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Semlor

Semlor, or Mardi Gras with marzipan…

After a very long wait since Easter is so late this year, Fat Tuesday finally rolled round this week with its myriad delicious ways to use up rich or fatty ingredients and shrive in time for the start of Lent. Most people went for the always excellent pancake as their Shrove Tuesday treat, but after my recent trips to Scandivanian Kitchen, I decided to celebrate with the Swedish favourite of the cardamom infused, marzipan stuffed and cream filled buns known as semlor. Made with fresh yeast and similar in texture to a doughnut, these chewy soft buns are perfect with a strong coffee and could be sampled in the afternoon, leaving plenty of room for a pancake fest in the evening…

Scandinavian Kitchen are a one stop shop for these little beauties, supplying both the recipe and all the ingredients for them in one place. I stocked up on fresh yeast there for the amazingly bargain price of 45p a pack, but used my own flour and some marzipan I had in the house for emergencies. With the sun shining for the first time in months, I rolled my sleeves up and got baking. Read more

Prim and Proper…

A childhood holiday to Norway left me with several lifelong food memories. Hand picked blueberries in milk eaten after dinner when the nights seemed just as bright as the afternoons. A sun-dappled lunch of nothing but strawberries and cream on the green outside a traditional wooden church. Rum balls after a Sunday service on an island. McDonalds in Oslo. But best of all was brunost, that sticky brown goats’ cheese beloved of Norwegians, particularly on sandwiches. I particularly adored the spreadable version called Prim and long after we returned from Norway, we asked our friends to send us pots of the stuff in the post. But it is years since I tasted it and I have pined ever since…

The wait is over though. At the wonderful Scandinavian Kitchen, there is a small unpreposessing fridge tucked away in the corner hidden by some always occupied tables that I failed to notice the first time I visited. Nestled in there are the familar square tubs of Prim that I have dreamed of for years. I bought some before meeting a friend elsewhere and could hardly concentrate all evening for the excitement of getting my chops round the stuff as soon as I got home. It took superhuman effort not to rip the gold foil back and stick my finger into the pot on the bus. Only the fear of ruining the long awaited moment stopped me.

As soon as I got in the door I had the Ryvita tin open and was spreading the rich sticky caramel cheese on the dark rye variety immediately. One big bite later and it was as good as I remembered. Softly sweet but stopped from being sickly thanks to with that familiar farmyard tang that goats’ cheese always has. To say it goes with a rye based crispbread is to understate massively. They are perfect together both in flavour and in the contrast of texture between sticky dulce de leche style cheese and the crispy base. Add in something pickled and the whole thing is the best lunch you’ll ever eat. I’ve been working through a jar of cocktail gherkins, but some soused herring would be superlative and a little more substantial.

I feel like I’ve been re-united with my first fromage love from childhood and I’m not letting it go again any time soon. A little of this strongly flavoured cheese goes a long way. Dairylea it ain’t…

Scandinavian Kitchen

This week’s destination for cake was a bit special in that it involved the chance to revisit some tastes of a fondly remembered childhood holiday at the fabulous Scandinavian Kitchen in Great Titchfield Street. Mister North and I visited Norway when I was about six and it has certainly left me with a lifelong soft spot for Scandinavian cuisine, particularly their luscious chocolate cakes.

So with a slight diversion to Soho to collect some fresh Yorkshire free range eggs from Mister North, I took my cake craving north of Oxford Circus as fast as my little legs could carry me. I arrived just as my dining companion ordered a plate of meatballs accompanied by three delicious looking salads. I decided cake could wait and I ordered the same thing…

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