Thursday, 17 September 2020

CREAMY BURRATA & TOMATO PASTA WITH AUBERGINE


The type of recipe when only a hearty bowl of pasta will do! 

Fancy pasta shape optional but encouraged....

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 500G RIGATONI
  • ¼ CUP (60ML) EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • 2 MEDIUM AUBERGINES, ROUGHLY CHOPPED
  • SEA SALT AND CRACKED BLACK PEPPER
  • 4 CLOVES GARLIC, THINLY SLICED
  • 400G CAN CHOPPED TOMATOES
  • BUNCH OF BASIL, ROUGHLY TORN
  • 2 BALLS OF BURRATA, TORN

METHOD
  • Cook the pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes or until al dente. 
  • Drain, reserving ½ cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid. Set aside and keep warm.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan placed over high heat. 
  • Add the aubergine, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 4 minutes or until soft. 
  • Add the tomato, reduce heat to medium and cook for 4 minutes or until the aubergine is tender. 
  • Add half the burrata and stir until creamy and melted.
  • Add the pasta, basil and reserved cooking liquid to the pan and toss to combine. 
  • Divide between plates and top with remaining burrata to serve. 

Monday, 14 September 2020

THE EASIEST CINNAMON PUFF PASTRY ROLLS WITH VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!


As I have said here more than once, I am just not a natural baker. 

Of course, I can truly appreciate a freshly baked cardamon or cinnamon bun and the craftsmanship that goes into perfecting it (my current obsession is the outstanding flaky, cinnamon sugar coated bun from the Dusty Knuckle Bakery which has become weekly Saturday treat) but tackling a recipe that requires dough hooks, alive yeast and rising times just isn't something that gets me excited. 

Good thing then that I have found some rather delicious "cutting corner" baking recipes that taste and look the part, fooling just about everyone that you've been slaving away in the kitchen for hours! 

The key here is using pre-made dough, I mean who can forget my cheat's Swedish princess cake that tasted as good or better than some versions I tried in Stockholm and my moorish caramel and pecan buns, made using ready made pizza dough, which I rustled up during lockdown.

Having been tasked with bringing dessert to a dinner party this past weekend (while those were still allowed by the British government) and still very much engrossed in my cinnamon bun obsession following my trip to Copenhagen, I wondered: could I make tasty cinnamon buns at home without the fuss of letting dough rise and all that other faff?

Well turns out you can because after some online research I stumbled across this rather fantastic recipe for puff pastry cinnamon rolls with a wonderfully moorish cream cheese and vanilla frosting, made with shop bought puff pastry! 

Making this sort of cobbled together cinnamon roll cake takes less than an hour (if you don't count in cooling down time before you ice your rolls) and the end result is a real show stopper and crowd pleaser, without you even coming close to breaking a sweat! Trust me on this one, you'll feel like you've won the bake off in terms of end result, without any of the effort!

INGREDIENTS

CINNAMON ROLLS
  • 1 shop bought puff pastry sheet
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup soft dark brown sugar

CREAM CHEESE ICING
  • 90g cream cheese (softened)
  • 6 tbsp Grassland Dairy Butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 1¼ cup icing sugar

METHOD


CINNAMON ROLLS
  • Preheat your oven to 200 celsius
  • Unroll puff pastry onto the enclosed baking paper
  • Spread an even layer of the softened butter onto the puff pastry dough avoiding the edges.
  • Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle liberally onto the puff pastry dough.
  • Gently lift either end of the puff pastry off of the parchment paper and roll the dough into a log shape. Once you’ve rolled the dough completely, cut it into even slices.
  • Bake for 25mins or until golden brown.

CREAM CHEESE ICING

  • Add softened cream cheese and butter to a large mixing bowl and using a hand mixer or small food processor and combine until smooth.
  • Add vanilla extract and double cream and combine until smooth.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  • Add the remainder of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.
  • Allow the cinnamon rolls to rest for 5 minutes and spread the cream cheese icing over the top.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

MY GUIDE TO COPENHAGEN



I still cant quite believe I finally made it to Copenhagen.

Indeed this was my third attempt of making it to the Danish capital in 2020. Initially I had planned a Copenhagen city break in May which of course never took place in the depths of lockdown when we were barely allowed out of the house.

Then as restrictions started to lift I was just about to book a flight there when I thought it may be a good idea to check the Danish government website beforehand, and good thing I did because by mid July you were only allowed into the country if you stayed a minimum of 6 days (with documentation to prove this). Sadly that meant as much as I wanted to visit Copenhagen, a furlough wage didn’t exactly lend itself to an extended stay in a country which turned out to be VERY expensive and bad news for my bank balance just during the three days I ended up going.

After having had to cancel a bank holiday trip to Paris because of newly imposed travel restrictions, I was ready to give up on any sort of summer city break but thought why not check Danish rules one last time and behold the 6 day rule had in the meantime been dropped which meant after 20 minutes on the phone to Easyjet I converted my Paris plane ticket into one to Copenhagen!

Plane ticket booked and hostel sorted, I actually only really let myself get excited once I sat down on the plane, in these Corona times you really never know what else can go wrong, which meant I was reluctant to do too much research ahead of the trip, worried I’d be the more devastated (and yes I know there is worse things going on in the world) if Denmark was put on the quarantine list or something else would have happened to stop me going.

However once i made it I had THE most spectacular solo weekend in Copenhagen. It’s a foodie and wine lovers paradise, opening my eyes to natural and orange wine to an extent that I am literally OBSESSED with the stuff, and a total design haven both in terms of fashion and interior design and you will be hard found not to spend a small fortune on things to take back with you.

Because, disclaimer, it is bloody pricey over there, even more so than Stockholm and Helsinki but WOW it is so, so, so worth it, Copenhagen being without a doubt one of the best cities I have ever visiting.

Beautiful and diverse as city - you can feel like you are in a picturesque Scandi fishing village even though you are 20 minutes from the city centre, culinarily miles and miles in front of the UK in terms of menu development and concepts and full of friendly people that made me feel very welcome.

Yes, Copenhagen looks like an influencer’s wet dream but it is so much more and I cannot recommend a visit there enough, just be prepared it won’t be cheap!


FIRST THINGS FIRST:

They don’t have the Euro in Denmark and the conversion rate isn’t super straight forward so it’s not that easy to get your head around how much you are spending at first. As everywhere takes card (and I mean that, they are literally cashless) I recommend using a Monzo card. as with every transaction you get an instant push notification showing you what you’ve paid in pounds, as shocking as that was at times to me!

Corona is pretty under control in Denmark as a whole and it felt almost like a little “holiday” from the strict, well strict but not exactly adhered to, Corona rules we have in the UK.

Masks are only mandatory on public transport, with bars and restaurants operating pretty much like normal, no thermometer gun or plastic screens separating tables in sight, so enjoy the sense of normality but keep your common sense in place to keep everyone around you and yourself safe.


GETTING THERE  >>  MY FIRST PLANE JOURNEY SINCE FEBRUARY

Copenhagen is a pleasant 1 hour and 30 minute plane journey away from London. I flew with Easyjet and though travelling in times of Corona is very strange, I will never get used to wearing a mask for prolonged periods, and the plane was packed, it was a super quick flight and you can easily get a return ticket for under £150!


GETTING INTO TOWN  >>  20 MINUTE METRO RIDE

Once landed and through security, getting into Copenhagen could not be easier or cheaper, with a metro line that directly connects the airport to the city centre, with a single journey only setting you back around £4, a real game changer when you only have a couple of days there as you can really maximise your time.


WHERE TO STAY  >>  STEEL HOUSE COPENHAGEN


Now hear me out on this one. Hostels are not usually my cup of tea but the Steel House is pretty much as boutique as a hostel will get.

Scandi style interiors, wonderful staff and a fantastic location set the Steel House apart plus they also offer super modern and clean double rooms, alongside your usual dorms, that make it the perfect wallet friendly option for a stay in Copenhagen without feeling like you are 18 year old back packer. 

My room, though on the smaller side, had everything I needed and the most comfortable bed, plus little touches like usb plug-ins that made it the perfect millennial crash pad. 

There is a gym, swimming pool, communal kitchen area (not used by this foodie with a metre long list of places to try on this occasion but it looked super clean and spacious) and big lounge area with bar where you can get a decent glass of wine for about £5, as cheap as you will get in Copenhagen.

The area gets a real buzz in the evening so is also great if you up for meeting other travellers. I really couldn’t have asked for a better base for my Copenhagen stay and Steel House managed to truly change my previous preconceptions of hostels, especially if they have moved with the times as Steel House has done so successfully. 


SHOPS 

HAY 



Hay is an interior design institution and a must visit to have a nose around in the centre of town. Get yourself some fancy candles and pastel coloured crates for an affordable bit of Scandi design to take back home with you.


HOLLY GOLIGHTLY



Holly Golighlty is most probably the most well curated vintage shop I have ever been to. An absolute visual merchandisers dream when it comes to the shop interiors, they also happen to stock a fantastic selection of vintage and past season Scandi and European labels and pieces that may not be your standard vintage bargains but real investments for life.


A twenty minute walk from the city centre and a stones throw from the weird and wonderful free town Christiania, you can find the Ganni Postmodern store, a sort of ongoing sample sale store, selling samples and pieces from past seasons at super reduced prices. 

Stock isn’t massive but trust me you will walk out with something - after all this ain’t some jumble sale with stuff no one wanted and I managed to (quite literally) bag myself a nylon shoulder bag for a cool £50 instead of a £100! 

A must visit for any Ganni girl and for those that are yet discover one of my all time favourite designers. 


FOOD & DRINK

As I touched upon in my intro, the culinary scene is quite next level in Copenhagen, after all it is home to the best restaurant in the world, Noma, a fact which has undoubtedly shaped the restaurant and bar scene over here.

Indeed, there are so many amazing places for coffee, brunch, baked goods, dinner and wine that it is almost impossible to visit them all during a city break, even if you are as determined and strategic about hitting up as many as possible as I was.

My below list is compiled of absolutely stellar spots, where the quality of food and wine was miles ahead of London. Yes, eating out, even if it is just a simple bun you are after, is pricey but I don’t regret a penny I spent.

Lastly what also completely blew my mind was the wine scene, particularly the natural and bio dynamic wine scene in Copenhagen. While orange wine is slowly becoming a “thing” in east London, in Copenhagen you can find it, alongside an incredibly diverse and well curated wine offering in general, just about every where, a scene so exciting that I have been wanting to educate myself more in this area ever since i have been (keep your eyes peeled on an orange wine guide).

Anyways you can tell I have digressed QUITE a bit so I shall try and keep my foodie favourites a little more to the point, but trust me each one will blow your mind.


FIRST STOP  >>  APOLLO BAR



Apollo Bar and canteen may be a little insta famous but this wonderful all day eatery, which is located within the Kunsthal Charlottenborg gallery, is for once totally worth the hype.

Apollo offers stunning interiors and an even better serene court yard dining space that is perfect for your first pit stop in Copenhagen, surrounded by the city’s chicest crowd of all ages and a mere stones throw away yet a world away from Nyhavn, the most touristy street of Copenhagen.

For me a total haven of fine and small plate cooking and ideal for a late leisurely lunch. The must order? Their outstanding, freshly baked, thickly sliced sourdough, which comes served with locally sourced whipped butter and Danish cheese. Of course accompanied by a wonderful glass of orange wine. Apollo bar is a truly magical spot and one not to be missed.


BAKERIES


JUNO THE BAKERY 


This Swedish leaning bakery, a good 40 minutes walk away from the centre, kept on being listed when it came to the best spots for baked goods in town and trust me, the walk there is SO worth it! 

In fact I’d happily walk 2 hours to enjoy what was probably one of the best cardamon buns of my life. Heck, after making my journey there a smooth 7km Saturday morning run I couldn’t help but go all in and also try their almond croissant which was also insanely delicious.

Locals start queuing here early on the weekend and you should do the same. DO NOT be put off by the location, go to Juno The Bakery and be prepared to be wowed.


LILLE BAKERY


Now, Juno The Bakery had already set standards high when it came to Danish baked goods but at my dinner on the Saturday night my lovely waitress told me I simply had to go to Lille bakery to really experience baking at it’s best, so once again I put my walking shoes on and trekked a good hour from my hotel to Lille Bakery.

Ok, hear me out, the walk is long but its also super scenic - taking you along the sea, by beautiful old buildings and past the slightly bonkers Freetown Christiania, so really it was a great tour of the city with a real treat waiting for you at the final destination.

Because wow, not only are the interiors and whole bakery setting like straight from a Pinterest board on Scandi design at it’s best, but what they bake here also happens to be pretty outstanding.

A flaky, sugar coated cardamon roll had me drooling while a savoury mushroom pastry was just about the best savoury baked thing I’ve ever eaten and I had seriously stop myself from trying more of what they had on offer.

Clear a morning of your trip and make the “pilgrimage” to Lille, you won’t regret it (and will probably return to the area for La Banchina, right next door because you’d be stupid not to)..


ANDERSON & MAILLARD



If you are after excellent coffee, a convenient location, being right next to super affordable and amazing wine bar Pompette (more on that later) and fab and inventive baked goods, Anderson & Maillard is your best bet! 

I had an extra crunchy caramelised croissant dough with cinnamon, which was all kinds of dreamy and the outside tables are perfect for people watching in this slightly Shoreditch-esque part of town.


DINNER SPOTS

PATÉ PATÉ



Paté Paté is bang in the middle of the hip and happening Meatpacking district, which like so many meatpacking districts around the world, most notably New York’s version, no longer serves any butchery related purpose but rather houses a selection of popular bars and restaurants. 

Indeed the name Paté Paté stems from the fact that the dining space used to, believe it or not, be an actual paté factory though I way prefer its new incarnation as wine and small plates restaurants. 

The dining space feels super cosy with wooden tables and chairs, there is a soul, funk and indie soundtrack and a clever and seasonally changing menu that includes the likes of Danish burrata with plums, fresh truffle risotto and fresh oysters. Make sure you book ahead to secure a table for dinner here, this spot is very popular with locals and clued up tourists a like and the room was buzzing on a Friday night. 


DEN VANDRETTE


I stumbled across Den Vandrette on Bon Appetit while doing my culinary research where this wonderful natural wine focused bistro was described as go to “for wine and small bites from Sune Rosforth, the man who brought natural wine to Copenhagen (and Noma) decades ago” which I guess should have been a sign that my dinner here was going to be memorable and BOY IT WAS. 

Though the vibe is chill, Den Vandrette has a wonderful location right on Nyhavn Harbor, you can tell it is a foodie destination and with every bite I took I couldn’t help but get more sure that this was the best meal I have had during this very strange year. 

It’s all about small plates again here so as solo diner I settled on their sourdough with fresh cheese and olive oil, which may sound simple but showcased perfection of every element put in front of me. 

With the help of the most wonderful waitress, who as it turned knew the culinary scene in London as well as that of Copenhagen, having worked in some of the best spots in East London in the past, I then plunged for the ‘unripe pumpkin, brown crab, hazelnut & Hatfod cheddar’ which turned to be the most surprising sort of seafood lasagna but without a pasta sheet in sight, and which blew my mind in terms of presentation and flavour combinations. 

This was followed by an incredible ‘roasted oyster mushroom, celery, new potato and truffle vinaigrette salad’ which was perfectly seasoned and just the right amount of truffle, letting the top quality ingredients do the talking. 

Each dish was brought out by one of their young and enthusiastic chefs, who were more than willing to talk me through the magic they had concocted in the kitchen and I am a little sad that my wallet and lack of additional company meant I didn’t get to taste more of their creations. 

At Den Vandrette the service, the cooking, the unpretentious atmosphere, the informed wine selection and sheer culinary level reached made it a meal won’t forget in a hurry. 

Trust me on this one, book a dinner table at Den Vandrette, lean back and see how modern cooking should be done.


LA BANCHINA




My great host at Rouge Oyster had said to me if there was one foodie place I needed to tick off on my last day in Copenhagen it would have to be La Banchina and I got to say after checking it out way too early in the morning, post cardamon bun extravaganza at neighbouring Lille Bakery, I may or may not have walked back a good 5km, or more like speed walked, with a dying battery before picking up my suitcase from my hostel, because I knew I HAD TO make one final stop at La Banchina. 

Why is it so special you may ask? Well, because it is a sort of magical place that may geographically be in Copenhagen, and with that in the capital city of the country, but in fact feels like a small harbour cove with picnic tables and a wooden pier, in the depths of Danish countryside, so serene and beautiful that you can’t quite believe it is real. 

During the summer you can perch on the rustic wooden pier, natural wine in hand and dip into the sea if it gets too hot, all the while enjoying seasonal and freshly prepared lunch and dinner options, with a focus on fish as well as enjoy your classic danish pastries and sourdough with cheese and butter for breakfast. 

And trust me the food and wine aren’t a second thought here, they are of an extremely high quality, making the whole shed set up the more unbelievable. 

I wish I could have spent a whole summer evening here, but even my hour, enjoying a small plate of fish roe with smoked potato salad and glass of deep pink natural rose, was so utterly charming that I have day dreamt more than once since being back in the UK of my return to La Banchina. 

Please make sure you check this place out, I for one cannot be thankful enough for my local “guide” at Rouge Oysters, who insisted it was a trip worth making, and he was not wrong. 


WINE BARS




Pompette is the most wonderful no nonsense wine bar / shop in hip Nørrebro with plenty of outdoor seating which gives the whole place a touch of effortless Parisian bistro.

Wine is incredibly good value for Copenhagen, around £7 a glass, especially for the quality of wine and expertise by the great team you get to here.

There are also seasonal small plates and you are hard found not to stay for at least a couple glasses, Pompette feeling like that perfect neighbourhood bar we’d all like to call our local.

Make sure you try their orange wine, it’s theirs, with Pompette on the label, made in collaboration with a fantastic Austrian winemaker.


BOTTEGA BARLIE



Bottega Barlie was a short walk from my hostel and was another great neighbourhood wine bar with a very cosy and homely feel!

They also serve breakfast, lunch and small plate style dinner and when I went for a glass of, you guessed it, orange wine, the place was filled with a diverse and friendly crowd and I’d for sure return here to try some of their enticing sounding dishes on the menu, alongside some more of their lovely wine selection.

With bigger tables and a great outside area, Barlie also lends itself as a choice for bigger groups if you book ahead. 


Rouge Oysters was another under the radar spot I would have never found without some local insider knowledge, it coming highly recommended by my lovely waitress at Den Vandrette where I was having the dinner that eve. 

Indeed, Rouge Oysters pretty much felt like I had walked into the coolest house party without an invite, it literally being a room with a tiny bar in the corner with no more than ten seats and the most charming host who also was the cocktail maker, wine expert and oyster server for the night who did a fantastic job keeping everyone happy.

Rouge Oysters is the sort of place you’d take a date to, to effortlessly impress them or to be a little bit chuffed with yourself that you are in on the secret with the locals that hang out here, and I for one could have spent a whole eve there just soaking up the atmosphere.

Not one that is on the cool lists yet but a little CPH secret I was let in on that you are lucky enough to be part of now as well.


AND LASTLY TAKE A STROLL AROUND TORVEHALLERNE




Yes, Torvehallerne is a tourist destination but locals also love a stroll around this modern food hall that sells just about anything your foodie heart desires!

I stopped for a pretty pricy yet delicious open salmon sandwich, or Smørrebrød, and it is worth a wonder alone with its great selection of vendors and sheer offering of fish, cheese, wine, vegetables and other fresh produce.

PS:
Avoid Sonny. Yes, it’s an insta famous cafe, known for their photogenic avocado on toast and influencers galore taking selfies, but I found atmosphere, service and food way below par to everything else I experienced in CPH so don’t always believe the hype on Instagram!

Thursday, 3 September 2020

TAHINI SESAME NOODLES WITH HONEY ROAST SWEET POTATO, KALE & CUCUMBER


While I start work on my epic Copenhagen city guide, or rather procrastinate until I finally make myself pen down which will no doubt end up being a small novel on my weekend there, here is a recipe from the other week which you simply MUST recreate at home. 

Indeed, these tahini sesame noodles with honey roast sweet potatoes, kale and cucumber is the most autumn friendly (and yes, summer is truly over), wholesome and delicious mash up of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours in one bowl, finished off with some fresh veggies for extra nutrients.

The finished dish is the kind of food to nourish and leave you proper satisfied without compromising on flavours and for sure is a new favourite of mine, made in less than half an hour!

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small sweet potatoes (or one large one), cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Handful of chilli flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 400g rice noodles

For the sauce
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chilli paste (I used sambal oelek)
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
    METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. 
  • On a rimmed baking tray, combine the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. 
  • Arrange in an even layer. 
  • Transfer to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking, until the potatoes are caramelised. 
  • During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the kale to the baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until wilted.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  • Combine in a food processor or blender the tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, chilli paste, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 cup water. 
  • Pulse until combined and smooth, adding additional water as needed to thin the sauce. 
  • Pour the sauce over the hot noodles. Add the basil and coriander, tossing to combine.
  • Divide the noodles between bowls. 
  • Top with sweet potatoes, kale and sliced cucumber.
  • Enjoy warm or at room temperature!