21 June 2012

Seeking History - The Secret History of Our Streets: Caledonian Road

BBC iPlayer - The Secret History of Our Streets: Caledonian Road:

If you haven't started watching this series, please do start. I was ridiculously excited to see the history of the street that I use to commute into London every.single.day. and never realised that so much has happened on this road over the years.

Some of my favourite bits were learning about the market behind Cally station, discovering Thornhill Square and understanding just how big of an impact the rail station had to this area.

What are your thoughts on Caledonian Road - is it a 'rough' neighbourhood or just rough around the edges?

'via Blog this'

08 June 2012

Jubilee Extravaganza Day 4 - English Roast

After our lovely curry the night before, we finally reached the end of the Jubilee Weekend and I celebrated by randomly cooking a dinner for my friends!

Sunday Roast - There's not much for me to say on this weekly English dish.  Although, as someone who likes to cook, improvise recipes and present visually pleasing and tasty meals, I've always got to put my own twist on things!

As I was trying to do only British themed activities this weekend, my roast (which is basically a lightweight Thanksgiving dinner to my American readers) couldn't include my staples of mac n' cheese, some form of green veg in pork and vinegar and cornbread. Tragic, I know.

I did make a roast chicken that was meant for 2-3 but fed 5 in the end!

Orange and Herb Roasted Chicken

Orange and Herb Roasted Chicken

I'm not very good at recipes but here goes

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 orange cut into quarters
  • 1 onion cut into quarters
  • 1 sliced clove of garlic
  • fresh thyme, rosemary and sage
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (I think I use EVOO)
  • Dried mixed/italian herbs if you want
Pre-heat oven to 210ºC. Run the chicken under cold water, plucking any extra bits that are still on it and rinsing out the cavity completely. If there are any necks or giblet type thingies get rid of that. If you know how to make gravy with it, go for it but I normally have these already removed.

Place chicken on its back on a clean surface or even in the pan you'll be cooking this in.  At this point, I start thinking of the chicken as a little person that's getting a massage and going in the sauna for a bit. (Don't judge me, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen by myself - gotta stay entertained!)

In a small bowl mix the butter, salt, pepper and dried herbs (if you're using them) together. With the cavity facing you, just at the top you should be able to lift up a bit of the skin and fit most of your hand underneath the skin over the breast. (If you're squeamish about touching meat, imagining this as a massage helps!) The slit between the skin should go down to the legs as well. Keep using the butter mix and massaging the chicken under and over the skin, front and back, until you're happy with the seasoning. This butter mix will also help the chicken have nice and crispy skin.

Transfer the chicken to the pan if it's not already there and top with more salt, pepper and dried herbs if you wish.

Take one orange quarter and squeeze over the chicken. Put one quarter inside the chicken, another quarter behind a wing, and the last quarter behind a leg diagonal from the orange wing.

Take one onion quarter and put inside the chicken, use the other 3 to put around the chicken behind the wing and leg with no orange and peel the last quarter to sprinkle around the chicken.

Put several slices of the garlic inside the chicken and sprinkle the rest around him er her er it. :) See, it becomes my little friend before I send it off to the nice warm sauna. 

Decorate it with the fresh herbs as you wish. I normally tuck rosemary sprigs on its legs, and put a mix of the herbs inside the chicken.  Finally prop the wings behind its neck like it's lying back and kicking up its legs to relax (this helps the wing tips not to burn). People wrap up the legs with poultry string for the same reason, but I never have a problem with them burning. 

Drizzle a bit of oil at the bottom of the pan.  Set in the oven, on the middle rack, for however long the pack tells you since it depends on the size. I think this bird took about 30 - 45 minutes but you want it to look like the second picture up there (obvs). If you see it turning brown too fast, turn down the heat. If by 30 minutes it's not brown enough, turn it up to 220ºC for the last 10 minutes or so and it should be good. 


I also had my first stab at Yorkshire Puddings, which must've been created when someone didn't know what to do with their excessively soupy bread mixture. I found this recipe online, followed it to.a.T. and created these bad boys as my cornbread replacement!

Best Yorkshire pudding recipe evar

Gorgeous yorkshire puds on the first try!
I'm stil amazed by how they work, how do they grow like that?!!? Apparently the trick is heating the pan to cooking temp with vegetable oil before adding the batter. The more oil, the more they rise. The hotter the pan, the better they rise.  Give it a try!

Here's the final dinner feast!

Orange and Herb Roasted Chicken, steamed broccoli, roasted carrots and potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, gravy


And finally, I may have broken my 'no American' things rule a bit with dessert. Well technically it's Sicilian, but who cares - it's my beloved Cassata Cake that I blogged about over a year ago.  I haven't made it since moving to England, and to be honest it's a bitch of a cake to make. It takes up your life, but it is WELL worth it once it's done. I normally try to save it as a summer weather cake as it's heavy in fruit and cream ingredients, but, well, like I said I haven't made it since moving to England. (Will it EVER be summer here!?)

I wanted to make a Jubilee themed cake so here are the results.

Cassata Cake

Click here for the recipe: http://arielcking.blogspot.com/2011/03/cassata-cake.html

This was my first time making everything, even the cake from scratch (I normally use box cake)! Very pleased with the results!

Building a Cassata Cake 

So that's that for my English Roast and Jubilee Weekend.

If you have any questions, have tried these recipes before, or have similar dishes to share let me know in the comments!

07 June 2012

Jubilee Extravaganza Day 3 - Lahore Kebab House

So far, we've ticked off festivals/drinking and how we spend our downtime nursing hangovers with some primetime telly.  Now it's time to move on to what we're eating.

Curry - right then.  This should be a known fact for most of you out there, but for those that don't know - Indian food is more popular than fish n'chips here in the UK.  So on Bank Holiday Monday, whilst Tom Jones took the stage outside of Buckingham Palace, I took a seat in a Whitechapel restaurant called Lahore.

A few things; as much as I've embraced British culture since moving here I still can't get that excited about curry.  I'll have it, but I won't crave it the way some people seem to.  Also, I use the term 'restaurant' quite loosely. It looks a bit more like a cafeteria you would've had your lunches in around age 10.  That being said, this seems to be one of East London's gems with people proclaiming their love for the cuisine. Not to mention, it's BYOB so drink up!

We have some friends that live out this way so we've been here before, but I think this is the first time I had eaten there. As they were quite clued up on what to eat and how to order it, someone shouted for mixed starters and papadums and our waiter returned to the table with about 8 plates of food.

While I don't go for curries that often, hands down my favourite part is the papadums and the 'lil dips you get with it. There was heaps of mint sauce on the table but he didn't bring out the mango chutney, I nearly cried inside.  If finally arrived and I tore into the crispy treat and had a few bits of chicken kebab that was mixed with lamb kebab.  Now World, I'm quite terrified of eating lamb - and I'm not one to say no to trying different food.  I normally cant even bring myself to swallow it, but this place managed to keep the little lamb chops in my belly.  Success - but I probably still won't eat the lambykins in the future.

Bottom line is we had a delicious meal, but I won't bang on about the food much as I didn't take any pictures (was having a 2 hour asthma attack without my inhalers on hand - stupid!). I will say however, that this adventure sparked a new treat for my fellow Seekers out there.

Now I know many of you don't use Foursquare in the UK but there are some really handy features for those that do!

New look on Foursquare

I've created lists of some of my favourite places to help you through London

Follow me and check-in to a place I've been before or a place near to where I've been before and my tips about the location will appear on your phone!

This post is releasing just in time for Foursquare's new look so if you don't have it or you haven't used it in a while, download it and follow me to get tips and suggestions while you're out seeking London.

Lahore Kebab House can be found at:

2-10 Umberston Street
E1 1PY
Nearest Tube: Whitechapel, Aldgate East, Shadwell (DLR/Overground)

Lahore Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Jubilee Extravaganza Day 2 - BOATS!!

After Day 1 of Jubilee weekend, I'm surprised I even woke up on Sunday.

Watching Telly - Did you know that primetime television is on Saturday and Sunday evenings here? I don't get it, in a country that boozes so much you would think everyone would be down the pub, but this is a serious thing! As I had completely destroyed myself the day before, staying in and watching the flotilla river pageant jubilee thingy indoors was a brilliant idea. 

Yes we had freshly delivered pizza for breakfast, no we didn't change out of our PJs all day, yes many cups of tea were consumed whilst it rained all over the fools that stood outside to get a short glimpse of what we saw on BBC for 5 hours - but this level of lounging seems to be the standard for when big events are happening on your doorstep.

Without further ado, here's the best recap of that day

Oh my days, I've just linked to something from Perez...

The better part of this bit is afterwards when John Oliver flails excitedly talking about the boats and gets rained on/beans'd on/toast'd on.

On a side note, the BBC wasn't much better than CNN as far as coverage.  My favourite bit of flotilla commentary: 'Well, what some people don't realise is that driving a boat isn't like driving a car.'  


Jubilee Extravaganza Day 1 - Field Day and Fin Fest

Since 2009, I've been lucky enough to live in London during some fairly exciting and historic events and the first weekend of June 2012 was certainly one of them.  While the world and the media set its eyes on Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, I celebrated HRM's 60 years in the most British way possible...by doing everything BUT participate in the Jubilee.

Don't get me wrong, the boats, and Tom Jones and the processions are all very lovely, but you have to be crazy to sit through the hours of rain, hunger and anticipation just to see that - and I think most Londoners would agree.

For most of us, the Jubilee was celebrated from our homes, in a nearby pub, or even out of the UK. I however, spent the 4-day holiday weekend doing things that have come to define the British (although arguably more English) way of life for me.

Festivals - before moving to London, I rarely heard of music festivals. In Columbus, we had the free ComFest each year and that was the extent of my knowledge.  I mean I'd never even HEARD of Glastonbury.  Then I moved here and I really think there's no going back, I'm totally addicted to all things including music, in a field/park with lots of cider and at a fee.

With no Glastonbury on this year, I'm trying to find ways to replace this empty musical hole in my heart.  I started it with Camden Crawl in May and carried it on to Field Day in June. Field Day only lasts for one day so no camping required.  As I didn't take any photos, here are some tunes from the bands I did see that you should check out.

Franz Ferdinand apparently don't want us to embed their songs but here's a link.

And of course, the loves of my life, Spector:

I finished off Field Day and carried on with the festivities up North at The Finsbury just after midnight.  This place deserves a post of its own, and I will do eventually but I just want to say it is quickly becoming one of my favourite spots. They regularly have live music and on this weekend they put on their very own festival!

No clue who was playing when I came in, but they were a pretty awesome Turkish rock band.

This girl, DeLooze BLEW MY MIND. She's got a great voice, and I could really hear her + a DJ happening in the future.

Lazytalk reminded me of something circa late 90s - very entertaining bunch!

I'm not sure how it happened, but life lasted until at least 3.30am that day and I fit in two music festivals.  This, is how One celebrates a Jubilee in London.

Swimming with this Mermaid