Chocolate Pudding Cake

I don’t like fish.  Full of good Omega-3 fats and generally healthy, I know it’s something I should like.  I just don’t.  I do however, want the baby Brit to like fish.  I am therefore trying to eat fish more regularly.  I started last Friday.  Fish Friday.  We got some line caught mackerel (I know, mackerel!), baked it in the oven, and served it with caramelised potatoes and onions.  I ate two fillets of mackerel.  

In celebration of achieving my goal (cook fish and consume a portion within two weeks of my sister’s visit) I made this dessert.  It’s retro.  It’s unhealthy.  It’s delicious when served with salted caramel ice cream.  

Just thought you should know.

Chocolate Pudding Cake adapted from thekitchn 

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (6 ounces) white sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients dry ingredients by sifting together into a large bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients.  Mix together the dry and wet ingredients until there is no flour showing.  Pour into an 8×8″ pan.

Combine the following ingredients:
1/2 cup (4 ounces) white sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

Sprinkle the combined white sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder over the cake batter.  Over all of this, pour 1/2 c of cold water.

It’ll look weird.  Don’t stir it together.  Just leave it.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.  It’s done when the edges of the pan start to caramelise.  

Serve immediately with salted caramel ice cream.

Quick and Dirty

So we’ve been a bit busier now that the baby brit has arrived on the scene.  This post is mostly just to ensure that I don’t lose the recipe for a chicken soup that I really enjoyed.  

And that’s it.

Chicken Harira with Spinach and Lemon (Chicken Soup) adapted from Waitrose Magazine, June 2013

1 tbsp olive oil
small bunch of coriander stalks and leaves separated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tin, chopped tomatoes (400g)
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
100g bulgar wheat
250g leftover cooked chicken (I used two chicken breasts)
100g spinach
4tbsp natural yogurt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, adding the chopped coriander stalks, garlic, ginger and lemon zest.  Stir fry for two minutes.  Stir in the cumin and paprika, cooking for an additional minute.  Next add the tomatoes, bulgar wheat, and stock.  Cover the pan and simmer for 8 minutes until the bulgar is just tender.  Stir in the chicken and spinach, letting the spinach wilt.  Dress with torn coriander leaves.  Season with salt and pepper, adding lemon juice to taste.  Top with 1tbsp yogurt.

Three Years and counting

I would like to wish mr416expat a happy three years in England.  He’s now lived in the UK longer than he lived in our house in Toronto.  He’s well on his way to having lived in the UK as a married man longer than he lived in Toronto as a married man.  Time flies!

Despite having lived in the UK for 3 years, it’s still shocking/annoying when I go to the grocery store or market in search for, what I thought was, a universally available item.  Today’s case in point?  Spaghetti Squash.  I love that stuff.  I use spaghetti squash when I want to have a slightly lighter (less carby, more veggies) meal.  I have, in my 2 1/2 years here (I moved to the UK 6 months after mr416expat), seen only one spaghetti squash.  When I saw that solitary spaghetti squash at a market in East London, I bought it on sight.  The market vendor informed me that he wouldn’t grow them next year as no one was buying them.  It was a sad day.

2 1/2 years later I still haven’t seen any more spaghetti squash in London.  Maybe they’re out there somewhere, but not at any of my regular haunts.  This absence of course, made making The First MessSpaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl quite a challenge.  I love a challenge.

Quinoa and Broccoli Bowl with Peanut and Lime Sauce – Adapted from The First Mess

120g quinoa (cook in 1L boiling water until soft – approximately 10 minutes)
1 broccoli cut into florets
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 c toasted sunflower seeds
handful of chopped herb (I used parsley because I had it on hand)
2 cups spinach (fresh)Codd
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)


1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp thai hot sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 lime, peeled + chopped
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
tiny splash of toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Cook the quinoa in 1L boiling water until soft – approximately 10 minutes.  Drain.  Put the spinach in a large bowl, pouring the hot quinoa overtop.  The heat from the quinoa will wilt the spinach.  Steam the broccoli florets.  While the broccoli is steaming combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender, mixing until combined.  Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing to the quinoa and spinach, tossing together.  Top the quinoa with the steamed broccoli, shallot, toasted sunflower seeds and chia seeds.  Drizzle additional dressing on top, season with salt and pepper.

Carrots with Chilli Peppers and Sunflower Seeds

So over here in England Gwyneth Paltrow gets a pretty bad rap.  Granted she’s living in LA now, so she’s not really a UK problem, but she still pops up in the media from time to time.  Most recently Ms. Paltrow has courted controversy with her new cookbook, “It’s all Good” where she provides recipes that “are just right for the way we are meant to be eating these days – cleaner and healthier, without sacrificing any flavour or satisfaction.”  In a country where, according to Suzanne Moore of the Guardian, food is now the ultimate class signifier, Paltrow’s recipes have a tendency to come across as somewhat preachy and unattainable for those on fixed or low incomes.  That said, I came across some of her recipes on goop and couldn’t resist giving them a go.  Unfortunately when it came to trying out her recipe for Carrots with Black Sesame and Ginger, I had neither black sesame or ginger.  Here’s what I came up with:

Carrots with Hot Red Peppers and Sunflower Seeds

1 chilli pepper, sliced into rings (remove the seeds if you’re afraid of too much heat)
1 tbsp olive oil
6 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (I used the medium blade on my mandolin)
2 handfuls of snow peas, cut on a diagonal into roughly matchstick size
coarse sea salt and pepper
a few drops of sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
4 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, adding the chilli peppers to flavour the oil.  After the peppers have sizzled in the oil for a minute or so, add the carrots and snow peas, tossing to coat with the oil.  Cook the carrots and snowpeas for a minute or too until they just start to soften.  Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sunflower seeds.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

Fava Flavours

Yotam Ottolenghi continues to blow my mind with his flavourful descriptions of his recipes in both the Guardian and the Waitrose Magazine.  Fava is a warm dip made from split peas.  It, served with breads, meats and cheese, made rounded out dinner for us a few weeks ago.


Fava – Adapted from The Dish of the Month, Waitrose Magazine

3 large onions
300g yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp tumeric
100ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Quarter one onion and, with the split peas, bay leaves and tumeric, add to a large saucepan.  Cover generously with water, bringing it to a boil, then reducing to simmer, cooking for one hour or until peas are soft.  You may need to add more water as the peas absorb it as they cook.  Strain the peas, discarding the onion, but be sure to keep the water they’ve cooked in.

While the peas cook, prepare the onions by slicing them into 0.5cm thick slices.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until they are golden brown (roughly 15-20 minutes).

Blitz the peas in a food processor (or with an immersion blender), adding the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil, and 3 tbsp of cooking liquid.  Add chives and half the caramelised onion.  Serve warm, in a bowl topped with the remaining chives and caramelised onion.

Fabulous Mates and Delicious Eats

I previously mentioned that we have had a new arrival on the scene.


A legitimately British born baby!  While she kept us up all hours in those first few weeks we were lucky to be kept well fed by several good friends. On a daily basis delicious, homemade meals would appear at our door, often with a quick hug and a cuddle (baby cuddles, not expat cuddles).  It was so appreciated by both mr416expat and myself.  Several of my friends have shared their delicious recipes with me, and in order to avoid losing track of their tasty dishes, I’m going to blog about them here.

My fabulous friend Keren, who also recently became a mum (Thank you for paving the way Keren!!), brought us a wonderful Jamie Oliver Sausage Pasta recipe.  While Jamie makes this recipe a 30 minute recipe by using kitchen items such as the food processor to chop vegetables, I’ve gone the slow and steady route, chopping vegetables by hand.  Adapted from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals this pasta sauce is flavourful and spicy.  Thank you Keren!Image

Spicy Sausage Pasta – Adapted from Jool’s Pregnant Pasta, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 spring onions
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 or 2 fresh red chillies
6 sausages
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 500g pkg dried penne
4 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a few sprigs of Greek basil, or regular basil

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Dice the green onions, carrot, celery, and chillies.  Add to the frying pan.  Remove the sausage meat from the casing and add the meat to the frying pan.  Discard the casings.  Add the fennel and oregano to the frying pan.  Break up the sausage and mix in the vegetables and spices with a wooden spoon.  Prepare the penne.  Crush the garlic cloves into the pasta sauce.  Continue to stir and break up the sausage as it cooks.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and chopped tomatoes.  Should the sauce become too thick, add some of the cooking water from the pasta.  Combine the sauce and cooked pasta, garnishing with basil (or in my case, parmesan cheese)

And with that, the British Baby (or BB) has woken up and I’m gone :)

Rhubarb is upon us!

Rhubarb is taken quite seriously in the UK.  The early spring helps push the season forward and results in rhubarb making its appearance in the grocery stores in late February and early March.  Give this twist on Rhubarb Crisp a try.

Rhubarb Compote with Greek Yoghurt and Crumble

1.2 kg rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm slices
130 g sugar
juice and zest from 1 orange
1 vanilla pod
Greek Yoghurt
70 g butter
100 g plain flour
3 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).  Toss the ingredients together.  Spread out in a baking tray (with a ridge).  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, separating the rhubarb from the juice.  Put the juice in a small saucepan over high heat, boiling until reduced by half.  

While the rhubarb is reducing, rub together the butter and flour until they resemble coarse, fresh breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar, adding a few drops of water until you get an assortment of small crumbs and clusters.  Put the crumble on a parchment lined baking sheet, baking at 180C (150F) for approximately 10 minutes.  

To serve, put Greek yoghurt in the serving dish, top with rhubarb and crumble.  Enjoy