Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2009

london, day 4

It rained on our last day in London, but given the fantastic weather we had experienced during most of our stay, it didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. It was kind of nice, actually.

Since it was Monday, LW and S had to go to work, and they left even before we were up. We tried to arrange a meeting with LW at the MRC, where he does research, but sort of lost our way and sought refuge at the nearby newly constructed Westfield Center instead. Normally, we would not think of going to a mall while on vacation, but S gave us a sparkling review about the mall’s food court and we had to go see for ourselves.

Compared to food courts at American malls (think Sbarro and Orange Julius), food courts at British malls serve what we would call gourmet food. Mall food is taken very seriously here.

DSC_1102

Per S’s recommendation, we stopped at the French bistro for cassoulet – duck confit in a stew of white beans and sausage. It was delightful.

DSC_1109

After our little snack and some shopping, we went in search of our first high tea experience at The Wolseley.

The Wolseley was beautiful.

DSC_1115

The sight of tea and cakes made me giddy.

DSC_1113

Tea for two. Three delicious tiers of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and assorted desserts.

DSC_1121

DSC_1126

DSC_1123

And, of course, tea with cream and sugar.

DSC_1124

On our way to meet LW later that afternoon, we spotted a Laduree! The store itself looks like a cave of gold…gold and macarons.

DSC_1136

There were so many varieties of macarons…we bought a box to take home with us.

DSC_1133

DSC_1140

J and I then went to the Asian markets to buy groceries for dinner that night. We had some free drinks with LW (a club’s promotional deal) before heading home.

For dinner, we made Chinese food. I taught S how to make some simple Kung Pao chicken, Ma Po tofu, and greens seasoned with salt and slivers of ginger.

DSC_1147

For dessert, we had macarons. We “sampled” all of the flavors until the box was empty.

DSC_1151

And so ended our time in London and our adventures in Europe this year. The next morning we woke at 4 a.m. to catch the tube to the train station. LW and S were so sweet to wake up with us, bleary-eyed, to hug us goodbye.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

london, day 3

For breakfast, we had some pan-fried apricot and pork sausages.

DSC_0982

We dodged street closures and crowds of people cheering on the racers in the Flora marathon…

DSC_0989

to meet with some friends of LW and S at Shakespeare’s Globe, where LW had bought us tickets to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet.

DSC_0999

We cut out early with the sun beating down on us, and bravely (that would be for S and J) crossed the Millenium Bridge.

DSC_1003

After pausing to admire a church, we stopped at a local pub for lunch. J and I had beef pie and potatoes with cheese and baked beans, quintessential British foods.

DSC_1021

DSC_1020

After lunch, we walked along the Thames and saw the London Eye and various war memorials.

DSC_1030

DSC_1033

We made our way past Big Ben, Parliament (with protests outside), and Westminster Abbey, and stopped at the main gate of Buckingham Palace.

DSC_1036

DSC_1038

DSC_1046

DSC_1053

DSC_1061

To end the night, we had dinner at a Persian restaurant in Notting Hill. The restaurant featured a tanur near the front door, where we can watch the thin bread being prepared and then slapped onto the side of the clay oven.

DSC_1082

DSC_1078

DSC_1090

We had large plates of lamb kebabs and chicken kebabs and a giant jug of yogurt to drink. A happy food coma ensued.

DSC_1099

DSC_1101

Read Full Post »

DSC_0354

A good friend of mine recently had a birthday, so I baked her a cake this week to celebrate. I chose to make her a chocolate birthday cake using a recipe that I found here. The cake itself is very fluffy and moist. Delicate, but sturdy enough to withstand the flipping and palming when stacking the cakes. I suppose the cake’s delicate nature makes using the parchment paper necessary. The frosting is simple and delicious. The cake is so good and light that it has you asking for a second slice. I was also lucky enough to have some leftover cake for my own birthday, too, so I guess I had a third and a fourth as well. Cake for breakfast, anyone?

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Devil’s Food Cake (makes one 9-inch cake)

For the cake:
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup strong coffee (or water)
½ cup low-fat milk

For the ganache frosting:
10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used about 8 oz)
½ cup milk
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter

1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter two 9″ x 2″ cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

3. To make the cake layers, sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl (I used a whisk to stir this together, instead of sifting — sift if you see large chunks of cocoa).

4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. (If using a standing electric mixer, stop the mixer as necessary to scrape down the sides to be sure everything is getting mixed in.)

5. Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the coffee and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.

6. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

7. To make the frosting, melt the chopped chocolate with the water (or cream — I used milk instead) in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

8. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the chocolate until completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Cool until spreadable, which may take about 1 hour at room temperature. (To hurry the cooling of the ganache, I popped it into the fridge and let it sit until it was thick enough to spread. If it gets too thick, just stir it up to soften it.)

To frost the cake:

Run a knife around the inside of each of the cakes which will help release them from the pans. Tilt one cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper from the bottom and invert it back onto a cake plate. Spread a good-sized layer of icing over the top. Top with the second cake layer and spread the top and sides with the remaining icing as decoratively as you want. (And then I topped the cake off with sprinkles!)

Storage: Cake is best the day it is made, although it’s fine the next day. Store at room temperature under a cake dome. Just be sure to keep cake out of the sun in the meantime.

DSC_0356

I also wanted to share this sweet card that J made for me. He designed and drew the card himself, and printed it on photo paper. On the card, he included all the things that I love: our beagle, cupcakes, my camera, and flowers.

DSC_0384

p.s. I thought it appropriate to finally change the name of this blog, since this blog has been slowly venturing away from content solely based on food. Cupcakes and food are a passion of mine, but I was thinking that I could also use this blog as a journal of sorts to chronicle my adventures with J and the little things that make us happy (which happens to include making and eating good food).

Read Full Post »

We woke up to a simple and yummy breakfast prepared by our friends, fueling us for the gastronomic day ahead of us.

A trip on the tube and a leisurely walk across the London Bridge planted us in the middle of a food lover’s dream — Borough Market.

Everywhere I looked, there was food.

Anticipation of paella.

DSC_0797

Very British, and very posh bangers.

DSC_0800

Olives, by the bucket.

DSC_0844

Creme caramels, all lined up.

DSC_0856

Vats of curries.

DSC_0859

Cart of vegetables.

DSC_0865

We raised our noses in the air and sniffed to our hearts’ content. Well, not really. We also ate. And ate. We had:

Baklava, dense and honey-packed.

DSC_0825

Raw milk stilton cheese, pungent and creamy.

DSC_0828

Grilled lamb burgers, thick and juicy. (This is a photo of a stall different from the one we went to — the boys got these for us to share while S and I went on a hunt for jute Borough Market bags.)

DSC_0804

Truffles, so chocolatey.

DSC_0847

Turkish delights, sweet and teeth-sticking.

DSC_0849

But my personal favorite was what I call the cheesy mess.

At this stand, cheddar cheese is flame-broiled.

DSC_0807

The melted cheese is scraped off,

DSC_0837

onto a plate of boiled potatoes, with gherkins and pickled pearl onions on the side. Mmm.

DSC_0836

Coming out of the market, we stopped for some drinks. We felt very smartly dressed at the pub.

DSC_0866

Pork rinds, pub food.

DSC_0870

We took ourselves outside the pub, where the street intersection was filled with people enjoying their drinks in the afternoon sunshine. I saw a cow that wanted to be loved.

DSC_0879

We then walked toward the Tower Bridge, taking a million photos of it along the way. Half of the bridge had a new coat of peacock-blue.

DSC_0937

After crossing the bridge, we stopped at another pub to watch some football, Man U vs. Tottenham. We made a couple of friends who recommended a great Indian restaurant in Whitechapel (if I remember correctly).

DSC_0948

We went looking for this Indian restaurant and found it. The name escapes us, but we remember it being a very generic name. The food was GOOD.

DSC_0950

To get home, we hopped on a bus that would give us a great tour of the city at night.

DSC_0954

I witnessed the collision of a bus and Big Ben,

DSC_0964

and took some self-portraits of us.

DSC_0971

Back at home, we enjoyed a dessert of Cadbury chocolates and some biscotti that LW and S had brought back from their recent trip to Italy.

DSC_0980

What a delicious day it was.

Read Full Post »