A different Monday rush hour…

Cosy Moments, Cosy Places

London… I can feel this undescribable energy that fills my heart and lift my spirits, the best way to start the week is with a mini break alongside the Thames on a surprisingly quiet Monday morning.

London Bridge

There is always a bright side to everything and today I was even able to embraced the brighter side of a boring doctor’s appointment. London Bridge hospital is my spot for visiting the doctor and I have to admit it, I LOVE IT! no, not going to the doctor but to take a moment to walk on the Bankside of the river, enjoying all the narrow pedestrian routes full of history and the best combination of old, traditional and new, all mixed together to offer that unique London feeling that makes us adore this city. Today my special route from London Bridge to Blackfriars gave me just what I needed to kickstart my week.

Vinopolis London Bridge

London Bridge

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It is always nice to see the city outside the normal rush hour. On a daily basis I see London with a sea of people walking as quick as they can, minding their own business and unaware of any beauty around them…yeah.. that is me, walking from A to B with my headphones on, dreaming about things and trying not to get too stress with work before I even step into the building and although it was Monday’s peak hour, today was very different. I stopped to take in the ordinary things I tend to take for granted, today I paid attention to my beautiful surroundings, I allowed myself to feel the soft wind of this crisp winter morning, letting the city whispering into my ear the urban secrets of this ‘concrete jungle’. London transported me for a moment to a life where every brick, every person, every moment meant something and I found myself wishing that I could have more moments like this and lets face it, this is the UK, every corner is a ‘Cosy Corner’ it shouldn’t be difficult.

Orange Flowers

From arches of London Bridge to the ruins to the Winchester Palace and the amazing traditional pub, The Anchor, there are just too many locations to count. The Shakespeare Globe and Tate Modern connected to St Pauls’s cathedral by the Millennium Bridge, I couldn’t ask for a more scenic view.

The Anchor Pub

Shakespeare Globe

Millennium Bridge

Arriving to my final destination, I can’t stop thinking how just a little break can do so much good for the soul in our daily lives and here I am… with my office in front of me, such a beautiful building, a great vibe inside and now let the week begin…

Unilever House

Cheese fingers – my guilty pleasure

Cosy Food

These cheese fingers are those type of things that I only make and enjoy once or twice a year, but let me tell you…they are DELICIOUS, so allow yourself a treat and give it a go, we all deserve a little indulgence once in a while.

Cheese fingers

These tasty sticks were part of my childhood, they are very popular in Colombia and sold in schools, football matches and even frozen in supermarkets, they are the perfect snack for parties, meetings, film night at home, etc.

I took this recipe from a great blog called My Colombian Recipes, I totally recommend it if you want your taste buds to dance salsa in happiness with amazing dishes. Here is the link: http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com. For this recipe I adjusted the cheese suggestion (for UK availability) and the quantities as there is only the two of us at home.

Here are the ingredients:

Cheese fingers ingredients

Serves 2 or 3 people.

  • 1 cup of regular white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1 block of hard cheese, like hallumi or ‘queso fresco’ type of cheese.
  • Vegetable oil to fried the little fellas

I used a food processor to combine the ingredients and make the dough but you can totally do it by hand, as if you were doing a regular pizza or bread dough.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix them well. Then add the butter (I cut in little pieces and distribute it regularly in to the mix so it combines easier and evenly) whilst this mixes in the food processor start adding the cold water little by little, you will see a nice dough forming. I know it’s ready when the walls of the food processor are kind of clean and the dough is totally formed.

Cheese fingers dough

Spread some flower on a clean surface and give the dough a little kneading to finish it off. Cover with a plastic bag or in a bowl with a towel and leave it in the fridge to rest for approximately 45 – 60min.

Cheese fingers dough

Once the waiting is over, it’s time to go back in to action. Cut the cheese strings approximately 10 or 11cm  long and about 1cm think. On an floured surface roll the dough out to form a thin rectangle.

Cheese fingers dough

Cut the dough into strips and start wrapping the cheese placing the dough in a diagonal way and leaving some extra dough at the beginning to ensure this end gets covered. Wrap the cheese overlapping the dough, if you run out of dough, just take another strip and continue where the other one finishes, remember that the cheese must be fully covered.

Cheese fingers

The cheese fingers need to be frozen before frying, so once all the cheese strings have been covered with the almighty dough put them in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours. Once they are frozen, these little pieces of heaven are ready to be fried.

Cheese fingers

In a large saucepan or a fryer heat the oil and start frying the cheese fingers in small batches, they will turn a beautiful golden brown and when the gold shines evenly from every angle, take them out, place them on a plate with a paper towel and serve immediately… Watch it though, there’ll be moulton  cheese inside!

Here they are…my wonderful guilty pleasure, enjoy!!

Cheese fingers

Midweek city escape

Cosy Moments, Cosy Places

I very rarely have a break in my weekly workday routine but when it happens I get a little over exited and today was one of these days.

Simon doesn’t work in London very often but when he does my day seems a lot brighter, maybe because I know he is close, I get to spend more time with him (unfortunately during the week we don’t spend too much time together) and I don’t have to do my very long commute alone, all are pluses that bring joy to a random week day,

We have a few spots that we visit again and again when we have the rare opportunity to be together after 6pm in London on a weekday. I’m very fortunate to work in The City and although we have millions of places to visit we tend to stick to a couple that we love and are quite close to my office.

We can’t start the night without first going for a drink, don’t blame me, we are in the UK where a pub is more like a second home (or for some, maybe the first). This little corner at the top of the One New Change shopping centre is our choice of preference, it’s a lovely rooftop terrace bar called Madison (http://www.madisonlondon.net), there is not a better place for that deserving moment after a busy day at work with a nice glass of something in hand.

Madison Roof bar

I wouldn’t change a little bit of London sightseeing for anything, which lets face it, there’s so many hidden gems here. In Madison we have a spectacular view of St. Paul’s cathedral which is not only welcoming us but is practically our drinking companion. Tonight I have a husband, St. Paul’s and a nice cold glass of bubbly….I’m happy!!

New One Change - St Pauls

After a couple of drinks we head off for something to eat, too many choices but there is one that never disappoints, its the Hare & Tortoise, on New Bridge road (just up from Blackfriars bridge). This little underground corner offers lovely asian food (mainly Japanese) at the most unbelievable prices, so if you are looking for a tasty and affordable asian place, this one is a winner (http://www.hareandtortoise.co.uk/blackfriars).

Hare & Tortoise

After a couple of starters to share, a beautiful Singapore noodles for me and a crispy duck with rice for Simon, completed our night, I obviously had my herbal tea, Jasmine this time, well… it’s always a bottomless Jasmine in front of me at the Hare and Tortoise,  I just love it!

Hare & Tortoise

Hare & Tortoise

Hare & Tortoise

After the lovely meal we walked via Southbank, undeniably one of my favourite places in the entire world, so this is walk is always a must and then to take the train home… bye bye London, see you tomorrow morning again.

Baked Mediterranean Chicken

Cosy Food

I love the simplicity and freshness of this dish, it gives me comfort on a cold winters night or a hot summer afternoon, it goes great with some boiled potatoes or a salad with light dressing and a lovely glass of white wine…mmm yummy.

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For this recipe I first marinate the chicken by mixing all the ingredients in a bag and leaving it in the fridge for a couple of hours, before baking off in the oven, during which time I make the sauce.

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Chicken Marinade:

  • Free range or highest welfare chicken breasts (Good for you and fair on them)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Few drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper

The Great British “Chicken” Bake off:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake the chicken for approximately 25-35 min, depending on the size of chicken breasts. Whilst the chicken is cooking, start with the sauce.

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An Irresistible Mediterranean Sauce:

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 2 to 3 anchovy fillets or a teaspoon of anchovy paste
  • 1 medium slice chili pepper
  • 1 sliced medium onion
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 200g of fresh tomatoes (sliced or chopped)
  • 10 to 20 olives (I use a mix of queen Spanish & Greek kalamata but any olives will work with this recipe)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • Fresh basil
  • Dried herbs
  • Salt & pepper

Add the oil to a frying pan and once hot add the garlic, ginger and anchovies, reducing the heat to ensure these don’t burn. Mix well and add the sliced onions, leaving them until they become soft and translucent, add the chili, tomatoes and season with a little bit of salt.

After a couple of minutes the tomatoes will start to break up, add the wine, olives and red wine vinegar and let the alcohol of the wine evaporate for a couple of minutes. To finish, add the capers, basil and dried herbs, mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Take the chicken out of the oven, ensure it is cooked thoughtout, add the sauce and serve…let the Mediterranean flavours explode on your palate and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

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I hope you love it!

Me time (a.k.a. tea time)

Cosy Moments

For me one of the greatest things in life is my tea time, I absolutely love it! At home things are a little reversed, Simon, who is the English one of the family, just drinks coffee, on the other hand, I’m the Colombian of the family and I just drink tea, mainly herbal teas which I have to admit, I’m a little obsess with, always looking for different flavours, brands, combinations, you name it.

One of the coolest presents I had this Christmas was from my sister-in-law Helen, she gave us an amazingly beautiful pair of mugs, just perfect for my famous and most precious ‘me time’..oh yes…my tea time.

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It’s obvious that Helen knows us quite well as her present was right up my street, not only is it perfect for my tea but also the design is simple and delightful, that type of present that hugs you by just looking at it. I guess you wouldn’t expect any less from Emma Bridgewater, a great british company that hand decorate and create lovely designs to bring some joy to every home. If you want to know more about them, here is their website: http://www.emmabridgewater.co.uk

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Thanks to the Burke family for a lovely present.

From my side, I’m leaving you now.. I have a beautiful husband and a nice warm cuppa waiting for me!

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Quick & Easy chorizo pasta

Cosy Food

This dish is quite a regular in our home, especially when we don’t have too much time to cook but obviously we are still wanting something nice and tasty. It is super simple to make and lets face it… it is pasta, always a crowd pleaser.

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I use Spanish chorizo because a small amount always goes a long way and it coverts any dish in something very tasty, however, it can be quite overpowering so just keep an eye on the balance of flavours with other ingredients. I have done this recipe with bacon instead of chorizo, it works quite well too and I usually add a lot more vegetables, so whatever you have in the fridge would be welcome.

It serves approximately 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  • 75g of sliced/cubed spicy Spanish chorizo (It doesn’t need to be spicy, I just love some heat in my food)
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil (optional)
  • 1 medium onion – sliced
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic– crashed
  • 1 tin or box or crush tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of red wine  (try to use a good one, it makes a difference, for this recipe I used one of my favourites Oyster Bay Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 200g of dry pasta
  • Salt, pepper and herbs

Start by adding to a saucepan the sliced or cubed chorizo, I never use oil as the chorizo has a lot of fat but if you worry that it will get stuck to the pan, feel free to spray or use a little olive oil. Cook the chorizo on a medium heat, it doesn’t take long to cook so be careful not to burn it. Once it starts to sweat and become translucent, add the sliced onions and garlic, cook for few more minutes until the onion has softened, if you have more vegetables e.g. peppers, mushrooms, etc, this is the time to add them.

Once the vegetables are partly cooked, add the crush tomatoes and tomato paste, mix everything well and add the wine, whilst keeping the heat on high to burn the alcohol (approximately 2 mins) then lower the heat, season and leave to simmer while the pasta is cooking (to cook the pasta just follow the instructions on the package).

When the pasta is ready, drain it but keep 1/4 cup of the water in which the pasta was cooking and add both to the sauce (pasta & 1/4 cup water), add the parmesan cheese and mix well, taste for seasoning, serve and enjoy!!!