About mondomulia

Italian girl in London. Passionate about photography, baking, coffee, photography & travels. Visit my food & travel blog Mondomulia.

Shakshuka from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty Cookbook

I am really bad with cookbooks: I love them, but I never seem to find the time to use them. How nice would it be to have a pantry full of all the possible ingredients, then pick up a recipe at random and say “today I am going to cook / bake this!”.

The reality is that I am always busy and running around so my meal planning consists in whatsapping my husband at 6pm asking “what do you want for dinner?”. In 4 years of living together, he answered the question only a couple of times with something vague like “pasta?” (and a question mark to imply that he doesn’t really care, I can cook whatever I want). Yet I keep asking the question, it makes me feel like I’m not the one making the all food decisions in the house! ;)

Anyway, long story short: last Saturday I decided to spend the day at home working on my blog, but then – like the great procrastinator that I am – I started thinking about baking a cake. I looked for a baking recipe on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook (spoiler: there aren’t any baking recipes) and this Shakshuka caught my attention.

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-13

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-17 Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-18

I love middle eastern cuisine, which is becoming very popular here in London thanks to Ottolenghi’s recipes, restaurants like Honey & Co., Palomar and Arabica, and cookbooks like Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour.

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-2 Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-9

Also, my husband and I have started the #Whole30 program yesterday, so I’m on the lookout for exciting ways of cooking with eggs. Although this recipe is not strictly paleo or suitable for the Whole30 program because of the vegetable oil and muscovado sugar, it can be easily adapted for it.

This Shakshuka was a success and I’m certainly going to make it again. Having a lazy weekend brunch at home is such a treat, especially when you have a lovely husband that prepares you a delicious cup of coffee!

Chemex-Coffee Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-5

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 yellow and 1 red peppers, cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • salt
  • pepper

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-1

Preparation

In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes.

Onions

Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.

Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The original recipe says to add water at this stage to obtain a pasta sauce consistency, but my tomatoes were already watery so I didn’t feel the need to add more liquid.

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-Peppers

Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.

Turn the heat to medium, then make gaps in the pepper mix and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pan with a lid.

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-11 Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-12

Cook on a very gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Mine were slightly overcooked with the yolk half-boiled rather than still runny.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-14

Shakshuka-Recipe-Ottolenghi-16

A Long Weekend in Nice, Côte d’Azur

Earlier this week I migrated my blog to WordPress, the platform where I originally opened it in 2012 before moving to Overblog for two years. You might notice a few differences in the layout, but hopefully they won’t bother you too much. I am working on a blog re-launch, so hopefully Mondomulia will have a brand new layout soon!

As I was going through my old WordPress blog the other night, I found an old post saved in drafts which I had never published and completely forgotten about! The post is about a long weekend trip to Nice, in Côte d’Azur, which we took just before getting married. It was a lovely trip and I am so happy to share the photos with you today.

A week before our London wedding, Sandy and I escaped to the Côte d’Azur for a relaxing long weekend. I always take advantage of bank holiday Mondays to travel to the English countryside or to Europe, so I planned this short trip to France months in advance, before flights and hotels became too expensive. Still, it was not a cheap trip, despite trying to keep it low cost.

I booked a lovely charming beautiful apartment on AirBNB. It was my first experience booking through this site and it was an all-round great one too! We departed on Friday after work, reached Nice airport and after a short bus ride we were in the city centre and at our apartment.

On Saturday morning, we lazily slept in, only to be woken up around 10am by the sun light and chatters coming from the street. First thing I did, was walking down to the nearest boulangerie and buy fresh pain au chocolat! Ohhh, la belle vie! :)

I also bought fresh fruit every morning: figs, peaches, apricots, bananas. It’s so good to eat tasty and fresh fruit!

We had breakfast in the flat, the kitchen was a bijoux, so cute and perfect.

The plan for the day was to visit St Paul de Vence. We took a bus from Nice city centre and after a long ride (1h30′) we arrived at the small hill town.

A city of artists and famous for the local production of olive oil and lavender.

In the afternoon we took the bus back to Nice, getting off at the promenade beach to dive into the water and get off the day’s heat. The beach of Nice is not the prettiest, but it is free and within walking distance from pretty much anywhere.

Dinner was at a really good wine bar and brasserie in the city centre (unfortunately since it was two years ago I can’t remember the name anymore)!

The second day of our holiday was dedicated to the beach and to getting tanned! After a “healthy” and fulfilling breakfast at home, we took the bus to St Jean Cap Ferrat. Our intended destination was the Paloma beach, but it was very crowded and the nearby beach was less so, hence we settled there.

Still it was a stunning beach, look at that view!

On Sunday evening I was determined to have Socca for dinner, the chickpea flatbread that is traditional of this region (a similar dish can be found in Italy’s Liguria and Tuscany regions). But we got delayed after going for a long 14km run on the promenade, so by the time we reached the famous Chez Pipo restaurant, the kitchen was closed! :( We had a forgettable dinner in a touristic restaurant in Nice old town, but the night was saved by a cone of my favourite Speculoos ice-cream at Fenocchio.

On Monday, we packed our bags, sadly waved goodbye to the lovely AirBNB apartment, and walked to the train station to leave our bags in the station lockers. We then took the train to Cannes.

There we took the ferry to Isle St Marguerite, only after stopping to buy Speculoos macarons!

Isle St Marguerite is a beautiful destination for a beach day, we didn’t have our swim suits bu we still enjoyed walking around the island and in the pine woods.

After a few hours, we took the ferry and train to Nice and then flew back to London where we got married a few days later… :)

 

“Be The Barista” with Selfridges London

Specialty coffee shops are taking over London and all over the world many cities are ridong the same wave. The UK media are catching up too, so what was a niche trend now is turning into a global phenomenon.

One thing is clear: being a coffee connoisseur is a trend, Britain is now a nation of coffee drinkers, customers are better educated about coffee and more people want to learn how to brew the perfect cup at home!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

For years I have used the same supermarket coffee blend and a Bialetti stove pot. Nowadays I like to have multiple coffee choices: from freshly roasted specialty espresso blends to single origin coffees; from espressos to filters.

My husband is even more of a coffee geek than I am, so between the two of us we now have a range of brewing devices at home: a stove pot, an aeropress, the Hario v60 and a chemex (and the Hario Buono Drip Kettle).

The latest addition to our coffee makers’ collection is the ROK espresso maker.

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

The ROK is “a finely engineered gearing that lowers the piston to generate the pressure to extract the coffee oils to create the perfect espresso”. It’s a simple machine that works without electricity: just the power of your arms!

I received a ROK espresso maker from Selfridges London as part of their campaign Be The Barista and for the past week my husband has been experimenting with it. I just let him practice with the ROK, while I’m enjoy having my breakfast coffee served to me every morning! I hope this new routine lasts! ;)

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

 

“The Selfridges campaign celebrates the art of specialty coffee, and being able to create coffee shop quality at home. From artisanal coffee masterclasses and demonstrations of essential coffee-making equipment and accessories to amazing bean-to-cup coffee machines, discover a world dedicated to coffee.”

 

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Making the perfect espresso with the ROK requires practice, so allow some time to master the machine. There are also many other variables to a good coffee: the quality of the beans, the freshness of the roast, the coffee grounds, the right water temperature and brewing time.

For the ROK machine you need coffee grounds suitable for espresso (not too coarse or the water will pass through too easily, not too fine or it will be very hard to push the arms down). I usually buy fresh roasted coffee online at Pact Coffee, a London-based roasters and monthly subscription service*.

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Fill the ROK cylinder with hot water, lift the handles and then push them downwards in a firm, smooth motion. Hold them down until all the water has been extracted (this should take between 20 and 30 seconds). Your double espresso is ready!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Making good coffee at home is a priority for us and the day cannot start without it!

Whether it’s an espresso or a milk-based coffee drink, we can use the ROK to make a good coffee. As I said, it requires a bit of practice and it’s not as straight-forward as using a stove pot, but I’m confident we will master it soon and learn how to create a good espresso crema!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

As part of the Be The Barista campaign, Selfridges have partnered with Origin Coffee Roasters to hold weekly coffee masterclasses in their store, in the “Cookshop” area on the lower ground. You can buy tickets online or in store.

Disclaimer: I received from Selfridges a complimentary ROK machine. All opinions are my own.

*If you live in the UK and want to try Pact Coffee, you can buy your first bag for only £1 using the code GIULIA-3DB5SG. Full disclosure: I paid for the coffee and this is not a sponsored post for Pact, but if three friends use this discount code I will get a limited edition t-shirt. You can get it too, if you introduce three friends to Pact Coffee.

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Travelling is one of my biggest passions, something I have always loved doing since I was young. I guess I have to thank my family for it! I have always had a curiosity for different cities and countries or even just exploring my own city, discovering new neighbourhoods, learning how to get around and meeting locals. Every time I see a new place, I feel like I have learnt something new.

The challenge when you are young is finding the money or when you are my age is finding the time to keep travelling. Visiting new destinations but also revisiting places which you have been to and loved.

I was nominated by Make New Tracks to write this post as part of the Booked.net Top Destinations to Go There challenge, so I have shortlisted five countries or cities that I would love to go back to, for different reasons.

Here are My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To:

NEW ZEALAND

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Number 1 on my list has to be New Zealand! I fell in love utterly and completely with this country in the three weeks I visited it last December. I blogged about it as soon as I came back, so you can really feel my love in this post.

Me and my husband spent three weeks travelling across the north and south islands in a campervan, but we could only see a fraction of what this country has to offer. There are so many places we had to skip, often driving through them without stopping, like Bay of Plenty, Marlborough vineyards, Fiordland.

I'd love to go back for two months at least and explore New Zealand at a slower pace, spending days camping and just, relaxing, eating amazing food and just enjoying the view! :)

 

TOKYO

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Visiting Tokyo was my dream, so when the chance came up to go there for a week with some friends, I took it immediately. My friends and I were really into street and portrait photography at the time and we just went crazy shooting the city with its street lights, skyscrapers and millions of people.

Tokyo is the coolest, craziest, most beautiful and mesmerizing cities I've ever seen. Photography-wise, I never felt more inspired and amazed by a city in my entire life. Words can't describe it. I shared this experience with a close friend and I will treasure forever the memories from this trip.

I was also lucky to stay in a flat with a good friend of mine, Japanese, who was living in Tokyo back then, so I could experience living in Tokyo – even if only for a few days.

I would love to go back to Tokyo for a longer time and live in the city for real. And start learning Japanese again!

 

GOA

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Goa, just because…honeymoon!

After my Indian wedding in Mumbai, my husband and I went to Agonda Beach in south Goa for three days with our brother/sister and our best friends who had come to India for our wedding.

After the stress of the wedding, I was so grateful to leave Mumbai and spend three days on the beach with absolutely nothing to do, apart from eating, chatting to my best friends and laying on the beach! I also found the locals to be friendly and the food was great!

I am not the type of person who spends holidays on the beach relaxing, I can't stop for too long. My curiosity always make me want to explore new places! But this time I really needed to stop and Goa was the perfect place to just disconnect from everything and live in the moment.

 

COPENHAGEN

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Copenhagen is a city that surprised me a lot and I would love to go back there with my husband. I didn't expect to fall in love with this city, I went there last year to meet my best friend and spend a few days together. Copenhagen was one of the few European cities that neither of us had been to yet.

The city itself is beautiful, with lots of green areas and water sides. It's young, cool, trendy, and I got the feeling that the quality of life must be high.

The food and coffee was amazing and yes, it was expensive, but not so much if you compare it to London. Anyway, I'm hoping to go back soon for another weekend and next time I will make sure to hire a bicycle!

 

ICELAND

My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To
My Top 5 Travel Destinations to Go Back To

Iceland is becoming a trendy destination, I always see photos of it on my Instagram feeds! Maybe through social media more people are realizing how much this country has to offer.

I really enjoyed the quiet and stillness of life in Iceland. We didn't meet many Icelandic people, the country has a small population after all, but the few that we spoke to were friendly and kind.

The scenery was breath-taking and quiet diverse between south and north of the island. The natural pools were amazing to relax my muscles after driving for hours every day. The capital city, Reykjavik, is charming and lively, with cozy cafes and nice shops.

I would love to revisit Iceland in winter, to see the country under the snow and with a bit of luck see the Northern Lights too!

Hiking at the glacier in Mount Cook, New Zealand

Hiking at the glacier in Mount Cook, New Zealand

I hope you enjoyed this post about my top five destinations to revisit. What are the cities where you would go back to any day?

I nominate five other bloggers to take part to the Top Destinations to Go There challenge:

 

 

A Cocktail Masterclass at Kettner’s

This post is about a cocktail masterclass my husband and I were invited to attend at Kettner's last month. And also about how we won a prize for creating the best cocktail of the evening! Let me explain…

My triumphant husband Sandy with all the competition cocktails

My triumphant husband Sandy with all the competition cocktails

The event was organized by Surgery PR to promote Kettner's, an all day brasserie and cocktail bar located in a Grade II listed building in Soho.

Originally a series of four Georgian town houses, Kettner’s was first opened as a restaurant by Auguste Kettner, (chef to Napoleon III) in 1867. Popular with deliciously colourful characters of the time including Oscar Wilde, Edward VII, Lillie Langtry, Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby, Kettner’s was renowned for hosting incredibly risqué parties.

Official Website

The masterclass was conducted by Kettner's bar manager Jason Palmer, a charismatic and skillful mixologist. During the class we learnt how to create four classic cocktails: Old Fashioned, Mojito, Martini and Porn Star Martini.

Jason gave us a demonstration of how to prepare the different cocktails, but he also explaining the history of each one of them, with fun anecdotes that kept our attention up.

The Old Fashioned was the most complicated cocktail, as it required 9-10 minutes to make. This time is necessary to let the brown sugar completely dissolve in the drink. You can cheat by soaking the sugar cube in angostura and orange bitters, hence cutting a few minutes off the preparation time.

Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

The Mojito is one of the world's most popular cocktail, but to get it right you need to balance its flavours correctly: the strong liquor and the sweet, sour, bitter and herbaceous notes. That's why it's the best cocktail to judge how good a barman is: the art of mixology is about balance!

Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.

Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.

There are a number of techniques for making Martini (shaken, stirred, thrown) and variations on the traditional recipe. When you order one at a bar, you should be asked to choose the spirit, the vermouth and the garnish.

Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.

Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.

The Porn Star Martini is a relatively recent creation, a decadent mix of passion fruit and vodka served in a chilled glass with a shot of champagne on the side. It's a Soho cocktail classic, invented around the corner from Kettner's in honour of Paul Raymond, "The King of Soho".

Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.
Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.
Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.

Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.

At the end of the masterclass, each guests was asked to create its very own cocktail which was then rated out of 10 by a judges' panel. And as you already know, we won the first prize: a gin distillery kit!

I take the merit for the cocktail presentation, but the recipe was created and executed entirely by my husband Sandy. He used our favourite cocktail ingredient, elderflower cordial, and built the drink around it. We named it the Sunflower!

It was delicious and I can't wait for Sandy to prepare one for me again!

Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

If you are curious, here's the recipe:

  • 50ml Elderflower Cordial
  • 5ml Orange bitter
  • 75ml Vodka
  • 3 to 5 Lemon/Lime drops
  • 1/2 Passion fruit
  • 10ml Vanilla Syrup
  • a splash of lime juice

Thanks a lot to James and his assistant for the lesson and the invaluable tips we learnt during the masterclass!

A Cocktail Masterclass at Kettner's

Disclaimer: we were guests of Surgery PR and Kettner's. All opinions are my own.

Kettner's on Urbanspoon

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

My in-laws (who live in Mumbai) have been staying with us for a few weeks now and as you can imagine it's been challenging. Sharing your home with elderly people who come from a completely different cultural background, have strict eating habits (they are vegetarian and are used to only eat Gujarati food) and with whom you can barely communicate in English and hand signs, is not easy.

The other difficulty has been finding ways to keep my parents-in-law entertained in a city they don't feel capable to explore on their own. They spend most of the week at home, so the pressure is on to make the weekends count.

Since the main activities my mother-in-law does everyday is cooking vegetarian dishes, I suggested to my husband to take her to a PYO farm to pick fruits and vegetables. And guess what? She was the happiest I have ever seen her!

My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)
My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)

My husband had a lot of fun too! ;)

I went to a PYO farm in Buckinghamshire last summer and I absolutely loved it. This time though we went to a farm closer to home: Garsons Farm in Esher, Surrey. They have an incredible range of fruits and vegetables to pick: apples, raspberries, blackberries, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, sweetcorn and even sunflowers!

We picked a lot of Victoria Plums too, which were in season and incredibly juicy and sweet!

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

When we arrived back home that evening, with ten bags full of fruits and vegs, I immediately used the plums to make jam. For the preparation I followed a recipe from Thane Prince Perfect Preserves book which was published on Metro last month, though for the ingredients I followed my mum's recipe (less sugar and no added water). We used to have a plum tree back home in Rome and my mum would make kilos of jam every summer, I love her Plum jam!

I wanted to use my plum jam for a cake, but I couldn't decide on a right recipe. Finally this weekend I picked up the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook from my bookshelf and found Deb's Raspberry Chocolate Rugelach recipe.

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

Rugelach are tiny crescent-shaped rolled pastries traditional in Jewish cooking. The name literally means "little twists" in Yiddish. They are made with a cream cheese dough and can be filled with preserves, chocolate, raisin, nuts, or just sugar.

It was perfect for my needs, so I decided to adapt it using my plum jam, replacing white flour with spelt and removing the chocolate chips from the filling.

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam
Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

Ingredients

For the plum jam

  • 900g plums (washed, stoned and quartered)
  • 550g sugar

For the dough (yields 48 rugelach)

  • 230g butter, softened
  • 230g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 200g spelt flour
  • 50g plain flour (plus more for dusting)

For the filling

  • 300g plum jam
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 3 tbsp pecans, roughly chopped

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp water

Decoration

  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam
Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

Preparation

Make the jam a day in advance. Place a pan with plums over moderate heat and cover with the lid. Bring to a simmer and, stirring from time to time, cook until softened for about ten minutes.

Turn the heat to very low, remove the lid from the pan and add the sugar. Stir until has completely dissolved. Increase the heat to a boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the jam has reached setting point.

Leave to cool for five minutes, then pot into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark place.

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam
Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add flour, sugar and salt and beat on a lower speed until well combined. Wrap the dough into a large piece of cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare your three fillings: heat the jam in a small saucepan until it simmers, then set aside. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop the pecans.

Divide the chilled dough into three equal parts (keep two part in the fridge while you work on the first one).

On a well-floured counter, roll the dough into a large, thin circle about 30cm in diameter. Spread three tablespoons of jam across the dough, then sprinkle three spoons of cinnamon sugar and one of chopped nuts.

Using a pastry cutting wheel, cut the dough into sixteen equal pieces. From the outside of the dough, into the tip of the triangle, roll each section of the dough.

Transfer the rugelach to an oven tray lined with baking paper and space them 2.5cm apart. Place the tray in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Before baking, brush the rugelach with the egg yolk wash. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown and puffed.

Transfer them to a cooling rack while they are still hot, to avoid them sticking to the paper.

Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam
Spelt Rugelach with Homemade Plum Jam

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland): I love them. I only started discovering them three years ago, with my husband, and we both fell in love with the culture, the people, the scenery and the food. I haven't seen a lot of them and I haven't been to Finland yet, but I am slowly and steadily exploring these countries as often as I can.

Last June, taking advantage of low-cost flights and a close-to-expiry Schengen visa (my husband's), we booked a weekend trip to Gothenburg, Sweden with plan to celebrate Midsummer in the Swedish way.

View of Gothenburg from Masthugget Church.

View of Gothenburg from Masthugget Church.

Midsummer / Midsommar is one of the most important holidays in Sweden and for many it marks the start of the five-week long summer holidays.

The successful midsummer never-ending party formula involves flowers in your hair, dancing around a pole, singing songs while drinking unsweetened, flavoured schnapps and downing a whole load of pickled herring, sill served with delightful new potatoes, chives and sour cream. All in all? A grand day out.

Visit Sweden website

Midsummer Eve is usually celebrated in the countryside, so the day before everyone leaves town, everything closes and the city streets are deserted.

The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.
The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.
The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.
The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.
The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.

The Midsommar maypole at The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best-preserved 19th century parks in Europe.

As we were going to land in Gothenburg late on Friday evening, we actually missed the celebrations, but we had a wonderful Couchsurfing host who cooked for us a Midsummer dinner the next day. I had not used Couchsurfing in a few years, but in this occasion it seemed the perfect way to discover Gothenburg in the short time we had available.

We were really lucky to have our couch request accepted by My, an incredible host who was happy to welcome us into her high-rise flat on the outskirts of the city and spend the weekend with us.

My stayed up late to wait for us (with mugs of steaming tea and homemade bread) on Friday night. The following two days she showed us around Gothenburg (when she wasn't working), told us stories about the city and took us to Café Husaren to eat the world's biggest cinnamon rolls!

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

On Saturday evening I helped My preparing our Midsommar dinner and she taught me how to prepare traditional Swedish dishes, like the Smörgåstårta (Sandwich Cake)!

I am so grateful to have met My – a smart funny generous girl! Our trip to Gothenburg would not have been so great without her. The city was deserted that weekend, but we got to spend time with our new friend and learn a bit about Swedish culture and traditions! In true Couchsurfing style!

Of course, it was a shame that I didn't get to visit the city's best restaurants and shops. Saluhallen, the biggest indoor market in town, and Feskekôrka (‘fish church’ in Swedish) were both closed all weekend.

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

The coffee shops I wanted to visit were also closed for the holidays, except for Da Matteo, Gothenburg's most famous specialty coffee chain. Its three branches were open on Saturday and Sunday, so we spent quite a lot of time there (more on this in another post soon).

We made the most of the empty roads, zero traffic and lack of tourists by hiring two Styr & Ställ city bikes and riding in the city centre and around the fascinating harbour with traditional shipyards.

The Port of Gothenburg is the largest port in the Nordic countries (with over 11,000 ship visits per year from over 140 destinations worldwide) so obviously it plays a big role in shaping the city. It's not only a commercial site, but also an entertainment destination with restaurants, shops and museums.

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

From an architectural point of view, Gothenburg is a varied city with multiple faces. From the industrial look of the port area to the big boulevards which reminded me of Paris; from the cobbled streets of Haga to the wooden county governor houses of Majorna.

We cycled and walked a lot during the weekend, trying to see as much as possible of this pretty city. I loved the old neighbourhood of Haga, though it was a shame that its pretty vintage shops were closed when we visited (good for my finances though!).

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

While Saturday we got caught in a downpour, Sunday was sunny and warm all day. We spent the morning at Da Matteo in Magasinsgatan, sitting in the courtyard and busking in the sun.

We went for a walk along the canal and then to Vallgatan and Kungsgatan, the heart of Gothenburg's shopping, where most shops were open and we bought Scandi style home and baking accessories.

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

We had sandwiches for breakfast at Da Matteo, so we skipped lunch in favour of coffee and cake at Konditori Brogyllen, a traditional coffee house and bakery located near the Gothenburg Cathedral and with outdoor seating with a view of the canal. I had the best Cinnamon and Cardamon Buns there!

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

Afterwards we met up with our host My who took us for a walk on Kungsportsavenyen, Gothenburg's main boulevard, and to see the Statue of Poseidon by Carl Milles, one of the city's most famous landmarks, on Götaplatsen.

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden

As we were flying back to London that evening, we looked out at the plane window to look at the midnight sunset and waved goodbye at the beautiful Swedish country.

Until the next trip…

Midsummer in Gothenburg, Sweden