Thursday, October 28, 2010

An England Report

We are back from merry old England. We had marvelous time. It was a true vacation where we got away from it all. I won't bore you with a slide show with five hours of narration with all the minutiae, but I will share the highlight reel. We had the opportunity to visit London, Salisbury and a small picturesque seaside village in Cornwall.

Our favorite market we saw was the Borough Market down in the Southwark neighborhood of London. If you are interested in local food, this is the place to visit. The stalls just keep going and going. We were sad we didn't have a kitchen available so that we could purchase all sorts of delicious treats.

After spending a few days in London, we visited Salisbury. While there we saw Stonehenge, Old Sarum and the Salisbury Cathedral. We ate some great food at the Old Mill Inn where we stayed, but I didn't get any photos. After Salisbury, we headed further south to Cornwall. One of the famous regional traditions is Cream Tea. We enjoyed a couple of cream teas, but this photo captured the best one. Cream tea includes tea (of course) with scones, clotted cream and jam. Clotted Cream tastes like whipped butter crossed with creme fraiche, and it makes a decadent topping for some flaky scones.

The other regional specialty is pasties. Historically, Cornwall was a tin mining region, and pasties were a portable lunch for the miners. The story goes that the crust used to be tough enough that it could be dropped down the mine shaft without falling apart, and within the crust there was a mixture of beef, potatoes and turnips on one end and a sweet filling on the other end (dessert). The rolled crust served as a handle. The miners' dirty hands would only touch the "handle" leaving the rest of the pasty clean to eat it. Once they were finished with lunch, they would drop the dirty crust handle down the mine shaft.

Pasties still make great portable lunches. We purchased some from the local little market and enjoyed them out on our hikes along the Cornish Coastal Path.

While in Cornwall, we stayed at my Aunt and Uncle's house. They were away, so we had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed visiting the tiny village market each day to see what was available to prepare for dinner. We were amazed by the selection of local foods available: eggs, fresh bacon, sausages, tomatoes, potatoes, chicken and more.

It was a great trip! We have been actually been back for more than a week now. It's taken a while to get a post up because we had a bad case of jet lag and woke up at 4:00 AM each day last week. Five days after we returned to New York City, we moved to our new apartment in Brooklyn. We still have a lot of unpacking to do, but life is starting to return to normal.

This post is part of Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fried Rice and then off to England

We are off to England tomorrow bright and early. We decided to travel light, both taking one backpack small enough to carry on the plane. Because of this, we are going low tech and leaving the laptops at home. Our cell phones won't work there either, so this is our chance to disconnect and really get away from it all. I'll be sure to share some highlights when we return in two weeks.

We enjoyed a quick meal to eat up the last of our vegetables before leaving: Fried Rice. This is a great way to eat up whatever you have on hand.

Chop your vegetables and stir-fry until they are tender.

If desired, add the greens and cook until wilted.

Add cooked rice and cook until heated through. Add seasonings and cooked eggs.

I chose to garnish mine with a little extra Tamari and Srirachi Sauce.

I have to admit that I was wrong about fried rice. I thought I should pour the beaten eggs over the rice and vegetable mixture and cook it together, but my husband thought I should cook the scrambled eggs separately. I cooked it my way and the results were less than stellar. I swear that it has turned out in the past, but not this time around. The rice seemed to soak up the egg and the results were pretty gummy. (My husband thought it was fine, but I knew it could be better.)He is right. Cook the eggs separately.

You will hear from us again in two weeks. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chicken Scampi

We were so busy with the apartment hunt and planning our trip to England that we got behind eating up the vegetables the past couple weeks. By this last weekend, we had 2 tomatoes and 3 ears of corn that were past saving. In our 18 weeks of CSA farm share, it was the first food we were going to "throw out." To make ourselves feel better we didn't actually throw it out, but took it to the community garden to compost it. When we got to the garden the host suggested that we feed it to the chickens. She promised it would be a sight that we had never seen before, and she was right. She held the mushy tomatoes out, and the chickens jumped up to eat them out of her hand. I had never seen chickens jump before, and I have spent some time with chickens. We were happy to pass the tomatoes along for another creature to eat.

We had chicken scampi for dinner. This is one of my husband's specialty dishes. It's usually served with shrimp, but I'm allergic to shell fish so at our house it's made with chicken. It's a quick meal and always a crowd pleaser. I already wrote about it once here, but here is another take on it.

Chicken Scampi
2 large chicken breasts, cut into strips
6 cloves of garlic
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 t oregano
1 T butter
salt and pepper

Heat up a skillet and add some oil to coat the bottom. Add the chicken, and cook until done. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, oregano and butter. Serve over pasta or rice.

Lemon juice looses lots of flavor when cooked, so always add it right at the end of the recipe.

This post is part of Works-for-me-Wendesday and Real Food Wednesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cottage Pie and a Plan

We are heading to England on Thursday. This is our first international trip in our 2.5 years of marriage, and we are really excited. In honor of our upcoming trip, my husband came up with the idea of some shepherd's pie for dinner. I looked up a a recipe in Joy of Cooking, and learned that traditional shepherd's pie is made with chopped lamb. When you substitute beef, the name changes to cottage pie. The traditional recipe includes 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 lb of ground beef, some beef stock, rosemary, thyme and several potatoes mashed up for a topping. That sounds delicious for a cool fall day, doesn't it? We had to make a couple changes for what we had on hand (our recipe is below). For example, I looked through the cabinet to discover we were out of rosemary and thyme.

Our plan for the rest of the week is:

Monday- Chicken Scampi

Tuesday- Leftover Cottage Pie

Wednesday - Fried Rice with vegetables

Thursday - Off to England

Cottage Pie inspired by Joy of Cooking
2 potatoes, chopped
3 small salad turnips, chopped
2 leeks, whites sliced in half, and cut in thin slices
1 carrot, chopped
6 medium radishes, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 T flour
2 t Old Bay
1 C Cheddar cheese, grated
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add the potatoes and turnips to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Meanwhile, chop the other vegetables and add the leek, carrot, and radishes to a hot frying pan with oil. Cook until tender. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the ground beef to the pan. When it is almost cooked through, add the tomatoes, flour, and Old Bay. Cook until the tomatoes are softened. Add the leek, carrot, and radishes back in, and stir to combine. Mash up the potatoes and turnips, if necessary add a bit of liquid. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, and top with the potatoes and turnips. Bake for about 15 minutes. Add the cheese to the top and cook for 15 more minutes.

The traditional recipe does not call for turnips, radishes, leeks or tomatoes. I think this is a very flexible dish that allows you to substitute any vegetables you have on hand.

Joy of Cooking suggested baking it in a pie plate, but I didn't think our pie plate was deep enough to fit everything. We cooked ours in a 9 x 11 pan, so I guess ours was less like Cottage Pie and more like Cottage Cake.

This post is part of Monday Mania and Menu Plan Monday.
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