Heat Waves and Turkish Food

It’s hot in London.  People are kind of freaking out about it.  Today, it hit 30 degrees.  It apparently doesn’t do that often.  I can tell tell you that the last thing I want to do when it’s 30 degrees and there’s no air conditioning, is turn on my oven.  I have been known to buy the ready made whole roasted chickens from the grocer.  Let the grocery heat up his kitchen.  This way, mine stays cold and I still get a tasty dinner.
There are a number of really delicious Turkish restaurants in Islington.  We’ve had the opportunity to try Gallipoli and also Mem and Laz.  Both served an amazing appetizer of grilled Halloumi.   Halloumi is a really neat cheese.  Typically the thought of grilling cheese conjures up thoughts of toasty sandwiches with ketchup.  Halloumi is different.  It holds its shape and becomes really flavourful with grilling.

Sliced into 1/2" to 2/3" slices

Make sure you brush your Halloumi with olive oil

I didn't the first time...and lost a lot of pretty grill lines

Chicken, Grilled Halloumi and Asparagus Salad

Chicken, Grilled Halloumi and Asparagus Salad 

block of Halloumi cheese
asparagus, washed
grilled chicken, sliced
olive oil
salad greens

Heat a grill to medium high.  Toss the asparagus in a glug or two of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Slice the halloumi into 1/2″ slices.  Brush each side of the Halloumi with olive oil.  Place the cheese on the grill for 2-3 minutes, flip, and grill for 1-2 more minutes.  While the cheese is grilling, add the asparagus to the other end of the grill and grill for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.  When the asparagus is still crunchy (no mush please) and the cheese has the nifty grill marks, remove from the heat.

Dress your salad greens with your dressing of choice and top with the grilled chicken, grilled asparagus, and halloumi.  I went for a roasted tomato dressing.  It was great!


Field Trip – To Kent for the Day

This Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of going hiking with two fellow Canadians.  Unfortunately Mr 416expat got stuck in the office on Sunday was unable to join on this particular adventure.  On the hottest day of the year in London so far my fellow hikers and I met at Victoria station (no small feat as the Victoria line was down for the weekend) and took a 52 minute train journey to Borough Green.  I’d never heard of Borough Green and was unable to locate it on a map.  Wikipedia tells me that Borough Green is a large village with some Roman ruins.  We stopped at the Harrow Inn and Restaurant, a pub roughly 4km into the hike, had a well deserved cider, some delicious lunch and then continued on our way.  We stopped at Ightham Mote and took a peek through the fence at the house, mote (really they spelt it that way) and grounds.   It’s still unclear how Ightham Mote should be pronounced.  Regardless we were corrected everytime we said it.  Our next stop was Knole House, originally built as a hunting ground for the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The house is described as being a calendar house, with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances, and 7 courtyards.  We wrapped up our 15.5km (plus inevitable detours) hike in Sevenoaks and caught the train back to London.  It was a really lovely day!

Way more forest in Borough Green than in London

Umbrella stand or culvert? You decide!

This was perhaps optimistic...good effort though!

Deep into English countryside...not a cafe nero in sight!

Well-deserved break - either 1.5km or 4km into the trip...map reading difficulties

Ightham Mote

Nifty tree trunk

There are goats in them there hills!

Bench break

Spot the deer at Knole House

Knole House


Best Muffins Ever

There are no pictures, only words to describe these muffins.  I first made these muffins with my dear friend Daniella.  Daniella brought this recipe out when we were planning our first ski trip together.  I think she figured we’d need food on the long drive to Vermont and when skiing brilliantly down the slopes.  She was right.  As she introduced me to this recipe, they are therefore known as, Daniella Muffins. They are healthy (I can only assume), they are delicious (I can attest), and they pack well (have survived in my ski jacket many times).

These muffins are my go-to bring along when I visit new mums.  I can only assume the madness that is being a new mum.  The sleep deprivation would affect my ability to make proper meals.  These muffins though?  Once made and given to a new mum, these muffins require only one hand to eat, have lots of fiber and fill you up goodness, AND have a bit of chocolate. Seriously, what more could you need?

Kitchen Sink Muffins (AKA Daniella Muffins) – Adapted from Daniella’s recipe

2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c sugar (I use a combo of brown and white sugar)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 c raisins (cranberries are also nice here)
1/2 c chopped nuts
1/2 c coconut
1 apple, peeled and grated
3/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 squares bitter sweet chocolate chopped OR pulverized in your food processor.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, carrots, raisins, chopped nuts, coconut, chocolate, and apple by stirring together.  Combine the apple sauce, oil, eggs, and vanilla then add to the other mostly dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Bake in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy (or take to your new mummy friends for them to enjoy!)!!

***I used my food processor  (when I had one in Canada) to grate the apples and carrots and also to pulverize the chocolate***


Spring Peas

First, we’ve got to apologize.  We’ve been absent.  Very absent.  You see the 416expats went back to the 416 (and the 705 and the 519) to see family (new nephews!), friends (new baby friends), and food (why hello there Ruby Watchco!).  It was an amazing few weeks at home but now we’re back and ready to blog.  So please accept our apologies.  We’re really sorry!

There’s something about Canadian decor magazines.  You’re either a Style at Home girl (or guy!) or you’re a Canadian House and Home girl (or guy!).  Growing up my mum always had Canadian House and Home.  Naturally when I got married a subscription to Canadian House and Home soon arrived on my doorstep (Thanks Mum!!).  While I’ve browsed girlfriends copies of Style at Home and particularly enjoy their less or more feature, I remain an advocate of Canadian House and Home.  This year, my mum sent my subscription to the UK.  Despite some confusion with the mailing address resulting in me receiving my January 2011 issue in May 2011, I think the kinks have been worked out and we’re back on solid ground.  The aforementioned May issue contained a fabulous recipe for pea soup.  This is not your usual cook in the slow cooker for days on end soup. This is a really quick and delicious, bright green and gorgeous Spring pea soup.  Check it out!

Melting butter...holds such promise eh?

Roughly diced green onions

Cooking it all together

Could use a garnish...maybe some peas and a spoon of Greek yoghurt?

Green Onion and Pea Soup – Adapted from May 2011 Canadian House and Home Magazine

1 tbsp butter
8-10 green onions, roots and dark greens removed, reminder chopped into a rough dice
4 c vegetable stock
3 1/2 c frozen sweet peas, fresh ones if you’ve got them!
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp sherry vinegar – I used rice wine vinegar instead and it was great!
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Add the onions, stir, and cook until soft (a few minutes).  Add the stock, bring to a boil.  Add peas, reduce heat to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and vinegar.  Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot or cold (will need to chill for ~4 hours).