gratinated bean tortillas

I was supposed to post this last Friday (had it all set to go) but then the unspeakable happened and posting anything didn’t feel possible.

Sadly I’m not shocked that we had a terror attack in Sweden. I’ve talked to people several times about the fact that it wouldn’t be a question of if, but a question of when – and many others have said the same thing. And the fact that we feel that way is horrible. I was sat in my office when I got a message from S saying “Are you ok?” and with a screenshot from Swedish Radio’s Twitter-feed saying a lorry had just crashed into Åhléns department store in central Stockholm – 600 metres from my office. No one on my floor had heard the news yet, but they soon spread and we all turned on various live reports. Everyone’s phones were ringing – friends and family trying to make sure you were ok. The police closed down the entire underground system and all inner city buses, and people were ordered to stay inside their offices. Shoppers were locked into shops for their safety.

What I have to say I was wrong about though is our response. Despite the obvious – that they have security warnings out and train for these kinds of horrors – I didn’t think they would be this well-prepared. They have done a fantastic job, they responded quickly and forcefully, were quick to send out a picture of the suspect to the media and arrested the driver that same evening. My mum always said she was worried about me living in London because it’s a big terrorist target and I always replied I would be more worried about it in Stockholm – but I am glad to say that I believe the police force has surpassed the whole nation’s expectations. And we have shown them how much we love them for it.

I don’t think I’ve quite processed it yet though. It was only two weeks prior that I was worriedly texting my friends in Parliament hoping they were ok and thanking whatever powers may be that S had only worked a half day that day. I had worried calls from my family asking was he ok, and was trying to process that a spot where I had frequently walked at exactly that time on exactly that weekday had been subject to a terror attack. Hearing from my friends who were on lock-down in their offices in Parliament and who couldn’t leave to go home until 6-7 hours later. And then it happened again. But this time in my town. On a road that I frequently walk down and very well could have been on a Friday at 3pm. But at least this time I knew that if everyone was where they were supposed to be, I would be the only one of my close family and friends near the attack.

No doubt it will all sink in soon enough. There are many emotions tumbling around inside me right now, but at the moment the strongest of them all is still pride. Pride in our police force, pride in the love we as a people have shown them (if you haven’t seen the police cars overflowing with flowers it’s a beautiful sight) and pride in our response as a nation. I have never seen so many people gather at Sergels Torg as they did for the vigil on Sunday afternoon. The flowers that were put on a fence by the place of the attack had to be moved because the fence was beginning to collapse.

So right now we are a country in mourning but we’re trying to go on as normal, if only with a little more love for one another.

***************************************

Something I’ve discovered I really like, which surprised me a bit, is bean chillies. It started out before we were getting married when I decided to try 5:2 to help me get in better shape. Not being the kind of person who could eat only once a day I would have to split my 500 kcal intake between lunch and dinner – which obviously isn’t the easiest thing to do. But to my rescue came M&S and Eat. Eat had a really nice Pho noodle soup which was only about 220 kcal and a side-order ham hock and egg salad which was big enough to work for lunch and which, including the dressing I never ate, contained about 270 kcal. M&S had a range of salads and soups too, but they also sold these little one-portion tins of three bean chilli in their Count on Us range. One tin was 200g and had, I think, 214 kcal worth of food and I would sometimes eat several each week. On fast days I’d eat them either with just a small amount of added sweetcorn, or with those ‘zero calorie noodles’, and on non-fast days I would eat them with sweetcorn and cheese on top of a baked potato. I actually still have a few that came with me to Sweden, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell them in most M&S shops any more.

So when I got my slow cooker and was thinking about what to make first it was only natural that the three bean chilli with sweet potatoes became my fist course. And now that I feel like trying to eat more vegetarian it’s only natural that I turn to beans again. Because working out 3-5 times per week, and wanting to add muscle rather than just lose weight, I still need my protein.

I like black beans and kidney beans (and chickpeas – do they count as beans? I’ve read that they can also be called garbanzo beans) but I’m not as keen on white beans. I think it’s the ‘white beans in tomato sauce’-associations that put me off them. With the success of my three bean chilli, I’ve wanted to make something else bean-centred, but haven’t quite known what until last week when I was browsing Ica’s recipe bank for vegetarian mains and found their “gratinated bean tortillas” recipe. Seeing as I love enchiladas I was thinking this would be a good substitute, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

I think the dish was ok – but it was too sweet. Using normal tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce (rather than enchilada sauce) meant that it lost those enchilada-associations I was hoping for, since there was very little spiciness. Having looked for enchilada sauce sold separately in the supermarket (for another recipe I want to try – a slow cooker enchilada quinoa casserole) but not having found it, I have instead found a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that looks fantastic. So next time I make these bean tortillas (and there will be a next time because other than the sweetness they were very tasty) I will make sure I have a batch of that homemade enchilada sauce to go with it instead of the tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce.

In case you want to try this recipe as it is anyway, here it is.


Ingredients (8 tortillas)

1 tsp oil

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp tomato purée

390g tinned, crushed, tomatoes

380g kidney beans

380g black beans

300g sweetcorn

8 medium tortillas

390g pasta sauce with chili

100g cheese


Chop up the onion and fry in the oil. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir.

Add tomato purée and crushed tomatoes and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse the beans and add them and the sweetcorn to the pan.

Put the tortillas in an oven dish and fill with the bean mixture. Top with pasta sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 225 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.


Serve with guacamole or salsa and sour cream.

/t

thai (chicken) meatballs

We have a restaurant in Stockholm called Berns Asiatiska which I’ve always heard is supposed to be really good. The venue is a hotel, restaurant, night club, and event venue – for example there are often shows there during Stockholm Fashion Week – and I’d been to the night club before, but not the restaurant. I’d heard a lot about it though, especially the brunch buffet. It’s quite expensive, but apparently worth it with a number of sushi, dumpling and other hot food options available. But they say the best thing is the dessert buffet.

In February we were getting an influx of new people at work (they have two big dates – one in February and one in September – where all the newly graduated lawyers start) and decided to go for a group lunch at Berns. Because we were such a large group we were given three options to pre-order our lunch from, and I chose their Thai meatballs in red curry. I’m not usually a huge fan of curry – I have too many bad memories of curry powder flavoured things from school – but the other two dishes had too many things in them I didn’t like and I’d heard good things. Thai curry is also more to my taste than Indian curry, because it often has coconut milk and lemon grass and such in it. Either way though, I was definitely both impressed and pleased with the dish.

Fast-forward to yesterday and the eternal ‘what do I do for dinner today while my slow cooker makes food for the week?’. I’d had a lingering craving for Asian food since we’d had Thai takeaway on Saturday and had found a chicken and cashew nut recipe for the slow cooker I was going to throw together for my lunch boxes for the week, but still couldn’t shake that craving. So I was browsing Ica’s Asian recipes and came across a recipe for chicken meatballs in a Phanaeng curry which made me think about the Thai meatballs at Berns. Though I don’t think they were made of chicken and I know they were served in a red curry sauce, I figured that the Ica recipe would still be a nice way to fill that craving.

The recipe was very simple and called for basically four things: sesame seeds, chicken mince, Phanaeng curry sauce, and a wok-mix of vegetables. However, my local Ica didn’t have the ready wok-mix, so instead I just bought some of what was in it and chopped it up myself. You could probably use frozen vegetable mixes as well though, depending on what you want in yours. Also, I added bread crumbs to my meatballs, because I didn’t feel like they were holding together very well when I was first trying to roll them.


Ingredients (3-4 portions)

500g chicken mince

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp bread crumbs

0.5 tsp salt

4-600 ml Phanaeng curry sauce (‘Paneng curry grytbas’ at Ica – one tin is 400 ml)

90g broccoli

90g carrot

100g white cabbage

or 300g wok-mix vegetables

1 tsp oil

3-4 portions rice


Boil the rice as per the instructions.

Mix the mince, sesame seeds, salt, and bread crumbs and shape into balls. I found the mince mix very sticky and felt that it helped to grease my palms with a bit of oil.

Bring the Phanaeng sauce to boil in a pan/pot, then add the meatballs and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan/pot with a lid and leave to simmer for 8 minutes, turning the meatballs over halfway through.

In the meantime stir-fry your vegetables in the oil.

Remove the meatballs from the pan and add the vegetables. Stir so they’re well-coated, then return the meatballs to the pan. (I didn’t do this, I just plated up, and I felt like my vegetables didn’t get covered enough by the sauce.)

Serve with rice.


The original recipe said to use 300g mince, but because they only had chicken mince in 500g packs, I used the whole 500g and therefore got three quite big portions out of this. In fact, I didn’t eat all the meatballs with each portion, so I could have probably made it into four portions instead.

I would, however, recommend that if you do use 500g mince instead of 300g, you also increase the amount of sauce somewhat. I only used the 400 ml stated in the recipe (and above) and I felt like I would have wanted a bit more. Whether you want to add more vegetables is up to you, but for three portions I thought it worked out quite well.

/t

slow cooker mexican shredded beef burritos

When I worked in London we didn’t have a lot of nice lunch places around the office. Most often that meant having just a ready meal or sandwich from a local supermarket or something from the office restaurant (which was always a, shall we say, interesting experience…). But sometimes when the weather was nice and I didn’t feel stressed I would walk over to Embankment and treat myself. Some days that meant getting a Katsu curry at Wasabi, other days it meant getting a fully loaded Mexican Burrito from Wrap It Up!. The burritos were so good – huge and filled with shredded beef or chicken, rice, black beans, salad, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Freshly wrapped up in foil, with the cheese melting with every step, I’d carry it back to the office and tuck in.

Lately I’ve felt a bit been-there-done-that with many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve been looking at since pretty much all I’ve had this autumn and winter have been soups and stews. I also had a real craving for Mexican (or European Mexican shall we say) food, and being in London over the weekend made me remember the cheesy, spicy burritos I sometimes had for lunch. So I went looking for slow cooker beef burrito recipes online and came about this Mexican shredded beef recipe. Often the pulled pork/shredded beef/chili recipes require lots of different ingredients that I don’t have or can’t that easily get hold of – especially since they’re often American. This required some spices I didn’t have at home but that I knew I could get at my local supermarket, so I decided to give it a go.

I don’t think it’s very often when you try and remake something you’ve had when eating out that the result exceeds your expectations, but this time it really did. It was exactly what I was craving and it really did feel like I was eating one of those Wrap It Up! burritos. I first had it for lunch, reheated in the microwave, with guacamole and when I bit into that first bite with the melted cheese and the spicy beef I knew I had found something good.

I should warn you though that this recipe makes a lot of beef ! And I mean a lot. Especially when you add rice, sweetcorn and beans like I did. I used 4 portions of rice, 200g sweetcorn and 380g (one box) ready to serve black beans. This mix is very beef-heavy, so if you want a more equal mix between your beef and the rest I would probably recommend using the same amount of rice, sweetcorn and black beans, but halving the beef (or cooking all of it but using half for something else). Unless you’re cooking for an army, in which case feel free to double the rice, sweetcorn and beans.

I would also recommend actually letting the sauce reduce down for at least 10-15 minutes, as it says in the original recipe. I didn’t have time to do that since I was doing the last bits in the morning before going to work, so mine only simmered for about 5 minutes. This unfortunately meant that the flavour of the sauce wasn’t as intense and there was way too much of it since burritos can’t be too liquid – or the tortilla will just become sloppy. Apart from that the result really was fantastic.


2017-02-21-14.21.57.jpg.jpg

Ingredients (many portions)

Spice Mix

1.5 tbsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp All Spice

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

black pepper

Beef

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

1.5kg beef brisket

5 garlic cloves

1 onion

0.75 cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

400g crushed tomatoes

500 ml beef stock

Burritos

4 portions long grained rice

200g sweetcorn

380g black beans (cooked/ready to serve)

grated cheese

soft tortillas

guacamole and/or sour cream


The original recipe recommends cutting the meat up into three similar-sized pieces, but I chose to keep mine in one large piece, since I’ve learnt my slow cooker seems to make the meat drier than some others.

Combine all the spices for the spice mix in a bowl, then sprinkle a few teaspoons over the beef and pat it in.

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the meat on high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and add to the slow cooker.

Fry the garlic and onion on medium heat until soft.

Add the orange juice and lime juice to the pan, then add the remaining spice mix.

Pour the contents into the slow cooker together with the chopped tomatoes and beef stock. Your beef should be mostly covered, but if it’s not – add water until it is.

Cook on low for 6-10 hours – the bigger the piece(s) of meat the longer the cooking time.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks. Set aside.

Pour the sauce into a pot. Simmer on the hob until thickened enough for your liking (at least 10-15 minutes), then pour as much as you like over the beef (though not all!).

To make my burritos:

Measure out four portions of long grained rice and cook according to the instructions.

Drain the black beans and rinse thoroughly.

Mix the rice, sweetcorn and beans into the beef.

Put a good-sized dollop of burrito filling in the middle of a tortilla. Top with as much cheese as you feel like, then fold it and wrap it up in foil.

Serve with guacamole and/or sour cream.


This is one meal I’ve made that I won’t grow tired of having both for lunch and for dinner several days in a row.

/t

chicken noodle soup (ramen-ish)

This looks so drab and boring but it actually wasn’t! Of course it’s not the most exciting noodle soup I’ve ever had, but at the time it really filled a craving.

I was heading home from work and didn’t have any inspiration for what I wanted to eat.  I had one leftover chicken breast from something and I felt like I should use it, but I didn’t know what for. Browsing the supermarket recipe selection I came upon this recipe that they called Asian chicken soup and it sounded simple yet excotic-ish enough to fill me needs that day. It’s not a very complicated, several ingredient Asian ramen, but it fit the bill then and there.


20161208_182923 (2).jpg

Ingredients (1 portion)

1 chicken breast or thigh

4 mushrooms

0.75 red chili

0.5 yellow onion

1 clove of garlic

0.5 tbsp fresh ginger

2 tbsp chicken stock

300 ml water

50g noodles

Thai basil


Fry sliced mushrooms, chicken and onion in oil in a pot for a few minutes.

Add chili, ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.

Pour over chicken stock and water. Add the noodles and cook for as long as the instructions on the pack says.

If you want to, add Thai basil (I had it at home already) or spring onion to your soup. I can really recommend Thai basil because it brought an extra flavour-note to the soup.


And that’s it. Not including chopping time this will take you max 10 minutes to make, and when you’re craving Asian food or just want something light and simple it’s a perfect quick fix.

/t

three bean chili with sweet potato (my first slow cooker recipe!)

I’m so tired today. It’s been a long week and I haven’t been sleeping very well most nights. I’m pretty certain I’ve pulled/strained my left chest muscle, so all week I’ve been waking up during the nights because I’ve moved and it has hurt.

It must have been during boxing last Tuesday that I did it, but I first properly felt it on Thursday when I did yoga. Then after a day of carrying heavy boxes around the office, it really started hurting on Saturday. On Sunday it was so bad certain movements made me feel like crying. Since then it’s gotten a bit better – the pain is not as sharp now, it’s a duller kind of pain, but sometimes it still surprises me how much it hurts. Like when I sneezed yesterday and thought I was going to cry. On top of this I’m of course getting a cold – at a time where I can’t sneeze, cough, or blow my nose without being in pain.

In addition to this, I slept really badly both last night (pain) and the night between Wednesday and Thursday when I woke up at 1am, 4am, 5am and 6am, thinking I’d overslept each time. So it wasn’t just the waking up and rolling over in bed, it was the waking up with your heart jumping out of your chest because you thought you were running late (and then trying to roll around without incurring that still somewhat shooting pain in my chest muscle).

So it hasn’t been a great week. I also haven’t been to the gym since Thursday’s yoga, and I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do next week either. You don’t really realise just how much you use/tense your chest muscles in your everyday life until it starts hurting when you do it – just getting up from the sofa, turning around in bed, or laughing has become something painful. I’m going to be really careful about the gym though, because we have a conference with work next weekend at a ski resort in the Alps and I’m not planning to miss out on the skiing.

Anyway, I’m long overdue on this, but I’m going to post the three bean chili recipe that was my first slow cooker attempt! I found it online somewhere where it was a recipe for three bean chili with pumpkin. I’m not overly keen on pumpkin though (and the recipe called for tinned pumpkin which I doubt I’d be able to find in my local supermarket) so I decided to swap it out for sweet potato. I think it turned out nice, but the first portion didn’t give me that ‘wow’ feeling I had hoped for. I then added frozen sweetcorn to my remaining portions and that upped the game a lot. So I think when I make this again I will skip out on the sweet potatoes and instead add sweetcorn (after the chili has cooked for the prescribed time).


Ingredients (6 portions)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion (approx. 150g)

4 cloves of garlic

1 red pepper

425g chickpeas

425g kidney beans

425g black beans

425g sweet potato

425g tinned tomatoes (crushed or passata)

2.5 cups beef stock

2 tsp oregano

1.5 tsp chili flakes

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

0.5 tsp sea salt


2017-01-14-16.03.48.jpg.jpg

Fry the onion in 1 tbsp oil until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes.

Add 1 tbsp oil to the slow cooker, then add all of the remaining ingredients.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

It really can’t be simpler.


2017-01-14-16.04.20.jpg.jpg

Next time, however, I’ll try:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion (approx.. 150g)

4 cloves of garlic

2-3 red peppers

425g chickpeas

425g kidney beans

425g black beans

425g tinned tomatoes (crushed or passata)

500g sweetcorn (add after cooking)

2.5 cups beef stock

2 tsp oregano

1.5 tsp chili flakes

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

0.5 tsp sea salt

Also, this obviously isn’t vegetarian because it has beef stock in it, but if you swap the beef stock for vegetable stock you’re good to go. I just prefer the slightly heartier taste I feel like the chili gets with beef stock.

/t

pork and pear stew

Despite being a big city girl (Swedish standard) I come from a family of hunters. My granddad and aunt’s husband were big hunters when I grew up, so a visit to my grandparents inevitably meant moose for lunch/dinner (or maybe deer or boar every now and then). My aunt also has a farm where they raise beef cows (Aberdeen Angus and Herefords), so if I wasn’t having game I was having beef.

So I’ve pretty much grown up on lean meats. Moose is probably one of the leanest things you can eat, and with a mother who – whether she meant to or not – transferred her aversion to butter, whipped cream and deep fried foods to me, I have never been a fan of fatty foods. I don’t like butter or fat milk, I don’t particularly like whipped cream (a little can work) or battered and deep fried foods. I don’t like mayonnaise and thus there are certain sauces I don’t like (Béarnaise, Hollandaise…). I also don’t like vinegar, which means there are a lot of salad dressings I don’t like.

This means that often when I eat with people who don’t know me they mistake my dislikes for trying to be healthy or being on a diet, which is actually quite annoying. I understand that/why people jump to that conclusion, but it still bothers me because what they don’t know is that this dislike for fatty things is more than weighed up by a love for sweet things.

Anyway, where I’m trying to get with this is that I have never been a big pork fan. S thinks bacon is one of the best things in the world, whereas I would often choose something else. Leaves more for him though – so I’m sure he doesn’t mind! Recently, however, I have started to cook more with pork tenderloin. I made that goulashy stew, a pork cider stew (that I haven’t posted yet because it didn’t photograph that well), bacon wrapped pork tenderloin (twice – on S’s request) and now this pork and pear cider stew. Something about pork makes it go very well with fruit, and having a sweet tooth I like the sweetness of the cider and the soft pears in this so much. Also, while we’re on the topic, can I just say that the expression for liking sweet things is so much better in Swedish! In English you have a sweet tooth, but in Swedish you are a sweets (/candy) pig. How much better is that?

The other pork cider stew I made was less sweet than this one, but I think that was partly because it had carrots and parsnips in it instead of fruit. That one was made using apple cider, whereas this one has pear cider (to go with the pears). I would recommend using a cider with a slightly higher alcohol content, to get more of that cider flavour. I had to buy mine in the supermarket which meant that it only had 2.2% alcohol, so it was very sweet and didn’t add the same depth of flavour to the stew. But it was still very nice.


20161125_185551 (2).jpgIngredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

500g pork tenderloin

1 medium onion

4 garlic cloves

2 tbsp flour

500 ml pear cider

2 medium pears

100 ml cream


Heat half of the oil in a pot and fry the pork on high heat until browned. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining oil and the onion and fry for about 8 min, until soft. Then add the garlic and fry for another few minutes.

Add the flour and stir thoroughly. Increase the heat, then add the cider and let it boil for 5 minutes.

Return the pork to the pot, season with salt and pepper, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for 10 minutes, covered.

Peel, core and cut the pears into 16 slices (so 8 each). Add them to the stew and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes, covered. Then add the cream and stir thoroughly.


I chose to have my stew with mash potatoes, but the recipe I found online recommended crusty bread. I think a good mash was really good with this though, especially now that it’s colder outside and I want comforting food. Bread is probably very nice with this in spring, but for now I’ll settle for mash.

/t

potato and leek soup with bacon

Did I tell you I was in a soup mood? I wasn’t kidding! For the past few weeks I’ve made the carrot and sweet potato soup twice, a roasted red pepper and tomato soup (which was much better than the other one I made)  and now this potato and leek soup with bacon. I have to admit I was a bit worried about this soup because I’m not actually super keen on leek. But since it’s the texture rather than the flavour I don’t love, I figured it should be ok.

I’ve been feeling a bit rough lately as well – my back and shoulders ache, and not just in an exercise pain way. I feel like it’s difficult to do certain exercises – well more difficult – and I get an ache behind my right shoulder blade when I sit at my desk at work.

I also haven’t been that great with what I’ve been eating lately (a few too many sweets and buns) so I’m trying to go down a slightly healthier route now that we’re in the last few days before the Christmas food starts popping up everywhere, hehe!

Anyway, this soup turned out really nice, warming and hearty and perfect with some toasted bread. The recommendation is to serve it with some crispy fried bacon – which was lovely – but it’s just as nice with just some bread.


20161121_210115 (2).jpg

Ingredients

3 baking potatoes

400g leek

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

3 rashers of streaky bacon (in the soup)

1.4 litres stock

140 ml cream

butter

salt

pepper


20161122_213957.jpg

Chop up your ingredients.

Melt butter in a pot. Throw in your onion, garlic and bacon and cook until browned/golden.

Add your potatoes and leek and cook for 5 minutes.

Add your stock – I haven’t specified which stock here because the recipe says vegetable but I used 900 ml chicken and 500 ml vegetable to get a fuller flavour – and being to boil. Leave for 20 minutes.

Blitz the soup with a hand mixer or in a blender until smooth.

Add the cream and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crispy bacon rashers.