29 June 2012

Lemon and Pistachio Cake

Zesty sponge cake with some crunch on top. Lovely.

175 g Sugar
75 g Butter
2 Eggs
150 g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
Juice and Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
100 ml Milk

Icing Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon
Crushed Pistachio Nuts

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk the eggs and sugar until nice and fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients, then fold them into the eggs. Add the butter, milk, lemon juice and zest and stir until smooth. Pour into a greased tin and bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees.
Once cooled, mix lemon juice and icing sugar to make a slightly runny icing. Pour over the cake and before it has set completely, scatter the crushed pistachios on top. Enjoy!

28 June 2012

Today it is Summer

You can tell it is going to be be a beautiful day, it is still and warm and there is a promise of sunshine. My garden looks like summer too. The poppies are going for it now and it is so beautiful I can't describe it. I end up late for work because I can't resist going out there to just stand and...look.

27 June 2012

Tapestries and more at Victoria Miro

We were not the only ones who wanted to see the Grayson Perry tapestries at Victoria Miro on Saturday - this is a very popular show so for quiet viewing, I would recommend going early. Great to see them for real though, my favourite is the one with the club singer pictured above. There were a few pots and drawings too.
Also on show was work by Sarah Sze which I really enjoyed. And outside there is lovely garden backing onto the canal where they serve tea and cakes.

24 June 2012

Pit stop at Salvation Jane

This is a new gem of a place just off Old Street roundabout. Salvation Jane are open for breakfast through to dinner, and they also do great coffee and cakes. We stopped by for a quick lunch on Saturday. I had some grilled halloumi with tomatoes and poached eggs. Really good. Top marks for their Bloody Mary too - spicy and rich just as it should be.

We will be back!

23 June 2012

Five Spice Roast Duck Legs with Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Quinoa Salad

The starting point for this dish was the watermelon, we had some in the fridge that we had eaten on it's own for pudding twice already so I fancied using the rest for a dinner recipe. I came up with this salad which is really yummy if I may say so myself...the melon, feta, mint and pistachios go so well together. Nice colours too. To go with it, I thought some duck legs would be good, just roasted with a chinese five spice rub. These are really good value and available from my local supermarket. So much more interesting than chicken.

Feta Cheese
Spring Onions
Mange Tout
Pistachio Nuts

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of Sugar
Wholegrain Mustard

Duck Legs
Chinese Five Spice
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Season the duck legs with salt, pepper and chinese five spice, drizzle over some olive oil and rub the spices into the skin. Put in a baking tray and cook in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet. Cut the watermelon into cubes and put in a large bowl. Add sliced spring onions, chopped herbs and cubed feta cheese. To lightly cook the mange tout, put them in a colander and pour some boiling water over. Chop them roughly and add to the the bowl. For the dressing, mix fresh lime juice to taste with olive oil, salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar and some wholegrain mustard. Let the quinoa cool, then add it to the salad and mix everything together gently. Pour the dressing over and serve. We enjoyed a crisp white wine with it - not bad for a Wednesday night

21 June 2012

Bauhaus at the Barbican

On Saturday we went to the Barbican to see the Bauhaus exhibition. As always, it was an extensive show with lots of interesting material. Still, I couldn't help but feel it was a touch dry. I am sure there are lots of fun, juicy stories about what really went on at the Bauhaus but I guess I will have to look elsewhere for those.

I love the Barbican. The idea of urban utopia, the Brutalist buildings only slightly softened by greenery hanging over railings from window boxes - all a bit strange, but I like it. There are often good things on at the Curve gallery with free entry. I am still sad that I missed the show with birds that played electric guitars. 

19 June 2012

Status Update

Time for annual poppies.
Geum and Alchemilla Mollis.
The Lavender is looking good.

17 June 2012

Lunch at Ozone

Before we moved to Columbia Road we lived in Clerkenwell. At weekends it was dead quiet, nothing was open and there were never any people around. Not anymore - we have tried a couple of great new places in the area in just the last few weeks. On our way to the Barbican yesterday we stopped for lunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters, a breakfast/lunch place with an interesting menu that has an antipodean twist to it. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs prepare lovely looking plates of food. I had some squid with rocket and aioli. Really nice. The coffee was good too. Wish it had been there 10 years ago!

16 June 2012

Red Arrows

View of the Red Arrows disappearing behind tower blocks and Victorian terraces.

Whenever there is a flypast, we get a brilliant view from our garden. Happy official birthday Queenie!

15 June 2012

Strawberry and Mint Ice Cream

So. Since I made my first ice cream a while ago, I have been thinking of which flavour to try next. Then, the other weekend, we had lots of strawberries and I decided to go for a classic...but with a slight minty twist.
Looking through strawberry ice cream recipes, it seems that most people just chop the berries and stir them in, but I was worried they wouldn't actually flavour the cream that way so I decided to make a compote first. I think this was a good decision. The juices just blend in with the custard and make it pink, but there are still bits of berries in there for texture.

To make the strawberry compote, simply wash and roughly chop the berries and put them in a saucepan on a low heat with a bit of sugar and only a table spoon of water - the berries will soon release a lot of liquid and you don't want it too runny. It takes about 20 minutes to get a good syrupy consistency with soft bits of fruit. Take it off the heat and add some chopped up mint leaves - gorgeous.

I used the same ice cream recipe as before, but instead of infusing with cinnamon I added the fruit compote along with the cream at the end, just before cooling and freezing. This worked really well and tasted great. Seconds please!

14 June 2012

Off the wall

How about this - a poppy seed has found it's way into a crack in the wall and decided to grow there. Pretty amazing!

13 June 2012

Baby Plum Tomato Tart with Grilled Goat's Cheese and Roasted Pine Nuts

This is perfect as a starter or a light lunch. It may look a bit late 1990's but who cares, it tastes good. Besides, there is generally a bit of a 90's thing going on so let's just say it is trendy! 

Puff Pastry
Baby Plum Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Goat's Cheese
Pine Nuts
Runny Honey

Start by putting your washed tomatoes in a bowl with the chopped garlic, some finely chopped basil, salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil. Mix and leave to sit whilst your prepare the pastry. Cover a tart tin with the puff pastry and trim so there is just a little bit hanging over the edges of the tin. Prick the pastry with a fork then blind bake for around 8 minutes at 200 degrees. Add the tomatoes and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or so until they have gone soft and sweet. Take the tart out of the oven and let it cool. Change the oven to the grill setting, slice the goats cheese and cook until golden and bubbling on top. Meanwhile toast some pine nuts lightly in a dry frying pan, keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. Rip up the remaining basil leaves, scatter over the tart and add some extra olive oil on top. A bit more freshly ground black pepper is nice too. Serve with the grilled cheese on the side, lightly drizzled with honey and with the pine nuts as the finishing touch.

12 June 2012

Early morning walk

View of Canary Wharf from Mudchute Park at 7.45 on Sunday morning.

Sunday was a beautiful day to be up early. At 7 in the morning only dog owners and a few people returning home from the night before are out. London is quite special when it is so quiet.