Sunday, June 29, 2014

London: it's all Buses and Roast rolls

I am living and working in London UK for a couple of weeks.

Most of my week is spent at work, and I am already blending in, jostling with thousands of London pedestrians during the morning and evening commutes. My walk to work takes less than 15 minutes, and I am constantly thrilled at the sight of St Paul's cathedral on the way in and glimpses of the Walkie Talkie, Cheesegrater and Gherkin on the way home.

I'm hoping to find time on weekends to blog a bit, so here's a 'taster' of what I had today: the amazing 'pork belly with crackling and bramley apple sauce' roll from the Roast counter at Borough Market.

See you soon!
Bel xx

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lights, camera, pizza!

Welcome to another action-packed post!

This is what I've been up to since we last met.

Vivid Sydney is a spectacular festival of lights around Sydney Harbour. We checked it out on opening night to avoid the crowds, but it was still pretty busy, though the mild autumn weather probably contributed.
Music and narration accompany some of the lights, like this installation on the Customs House building. 

We watched the lights being turned on at 6pm, then popped off to grab something to eat - can't ooh and aah on an empty stomach, can we? I wanted to go to my old favourite, Masuya, but they were predictably booked out on a Friday night. A quick look at Urbanspoon for nearby restaurants uncovered Hokkaido, just up from Circular Quay.

The food here is standard Japanese, and very fresh and attractively plated. We started with some Gyoza ($9) and spicy fish rolls ($12). Then I had a sushi bento box ($23) that had tuna on rice with edamame, tempura and a bowl of udon. Very good vinegared rice underneath the fish.
We also had a sushi plate ($23) because we can't get enough of sushi, and it came with a good selection of rolls and fish on rice (which is what sushi is).

Okay, now well-fortified and quite full, we ventured back to the Quay to look at the lights on the MCA and Opera House. Honestly, you could spend all night watching the lights change on the Opera House. Or you could take billions of photos, which is what I did, so be thankful that only 2 pictures are shown here.
PS: For a great view and to hear some anecdotes on Sydney history, park yourself at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (outside Peter Doyle restaurant). The projector onto the Opera House is just on top of the terminal. Vivid Sydney is on until 9th June.


If you live in Sydney or the east coast of Australia, you're probably talking about the weather. How warm and lovely has it been? It hasn't stopped me from making a cool weather dish, however, like this pumpkin soup.

I made a batch and froze some for future use. However, I overfilled the soup in the plastic containers and the soup expanded so the lids almost popped off. There were no complaints, though, when we had to have the soup for a midweek dinner - it's a most fantastic soup.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup
serves 6-8

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 roughly chopped onion and cook 2-3 minutes until soft.
2. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 600g peeled and chopped butternut pumpkin, 1 chopped potato, 2 chopped carrots and 1 chopped leek and toss to coat with the oil.
3. Add 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low , cover and simmer for 25 minutes until vegetables are tender.
4. Take off the heat and blend in batches, or use a stick blender, until smooth. If you want to freeze the soup, transfer to a container to cool before putting into the freezer.
5. Return soup to the stove to reheat and stir in 1 tablespoon of cream, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve the soup sprinkled with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and dried cranberries.

recipe adapted from delicious (April 2013)

There's been a flurry of internet action on gluten-free pizzas, and here I am getting in on the act.
However, this recipe is from my hardcopy of delicious mag (just a reminder to myself next time not to look for it in my magazine app!)

Cauliflower-crust pizza
makes 2 small pizza bases

1. Preheat baking tray in a 200C/400F oven.
2. In a food processor, whiz half a small cauliflower until it resembles rice grains, but not mushy.
3. Take 2 cups of the cauliflower and combine with 1 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and 1 lightly beaten egg. Season well with salt and pepper.
4. Place a sheet of baking paper on your bench, then use half the cauliflower mixture to form a round pizza base, about 5mm (1/4") thick and 16cm (6 1/2") diameter.
5. Transfer the baking paper onto the hot baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
6. Top the bases with whatever you like - shaved zucchini, prosciutto and ricotta used here - then return to the oven and heat for 5 minutes. Serve. 

recipe adapted from delicious (April 2014)

These 'pizzas' are small but quite rich, so small is probably better in this case.
You can use any leftover crumbled cauliflower in 'fried rice', which is another popular new use for cauliflower. Just use it quickly after sealing it well in the fridge - it does pong a bit!

till next time,