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What am I up to?

What am I up to?

Well, it’s funny when you have an old blog that is still up, but not being posted to. Last time I posted, I talked about how I was part of a new blog. It was a great and wonderful experience, if not a bit frustrating. I loved everyone I worked on the blog with, but as I did a lot of the blog management, they would frustrate me sometimes.

However, as I’m no longer in London, I have moved on from The Boozy Bunch to start my own blog The Gay Gastronaut. It’s mostly restaurants at the moment, but I definitely want to incorporate cooking (as I’m still passionate about it) as soon as I get some of those recipes running around in my head figured out.

I hope you join me there (especially if you found this site, as there is still a little bit of activity here…)

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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

It’s time to say goodbye…

Well, I think it’s time to say goodbye. I mean, I was really bad about content anyway, and I just wasn’t doing enough baking/cooking to keep the blog up, and a lot of posts seemed to end up being about restaurants or pop-ups or traveling anyway.

However, it’s also time to say hello. Hello to The Boozy Bunch. Several friends and I have started a collective blog. Because it’s really hard to be consistent and publish interesting stuff and have a day job (and have a social life). It’s more of a restaurant review type blog, but there will be room for the occasional recipe (I plan on posting some of my more original creations there in the coming year).

So please come along and check us out. While most of the blogs will be London-based, there will be plenty of room for seeing the world as well.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Borough Market, London

Living in London is an amazing experience. There is so much to see and to do. One of my favorite places to go is Borough Market. It’s a lovely market experience full of booths, stalls and shops selling all sorts of fresh and wholesome ingredients. They also have hot and cold food available to eat while you’re there, so you can have a delicious lunch there as well.

They even have a website (http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/).

One downfall is that the full market is only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. While I have managed to play hooky from work and show up on a Thursday or Friday, Saturday is clearly the most convenient day to go. Because of that, Saturdays get packed. Like super-packed. I’m not the biggest fan of large groups of people winding their way through small areas, but I do manage to survive a few trips out there. Needless to say, the best time to go is in the morning before the crowds set in, but even showing up at 9:30 doesn’t mean there won’t already be a bunch of people milling about and shopping. The last time I went, I met up with a bunch of people to check things out and our ETA was set for 9:30 on a Saturday.

One of the most popular places in the area seems to be Monmouth coffee. We started here on our journey so we could get coffee. Unfortunately, even at 9:30 there is a queue. A long queue. And honestly, I don’t get it. The coffee is perfectly decent, but definitely not worth the wait. In fact, if you want a smaller queue at a place which also sells their coffee, head down the street to Rabot Estate. It’s primarily a chocolate store, but the coffee is pretty good as well. I’ve had quite a few delicious chocolates from here to take home (and it’s part of the Hotel Chocolat family).

I love wandering around the market to see all the lovely food and ingredients. One of my favorite places at the market is Tartufaia. They are the truffle sellers at the market. I’ve only bought real truffles from them once, and they were summer truffles (so much cheaper), but they also sell some amazingly decadent truffle oils and truffle honey. I often stop by to get white truffle honey to take home as it tastes amazing on cheeses.

Speaking of cheeses, there are quite a number of speciality cheeses around the area as well. We stopped by one place that had these interesting swiss cheeses. One of them was quite hard and was flavored with garlic and pepper. For me, it was a bit too garlicky and peppery, and it just didn’t taste enough like cheese. However, there were other cheeses in their stall that seemed amazing and worth trying. Another stall had four ages of Comte to try, one of which has been aged for 36 months (and it’s fantastic by the way). Yet a third stall is full of “drunken cheeses” which are cheeses that have been soaked in some sort of alcohol, and I have bought cheese from them on several occasions. If you’re into British cheeses, Neal’s Yard is nearby and they have some of the best Cheddar cheeses I’ve ever tasted. Want something melty and oozy? Kappacasein has a food cart in the area where they sell delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and Raclette.

Want some bread with your cheese? There are plenty of baked goods as well. There are pastry and bread stalls galore. I’ve had some amazingly thick and delicious English Muffins from here. I haven’t had a bad baked good from the Market to be honest. Or if you’re looking for some nice meats for a charcuterie platter to go with your cheese, there are plenty of hams, sausages and cured meats to be had.

There’s also a plethora of fruit and vegetable stalls around. I also always see a lot of delicious meat stalls. You can get offal, exotic animals, chicken, beef and practically anything you could want to cook! Of course, there are also full sit down restaurants in the area as well.

I have also bought plenty of desserts for either home or to eat there. Again the baked goods abound (I always love seeing all the brownies). But there’s a cheesecake place and ice cream. In fact, the last time I was there I tried some amazing goat’s cheese ice cream. Greedy Goat is my new find, and who knew goat’s cheese ice cream could be so good. I sample the raspberry and chili and it was phenomenal.

But a good meal wouldn’t be complete without good wine, and there is plenty to be found in the area. One of our favorite places to stop and get some amazing Sauternes is Borough Wines. But there are several places around that let you sample the amazing wine and bubbly that they have to offer. Another option is Vinopolis. They have a huge selection of wines and spirits. They had the kirsch I needed to make fondue which was hard to find in the regular shops.

Borough Market is definitely a place to check out if you’re visiting London. I often bring family and friends here, but it’s just an excuse to go. It’s a fantastic place with fantastic food, and I love to make the trip whenever I can.

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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Hmmmm.

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything.

I think I need to expand my blogging (blogness?) so I may start doing more than just baking. Although I still bake quite a bit, I just don’t seem to have the effort to blog about it.

 

We’ll see what the future brings…

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Knish me quick.

A few weeks ago darkcargo’s blog stated that it was National Knish Week. Interestingly, the week before smitten kitchen published her post about making knish. Due to this congruence of blog posts, I decided it was in my best interest to try my hand at this wonderful sounding dish.

Knish is originally an Eastern European food brought to the U.S. by Jewish immigrants. It consists of potato (yum) and caramelized onions (also yum) wrapped inside of pastry (everything is better with pastry). Clearly this is my kind of food, so I tried out the recipe on the smitten kitchen site. Basically it’s just boiled and mashed potatoes with the onions wrapped in the pastry. I decided to add a bit of mature English cheddar to the mix (although I think I could have used more) and bacon. I know that bacon is probably the worst decision to add to a traditionally Jewish dish, but for me, bacon is the perfect additive to a dish with potato and onion. So I did it. I went against tradition and religion and put some fried pancetta in with the mixture. I made up the pastry and the filling, rolled up the knish and put them in the oven. They turned out amazing looking. Perfectly golden brown.

Was it delicious? Yes. It probably needed more salt and more cheese. Like a lot more cheese. A knish reminds me of a dry cheese and onion pasty. Maybe a bit of fresh or dried thyme (or some other herb) would pep it up a bit too (either in the mix or the pastry). I decided to serve my knish with some out of season chestnut and mushroom soup. Living in the UK, you can get chestnuts year round in the freezer, and I’ve started to become very attached to the delicious roasted nuts. I’ve even been known to throw them in with my roast veg for a Sunday roast. (Just don’t over roast, they get really crunchy).

Basically the soup was just shitake and chestnut mushrooms that I sauted in a bit of butter and olive oil with sauted . I added some brandy after a bit, and let it boil off. I added in some roasted chestnuts and roasted shallots to the mix. I topped it up with about a liter of vegetable stock. I added a bouquet garni to the mix and a spoonful of truffle honey, and I let it simmer for about half an hour or so. Then I removed the bouquet and put it all in the blender. At this point I should have strained it through a sieve to get rid of the chunks, but I was being lazy. The soup was mostly smooth though, with only a few chunks left behind. I put it back in the pot and added a bit of cream to smooth it out and thin it out, and I was done. I served it with a knish, and it was done. (I’d put a real recipe down, but I usually cook by feel, unless I’m baking then I’m a bit more precise.)

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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More Banana Bread

Due to the overwhelming amount of bananas filling up my freezer (thanks to my fruit and veg box), I decided to whip up some banana bread. I made a double batch, as I was also giving a presentation for my department for our group meetings, and wanted to bring a little snack to distract them in case it was terrible. I have a standard recipe I usually make, but I decided to try a new one.

I went with the Smitten Kitchen banana bread recipe. I chose it for a couple of reasons, the first being that it seemed incredibly easy as you practically added the ingredients to the bowl and stirred. The second is the booze. I love anything with a bit of booze in it, and I used spiced rum instead of bourbon (due to my lack of bourbon in the house). I also added walnuts because I love walnuts and to give a bit of texture.

They turned out great. My co-workers loved the bread, and it may be my new go to banana bread recipe. I may still use the other one, as it is easily adaptable if I want to make other things, like pumpkin or zucchini bread.

Banana bread (with rum).

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Slacktastic (cooking catch-up)

Man, I wish I had an excuse for the extreme amount of blog slacking that I have been doing. Unfortunately, I don’t. The funny part is that I’m still baking. A lot. I’ve made cakes, pies, cookies, and crumbles. Most of them I take photos of (although I did lose a couple in my iOS 5 update). I just don’t get around to blogging about it. Then I bake more, and have even MORE to blog about, and then I don’t, because I have to catch-up. So hopefully, this blog will catch me up for my wonderful baking, and I can get back on track.

So in no particular order:

  • Pies:

I’ve baked about two pies in the last two months: one savory and one sweet. Living in the UK, I’ve decided to embrace the regional cuisine and work on making savory pies. I even randomly ordered a cookbook on pies from Amazon (especially because it was on sale). I’m completely addicted to cookbooks, and they are one medium I refuse to get on the Kindle. I love being able to flip through the pages and see in color the wonderful concoctions I could make. I decided on a chicken, leek, and ham pie. It looked fairly simple, and it looked like a good start. They even supplied me with a new pie dough recipe. So I whipped it up. (Unfortunately I am picture-less on this one.) It turns out that I either suck at making savory pies OR it was a terrible recipe. The filling was quite boring and the crust was just awful. Tom didn’t even eat the crust. I was mortified that I made something so horrible. I have since vowed to go back to my other crust recipe to alleviate it. The filling was not so bad; it was just a bit boring. Nothing in it to spice it up. I think if I made the pie again, I’d definitely look into adding some friend sage or thyme to recipe to improve it a bit. I’m hoping the rest of recipes aren’t as bad.

The second pie was an apple pie. I’ve recently decided to order a weekly fruit and veg box. It’s quite fun getting a selection of fruits and vegetables that I probably wouldn’t buy in the stores. It gives me the opportunity to try new things in the kitchen, which I’m always about. Anyway, one week one of the fruits were Bramley cooking apples. Not something that you can really eat on their own, so I decided to make apple pie. I was a bit concerned about the amount of apples, so I decided to add some raspberries and make an improvised pie. I looked at the recipe in my pie cookbook, and slightly adapted it (using the vodka pie crust I’ve used in the past instead of the one in the book). It really came out magnificently. (Check out the photo in the slideshow at the end.) The one thing that I’ve decided after making this pie is that I’m done with the vodka pie crust. I’ve been trying it out in a few different things, and to be honest, it’s just not as rich and decadent as the Martha Stewart recipe I usually use. I love the fact it’s easy to roll and easy to handle, but I just find it to be a bit too generic for my palate. I will definitely be doing apple pies again in the future though!

  • Cakes:

I’m not going to lie, cakes are some of my favorite things to bake. I’ve baked about four cakes in the last few months. The first was a chocolate cake. I wanted to try the chocolate birthday cake recipe from my chocolate cookbook for ages. Unfortunately, I was missing one of the key ingredients: cacao nibs. They’re practically impossible to find in the UK, but while I was out and about I found them, so I decided to throw myself a faux birthday party (as I didn’t have a real one on my actual birthday) in order to invite people over and try it. I have to say it came out very well (picture in slideshow). The cake is very different than the one from Serendipity, but not in a bad way. It’s definitely not as decadent, but there’s a white chocolate ganache on top which really adds to the flavor. I even added a few spoons of raspberry liqueur to the ganache in order to give it a hint of raspberry, and booze always helps.

Two of the cakes were chocolate beetroot cakes. I found the recipe in the back of one of the books I read, and I love beetroot so I decided to go for it. The cake was in metric, which required a scale, and the scale I previously had didn’t really work well, so I bought a new digital scale for the kitchen. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that I had to remove some parts before using it, so the first cake I made really was a bit dry. Then I got some beetroots in my fruit and veg box, so I decided to try it again. The cake was better, but it’s still a dry cake. I think it’s due to the fact that there is no oil or butter in the cake, just sour cream. It really adds a different texture. The topping for the cake was supposed to be some sort of whipped egg white thing, but I couldn’t be bothered to try, so I made two different cream cheese frostings for the two cakes. The first was covered in chopped hazelnuts, the second with slivered almonds. They’re quite tasty, but I think I might retire the recipe as there are probably better recipes out there. (Pictures in slideshow.)

Finally, I made a spiced cranberry cake. I was in the mood for something like that, and I love cranberries so I just went for it. The addition of five spice to the cake was something that I didn’t expect, but it really added a nice depth of flavor. It’s definitely a great holiday treat. (No pictures unfortunately.)

  • Cookies:

At work, we were talking about he American fixation with peanut butter. Someone mentioned that she didn’t really like peanut butter, so I decided to make some peanut butter cookies to bring into work. I went back to one of my favorite sites for recipes, smitten kitten, and used the recipe there. I liked the recipe because there was more peanut butter than butter. It sounded amazing, plus the addition of chocolate and peanut butter chips sounded great. Unfortunately, like many things in the UK, peanut butter chips are non-existent, so I went with chocolate chips and dry roasted peanuts. The cookies came out great and everyone at worked loved them. Since then, I’ve been on a bit of a peanut butter cookie obsession, and I’ve made two more batches. For the second, I did manage to find online peanut butter chips and butterscotch chips imported from America, so I bought those and used those instead of chocolate chips in the recipe. For the last batch, I made them with the chocolate and peanut butter, which I think is the best combination. However, the last batch were a bit off texturally because I accidentally added half as much butter as I should have. They still tasted great, just a bit off.  (And no pictures. I know, three batches and no pictures. Stupid iphone!)

  • Crumble:

Last is a plum crumble I made. I got some plums in my box, and I saw a spiced plum crumble recipe in the pie cookbook, so I decided to make one. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough plums, so I bought some extra, and then I decided to get some blueberries and throw them in. It took longer to bake than expected, but once it was done, the flavors were great! I have to recommend crumbles because of the sheer ease of making. Since the topping is usually just a mix of flour, sugar, and butter, and it doesn’t need to be rolled into a crust, it’s incredibly easy and very tasty. I think crumbles are going to have to be something I do a bit more often when I want to make something quick and easy.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized