Just a quick note to say that due to a low number of entries and a lack of internet access at my end (which is due to be fixed imminently – hurrah!) I’ve decided to extend the time for entries into this month’s Breakfast Club to Sunday 3 October, 6pm. This will hopefully give me some time to put something together too!
I was invited to go on a six-day culinary tour of Northern Sweden by Visit Sweden. Reading over the itinerary, a few words jumped out at me, words like “reindeer”, “bear”, “elk”, and “grouse”. I began to panic a little. Why had they invited me? I eat fish these days, but I hadn’t eaten meat from mammals or birds since I first went vegetarian about sixteen years ago.
Then I read a little further, and spotted words like “sustainable” and “organic”. That sounds a little more me, I thought. I’ve also recently been re-examining my views on vegetarianism. The whole issue is so much more complex than it appeared to my thirteen-year-old self. There are parts of the world where it is impossible to be vegetarian – vegetables just don’t necessarily exist. I recently read about the paradoxical Inuit diet – which consists mainly of seal meat, is high in fat and protein, and contains no vegetables, yet the Inuit are among the healthiest people in the world. Am I ethically opposed to the way they eat? No, I don’t think I am.
The diet of the Sami people in Lapland is not so different. The Sami have always lived in the far north of Scandinavia, where not much plant life grows and the main food is reindeer. The Sami were a nomadic people, following the reindeer migration. Nowadays they mainly live in villages and towns, but travel to their reindeer herds at least a couple of times a year first to mark the reindeer with the distinctive ear snips that mark ownership of every reindeer in Scandinavia, and second to slaughter the reindeer. The reindeer can depend on the Sami as much as the Sami depend on the reindeer – sometimes there is not enough food and the people must feed them with expensive pellets.
To me, it seemed that the reindeer and the people had evolved to live in perfect harmony with each other.
I learned all this at Nutti Sami Siida, near Kiruna, above the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden. First we met the reindeer:
Then we were ushered into a tent where smoked reindeer souvas were being cooked over an open fire.
The tables were beautifully set with lingonberry jam, lingonberry juice and flatbread.
The idea was to eat the smoked reindeer with some bread and a dollop of lingonberry jam. The moment of truth arrived. I still didn’t know whether I would try the reindeer or not. But already having established that I had no ethical objection to it, I felt it was something I should do, out of respect to our hosts to whom the reindeer mean everything. I only had a little bit, and it was fairly slathered with lingonberry jam, but it did taste good.
Afterwards we had Sami coffee, brewed on the fire:
And cloudberries with cream, in traditional Sami cups:
Our flight to Sweden was out of Terminal 5, which gave me a chance to return to Plane Food. Niamh had received an invitation to review the Best of British menu, part of a wider promotion throughout Heathrow’s food outlets. The menu offered two courses for £14.95 or three for £18.95.
Plane Food is what the name suggests: it is first and foremost an airport restaurant. And while the food is not “plain”, it is not complicated. Think good, simple ingredients cooked well, and quickly – as everyone who eats there has a plane to catch, after all. There is even a departures board in the restaurant so you can keep an eye on your flight.
I chose the beetroot and goat’s curd salad to start. The goat’s curd in particular was delicious. I also loved the two different colours of beetroot.
My second course was pan fried sea bream with wild garlic, spring onion mash and tomato dressing. The mash was of the Robuchon variety – it tasted like it was at least 50% butter and sinfully delicious. The inclusion of wild garlic was surprising as it is well out of season.
Dessert was lemon posset:
By this stage I could have done with about half that portion size and been completely satisfied. It was lovely though and that candied slice of lemon didn’t just make a good decoration, it was nice to eat too! By then it was time to make our way down to our flight. I skipped the BA sandwich.
I’ve just come back from a trip to Sweden. More on that very soon. While I wait for my pictures to upload, I’ll tell you about the beetroot chocolate brownies I made last week.
Two things happened:
1. I got my veg box from Riverford. Now, the previous week I had received plenty of beetroot. I like to grate beetroot and put it with some quinoa, salad leaves, smoked mackerel and toasted seeds for a wonderful superfood lunch. So I saved some of the beetroot for the next week. Unfortunately I wasn’t to know they had substituted the sweetcorn I was expecting with more beetroot. So I had a beetroot glut to deal with.
2. We had a coeliac visitor staying.
I remembered seeing a recipe from Riverford for beetroot chocolate brownies, so I looked it up. Upon reading it I realised it could very easily be made gluten free, as only the baking powder called for in the recipe contained gluten. Baking powder doesn’t need to contain gluten, the active ingredients are baking soda and cream of tartar, however these ingredients are usually combined with starch such as cornflour or potato starch. Luckily, I had baking soda and cream of tartar in the cupboard. If you don’t have cream of tartar you could always use a little vinegar. I used about a quarter of a teaspoon of each.
The brownies were delicious, no one thought they tasted gluten free and the texture was great. Not up there with my favourite brownie recipe, but good all the same. Our guests even took some to eat on the way back to Italy.
I had a big sort-out of my room the other day. I threw a lot of stuff out, built some new shelves, filed things, and generally turned my desk area into somewhere I can actually work.
The best thing about a tidy-up is the things you dig up. I found a copy of an old Marie Claire Idées on my bookshelf, started flicking through it to decide whether or not I should keep it, and found a recipe for Tian de tomates, courgettes et Sainte-Maure. I had some courgettes in the fridge needing to be used up, and a friend about to visit, so I thought it would make a lovely meal. Sainte-Maure is a little difficult to find in London so I used a Somerset goat’s cheese instead.
My friend Pip loved it so much she has been pestering me for the recipe, so here it is!
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 15 minutes
6 tomatoes (small, or 5 larger tomatoes – I didn’t use all the tomatoes)
1 Sainte-Maure goat’s cheese, or substitute this with a British goat’s cheese like I did
4 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic
100ml olive oil (I don’t think I used this much)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Chop the tomatoes, courgettes and cheese into rounds about 3mm thick. Finely slice the garlic. Oil the dish, then arrange the vegetables and cheese in the dish, alternating them. Put the sliced garlic between the vegetables. Pour some more olive oil over the top, sprinkle with thyme and put in the oven.
The tian is cooked when the courgettes are translucent and soft. Let it cool for a bit before serving. I recommend serving it with a crusty baguette.
Also, if anyone knows where I can get Marie Claire Idées in London please let me know!
Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.
This month it’s my turn to host Breakfast Club.
Each month one of us will choose a theme and then post the round up on the last Sunday of the month.
So far we’ve had:
You still have a few days to make some muffins and email Helen – I’m hoping to still find time to enter myself! I was planning on making English muffins, but I may make something different now. However that did get me thinking… So this month’s theme is British.
There are so many options here. English muffins, crumpets, Scotch pancakes, a full English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish, kippers, porridge, Marmite or marmalade on toast.
There’s going to be a breakfasty prize for this one – more info on that later! Entries close the last Sunday of the month, 26th September. I look forward to seeing what you all make.
Make breakfast inspired by the month’s theme, write about it (please include a link in your post to both hosts’ announcement or blog – Helen’s announcement is here)
Mail the host for the month, (sarah dot e dot moore at gmail dot com) with a link to your post, name of your blog and a photo (or link to your photo) by 6pm (UK time) on the 26th September.
If you do not have a blog send a recipe and photo to the month’s host who will include it in the round up.
Tell everyone – let’s inspire each other to make more interesting breakfasts!
ETA: we have a prize, people! Kellogg’s is running their National Breakfast Week promotion next week and have kindly offered us a lovely breakfast hamper to give away. We’ll be giving it to our favourite EU entrant by a completely impartial judging process which may involve the Kellogg’s people or may just involve random numbers. Either way I promise you don’t have to be a close personal friend to win. And look at those teacups!
ETA: Kellogg’s have just sent a link to their latest ad, which is kind of cute. My morning routine is somewhere between the two. I tend to eat my homemade granola with yoghurt (and recently, chopped strawberries) while I’m making my lunch.
Also, I’ve decided how the competition will run. I’m going to open it up to commenters on the round-up post (not this post). Anyone who enters a recipe will get 5 entries (which I will assign numbers to), commenters will get 1. Then I’ll use a random number to pick the winner – if the winner is someone outside the EU, I’ll keep picking random numbers until we have an EU winner. Clear as mud?