25 May 2013

Breakfast with a View

The other weekend we enjoyed our breakfast with the most amazing view of London at Duck and Waffle. We sat at a corner table with floor to ceiling glass on either side and looked down on buses snailing their way along Bishopsgate whilst enjoying some rather gorgeous waffles. The view to the south was not bad either, looking down on to the Gherkin with Tower Bridge in the background. Quite exciting. 

I had booked our tables 10 weeks in advance - this is a popular place so planning a visit is essential. I thought breakfast was a good time to visit, but would like to go back in the evening to see all the lights of London twinkling away.

22 April 2013


After going along at a gentle speed for some time, it has picked up pace. Some big decisions have been made and all of a sudden I have little time to make any cakes or check in here on the blog.

A bit like in the garden. For so many weeks there have been no real signs of life, then one day you realise that things are moving! There is still not much to look at so for now, you have to really zoom in on the few beautiful things out there. Like this snake's head fritillary which Charles Rennie Mackintosh was so fascinated by. It is easy to understand why, with that seemingly perfect checkerboard pattern. Gorgeous and intriguing.

11 April 2013

Signs of Spring

Ordering a cold drink at lunch instead of a hot one. At Market Cafe in Broadway Market.

4 April 2013

Fruit Cinnamon Rolls

Here we have two of my favourite things rolled into one delicious baked treat. Cinnamon Rolls are the most archetypal Swedish treat, you can get them at any cafe and freshly made with a glass of cold milk they are...beyond gorgeous. From the English baked goods section the thing I like best is Hot Cross Buns. Fruity and spicy and so tasty toasted with plenty of butter on top. So, this recipe is a combination of both - looks like a Cinnamon Roll, tastes like a Hot Cross Bun. Genius if I may say so myself!

A note on yeast first of all. In Sweden we pretty much always use fresh yeast. It is readily available in supermarkets and even corner shops. Here in London it is not so easy to get hold of and for years I didn't do much baking as a result of many failures using dried yeast. Thankfully there are now several Swedish food shops in London where you can buy the fresh variety, try here and here. Ocado also have a Swedish section that sells yeast. The benefits of using fresh yeast I find are faster and more reliable proving, and the finished result always seems a bit lighter and more fluffy.

Makes 32 Rolls

50gms Fresh Yeast
400 ml Milk
90 gms Sugar
100 gms Butter
A Pinch of Salt
650-850 gms Plain Flour
Zest of 1 Lemon
Zest of 1 Orange
2 tbsp Mixed Spice
1 Handful of Raisins
1 Handful of Sultanas

100 gms Butter
70 gms Sugar
3 tbsp Ground Cinnamon

On Top
1 Egg
Pearl Sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the milk. Let it warm up to 38 degrees then take it off the heat. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl and pour the liquid over, stirring until the yeast had dissolved completely. Add the sugar, salt and mixed spice then start adding the flour bit by bit, working the dough until it holds together without sticking to the bowl. Cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes until it has doubled in size. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about ten minutes until it is shiny and stretchy. Now add the zest and fruit to the dough, working it until all the bits have been absorbed and evenly spread through it.
To make the filling mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon with a fork until it is soft without any lumps. Divide the dough into two halves and roll each piece out to a rectangle shape about 7 mm thick. Spread the filling onto the rectangles, making sure to cover the whole area. Roll them up from the longside and cut each one into 16 slices. Place the slices cut side up on a baking tray, cover with a cloth and leave to prove for another 30 minutes. Brush the tops and sides of the rolls with some beaten egg. To decorate sprinkle some Pearl Sugar on top - another Swedish speciality which adds a touch of sweetness and crunch. Alternatively use flaked almonds. Bake for 6-9 minutes at 250 degrees until golden and beautiful!

29 March 2013

Sounds of Spring

The sun has made an appearance after days of gloom. How glorious to feel the warmth on my back even if only for a few minutes! As I stepped outside yesterday it struck me how the sounds of spring had returned. For the past week all you could hear was the howling wind, but now the birds are singing again. If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine sitting outside, glass of rose in hand...not long now hopefully.

25 March 2013

Lunch at Homa

On a recent visit to Stoke Newington we stopped for lunch at Homa. How gorgeous to sit by one of those big windows enjoying a deliciously garlicky pizza. I hope I have reason to go back soon - there were plenty of other things on the menu I would like to try!

17 March 2013

Parsnip and Candied Pecan Nut Cake

Does putting vegetables in cakes make them count as one of your five a day? I think so. In any case, I am sure this cake is ever so good for you because eating a piece will result in a happy tummy and a smiley face. The candied pecan nut topping is amazing and adds another crunchy dimension to this sweet, moist cake. Next time you plan on making a carrot cake, try parsnips instead - their distinctive flavour works really well with the cream cheese frosting.

Two Eggs
90 gms Brown Sugar
100 ml Golden Syrup
100 ml Olive Oil
150 gms Plain Flour
3 Small Parsnips
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Mixed Spice

50 gms Cream Cheese
25 gms Butter
150 gms Icing Sugar

150 gms Pecan Nuts
50 gms Brown Sugar
Small Knob of Butter

Peel and grate the parsnips. Whisk the eggs and sugar until nice and fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the golden syrup, olive oil and parsnips to the eggs and combine gently. Fold in the dry ingredients. Pour into a greased and breaded 22 cm cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes at 175 degrees.
Whilst the cake is in the oven, prepare the candied pecans. Put the sugar and butter in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat. Chop the nuts roughly. Stir the melting sugar until you have a gently bubbling smooth liquid. Add the nuts to the pan and stir until they are coated completely. Pour onto a plate and allow to cool. Break the pieces up by hand first, then chop with a knife. You want the pieces to be small enough to sprinkle over the cake, but not so fine that it resemble dust.
To make the frosting stir the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together until no lumps of butter remain. Once the cake is cooked and have cooled down completely, cover it all over with the frosting. Cut a round piece of baking parchment slightly smaller than the cake and place it on top of the icing. Sprinkle the candied pecans onto the cake then remove the paper circle. Slice and eat!

15 March 2013

14 March 2013

Staying In

It is the new going out. At least for the rest of this month, or until temperatures decide to reach above 5 degrees. In the meantime I am happy to spend my evenings at home with a bunch of friends, a few bottles of wine, lots of candles and some good cheese.

11 March 2013

Smoked Mackerel Carbonara

The wind is howling outside and I'm wrapped up in a blanket fantasizing about a comforting dinner...something like this dish would be ideal. What a genius idea this was! A combination of some of the best things I know all in one bowl getting along amazingly well. And it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. A winner in other words.

Serves 2

200 gms Linguine
1 whole smoked mackerel
2 Egg Yolks
1 Bunch of Spring Onions
100 ml Double Cream
Salt and Pepper

Cook the linguine for 8-12 minutes until it is al dente. In the meantime, gently flake up the mackerel and add it to a non stick frying pan over a low heat. It doesn't need cooking, just warming through, so make sure to keep an eye on it. Whisk the egg yolks and cream in a bowl, seasoning the mixture with a bit of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Chop the spring onions finely. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back in the pan. Add the egg mixture, fish and spring onions staright away and stir. Serve in warmed bowls with a few more twists of pepper on top. Dig in!

10 March 2013

The Zetter Townhouse

What a nice place to go for a drink! After dinner last night at Bistro Bruno Loubet we went around the corner to the Zetter Townhouse for cocktails. The bar is housed in the most beautiful Georgian townhouse in Clerkenwell, and once inside you feel like you are in someone's very cosy and slightly eccentric living room. Perfect for a cold wintry evening!

9 March 2013

Choosing Keeping

This shop is a real find for stationary junkies like me. If possible I avoid writing with cheap plastic biros as proper fountain pens are so much nicer to use. For writing cards, letters and signing important documents (happens roughly once a year) I use a beautiful pen which was a gift from my lovely husband. But for meetings, making notes in my diary and so on, I have a great every-day fountain pen which was bought at Choosing Keeping on Columbia Road. They stock a wonderful selection of quality paper, scissors, sharpeners and pens. No pink girly floral prints in sight here - these are elegant, understated, grown up products with an old-school feel. If you are after the most beautiful pencils or the Rolls Royce of pencil sharpeners, this is the place to go.

6 March 2013

Mocha Brownies

The best brownie I ever had (so far...) was from a deli in Queen's Park. I can't remember the name of the shop but I do remember the taste and texture of the brownie. Quite something considering it must have been eight years ago that I ate it. Rich but not overwhelmingly so, slightly gooey without being sticky and not so heavy that it feels like a brick - no cake should be brick-like if you ask me. I am sure peoples taste in brownies varies a lot but this is how I like them.

At the weekend I made a batch of mocha brownies and they were pretty close to the mark. The addition of coffee powder make them a bit more grown up. On Saturday night we went wild and served them for pudding as part of a Sundae together with home-made candied pecan ice cream and a salted caramel sauce...what can I say. Outrageous.

150 gms Butter
200 gms Dark Chocolate
4 Eggs
150 gms Sugar
35 gms Plain Flour
1 tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 tsp Coffee Powder
Pinch of Salt

Grease a square baking tin, then melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan. Once melted, break the chocolate into small pieces and add them to the pan making sure to keep stirring while it melts over a low heat. Whisk the eggs and sugar until really light and fluffy. Add the chocolate and stir gently to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the mixture and pour it into the tin. Cook at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Once cool, cut the brownies into squares and dust with cocoa powder.

Top tip: For dusting cocoa powder or icing sugar, I always use a tea strainer. This make it easy to control and you can be a bit more precise.

3 March 2013

Market Voices

Tete-a-tete, a pound a pot!
Tete-a-tete, a pound a pot!

Lovely lilies, two bunches for a fiver - don't be shy, it has all got to go!
Or how about a bunch of carnations for you mother in laws grave?

The sun is out and the market comes alive. It is packed with visitors from all over London, even some out of towners I think. And lots of tourists of course. I make a quick dash to the shop to buy some milk and pastries and secretly feel a bit smug about the fact I don't need a bag because I live around the corner.

28 February 2013

Evening Sky

So it seems like there is hope after all. This was the sky this evening - looks a bit spring-like, don't you think?

27 February 2013

The longest winter

To still be hibernating at the end of February is getting a bit...tedious. I have never longed this much to wear open shoes and drink coffee outside with the sun warming my back. But in the meantime, until spring decides it is time to arrive for real, all one can do is to focus on glimpses of light and ease.  I remind myself  that soon I will be able to share photos similar to this but with flowers from my own garden. That is worth holding out for. Hurry up, sun!

24 February 2013

Apple, Orange and Cardamom Cake

Apple cake is one of my favourite things and I make one every month or so. In order not to get tired of it I like to mix things up a bit and vary the recipe slightly each time. This cake turned out really moist and gorgeous thanks to a grated apple folded into the batter along with the juice of one whole orange. The ground cardamom seeds set it off nicely with their sweet spiciness.

75 gms Butter
2 Eggs
130 gms Caster Sugar
90 gms Brown Sugar
190 gms Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Medium Sized Apples
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
Ground Seeds from 10 Cardamom Pods

Grease a cake tin then melt the remaining butter and leave to cool. Wash, halve and core both apples, then grate one and slice the other one thinly. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in the brown sugar, grated apple, orange zest, cardamom, flour and baking powder. Add the butter and orange juice and stir until combined. Pour into the cake tin and gently push the apple slices into the mixture. Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees. Allow to cool before removing the tin.

22 February 2013


Almost a year ago, I posted my very first entry on this blog. It was a picture of a tree in blossom, much like the one above. I remember on that day feeling my heart get lighter as I looked up and saw those pretty blooms against the bright blue sky. Spring had come.

The other day, I was walking past the same tree in the same park and the sight of it took my breath away. How brave to open out those delicate petals when there is still a good chance of frost!

The greatest thing I have learned from my parents is to appreciate the simple things. The first new potato of the year, a fat bud just about to open, the stillness of a lit candle. Over the past year I have shared some of these small, beautiful things here and if anyone has felt inspired or uplifted reading about them that would make me very happy. I will carry on documenting and hope that whoever finds themselves here will enjoy my pictures and thoughts.

To those of you who occasionally leave a comment - thank you! It makes me smile every time.

19 February 2013

Cheese for dinner

An French skiing holiday is great for cheese lovers (like me). Of course we had fondue one night, but the highlight was Raclette. Wow. Really, I guess it is a bit odd to eat melted cheese with potatoes for dinner, but it is so good. To sit in Armelle's beautiful dining room, watching the snow tumbling down fast outside whilst keeping an eye on that hot, bubbling cheese, drinking some excellent local wine. I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.

After this meal I said I wasn't going to eat cheese for at least two weeks. That didn't last - a couple of days later I was making pasta with Gorgonzola...

17 February 2013

Things are happening

This made my day. A few crocuses bathing in glorious sunshine this morning. There is hope, everyone. Better sharpen my secateurs and get the seed catalogues out...

14 February 2013

Rose and Blood Orange Ambrosia Cake

A fancy name for quite a simple recipe, ambrosia cake is a sponge with citrus icing on top. My grandmother used to make it often so it was with some nostalgia I decided to come up with my own version. Blood oranges are in season and I love their characteristic flavour, perfect for the icing but I also put some juice and zest in the cake itself to zing things up. A few drops of rose water adds a subtle fragrance - delicious and ladylike.

125 gms Butter
3 Eggs
270 gms Sugar
195 gms Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Juice and Zest of 1 Blood Orange

180 gms Icing Sugar
3 tbsp Blood Orange Juice
5 Drops of Rose Water

Red Food Colouring

Grease a non-stick cake tin lightly. Melt the remaining butter and leave it to cool. Whisk the eggs and sugar until really pale and fluffy. Stir in the flour and baking powder, then add the butter and orange juice and zest. Pour into the tin and bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees.
Once the cake has cooled mix together the ingredients for the icing. Add more icing sugar if necessary to make sure it is not too runny. Pour onto the cake and spread all over using a knife or spatula. The cake will look perfectly gorgeous without any intricately piped icing, but if you want to go the extra mile, mix together some more icing using half the quantities above and add food colouring gradually until you achive the right shade. Fill a piping bag and go for it!

Sketching out design ideas for the icing.

13 February 2013

The Bright Side

How to lighten one's mood with a budget of £1.50? Bunch of narcissus from Columbia Road.

11 February 2013


There is still some time to catch the Valentino exhibition at Somerset House. I enjoyed being allowed for once to get up close to the garments without any glass cabinets as barriers. Followed by a coffee at Fernandez and Wells, this makes a lovely day out. Valentino: Master of Couture is on until the 3rd of March.

10 February 2013

Skiing, Eating, Breathing Alpine Air

Just back from five amazing days at the wonderful Les Servages d'Armelle in Les Carroz. What a luxury to be able to combine fantastic skiing with glorious food. On our way home I reminded myself how lucky we are to live in London which is such a great place to travel from. After a short flight to Geneva, Les Carroz is only an hour away by car. To wake up in Bethnal Green and be in the Alps in time for lunch is pretty good. And travelling with the loveliest company helped make this a perfect holiday. Already looking forward to going again next year!