Sunday, 16 December 2012

The food that wrote a thousand (five) essays.

This is an illegal post as I definitely don't have time for such trivial things - MUST WRITE ESSAYS AAAAALL THE TIME. However, this was too good not to share. Fried field mushrooms with thyme and garlic in butter and a couple of slices of Swaledale cows' milk cheese was has a lovely crumbly tang to it, cutting through the richness of the buttery mushrooms. All on my bread which I thought would be a disaster as I have a new oven but turned out alright in the end. More on bread soooon! Until then, wish me luck on my bajillion essays, if anything can get these ancient Chinese bronzes under control its this god of a sandwich.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Watery wintery blues.

My my, it's been chilly in Bloomsbury these past few days. Unfortunately I think I hear rain on my window and we will be plunged in wintery greys once more but let it not be forgotten that there once were wintery blue skies and bare branches lit with watery sunlight.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cheese tasting to impress Neal's Yard Dairy.

So I applied for a Christmas job at Neal's Yard Dairy because any of you who know me know that cheese is one of the loves of my life. Also I was having a crisis about my future... So anyway, I got an interview and decided that the best way to prepare was to hit the Waitrose cheese counter hard and sample as many new cheeses as seemed vaguely reasonable. I tried a goat's cheddar, a hard ewes cheese, an orange Stilton (effectively), and a crazy gooey smelly Irish creation. The ewes cheese was by far the best (right) called Swaledale if anyone is curious and wants to challenge my judgement. It was however the most expensive, I realised afterwards. Sad face. Oh well. I had a happy twenty or so minutes sat at my desk having googled how to cheese taste and trying to remember to 'breath out when swallowing' and sniffing each piece before I put it in my mouth to trying to 'free associate'. Anyway, I went to the interview and now have a trial shift next week so cross your fingers for me in borrowed white wellies and overalls...
The names of the cheeses were Irish Ardrahan (the long thin gooey one), Cropwell Bishop from Shropshire (orange stilton, a bit salty for me), Swaledale Ewes Cheese from Yorkshire (pale with a thick rind, bottom left), and Quicke's Goat's Cheddar (top left).

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Best Pizza in Liverpool + How To Rejuvenate Leftover Pizza

Is this the best pizza in Liverpool? I think so. American Pizza Slice have hit my holy pizza grail - posh ingredients, takeaway style. AND their 18" pizza can be split into up to eight flavours. Alun and I got pepperoni (the best I've ever tasted considering I don't really like it), goat's cheese and roasted vegetables, four cheeses, red onion and gorgonzola. Oh my freaking god so gooooood. And the base was perfect. Crispy but not to the extent that it crackles and doughy but not to the point that you feel like you're eating a sponge. So, uh, yeh. You should totally try American Pizza Slice if ever feel pizza cravings in Liverpool. Also, it tastes even better the next morning dry-fried. If you haven't heard of this, get on the bandwagon with my instructions below.

How to make manky leftover pizza amazing again.

You will need:
- a frying pan - a lid for the pan or some tin foil - leftover slightly congealed pizza from the night before (or the night before that)

Step by Step:
1. Put pizza in dry pan - no oil equals crispy base
2. Cover pan with lid or foil
3. Turn on medium-ish heat until the cheese is melted and the bottom crispy
4. Enjoy pizza that might just taste better than the night before

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Essay comfort food

A trip to Chinatown today sees me stocked up on noodles and other tasty things so tonight I fry up some of the udon noodles I bought with big sweet chilies, spring onion, fried aubergine and chestnut mushrooms. Ginger and garlic fried in sesame oil and the star anise I added to the boiling noodles make this a hot tangy comfort meal to get me through my Medieval Hindu Art essay for Monday.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Look what I found!

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Tiny masterpieces painted onto gum stuck to pavements. I didn't even know about this until I found one and a friend explained what it was. I found this video of the artist Ben Wilson at work. Finding things like this makes me smile and love London a little more. I found this one in an alley leading to Mason's Yard, near St James' Square. Let me know if you find any more - keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

London colours - Autumn

Autumn is still here, I don't want winter yet! London is bright with colour when the sun shines at the moment. Brief moments of watery light shining through the few leaves remaining on the trees and into my bedroom.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Things to do in London - Sunday - Wellcome Collection

This morning, I woke up to window panes dripping with condensation barely concealing the cold grim Sunday outside. At least the clocks went back, a whole extra hour, huzzah! Made pancakes with batter leftover from last night's ill advised combinations of kale-fried-rice with parmesan followed by almost naked pancakes for lack of having any toppings. Anyway, with that food fiasco behind me, this morning I decided to do something with my day and finally crossed one of the things off of my list, The Wellcome Collection in Euston. After bumping into one of my classmates who was working there I ended up going on a fascinating tour through the The Medicine Man permanent collection. There were hundreds of incredible objects from all over the world but what really caught my eye was the collection of scientific glassware. Huge great flasks and vials, beautiful curves and weird and wonderful shapes. They reminded me of the shapes of some of the neolithic Chinese ceramics I have been studying recently.

Whether glassware captures your imagination or not, however, everyone should tick the The Wellcome Collection off of their lists at some point soon. The collection is free to visit, there is a café and a bookshop and getting there couldn't be easier as it is opposite Euston station. When you next find yourself bored, procrastinating, and feeling bleak on a chilly Sunday you know where to go.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Autumn is here, bring on coffee and cake

   Today I woke up to construction work outside my window and stumbled round getting ready for my Royal Korea lecture at 11 before remembering that it was at 1. Bliss. I bummed around making lunch, this lentil, beetroot and goat's cheese salad which was so so tasty, especially considering I usually shy away from lentils unless disguised by way of soup or stew. Anyway, a fab recipe for a light lunch.
On the way to uni I had time to drop into Bloomsbury Coffee House before getting to my lecture half an hour before it started. I went and sat outside under the almost naked trees watching the blowing leaves with my hot milky coffee and a slab of German apple cake that tasted just like the Dorset apple cake that my Nana makes with the big bulbous Bramleys from our tree. Cinnamon and apple makes me nostalgic and the cold and the colours and the sweet comfort of sweet familiarity made for the best lecture preparation a girl can hope for, screw doing the readings...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

James Ramsden's Salmon with chilli, ginger, and soy recipe.

Mariella, my lovely flatmate, bought a kilo of reduced salmon for £8. Bargain. Only it meant that we had to use it up pronto so I googled salmon marinades and picked This James Ramsden recipe, on a whim. It was fabulous!! And so easy. The other two were in raptures and I kept telling them that they could both easily cook this so here is the step by step recipe to prove it.
Serves 2 (I actually doubled the recipe for three fillets so interpret loosely)

- 2 salmon fillets
- 1 thumb of ginger, grated
- 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
- A handful of coriander, chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- A few drops of sesame oil
- Juice of half a lime

1. Add all marinade ingredients together and mix thoroughly so that the oil and the soy sauce blend.

2. Cover the salmon with the marinade, ideally in a freezer bag or something where the marinade can reach all areas, although I used a dish and then covered with clingfilm and returned to the fridge.

3. After an hour or so and when you have started thinking about cooking whatever you're having with it, start heading a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wide frying pan.

4. Once the oil is hot, place the fillets skin down into the pan - mind the spitting oil.

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5. Turn after a few minutes when you can see the fillets beginning to turn opaque at the bottoms. Fry the the fillets top down next and then turn onto each side to brown them nicely.

6. I put the marinade into the pan with the fillets but this just burnt them so if you want to do this add right at the end. You can then add onto the rice or noodles, or alternatively, add to the noodles and then stirfry before serving.

Pretty easy.
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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

An Autumn palette in Loop Yarn Shop, Angel.

After Maike and I waddled out of The Breakfast Clubthis weekend we dropped into a few of the shops in Camden Passage, Angel. We stroked some pricey furs in the vintage shops, lusted after lockets and brooches on the market stalls and eventually ended up in Loop Yarn Shop. The colours seemed right for the autumn day and I went round stroking everything and making a mental not to go back to crochet/knitting/etc, as I do every time I walk into a wool shop anywhere.

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Breakfast Club 2.0 - Introducing Maike!

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So when I went to The Breakfast Club in Islington with Alun last May I knew that it would not be a one off and, sure enough, within two weeks of moving back to London there I was stood in the queue outside the bright yellow exterior of the café with Maike, my new flatmate! It was a chilly early Saturday afternoon after a late night stranded in New Cross Gate and we were wrapped up against the light hazy chill lingering outside the heat of the sun. The queue was long and a waitress brought out shots of hot chocolate that brought a smile to the hungover and fidgety line. Our breakfast, true to form, was fantastic. I'd brought Maike here because she'd never eaten a full english, shock horror! It arrived and was twice the size of her face. I secretly had my doubts she would plough her way through it but somehow she managed to cram in all but the black pudding. This was a true test of whether we could be friends and she passed with flying colours. My poached eggs were glorious and I can never resist having smoked salmon when I'm feeling indulgent. The avocados were, however, a mistake. An extra two pounds and lemony to the point of masking the taste of the avocado itself. Oh well, I have become so fond of The Breakfast Club that I will forgive them a much greater fault than that.

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The Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Autumn squash brightens up a grey day.

I cut open this squash and was amazed at the colour inside, a bright acid yellow, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Last of the summer sweetcorn

Well I'm back in London after a stressful month and settling into a new routine. The season is turning and when I went up to Islington Farmers' Market the stalls were heaving with squashes and kale and muddy potatoes. Best of all, though, was the crate of sweetcorn, tightly wrapped in their green husks but golden inside. As soon as you put them in the pan the gold becomes a bright rich yellow. They only need three or four minutes in the pan before I whip them out and try in vain to balance a knob of butter on their sides. A pinch of salt and a generous grind of pepper and what an easy tasty lunch that makes. If I'm feeling indulgent I even grate a bit of hard salty cheese like parmesan over the cob, enough to dust the outside. I plan to eat as much sweetcorn as I can before the long nights set in and the essays start to pile up.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Poole Pottery cup and saucer bargain

The house I was looking after was right opposite a charity shop and I spotted this little gem in the window. It's an ice green and seagull (apparently) Poole Pottery cup and saucer, now discontinued. Super cute and just the right size for a little coffee.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Avebury, Wiltshire

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I've been meaning to go to Avebury for years and finally did! What an amazing place, I'd like to go back soon.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

At The Chapel and two weeks of solitude in Somerset

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    I will admit, I didn't quite know what I was letting myself in for when I agreed to housesit for friends in Bruton, Somerset. I thought two weeks to collect my thoughts and be by myself was exactly what I needed after the whirlwind that my summer has been. Two cats and a manic jack russell were thrown into the equation and peace began something unachievable. Having said that, I became very grateful that they were there with me, getting me up in the morning and driving me crazy while simultaneously keeping me sane and giving me something to take care of and talk to. The chaos they created proved a good substitute for the chaos that usually reigns over my life. The cats ate my cake, the dog ate the cat food and the cats at the dog food. Food was the one thing that triumphed. I made two fantastic lemon drizzle cakes from THIS Raymond Black recipe (minus the apricot jam), bought tasty local cheese from the excellent Spar where I worked for the fortnight and made vast quantities of spaghetti puttanesca.

    Shiniest of all the culinary stars of Bruton, though, was At The Chapel, a fantastic café, winery, restaurant, bakery, and pizzeria on the High Street which I kept well away from until my last day as I knew that once I set foot in there I would inevitably spend all my money. True to form, I gave in one afternoon and bought at almond croissant from the little bakery with lovely displays of loaves and pastries in the same room as their floor to ceiling pizza oven. The cats ate half of it but it was damned tasty. I took my mum for breakfast there the next day. We had field mushrooms and scrambled eggs on sourdough toast and a super smooth latté. I then went back that night with Nonie.
    I ordered a bloody mary, Nonie a gin and tonic and we shared homemade ewes cheese with roasted beetroot and toasted sunflower seeds on sourdough to start which was rich and satisfying yet fresh and zesty. For mains Nonie had the burger, which came with absolutely excellent chips, the best I've had in a long time, and I had a pizza from the wood-fired oven topped with Taleggio, field mushrooms and thyme. All of the food we ordered was uncomplicated but hit the spot in every way, the addition of the thyme on my pizza and the herbs in Nonie's beef burger stretching the other ingredients to their full flavoursome potential. Lots of the ingredients are locally sourced, including the beef, the cheese and the milk in our coffee which I saw on the menu was from the farm that I'd walked the dog past two days previously.
    The building is beautiful, the high ceilings and windows of the chapel making for a relaxed and light atmosphere and a space in which to display interesting pieces of artwork. What a gem Bruton has been bestowed with, Matthew Norman writing in the Guardian 'a provincial restaurant taking pride in every aspect of its work, unshowily passionate about pleasuring the punters and avoiding any hint of pretension' was the closest that he had come to a religious experience in a 'house of the Lord'.

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Saturday, 22 September 2012

I.J. Mellis' Cheese shop, Edinburgh

I sniffed this beauty out on my first day. What can I say, I was drawn to it. I have a cheese radar. Cheese is without doubt my favourite food and I stepped into this shop and almost passed out with joy. I.J. Mellis' lovely cheeses are from all over Europe, labelled in detail and beautifully displayed. Most of it was as expensive as you'd expect it to be but affordable to sample in small nuggets of heaven. Time Out website labelled it a Critics' Choice and noted their tasty breads, too. The only thing I would say is I can't believe how bored the staff seemed. If I worked in there I would be enthusing about all my wonderful cheeses every time anyone came in to look. Cheese is exciting, guys...

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Mysterious man in Edinburgh

I saw this strange man hiding in a car park in Edinburgh. He's one of Our Nation's Sons, part of a project by artist Joe Caslin designed to question the current representations of young men in today’s society and the way that the media openly ridicules and demonises this generational group. It was early (as early as one gets up during the Edinburgh fringe) and still a bit misty walking through the backstreets of the city and this young man suddenly loomed out of the landscape at me. Striking and sort of serene, somehow.