Monday, July 30, 2012

The Ultimate Sandwich? Try it and decide...

Now mini dinner party nibbles and cutesy Lunchboxes Of The Week are all well and good. But sometimes you just want to sink your teeth into a great big juicy sandwich. Warning, bruschetta fans may want to look away. This one's strictly for real sandwich lovers.

A bit more than a nibble...

Ingredients (serves 2 very hungry adults)

2 ciabattas (the ones you finish baking in the oven yourself)
Southern Fried chicken pieces (or your choice of filler)
2 eggs
200 grams of cheddar cheese (or as much as you like, this is not the day for that diet)
Roast vegetables (try red pepper, courgettes, aubergine)
4 gherkins
2 handfuls of lettuce
Aioli mayonnaise (recipe is here)

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit/gas mark 6.
  2. Place ciabattas on a baking try and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove ciabattas, slice lengthways and add the cheese. Return to the oven until cheese is at dripping point perfection.
  4. Crack the eggs into the frying pan. You’re only kidding yourself trying to be healthy and poaching them.
  5. Add some aioli mayonnaise, or your preferred spread, to the ciabattas.
  6. Layer. Start with the lettuce, then the roast vegetables. Chicken pieces are next and sprinkle on the gherkins.
  7. Add the piece de résistance – the eggs.
  8. Slice and serve.
  9. Take a little nap.

The Ultimate Sandwich? You decide.

This can pretty much work with whatever you have in the fridge, think of it like a smorgasbord sandwich. You could also try (or add): avocado, ham, sweet potato, mushrooms, onion rings, rocket... I could keep going.

Serving suggestions

Seriously? OK, try a few oven chips. In for a cent, in for a euro! Or in for a penny in for a pound as we say across the water. Bon Appétit! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

O-Day Lunchbox Of The Week

Rain's back. Ha! Told ya. You can't see me but I'm doing a little victory wiggle. Although it is meant to clear up later on. And just as well, because unless you've been hibernating with a stone on top of you, you'll know it's O-Day today: London 2012. 

There are two camps of people living in London when it comes to the Olympics. Those who loathe all the fuss and have already most likely escaped the city, probably to lay on their yacht somewhere sunny. And those who can't get enough of it and are nearly bursting waiting for it to begin. Guess which camp I fall into? Well I've no yacht and Mr. Moustache really enjoys my regular updates on what is happening with the Games, the latest whereabouts of the Torch and did you know that it's only 20 days, 7 hours and 23 seconds to kick-off Mr. M? I know he enjoys them because he told me. Who else out there was ringing their smartphone as a bell at 8.12am precisely this morning? 

There could also be a third camp, people like Mr. Moustache, who have a 'normal' reaction to it and are just enjoying it while not going overboard. Ah, far better to take it to the extreme.

So to get into the spirit I decided some Olympic themed lunchboxes were in order this week. Now who wouldn't enjoy The Flamer Burger, or some Olympic Doughnut Rings, or a velodrome sandwich (didn't work, don't try it). Or what about this week's Lunchbox Of the Week:


I'm not that sad...honestly. And that's hardly a proper lunch now is it?

I decided this could be classed as a little more normal instead. Marginally. Turning these: 

Mini Two Cheese Omelettes (feta and cheddar) 

Into these: 

Eggilicious Olympic Rings Lunchbox
Mr. M's verdict? 'Allez Team France!'

See, perfectly normal, just a few mini omelettes. 

The blue ring posed a problem. I never realised that we do not have enough blue foods in the world. Blueberries were the best I could come  up with and then a slice of brioche came into the mix. Not sure the omelette base would have worked, but it's still kind of egg based. Kind of as in not really. Then some mini omelettes topped with: aubergine, parma ham, roast butternut squash and lettuce and basil leaves. Now I'm not naming any names here, but somebody had a little nibble of it before it was finished...Oh oui, you know who you are. 

With all the branding controversy going on at the moment I hope it's OK. Hmmm, somehow I think Mr. Moustache's Lunchbox will be under the radar.

In other news, we're off to the Opening Ceremony tonight! Fancy! Go Team Irlande! 

Em, that would be the BT London Live Opening Ceremony Concert...not quite the main event. But it will be in Hyde Park and, hopefully, right in the middle of the action. Who knows, I might even flog the Eggilicious Lunchbox there. Excited? Me? Ooooh just a little...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A lunchbox, a dinner party and an Irish woman melts in London

So we had Les Trois Amigos Lunchbox last week. Back when London was a normal place and wasn't literally like living in a frying pan. It's going to be 30 degrees today and I actually think I might just melt. We're not made for this you see, the Irish. It feels wrong somehow. I keep squinting suspiciously at the the sky and looking for the rain - where are you? C'mere, I see you. The weather app on my phone is defying logic - 6 days of freaking sun. I'm looking at it and sending annoying texts to Ireland along the lines of  'Thirty degrees here!' 'Thirty!' 'THIRTY!' You get the picture. 
But back to Les Trois Amigos, when I wasn't melting. Last Friday there could only be one winner of Mr. Moustache's Lunchbox Of The Week competition. Mainly due to the fact that our other lunches were nondescript :-) So the votes were in, Irlande douze pointes...and Les Trois Amigos took the prize. Have a little peak below. 

  Les Trois Amigos Lunchbox

It started with a little tortilla sombrero, filled with chille con carne. Which was joined by roasted courgette, aubergine and red pepper, sliced and placed on top of some feta. On a ciabatta. Always on a ciabatta. Followed by some (slightly) healthier Southern fried chicken, with an onion ring and cheddar. Mr. M's verdict? 'Three's company. Arriba!'. 

This week I'm mainly cooking lots of ice cream, water and a little more ice cream. Now that could make an interesting lunchbox this Friday couldn't it? Although we did have a dinner party with our very good friends this week, before I developed sunstroke. You can take a look at our South Londoners Rule dinner party menu here

  Dinner Party Starter - Mini Me Selection 
Two cheese omelette, mushroom burger, roast vegetable quiche and bruschetta. 

Dinner Party Finisher - coffee and a white chocolate chip fudge cookie

Can you tell I've just purchased some new pastry cutter shapes? I apologise for the lack of photos of the other courses. As a result of which Mr. Moustache has been put on notice of the kitchen closing should another similar incident occur. Well, he can't say he wasn't warned now can he...

A special thanks to my lovely friend Louise for these two shots.

In the meantime I'll get back to melting and oh, the Olympics are starting on Friday, silly me, I nearly forgot...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weekend in Brussels...and not a moule in sight

We're just back from our visit to La Maman de Mr. Moustache in Brussels. Now before I met Mr. Moustache I didn't know much about Brussels. But over the years I've built up a teeny bit of knowledge - here's my non-essential guide to a weekend there. 

Eight things you may, or may not, need to know before you visit

1. They're mad for their waffles the Belgians, mad for them, on discount and all. Dare I say even more than they are for their moules frites. Yes, Mr.M, I know they're really called gaufres, excuse-moi.

2. Speculoos is another of their loves. Imagine a type of cookie dough but in a creamy spread. It's even nut allergy friendly. You could try Speculoos with ice-cream or on a gaufre...But don't kid yourself, we all know how this is going to end: You, the jar, spoon or no spoon, it's up to you: 

3. If you like cheese you may need to sit down for this one. They have truffle cheese. Truffle Percorino to be precise. With truffle shavings, not just the flavour. You must eat this. You must.  

La Maman and I would happily live on this, some bread (a baguette) and red wine (French of course), forever. I can't repeat what one of Mr. M's very good friends said when he tasted it for the first time at dinner this weekend. Let's just say he was very very happy: 

4. The Belgians know just the right way to serve crêpes:

5. Decisions, decisions, decisions. One of their smaller bakeries

6.  They know how to make desserts look healthy. Look at all that fruit, simply has to be good for you:

7. Make sure you share the love when you're there, even their salt and pepper mills do

8. And when you've eaten too much just relax on the beach. Who needs the coast when Brussels Beach is on your doorstep. A little urban beach along the canal, mojitos are obligatory:

Our weekend was topped off with a fabulous Bastille Day meal Chez La Maman. Chef on the night was Mr.M, with a little help from La Maman. Del...ic...eux.

We had a ball, ate far too much cheese and loved it all. We even convinced La Maman to book her Eurostar ticket for a visit to London.

All the same it's good to be back. Ah, c'mere and give me a little hug London, I missed you.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A message from tonight's chef...

Bonnes fêtes à tous!

Joyeux 14 Juillet à tous les Francais! Je cuisine...
Mon menu:
Noisettes d'agneau, merguez et pommes de terre sautées
A plus, Mr.Moustache
Ohhh I'm liking this Bastille Day even more now, lamb and merguez Mr.M, two of my favourites. Roll on le dîner.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Eating, no cooking

Oh how I'd love to tell you that Mr. Moustache's breakfast always looks like this: 

His lunchbox like this: 

And of course his dinner like this: 

Or this:
Ah, not quite.

From time to time I get a little bit lazy and resort to meals like last night's dinner...bangers and mash anyone? In my defence the the sausages were sort of fancy ones with apple and honey (strange but yummy). I tried to fob it off as a homage to the English classic but Mr. M was having none of it. He came home again this evening, opened a near empty fridge and looked at me with a pained expression on his face. Le takeaway ce soir perhaps? My excuse is we're going away tomorrow so I can't be letting food go to waste now, can I? It's also my excuse for no 'Lunchbox of the Week' options this week. We're off to Brussels to visit La Maman de Mr. Moustache. 

But fear not for Mr. M. For those times when I can't get my cooking mojo on, there are 1,000's of restaurants in London to choose from. In fact Wiki Answers kindly tells me there are at least 5, 570 of them. And then you have all the pop-ups, food markets, supper clubs etc. Oooh I could be ditching my pots and pans more often...

You can eat anything and everything here. From nose to tail to gourmet burgers, from cheap eats to Michelin starred feasts, from healthy options to sinful treats. And if you don't like choice on your menu you'll love what London can offer. Restaurants that don't give you any that is. Like Burger and Lobster (guess), Tramshed (chicken and steak) and the soon to be Bubbledogs (go on...think about it...). 

Mr. Moustache, Burger and Lobster, no burger
You can't see his head because he's literally floating on cloud nine.
That's a whole 1kg lobster he's about to attack

Like most things in London I nearly don't know where to begin, there're so many and my head starts to spin. Which one? Which one? WHICH ONE?! So we're working our way through them. I might have to be a little bit lazier in the kitchen. 

Don't worry Mr.Moustache my kitchen will always be open to you. 

So if you'd like to hear more about some of the places we try when I'm feeling lazy you can have a little look here. Ah, please do, you might just like it. Enjoy...

And in case you didn't figure it out by now, it was champagne and hot dogs of course! 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Introducing Mr. Moustache's Lunchbox Of The Week

Before I moved to London Mr. Moustache survived for 6 months by himself. Isn't he marvellous. Although he did develop a mild form of scurvy from living on pizza and ready meals. Really Mr. M? You're in London and that's the best fast food you could get? Tut tut. OK maybe the scurvy part is an exaggeration, but I have definitely seen him look a lot healthier! At the start I did  'meals on wings' for him to bring on the plane, which didn't last long...Not to worry though, it's been rectified since I got here and I'm happy to say there's not a ready meal to be seen. 
Now Mr. M is pretty easy going about what he eats at home. He only has a couple of stipulations: variety and large portions. That's not to say that he doesn't have fine tastes. The man grew up eating oysters, foie gras, caviar etc. on a regular basis. Imagine his shock spending Christmas with me. What's wrong with a great big turkey and ham Mr. M? My cooking not good enough for you now?! 
There're no oysters over in London at the moment let me tell you, unless it's of the travel card variety. We're back to basics while we wait to move our things over. I'm cooking with 2 pans, 2 dishes, 2 knives and not much else. And guess what? It's actually strangely refreshing as everything has to be extra simple. I love it. 

The one thing Mr. M does particularly love though is his 'Lunchbox Of The Week'. It started from a little joke of me trying to do fancy lunches for us to bring to work in Ireland. Note the word trying.  And they're not always fancy. So I thought I'd continue it here. Once a week Mr. M picks one of our favourite lunchboxes. Yes, a productive way for two grown adults living in London to spend their free time. We do lots of other stuff too I promise. And of course, we don't have lunches like this all the time - sometimes life is just too short to cook.  Anyway, if you're interested in seeing his favourites you can have a look at them here. Here's a little sneak preview, the 'Mini Me' Lunchbox. All good things come in small packages y'know. 

'Mini me assemble your own' burger, sweet potato nutmeg mash
Vegetable quiche, mini beef wellington and an onion ring hiding beside the quiche.
Mr. M's verdict? 'Petite mais delicieux'. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Sshh...Can you keep a secret?

Now don't tell Mr. Moustache, but I'm in love. Oh yes, I'm in love with London and it's getting worse every day. In fact, it's our two month anniversary today. Sshh. 

I'm not quite sure how it happened. Before I moved over everyone was telling me how fabulous London was and what a perfect time it was to move here with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. But all I could think was I was leaving people I loved...but to be with the person I loved. Turns out being here doesn't feel that far away from home, most of the time. I know that I can get home in a couple of hours and Skype makes it a lot easier. And, oh dear, I know it's a terrible cliché of the Irish person going across the water, but I did bring my own tea bags.  So I arrived and it was sweet but still so bitter leaving my family. By the time I moved over Mr. Moustache practically had scurvy. He's OK now and is even complaining about putting on weight.
So I turned to London. And it's been a whirlwind (and windy) romance ever since. London is amazing, breathtaking,  surprising, energising. I've spent hours walking by the Thames, around the streets (getting lost really), exploring museums, cafés, squares and the parks. Oh the parks, don't get me started on the parks. The parks are what really got me hooked: Picnics in the beautiful St. James's Park right in the middle of the city, beside Buckingham Palace. 

But it hasn't all been easy, London is the type of city that will chew you up and spit you out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some days it feels harsh, cold and uncaring. And I don't just mean the weather. You're walking along with 1,000s of people and still feel lonely. But it only takes one of those people to make you feel part of it again. Weather and transport are not my friends here. But, I'll put up with the bad bits to experience:

I could go on and on, and believe me I tend to over here. But really the sweetest thing of all is that when London goes cold, I still have Mr. Moustache to share it all with me. So, am I happy I moved to London? Hell yeah! And I'm going to tell you all about it...All about cooking, eating and living in London.