I love to get out and about at the weekend, enjoy some good eats and see my friends.
Last weekend I was in London to see my old school friend, Saira, and we ended up sharing some pistachio and hazelnut gelato at the delicious Pizza East in Shoreditch. We also had a smoked mozzarella and roasted aubergine pizza, but I haven’t got any photos of that because we gobbled it up too quickly!
We then trotted across the road to visit the awesome Brokedown Palace, a shop in the Shoreditch Box Park after my own heart, selling things inspired by Scandinavia and log cabin living. London based peeps should go and have a browse as it’s super lovely.
Illustration for inspiration today is courtesy of Ukrainian artist Nastia Sleptsova.
I found Nastia’s work via the wonder that is Pinterest, and am now obsessed with it. I love her wintery colour palette, use of patterns, and how flat the aspect is. It gets me all fired up for doing some more unusual still life photography and making food, of course.
I feel like, thus far, breakfast is a much neglected area on this blog, which is ironic as it’s one of my favourite meals. So without further ado, let me address the issue and introduce you to the wonder that is Finnish toast. Originally this was something that I discovered not in Finland, but in London, at a café in Hackney called Dreyfus. If you’re in the area I really recommend it as a nice spot for good eats and watching the world pass by. Anything with cardamom will immediately spike my interest, so naturally I had to try it.
In contrast to French toast, which is usually covered in maple syrup and cinnamon sugar (no bad thing) this recipe is more like eggy bread, which my parents used to make on camping trips and conjures up lots of warm and fuzzy memories for me. It’s not sweet, bar the lightly cooked fruit that you dollop on top prior to serving, and it’s oh so filling, which makes it the best kind of breakfast, as you don’t have to worry about being hungry again for a good few hours. The fact that it’s quite savoury means that you don’t get a sugar crash as well as making it almost a sensible grown up breakfast option.
- 4 slices of day-old bread, such as my dutch-oven bread
- 3 eggs
- A generous splash of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom
- A walnut sized knob of butter for frying
- One handful per person of fresh or frozen berries
- A teaspoon of honey
Whisk together the eggs, splash of milk (as much as you’d put in your average cuppa) and spices. Pour this mixture into a roomy shallow dish or onto a plate and lay down the slices of bread, leaving them to absorb some egg, before turning them over and coating the other side. If you wanted to be really lazy/shrewd, you could do this stage before bed, tuck it away in an airtight container, and then cook the toast when you get up in the morning.
In the meantime, in a small pan over a low heat cook the berries with a teaspoon of honey until they start to fall apart. I used frozen raspberries and blackberries that I had left over from the autumn, but you could really use anything you wanted. Keep it over a low heat while you cook the toast.
Heat a frying pan until medium-hot and then add in a nut sized portion of butter. Let it melt fully and then place the slices of bread in carefully and cook them for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden.
Serve straight away with a generous splodge of the cooked berries.
This week I’ve been smitten with the Arcade Fire album ‘The Suburbs’ and in particular the song ‘Sprawl ii (mountains beyond mountains)’. It’s been a good distraction to the miserable weather that we’ve been having and is keeping me feeling chipper in the face of rain and yet more rain.
Now, I confess that up until recently I always considered the humble Welsh cake to be a bit of a Plain Jane. They’re somewhere between a scone or a biscuit and I’ve actually always steered clear of them, until now of course, because I’m not a big fan of raisins and sultanas. Usually I pick any currents out of my teacakes and scones like a fussy child! However, lately when studying for my New Nordic Diet MOOC, I began to cultivate more of an interest for traditional British treats and see what historically has been made in the UK. Scandinavia has always been my main baking inspiration, so it makes a nice change to indulge in a bit of British influence and embrace my Celtic heritage. I read on Wikipedia that in the past, men in Newport have made welsh cakes like these for their lady-partners as tokens of their love, which makes this post oddly timely as, guys, valentines day is this Friday…just saying.
Honestly, the smell while these are griddling is heavenly. The texture inside is rich and buttery, while not too sweet, meaning that you can snack on quite a few before feeling like you’ve overdone it. As i mentioned already normally they would be made with raisins, but here I’ve used blueberries, which I think compliments the cinnamon really beautifully. They are the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cuppa, while watching the rain batter the windows.
Blueberry and cinnamon Welsh Cakes
- 125g cold butter, cut into cubes
- 250g plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 75g caster sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 100g dried blueberries
- 1 large beaten egg
In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and mixed spice and whisk thoroughly. Add the vanilla, blueberries and the butter, rubbing it into the flour as though making pasty, until you get to what looks like bread crumbs.
Add the egg and stir through with your hands, mixing until you get to a smooth, but not wet, dough.
Pop the dough into the fridge to firm-up for about 20-30 minutes.
Once cool, roll out on a lightly floured surface and use a cutter to press out circles. I used an approximately 7cm cutter and was rewarded with about 15 welsh cakes.
Heat a dry thick bottomed frying pan over a low to medium heat. Carefully slide in the cakes, and cook them for about 3 minutes before turning them over. When they are ready, they should be lightly brown and golden on both sides.
As you take the cakes out of the pan, sprinkle over a little extra cinnamon and dust with sugar while still warm.