Currently I usually get up at about 7 am and do an hour’s work before breakfast. I make myself porage with semi-skimmed goat’s milk and water. I eat it with maple syrup and have black tea with lemon; then the gym. I go through the motions of exercise pretty well every morning except Mondays or when I am travelling or have something else on. I train for about 30 or 35 minutes. Nothing serious. Five minutes of stretching, and five on the sit-up cycle. Ten on the treadmill at a brisk walking pace, not running. 20 vertical pulls on a Cybex bar pulling 62.5. Then a reclining star-trac 4400 cycle for 8 minutes. At weekends I add 50 assisted sit-ups on an ab-trainer, and four minutes on an arc trainer (step simulator). After it I cool down over a fruit juice and scan one of the papers. The gym is about 5 minutes walk away in London, 1 minute away in Cambridge. I doubt it’s enough to keep in shape or make me fit, but I persuade myself that it’s just about enough to maintain a general level of health. And it usually puts me in a good mood for the day.
Archive for June, 2006
Macquarie is a bank which originated in Australia. For this reason, they occasionally invite Australian officials to events at their London headquarters when the officials are in town. I went to one on Monday, on the 35th (top) floor of their building near Liverpool Street Station, within the square mile. Unfortunately, I have terrible vertigo and found the first thirty minutes of the event very uncomfortable, because they have those silly windows that go all the way down to the floor. I couldn’t get within three metres of them without feeling as though I’d fall over, so spent most of the time in the middle of the room where everyone else was, fortunately. I was drinking champagne whose make they didn’t reveal, but it was very light, similar to a vintage Veuve Cliquot I drank a few years back. Its aroma was a little like honey, but there wasn’t much of a finish. I noticed they changed the champagne part-way through the evening, which might explain why it came out in glasses and not bottles! I met a few dignitaries, but nothing very interesting was said, apart from when an ex-foreign minister of Australia, whilst saying goodbye to me, was sufficiently rude to shake my hand whilst looking at, and talking to, another person.
Kazan offers good, traditional Turkish dishes in a two-roomed restaurant at the Victoria end of Pimlico. It is clean and bright, with a big window onto the street, and a Turkish decorated bar at one side. Service is prompt, couteous and efficient. It is very popular, usually crowded, and its prices make it a favourite with young people as well as the older locals. The best way to sample their cuisine is to order a selection of dishes to share, which come on small square plates, though they do serve larger meals on rectangular plates. They offer hot and cold mezes, and serve very good bread with oil for dipping and a bowl of olives.
Two of us chose four of the hot meze dishes to share. Borek is filo pastry triangles with feta cheese, spinach and herbs, like the Greek spanakopita. Sucuk/Basturma are spicy garlic sausages, char-grilled in strips. Humus Kavurma has a pile of chicken chunks and pine nuts surrounded by the humus. Tavuk kofte consists of char-grilled chicken infused with hot spices. The sausages and the chicken were agreeably spicy without being overdone, with the humus and borek making a nice contrast. It was all complemented by a Yakut Rouge wine from Eastern Anatolia
long title, and so unimaginative, apologies all round.
My main reason for using this internet cafe is to recharge my ipod on the USB port before IÂ travel to Ukraine tomorrow. But as i’m here i’ve posted a small blog about a street performance I saw here on my website (with pictures). And here is what i had for lunch yesterday!
Right… i can’t manipulate the image site properly in this Internet Cafe…. soÂ trust me that itÂ was delicious, though a little touristy and perhaps not “hungarian”. Still.. See photo here.
My boyfriend’s mother, who is currently visiting London (with his father) from their summer home in Provence, bought a huge quantity of British pork sausages. Tonight, I invented a challenge – to cook them all in several different ways – and tackled it head-on. (What can I say? It keeps me off the streets.)
First, for tonight’s dinner, I made a no-meat feast for my boyfriend and myself: spicy three bean (cannellini, borlotti, and haricot) hotpot – fried onions and garlic, plus all the beans, chopped tomatoes, cayenne, ground nutmeg, ground fenugreek, ground coriander, ground cumin, chicken stock – and French beans with black mustard seeds, plus rice. No, we’re not vegetarians; it was just one of those nights. For my boyfriend’s parents, I served all of this plus sausages cooked the first way:
1. Smush two cloves of garlic, and cook in a pan with a tight fitting lid, in a bit of olive oil, for a couple of minutes. Add sausages to the pan and brown them, then add a large glass of red wine and half a glass of water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then use a fork to mash the soft garlic cloves into the sauce. Serve sausages over rice (as I did), lentils, or potatoes with the winey gravy on top.
After dinner, I prepared the rest of the sausages in two additional ways.
2. Fry onions and garlic in olive oil, and add chunks of sausage to the pan to brown. Chuck in a little bit of creme de cassis (as I did) or a glass of red wine, along with some chopped tomatoes. Add oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, simmer ten minutes.
3. Remove sausage meat from casings; discard casings and add meat to three chopped spring onions and a couple of tablespoons of cranberry sauce (or blackcurrant, grape, or cherry jam). Use fingers to combine all ingredients – sorry, but hands are the only way to get this one done properly. Form into patties, fry in olive oil, and drain on kitchen paper.
I do agree with Madsen that sausage is a great conduit of mustard, but I can also assure you that this third way – so to speak – of preparing sausages is a delicious, simple combination of sweet and savoury. Kids particularly seem to like this one, especially with mash. The second way was a complete improvisation, and I am afraid to say that I did not taste it myself, as I am trying to drop more weight and sausage does not get me closer to that goal. But my taste testers (boyfriend and his mother) approved. I did not taste the first way, either, but it is an adaptation of a Nigella recipe, and those never let me down; the almost-in-laws also seemed to approve, cleaning their plates and complimenting the dish in lofty terms.
I would not myself select plain pork sausages; my favourites are the Polish ones that my Polish-American family had when I was growing up. I even liked blood sausage back then (and still do). Mass produced polska kielbasa is generally a bad thing, but the butcher-sourced stuff is delicious. In the UK, I am a fan of The Sausage Shop in Tunbridge Wells, which has never produced a sausage I didn’t like. (Yes, even Delia approves, but don’t hold that against the place.)
Once again this summer, I’ve been drinking Pimm’s in a garden of a Cambridge College. This time, Corpus Christi, which has a lovely graduate accommodation centre called Leckhampton. They held their annual croquet competition, in which I was knocked out in my first game (how embarrassing!). The Pimm’s was good, however, served with lemonade, excellent, fresh strawberries, cucumber and mint. There were also many sandwiches. A Steinway (the best) piano was in one of the rooms of the house next to the gardens, and I was explaining the mechanics of the action to a friend and trying to justify the high prices Steinways command, but really, it’s all down to branding, just like Gucci and Armani. The Master of the college came to present the cup to the winners and even had a quick half-game himself. He was astonishingly good, but perhaps that’s to be expected when your Master’s Lodge has a dedicated croquet lawn!
For lunch before the football i settled for a Caesar Salad,Â I wanted something more Hungarian but the heat put me off trying a stew.
However after the football and during the F1 Grand Prix I had “BorjÃºpaprikÃ¡s tÃºrÃºs csuszaval” which is veil with Hungarian cottage-cheese pasta. A stew without any potato in but with pasta on the side. The pasta had an odd taste of salt without being salty. The salt had clearly been sprinkled on the top as occasionally you could feel the granules. All in all i stayed in the bar for many hours. lunch, football, dinner&F1 and then later more football. My bill which included much Zlaty Bazant – a Polish beer – came to 8pounds (no pound sign on these here computers). This is alot of money here, but I soon got over it.
Casseroles are what Brits refer to as bakes, I believe. The word casserole reminds me of being a child, of the kind of food that people would bring round when illness, death, or some other misfortune had struck. You’d think such morbid associations would put me off, and you’d be wrong. In fact, I was delighted to discover The Casserole Blog this morning when hunting for a recipe for a rice, broccoli, chicken, and cheese casserole.
On the way to making such a dish, which I eventually ended up improvising, I also ended up replacing the rice with pasta. There was cold pasta (my favourite Waitrose Amori) in the fridge to be used up, and pasta is easier to cook well than rice is. So pasta it was.
This is pretty easy stuff: Cut four chicken breasts into chunks, and place in a steamer with frozen broccoli florets over a boiling pot of pasta. While that cooks, whisk 400ml of chicken stock with a small container (about 200ml) of Total 0% Greek Yoghurt, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, and half a teacup of grated cheddar (I used some dry, nutty, extra mature Mull of Kintyre). The pasta, chicken, and broccoli should all be cooked after about 12 minutes, at which point you should combine them all with the yoghurt mixture in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle over another half a teacup’s worth of grated cheddar and bake at 180Â° C for about ten minutes; as all of the ingredients save the onion and garlic are already completely cooked, you’re really only giving everything a chance to set and the cheese a chance to go brown and lovely.
This was a very big hit indeed, and I will make it again. It also has the look and taste of comfort food, the stuff of a childhood I didn’t have (but used to wish I had) and meals that were good for you as well as pleasurable for you to eat. I was reared mostly on nutritionally bankrupt food, so I am now making up for lost time with dishes like this.
I thought I’d try something totally new. Small pieces of chicken, pan fried first. Then red, yellow and green peppers with mushrooms and sugar snap peas. Finally a pumpkin purÃ©e with cinnamon, ginger and a very little nutmeg. I added spinach and black pepper, simmered for about 25 minutes, and served with Basmati rice. On reflection, the spinach was a mistake, and next time I’ll leave it out. But it was an original taste, worth working on.
To finish I served a fruit compÃ´te of Bramley apple, blackberries (last October’s, frozen), currants and raisins, served with goat’s milk yoghurt, Now that didn’t need improvement.
The best tables at the Galleria are the ones on a wooden balcony over the river, with Magdalene Bridge just beyond, and the college on the other bank. Your dining is accompanied by the swish of punts gliding by (these are the flat-bottomed boats on the back of which one stands to pole them along the river). It was a pleasant evening, but with a breeze which deterred some, refreshing though I found it.
My olives, marinated in Moroccan spices with garlic and lemon, and served with feta cheese were acceptable, though rather ordinary. I noticed that the mussels were steamed in coconut, lemongrass, basil and ginger â€” a sauce that seemed too hot for them. Very much more successful was the pan roasted duck breast which they advertise as “crusted in pink grapefruit honey, black pepper and sweet chilli, and served with Arab spiced almond and pistachio couscous.” These were delicious slabs of pinkish duck in a haunting sauce reminiscent of the taste of tamarind. Since this is a favourite spice, I was well satisfied.