Great salsiccia pasta recipe

A few years ago, I made this salsiccia pasta for the first time, and since then we’ve had to have it at least every few months because it is so delicious – and – easy to make.

What you need for approximately four persons:

  • 600 grams of salsiccia sausages
  • 500 grams of good quality tomatoes (you can use crushed, but I usually don’t)
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 deciliter white wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 deciliter full fat cream
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes (or less if you don’t want it spicy)
  • Pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Tagliatelle, mafaldine or pappardelle pasta (or any pasta you’d rather use)
  • Olive oil for frying

How to cook it

1. Chop garlic and onion finely. Remove and discard casings from the sausages, we’re using the filling as you would minced meat. Chop the tomatoes.

2. Heat olive oil in a pot. Fry the salsiccia and meanwhile try to chop it up to a ’crumble’ – again think minced meat. When salsiccia is starting to brown, lower heat a bit and add tomato puree. Make sure to fry the tomato puree for at least 30 seconds to it gets a little bit toasted. Then add garlic, onion and chilli flakes. Fry a bit more until it’s starting to soften.

3. Add chopped tomatoes, let fry a little bit together with the other ingredients. Stirr them in so everything mixes nicely.

4. Add white wine and water to it covers everyhing. Cover with a lid and slowly simmer for 1-3 hours. About 20 minutes before serving, add the cream and let reduce without lid on. I usually do not need any salt as salsiccias are salty, but taste and add some if needed.

5. Cook the pasta in salted water until ’al dente’, reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid.

6. Mix the salsiccia sauce with the cooked pasta in the pot. Add some cooking water to make it ’creamier’ while continuosly stirring, this should take around a minute.

7. Serve with grated pecorino cheese, finely chopped parsley and a glass of wine. I think rosé usually goes quite well with this.

Homemade pesto recipe

A weekday favourite of mine that is way simpler too make than it may seem. If you’re lazy (like I usually am), use a blender. If a bit more ambitious use a mortar & pestle.

What you need (four approximately 3-4 persons)

Basil, about 5 deciliters of fresh leaves

2 Tablespoons of pine nuts

1 clove of garlic

1/2 deciliter of grated parmesan cheese

Salt & olive oil

How to make the pesto:

1. Toast the pine nuts until golden, but not burnt. Set aside.

2. Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

3. Put garlic, basil, parmesan and nuts in a blender. Mix to a paste.

4. Add olive oil, little by little while continuing to mix until the pesto reaches a thick, slightly runny texture. Season with salt.

Serve with pasta, on pizza, a sandwich or just eat it straight from the jar, it’s that good. ☺️

Part 6: Luang Prabang

We arrived Luang Prabang and Laos by a comfortable direct 1.5 hour flight from Siem Reap in a Vietnamese Airlines airbus A320 (I do not love to fly in propellered planes that otherwise are common on domestic routes in the region). A top tip is to buy a local sim with a data package in the airport, they had a booth at bagage claim and it took like a minute, costed $7 for about 8 gbs lasting a week, and they did all the setting up for me.

Luang Prabang, also spelled “Louang Prabang” is a cozy little city of approximately 50 000 people, situated by the confluence of the mighty Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers. Its old town where we stayed at the excellent Mekong Riverview Hotel, is filled with French colonial buildings, temples, a former royal palace, small restaurants, guest houses, shops, markets and bars. And, importantly, being in South East Asia it’s surprisingly super relaxed. We had just arrived from Siem Reap’s hustle and bustle with crazy traffic, stray animals, thumping music and drunk tourists, and were therefore prepared for something a bit similar. How wrong we were.

There is pretty much a general sense of calm at all hours in Luang Prabang. Of course there will be the odd vendor calling for attention, or tuk-tuk drivers offering a ride, but not that often. You can also walk everywhere as the roads and sidewalks are good and traffic as mentioned is quite calm.

The views of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers are everywhere as the old city lies on a peninsula surrounded by them. You can also see large mountains towering in the distance. It’s a super scenic place, and we really loved it.

What to see

Except for eating a lot of food we also climbed Mount Phousi to watch the sunset (as will many others, it’s quite crowded). We also visited the beautiful Kuang Si waterfall, a top tip is to arrive early before the crowds. We hired a taxi driver and arrived just as they opened at I think around 8 a.m.

Much also happen on the river(s) and there are plenty of different cruises and boat trips to go on, for instance to Pak Ou Caves.

[Breakfast in our hotel Mekong Riverview Hotel, on of the best I’ve ever had, especially considering the view.]

How about the food then? Well I can honestly say that we had a few of the best meals of our almost six weeks long trip in Luang Prabang. Lao food is quite similar to the more famous northern Thai cuisine, with shared dishes such as the local sausage Sai Oua, which in Laos is made with pork and herbs – in Thailand they also add chilli and lemongrass. Both are incredibly good. Other shared dishes are the famous spicy herb laab (also known as larb or laap) salad, and khao soi noodle soup. The latter is only similar by name though, and that they both are noodle soups. The Lao version is tomato-y while the Thai uses coconut milk.

Below are our favourite Luang Prabang restaurants:

Phonheuang Café

Make your own spring roll wrapper with crunchy chopped up spring rolls, cold noodles, spring onion and herbs. Put in a lettuce leaf, roll and dip in the amazingly delicious sesame dipping sauce.

The black stuff in the upper left corner is the local specialty kaipen, which is crispy river weed with sesame seeds.

To the right is pork laab, one of the best we had during the trip. This place is quite tiny but you’ll find it using Google maps.

Price: Inexpensive.

Saffron coffee

If you miss your big city latte art hipster coffee, fear not, Saffron’s got you covered. We saw at least two outlets in Luang Prabang and they serve a quite decent cup of coffee. Their tamarind and apple tarte was decent but served icecold.

Price: Medium

The Belle Rive

The Belle Rive is a quite touristy (but not in a terrible way) place which offers one of the best views of sunset over the Mekong River. They also fortunately have very nice food, and given the location, prices aren’t that bad.

We had (from left): Oua Si Kai, lemongrass grilled chicken (so good); Jeow Mak Khuea, smoky eggplant dip, served with veggies; spicy green papaya salad with ground peanuts, and fresh spring rolls filled with veggies & rice noodles, served with a peanut dip.

Price: medium

Xieng Thong Noodle Soup

Only open at lunch time, this place serves a delicious bowl of khao piak sen which includes thick rice noodles, pork, bean sprouts and spring onion in a quite mild salty broth. Finally a pile of crispy roasted garlic is added which gives the soup a really nice depth.

Price: inexpensive, a bowl was around $1,5 or 15000 kip.

Paste at the Apsara

Our first proper fine dining meal of the trip was at Paste Laos on New Years Eve. Paste also has a restaurant in Bangkok which has been awarded a Michelin Star so we were super excited to try their smaller Lao sibling’s fine dining take on local food.

Jaew bong: Mekong river crab, river weed, chilli relish.

Seared scallops, tossed in a salad of mangosteen, lemongrass, young coconut.

Sour River Fish Soup with lemongrass,chili, sugar cane,shrimp paste and fermented fish sauce (pa dek). Finished with young tamarind leaves.

Crunchy cured rice balls with sour sausage, kaffir lime zest, red curry paste, river weed and rose pepper leaf.

Salad of cured eggplant, air dried buffalo, ginger flower with kaffir lime, guava and dry spice mix.

A recreation and slight reinvention of the classic recipe for Laos Duck Curry-Kalee Ped.

Stir fried glass noodle with mixed mushroom, sweet bamboo shoots and fermented bean curd sauce.

Banana with coconut milk cream and fresh jackfruit.

The food was delicious. It tasted exactly like I had hoped, local but with fancy cooking techniques that made it an exciting contrast to the more ‘home cooking style’ restaurants we’d so far visited. Especially the salad dishes were “out of this world” (I’m starting to sound like my mom now- thank you thirties?).

Price: Expensive, about $140 for two with a shared large beer and one glass of wine each. They pour super small servings of wine so buy a bottle, or stick to beer which was more reasonably priced.

Khaiphaen

Run by the Tree Alliance Group that employ and train former street kids and other marginalized children and youth in hospitality. We had some of the best food in Luang Prabang here with a yummy, spicy chicken laap salad; crispy crackling pork belly with pumpkin puree and the best grilled Lao sai ua sausages on the whole trip.

Price: A tiny bit more expensive than other restaurants we visited, but still very affordable.

Khao Soi Luang Prabang

Located on the main street, Sakkaline Road, towards Wat Xiengthong, we found a great Lao khao soi shop. It’s just a few seats, but usually quite busy with a lady spooning up delicious bowls of the local version of Khao Soi. As you might know, Khao Soi is a famous dish of Northern Thailand, but apart from being soups with noodles in, they aren’t very similar. The Lao version contain minced pork that has been slow-cooked and then it’s added to a spicy, tomato-y broth that kind of reminds me of a South East Asian take on a bolognese. In the soup are rice noodles and the usual “choose yourself” fresh herbs such as mint, coriander and spring onion. Incredibly delicious.

Price: Not much.

Xieng Thong Phonsavanh Restaurant

We found out that our hotel was next door to famous food blogger Migrationology’s favourite restaurant in Luang Prabang, so we though it would be wise to pay it a visit. We tried their (very delicious) fish laap salad; tasty holy basil fried chicken, and, after being told off by the chef/owner for not ordering it, also their super spicy and delicious fish roe dip ”jaew kee pa”.

Price: Slightly more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but still very affordable.

Din Tai Fung London

Just got back from a visit to London and the newly opened branch of my favourite restaurang chain in the world: Din Tai Fung.

Famous for their soup dumplings aka xiao long bao, Taiwanese Din Tai Fung has reached fame over the world and now have restaurants in Asia, the US, Australia, and, finally, Europe.

Our expectations were to say the least high, but fortunately not too high as the standard was as good as in Asia. Part of this might be due to that part of the staff have been flown in from Taiwan to work in the restaurant for the first year, to train the locals in the art of the 18 folds soup dumpling.

The usual suspects: pork soup dumplings. Delicate skin, a delicious “soup” broth on the inside and delicious minced pork. Too good.

Wontons in a spicy chilli oil, black vinegar, spring onion and garlic ‘sauce’.

Shumai prawn dumplings.

Premise-made perfect chewy, elastic noodles with a spicy sauce.

Noodles with a succulent Taiwanese pork chop.

Spicy cucumber salad.

Dessert bao buns filled with sesame, taro and red bean paste.

Location: 5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.

$$ Price: We paid approximately £110 for the above and some more shared among three people, including a beer each.

Website (including menu without prices)

Quick to make Italian style prawn spaghetti

After the thrilling Sweden-Switzerland game during the FIFA world cup in Russia, we needed some carbs to soak up the beer we’d had while watching.

This is probably a more American-Italian style spaghetti then genuinly Italian. It’s a bit resembling to an “angry” arrabiata sauce though, but without oregano. I also had some parmesan cheese on, which is a no-no when it comes to seafood in Italy.

This was a really nice, and easy to make, seafood or prawn (or shrimp) spaghetti. I made it quite spicy with a load of toasted chilli flakes, but just skip most of them if you want a less spicy version.

We had garlic bread on the side (might also have something to do with the game beers we had), a bit unneccessary but also delicious.

What you need (for 2-3 servings)

12-15 peeled prawns

About 300 grams of fresh good quality tomatoes (or use canned)

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

About 250 grams of spaghetti

Fresh, finely chopped parsley

Dried chilli flakes

Olive oil

1. Chop the fresh tomatoes relatively finely. Use a sharp knife or this will be frustrating.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan. When the oil is quite hot, add the chilli flakes and give them a nice toast for 30 seconds or so. Then add the garlic and fry for a short while until soft, but not burnt. A little bit of colour is okay though.

3. Add the prawns to the oil, cook a shirt while on each side until cooked through but before they get rubbery. This does not take long, so watch them. Remove shrimos from oil and set aside (they will go back into the sauce later).

3. Add the tomatoes to garlic-chilli oil. Let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Add some water if it reduces to quickly.

4. Cook spaghetti until properly al dente (with a bite – slightly undercooked). Save a half deciliter/ quarter cup of cooking drained pasta water.

5. Add the spaghetti and reserved cooking liquid to tomatoes in pan. Combine together for a minute or two on low eat until the sauce and pasta is properly mixed. At the last 20-30 seconds, add prawns and fresh parsley, and toss.

6. Serve immediately! I also used parmesan, because I am a sinner, and it was really good too.

Easy peasy lobster roll recipe

It might be the tastiest food there is; succulent lobster meat, toasted brioche, mayo, a sprinkle of chives. Maybe a couple of crunchy chips. Maybe a glass of pink champagne too?

Well the best part is that while it’s not inexpensive, it is not that much of an effort to throw together if you use store bought mayo, a pre-cooked lobster and ready made brioche. You could of course do it all from scratch. But then again, sometimes it’s okay to take the easier route.

What you need (for two rolls)

One big, or two smaller lobsters

About 2 tablespoons of mayo, make your own or buy a nice one such as Hellmans

2 Brioche buns (I use Swedish brand Garants brioche hotdog buns)

Chopped chives for decoration

How to make the lobster roll

1. Cut the lobster in half lengthwise, remove all shell and hard stuff and save the lobster tail, claws and meat in a bowl.

2. Add mayo to the lobster meat, toss.

3. Heat up a pan and toast the brioche buns until slightly charred on the outside.

4. Fill buns with the lobster mayo mix and top with a sprinkle of chives.

5. Serve with chips, a glass of pink champagne, normal champagne or just a cold beer. Enjoy!

Three days in Baku (with lots of food)

Since I learned about the new Azeri “Asan Visa”, an e-visa, replacing the former tedious process of applying for a visa at an Azerbaijani embassy, I’ve been really keen to go. Who can’t remember the promotions for the country during the 2012 Eurovision in Baku (Yay, Sweden won!); Azerbaijan – Land of Fire; Azerbaijan – Land of Horses, and so on, clearly I needed to go.

Last Winter I scored tickets to Baku during the Swedish public holiday of Kristi himmelsfärd this May, and hence, our visit turned into a short Thursday till Saturday night-affair.

Stockholm-Istanbul-Baku with Turkish Airlines

We flew with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and the entire trip, including a three hour stopover took about 9 hours. I should add that Turkish is surprisingly good with entertainment screens at every seat and free food and drinks. On our return leg from Istanbul to Stockholm we flew in a widebody jet with even better standard and space.

When landed in Baku, we were struck of how nice the airport was. Clean, modern and with fast free wifi. The line to immigration wasn’t as great though and took about 40 minutes. I visited neighbouring Armenia last year, so they asked me about the stamp and where in Armenia I’d been before letting me in.

We had a pre-booked airport pick-up by our hotel, the surprisingly excellent Holiday Inn Baku. Since we landed at 5 in the morning, it was very nice to just jump into a pre-arranged car and be on our way, despite triple the price of an Uber which we later realised (it was still only about €20 though).

Arriving our hotel, our room wasn’t ready despite a confirmed early check in. To compensate, they offered us free breakfast, and of we went to our first taste of the Azeri cuisine.

Azeri (and international) breakfast at Holiday Inn Baku’s Marina restaurant

I’d read beforehand about Azeri breakfasts and was keen to try flatbreads with local Motar cheese and honey. Fortunately all were available so together with some other stuff like tasty vegetables, made-to-order omelettes and hummus we got to tick them off the list accompanied with a cup of tea before we went to pass out.

Turkish breakfast at The House Cafe Baku

The House Cafe Baku is located in the swanky Port Baku Mall, just across from our hotel, the Holiday Inn Baku. It might not be the most genuine of restaurants or breakfast places; but oh my good was this place good. We ordered a “big breakfast platter” that in reality meant that they covered our entire table with little platters and bowls of delicious stuff. There were feta cheese pastries, honey, local cheese, fresh veggies, bread, toast, clotted cream, nutella, olives, fried eggs, fried halloumi; coming to think of it – much like an ‘oriental’ afternoon tea. Oh yes, tea was included too, in fact two glasses each, encouraging watching the view and other people during a prolonged breakfast. Loved the place.

Firuze restaurant, Fountain Square Baku

Close to Baku’s beautiful old town is the Fountain Square, surrounded by Western chains such as Mcdonalds and KFC, as well as a few tourist traps according to rumour, and also a couple of really nice Azeri restaurants. By some reason they all (Narqiz, Firuze, Dolma) were located in cellars below ground. We tried two of them, the first being Firuze.

Lyulya kebab (minced lamb) with sliced raw onion on a lavash flatbread. In the background: choban salad with finely sliced cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, dill, olive oil and lemon juice.

A Central Asian staple is the plov. As I understand it, originally from Uzbekistan, this rice pilaf is eaten all over the region. The Azeri version was served with the rice and the meat/stew separately (in other countries everything is mixed like, say, an Indian biryani. The above plov featured falling-off-the-bone tender lamb, apricots, raisins, plums, quince juice and chestnuts, on top of fluffy, buttery rice.

We also tried their mangal salad (top left), which consists of coal baked vegetables that are roughly chopped and mixed with olive oil and lemon into a sort of a salad.

Our last dish at Firuze was qutab (top right): flatbreads stuffed with spinach, cheese or pumpkin and then fried. A bit like a quesadilla I guess. Very delicious too.

Price

All, washed down with one glass of local beer and one glass of local red wine each came out at roughly €25 in total.

Website (tripadvisor)

Dolma Restaurant, Fountain Square Baku

Dolma is, like Firuze, located in a basement without windows and hence the pictures aren’t that exciting – but luckily, we had our best meal of the trip here. Chicken Sadj (cooked on coals at the table), Turkish spicy Adana kebab, plov Sabriz with lamb, greens, tart plums and of course buttery rice. Also another round of my Azeri favourite; mangal with flatbreads. Hillside Prestige red wine to drink.

Price

Prices were again very affordable; we paid 45 Manat (~25€) for two persons with three drinks and four shared dishes.

Website

Sumakh Restaurant Baku

Doing research for the trip, Sumakh reappeared several times as one of the fanciest places in town if you wanted to eat local Azeri food. Owned by the Beat Group that has a couple of venues around town, it is definitely at least in part aimed at foreigners with an English website, with menu and all. The restaurant is quite nice, with a local feeling to it. Although fancier than the places mentioned above, it did not feel overly luxurious and prices were quite humane except for the beluga caviar starter below.

A short story: last year we went to Georgia, and upon returning to Sweden we had a spare €100 in Georgian Lari with us that we forgot to change. In Sweden they told us the bills were worthless due to an upcoming switch of bills in Georgia. We then took them to Frankfurt Airport on another trip, Moscow on another. We finally brought them to Baku, a year later, and said that if we’d be able to change them we’d have beluga caviar during our visit. And guess what…

Said and done, we ordered the Caspian Sea Beluga Black Caviar (~€60) and two shots of vodka. It felt very oligarchy, and extra cool being just a few blocks from the actual Caspian Sea. Dissapointingly though, I did not find it that spectacular taste wise. It was salty, fishy and had some extra bite to it compared to “regular” roe or caviar, but in my mind not warranting the price. It was served with local black bread, shaved butter and lemon which I did not really get either.

Fortunately, despite the slightly dissapointing caviar, the rest we had was great. The lyulya kebab above was incredibly crunchy on the crust, probably due to being wrapped in lamb fat before frying, and then yet very soft in the center. Totally delicious.

Mangal salad with coal baked tomatoes, flatbread and local red wine.

More delicious Azerbaijani plov pilaf.

Dolmas, tiny parcels with meat wrapped in vine leaves. Mmmm mmm. These dolmas were the best I’ve ever had.

Dushbere: small dumplings in a clear broth.

Fancy, but not posh. Sumakh offered a great dinner with tasty food, efficient service and relatively affordable experience. Not counting the €60 Beluga Caviar, our tab would’ve landed at €40 with vodka, wine and loooads of food. Now, in total, it came out at roughly €100.

Website

Wine tasting at Domaine Chandon in Yarra Valley

During our stay in Melbourne, we spent Christmas Eve, which is the big day in Sweden, with a trip to the nearby Yarra Valley for a bit of wine tasting. Instead of snow, heavy food and Disney’s Christmas there was lush scenery, actual heat and of course wine drinking.

Based on a recommendation we went to Domaine Chandon, which is owned by LVHM, that is Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy, eg. the French luxury conglomerate making fancy bags and of course the Moët Chandon champagne.

Splash tasting at Domaine Chandon

We opted to do a little tasting before having lunch, and paid I think $20 AUD each for a ‘splash tasting’ of five different wines – four bubbly and one red. Everyone quite delicious and we ended up buying a bottle of their blanc de blancs (eg. made with just chardonnay grapes) for our upcoming New Years Eve celebration.

After the tasting lunch was literally on the menu. We tried half of the dishes on their menu, and it was all delicious. Cheese and charcuterie boards, a trio of crostinis as well as a plate of crunchy fat chips with a good quality mayo. Paired with a glass of their aged cellar bubbly and a view over the vineyard this was another highlight of our visit, and sort of a must do if you’re visiting Melbourne.

My best ever fish and chips at Bridge Fish & Chips, Mordialloc

After five days of South East Asiaing in Singapore, it was time for the next destination. After a sort of painful red-eye flight, that was prolonged by a tropical thunderstorm, we found ourselves at the Mornington Peninsula, just outside of Melbourne, Australia.

As I have relatives there, Christmas in Australia was sort of the main goal for our trip, despite only spending five days there.

Anyway, after managing skybuses, commuter trains and finally some walking we ended up at my relatives’ house. Fortunately they had anticipated our state of mind, and fried food was on the agenda.

Close to where we stayed, there is Mordialloc. To me, it sounds like some vicious creature straight out of Harry Potter, but fortunately it’s a quite nice little suburb by the ocean that also happens to have a nice fish and chips shop. We opted for take away and brought a load of deep fried seafood goodies, chips and white Aussie and New Zealand wine and crashed down on a bench next to the ocean. It might’ve been reaching firm ground after the painful flight and all that, but this was the best fish and chips I have ever had. The calamari was ridiculous. Not even a bit chewy – soft meat, crunchy coating. The fish was flaky and with equally crunchy batter. The prawns, oh the prawns. Juicy, sweet and with a beautiful crispy coating as well. Great chips, tartare sauce (I love that stuff so much), a squeeze of lemon, and cold white wine. A red sunset for dessert. Couldn’t be much better.

Website (their page on Tripadvisor)

Meat-mayo-marrow mayhem at Burnt Ends Singapore

One of 2017s best meals was at Burnt Ends Singapore, sort of an Australia meats (sorry) United States-style barbecue restaurant – in Singapore! Ranked as 10 on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 best list, reservations is a must and we made ours a month or so in advance. We sat at the bar where dinner is enjoyed facing the open kitchen, and you are handed the dishes straight from the chefs while sipping cocktails and wine served by the waiters (that also serves food to the rest of the restaurant not sitting at the kitchen bar). A foodie dream more or less.

Above is the skirt steak with bone marrow and burnt onion. So rich, so good.

“Garlic shoots and gremolata”. A little bit like very thin asparagus served with a tart gremolata and a really nice mayo.

Burnt Ends’ Sanger with pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli in a brioche bun. Really decadent and delicious. Not very refined, but just plain tasty.

Beef marmalade and pickles”. Pulled beef-y marmalade with crunchy sweet and sour pickled cucumbers, on grilled sourdough smeared with mayo. So my kind of food and so delicious.

Price

Burnt Ends’ menu of the night to give you an indication of prices. We paid slightly over $200 (SGD) for two including a shared bottle of wine and water (there’s free tap water though which the servers ‘forgot’ to mention to us which was a bit annoying). Anyway, despite that a really nice dinner.

Website