Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

A few months ago I injured my knee while walking to the bus stop. What I thought was a simple sprain turned out to be so much more and extremely painful–namely, a torn meniscus, a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (also known as the ACL) and incipient osteoarthritis in my left knee. Yes, I’ve got it all at the moment. My orthopaedic surgeon is taking a wait-and-see approach and I’m doing physiotherapy (which is helping a lot, actually). I have to do special exercises just for my knee every day…and now they tell me to… lose a little weight.

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Yes, Kevin Hart, I wore that same expression on my face when they said it!

The foodie in me is not happy about this, but I do have some extra pounds that I’d love to see magically vanish…so I am trying to take a reasonable approach that involves cutting back on certain things, namely carbs, and not completely cutting out all the things I love.

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Did someone say bread….? Yum!

I freely admit it: I am a carb junkie. I love potatoes. I absolutely adore pasta. Got waffles? Yes! Sourdough bread? I am in ecstasy. But…these are, of course, the very things I need to cut back on if I am going to lose the first 5 kilos my physiotherapist says will help my knee feel better.

At least it’s summer. And usually during the summer–as long as it’s hot (which there is no guarantee of here in Sweden) I tend to crave other thing than…bread, pasta, comfort food. Lately, I’ve been craving roasted veggies–tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, red onions, carrots, you name it. I’ve also been longing for a good Caprese salad since my June trip to Matera, Italy.

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees and super simple: the only ingredients you need are

  • ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • good quality mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

That’s it. It doesn’t need to be more complicated. Pull out a shallow bowl or serving dish. Slice the tomatoes–not too thinly, you’ll want thicker slices to really enjoy this–and set them aside. Drain and slice the mozzarella. Again, not too flimsy slices. You want to savour the texture and the flavour. Pick a goodly amount of basil leaves–no point in stinting since–again–this is all about flavour.

Now don't you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now don’t you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now start placing the ingredients on your plate–tomato slice, mozzarella, basil–repeat–until you’ve got this lovely vision of red, white and green that makes you dream of Italy. Sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper over this beauty. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And you’re done!

Told you it was easy. 🙂

Now if you want to jazz it up, you could roast the tomatoes or use dollops of burrata (a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) or add some fresh baby spinach or toss in some strawberries or use crema di balsamico (a thicker, slightly sweeter version of balsamic vinegar that’s good on just about everything) instead. Go wild with it. 🙂 I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Caprese salad so I stick with the basics.

The great thing with a Caprese is that you can have it as a side salad or as your main dish–and it’s so pretty that people think you slaved over it when it took no time at all. Simply pretend it was so much more difficult than it really was to pick the perfect basil or slice that tomato just so.

So next week when I am in Philadelphia (where it’s always hot during the summer) instead of Stockholm (where you never know what sort of summer weather you’ll get), I have the feeling I will be eating a lot of Caprese salads.

Are you a Caprese salad lover? Or does some other bit of salad loveliness speak to you?

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Ode to Tea Scones

Ode to Tea Scones

Lately, I’ve had a craving for tea scones. I suppose it has something to do with that wacky weather we’ve had in Stockholm. One day freezing cold, the next day spring-like. It makes me want comfort food. And sometimes the only thing that will do is a plate of scones with cream cheese or whipped cream (since it’s not very easy to find clotted cream in Stockholm) and strawberry preserves. Last week I baked twelve scones. They were quick to whip together and were so fluffy and yummy-crummy. And now I want to bake more.

Not my scones, but don't they look yummy? (Photo credit: BBC Food)

Not my scones, but don’t they look yummy? (Photo credit: BBC Food)

Now, tea scones don’t taste much different from the buttermilk biscuits my grandmother used to make. And probably they’re the same thing, just with different names on either side of the pond. The first time I had scones was in London. In fact it was during my very first trip to London. The hubster and I went to Fortnum & Mason’s to pick up marmalade and tea (we were addicted to them even though we were pretty broke back then) , and then we saw their café and we knew we had to try their scones. So we splurged and had afternoon tea. It was wonderful. We were both in heaven. We didn’t really care about the sandwiches…we only wanted scones. And we gobbled them down with plenty of clotted cream (sheer bliss!) and strawberry jam.

And soon they became our obsession.

We tried to make our own. Sometimes they came out perfectly…other times, not so great. I experimented with them–baking them with dried cranberries or saffron or blueberries. They didn’t really do it for me. Eventually we realised we were over-complicating the recipe and found a very simple one that always delivered great results. You see, I’ve come to the realisation that I don’t need fancy scones. I don’t need them with white chocolate or orange zest or whatever other things some people like in their scones. I am a bit of a traditionalist. I just want plain ol’ scones with lots of cream and jam.

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Still not mine, but doesn’t it make you hungry? Mmm….scones! (Photo credit: unknown)

Now that I am talking about scones, I am craving them again. I think I will have to bake another tray. A girl needs scones. Especially when she is trying to finish her novel. 😉

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