honey roasted parsnip soup

My first Christmas working in Parliament – which for the record was three years ago – we went for lunch in the Members’ Dining Room. Staff members are not usually allowed to have lunch there, but we were allowed to book a table for our Christmas lunch.

It was a very funny lunch, at the time were six staff members – five full-time and one part-time, though mainly because of the comical mishaps and misunderstandings, such as one of our group shouting ‘no’ quite loud at the waiter because s/he thought he was going to pour red wine in the glass of someone who wanted to drink white. Let’s just say that in a somewhat subdued and rather serious atmosphere that turned some heads.

Now an English Christmas lunch is nothing like a Swedish one. We don’t even call it ‘lunch’; we call it Julbord – which means Christmas table! The English ones I’ve been to have had menus with three or so options per course, and most of them have been Christmassy. In Sweden you pay a set price per person and it’s a massive, and I mean massive, buffet. One table with just cold food, one table with just hot food, and one table just for sweets, biscuits, and desserts. A Swedish Julbord is the kind of thing where you should skip breakfast and still won’t need any dinner. This can become quite difficult if you’re going back to work afterwards though, so unless you’re doing it on the weekend, most people have a Julbord at dinnertime rather than at lunchtime.

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But the English lunch has its charms, (one of them being that you don’t grow tired of eating the same food before you have to do it again on Christmas Eve) and when we went in the House I decided to try a honey roasted parsnip soup for my starter. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of parsnips, but I wasn’t too excited by any of the other options, so I went for it. My indifference towards parsnips soon changed though, and I’m pretty sure this was the turning point because I really liked that soup. So much so that almost three years later I still remember it.

I think my thinking that I wasn’t a big fan of parsnips came from when my dad used to make potato gratin when I was little. He would often make potato and parsnip gratin (with lots of onion!) so I would bite into what I thought was a lovely, soft potato – and it wasn’t. That has then followed me through life making me think I didn’t like parsnips, until I moved to the UK.

Now I’ve realised that I actually love parsnips, and being in my soup mood I’ve been thinking about this honey roasted parsnip soup I had in Parliament – especially since parsnips were half price in my supermarket last week. I started Googling for a recipe, but mainly came across regular parsnip soups. So I took a roasted parsnip soup recipe I found on BBC and combined it with my honey roasted parsnip recipe, and tada!


20161024_214328 (2).jpgIngredients

500g parsnips

70g butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp honey (2 + 2)

1 onion

2 vegetable stock cubes

750 ml hot water

750 ml milk

salt

pepper


Peel your parsnips and cut them into smaller pieces. Then melt the butter, brown sugar, and 2 tbsp of the honey in a pot. Pour the honey-mixture over the parsnips and toss them around to make sure they’re well-coated.

Roast for around 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Chop of your onion and fry in a little bit of oil or butter (your preference) until it goes somewhat translucent. Add the parsnips, making sure that you get all the gooey honey-mixture into the pot with you.

Add the stock cubes, water, and milk, and bring to boil. Then leave to simmer for around 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp of honey, then blitz the soup in a blender or with a hand blender.


20161025_175224 (2).jpgI had very high hopes for this soup, and I was not disappointed. It was not quite as sweet as the one I had for our Christmas lunch, but with four tablespoons of honey I think this was probably sweet enough. If you really want it to be a bit sweeter (or you want to make it look more appealing to your guests) you can always drizzle some honey on top.

I got about 4.5-5 portions out of this recipe (last portion was a bit smaller than the other 4), and again, a nice slice of bread with it is not wrong.

/t

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sweet potato and carrot soup

It’s getting very wet here. Until last Friday, October had been cold and very grey, but not very wet – but Saturday bought an end to that!

I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in weeks. Every day as I sit and look at the small square of sky I can see from my office window, I see a thick, grey cloud cover which never seems to let up. It’s been chilly, but not so cold you need to bring out your winter jacket and has mercifully, up until now, not been raining very much.

This was the first weekend this month that S wasn’t here, so to spend the time I signed up to go to the gym. On Saturday morning I was signed up for 90 minutes of yoga in the city, and thought I could hang around in town after and browse the mid-season sales or so. (Side note: since when are there so many sales all the time?) As I was leaving I was running a bit late, and just grabbed the first jacket in the wardrobe without checking the weather, so when I came out and it was 3 degrees Celsius instead of the 7-ish it had been all week, as well as raining, I got a bit of a shock. No time to go back up and change though, so I ran down to the tube, but as I was walking around town after the class I was so cold. Luckily I had an umbrella in my handbag (if my time in London has taught me anything it’s to always carry a small umbrella in your bag), but the scarf I had on is a loop one that has been too stretched, so it leaves a gap around your throat – thus defeating the purpose of a scarf. Before long though, my mum WhatsApped me and said did I want to come hang out with her.

Anyway, what I was going to say was that on Saturday it started raining and it hasn’t stopped since. The weather websites are claiming that it will be dry tomorrow, and even bright sunshine and 7-9 degrees on Friday and Saturday, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I don’t mind the cold, I don’t (really) mind the fact that the sun is soon going to set before I leave work, and I don’t even mind (that much) if it’s grey out. I just don’t want it to rain. November is a bleak enough month as it is, and with climate change or whatever it is making the winters hotter, there’s not even the promise of a white December to get you through it. All you can do is hope.

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Because of this bleak weather I’ve been in a real soup mood. I have a faint memory of writing somewhere in here – possibly in the blueberry post – that when I was little I didn’t like soup. Any soup. But having discovered that soup could be something other than the dreary, often lumpy, things we got in school, I’ve now come to expect these soup cravings this time of year.

My first soup of the season was a roasted red pepper and tomato soup which I unfortunately was quite disappointed with. It was too liquid and didn’t have the depth of flavour I was expecting, so I won’t put that recipe in this post.

Next up, however, was something much better. I was browsing soup recipes online and came across a carrot and sweet potato soup on BBC Good Food. I really like sweet potatoes, but the thought of putting them in a soup had never hit me. I immediately thought it was a good idea and decided to try it out.

This recipe is so easy, and takes very little effort. It’s a thick, earthy, autumnal soup – in other words everything I wanted it to be.


20161021_203539 (2).jpgIngredients

500g sweet potatoes

300g carrots

2 onions

4 cloves of garlic

1 litre vegetable stock

100 ml crème fraîche

oil

salt

pepper

paprika


Start by peeling your sweet potatoes and carrots and chopping them up into smaller pieces. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Then roast for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. You want the pieces to be ever so slightly darkened (read burnt) around the edges.

While your sweet potatoes and carrots are in the oven, chop up the onions and some garlic. I used 4 cloves, because I love garlic. Fry the onions on medium heat until they start to look translucent. Then add the garlic and fry for a minute or two, before adding the stock. Bring to boil and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the carrots and sweet potatoes to the stock and blitz with a hand blender (or, if you don’t have one, add the carrots and potatoes and then the stock mix to a normal blender). After I had blended to soup so it was smooth, I also added about 2 tbsp paprika. The original recipe didn’t call for this, but I think it complemented the flavours well.

Add the crème fraîche and stir until it’s completely blended in with the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with some additional crème fraîche on top, if you want, and a nice bread roll.


This was exactly the kind of feeling I was looking for when I was making the roasted red pepper and tomato soup, which is why I was disappointed when I didn’t get it. I ended up with three servings from this – but my servings are probably around 500ml each, so they’re quite large.

Next up is a parsnip soup I amended to turn it into a honey roasted parsnip soup. See you then!

/t

kanelbullar

They say home is where the heart is. But what if your heart – or rather, the person holding your heart – is in the wrong place?

It’s been almost seven months now and I don’t miss living in London. I miss London, but not living there. It’s a great city to be a tourist in – the culture, food, shopping, and sheer size of it – and a great city to live in while you’re young. But I was getting to the point where it was no longer the city I wanted to live in, a point where I needed to break free from the bustle. I love coming back to visit family and friends, the fact that I still feel like a local when I’m there. I love the bustle of London when I’m a tourist and know that it’s no longer my day-to-day life, my daily commute. I will always love London and London will always be a part of me, but I was born and raised in Sweden, and Stockholm is a larger part of me.

After what has essentially been eight years living abroad, Stockholm was calling me home. I’m one of those people who genuinely love my hometown – whether that makes me naïve or patriotic I don’t really know and don’t really care. I love walking around the city centre and still being surrounded by water everywhere. I love how you are always close to nature. And after three years on the Jubilee line I even see the Stockholm underground in a different light (though it does run much less frequently).

I walk around my city now, feeling the chill that comes with autumn – you know the one that gently bites your cheeks and makes them all rosy – and hearing the crunch of my steps as I walk through the fallen leaves, and I feel excited. These butterflies and this warmth in my chest is something that only Swedish autumn can bring. The beauty of the colourful leaves, the chill’s promise of snow, and the thought of knitted socks, big scarves, thick jackets, and cinnamon buns and hot chocolate – which will eventually be replaced by saffron buns, gingerbread, and mulled wine. All Saints’ Day at Skogskyrkogården, Lucia, Advent, and Christmas. (And then a few grey and miserable months before the budding blooms and an explosion of flowers in spring.)

Physically I feel better in Stockholm. I’m working less overtime, I’m going to the gym more often (having 46 branches instead of three certainly helps, and so does being able to leave the office at 5-5.30pm!), I eat better, and I stress less.

But (and it’s a big but) I’m not as happy as I know I could be, and the reason is of course that S is still in London. These past few weeks he’s been coming over almost every weekend, which has made the weeks easier to get through (and made them feel like they passed a lot quicker), but it’s also made it more difficult because it makes it even more noticeable that he’s not here during the weekdays (and let’s not even talk about the weekends where he then hasn’t been here). It’s like a double-edged sword – I get to see him a lot, but I feel even lonelier when he’s not here because I get to see him a lot. (I would obviously always choose that option over the other one though!)

So this is why I’ve been feeling down recently. I’ve lost some of my motivation to do things and felt slightly caught in a rut. I’ve been eating a lot more pick and mix than I should, and cinnamon buns too, but at least I’ve still been good with making my own lunch. That’s really more of a money question than a motivation question though. But I haven’t had the energy to write down the recipes and take pictures – it’s also getting more difficult to get ok pictures since it’s getting so dark out! – or make smoothies in the morning. I’ve still gone to the gym every week though – if only twice instead of four times, and I’m happy I’m still keeping that up somewhat. Last week and the week before I went three times, and this week I’m scheduled in for four. So at least I’m not letting my lack of motivation and feeling sorry for myself become an excuse for quitting the gym again – which I did in London. I did work much longer hours there though, and I wasn’t tied up for a year, so it was much tougher to work up the energy to go when you come home at 8-9pm and haven’t had dinner.

Anyway, I thought I’d pull myself out of my blogging dry-spell with my cinnamon buns I made a week and a half ago, and then I have a really nice pork and cider stew I made this weekend (if I can get some good pictures). I also have a tomato and roasted red pepper soup I made two weeks ago, and a pasta. So keep checking in – I promise I won’t abandon you just yet.


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Ingredients (36-40 buns)

150g butter

500 ml milk

50g (1 pack) fresh yeast

100 ml sugar

0.2 tsp salt

(2 tsp cardamom)

approx. 800g flour

1 egg

150g butter

100 ml sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

pearl sugar


First things first: Swedish cinnamon buns have cardamom in the dough. S doesn’t like cardamom, so I make mine without.

Second, I always use fresh yeast when I bake. I can’t stand dry yeast. If you don’t know where to get fresh yeast (in London you can get it at Scandinavian Kitchen which is about 5-10 minutes from Oxford Circus) you can use dry yeast, but I don’t think the dough turns out as nice.

Ok, on to the good stuff!

First, crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk. Leave on the heat until it reaches 37 degrees Celsius. The easiest way to judge this if you don’t have a thermometer is to put your finger in it. If it feels neither hot nor cold then it should be good to go.

(While you cut the butter, leave 150g to soften in a bowl at room temperature.)

Pour some of the liquid over the yeast and dissolve. Add the rest of the liquid and then the sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir until the sugar dissolves somewhat.

Measure out the flour and add slowly to the liquid, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Once all the flour is added, work the dough for at least ten minutes, until it’s smooth (five if you’re using a machine). Cover the dough and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

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The risen dough

In the meantime, take the other 150g of butter, add 100 ml sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon and cream together until completely mixed.

Once 30 minutes have passed, tip out the dough on a floured surface. Cut into two equally sized pieces and set one aside. Roll the first piece out into a rectangle, about 0.5 cm thick. Take half of the spread and use a butter knife to spread over the dough. It is important that the butter is really soft here, or the dough will break. Roll up the dough on the long end, and cut into 1-2 cm thick slices (depending on how large you want your buns). Place on a baking tray in a cinnamon bun case (like a large cupcake case with lower sides) – if you don’t have cases you can also place them on a baking sheet.

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Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.

Cover the buns and leave them to rise for another 40 minutes.

Brush the buns with a beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (Again, this is available at ScandiKitchen.)

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Bake for around 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius (slightly longer if they’re huge).


Enjoy!

/t

low

I’ve been feeling a bit low lately, which is why I haven’t been posting anything in a few days. I’ve kind of lost the motivation to eat well, and all I’ve wanted is sandwiches and sweets. I’ve stopped making the smoothies in the morning because I don’t have the energy to plan ahead. I feel tired all the time. I’ve been trying not to skip out on the gym, but I’ve also been feeling like I’m getting a cold, so I have skipped a few classes I was booked in for. I just want to pull the cover over my head and sleep through the day, which worries me a little because that’s how I felt the last few months in London.

I have a recipe for you – because I did make my cinnamon buns last week (and they turned out great thank you!) – but it’s a bit of a process to write it all down. I’ve also been trying some new food recipes (still need lunch for work), but I haven’t always been taking pictures of the dishes because I’ve mainly had them for lunch and it’s a bit embarrassing to be taking pictures of my lunch every day!

So I’ll get the cinnamon buns up next week. This weekend I just need to not really do anything and enjoy the fact the two days with my husband.

/t

chokladsnittar that turned into rounds

These are really chocolatey biscuits, the kind you need a glass of milk or a cup of tea to enjoy, because they’re almost too rich on their own.

Because I had a bit of 70% dark chocolate left after dipping my Strassburgers, I added some to this dough. Thinking about it, that’s probably why it wouldn’t roll out and I had to make them rounds instead! Duh, haha.

No matter how they looked they got that lovely dark and rich chocolate flavour I was looking for.

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Ingredients

200g butter

250 ml sugar

500 ml flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

pearl sugar


Cream butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients (save the pearl sugar which is for decorating) and combine to a dough.

If you want the traditional parallelogram shape, roll out into four to six rectangular shapes and place on a baking sheet on a tray. If you want my rounds, make little balls and push down gently to flatten a little.

Top with pearl sugar.

Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 10-12 minutes.


If you can’t get your hands on pearl sugar, they would probably look just as nice dusted with some icing sugar instead.

/t

strassburgare

So as you read in my cinnamon biscuits post yesterday, these didn’t turn out like they were supposed to. And they didn’t survive the trip to London. But hey – at least they tasted great!

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Next time I guess I’ll make sure that the butter is even softer than it was this time. And there has to be a next time, because now I’ve realised how easy it is to make that dough I’m going to try and make one of my favourite biscuits that I always used to share with my mum when I was little. It’s made using a Viennese dough and splitting it into two – keeping one natural and flavouring the other with cocoa powder. One vanilla strand and one chocolate strand are then piped next to each other so that they attach when they bake. You then sandwich together two of these combined biscuits using melted chocolate – making sure that the vanilla and chocolate are on opposite sides on the top and bottom, so that if you split it in half where it’s attached when baking, you have one of each. I know that if I brought that home to my mum she’d be so impressed!

 


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Ingredients

100g butter

50 ml icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

125 ml flour

100 ml potato flour or corn starch


Take the butter out of the fridge a while before you want to make these, so that it’s really, really soft.

Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla sugar to an even dough.

Add flour and potato flour and whisk – preferably with an electric whisk. Then use a piping bag to pipe your preferred shape.

Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes.

While your biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Dip the biscuits and place on a baking sheet overnight to set.


If you wanted to decorate the biscuits with jag, you would instead make a dent in your biscuit and put a small bit of firm jam in it before you bake them.

/t