Shrimp Tacos

Who doesn’t love a shrimp taco? I certainly love tacos of any kind, and these were no exception. I used the shrimp frying recipe/method described in my friend Meaghan’s post here, which worked perfectly. It really does make a difference to batter the shrimp. I made my own slaw, very similar to the one I describe here, with chopped red cabbage, chilies, coriander, fish sauce, and a pinch of sugar. Topped it off with a little bit of lime mayo and some chopped spring onions, and corn tortillas. To me these reach near perfection — a great combination of salt, heat, crunch, and acid — and are somehow very refreshing for these incredibly hot evenings we’ve been having in London.

 

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June 2018 Favourites

It’s July! Already. The UK has been having some of the most spectacular weather I’ve experienced in my 7 years here. It’s been hot and sunny every day now for weeks, and it’s set to continue. It’s definitely one I will remember, for many reasons (more details on that at some point soon). I’ve decided that I want my summer 2018 mantra to be explore — new places, new things to cook, new books, etc. — but explore according to the principles of the slow movement (“slowing down life’s pace”): focusing on the present, less technology, more quality time with friends and family. Here are a few favourites.

◌  Saveur‘s summer guide to berries.

◌ Devoured the podcast Septic, which takes a new look at a terribly sad tragedy that happened in Virginia in 2015.

◌ Lots of great salad tips from Dinner, A Love Story.

This book absolutely floored me. A beautiful, heartbreaking, punched-in-the-stomach kind of novel.

◌ Other books I’ve enjoyed: Sunburn and Homegoing.

◌  Gin popsicles? Yes, please.

This home, a converted bus, is stunning (via swissmiss).

◌ Very cool underwater museum.

◌ My sister got me onto Wild Wild Country and now I want to do nothing else but discuss it. If you have a Netflix subscription I highly recommend it. Be prepared for one of the most bizarre, engrossing stories of your life.

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Eating & Drinking in Liverpool

My 18 months commuting between London and Liverpool has come to an end. Most of my time up north was spent working, but I did manage to sample several of the city’s bars and restaurants. Liverpool is a fantastic city and I will always have good memories of it. Here are my recommendations.

92 Degrees – Coffee taken seriously. Convenient location too.
Bean There – Comfy, reliable cafe on the corner of Penny Lane & Smithdown Road.
Belzan – Fairly new place on Smithdown. Small (used to be a laundromat), with small plates (I have very mixed feelings about small plates!), but impressive food.
Bold Street Coffee – Recommended for coffee and breakfast.
Filter & Fox – Great spot downtown for a quick bite to eat, glass of wine, and/or coffee.
Host – Delicious Asian fusion food on Hope St.
Leaf – A jack-of-all-trades place. Good for a coffee, a drink, brunch, or an evening meal. Very relaxed vibe.
Lunya – Award-winning Catalonian wine bar/restaurant. Only been here for drinks but there was an impressive selection.
Maray – There are two of these, one downtown and one on Allerton Road. This place has some of the most unique and delicious combinations I’ve seen at any restaurant. A worthwhile treat.
Mowgli – “Indian street food.” Very tasty.
Neon Jamon – Perhaps my favourite restaurant in Liverpool. Excellent Spanish tapas, excellent service, great atmosphere.
Penny Lane Wine Bar – A classic!
Philharmonic Pub – Another classic, a must-visit pub (and the location of Paul McCartney’s impromptu concert in the recent Carpool Karaoke video!).
Root Coffee – Nice to stop in before, during, or after errands downtown. Big spot with plenty of space.
Tiger Rock – “East Asian hawker food.” Delicious, big portions, friendly service. A+.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf

This is the first thing that I made from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s new baking book, Sweet. Longtime readers of the blog will know that I love Ottolenghi’s food, so I was excited to receive this book for Christmas. Unfortunately, it is the North American version, which came with a long list of errors (seriously, one whole A4-sized page, with tiny print), mostly to do with cooking times and temperatures, but some regarding ingredients. That is seriously disappointing, to pay so much for a cookbook and then have to consult a printout each time to make sure you’re properly following instructions.

Anyway, onto the loaf. If I had to choose one loaf to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be lemon. I think the reason that I have not featured many on the blog so far is that H. is not a big fan of lemon loaves…………………OR SO HE THOUGHT!

As usual, I cut the sugar slightly, and in my humble opinion, it could even do with more cutting. I didn’t make the glaze, but it didn’t particularly need it, especially as it would just add sweetness (if I was making this for an occasion other than everyday eating, I would add it). The texture is excellent, the poppy seeds adding crunch, and the loaf is very zingy. It’s definitely not the sickly sweet cardboard lemon loaf that I’m sure many of us have had before! Find the recipe here.

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May 2018 Favourites

It’s June (how?!) and I haven’t posted a favourites list for a while now. Here’s to a sunny and happy next few months.

10 ways to turn yogurt into dessert.

◌ Am I a Londoner? After many years of resolutely saying I’m not….. I think I kinda am now. And it took (sort of) moving away to realize it.

◌ Reading: Unexpectedly loved Song of Achilles. Janesville was very good. Currently devouring Preparation for the Next Life – a possible contender, so far, for my favourite book of the first half of 2018.

◌ Good read on the (many) downsides of  the gig economy.

◌ Enjoying Bobby Kennedy for President and Doctor Foster in Netflix viewing.

◌ The latest season of the Undisclosed podcast, their first about a woman, Pam Lanier, was extremely well done and definitely worth a listen.

 

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Hampstead Heath on an amazing long weekend in London

Eggplant (Aubergine) Larb

This was so good that H. used an expletive to describe it. Ha. I won’t repeat that here, but this dish was a real winner. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The recipe comes from Meera Sodha, who has a weekly vegan column in the Guardian‘s Saturday Feast supplement. Larb is a Laotian salad. I was intrigued by the combination of flavours and decided to try it.

I would put this in the category of dinner party dish, or weeknight with a lot of time dish. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult or time-consuming, but it has quite a few components — the eggplants themselves, rice, salad, and dressing. If you like big, punchy, varied flavours, this dish is for you. Everything comes together both texture-wise and taste-wise — it’s bright, acidic, nutty, salty, crispy, herby, sweet, and creamy all at the same time.

I had some leftover sauce and salad, so I made an amended version the next day, with the eggplant diced and roasted. I actually preferred it this way — it was easier to eat. The way I have it in the picture admittedly looks much better presentation-wise though.

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Pierogi

It has been a goal of mine for a very long time to make one of my favourite foods, pierogi, from scratch. They are not readily available here in the UK though — unlike in Canada, I have never seen them in grocery stores. I am working my way (slowly) through London’s Polish restaurants, but it’s not quite the same as having them at home. The Wikipedia entry on pierogi even comments on this: “By the 1960s, pierogi were a common supermarket item in the frozen food aisles in many parts of the United States and Canada. Pierogi have maintained their place in grocery stores to this day.”

I used a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, which I was really pleased with. This is a fairly long process and requires some patience. You have to make the dough, make the filling, and then assemble the perogies one by one. It’s not particularly difficult, but it does require time.

Dough: The dough comes together fairly easily. It is tempting to add more water (I did), but my baker husband H. says to avoid temptation to do this as it makes it more difficult to roll out, as the dough is too wet. Make sure to allow enough time for the dough to chill.

Filling: This is the easiest part. I used mashed potato, bacon, and cheddar cheese. Make sure to season it well. (Side note: that combination makes for amazing mashed potatoes).

Assembly: Ottolenghi recommends rolling out to a 1mm thick dough – I honestly found this too thin. The ones that were a bit thicker tasted and looked better. You can see the difference in the picture below – the ones towards the bottom were made with thinner dough, and they look much messier.

I was scared that they would collapse or break apart when boiled, but they didn’t. In fact, they turned out better than I expected. Yes, some are a little rough-looking, but they tasted great, especially with a lot of some sour cream! Very pleased with the outcome. 🙂

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New vegetarian weeknight meals for spring

IT’S MAY! One of my favourite months. 🙂

I have two dishes to share today. I thought I would combine them since they have a lot in common — vegetarian (the first is actually vegan), and with a lot of greens — perfect for this time of year.

Spicy Chickpea Bowl (recipe)
In my view you can never go wrong with a tahini-lemon dressing. I love tahini, and this dish has all of the ingredients of a healthy but satisfying and filling meal — chickpeas and greens. You’ll see that there are potatoes in the recipe, but I decided to leave them out. It looks a little complicated, but this comes together very quickly as you can do several things at once (prepare the chickpeas, make the sauce, and get the greens ready).

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Quinoa & broccoli salad with buttermilk dressing (recipe)
Sometimes you make something and wonder why you haven’t been making it for years. This is one of those dishes. It’s a simple idea, not difficult to make, yet incredibly satisfying and tasty, particularly if you like sharp, creamy acidity like me. I will make this over and over again. You can play around with this one — I used coriander and parsley for herbs, and didn’t put any pistachios in. Versatile and delicious! And healthy.

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New York City

H and I recently got back from a week in New York. I have been wanting to go there for years and the trip did not disappoint. It really is such a magical and vibrant city — we loved it. It was a very special week — we got married while we were there! Surprise! No one knew except our friends A and D, who were our witnesses. After 8 1/2 years together we wanted something low key and a day that would be about us, which is exactly what we got. We’ll be having celebrations with family and friends later this year and next. 🙂

Recommendations
New York is SO overwhelming when it comes to food and drink options. So is London, but at least we have time to try different things. Not all of the places we went to were stellar, but several were. These are the places I would recommend.

Clinton Street Baking Co. (LES) – We had breakfast here on H.’s birthday and it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Delicious.

Joe’s Pizza (Greenwich Village) – The classic NYC pizza! Cheap and tasty.

Root & Bone (East Village) – We ate here for H’s birthday. Oh man. What a treat. Southern cuisine – we had fried chicken, mac & cheese, and a delicious salad. Plus excellent cocktails. So damn good.

Food tour (Greenwich Village) – Our friends A & D wanted to go on a food tour and we chose this one. It was excellent – 5/5 stars! If I go back I’d like to do the Nolita one.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (Chinatown) – If you want both exotic and fairly normal flavours, go here. I had black sesame (so good) and H coconut fudge.

The Cellar (Flatiron) – Wine bar in a cheese factory. Ticks all the boxes. Didn’t actually sample the cheese (error), but this place has a very cozy atmosphere that I think would be perfect in fall and winter especially.

Gran Electrica (DUMBO, Brooklyn) – We only had cocktails here but the food looked good too. Service wasn’t the best.

Beauty & Essex (LES) – This is where we ate the night we got married! The food was excellent. It’s a very unique place — atmosphere is very club-like and there is a champagne bar in the ladies’. Definitely a special occasion place, which this obviously was! 🙂

Marshall Stack (Nolita) – Our friends A & D found this place. Great happy hour and very friendly service.

Joe’s Shanghai (Chinatown) – 2 people recommended this place — more specifically, the pork soup dumplings — to me. It was awesome. We only ordered one order of dumplings and chicken fried rice and it was enough for two meals.

Los Mariscos (Chelsea) – In general we weren’t very impressed with the touristy Chelsea Market, but this place was a hidden gem. Delicious tacos and snacks.

Whiskey Tavern (Civic Center) – Dive bar good for drinks and lunch was okay too.

Mile End (Brooklyn) – My friend A, who I lived with in Montreal, took us here for brunch on our last day in New York. It’s a deli with the tagline “A little bit of Montreal in New York City” – perfect! They use Black Seed bagels which I thought were almost as good as Montreal’s.

Irving Farm Coffee (various) – We didn’t end up drinking coffee out as much as I anticipated, but we really liked this one.

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (Nolita) – The plain was the best! Great little treat.

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Buttermilk biscuit sandwich @ Clinton Street Baking Co
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Los Mariscos
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Fried chicken! At Root & Bone
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Soup dumplings!

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