slightly underestimated the weight of the grill, charcoal, and other groceries so I barely managed to get it home. Once we got started, the fire didn’t take properly at first, but after half an hour of desperately combining kindling, charcoal, lightning liquid and cardboard(!) we got a perfect temperature going. Besides, we managed to produce enough smoke to set off the fire alarm indoors. Despite everything, the actual skewers are easy enough to make and who can resist some Korean barbecue?

Dak bulgogi skewers

Serves 4

600g chicken thigh fillets (boneless), diced

250g chestnut mushrooms, halved

100g bunched spring onions, cut into 10cm rods

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp sriracha

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp rice wine

2 tbsp brown sugar

Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce (soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, lemon juice, sriracha, honey, rice wine, and brown sugar). Pour over the remaining ingredients and coat well. Marinade for at least an hour. Thread alternate layers of chicken, mushrooms and spring onions onto skewers.

Maple dipping sauce

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sriracha

2 tsp sesame seeds

Mix together all the ingredients for the dipping sauce. Once the grill is ready, cook the skewers for around 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice.

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Dinner, Pork

Is it too early to start longing for summer barbeques? Surely not! My latest obsession food-wise is sweet potato, especially baked ones. I usually top them with salsa, cheese, and ham, but since it’s Sunday and the weather’s nice, I decided to give these pork belly and halloumi kebabs a trial run in the oven. They turned out fantastic and I’m pretty sure this is what I’ll be serving the next time I get a chance to have a barbeque since they’ll be even more tasty cooked that way.

I’m glad I managed to make time for a nice Sunday meal and a wee blog post since I feel like all I’ve been doing lately is working pretty much. A deadline for my thesis draft has been set for May 7th so things have been pretty hectic – it’s amazing how productive you get when working under pressure!

Baked sweet potatoes with pork belly and halloumi kebabs

Serves 4

500g sliced pork belly

250g halloumi

4 sweet potatoes

Salt&pepper

To serve

Tomato chutney, spring onions, spinach, pomegranate

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap them in tin foil. Bake in the oven at 200c for around an hour until cooked. When half an hour remains, add the pork belly slices on a baking tray and pre-cook. Let everything cool. Cube the pork and the halloumi cheese and thread the cubes onto wooden skewers. Season with salt and pepper. Grill in the oven or on a barbeque for around ten minutes until browned and crispy. Serve with the baked potatoes and toppings.

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Baking, Dessert

Happy Easter everyone! This is a lovely wee dessert for Easter. The cake is so easy to make, but it’s something a bit different from your usual sponge cake. I really like baking with ricotta and I think this recipe pretty much nails the perfect combination of ingredients. I’m off to get on with trying to finish writing my final thesis chapter (it’s nearing the end!), but a treat-filled Easter weekend certainly makes it easier!

Pear and ricotta cake

150g sugar

3 eggs

120g butter, melted

250g ricotta

1 tsp vanilla

250ml flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 pears, peeled, cored, quartered with thin slits cut on the bulbous end

1tbsp fig’s jam

Candied walnuts

100ml chopped Walnuts

1tbsp butter

25ml sugar

Whisk together sugar and eggs until white and fluffy and stir in the butter, ricotta and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, spices, and salt and gradually stir into the sugar-mixture. Pour the batter into a greased round baking tin. Place the quartered pears in a ring over the cake, without pushing them down into the batter. Brush the pears with fig’s jam. Bake at 180c for around 40min.

For the walnuts, melt the butter in a pan, add the walnuts and sugar. Let them caramelise on medium heat until golden and crispy. Leave to cool on baking parchment. Serve with warm custard.

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Dinner, Japanese

My weekend has truly been in the spirit of food. Having a really well-stocked Asian supermarket within relatively reasonable driving distance is pretty awesome. I try to drag the SO with me at least bi-annually to SeeWoo in town to stock up on chicken powder, kimchi, and char siu pork buns. Seriously, if you’re in Glasgow go there and get the pork buns, they’re worth the visit. We went foraging the day after. As they say, kärt barn har många namn (‘Dear child has many names’) – how true in the case of ramsons, also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, and bear’s garlic. They’re perfect right now and the flower shoots are edible too.

Having stocked up on ingredients, I decided to give dashi stock a go, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I was given the recipe from a friend of my SO who, hands down, is one of the best chefs in Scotland after having it in a dish in his restaurant. I think the stock turned out pretty well, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a dashi-expert and there are guides out there by people who are way more knowledgeable than me like this one from Just One Cookbook . Anyway, here’s what I ended up with - a Japanese dish with a touch of Scotland added to it in the form of wild garlic, Kitsune Udon. As someone who studies names for a living I thought the story of how the dish is called Kitsune (‘fox’) because the tofu which is used as a topping was the fox’s favourite food according to folklore makes it even more tempting.

Kitsune Udon with ramsons:

Serves 2

300g cooked udon noodles

4 aburaage squares (deep-fried tofu)

600ml dashi stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp mirin

Handful of ramsons, roughly chopped

To serve:

Spring onions, finely chopped

Pickled daikon

Ramson shoots

Bring the dashi stock to a boil and add soy sauce and mirin. Add the udon noodles, aburaage, and ramsons to the stock and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve with spring onions, pickled daikon, and ramson shoots.

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Dinner, Vegetarian

Hello beetroot my old friend... My better half requested a Sunday roast for dinner yesterday, so naturally I decided to serve up veggie burgers. Not that I think he had any major objections in the end mind you, these burgers were pretty damn awesome.

I know there’s an endless number of beetroot burger recipes out there, but I’ve made this one to combine everything I like in a veggie burger. It doesn’t have any grains as a base so there’s no need to precook anything (other than the beetroot if you’re using it fresh), but rather uses breadcrumbs and black beans which are a great base for burgers. The feta cheese goes really well with beetroot and gives it more flavour – perfect combination!

Rather than using the usual burger buns I decided to try croissants, something I’ve seen a couple of times lately. It’s worth noting that you might have to make your own croissants to get a good round shape fit for burgers. I’ve actually cheated a wee bit, using ready-made croissant dough, but they’re still super tasty.

Beetroot and black bean burgers:

Makes eight burgers

230g black beans (1 drained 400g can)

250g Beetroot, cooked*

2 eggs

1 small red onion, finely chopped

100g panko

100g feta cheese

1 lemon, juice

Salt, pepper

Blitz together black beans and beetroot. Add remaining ingredients and blitz until mixed. Shape into burgers and place on baking paper. Bake in the oven at 180c for around 15 minutes.

Parsnip crisps:

2 parsnips

Oil to deep fry

Salt

Slice long strips of parsnip with a vegetable peeler. Add oil to a deep pot and heat the oil (you can tell it’s ready when the parsnip immediately starts to bubble when you add it). Add parsnip in batches and deep fry until crispy and golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on kitchen roll.

To serve:

Croissants, basil, feta cheese, avocado, tomato chutney

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Seafood, Dinner, Lunch

This recipe is basically the same as the tartlets with spinach and blue cheese I made a couple of weeks ago, but with salmon and asparagus. I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed these outside in the sunshine with my mum last week with a couple of glasses of white wine – I think that’s pretty much as perfect a start to spring time as you can wish for! Funnily enough, we went up to Aberdour to tour the medieval castle and go down to the seaside the day after and it was freezing. I’m still amazed at how changing the weather here is.

Smoked salmon and asparagus tarts:

Makes around eight 10 cm tartlets

Crust:

125 butter

300 ml flour

2 tbsp water

Mix together butter and flour then add the water. Press the dough into individual tart shells, prick with a fork and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Pre-bake them in the oven at 200 c for ten minutes.

Filling:

125g asparagus*

200g smoked salmon

3 eggs

100 ml double cream

100 ml cottage cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

Dill, chopped

Combine eggs, cream, cottage cheese, salt & pepper, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Place sliced salmon and asparagus tips in the shells and pour over the egg mix. Bake in the oven at 200 c for around twenty minutes. Garnish with fresh dill.

*I cut half of the asparagus into thin strips with a vegetable peeler, blanched them for a minute and topped the tarts with them after they were baked.

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Baking, Dessert

It’s that time of the year again – lots of essays to mark and desperately trying to do as much thesis work as possible while staying sane. At least I’ve still managed to spend most of the week doing other things since my wee mum came over from Sweden for a visit and I’ve really enjoyed spending a couple of days with her. We certainly weren’t complaining about the sunshine and warmth earlier this week and we spent the first afternoon she was over out in the sun with white wine and smoked salmon and asparagus tarts (recipe will be up soon!). 

Anyway, this cake was kind of a Mother’s Day cake, but not really, since it’s celebrated here in Scotland a month earlier than in Sweden. I finally found a way of piping buttercream in a pattern that I like, the key being to use a closed star nozzle shape. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more rhubarb in my cake, but this was all that I had left and, in any case, it’s still a delicious cake!

Rhubarb cake:

200g rhubarb in syrup and 2 tbsp syrup*

150g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

150g butter, melted

150g caster sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together rhubarb syrup, flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Pour one-third into a cake tin lined with baking paper. Place the rhubarb over the batter and add more batter, repeat and finish with a layer of batter. Bake in the oven at 180c for 40-50 min. Leave to cool.


Buttercream:

150g butter, softened

300g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp rhubarb syrup

Pink food colouring

Beat the butter until smooth together with vanilla, rhubarb syrup and food colouring. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar until completely blended and smooth. Cover and leave in the fridge until used. Fill a piping bag and use to decorate the cake.

*recipe here

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Lamb, Dinner

I’ve spent pretty much all of Sunday cooking and cleaning the flat in preparation for my wee mum coming over to visit from Sweden for a week from tomorrow. The weather has been lovely here today and I would’ve rather spent it outside, but it’s supposed to be just as good tomorrow so fingers crossed! Fortunately, for once I was smart enough to plan ahead and made this tagine for dinner yesterday, so all I had to do was cook the buckwheat.

I wasn’t sure about adding Nordic flavours to the tagine, but I had cloudberry jam left over from the waffles yesterday and dried chanterelles, so I decided to give it a go. The lamb gives it lots of flavour, but the other ingredients add a mild sweetness to it that I really like. Toasted buckwheat is another new food ticked off my list - it has a nice nutty flavour and I'll definitely be using it for salads and other such things again. Anyway, back to tidying the flat!

Lamb tagine with Nordic flavours:

Serves 6

2 tbsp vegetable oil

900g lamb shoulder, diced (I used bone in and left it in while cooking for flavour)

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 apple, diced

400g chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp cloudberry jam (can be substituted with orange marmalade)

100 ml beef stock

1 cinnamon stick

10g chanterelle (dried)

Spices:

½ tbsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cardamom

Salt and pepper to taste

Buckwheat:

300g buckwheat

2 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve:

Sour cream, spinach, pomegranate

Add the spice mix to the lamb and rub it in, making sure the lamb is evenly coated. Heat the oil in a pan and sear the lamb until browned on all sides. Add remaining ingredients, except chanterelles, along with the lamb to a slow cooker* and cook on LOW for around 5 hours. When one hour remains, add the chanterelles.

For the buckwheat, cook it for around 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet, leaving it to dry. If you’re short on time you can pop them in the oven at 150c for 10-15 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan and toast the dry buckwheat until browned and crispy.

*I used a slow cooker, but of course a tagine should really be used, or alternatively you can use a casserole pan.

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Dessert, Ice cream, Breakfast

Happy waffle day! As un-Swedish as it may sound, I’ve never been a big fan of waffles, especially not served in the traditional way with whipped cream and jam. I think I started changing my mind when I realised you can actually serve waffles as a savoury dish rather than a dessert, something that was pretty much unheard of in my childhood. Of course, the variants I’ve made here don’t strictly adhere to the Nordic waffle-type anyway, being made in a waffle iron bought here in Scotland, but the recipe is similar to something you would get in Sweden for frasvåfflor (crispy waffles).

The first recipe makes for a delicious breakfast or lunch. You can’t really go wrong with a fried egg and seriously, try this green sauce, it’s delicious! It’s actually inspired by a medieval recipe my friend cooked for her dinner a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve made a couple of other changes to it as well, which adds a bit more flavour to it.

Basic waffle recipe:

Makes 4-6 small waffles

20g butter, melted 

200 ml plain flour 

½ tsp baking powder

100 ml double cream 

150 ml sparkling water

Pinch of salt

Mix all the dry ingredients together and stir in the sparkling water. Whisk the cream until foamy and stir it into the mix along with the melted butter. Ladle batter into a preheated waffle iron until crispy and golden.

Green sauce:

1 bunch of parsley

10 mint leaves (or to taste)

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 lemon, juice

½ tbsp vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

Salt & pepper to taste

Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor. Serve with waffles and a fried egg.

I’m finally getting around to make a recipe with the namesake ingredient of this blog – cloudberries! Such a lovely berry, but very rare in Scotland, and virtually impossible to find fresh here. For this recipe, I’ve used cloudberry jam brought over from Sweden. Since I don’t own a Nordic style waffle iron over here, I felt that serving them this way added a touch of Sweden. Cloudberries and brie are a tried and tested combination, both for desserts and savoury dishes, so this is a spin on other similar dishes. It could be eaten either as a dessert or starter. If you don’t want to make the ice cream, the waffles are delicious served with sliced, melted brie.

Cardamom waffles with brie ice cream and cloudberry jam:

Makes 4 waffles

1 batch of basic waffles with ½ tsp cardamom, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp honey added

2 tbsp cloudberry jam

pine nuts and rosemary to serve

Ice cream:

150g brie

250g ricotta

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp double cream

Cube the brie, removing the rind. Blitz it in a food processor along with the other ingredients. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and let it mix until thickened. Alternatively, freeze directly in a Tupperware container, stirring every couple of hours until frozen. Serve the waffles warm with the ice cream, cloudberry jam, pine nuts, and finely chopped rosemary.

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Baking

Who said spring is here?! The weather here is Glasgow has been miserable the past couple of days, with snow yesterday and plenty of wind and rain today. Despite being a sturdy contraption, my umbrella is starting to get pretty beaten up. It’s days like these that are perfect for curling up on the sofa with tea and scones! Dates are a great substitute if you’re not a fan of raisins, but still want something different going on and the honey gives it just the right sweetness. I don’t think I’ve actually baked scones over here in Scotland before, so it’s nice being able to serve them the proper way for once, with clotted cream (something we don’t really get in Sweden) and jam.

Honey and date scones

225g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

50g butter

1 tsp vanilla

140 ml buttermilk

50g honey

50g pitted and chopped dates

20 ml milk (for glazing)

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg. Cube the butter and add to the mixture and work it with your hands until a coarse, crumbly texture is formed. Combine buttermilk, vanilla, and honey and gradually work it into the butter-mixture. Fold in the dates. On a floured surface, roll out the dough around 3 cm thick. Use a cutter or any round shape to press out rounds. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with milk. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes at 220c.

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