Barefoot in London

Bye-bye, Barefoot.

Well…not so dramatic as that. I have simply decided to broaden my blogging topic and have moved to www.galinldn.com. So, if you enjoy my rambles please follow me over there and see what I’m getting up to in London. It’s sure to contain lots of recipes, restaurants, theatre, art, markets and photography and I’d love to see you!

Steak Glorious Steak

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Right. So this week I moved into a new flat. This new flat means I no longer have a horrendous commute and it also means I am once again running about in my own kitchen like a lunatic. Thus, this means I have to continue this wee blog of mine which I have missed something rotten over the past few months but simply didn’t feel as though I had the head space to deal with it, or the creativity for that matter. However, the move has inspired me to start it all again. So, here’s the first dinner I cooked in my new kitchen…

For the past few days I had been really craving steak, and even though I’m not the biggest fan of it, I am a huge advocate of listening to what your body wants so I decided to obey. I went for some lovely steak medallions as they weren’t too fatty and looked nice and meaty and like they’d curb my craving pronto! I looked to Rosie, from Cider with Rosie, for my steak-spiration as I recalled reading a mouth-watering steak recipe on their from her.

I served up with blanched asparagus and home made garlic and rosemary sweet potato wedges. De. Lish.

Also, this meal made my want for a cast iron skillet even stronger. May have to treat myself next month!

Recipe;

2 steaks

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

6 cherry tomatoes

2 big cloves of garlic

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Cracked black pepper

Sprinkling of sea salt

  1. Pop a nice big glug of oil into a bowl, add in a couple of table spoons of the balsamic, sprinkle in salt and pepper, crush one garlic clove and just chop another into chunks and stir together with your sprigs of rosemary. Add the rosemary into the marinade and massage it into your steaks.

  2. Leave the steaks in the bowl with your marinade for at least an hour – longer is fine too – but remember to take it out of the fridge at least 40 minutes before cooking as you want it to come up to room temperature.

  3. I have the heat under the pan for a good five minutes before putting the steak in as I want the edges to get that lovely caramelised, almost burnt burnt flavour but have to have the middle a nice medium-rare. About three minutes on each side and leave to rest for five seemed to cook these a treat, however, I think steak is one of those ones you have to play by ear as everyone has different preferences and methods!

  4. Whilst cooking the steak, I popped the cherry tomatoes with a little balsamic and garlic into a sauce pan and allowed to cook until soft and sweet. This is a great alternative if you’re not planning on serving your steak with a sauce as it add a gorgeous, sugary and fruity edge to your meal as well as using the tomato’s natural acidity to bring out the flavour of the meat.

  5. Serve up with some tasty sides and enjoy!

Zumba + Wellness Week + Slow-Cooking Chicken Chilli

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Last week, thanks to Mode Media’s Wellness Week, I got a chance to take part in a Zumba class at the Pineapple Dance Studios. In my mind I saw a room of 60+ people shimmying about a little and generally just having a bit of a jolly. Nah. I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was a fast-paced, leg-tangling romp of an exercise class that was actually a lot of fun and really felt like it had done me some good.

I, myself, was a little like a bow-legged bambi in roller-skates but still managed get most of the steps right and if not I just styled it out (or I like to think I did…)! I definitely think that if you’re looking to get fit but don’t fancy the idea of endless hours on the treadmill that Zumba is worth a gander – maybe even grab a couple of friends and instead of doing a night on the cocktails, do a night in your trainers shaking your bum and waggling your limbs about!

And, in fact, if you did make a night of it then once the class was finished you could head home and cook something up from the incredible Zumba cookbook which I was lucky enough to be gifted after the class. It actually couldn’t have come at a better time as it contains a few slow-cooker recipes and I just purchased a lovely, shiny slow-cooker!

One particular recipe I’m eager to try is the “Slow-Cookin’ Chicken Chilli” which is a nice, healthy and leaner version of the regular chilli con carne we know and love! I have adjusted it slightly – no surprise there! – for when I try it later this week

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp chilli powder

2 fresh jalapeños

3 chopped tomatoes

2 chicken breasts

1 can of cannellini beans

1 can chickpeas

1 can sweetcorn

2 cups chicken broth

2 diced green bell peppers

Salt and pepper

  1. Chop and prep all veggies and meat.

  2. Fry off onions and garlic with the cumin in a pan.

  3. Add all ingredients to your slow-cooker and cook on high for 5-6 hours.

If you don’t have a slow-cooker then pop into a big ceramic pot with a lid on top and cook in the oven on a nice, low heat for a good few hours.

Pact Coffee

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Lovely little Pact Leopard pal.

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So, I am currently sorting through some of the lovely recipes I discovered/cooked up over Christmas and New Year, however, I have been meaning to write about one of my final Christmas presents which was delivered to me in early January.

Adam had bought me a V60 filter gift set from Pact Coffee which  entitled me to 3 lovely bags of coffee and (as the name would suggest) a V60 filter, a mug and a cute wee tea towel. Anyone who knows me at all will know a foodie/drinkie (?!) – what the devil is the word for those of us also interested in drinks too? Snobs? ; ) – present is pretty much always going to be a winning present with me.

My first bag of coffee I received was Inza Cauca from Colombia and is described as “blackcurrant and cherry crumble” and, let me tell you, from the second you crack open that bag you get a big old whiff of a scent that really is reminiscent of the beautiful, caramelised crumbs you find on top of good old fashioned crumbles. And when you take your first few sips you’ll feel the kind of acidity that cuts through your mouth when eating sour, or tart, fruits like blackcurrant or cherry. This makes this coffee perfect for the mornings and will clear your palette off nicely!

I’d never used a V60 before – and I have to say I do prefer a cafetiere – but it’s great for making one quick cup of coffee and because you can just plop the filter filled with coffee grounds straight into the bin (unless you save your grounds for the compost heap? Does wonders for the soil!) it makes it an extremely no-fuss affair. Sometimes extricating coffee grounds from the cafetiere seems like far too much effort of a morning.

Pact are a great company based in Bermondsey – they roast their beans in small batches, will grind for you if needs be and let you decide how frequently you have your coffee delivered (they deliver to anywhere in the UK). I think it’d be a great investment if you, like me, love a really good cup of fresh coffee and I’m pretty certain I will be signing myself up to regular deliveries once my Christmas Present is all used up!

Happy New Year + Wapping Market (naturally)

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Happy New Year, my darlings!

Hope you all had a wonderful festive period and have had plenty of time off work!

I’m not a huge fan of January – or February for that matter – but I do love the idea of a fresh slate, of a whole new year to fill up with all sorts of nonsense both good and bad. I know it sounds somewhat cliché, and you can start a new regime or make a promise to yourself at any time, but I think it’s a great opportunity to cast an eye over the past and look into what’s coming next. I haven’t made specific resolutions that are cast in stone but I have had a few quiet little conversations with myself (truly, mad as a hatter, you see) and set myself a few guidelines for 2015.

Of which, one massive one is to ensure I still make time for the kitchen and for experimenting with new recipes. Another is to not neglect this blog but to nurture it – to fill it with anecdotes and recipes and photographs of foodie moments I have.

One such recent moment I had was when we took a jaunt to Wapping Market. It isn’t quite the grand affair of Borough Market, nor the chaotic mess of Portobello but it is a thoroughly lovely Sunday morning visit and, if you live out in East London, I’d say get yourself out there ASAP and enjoy some of the tasty treats they have on offer.

There are organic veg stalls, charcuterie, coffee, cakes, muffins and food trucks galore. We ate a pork belly baco (British Taco!) that was insanely tender and tasty from The Roadary and purchased lots of lovely veggies for our dinner later that day. I was also incredibly naughty and bought the gooiest, most delicious brownie (coffee, chocolate and caramel – oh my!) I have ever had in my life from Kooky Bakes.

What’s more, all the stall owners were immensely friendly and willing to chatter with me about their products which for a curious wee gal like myself is always a positive. Also let’s you learn about where what you’re eating has come from and about the people cooking it up for you.

With fantastic local businesses and small start-ups, fab riverside views and oodles of variety, I’d highly recommend you get yourself down there one Sunday. I am certainly intending upon returning as there was a chicken burger there with my name on it!

Holidays are coming; Christmas Cake!

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Monty the penguin, Red Cups, Coca-cola trucks, Selfridge’s sparkly window displays and Oxford Street festooned in strings of Christmas lights already. Christmas is well and truly galloping towards us at a horrendous pace.

I love this time of year; I may whinge about the dark mornings and the fact it looks as though it’s about midnight when I leave my office but I adore the frosty nip in the air and the fact I get to pile on jumpers and hats and scarves like a lunatic really does make me incredibly happy.

I know a lot of people bawk at getting too Christmassy too early, however, if you haven’t already taken care of it there is one thing that – even if you’re not allowed to put on Love Actually until December – you can definitely do. In fact it’s imperative you do…

You have to make your Christmas cake!

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of eating said cake but I do love making it. I love the smells that fill the house, I love the big fat, brandy-soaked cranberries and raisins and I love feeding it up with regular doses of alcohol until Christmas eve when it’s wrapped up in apricot jam and marzipan and slathered with icing.

Now, I have a confession to make; I made mine a few weeks back because I’m super keen but I think if you get cracking this weekend you’ll definitely have more than enough time to create a decadently spiced and boozy cake.

Recipe;

1kg mixed dried fruit (I used 500g currants, 200g cranberries, 100g apricots, 100g mixed peel and 100g chopped glacé cherries)

200ml brandy

225g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

Rind and juice of 1 orange

Rind and juice of 1 lemon

225g dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

225g butter

2 tbsp treacle

  1. Pre-soak your fruit in 100ml of brandy the night before you’re going to bake this; it makes it all plump and shiny and extra tasty.

  2. Pre-heat the oven to 140.

  3. Sift flour, spices and salt into a large bowl.

  4. Pop your treacle, butter and sugar into a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until all melted together. Beat your eggs and stir into the treacle, butter and sugar.

  5. Pour all your liquidy ingredients in with the flour and spices and combine. Then stir in your fruit, the remaining brandy, orange and lemon juice and rind.

  6. Pour into a deep, round 8” pan lined with grease proof paper. You want the paper really nice and high out of the pan so that you’re able to create a sort of parcel, leaving only a little hole in it when you’re baking.

  7. You’re going to slowly bake for 4 hours. Allow to cool and wrap tightly in greaseproof paper and cling film, unwrapping every 1-2 weeks to feed it up with a tbsp of brandy.

Wonderful Weekend: Burnt Toast + Coffee Workshop

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This weekend has been, as the title of this post indicates, utterly wonderful. I have spent it with some of my very favourite people and visited a couple of new foodie places that I’ll be sure to be going back to. Now I know this post is a little out of the ordinary for me but I’m going to try and start reviewing places I go out and eat in as well as posting recipes!

Friday evening was spent with my friend Sam at the National Theatre watching the wonderful new production JOHN by theatre company DV8. This completely blew me away and I think I’m definitely going to try and get back to see it again before it finishes. If you’re around in London be sure to check this out – or, I believe it’s going to be broadcast in cinemas as a part of NT Live so if you can’t get down here maybe see if you can see it in your local cinema!

I love the National Theatre and I love walking along the South bank; I can’t wait for the Christmas market to arrive here bringing with it all those delicious scents of festive food and drink. Without any street food to choose from this time though Sam and I decided on Wagamamas for dinner which is always an excellent shout!

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Saturday morning and in fact most of Saturday was spent in Brixton with my best friend, Lorna. Now Brixton isn’t an area I know particularly well in London but I have been there a few times recently for one reason or another and I’ll be making sure I go back again and again as Brixton Village was absolutely chock-full of wee eateries and incredible food stalls that I want to visit.

We decided upon a place called Burnt Toast for brunch; there was a little bit of a queue but we didn’t mind as we had plenty to catch-up on and a good brunch is always worth the wait. There were several little wooden tables and chairs (all seating outside; don’t fret as cosy blankets were provided) and the inside looked to be a tiny crowded hubbub of kitchen activity. There were toasters and condiments set up next to the tables so you could toast your own bread and top with whatever you heart desired.

Being indecisive, and not wanting a horrible case of food envy, Lorna and I decided to share something savoury and something sweet. Brunch main and dessert, if you will. We went with the feta, tomato, kale and mushroom baked eggs and the blueberry, raspberry and maple pancake.

It was absolutely delicious. The eggs were nice and tender and full of flavour and the pancake was so big I thought we were never going to even make a dent in it but we did our utmost and nearly saw the whole thing off! I wonder, perhaps, if they may have been better off serving two slightly thinner pancakes as this was certainly “cakier” than I expected, however, if I get to eat half a plate-sized cake for breakfast who am I to nitpick?!

The coffee – a black americano – was also wonderful with beautiful, mellow caramel notes.

I definitely want to go back and try some more of their menu!

Saturday evening was spent with Adam, drinking red wine and cooking up a spicy, tomato-y Indian curry which I will definitely post a quick recipe for later this week as it was pretty healthy, very tasty (if I do say so myself!) and super easy. After a somewhat exhausting week, I definitely needed a Saturday night filled with Shiraz and a home-cooked meal!

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Sunday afternoon this week was reserved for spending a few hours with my lovely Jozef. He’s been off travelling the world this past year and having him back in London is downright excellent. He suggested we try Coffee Workshop on Clerkenwell Road which is in between the gorgeous Farringdon and Clerkenwell.

It was pretty busy with Sunday brunchers and we had a wee bit of a wait but it was a gloriously crisp and bright day so standing outside whilst we waited for a table to free-up was no hardship. It’s a fab place with a real mesh of aesthetics – bare-brick walls, wooden floors, skull covered wallpaper, walls of shrubbery, Marmite and mustard jars lining shelves. There was a great balance of edgy, quirky and twee and from the mini Kilner jars filled with sugar to the industrial looking black lamps hanging from the ceiling everything felt perfectly suited.

The food looked amazing but we opted for aeropress coffee and cake instead of eggs or burgers (I have to go back and try some though!).

We ordered both their blends of aeropress – the Githiga from Kenya and the El Rodeo from Costa Rica. It was excellent and has made me want to look for classes on making aeropress coffee; I had a quick chat with a lady who worked there and she briefly explained the process. I can feel my inner barista stirring again!

I was also incredibly naughty and had a giant brownie (which I woefully couldn’t finish) but it did go perfectly with my coffee so it would have been really rude not to. It was so crisp on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside; I always forget how much I love a good brownie because so often they’re disappointing and dry and I’m certain one decent throw and they could knock someone out! However, I’d highly recommend sampling Coffee Workshop’s one if you’re knocking about in that part of town!

Coffee Workshop is totally worth a visit; it’s cool and chic and should be something that is full of espresso snobbery and Shoreditch hipster kids but instead it’s welcoming, inviting and the staff are super cheerful and chatty. I really couldn’t recommend it enough for a lazy few hours of laughing and chatting with friends.

Phew.

I know. Monster post.

How was your weekend?

Grown-up Ginger Cake

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I’m getting right into this colder weather malarky and, once again, the ginger, cinnamon and cloves in my cupboard are getting a thorough work-out. One of my favourite Wintery treats – albeit it is far more Christmassy than October should allow – is ginger bread. And I mean like proper ginger cake not just normal gingerbread cookies (although between me, you and the gatepost there is a recipe for that coming up…).

This recipe belongs to that of my culinary goddess – Nigella Lawson. It’s incredibly rich, sticky and – according to my co-workers – even appeals to those who don’t particularly like gingery flavours. It’s a deep, earthy and spicy little treat that makes your fingers sticky and which, as it’s cooking, fills the house with the most beautiful, festive sent. And, the fantastic thing about this cake, is it keeps for up to two weeks in an airtight container which is excellent news because – 1. cake for longer and 2. this recipe makes a heck of a lot of cake!

How are you combating these cold, dark evenings?

Recipe;

150 g butter

200g golden syrup

200g black treacle

125g muscavado sugar

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 x 15ml warm water

250ml full fat milk

2 eggs, beaten

300g plain flour

  1. Preheat your oven to 170.

  2. Pop your butter, sugar, syrup, treacle, gingers, cinnamon and cloves into a saucepan over a low heat and until everything has melted and is nicely combined.

  3. Take your saucepan off the heat and stir in your eggs, milk and bicarb.

  4. Sift your flour into a bowl and pour in your liquidy mix. This is an incredibly “wet” mixture but don’t fret – that’s what makes this bake so scrumptious and sticky.

  5. Pour into a large tin, lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 45-60 mins until it is risen and firm on top.

  6. Leave aside to cool and continue baking once out of the oven and enjoy!

Perfect with tea or coffee or warmed up with a little custard or ice cream!

“Honey, I’m comb!” …sticky and sweet honeycomb

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Okay, so in theory this is a super easy recipe. In theory. I, however, had a wee bit of teething problems when I first tried this out but…live and learn and all that jazz…

Honeycomb, or Hokey Pokey as it’s sometimes affectionately called, always reminds me of my Grandad on my dad’s side. I’m not entirely sure why – or if they were even a favourite of his – but I seem to associate Crunchie bars with him. I remember him giving them to me when I was wee and I couldn’t really ever quite finish one; my fingers would be sticky with melting chocolate as I sat beside him in the car all trussed up in my baby seat. It’s strange and it’s not any more of a formed memory than that but…it’s there and I like having those little ephemeral flickers of my past. When you don’t really know what you were doing, or the circumstances you were in or even if your thoughts are entirely reliable as these things often become misty with nostalgia and age.

I find food, like certain scents or songs, can often have this effect; it’s connected to places or people or moments in your own history and can in a split second take you back to that time.

As I said, this is a very simple recipe and is actually an awful lot of fun to make; might be good fun to show kiddies too but probably not the wisest of moves to allow them too close – melting sugar and the reaction when you stir in the bicarb can be a little bit troublesome for little ones and we don’t want scalded hands.

Recipe;

200g caster sugar

5 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp bicarbonate ofsoda

Butter for greasing

  1. Grease 20” tin well with butter and pop sugar and golden syrup in a deep saucepan.

  2. Now, this is where I hit a little trouble – you’ll want your pan to have quite a thick bottom as you don’t want the mixture to start bubbling until the sugar has all melted and become caramel. I did not, like a wally, use a proper pan and the entire thing bubbled away for too long, making my honeycomb taste burnt. I was right grouchy about this.

  3. Let the caramel bubble until it’s a deep amber, then take off the heat and stir in the bicarb. This is where the fun starts – it’ll bubble and balloon and seemingly come to life. Stir furiously for a couple of minutes and pour into your greased tin.

  4. Place to one side for one or two hours until it has cooled and then bash it up and enjoy!

“Hey, it’s Autumn!” Ginger and Cinnamon Rolls with Espresso Glaze

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After the absolute deluge of rain this morning, the darkening evenings and return of woolly socks and central heating I cannot deny that Autumn has well and truly arrived with bells and whistles on. I’m finding it so much harder to drag myself out of bed and want to wear nothing but chunky knits and layers. Don’t get me wrong, I love when it’s time to pull out the snood, don a good hat and pull on the fingerless gloves (how else can I text or obsessively hunt through my playlists for the perfect walk to work songs?) but I think the long, clinging Summer has spoilt me this year.

Now, Autumn for me doesn’t only conjure imagery of crinkly leaves and pumpkins (despite the fact I do love a good pumpkin recipe) for me it also means a wealth of orange, apple, cinnamon and ginger and cloves. It means soup and spices and tasty warm breads. And, most exciting of all, it means lattes. And black coffee. And the occasional hot chocolate. Summer puts me right off hot drinks, I don’t understand how it can be the hottest of hot days and people are still drowning in vats of tea. I want juices, iced coffee and Prosecco (well. I’m partial to cold weather Prosecco too…). However. Autumn arrives and I can’t get enough of cinnamon lattes, Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice and good, rich black coffee.

With this is mind, I devised the perfect Autumn treat. It’s sticky and spicy and is altogether a more adult version of the cinnamon swirl.

Recipe;

Dough;

350g plain flour

5g yeast

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

120 ml water

60ml milk

40g unsalted butter

1 large egg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

Filling; 

50g granulated sugar

40g butter

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

 Glaze;

3 tsp coffee

300g icing sugar

4 tbsp milk

  1. Take 300g of flour and mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Pop the milk, water and butter together in a jug and pop in the microwave. Heat until the butter is just melted. You don’t want this horribly hot, just nice and tepid.
  3. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the egg and thrown in the last 50g of flour.
  4. Combine all ingredients, then flour a surface fairly well and tip the sticky dough out of the bowl.
  5. Begin to knead. You want to really roll your sleeves up and get stuck in for a good 4-5 minutes then pop aside in a warmish room to prove for 20 minutes.
  6. Roll out the dough into a rectangle.
  7. Spread on butter for the filling and sprinkle evening with cinnamon, ginger and sugar.
  8. Roll up the dough like a giant swiss roll then take a sharp knife and cut into slices.
  9. Place this into a nice big round tray (or two trays, if necessary!) and leave to prove again for another 60 minutes.
  10. Preheat your oven to 180 and pop the rolls in the oven for 25-30 minutes until they’re a nice golden brown.
  11. When they have cooled a little – but not too much – make up your glaze.
  12. Glaze; add a tsp of water to the 3 tsp of coffee so that you have a nice thick paste then add to the icing sugar and begin to stir in your milk. You can make this as runny or thick as you like, really. It’s your call.
  13. Drench your rolls in glaze and enjoy!
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