After 6 remarkable years of Trader Joe’s, Panini Presses, immersion blenders, and culinary self discovery in NYC, I’ve hopped the pond to experience a new city and its charming ingredients. I’ve relocated to London for the next few years! Bring on the High Teas, Sunday Roasts, and radishes, y’all!
But first, a moment of reflection. I moved to NYC knowing little more than how to navigate through a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and my prize recipe was a tuna casserole I proudly topped with Baked Lays and a generous serving of honey mustard dressing. Apparently, I went through a Midwestern phase in college? Come to think of it, I was making said casserole when I went through my Vince Vaughn phase, so that all adds up…
Anyways, I’ll forever be grateful for what New York taught me in terms of food. I ate in all the best restaurants, consumed an impressive amount of Food Network on the weekends, and cooked exclusively with Whole Foods and Farmer’s Market ingredients, so it’s safe to say I nearly peaked in terms of culinary ability.
Nearly is the operative word, here.
My next chapter is one filled with porridge, Yorkshire pudding, and shedloads (I’m a Brit now – mind the slang) of tea, and I’m confident I’ll flex more cooking muscles than I knew existed. And, believe me, I’m culinarily ripped.
Since I’ve arrived, I’ve done my best to go lady-balls-deep (see what I did there?) into the native cuisine, so that began with a Sunday Roast. It’s the equivalent of a Sunday brunch here, but more dudes are apt to join since you replace a $20 egg dish with a £15 dish of the meat of your liking (i.e. leg of lamb, roasted chicken, aged beef, pork shoulder, or fish), and it comes with roasted vegetables, roasted new potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. It looks like this:
And it’s typically served with anywhere from 1-5 Guinnesses (Guinnei?) No, you say? That’s entirely optional? Well, I don’t care to experience it any other way.
Yorkshire pudding, for those who are unfamiliar, is that giant crusty popover looking thing to the left of my chicken. It’s alright, although I’d prefer if it weren’t such a misnomer. Say “pudding” and I’m bound to want something gooey.
Now let’s switch gears for a minute and discuss the sweaty side before we cover what British-y meals I’ve made so far in my temporary flat. I toured two gyms my first day here, assuming I’d go into London the same way I went into NYC – staking my claim on a treadmill before I had an apartment or job and considering the gym central to my daily mental health and happiness. As I was price comparing the two, though, I realized that the gym and exercise are not one in the same. I decided to hold off on the contract for now, and in turn encourage myself to be creative with my workouts. Maybs that will curb the resentment I occasionally develop towards the gym? We’ll find out.
For now, I bought a jump rope (or “skip” as they say in the UK) and have been jumping every other day or so. I then do some planks for my arms and core and tricep dips if I feel like showing my wings some more love. I’ve already gone to 3 dance classes in the week I’ve been in London, and the one I went to today was a total arse-kicker. I’ll be back. I may start doing yoga also, because with my Skip in my home I can get my cardio on whenever I want and have the freedom to take non-sweaty classes away from home. I’m SO into this idea.
Today, I went to the grocery before the aforementioned arse-kicking hip hop class (which they actually call “hip pop”..adorable), and I stocked up on some English staples. I got some carrots, radishes, an English cucumber, and blue cheese, and got to work chopping for a little salad I threw together:
4 c baby spinach
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/4 c radishes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/3 c English carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
1 oz creamy blue cheese
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
I started by slicing the carrots, radishes and cucumbers, and placing on top of the bed of just washed spinach. I then dolloped the blue cheese all over the salad, because I’ve decided to develop a taste for the stuff all “When in Rome”-style, and I love it already. While my bed of veggies was complete, I whisked together the grainy mustard, honey and olive oil for a thick dressing to drizzle on top. I then finished the whole dish with salt and pepper and devoured. Pretty legit.
I also couldn’t get over how adorable my English ingredients looked on my cutting board. Just the cutest little veggies I ever did see.
I still haven’t quite figured out how to work the oven or microwave, and I left my Panini Press with its affinity for American voltage with my friend Ryan in NYC, so I’m pretty limited to the stove top these days. I went with one of my go-tos tonight with a British twist, so I made kale and tofu with blue cheese.
4 c kale, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 package of tofu
1 oz creamy blue cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
I started by heating the olive oil on medium heat in my skillet. I sliced the onion and tossed that into the oil. I cooked until it was translucent, and then I chopped and added the tofu to the skillet. I’m still adjusting to an electric stove after cooking with gas for 6 years, and I realized it would take approx a lifetime to get my tofu anywhere near golden. That’s typically how I like my tofu, but I was ravenous so I only cooked them for a few minutes. I then added the rinsed kale, and cooked that with the onions and tofu for about 5 minutes until wilted. I finished the dish with the lemon juice and dollops of melty blue cheese. Highly recommended. See below: