Tuesday, 26 January 2010

too. much. food.

a wise woman once told me, 'every time i eat artichoke dip i instantly gain 2 pounds.' i seriously don't doubt the truth of that comment. this stuff is seriously potent... you might as well dump cheese, mayonnaise, and a little more cheese into a blender and drink it... ok that's not entirely true. but it is pretty intense. i am sure i have probably put you all off of it now... lets just say its a seriously delicious melted cheesy goodness. the recipe is one that is meant to be based on one used by the olive garden. i have never had it there so i can't vouch for how close of a match it is... but i know it was super simple to make and very good.

here is the recipe:

ingredients: 8oz cream cheese, 14 ox artichoke hearts drained/chopped, 1/2 cup frozen spinach thawed (i just used two big handfuls of fresh), 1/4 cup mayo, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 clove garlic finely minced, 1/2 basil, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese grated, 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (i didn't have this so didn't bother), and salt/pepper to taste

directions: cream together mayo, cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, basil and garlic salt. mix well. add the artichoke hearts and spinach and mix until blended. grease pan, pour in dip and top with cheese. bake at 350F/180C for 25min or until the top is browned... i like to leave it a little extra so that it is very hot!

we had it with tuc crackers (freddy's favourite crackers of all time) along with cheese and black olive m&s crackers. also had a selection of m&s deli meets... which were so good with the dip.

as if that weren't enough food... i decided to try out a new recipe i found: marshmallow milkshakes.

ingredients: 3 scoops vanilla ice cream, 1 large dollop yoghurt, 1 tablespoon whole milk, 5 jumbo marshmallows, whipped cream

directions: toast marshmallows under a broiler (more on this later) - put the milk, yoghurt, and then ice cream in the blender, blend carefully and just until you get a 'donut' - add three of the toasted marshmallows to the blender, and whirl it until they are just broken up and distributed evenly, be careful not to over blend it - pour shake into a glass, top with a dollop of whipped cream, break the last two marshmallows on top - repeat if necessary. it probably will be.
now... just so you know, these two photos were not taken by me nor were they taken in my house. i got them here. ok... so that is what the marshmallows are supposed to look like: white, fluffy yet firm, browned on top. this, on the other hand, is what my marshmallows looked like

yeeeah. a big fat mess pretty much. i gave it another try though and they turned out better the second time around... still no where close to as gorgeous as they should have been, but hey - i think they tasted the same. that gooey mess is going to haunt you in your sleep...

Saturday, 23 January 2010


I went to the Primrose Bakery for the first time on Friday.
It is so good. It is right by LSE and is the perfect place to spend a Friday afternoon between classes. Not only are the cupcakes seriously divine but the bakery is so lovely. Its so chic, sweet, and just the most beautiful little place to sit. It sort of feels like a fancy little diner.... just without the sweaty biker men and instead just beautiful cupcakes (seriously, it feels like a dream).

Meera with her lemon and coconut cupcake.

They have cheeky little decorations around like these little cupids.

Mmmmm... my chocolate marshmallow cupcake and latte.


The cupcakes are seriously almost too pretty to eat.

Little yellow bakery on the corner in Covent Garden... definitely worthy of visit.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Minestrone Soup

So, I know we are blogging like fiends at the moment. But this can be ascribed to two factors. 1) Jenny is "working" from home, instead of going to the library. 2) Im trying archive as many recipes as possible to get my full repertoire of dishes that I cook on the blog. This makes it easier to decide what we should make for dinner as we can just check the blog.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

6 tomatoes (or 1 400g can of tomatoes without the juice)
1 large carrot
1 leek
3 sticks of celery
1 red onion
1/2 a cabbage (i just buy a bag of ready chopped cabbage)
1 clove of garlic finely sliced
1 tbsp rosemary
500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 and 1/2 handfuls of torn fresh basil
90g spaghetti
salt and pepper
olive oil


Score tomatoes and place briefly in boiling water. Skin, deseed, and dice roughly. Peel and quarter carrots lengthwise and then chop. Quarter leeks lengthwise and then chop. Cut celery in half lengthwise and then chop. Peel and chop onion. Try to chop all veg about the same size. Roughly chop cabbage.
Put olive oil into a pan on medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary. Let them sweat for about 15 mins till they become tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a couple of mins. Add the stock, bring to boil and simmer for 15 mins. Add the cabbage and cover pan for 10 mins, then add the basil and pasta. Simmer until pasta is cooked (10 mins or so). Taste and season.


Taste: 7/10
Price: 2/10 (veg is cheap)
Difficulty: 3/10


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

the new ashmolean...

The Ashmolean underwent a massive $100-million renovation. I think it re-opened back in September... and we have been meaning to go, but just never got around to it. Which is pretty silly seeing as we cycle past every time we go into town and it is 10 min from our house. Anyway... we finally went this past Saturday and were seriously impressed. It is way bigger than it was before. They have kept the older parts the same, which is nice (it is always sad when places just totally destroy how something was), and there is plenty of room for all the new fancy and shiny things.

Massive staircase that meanders up the wall. It is all much brighter, lighter, more open and spacious than it was before.

Love how they put the sculpture on the right back together.


Pocahontas's daddy's cape. Seriously.

Special commissioned artwork about the building of the new Ashmolean...

Going down all the stairs...

Kisses goodbye before cycling home.

Video of the snow that we forgot to post

I realise that the video is a bit too large but I think thats the smallest size I can embed into the blog directly from youtube? Enjoy! xy

Monday, 18 January 2010

the fondue recipes

In case you want to try this at home.

Cheese Fondue

Ingredients (serves 6)

500g Emmental
300g Appenzeller
200g Gruyere
400ml dry white wine
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp corn flour
Large loaf of rustic bread (sourdough or something similarly dense)


Grate all the cheese. Peel clove of garlic and slice in half. Rub the garlic all over (the inside of) your fondue pot. Heat 300ml of wine in your fondue pot. Add cheese. Mix together till all the same consistency. Add the corn flour to the remaining wine and dissolve. Add this mixture to the cheese. Stir until all is the same consistency. Add pepper to taste. Meanwhile cut bread into 1 inch cubes. Once the cheesy goodness is simmering lightly enjoy by dipping bread into it. A fresh green salad goes really nicely with the meal.

Taste: 9/10
Price: 5/10
Difficulty: 5/10 (can be a bit finicky getting everything melted)

Chocolate Fondue

Ingredients (serves at least 4 but probably way more depending on how hungry you are)

500g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
500ml milk or cream or mixture of both
Fruit/marshmallows/cookies... whatever you think sounds good dipped in chocolate. We used strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, cherries, and bananas


Heat milk (either in fondue pot or on in a saucepan). Either grate or finely chop the chocolate. Add the two together and stir till the chocolate is completely melted and mixed in with the milk. Allow to simmer slightly. Once mixture is warm and thick dip pieces of fruit in it and savour.

Taste: 9/10
Price: 4/10
Difficulty: 4/10


Sunday, 17 January 2010

fondu and pipes...

Mmm... cheese. What's better than cheese? Melted cheese... followed by melted chocolate. Oh yes... that's right. Fred managed to receive two, yes two, fondu pots this Christmas. Two fondu pots actually works out very well... one for cheese and one for chocolate (it could be worse... we could be like my sister who has five). We decided to have some people round and try it out... it went down a serious treat.

Waiting anxiously.

The chef hard at work.

Cheese and wine.

Mix together....

Cheesy goodness.

Stage two: chocolate fondu. Yummm.... yummy yum.

Dippin away.

What better way is there to follow a decadent dinner than by sitting by the fire in tweed jackets and cords smoking pipes...?


Friday, 15 January 2010

a quote...

'you know why i like my beard? when i have it i feel like a norse god.'
- Fred

i say, if that's all that it takes to make you feel like a norse god... keep it.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

hello from hammersmith...

i am spending the night in london at some friend's house. they are out of town skiing so i've got their whole flat to myself... i felt a little apprehensive about staying in london by my self (why isn't freddy here?!?). i made it here safely though and without any troubles, some minor door/key issues were quickly overcome with the help of my telephone bodyguard. i quickly jetted over to starbucks afterwards, which thankfully was just across the road, and treated myself to a venti vanilla latte and a chocolate and caramel shortbread (which i totally forgot about until now... which means i have a nice little breakfast in store for me)!

anyway... i actually had some stuff to accomplish tonight. so after fiddling around with the internet, television, and my camera i finally decided to get to it and finish my essay that is due tomorrow. thankfully it is done... and ready to be handed in (phew, one thing i can check off my list).

i've got a full day tomorrow with lectures starting at 9am and going until 4pm... fridays are definitely my heaviest days, which is nice in a way... because it will make me appreciate the saturdays in my life all the more.

these are the kinds of things that make me appreciate living in the UK. this flat isn't overtly lush... i seem to be slightly enamored by the bathroom... seriously though, who installs these kinds of toilets anymore?? there is something slightly magical about flushing the toilet like that though.... i have to admit.

this flat isn't overtly lush... check out how sweet the bathroom features are. granted, no water comes out of the 'hot' tap... but it looks nice nevertheless.

the shower faucet tap is equally covetable.

totally fancy chandelier in their living room and there is seriously intense moulding all throughout the house.

the kind of dinners i eat when i am alone: smushed peanut butter sandwich (that spent the whole day being carted around in my bag) and milk from a wine glass.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Yes it is Wednesday and snowing again


Jenny and I have been discussing some very important blog stuff. How to indicate who has written a post. I know there are probably only 10 people who actually check this blog regularly and I'm sure they have no problem differentiating between our posts (mine are easily identifiable by my witty yet incisive prose!). Obviously one way would just be to sign the end of the blog. I also thought of having different coloured text which would have worked with the old grey background. But Jenny has suggested, and we will try, using a distinctive and colour coded sign off.

Jenny= xx
Freddy= xo (like Gossip Girl... also I thought xy might be more appropriate but making science jokes isn't actually that funny)

I realise this is probably just for our benefit, and we probably check our own blog more in one day than all the hits from other people we get. This is, however, to some extent a way of chronicling our lives (like a diary or memoir) and is not just about letting our family know what we are up to (so, therefore, differentiating between who wrote what is important... I think)


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

ohh my, wednesday already?

Woke up to a Wednesday morning with snow bucketing it down...

Have been back in England for just over a week now. It seriously feels like so much longer.

Anyway, I discovered how truly wonderful one of my Christmas gifts are on Monday went I went into london:

I have long been presented with the problem of making coffee in the morning, putting it in a thermos thing, getting on my bike, getting to the train station, getting on the train, taking a sip of the coffee.... and feeling disgusted by the fact that over the course of 20min my coffee has become less than luke-warm. Seriously, all I ask for is something warm to drink without having to drink the vile coffee they sell at the station. Well, the problem is absolutely and totally solved. I got this thermos for Christmas and I used it yesterday for the first time. I am not kidding you... I think it actually made my drink even hotter (ok, maybe that's not possible). But, I made it all the way to Paddington and I could still just barely sip at it because it was still so piping hot. Now that is an invention I can get behind. And, it's not very big or heavy... so isn't a pain to carry in your bag after you are finished - and seriously no leaks at all.

Am looking forward to trying out my new Gingerbread flavour Nespresso coffee tomorrow during my early trip into London (on the bus at 7am... that's too early, right?) and having it stay nice and toasty warm! Hopefully some of the snow will have cleared by then!


Saturday, 9 January 2010


It is still freezing cold over here and our house continues to be covered in icicles and lots of snow.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Mac n Cheese

Here is a food post I meant to do before Christmas but didnt get around to. Again this was a dish that I never really liked growing up (and again its a jamie recipe). I think I didnt like it bc it was always a dish of last resort, in that it was only made if there wasn't anything else too interesting to make (it can be kinda boring and can be made quickly... both of which are not true for this dish!).


salt and pepper
30g butter
1 and a half tbsp flour
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 bay leaves
500ml semi-skimmed milk
300g macaroni
4 tomatoes
75g grated cheddar
50g grated parmesan
some thyme
little bit of Worcestershire sauce
sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)
a big handful of fresh breadcrumbs
olive oil


Melt butter in large ovenproof saucepan over low heat. Add flour and turn heat to medium to make a roux. Fry it for a little bit (gets rid of the floury taste). Add garlic and stir around till garlic is golden and sticky. Add bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to boil and then simmer on low heat. Preheat oven to 220 C.

Add pasta to a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to instructions on packet. Roughly chop tomatoes and add salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Stir it all around. Take off heat and stir in cheeses, tomatoes, and thyme. Add Worcestershire sauce and nutmeg if you fancy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don't worry if its too wet bc it will thicken in oven. Bake in oven for 30 mins.

While that is cooking put breadcrumbs and thyme into a pan with some olive oil on medium heat. Stir till breadcrumbs become crunchy and golden. They make a nice addition to sprinkle over the mac n cheese. A nice green salad also goes great with this dish.


Price: 4/10 (I am always shocked that cheese seems expensive)
Taste: 8/10
Difficulty: 5/10 (it takes a while bc you have to put it in the oven but the more you make it the faster if goes)


Ok so haven't done a food post in a while and am desperately trying to avoid work. So for the last year Jen has been going on about beef stew and how she really wants to eat it. I usually ignore this request as it is usually followed by a description of how in the States you can buy really good stew in a can?!? Growing up I was rarely fed food from a can (I know I was spoiled) so it just doesn't appeal to me. Actually beef stew in general has never been a favourite of mine. We used to eat kalops (a swedish beef stew) a lot at home and it never really appealed to me. However all this changed when we went to Moya (a slovakian restaurant) before Christmas to celebrate Gabe's PhD viva. I decided to have Goulash and I loved it. I know its silly, its essentially beef stew but if you call it Goulash I seem to like it more... a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, or perhaps not in my case. So after scouring the internet for a recipe here is what I came up with.


250 g beef (the longer you have to stew it the worse the beef can be, I didnt have long so I used sirloin... I know pretty plush, but it was only 6 quid for 400 g)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
butter/olive oil
salt and pepper
200 ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 bell peppers (sliced)
2 tomatoes (sliced)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp mccormicks spicy all season (optional)


Chop steak into cubes. Fry with onions, garlic, and butter/olive oil (or both). Salt and pepper. When steak is brown add beef stock and tomoato puree. Mix it all around. Add peppers, tomoatoes, paprika, and I used this all season spice I found lying in our cupboard. You can also add a splash of red wine. Bring to boil and the let simmer for 30 mins with lid on the pan. You can leave it for as long as you want I reckon but you might want to add the veg at a later stage in that case. Easy peasy. In moya they served it with dumplings, but we just ate it with bread which was equally nice.

Price: 7/10
Taste: 9/10
Difficulty: 4/10

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

"Frozen Britain"

Freddy and I arrived back to England on Monday night. Desperately sad to have left the US and all our family there. We are still pretty horribly jet-lagged. We have gone to sleep both nights at 4am... and did not wake up Tuesday until 4pm. Managed to get up today at 1pm... so we are getting a little bit better.

We didn't realize it but we have come back to the UK in the middle of the worst cold spell since 1981... yesterday at 4pm it started to snow. Oxford never gets a lot of snow - so we weren't expecting much. It normally doesn't stick and if it does it isn't too impressive. When we looked out our window around 8pm there were buckets of snow outside and it looked absolutely magical. This morning (okay, afternoon) we woke up to about a foot of snow outside

The view out our front window.

Taking out the recycling with snow well above our ankles.

Don't think we will be cycling anywhere for the next couple of days....

Freddy at the backside of our house.

Cold and windy as we headed to the shops to stock up on supplies.

The front of our house all covered in snow.

Decked out in some newly acquired mid-west winter buffalo check gear.

Not many cars made it out of our street today...

Thankfully we didn't arrive back into the UK last night... we probably wouldn't have made it into Heathrow - and if we had it would have been a nasty and long trip into Oxford trying to move luggage in all that snow. Luckily we are both at home and haven't had to try to commute in to any jobs or anything today. Classes start back up for me on Monday... so until then I am just trying to get my essays written while staying warm by the fire and drinking lots of tea.

Hope you aren't too cold and snowed in wherever you are!