Accidental Coriander and Bacon Frittata

I think this might just be the best thing I have ever cooked. Ever.
I don’t know how it happened, but I suppose hunger does that to a girl. Survival etc.

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All day I had been looking forward to left over curry (I have a bit of a weird thing for cold curry. I am convinced, and I am fully aware I am alone in this, that it tastes better). It was that super-excited, get-me-through-today kind of excitement for this left over curry, and I got home only to find my mother eating it. Heartbroken.
Anyway, I trotted over to the fridge to explore potential meals. Why is it when you’re hungry the fridge always seems really empty, no matter how well stocked it is??? I’m trying to reduce my carbs at the moment so bread, rice, pasta etc were all out. What I did have were eggs and my new Le Creuset pan thing so the only logical conclusion was frittata! Not that I have ever made frittata before, hence the surprise that it takes the the crown as Best Thing Ever. So, I give you bacon frittata, starring my new favourite herb, coriander…

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1 Shallot (chopped)
2 rashers smoked bacon (Chopped – lardons would also work(I am afraid I am going to insist on the smoked variety. It adds to the taste and makes you think of summer campfires and friends and s’mores))
1 clove garlic (crushed or chopped)
3 eggs (or as many as you want. At least three though)
Fresh Coriander
A few cherry tomatoes
Parmesan Cheese
Avocado (optional)

Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl, chuck some milk in (about 200mls but the exact quantity isn’t overly important) along with some salt and pepper, and whisk with a fork. Leave to one side for later.
Pour about a tablespoon of oil into a pan and turn to a medium heat. When hot, turn down the heat slightly, add the bacon and stir for a bit until it looks cooked and is starting to leave a residue. Add the shallot and continue to stir. You really do not want this to stick. When the onion is looking soft, add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Turn the heat off but leave the pan in place popping in the tomatoes and ripped coriander. Try and make sure there isn’t an abundance of ingredients on the very edge of the pan. Pour egg solution in and put into the oven for about 15 minutes. When the eggs are set, cooked and coming away from the edge, remove from the oven and sprinkle freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino) over the top. I served this with an avocado. When I say serve, I mean I cut an almost-too-soft-but-just-right avocado in half and munched the entire thing with my frittata. I guess you could share this but…it’d be a struggle.

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Matcha Miracle

I have a confession…my name is Charlotte and I have a Matcha green tea addiction. Next to my office we have a rather cool little coffee shop called Black Sheep (absolutely try it if you’re in the area. The cakes are pretty special too). The coffee there is so good that none of us can actually drink Starbucks now without major regret. So when last week one of my colleagues ordered a Matcha green tea instead of a latte, I was confused, intrigued and shocked all at once. It had been a long day. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want a green tea when they could have the dulcet, caffeinated notes of coffee to caress the tongue instead. I had to try it. It must be special.

I know it looks like swamp water. Just embrace it.
I know it looks like swamp water. Just embrace it.

The next day I tried it. Calling it legal crack is probably not the image the Buddhist monks who have been drinking it for centuries want it to have, but hey,  it’s a fair analogy. That evening I went home and cooked a risotto (I haven’t cooked in aged because I am just so tired in the evenings after working and studying all day). I also baked muffins AT THE SAME TIME with only one hiccough (they were courgette muffins so I personally think the accidental addition of the Risotto’s stock improved them). I then had enough energy to enthusiastically study for a further two hours and was tucked up in bed by 10.30.  Whut.

Look how studious it makes me!
Look how studious it makes me!

For a few months now I’ve felt constantly stressed from working and studying simultaneously, with my memory being awful and feeling generally foggy; not drinking for a month definitely improved this slightly but I still felt permanently tired and lazy with no motivation to anything that wasn’t strictly necessary.

It didn't last long
It didn’t last long

I’m telling you, matcha is a miracle.

General green tea addiction. Excuse the eggs.
General green tea addiction. Excuse the eggs.

It’s expensive but worth it. Healthier than coffee with more caffeine, and packed full of antioxidants, the zenergy is intense. I feel focused, able to happily get up at 6am (I have always been very much a late sleeper) and alive. I even bought my own tub and accompanying milk frother so I can have one in the morning at home.

Late Turner at the Tate Date

The moment I saw the Late Turner exhibition on Twitter it found a spot on my Autumn To Do list. So when a friend I hadn’t seen for (we worked this out and whimpered) two and a half years asked if anyone wanted to see it with him, I couldn’t respond quickly enough.

photo 1
The glorious Tate Britain

After fighting my way through the standard super car traffic of Knightsbridge and taking a couple of expected wrong turns we were finally reunited and headed off to the Tate Britain to see the pretty painting and grab a much needed coffee.  Photography isn’t allowed within the exhibition, but I’ve included a few from the Tate website.

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Visually, Turner is brilliant. I saw the Turner and the Sea exhibition at the National Gallery earlier in the year, so it was wonderful to experience a concentration of his later works, where he had totally refined and developed his skill, used beautiful, bold colours yet was still experimental.

Peace - Burial at Sea
Peace – Burial at Sea

Naturally I don’t like all of his pieces, in fact I downright dislike some of the less saturated works. His paintings of Venice, Italian mountains and the sea in particular, however, more than make up for this in my opinion (not that I’d complain at all at having any Turner hanging in my house, ever). Some of his watercolours are also on display in the Tate. So beautifully detailed, he does with watercolour paints what I thought would only be done with oils. We couldn’t help but wonder how furious he would have been if he had accidentally splashed or dripped a terrible wrong colour on the painting in its final phases. Me? I’d have cried.

Regulus 1828
Regulus 1828

One of the most interesting things about seeing so many Turners so close is that you can really appreciate the level of detail that each painting possesses. His brushstrokes, while seemingly random, are so deliberate and incredible detail is achieved despite the frequent mistiness. His are not works that you can glance at before moving on; the more you look the more you see. Unfortunately we looked at one piece a little too hard and spotted a skull shaped white patch on a lady’s dress. Creepy.

Late Turner is running until 25th January 2015 and tickets are: Adult £16.50 (without donation £15.00) or Concession £14.50 (without donation £13.10)

If you go or have been, let me know what you think!!

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Gratuitous gallery shot

Australasia (Manchester)

I spent the weekend in Manchester, visiting one of my best friends who has run away, back up to the North. There aren’t a huge amount of advantages to this, but it was very nice to get away for the weekend and see somewhere new(ish). Living in the area, she has a rather good knowledge of the local places, or at least the ones worth knowing, and so booked us a table for lunch at Australasia.

Walking into the restaurant required entering a small glass pyramid, not unlike a Honey-I-Shrunk-The-Kids style louvre and going underground. Given its subterranean positioning, the entire establishment was light and bright whilst retaining its atmosphere, with delicate creamy yellow glows being emitted from low hanging lamps over each table (I was a little concerned that I would bang my head on ours, but apparently the the height and position were designed with clumsy people like me in mind).

There was no rush to have us seated and were invited to have a drink at the bar before we sat down for lunch, if we wished. We did. Naturally. Shortly after, we were lead to our table. The pale wood tables, cream wicker chairs and nautical cushions very much echo the restaurant’s name, and it is possible to briefly forget you are several foot below a major, damp, British city and could instead be on the other side of the world.

There are a couple of ways to eat, we were informed by our very attentive, friendly waiter, as he handed us our menus, one carefully annotated with gluten free options for my friend. We could either opt for several sharing dishes, which would mainly consist of Japanese, South East Asian fusions, or we could choose a starter and a more traditional main course, called ‘Big Plates’. We decided a main and a dessert would go down well.

I went for the cep buttered corn-fed chicken with girolle mushroom fricassée (nope, not sure what that all means either), whilst my friend selected the duck breast with butternut squash, quince and roasted hazelnuts, each with a side of sweet potato and rosemary mash. Given the number of fellow diners, the arrival of our food was speedy and beautifully presented. But they didn’t sacrifice substance for style in either dish. The flavours worked wonderfully and each mouthful was as exciting as the previous. I was quite disappointed when I finished what was a fairly generous portion.

Corn-fed chicken with girolle mushroom fricassée

For dessert, and this really tested my decision making ability, I plumped for the passion fruit soufflé with pistachio ice-cream and
coconut sauce, based on the principle I couldn’t make it myself, and Charlotte had the lemon crème brûlée with raspberry sorbet. It whisked me up and took me off to food heaven, where I stayed for the cosmic duration of soufflé’s life. It as just…I have no words. And it came with unexpected honeycomb crunchy bits. It was a bit like receiving diamonds for your birthday and then discovering you’ve been bought the mine too. Sort of, I imagine.

Passion fruit soufflé with pistachio ice cream

All in all, it was splendid. Definitely somewhere to go next time I venture upwards.