November 2017 Favourites

Where has 2017 gone? Happy December! I’m counting down the days until my Christmas holidays — cannot wait. It has been a very busy and exhausting semester. Here are my favourites for this month.

◌ H. & I are a bit behind on Blue Planet 2, but it’s extraordinary. So good it seems CGI’ed.

Someone Knows Something  released a third season. I’m not exaggerating when I say David Ridgen is, I think, the best podcasting journalist I’ve heard. Season 2 blew me away, and season 3 is very good as well.

◌ The best books of 2017 according to the Globe and Mail and New York Times. I’ve read so few.

◌ We bought tickets to Labour of Love ages ago and finally the weekend came around. Tamsin Grieg and Martin Freeman were fantastic, particularly Grieg. We laughed a lot.

◌ Currently reading and enjoying Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Detectorists is back. We love this quiet, modest show.

◌ I’ve had many nights this past month where I have barely known my own name, let alone had the brain capacity to engage with anything cerebral. Teaching 5 hours of university classes a day will do that to you. I’ve found the perfect Netflix show for this: Highway thru Hell. I love it. It’s about the tow trick industry in BC and Alberta.

◌ November favourites in 20112012201320152016

This month’s quote, because the world is kind of chaotic right now:

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Ottolenghi’s Lamb Meatloaf

I’ve been in a bit of a slump when it comes to cooking lately, particularly on the weekend when H. & I like to make a meal together at least one of the nights. Despite having a whole shelf full of cookbooks, an rss feed full of blogs, and a cooking magazine subscription, I haven’t been able to find much that interests me.

Ottolenghi’s recipe for lamb meatloaf, which I saved from a recent Guardian weekend magazine, caught my eye, and without any other ideas I decided to try it. Meatloaf is not normally my first choice, but, like everything Ottolenghi touches, this one seemed a bit different. I was intrigued by the tahini sauce.

Unfortunately, this dish was mediocre for me.  A disappointment. This is one of the only recipes by him that I haven’t enjoyed. I loved the tahini sauce and the taste of the lamb was okay, but the texture was off for me. H. liked it, but I found it too wet and soft. Meatloaf, to me, needs to be a bit crisp and drier than this one was. I guess meatloaf was not going to be the dish to get me out of my weekend cooking slump! 😉

No surprise that meatloaf doesn’t photograph well, so I didn’t even try this time!

 

 

 

Pork, Tomato, & Feta “Baklava”

As I have mentioned several times before, I don’t do nearly as much cooking as I once did, now that I am living in two places. An exception to this came recently when I decided to make this “baklava,” from a recent edition of delicious magazine (it is a Sabrina Ghayour recipe, previously featured on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen which is where I have linked the recipe from). This is definitely a weekend project — preferably a cozy Saturday with a glass of wine, the paper, and some nice background music.

Although this dish takes a lot of time, it is not at all difficult and there is very little “fuss” involved. The most difficult part is assembling it, but even that is very easy. So, don’t be put off — what this requires most of all is time, not effort.

I bought a lovely pork shoulder at our local butcher — I have to admit that it was a bit unfortunate to cook it and then not just eat it right away and bury it in the baklava. Next time I buy it I’m not doing anything to it!

The recipe called for fennel, which I left out because I don’t like the taste if it. I think it’s complex enough without it though. The end result looks impressive and was really tasty — the honey means it has a tiny taste of sweetness. My only bugbear was that the sauce ended up a touch dry for me.

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October 2017 Favourites

I’m a few days late with this. This fall just keeps getting busier and busier, with no prospect of easing up until Christmas vacation. Here are few of my favourite things this month…

◌ Beg, borrow or steal someone’s Netflix account to watch The Keepers. This series absolutely floored me. It’s very, very difficult subject matter but so well done and so important to watch.

Kay’s fudge.

Five books to make you less stupid about the (American) civil war.

◌ I’ve read some highly readable and recommended books on extremely heavy and difficult topics lately. Jon Krakauer’s Missoula and Lori Shenher’s That Lonely Section of Hell are not perfect books by any means, but they both shed a lot of light on processes that are generally kept hidden.

◌ Something a bit less serious: the art of the dinner party.

◌ The podcast Dirty John completely engrossed me. Storytelling at its best.

◌ Love Frances McDormand.

It’s impossible to watch this without a smile on your face.

Tomato & Tortellini Soup

This is one of those dishes that is satisfying not only because it’s tasty, but because it’s so simply and easy to prepare. If you get a lot of personal satisfaction about being efficient and keeping things simple, as I do, this is a dish for you!

I’m 9 months into living on my own for 4-5 nights a week, and it’s drastically changed how I cook. I’ve detailed this elsewhere on this blog. Convenience is huge, so a meal like this ticks a lot of boxes: quick, tasty, reasonably healthy (I added fresh spinach to the top). The Kitchn describes this dish this as “weeknight comfort food in 20 minutes” and I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description.

A package of fresh tortellini would normally last me two meals but I made three out of this one. I followed the recipe very closely, adding spinach as I mentioned above. It’s a bit awkward to eat — the floppy noodles create a bit of mess with the tomato sauce — but it’s damn good.

 

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Zucchini, Cheddar, & Parmesan Scones

I’ve been trying to write this post for well over a month now. It is an end of summer recipe and we’re deep into fall. Nonetheless, I’ve been determined to post it, simply because these are so good.

The recipe comes from the summer edition of Bon Appetit magazine (note that the url is from a different website but the recipe is the same), though the scones originate from Flora Bar in New York. It’s actually a recipe for Gruyere and zucchini scones: I bought Gruyere but then … oops… ended up eating it all before I got around to making this — confessions of a cheese addict. Instead, I improvised and used cheddar and Parmesan.

After so many years of food blogging you start to run out of ways to describe good food. These are, quite simply, really really good. Delicious, melt-in-your mouth scones. It’s one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a while. The zucchini keeps them moist, yet the melted cheese makes them a bit crispy. They’re not difficult to make and look impressive, so would be a great brunch dish or side. Warm, with a bit of butter — these are perfection.

September 2017 Favourites

Happy October! (a few days late) A few links for this month.

TIFF highlights.

NYT‘s most famous comment explained. I remember reading about this when it first appeared! Love it.

Books coming out this month.

◌ Really like this, on the difference between pleasure and happiness.

◌ Highlights of fall TV, according to the Atlantic.

◌ Speaking of which: I’m one month back into commuting life, so I’ve been consuming more TV than usual. H & I loved Ozark. We’re also halfway through season 3 of Narcos — recommended. Finally, HBO’s Big Little Lies was fantastic.

◌ Loved Michael Crummey’s The Wreckage.

◌ I’ve always wanted to visit Winnipeg, and this makes me want to visit even more.

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Thames by night

 

Eating & Drinking in London: Part 2

It’s been a while since my first installment of suggestions for where to eat and drink in London. 2.5 years in fact! I’ve been compiling this one pretty much since I published the last. Since I don’t live in London full-time anymore, I don’t have nearly as much time to try new places (however, a similar version of my suggestions for Liverpool is forthcoming). All of the stipulations I outlined in my first post still apply, though the longer I live here the more the concept of ‘value for money’ gets skewed. In no particular order…

Smoking Goat (WC2) – NOT the best bang for your buck, but very tasty Thai-inspired BBQ.
Butchies (E8) – To be found at Broadway Market, oh that buttermilk chicken burger!
Quality Chop House (EC1) – Wine & meat taken seriously!
Xian Impression (N7) – Tiny hole in the wall. Those biang biang noodles!
Planet of the Grapes (various) – It has a horrible infantile name, but it is a great place for a glass or bottle of wine (great selection) at reasonable prices.
The Grafton (NW5) – pub in Kentish Town serving some of the best pub food I’ve had in London.
Hoppers (W1) – Small portions — not the best value for money I’d argue — but delicious.
Kaspar’s at the Savoy (WC2) – I was treated here (thank you BA). Oh MAN. So good.
Ginger Pig (W1) – I haven’t bought meat from them directly, but they make probably the best sausage rolls I’ve ever had.
Patara (various) – Delicious Thai food in a classy setting.
Riding House Cafe (W1) – Dependable all-day brasserie.
Violet Bakery (E8) – Worth the awkward public transport journey from our flat. Innovative, mouthwatering bakery.
Padella (SE1) – Excellent pasta.
Chick ‘n’ Sours (WC2) – Fried chicken. Say no more.
Roti King (NW1) – Still dreaming of my first visit here! No frills, but mouthwatering.
The Black Penny (WC2) – One of the best brunch meals I’ve had in London.

Tomato Tarte Tatin

This recipe has been making the rounds on the internet and it’s easy to see why. Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you really can’t go wrong with this late summer dish (I’m a little late posting this — it’s currently about 14 degrees and raining here in London).

I’m a tomato fiend and love anything on puff pastry, so this was really up my street. It’s not as simple as throwing a bunch of tomatoes on pastry and baking it, but it’s worth it. The combination of honey and balsamic vinegar really works.

My pastry really puffed up a lot, so it didn’t lie flat when I turned it over. Doesn’t matter — still tasted delicious. All you need is a side salad with this one!

 

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Summer 2017 Favourites

It’s back-to-school time and summer is coming to a close. I love fall, but am already missing the more relaxed pace of summer. Just a few links this time, as I haven’t been online much the past couple of weeks. Happy September, everyone.

◌ First things first. I read some great books this summer: The North Water, Shadow of Doubt, The Best Kind of People, The Memento.

Africa’s only female safari team. Awesome. I have been to Chobe and can attest to how amazing it is. This makes it even more so.

◌ I watched Deepwater Horizon last week and am still thinking about it.

50 best ethical beauty products, from Sali Hughes.

◌ We’re on episode 5 of Ozark (on Netflix) and are really enjoying it!

The best 500 pubs in London?

◌ Getting political and real life now: stop exploiting academics.

◌ It’s that time of year again: books coming in the second half of 2017.

◌ These might be cocktails for summer, but I’m going to carry on making them — or modified versions, without NS produce, sniff sniff — into fall.

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My beautiful fur-niece!