Pre-Birthday Balcony Party

For the first time in a very long while, I organized a little pre birthday get together for a small group of girlfriends. We haven’t gotten together in quite some time, so it felt amazing to just eat some canapes, have girl talk and enjoy a little bubbly. It’s my birthday next week, so this time around I love to organize a little celebration. It was an amazing sunny day, so we spent the majority of the time enjoying the heat on the balcony amongst all my growing flowers.  Apple trees are in full blossom, lilacs are starting to bloom and peonies are looking their best. We have officially opened rosé season and summer is at it’s best. Spending time with these ladies is always amazing, but especially now after much isolation, getting together felt even more special.

Smoked salmon on a small “blini” with a sage cream cheese topping

How to make mini blinis

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1 cup milk

Mix everything together until it forms a thick batter. Cook “tablespoons” of batter on a non-stick pan over medium heat until the surface starts to bubble. Flip over and voilá, little blinis are formed! Let them cool before adding the toppings. If the batter looks too thin, add more milk and if it looks too thin, add more flour.

Blini Toppings

  • 1 packet cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon pesto
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • Smoked salmon slices

For the topping, make a cream cheese filling. Basically, mix together some cream cheese, finely chopped sage and a tablespoon of pesto from the jar. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a slice of smoked salmon on top and garnish with baby arugula and black pepper.

Gratinated mussels with a garlic chili butter

Puff pastry shrimp cocktail

To make the puff pastry:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400F)

On a lightly floured surface, place the (defrosted) sheet of puff pastry om top. I used a rectangular shape puff pastry sheet (that has many sheets in the packet) that needs no rolling. 1 rectangle sheet makes 1 puff pastry.

You need 2 cookie cutters (one larger, one smaller). Using the larger one, cut out circles from your puff pastry. Using a smaller cookie cutter gently mark half of the pastry circles making sure not to cut all the way through. Brush the unmarked pastry circles with a beaten egg. Place the marked circles on top of unmarked circles and brush again with an egg. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 – 23 minutes until the puff pastry has risen and turned golden. Using a tip of a sharp knife, gently cut out caps from the pastry and dig out a little bit of pastry to make some room for the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup chopped shrimps
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Pinch of Salt/pepper
  • Garnish: baby arugula and seaweed/ fish roe

Mix everything in a bowl and add a generous spoonful into each puff pastry as they have cooled down. Garnish with black pepper, baby arugula leaves and a spoonful of seaweed roe.

Ladies Crayfish Night

‘It was an epic party that lasted till 4am’

“Helan går Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej”… as we toasted to the end of summer with our snaps!

A few Saturday’s ago we had such a fun crayfish party with some lovely ladies at our place! We decided that I would whip up the menu, so with the cray fish I served; beetroot canape with a limoncello ginger cocktail, an earthy black trumpet soup and a berry caramel pavlova with lemon cream. We had an epic night, one of our friends came all the way from London so it was lovely to just talk and dance the entire evening. We sang Helan går (swedish snaps song) with snaps and ended the night with dancing on the chairs! We had so much fun that we only left to town at 01.00 where the night continued till the early hours of dawn! What an amazing group of ladies! You know it’s a successful party when everyone accidentally coordinates on clothing hues that also match the colour of the wine. I thought I would share some of these easy recipes with you if you are planning on throwing a dinner or a crayfish party any time soon! Have an amazing weekend darlings!

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Lemon Ginger Concentration

  • chunk of Ginger
  • 2 juice of lemons
  • drizzle of cold water

Blend together into a liquid in a blender

To make the cocktail, add plenty of ice in a glass, some limoncello, a bit of the ginger lemon concentration & sparkling water. Garnish with thyme twigs.

‘Amuse-bouche, beetroot blinis topped with spicy beetroot humus’

Beetroot Paste:

  • 2 beetroot (pre cooked)
  • 1 garlic
  • 1 onion
  • drizzle of cream
  • butter/salt/pepper/chicken stock cube

Garnish: beetroot humus, lemon zest, sesame seeds

Add some butter into a saucepan. Add the roughly chopped beetroot, garlic and onion and let it gently cook for about 7 minutes. Add a bit of cream and part of a chicken stock cube and let it cook so the cream reduces a bit. With a hand-held blender, blitz the mixture into a soft paste. This part is optional, but I still strained the paste through a sieve to make it totally smooth. Let it cool.

Make the blini batter:

In a large bowl, add 4 egg yolks (I only used yolks, since I used the whites already for a pavlova base), 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking power, a pinch of salt and mix it all together with the beetroot paste. The batter should be quite dense and leave it to rest for an hour or so.

Ready to fry: Add little dollops of butter onto a non-stick pan and cook a few minutes on both sides. The texture should be airy and fluffy. Let it cool. Once the blini is ready to be served, add a dollop of beet humus on top, add chili, sesame seeds and lemon zest.

Find the recipe for the beetroot humus here

Cooked cray fish delivery arrived home in this dill salt water bucket: Beautiful +13cm sized crayfish with lovely large claws! yum!

‘Earthy Black Trumpet mushroom soup’ (serves 6)

  • 1 litre of black trumpet mushrooms
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6dl cream
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • salt/pepper/ oregano

garnish: toasted cashew nuts, parsley, black pepper

Begin by finely chopping the vegetables (carrot, parsnip, shallots, garlic). In a heavy saucepan, add a generous amount of butter. Let it heat and add in the roughly chopped black trumpet mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes so they release some juices before adding the vegetables. Cook gently with the lid partly on for about 10 minutes. Add the cream, chick stock, salt, pepper and a few twigs of oregano. Let it gently simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and blend the soup with a handheld blender into smooth brown texture. Place back on low heat and add the parmesan. Check for flavour and reheat once ready to be served.

For toppings, I toasted some roughly chopped cashew nuts and sunflower seeds in a bit of salt, added more black pepper and sprinkles of parsley/lemon zest.

 

 

‘Summer Berry Pavlova with lemon cream & salty caramel’

Pavlova base

  • 4 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • about 6 drops of red food colouring

Pre heat oven 125c (circulation air mode)

Whisk the egg whites and salt together with an electric whisk until small peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar until the mixture turns a white glossy colour and becomes stiff. Mix together the cornstarch, food colouring vinegar and vanilla extract and gently fold it into the merengue. Scoop the merengue into a circular shape onto a baking tray with baking paper on it. (I made a circle of 20cm and made the merengue quite thick) Place into the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once ready, turn the oven off and leave it to rest in the oven for a remaining 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

Caramel Filling
  • roughly 180 ml cream
  • 100g butter
  • 330g regular sugar
  • 125ml water
1. Add the butter and cream into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Place the sugar and water in another small saucepan over high heat and bring to boil. Boil WITHOUT stirring until the mixture becomes a deep golden colour. Be patient and keep a close eye to it, you can begin to smell the caramel, the deeper the colour the more intense the flavour. However, make sure if does not burn as this gives a nasty flavour to the caramel. Some use a candy thermometer for this, but I did not have one and played by eye and it worked perfectly.
3. Remove from the heat when the colour is golden and immediately add the butter/cream mixture in a thin steady stream. Place the pan back onto the stove and stir for another 5 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Then pour it in a bowl and leave it to rest so it cools to room temperature.
Lemon Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

With an electric mixer, whip the cream until it thickens. Gradually mix in sugar and lemon juice and beat until soft peaks form. Fold in lemon zest and refrigerate for up to a few hours.

Garnishing for Pavlova

  • suffeli cookies
  • gooseberries
  • blueberries
  • lemon zest

Ready to make the Pavlova: On top of the base, drizzle some caramel, crunch in some of your favourite cookies or chocolate, I used airy waffle chocolate cookies (suffeli) and add the lemon whipped cream on top. Garnish with lots of blueberries, gooseberries and lemon zest.

 

 

Golden Hour Gondola Ride

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The gondola used to be the city’s main transport mode back before boats were in favour and today it is really aimed more for a leisurely experience.

Possibly the most recognizable (and cliché) symbol of Venice, a gondola ride is a fun experience for a first timer in Venice. I’m not sure I would need to do it again, but it was worth it to catch the views from a perspective so close to water. I would definitely suggest a ride either really early in the morning or evening when the sun starts to show signs of the golden hour and when there are fewer people around. It really was a soothing experience, where we gently rocked back and forth with the waves and you see the water lapping against the old stone walls as we glide by. With our appetites growing, it was interesting to study the erosion from the water on walls and see so many doorsteps beneath the water. I loved seeing the mythical symbols above doors and catch a glimpse of secret gardens and the sweetest balconies.  We pass tiny beautiful streets where the walls start to turn more golden as time drifts by and we observe the peaceful life the evening offers us. We pass hidden piazzas, wooden boats, hear noise from kitchens that are prepping for dinner, pass the back sides of restaurant salons and end our journey at Da Ivo, where our table awaits.

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‘Birthday Treats’

 

 

‘A June party requires wild flowers or a great set of peonies & homemade treats’

What an amazing birthday it was this year! First my hubby and I celebrated traditionally in Southern Finland in Hanko and on my actually birthday my day started with a delivery of my favourite flowers, aka peonies and an espresso in bed. Flowers make me so happy, its ridiculous. I later collected a bunch of wildflowers from meadows and had a little rosé party for my closest girlfriends. Of course I made another semi-naked cake (find recipe here)  although this time it had more layers and the filling was a mixture of white chocolate, raspberry curd and butter cream frosting. I attempted to make macarons 3 times, meaning that I possibly made 100 pieces and failed every single time! Although all my friends said they tasted purely amazing, visually they did not look like macarons. I have a feeling the problem was that I did not have a scale and perhaps my eggs weren’t aged enough. Or then I over whipped or under whipped the meringue but never managed to get the feet on them. I will share this recipe later on as they tasted super anyways.

The day was spectacular, surrounded with friends in a glorious white jumpsuit and lots of great moments throughout the day. June is at its end, garden parties and picnics are big at the moment, midsummer is in a few days, so I wanted to share some easy delights with you. If you are celebrating midsummer, the cake will be spectacular front and centre in the table while the little canapes are always welcome at any given party. The salad cups are perfect for a picnic that can be washed with homemade Bellinis. In June, pick a lot of wild flowers that are in full bloom at the moment or treat yourself to an amazing bouquet of peonies, as they are in season. Serve pale rosé from Provence, use a touch of highlighter to extenuate your sun-kissed skin and move your party outdoors, when ever its possible!

 

ps. the little tassels on the right are from Venice, just had to sneak in a picture of them as they are so beautiful

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Find the Thyme Bellini recipe here

Canape Recipes

Parma ham Peach puree  Canape

  • parma ham
  • tiny green mimosa leaves
  • peach puree (I used the excess puree from the bellinis I made but of course you can buy store-bought)
  • salt/pepper
  • capers
  • herb flavoured cream cheese

Caramelized apricot Paté Canape

  • caramelized apricots (dollop butter, teaspoon rosemary, 1 grated garlic, 1-2 tablespoons honey)
  • paté of choice
  • tiny green leaves
  • salt/pepper

For the base for both canape: slice some rustic baguette into thin slices and fry on a pan with some oil. Sprinkle with salt while still warm and leave to cool on a kitchen towel. This can be down a day before if you are limited to time.

For the parma ham canape. Begin by making the peach puree. I actually was making home-made bellini’s and during the sifting process you are left with a “mush of thyme peach puree”.  I saved the mush for these canapes. Find the recipe here: Peach puree form Bellini. Once the puree is cooled, begin by assembling the mini toast. Place cream cheese on the bottom, add a slice of parma ham and a little spoonful of peach puree in the centre. Garnish with tiny green leaves and grind black pepper on top.

For the paté canape: Begin by making the caramelized apricots. In a heated pan add a bunch of halved apricots, finely chop rosemary, grated garlic and a dollop of butter. Cook gently so all the juices are released and add a few tablespoons of honey. Let them caramelize and once ready, leave to the side to cool. sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. To make the toast, spread some pate first. Add an apricot on top, some black pepper and little green leaves.

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Find the recipe for these mini blinis here

Country salad in a glass

  • shaved zucchini ribbons
  • arugula and green leaves of choice
  • white asparagus
  • basil leaces
  • new potatoes
  • radish
  • pesto

Pre boil the new potatoes until aldente for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, sauté in a pan with some butter, garlic and thyme. Add in the halved radishes and the roughly chopped white asparagus (remember to remove wooden ends) and cook gently for a few minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and let it cool.

In a bowl, mix together the green leaves and the cooked vegetables with a few spoonfuls of pesto. Add some chopped basil and place into glasses. Lastly, add raw shavings of zucchini that are rolled up on top as garnishing.

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Christmas Magic

 

Christmas Eve,

We couldn’t have been more luckier with the sunny weather on Christmas Eve, the golden rays light up the forest as we took our traditional walk early morning. The frost coated the ground a pale white and the fresh crispy air gave us a real Christmas feel. We were greeted by three deer in the woods and enjoyed the exercise before the two-day feasting began!

During noon time it was time to ruffle up into a gucci-inspired floral outfit and head over to my brothers and sister-in-laws house where we decided to have the dinner this year. My parents came much later along with my hubby who was spending some time with his family first! The table was set to perfection, my little nephew was taking a nap and P & M were doing cooking preparations and eating rice porridge. We wished each other ‘Merry Christmas‘ and cracked open a bottle of champagne and put on some christmas tunes! As the hours passed we did some preparations, took pictures and played some with little B who was obsessed with his new toy lambo police car. As the sky started to fade into a dark night, dinner was served with the tree twinkling in the background and the fireplace flickering with ease.  All the foods were just amazing and once again I ate so much that I was about to explode!  We started the feast that was primarily fish based; all sorts of paté, moussé, grav-lax, chili shrimp, roe and assortments of smoked fish, herring that were all sourced from a small local business and then for the main some ham, beets, potatoes etc. For desert there was a choice between chocolate glögi cake and a lingonberry tart and naturally, I gobbled on both!  We ate so much that I had a 15 minute food coma that I thought I wouldn’t recover from but a little running behind little B made it so much better! We watched him open gifts and Mr. N’s and my little toy (all the way from Tropea) was a major hit! The evening ended with some trivial as the twinkling starlight sky blessed us with a wonderful evening.

On Christmas day, our easy morning began with coffee in bed and just relaxing before our round two of dinner started at my hubby’s parents place! We spent a wonderful evening basically with the same format as the night before so today on boxing day, it has been all about the pj’s! I hope everyone has eaten well and enjoyed the time together with their loved ones. Today is a day for leftovers and a lot of cuddles in bed! Christmas was truly magical and I’m feeling very blessed for it all.

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Gone for Antipasti in Monopoli

Monopoli, Italy

This coral dress happened to be one of my favourite outfits on our Apulian trip, as it blends so well into the dreamy surroundings. I mean just look at this petrol blue door!? The deep peachy red, splashes of suede and sheer details gives the dress an eye-catching silhouette and feminine vibe. As it was about to get dark, I added some funky ankle boots, a felt hat and a little purse to give it a more dressy feel. I really found it to be the perfect ensemble for antipasti. We sat at a little corner bar right by the main piazza and people watched as we indulged in some cold cuts, cheese and wine and started our wonderful evening from here…

Little Christmas season!

Hello Party season!

This weekend was the kick-off to little christmas season, as I had a party on both thursday and friday! It felt like I was 20 again, as we danced the night away on both days till 4am! I was so much fun, lots of dancing, seeing friends, dinners and too much laughter! On thursday I was at an event in town and friday I hosted a traditional little xmas party, that do every year. One of the hits of the party was a layered gingerbread mousse-pannacotta, where you can find the recipe below.  This easy-going maroon outfit was from thursday, a little leather, a long tassel nigh-neck shirt topped off with metallic heels and a long mink coat. These dark dramatic shades are perfect for the start of little-christmas season!

Recipe for a layered Christmas style pannacotta- gingerbread mouse (10 servings)

250ml cream, 250 ml milk, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons castor sugar
Place 2 gelatin leaves in a bowl with cold water for about 10 minutes. In a sauce pan heat the sugar, milk and cream until the sugar is dissolved. Remove gelatin leaves from water and squeeze excess water out. Stir into saucepan until dissolved.
refrigerate over night Pour the liquid from the sauce pan into each glass and cover with foil.  Refrigerate over night so they solidify and continue the following day. 
500g flavoured quark (gingerbread flavour), 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar, 1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, 1 cup whipped cream
Make the mousse: In a large bowl, add the quark (I used gingerbread flavoured ones), grate in lemon zest & nutmeg, add the cinnamon sugar and fold in the whipped cream until everything is mixed.
Layer the pannacotta; garnish with fresh lingonberry, pomegranate juice and seeds
Once the pannacotta has solidified in the refrigerator add some fresh lingonberry on top of each one. Then add a few tablespoons of gingerbread mousse on top. Garnish with a bit of pomegranate juice and its seeds.

This recipe is really easy to make, especially as you can make the first half the night before. If you do not have quark in your country, you could substitute it for flavoured pudding or even thick yogurt that you spice up with your favourite christmas spices.

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Wind Blown in Montefalco

Montefalco, Umbria

Dressed like this, today Mr. N and I are going to a wedding! These pictures are taken in June from a small town in Montefalco that happens to be one of our favourite in Umbria. I’m literally obsessed with this floral suede robe that suits the blue dress to the tee and I love the way this outfit moves with the wind. The oversized sleeves and forest green lining are everything and match perfectly with these mixed blues. I also like the long-over-long overlapping as it elongates my posture, especially when wearing heels. In Italy, I used a fair amount of different robes/kimonos in the evenings as they are light and suit almost anything adding a little something extra to the style.

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Blue Dresses & Italian Lunches

 

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Masseria Potenti, Southern Italy

Lunch in southern Italy is always a treat. Farm tomatoes covered with burrata and a selection of antipasti with a chilled glass of white wine makes my heart skip a beat in this breathtaking setting. The days down south can be really hot and sitting in the shade in my metallic sandals, blue maxi and golden body chain makes the perfect attire for a special lunch.

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Black Lace Body

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At sunset in Southern Italy…

One of my favourite moments last year was on our honeymoon, when we had a super fun date night in Masseria Potenti in Southern Italy. The moment was right before sunset, we were sitting in the backyard of our porch waiting for it to become dark. We had spent the day relaxing by the pool and we were getting ready for dinner. I’m wearing a simple all black outfit, a lace body that works so well in many occasions that I also just recently wore on New Years. I let my hair open, wore flat silver sandals and no jewelry just to keep it minimal.. The view was spectacular, golden orange and peaceful as it reflected through the vines.

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