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.
◌ 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.
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!
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.
◌ 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.
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.
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.
◌ 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.
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.
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!
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.