Saturday, March 29, 2014

SE1 - Borough Market

I love visiting home and getting the chance to explore my home city, London.  There is so much on offer for foodies it's hard to know where to start, but ever since my mum told me that the German Deli has a stall and shop in Borough Market I've been dying to go.  I know it's not been long since I've been to Germany, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to visit the market with my mum this week.

We got to the market around 11 so we could have a good look round before deciding where to have lunch.  The smells coming from many of the stalls were so inviting and all of the produce was beautifully presented!

Having wandered around the stalls, tasting as we went, we made it across the road to the part of the market where there are stalls selling hot food, perfect for lunch.  After a brief pause to take photos in front of the impressive Brezen (I'm so used to talking about them in German I just can't call them pretzels), we wandered along the row of stalls until one serving Indian food caught our eye.

For £6.50 you could have cumin rice, with their three dishes of the day, I particularly liked the potato dish we tried, however the cauliflower and mung bean curries were also delicious.  The onion bhaji was unusual and although I liked it, it wasn't an outstanding part of the lunch.

Next on our list was the German Deli stall.  Although I only left Germany earlier this week but I am already missing the food!  Fortunately, this stall (along with their shop which is just around the corner) was able to satisfy my cravings.  We came away with some Nürnberger Rostbratwürste (a small, herby variety of sausage which I discovered on my year abroad), some Weißwurst, sweet mustard, a jar of Sauerkraut and a couple of Brezen.  I'm looking forward to cooking myself some traditional German food when I get back to Cambridge.

I was pleased to see the full range of Hela curry ketchups on their stand and will definitely be placing an order for some online, along with some Bratwürste to eat with it, at some point.

We finished off our trip by popping into Neal's Yard Dairy.  I hadn't heard of them before but they are a fantastic shop which specialise in British cheese.  The shop is amazing, mainly because the decoration is the cheese - there are huge wheels of cheese everywhere with even more blocks displayed appetisingly on the counter with labels to tell you what they are and where they're from.

After a last wander through the market to take in the aromas one last time we headed home, laden with German specialities and some particularly tasty goats cheese.  I had a lovely time and will definitely be going back soon to try some more of what's on offer - maybe something a little sweeter next time - and also to have a better look at the shops surrounding the market, particularly places like Bread Ahead, which looked really interesting - I would definitely be tempted to try a course there at some point!

Chicken and chorizo pie

Since I'm home I really wanted to try a recipe which  needs an oven and since I received the March issue of the BBC GoodFood magazine this recipe for a chicken and chorizo pie has been tempting me.

Given that this meal took about 2 1/2 hours to prepare I decided to put on some music so I got out my spotify and put on a playlist of Train as the upbeat music really fitted with the beautifully sunny day.

This recipe was simple to follow and make, however it does take quite a long time.  I would highly recommend measuring and preparing all the ingredients before you start just so that it's quicker once you actually begin cooking.

Onion, parsley, chorizo and chicken
Prepare your ingredients beforehand
The recipe says you need a large pack of parsley, however be careful.  Large packs of parsley in Sainsbury's usually weigh about 100g, however, I found that I only needed around 25g.

They recommend you use a 20cm x 25cm pie dish and a pie funnel or piping nozzle.  I didn't have a dish that big so I used a slightly smaller but deeper dish for my pie and it still worked really well.  As I'm at home I was able to use a pie funnel, however, if you don't have one (or a piping nozzle) then I would advise simply cutting a couple of large slits in the top of the pie so that the steam can still escape.

The pie before the pastry is put on

Remember that if you do use a smaller dish like I did you will probably need less than the 500g of pastry they recommend using.  I had quite a bit left over, even after I used some to create the decorations for the top.  When covering the pie with the pastry you should definitely follow the recipe's advice and use the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry as it makes it so much easier and less likely to break.  Crimping the edge of the pie not only makes it look nice but also stops the pastry from moving or coming away from the dish while it's cooking, you're effectively creating a seal.

Brushing the pastry with egg is another important step as it will make your pastry turn a beautiful golden brown colour when it's in the oven.  The lighter patches you can see in the centre of my pie are the areas it was harder to reach with the pastry brush and therefore were not coated as well with egg.

The finished pie
I served my pie with peas, carrots, beans and a sweet potato mash which I cooked while the pie was baking at the end.  I always find that pies are difficult dishes to serve elegantly but I'm a great believer that what a dish lacks in presentation it can make up for in taste!

All in all this was another great recipe from BBC GoodFood.  What I like about their recipes is that they are simple to follow, they have (so far) always tasted good and their timing estimates are accurate which is really helpful when planning a meal (especially when you only have a limited amount of time).  I'm looking forward to getting back to college this week where I hope the next issue of the magazine will be waiting for me!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On the road again

With term over I decided I needed a few days away to chill out and forget about work.  I've really missed Germany so I decided to go back to Bamberg for a few days, revisit some of my favourite places and soak up some German culture - mainly in the form of beer and Brezen (soft pretzels).

We (my boyfriend and I) stayed at the Alt Ringlein Hotel.  It's located in the very centre of Bamberg opposite the Schlenkerla Brewery which is famous for its smoked beer.  As we were tired from travelling we ate in the hotel on the first evening where I had Schäuferla (a roasted shoulder of pork) with pureed savoy cabbage and a potato dumpling.  I washed all this down with a Mahr's 'U' - the U stands for Ungespundetes which means the beer is unfiltered.

Mahr's Bräu unfiltered beerSchäuferla - roasted pork shoulder

Strawberry wineAfter the meal we headed over to Stilbruch a great restaurant/bar (if you're looking for the best burgers in town head here for their hearty Börgers which come with a large portion of salad and are great value, they also do really good pizzas which are similarly good value).  I opted for my usual, a strawberry wine.

On Saturday we had a lazy day but did leave the hotel to go and stock up on essentials from the supermarket.  By essentials I mean the German things I love that just can't be found easily in England.  My top priority were the bars of RitterSport chocolate - not the best chocolate you will ever have but tasty nonetheless - however I did also pick up a local bottle of wine (Silvaner) an Apfelschorle (a fizzy apple drink) and some chocolate-orange Leibniz biscuits along the way.  As you can see the wine comes in a bottle which is a different shape to your traditional bottle.  It's called a Bocksbeutel and is very traditional for the Franconian region.

In the evening we had dinner at Klosterbräu, my favourite restaurant in Bamberg.  If you ever visit then you absolutely have to try the Haxe - pork knuckle - which comes with Sauerkraut and Kloß - pickled cabbage (it's so much tastier than it sounds) and potato dumplings.  On this occasion I went for the Pils, however, I highly recommend all of their different beers.  Aside from the food, the atmosphere in Klosterbräu is great, with its wood-panelled dining room and friendly staff.

Haxe - pork knuckleZwergla beer from the Fässla brewery

We left Klosterbräu and headed to a bar called Lewinsky's.  There's nothing that special about this bar in itself, however I love it because of all the wonderful memories I have of it, from my time spent in there with the other Erasmus students every Thursday.  That and the bar serves my favourite beer, Zwergla, from the Fässla brewery.

On Sunday we continued the foodie theme with a trip to Cafe Müller.  This is a lovely cafe in the heart of Bamberg where they serve everything from a Champagne breakfast to the traditional German Kaffee and Kuchen (cake and coffee).  We opted for the sauteed potatoes with spinach and a fried egg, a simple yet tasty lunch, followed by cake - I had a raspberry and cream slice while my boyfriend had a cream slice with egg liqueur and walnut-cake base.  Although the cafe does serve really good coffee I decided to have a warm milk with honey - my usual caffeine-free alternative.

Sauteed potatoes, fried egg and spinach

Warm milk and honey

On Monday morning we skipped breakfast in the hotel as we wanted to go to the Schlenkerla brewery opposite for a more traditional German breakfast of white sausage (traditionally made with veal but it can also contain pork), brezen (soft pretzel) and sweet mustard.  My boyfriend also had a glass of their smoked wheat beer, a speciality which he thinks is delicious but which I cannot stand, I really think that smoked beer is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it.

Weißwurst, Brezen, Süßer Senf

Lager from the Fässla breweryThe rest of our time in Bamberg was spent lazing around and enjoying yet more beer.  It was great to go back to a place I love so much, it really is like a home away from home and I can't wait to return - hopefully in the summer for the Sandkerwa beer festival with other friends from my year abroad.

Enough about my travels for now, with exam term coming up I will be staying in England for a while and will be back to posting about my cooking and local Cambridge eateries.

Bis bald Bamberg!  Ich vermisse dich schon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

St Paddy's Day

This post is a couple of days late but better late than never!  As it was St Patrick's Day on Monday I decided to cook a themed dinner.  This was easier than I expected as my boyfriend has a book about Guinness which conveniently contains some Guinness-themed recipes.  I went for sausages with Guinness gravy and colcannon (mash with cabbage and leeks).

Sausages with Guinness gravy and colcannon
For two portions you will need:
For the mash:
potatoes (I used 4 maris piper as they're good for mash)
25ml milk (or a splash - depends on how creamy you like your mash)
some butter (once again however you like your mash)
1/4 tsp English mustard powder
pinch ground nutmeg

For the gravy:
1tbsp plain flour
1tbsp butter (the same amount of butter as flour)
300ml beef stock
125ml Guinness
1tbsp tomato puree
2 tsps redcurrant jelly
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs

4 sausages (whatever type you fancy - we went for Sainsbury's Taste the Difference pork sausages)
clear honey for brushing
cabbage and leeks (I used 100g of ready chopped cabbage and leeks as it was easy)
3 spring onions
salt and pepper for seasoning

  1. Potatoes.  Peel and chop the potatoes then boil for around 20-25 minutes, until tender so you can cut through them easily with a normal knife.  Drain well, add the milk and butter, mash.  Then add the mustard powder nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.  Be careful with the seasoning, you can always add a little more if there's not enough but once it's in it's in!  Cover and put aside to keep warm.
  2. Gravy.  It's worth noting that this makes a lot of gravy!  You can always halve the quantities if you're not as big a fan as my boyfriend and I are.  Prepare the beef stock with the Guinness, tomato puree and redcurrant jelly and herbs.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook over a gentle heat for a minute stirring rapidly.  Add the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly, making sure all the liquid is combined before adding more.  Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes to reduce it.  When it's the consistency you want it pour it into a jug and cover if possible to keep it warm.
  3. Sausages.  Either grill them, turning frequently and brushing them with honey until golden and cooked.  Or, if like me you don't have a grill, fry them, turning constantly and smearing with honey part way through until golden and cooked through (about 10-15 mins).
  4. Veg.  Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan (or use the leftover fat and honey from the sausages), add the cabbage and leeks and cook for 5 mins until soft.  Add the spring onions and cook for another 3-4 mins.  Fold into the mash to make the colcannon.
  5. Serve.  Spoon some colcannon onto a plate and nestle two sausages into it.  Pour over the gravy and enjoy!
If you have more than one hob then you can make the gravy at the same time as you cook the potatoes then move on to the sausages while you prepare the other veg for the colcannon.  I unfortunately only have one hob so I had to make the dish in stages.

It tasted great especially washed down with some more Guinness!

Lovely day for a Guinness
There was another interesting twist to the evening.  As I was on my way to buy the ingredients for dinner I noticed that there was something in my bike basket.  That something turned out to be a rhubarb and apple pie, still in its packaging.  I spent the evening contemplating whether to try a slice, on the one hand it was free pie and on the other hand I have absolutely no idea where it came from, as there isn't a brand name on it and I didn't recognise the logo on the packaging.  In the end I decided to try a slice, it was very tasty and there was in fact nothing wrong with it as I experienced no adverse side effects!

Anyway, if anyone knows anything about the mysterious pie I'd love to know where it came from and why it ended up in my bike basket!  I've posted a picture below so you can see what it looks like, label and all.

The mysterious rhubarb and apple pie
As I am going away to Germany for a few days I won't post again until later next week.  Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Urban Shed - review

As if I wasn't excited enough that Afternoon Tease opened up not long ago it seems that King Street really is becoming a place to be.  While wandering to buy some wool the other day I noticed that a new coffee house/sandwich bar had opened up and decided to try it out.

The place is called The Urban Shed and prides itself on its Fairtrade Arabica coffees and wide range of sandwiches served in a variety of ways from panis and ciabatas to baguettes and rolls, they even offer a salad option if you fancy something gluten free.  Everything can either be enjoyed in their retro-style cafe or as a take-away.

Latte with BBQ aubergine panini with swiss cheese and cashew nut butter

As it was my first visit I decided to eat in.  I found myself a seat in a nice comfy armchair at a wooden table in the adjoining room and took a look around while waiting for my coffee.  They've gone for a retro atmosphere with upcycled furniture, all of which is for sale, from the cases full of LPs to the record player itself.  Not only does the record player work you can choose the music from their selection of records!

Case of recordsRecord player

On the wall there's a nice tribute to Cambridge and the colleges which I liked - it's always nice when a place welcomes students, especially in a town like Cambridge where a lot of places cater more for tourists.

Wall with tribute to Cambridge and it's colleges

It didn't take long for my latte and panini to arrive.  Although they do have some more traditional options I decided to try the BBQ aubergine, swiss cheese & cashew nut butter panini - it was delicious!  The combination worked really well especially as it was toasted meaning the cheese and butter had melted into the aubergine.

Update: I went back to Urban Shed again the other day and have decided to update this part of my post as a result.  I was able to try their updated Black Forest Brownie and I have to say it was a huge improvement!  They had gotten rid of the over-sweet icing, added some more cherries to the mixture and even the texture of the brownie seemed better - it made all the difference.  It's great to see that the guys at Urban Shed are willing to review and improve their food.

The new and improved Black Forest Brownie!
I also had a chance to try their pork and caramelised onion sausage roll which was amazing!  The pastry wasn't too thick, the meat inside was moist and you could really taste the onion - if you haven't tried one already you should definitely go for it next time you're visiting!

One final note regarding takeaways.  I didn't find this out until the other day but if you're short on time then you can ring ahead so that they can prepare your order before you pop in to pick it up!

The Urban Shed was lovely, with a relaxed atmosphere.  It's great whether you want to grab a sandwich on-the-go, sit down with friends for a chat or chill out with a good book for a while.  I will definitely be taking some exam-term revision next time I go.

If you want to find out more about The Urban Shed you can:
Go to their website
Follow them on Twitter
Like them on Facebook

Or pop in to see them!  They can be found at 62-64 King Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LN

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pesto and Pizza

I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long, I've been super busy as it's the end of term and just haven't got round to writing a post.  Anyway, I have a bit more time now so I'll post a bit more frequently to make up for it.

Just before my friend left to go off on her travels we got together for one last meal which turned into more of a feast as we had way too much lasagne and pizza given that there were only four of us eating!  My contribution to the dinner was the portobello pesto pizza which I came across on Brown Eyed Baker, one of the many blogs I follow.  As soon as I saw the recipe I loved the look of it, especially the idea of replacing the traditional tomato sauce with pesto - I had to try it!

I didn't make my own pesto for this particular recipe but it seems like a good opportunity to tell you about the pesto I did make earlier this term.  Although it is really simple to make pesto you do need some sort of food processor or blender to make it.  I think I've mentioned my Kenwood Mini Chopper before and it really was the perfect size for making pesto.  This recipe makes 250ml of pesto which is exactly the right amount for the pizza.

You will need:
50g pine nuts
large bunch basil
50g Parmesan (or similar alternative - you can buy pre-grated if you want to make things easy for yourself)
150ml olive oil plus extra for storing
2 garlic cloves

  1. Heat a small frying pan over a low heat (keep the pan dry, you don't need any oil or fat).  Cook the pine nuts until they are golden, make sure to shake the pan occasionally so they don't burn.
  2. Put the pine nuts into a food processor (or a bowl if using an hand-held blender), add the remaining ingredients (try and shred the basil a little as you put it in and make sure you grate the Parmesan and crush the garlic).
  3. Process until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.
The finished pesto
The finished product
If you don't want to use all of the pesto at once you can put it in a jar, cover the top with a little olive oil, seal and store in the fridge where it will keep for a couple of weeks.

If however, you're like me and love the sound of the portobello pesto pizza then don't bother preserving it, just dive straight into this next recipe!  You could even make it while the dough is rising to save time.

As I made the dough from scratch it took longer but was so worth it!  You'll need to make the dough about 3 hours before you plan to sit down to eat.  This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas, however, you will have to double the toppings.  In the photos you will see that I ended up with a really thick base, this is because we didn't have an extra tray so I just turned all the dough into one pizza so that we didn't waste it.  The result was good but I would definitely advise making a thinner base.

For the dough you will need:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 sachet (7g) instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the toppings you will need:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
300-400g mini portabella mushrooms (I used 1 300g punnet) - chopped
1/2 medium red onion - thickly sliced
(splash of white wine - optional)
(dash of Worcestershire sauce - optional)
1 cup pesto (you can use your homemade pesto for this!)
225g provolone cheese - thinly sliced if possible, I used grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - grated
  1. In a mixing bowl combine the water, yeast and olive oil.  Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy (about 5 mins).
  2. Add in 2 cups bread flour and salt.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook attachment then mix the dough on a low setting until if is sticky.  If like me you don't continue to use the spoon to turn the dough over and combine the flour.
  3. Add 2 more cups of flour and continue to combine into the dough until it comes together in a ball and is no longer sticky.  As the dough becomes less sticky you may want to start using your hands to work the dough rather than the spoon.  If you have a mixer keep going with that!  If the dough isn't smooth then add a could of drops of warm water and mix until  it is the right consistency.  If it's too sticky add some more flour 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  4. Rub a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it over to coat it in the oil.  Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours.
  5. While the dough is rising prepare your toppings - chop the mushrooms and onion, grate the cheese and make the pesto if you want to use homemade.
  6. After the dough has risen turn it out onto a floured surface.  Divide it into two pieces (you will only need one).  Wrap one in cling film and store in the freezer in a zip-lock bag until you want to use it (just put it in the fridge on the morning of the day you want to use it.)  Roll the other one out with a rolling pin into your desired shape (I advise doing this on the tray you are going to cook the pizza on), cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for another 10 or so minutes (don't leave it longer than 30).
  7. While the dough is rising heat the oven to 260 degrees Celsius
  8. In a frying pan melt the butter over a medium heat and add the mushrooms and onions.  When they have cooked down a bit add the wine and Worcestershire sauce if you're using them.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and the mushrooms and onions are soft and browned (this should take 10-15 minutes).  Remove from the heat and set aside
  9. Spread the pesto over the pizza base, leaving some space for the crust.  Spread the mushroom and onion mixture over the pesto and top with the provolone and Parmesan cheese.
  10. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, until the crust is brown and the cheese is golden.  Remove from the oven and serve!
I'm sorry about the poor quality of the photos, I only realised once I was at my friend's that I didn't have my camera with me so I had to make-do with my phone instead.

The pizza before it went into the oven
Before going into the oven

A slice of the pizza after it had been baked
After being baked
Chicken, pesto and mozzarella toastie
 I love pesto as it is such a versatile ingredient, it is one of those things that I always have a pot of in my cupboard so I can easily rustle up something tasty when I'm feeling lazy.  I use in so many dishes, from pasta - along with some mushrooms, onion and bacon -  to toasties - it tastes particularly good with chicken and mozzarella.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pancakes galore!

Happy Pancake day everyone!  I've been cooking a lot recently and so have a lot of things to post about, but I couldn't let pancake day pass me by without a related blog post.  This has to be one of my favourite days of the year, not only do you have the right to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner (don't judge!) but it's also a chance to get together with friends and enjoy this really simple food which offers literally endless possibilities.

I started off the day by making American M&M pancakes for breakfast.  I decided to take full advantage of my new measuring cups and delighted in not having to do any conversions when using this American recipe for pancakes.  They may not look fantastic, but they sure did taste good!

Finished M&Ms pancakes
M&Ms pancake
For 4-6 pancakes you will need:
1 cup plain flour
2tbsp sugar
2tsps baking powder
1/2tsp salt
1 cup milk
2tbsp unsalted butter (melted) or vegetable oil
1 large egg
some oil or butter for frying

Cooking an M&Ms pancake
  1. Mix the wet ingredients together (milk, butter/oil and egg).
  2. Add the dry ingredients and mix them in thoroughly but don't overmix.
  3. Heat a frying pan and add some oil or butter (use a sheet of kitchen roll to wipe away any excess)
  4. Add about 2-3 tbps batter to the pan and fry on each side for 1-2 mins (it was at this point that I added the M&Ms so that they cooked into the pancake!)
If you're making a lot then you can keep them warm in the oven while you make more.  Alternatively you can do what I do (since I don't have an oven) which is to eat them as I go along!

This evening I had a few friends round for, you guessed it, more pancakes.  This time, however, I made good old traditional English pancakes - so for this I'll switch back to my normal metric measurements.

Makes 6-8 pancakes:
110g flour (sifted)
2 eggs
200ml milk
75ml water
(butter for frying)
  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl (which will hold all the mixture) then make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs, whisk into the flour.
  2. Then gradually add the milk while still whisking to make sure you get all the lumps out as you go (I used an electric mixer for this as it's so much easier).
  3. Melt some butter in a frying pan (not too large and preferably non-stick) - enough to coat the bottom.  Make sure the pan is nice and hot before adding some of the mixture (not too much or the pancake will be too thick and won't cook nicely - these aren't like American pancakes).
  4. Cook for a minute or too on one side before flipping - if you don't feel confident enough to toss the pancake then just use a spatula.
  5. Cook for another couple of minutes on the other side until browned and flip it over again if the first side needs to brown a bit more, before turning the pancake out onto a plate.
This is the best bit - toppings!  I normally go quite traditional, sugar and a squeeze of lemon, or, if I'm feeling in a more extravagant mood then sliced banana and nutella.  However, having had sweet pancakes for breakfast I decided to go for something more savory.

Russian maslenitsa (their religious/folk holiday in the last week before Lent celebrating both the end of winter and, like in England, the period just before fasting begins) finished a couple of days ago and in honour of this I decided to make a Russian-themed pancake.  So I diced up a beetroot, scattered it over the pancake and finished it off with a dollop of sour cream (this along with creme fraiche is the closest English equivalent to Russian smetana) and, naturally, a sprig of dill (Russians love this herb and use it with everything).

Beetroot, sour cream and dill pancake

For my second pancake I sliced a tomato and melted some mozzarella over the top while the pancake was still in the pan, finishing it off with a sprinkle of dried basil (fresh would have been better but I forgot to get any).

Tomato and mozzarella pancake

All in all I had another lovely pancake day and can go to bed shortly very full and content.