Tomato upside-down tart

August 31, 2012

This is a tart that my Mum occasionally puts together in the summer months; it's ideal for a picnic or a buffet. In fact, my relatives often ask her to bring one if they are to host a family gathering.
Any dish with Balsamic vinegar in captivates me from the word go, so it had every chance of success. I can tell you that this was no exception.

The base is made from a concoction consisting of:
Self raising flour 175g,
Butter 75g,
Grated carrot 75g,
Grated cheese 50g,
An egg- beaten, 
Salt, pepper, mustard powder, and mixed herbs (parsley, coriander, chives)
  • Mix together the seasonings with the flour. 
  • Rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  • Next, stir in the cheese, carrot and herbs.

You should have something looking like this

Add the egg to bind it all together. This will form the base. Use your hands to shape it into a ball, clingfilm and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C, grease and line a tin, and blanch 550g of tomatoes.

Once blanched, peel off the skin, cut them into thick slices.
  • Cook off 175g of onions with a little butter. Mix in your sliced tomatoes.
  • Add some balsamic vinegar and a 1 tbsp of soft brown sugar. Once the tomatoes are coated and infused remove them and pop them into a pan with greaseproof paper.
Try to ensure that the 'bottoms' of the tomatoes (rather than the centre from which you can see the pips) are face up- this will be important for later
  • Chop up some crusts (25g aprox) and mix them up with your caramelised onion mixture. Once you're happy they're all coated pop them on top of your tomatoes.  

Now remember that dough/ batter/pastry we made earlier, well now you just need to pop it on top of your bread and onion mix and you're ready to cook it.

About 25 minutes should do the trick- or until golden.

Now comes the magic: at the moment you have a funny looking doughy and pretty aesthetically unappealing 'tart', but once you've turned it upside down you'll end up with something like this 

It's wonderful enjoyed warm, but equally cold- that's if there is  any leftover to cool!
Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to do just that- enjoy the last slither for a late lunch.

Do you have any family dishes perfect for summer dining or a picnic?

London. Part 3.

August 27, 2012

On a less than inspiring bank holiday morning, which had previously born plan to many an exciting outing, I feel it is time to reflect upon my final stop in London- whilst I attempt to decide what to do with my day. 

number five.

Hyde Park

After lots of urban wanderings it was time to relax in a more familiar rural setting. My hotel was located in a great location by Hyde Park.

I spent several mornings sitting and reading with the sound of these water fountains, and very little else. 

 The small garden was beautiful, as was the architecture. 

It was a lovely experience: both being at the Games and in London. I look forward to the Paralympics and hope that the nation rekindles its patriotic sentiments.
I know I'm glad to be back at home now, back to my routine, and with my family and friends. I have got to say that my waistline is definitely not missing London and all of its wonderful gastronomic opportunities.

I hope everyone's taking care, having fun, and enjoying what sun we do have!

Is anyone going to tune in to the Paralympics?

What has everyone got planned for their bank holiday?

London. Part 2.

August 19, 2012

What nice weather we're having! Unfortunately I have spent most of my time working, but I have had a little chance to enjoy the sun. In truth, I don't really begrudge working given that I will soon be heading to University for my first year- it seems like a worthwhile sacrifice.
Incidentally, if you're out and about in London on a sunny day, if you're not lounging about in a lovely park or cooling down with an iced coffee somewhere, I would recommend the second place I visited- beautiful in the glow of the summer sun. So here we have.. 
number two.
Notting Hill
This has always been somewhere I wanted to visit for the pretty buildings, boutique shops, street markets, and urmm Hugh Grant..
My eyes gorged on many beautifully coloured buildings, with their elegant sash windows; striking iron railings; variety of pastel doorways; peaceful and seemingly wild shrubbery; and pops of colour from the delicate and sporadic presence of flowers.

number three.
Portobello Road
Moving from the complimenting colours in Notting Hill, I explored the clashing, but equally impressive shop fronts in Portobello Road.

Next I wandered around the market stalls *imagining I lived there and wishing to have some of the flowers in my beautiful future home*

Then I went up to the Notting Hill Bookshop where I feasted my eyes upon .. H u g...e piles of books- in truth these are just as agreeable to me as Hugh himself!
To be honest the bookshop was a bit of a novelty stop, there are plenty of wonderful bookshops that far surpass this infamous one.
One of which I found at stop ..

number four.
Marylebone Street

Daunt Books
This place was almost majestic on the afternoon I languidly wandered in. I spent a long time wandering around picking up all the books with their wonderful limited edition covers. I walked through a little archway which led to a large room with shelves surrounding me and spindly iron staircases which led to the shelves upstairs. I was in my element. 
If you don't believe me, take a look yourself
I couldn't resist picking up a couple of books
'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' Mary Wollstonecroft. 
A book I've spoken about in several essays and has been referred to in many of my studies, (it's one of the first feminist texts), but that I've never actually read.
'The Social Contract' Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Both are texts that have shaped the literature that followed and that I'm glad to have in my collection.
AND they are beautiful- so here's another photo!
I temporarily lost myself in the bookshop before walking out into the bustling street and being knocked out of my romantic imaginings. I couldn't help, but wish that I had a similar local bookshop with several armchairs to have a little read. This part of London has many cafés with wonderfully chic outside eating. I spotted many business men drinking their cups of coffee during their lunch break, or maybe something stronger..

I hope you have all taken on the British spirit and dropped everything to enjoy the sun! Part 3 of London is soon on its way with last stop, number 5.

London and its delights. Part 1. The Olympics

August 12, 2012

I was offered the opportunity to spend 10 days in the capital. If that wasn't enough, I also had the chance to explore London as much as I liked in my free time.  This was particularly appealing to me who lives fairly close to London, but is prevented from visiting frequently due to the cost of the transport to get there, and the other more readily accessible towns and cities such as Brighton. As a result, my previous time in London has almost exclusively been dominated by shopping- so on my list were a number of places to explore.
As already alluded to, the primary reason for my being there was the Olympics, and on the day of the closing ceremony it seems apt to begin recounting my adventures with this first stop on my list of destinations. So here goes with ..

number one.
The Olympics
..something unique to London solely this summer
I had the good fortune to see the park at 7am and 12am- I say good fortune, but that did involve 5am starts, so we'll leave that to your own interpretation of fortunate. This did allow me to admire it in all its golden glory throughout the whole day and night.
as did many other people..

This roller-coaster structure is called the Orbit. I'm pretty sure no one has any idea what it's for, given how many people have asked me. 
So, I will inform you incase you did wonder: 'Standing 115 metres high, the Orbit is the tallest art structure in Britain – offering stunning views over the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park and the whole of London. Located in Orbit Circus in the south of the Olympic Park, the Orbit is London’s major new visitor destination – both during the Games and beyond.'  Read more here

The Park was truly something else in the evening.

What I have loved about the London 2012 Olympics is that it seems to have touched everyone in some way.  People have watched the torch go through their town, been interested/participated in the sports that have been on everyone's TV screens, travelled to Hyde Park to soak up some of the atmosphere, or been to the park itself.

As you might have seen in my previous post, I went to watch the men's hockey. India V Korea and Australia V Holland

 lots of Dutch supporters!

It was a wonderful experience so here are several photos to epitomise the loveliness

I will leave you all with this patriotic supporter, I wish you good tidings, and hope that you tune into the closing ceremony this evening- and of course Part 2 of London!

Olympic Reading

August 10, 2012

You could call me a snob, but that's neither the noun I think is most suitable, nor the most polite! I confess that predominantly I read works in the canon, classics, or literary renowned novels. Now there are several reasons: I have a penchant for 18th-19th Century literature, and prefer them to the writing styles of many modern novels, (obviously this is a huge generalisation); and secondly, I suppose I like to know I'm reading something of quality that is intellectually challenging. However, I would like to think I'm open to giving most texts a try, given that they all serve different purposes. I might well prefer the works of Austen and Brontë, but is that just because I know they're highly acclaimed?
My Dad came to me with a book recommendation which was topical, and whilst I would never have picked it up, I thought it was worth a try.

James Patterson's 'Private Games'
From the title you may well have inferred that it relates to the Olympic Games and is a detective style story. Incidentally I spent last week working at the Olympics, unfortunately the book wasn't particularly comforting in light of this.

The novel follows a detective whose aim it is to discover who is behind the calculated and shocking murder of a member of the Games committee on the eve of the Olympics. The person responsible for the murder, and with the ultimate aim of sabotaging the 2012 Olympics, calls themselves 'Cronus' and systematically carries out his plan with a subsequent explanation given as to the reason for his victims' guilt. He/she targets Olympic officials and athletes, under the explanation that he/she  is rooting out the evil and corruption in the modern olympics and attempting to restore the Olympics to their ancient glory. We spend our time hoping that the person attempting to destroy the Games is caught, the lives of innocent victims saved, and the motives behind this terrorism, revealed.

My thoughts

The chapters are very short, and the novel is fairly rapidly paced with a lot of action, but simultaneously a quantity of anticipation and tension.
Seeing into the mind of the deranged Cronus was interesting, although I ultimately thought that his motive was weak, far-fetched, and a bit unrealistic- in essence the link to the Olympics was a little tenuous. 

I didn't dislike the book, but that was primarily due to the context of it. Being at the Games it felt more alive than it might have done otherwise, and I enjoyed imagining the buildings I walked past in jeopardy, (not in a crazy psychotic way.)
Embarassingly I must confess that I did not identify the killer, 'Cronus', but all the same I was irritated by Patterson's constant attempt to convince me it was someone that it obviously wasn't.
Ultimately, and as aforementioned, the book was very unrealistic: from Knight's children's premature development, to the ending. The ending was terrible. I re-read the fatality to check that I hadn't missed anything, but honestly the most unlikely death in the history of fiction.

For me the book was good in light of the Olympics- a pleasant read, but nothing extraordinary.

In other news. Spending time in the Olympic Park and watching the hockey was very enjoyable. The atmosphere was incredible, despite being drenched in the first 10minutes then exiting accompanied by a slightly pink nose- oh the joys of the British weather! It was heart-warming to see Britain successfully hosting and participating in the Games, (despite Patterson's prophecy, as well as Team GB coming together in support.. more from my time in London to follow