So there was a wedding today

Half the 416expat team really wanted to get up early and to the Mall to watch the wedding firsthand (don’t act like you don’t know what wedding I’m talking about).  The other half of our dynamic duo wanted to run as far as possible in the opposite direction. In the end we did reach a compromise.

We didn’t quite make it to the Mall (not for lack of trying – they had the area locked down by the time we got there) but instead went to Hyde Park and watched the proceedings on massive screens with many many other folks.

After the ceremony we beat it out of the West End to hang out in the East End, in Shoreditch‘s Queen of Hoxton.  We spent the rest of the day enjoying the festivities with a jug of Pimms and some good friends, surrounded by hipsters in low-irony mode.

All in all it was a fabulous day with great weather. One of us (not mrs416expat) actually admitted that today was one of their favourite days in London.  How cool is that?

On our way to the Mall...shortly to be redirected by men in funny hats

We joined the masses headed to Hyde Park instead...

The Royal Port-O-Potties

Not the London Eye...but a cool ferris wheel!

Sun's out and people are excited!

People had Kung Fu Panda Periscopes...not sure where those came from

Time to escape the West end and head East. The Queen of Hoxton's rooftop patio

Excellent entertainment

Delicious Pimms - with mint, strawberries, limes and cucumber

Not a bad way to spend April 29th 2011

East End Graffiti Tour

The East End of London has been known for a lot of things.  Mostly bad things.  But lately it’s been gentrifying, and we spend more time in East London locales (like Broadway Market and Columbia Road) and shockingly little time Hugh Grant-spotting in fancy Notting Hill.

This past Saturday, we met some of these new school East End hipsters at dawn for a 3-hour cycle tour of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Brick Land and Hackney (somehow my kind wife agreed to getting up at 5:30 on Easter Sunday to do this!).  I found out about it via the London Cyclist website, and it was put on by Pamela Parker of UnderCurrent Design, an MA student at Central Saint Martins.  

Old favourites and more Jamie Oliver

I have a lot of cookbooks.  Specifically, I have a lot of Jamie Oliver cookbooks.  Someone (mr416expat) made them a frequent gift early in our relationship.  The thing is with cooking blogs, online food magazines and other online options, I haven’t been paying attention to my cookbooks lately.  I had the opportunity to flip through one of my old Jamie cookbooks and was really surprised at all the recipes I had missed or that I had just totally forgotten about!  This pork loin recipe is fabulous but I had never made it…until now!

Season with salt and pepper

Bring on the fennel seeds

Slicing and dicing made easier by a mandoline

Ready for the oven

Ready for dinner

Pot-roasted Pork in White Wine with Garlic, Fennel and Rosemary – Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef

3 1/2 lb loin of pork, off the bone
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2-3 tbsp butter
olive oil
8 cloves garlic, skin on
1 handful of rosemary, leaves picked
4 bay leaves
1 fennel bulb, sliced (use a mandoline if you’ve got one!)
1/2 bottle Chardonnay

Prehead the oven to 400F.  Tie up your pork loin (yours might already be tied up, mine was) ensuring the meat is in a snug shape.  Season with salt and pepper then roll the loin in the fennel seeds until covered.  In a casserole pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter and olive oil then quickly sear the meat until golden.  Then throw in the garlic, herbs, fennel and wine, cover, and put in the oven for 1 1/4 hours.

When cooked, remove from the oven and rest the meat on a plate.  Finish your sauce by adding the last bit of butter and scraping all the bits off the bottom of the pan.  It will be runny!  Remove any large bits of rosemary, squash open a couple of the now cooked and sweet garlic cloves and serve the sauce with the pork.

Enjoy!

Seville

A 2.5 hour drive east of Salema, Portugal is Seville.

Hot Cross Buns

We’ve had home made hot cross buns every Easter season for as long as I can remember.  When I was little my mum made them every Spring and over the last few years, my sisters and I have tried our hand at her recipe.  I have to admit, I have never really fallen in love with mixed peel and more often than not, leave it out and substitute raisins or currents.  I think the effect is still there.  Let me know what you think!

Add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture

Stir to combine then place in a warm place until frothy!

see the frothy-ness?

Add the butter and egg, stirring until incorporated

sift together the flour, spices, and sugar

combine the wet and dry, including the peel or currents

knead until soft, smooth and elastic

let rise for 90 minutes – forgot to take a picture

form into rolls (approximately 12) and let rise for 40 minutes

Place the pastry crosses on the rolls and bake!

Fresh from the oven

glazed and ready to eat, toasted with some strawberry jam

Hot Cross Buns – mum’s recipe

Bun

3/4 c flour + 2 1/4 c flour
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar + 3 tbsp sugar
2/3 c milk
1/4 c water
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
a healthy dash of allspice
a healthy dash of cloves
a healthy dash of ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp currents
2 tbsp mixed peel

Glaze

1/4 c milk
1/4 c water
3 tbsp sugar

Sieve 3/4 c flour into a bowl.  Whisk in the yeast and sugar.  Warm the milk and water to tepid/lukewarm.  Combine the yeast mixture with the warmed milk and water.  Leave to stand in a warm place for 20 minutes or until frothy.

Beat the butter and egg into the yeast mixture.  Sieve in the remaining flour (2 1/4 c), spices, sugar, currants, and peel.  Stir well to combine.  Knead on a floured surface (or toss in your kitchenaid with the dough hook) until smooth and elastic (at least 5 minutes).  Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (roughly 90 minutes).

Turn out the risen dough, punching it down to remove the air.  Divide into 12 parts, roll into rounds, placing on a tray smooth side up.  Lightly score a cross into the surface of the roll.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes to rise.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Make the crosses by rolling out the pastry (see recipe below) and cutting out thin strips. Brush the surface of the buns with water then lightly pressing the pastry into the indentations.  Place the buns in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 8-10 minutes.  While the buns cook, warm the milk, sugar, and water for the glaze.  When the buns are finished, remove them from the oven, brush the glaze oven the buns twice and let cool on a wire rack.

***Watch the hot cross buns carefully – I find the oven temperature a bit high and tend to lower it after 7 minutes and then bake for another 8 minutes ****

Pastry for the cross – I use the pastry recipe on the back of the tenderflake box and use the leftovers to make chicken pot pie or..just pie 🙂

5 1/2 c flour
1 lb lard
1 egg
1 tbsp vinegar
cold water

Cut the lard into the pastry until it resembles coarse oatmeal.  I use a pastry cutter or my hands, but you can use two knives. Beat the egg in a liquid measure cup.  Add to the egg the vinegar, then enough cold water to bring the total amount of liquid to 1 c.  Use cold water and cold lard.  It makes for a flakier pastry.

Where to let your dough rise?
I warm my oven to its lowest setting, turn it off, and then put my dough in to rise.  It’s a draft free space that’s worked for me for the last few years.  Basically any warm, draft free place will work!  My mum used to put them on the windowsill in our sun room.  The whole main floor of our house would fill with the smell of hot cross buns.  Delicious!!

Portugal

Things have been quiet on the blog front lately because we’ve been vacationing in the sunny south of Portugal, the Algarve!

A lot of southern Portugal has been built out in Caribbean all-inclusive style, but with the help of Rick Steves we were able to ID the best corner of it.  It was a week of sunshine, flowers, swimming in the ocean (really!), seafood, and Sagres-brand lager.  And side-trips to Lisbon and Seville because, hey, why not?

Here’s the first of our posts, showing the view from our villa in Salema (home base) and trip to Cape Sagres, the westernmost part of Europe.

Trip to Oxford

Or, that is, Harry Potterville.  Home of the oldest university on the planet, more than a few of the town’s buildings were used for the film.  It’s the home of dinosaurs, dodos, and Darwin, and for GBP8 you can get a return ticket from Paddington station in central London.  Not shown in pictures are two smashing pubs we hit up, the White Horse and the King’s Arms.