Shakshuka with feta

Oh a recent visit to Damson & Co, I discovered a new food.  My friend had a green shakshuka. What?  A food containing soft eggs that I’ve never heard of?  I needed to know more. A quick Google search later, and M and I were tucking into this beauty of a Saturday lunchtime. This is the green Shakshuka’s red and spicy cousin – the original, I think.  It’s traditionally a breakfast food, but it’s joyful at any time of day. Spicy, thick tomato sauce is the perfect bed for just-done eggs, and even more perfect with crispy tortilla dry fried in the pan.

This amount serves 2 very generously for lunch, or would serve 4 perfectly for breakfast.

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Ingredients

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (seeds or ground work fine)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 scant teaspoon cayenne if you like a hit of spice, or to taste
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tortilla, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c (170 fan or 375F).
  2. Heat your oil over a medium-low heat in an oven-proof pan. A skillet is perfect, but a casserole dish worked fine.
  3. Add the onion and red pepper.  Cook gently, stirring to make sure nothing burns, until very soft – between ten and twenty minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch. Stir in the cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook for another minute.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer until they have thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Slice your feta into cubes,and gently mix through the sauce.
  7. Gently crack the eggs into the pan over the tomato sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  8. Now transfer to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set, with opaque whites but wobbly yolks – this should take 7 – 10 minutes.
  9. While the eggs are cooking, toast your tortilla in a dry frying pan until crispy.  Cut into triangles and dip and dunk into your shakshuka.

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Listening to Greenback Boogie by Ima Robot, Photograph by Ed Sheeran and Love Yourself by Justin Bieber (I’m sorry, okay.  IT’S CATCHY.)

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Foodie Adventures: Damson & Co

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Birthday weekends. The perfect one is hard to achieve, but you can go a long way in the right direction with a good brunch. So on the day after my birthday Helen (my official brunch buddy) and I headed into deepest Soho in search of something delicious. We were actually heading for a bigger establishment, but met with the Saturday lunchtime crowds we wandered away and found this place instead.

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The menu was substantial, ranging from breakfast items through to various dishes more reminiscent of lunch – I believe meatballs featured – and we both had trouble settling on just one thing to order!

In the end Helen ordered a green shakshuka (a spinachy omelette thing, with the eggs baked whole rather than beaten) and I had the eggs royale (poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon on an English muffin). My food was really delicious and everything was prepared perfectly. I couldn’t really fault it.

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I also ordered a banana smoothie. The smoothie was okay, but to be honest it wasn’t as tasty as similar ones I’ve made at home, so I’ll admit I was a little disappointed. Helen had better luck with her coconut milk mocha – even as someone who doesn’t really appreciate coffee I can tell you it was amazing. Rich and creamy with a real depth of flavour, and beautifully presented.

Service was good and fresh tap water was generously provided – one of the little touches which really makes an experience better. The prices are on the steep side, but what you’d expect to pay in this area of London really.

The verdict? Definitely give Damson & Co a try if you get the chance.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

The Breakfast Club: creamy blueberry overnight oats

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to get into a better morning routine.  I really wanted to make my mornings a more mindful, fulfilling time of preparation for the day, rather than – to use the technical term – a mad rush.  If you’d like to have a morning in which breakfast is not one of the things you have to think overly hard about, then these oats are going to be your best friends.

You prepare them the night before by mixing a few things together, and then in the morning you just need to give them a stir and you’re ready to go.  They’re also ridiculously healthy, and vegan to boot. I’ve tinkered around with differing amounts of milk and oats to find what I like, so please feel free to do the same. And the beauty of a recipe like this is that once you find a base that works, you can add almost anything on top to make it even more delicious.

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Serves one for a yummy breakfast

Ingredients

1/2 cup porridge oats

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk you like)

1 tablespoon cashew or almond butter

A handful frozen blueberries

A generous squeeze of honey (optional)

Directions

  • Take a tupperware (perfectly acceptable) or Kilner jar (Pinterest-worthy but slightly pretentious) and scoop in your oats.  Add the milk, nut butter and honey and give it a really good stir.  Now add your blueberries, and stir those in too.
  • Put on the lid and place in the fridge overnight.  In the morning I like to let mine warm up a little closer to room temperature if I remember – I just lift it out on my way to the shower and around half an hour later it’s perfect.

Tip: Use a decent container and on your less than zen mornings you can throw your oats into your handbag and eat them at work. I’d say just now I do this roughly 50 per cent of the time. Hey! I’m getting better!

Listening to Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld, Cake by the Ocean by DNCE and Stitches by Shawn Mendes.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Foodie Adventures: Bunty’s Tea Room, Lincoln

The first thing you need to know about this cafe is that it’s on a very steep hill called Steep Hill.  I just really enjoy that. I spied Bunty’s as we toiled up the hill into Lincoln city centre, and a couple of hours later when the inevitable murmurs of an urgent need for afternoon tea began, I steered us deftly back and in we went.

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There was a warm welcome, friendly service and yummy cake. We went for the Battenberg cake, the peanut butter and chocolate cake, and a fruit scone with jam and cream. All were delicious and presented on gloriously mismatched china.

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The teapots and decor were also really cool – a medley of vintage that was cosy and not overdone.  It just makes afternoon tea so much more interesting when it’d served in a variety of pretty bits and pieces. Oh, and they had a lovely sign made out of Scrabble letters. What’s not to love?

If you find yourself in Lincoln then I highly recommend that you check out this lovely little tea shop. You can find their website here.

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Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Happy New Year!

The cynic in me is tempted to avoid new year’s resolutions. Largely because I’ve never stuck to them in the past and tend to give myself a bit of a hard time when I don’t succeed at things.  But setting an intention is meaningful in itself. Even if it only lasts for one day, you’ve still taken the time to think about what you’d like to change — definitely worth doing in my book.

So even if things go slightly awry as I rush headlong back into real life, here are the intentions I’d like to set for 2016:

  1. Mornings. I resolutely and proudly am not a morning person. My mornings are a hectic rush which usually consist of dragging myself out of bed, losing my keys, not being able to find any clothes that aren’t creased and then nearly missing my train. In 2016 I’d like to change that.  I would love my mornings to be a time of mindful preparation for the day whether that’s heading to the gym for an early morning swim or making breakfast and listening to the radio before walking calmly to the train station. This will be a challenge – it’ll mean going to bed earlier, waking up earlier and putting in effort, but I think the improved peace of mind will be more than worth it.
  2. Yoga. I really really love yoga, but it’s one of the things that gets squeezed out of my life when things get busy or I get stressed. I want 2016 to be the year that I get into better yoga practice and stick with it.  I’m starting with Adriene’s 30 day Yoga Camp – let me know if you’re joining too!
  3. Packed lunches. Ah, packed lunches. You are so much healthier and cheaper than buying lunch every day in Soho. So why am I so terrible at sticking with you? This year, please can we be better friends? I promise to dedicate at least one hour every Sunday evening to preparing you so that hopefully we can make things work this time around.

And to round things off, we started 2016 with a lovely walk to High Force Waterfall at Forest-in-Teesdale. It was freezing (literally — there were icicles!) but great.

Happy new year!

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And finally a bonus new year picture of these three jokers. Left to right my Dad, my little brother and Matt.

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Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

The Friday Frame {18} Early morning cows

So turns out the ‘Friday Frames’ series is less of an ‘every Friday’ type thing, more of a ‘sometimes, often not on a Friday’ type thing.  Let’s call it an ‘occasional photography series’.  Okay good, I feel better now.  I’ve really learned that the best way to enjoy this blog is to just go with the flow and post what I feel like when I feel like it.

And on that note, here’s a picture of some cows in a field in Lincolnshire. The sun had just risen, and I had woken up in a room with the radiators turned on. I can’t stand sleeping with central heating on, even when it’s freezing, because it gives me a potentially real and potentially completely psychosomatic headache. I therefore put on shoes and a big jumper over my pyjamas and clumped down the long drive of the farm where we were staying.  I say clumped because I can never quite bring myself to tie my shoelaces when I’m wearing shoes with pyjamas, and a strange trying-to-stop-shoes-coming-off gait is the result. . It was lovely to be out in the cold, fresh air.  And then I came to rest on a gate in front of a field full of cows.* And that was lovely too.

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Listening to Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, Don’t Speak by No Doubt and Here (in your arms) by Hellogoodbye.

*… also horses.

Moderately incoherent rambling and photograph © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Daytrippers: Whitstable

Sometimes, you just have to get out of London.  So on a clear, crisp October day we got on a train from St Pancras to Whitstable, a small fishing town on the north coast of Kent, and spent a lovely day wandering the crooked streets and crunching along the pebbled beach.  It’s the ideal seaside town for window shopping, with endless tiny shops filled with beautiful things, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather – sunny enough to enjoy a pint (of Diet Coke, in my case) on the shingle outside the only pub on a beach I have ever come across.

It may have been cold enough for me to regret saying yes to ice in my plastic pint glass, but there’s something lovely about being bundled up warm in coats and scarves, looking out at the white horses and listening to the pebbles skittering along the shore with each wave that turns. We finished the day with fish and chips from a painted hut on the shore, followed by hot doughnuts out of a paper bag, complete with sticky fingers and sugary cheeks courtesy of the chaotic sea breezes. So here are some pictures from our day at the seaside – I hope you enjoy them.

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Listening to Sax by Fleur East, Sister Rosetta goes before us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift.

All words and photographs are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie?  But all chocolate chip cookies are certainly not created equal. I actually actively dislike supermarket cookies. They are horrifically sweet (and this from somebody with a very sweet tooth) and taste resolutely artificial. But here is a chocolate chip cookie that is all grown up. Or as grown up as a chocolate chip cookie can be. Chunks of dark chocolate leave milk chocolate chips in their wake in this particular context I’m afraid. And the flakes of sea salt take the edge off the sweetness and add an extra layer of deliciousness.

Do enjoy with a glass of milk though, because who actually wants to be a grown up anyway?

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This recipes makes about 14 fairly decent-sized cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (165 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (220 grams) plain flour
1/2 pound (225 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
Flaky sea salt, to sprinkle

Directions

  • Heat oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with grease proof paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and the vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  • Beat in salt and baking soda until combined, then add the flour until just mixed, and then fold in the chocolate chunks.
  • I scooped the cookies into heaped tablespoon-sized mounds, spacing them apart on the baking tray.
  • Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt.
  • Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still soft on the inside.
  • Let the cookies rest on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.

Tip: I froze extra dough in scoops on a plate lined with greaseproof paper. Once they’re solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag.  This allows you to pin a note onto your noticeboard saying ‘Bake frozen cookies for 11 minutes’ and feel like a domestic goddess whenever you take advantage and have freshly baked cookies within 20 minutes.

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Listening to Hello by Adele (obviously!),  Totally by Joe Stilgoe and I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you by Black Kids.

I adapted this recipe very slightly from Smitten Kitchen, but it’s originally from Ashley Rodriguez’s Not Without Salt. The photographs and other words are  © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Be Thankful

Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday we celebrate on this side of the pond, but I’ve seen enough American films and read enough décor blog posts to know the deal. Pumpkin pie, cinnamon-scented candles, turkey, more pumpkins, and that episode of Friends where Rachel crucially misunderstands the ingredients of a ‘traditional English trifle’ and everyone pretends to like it. Oh, and then there’s the thankfulness part. Taking a moment to reflect on everything that you have to be grateful for in your life – a way to end the year with a focus on the positives.

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Although as a British person I am duty-bound to view most US traditions with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned grumpy cynicism (sorry guys!), I really like this one. And in that spirit, I was tagged by the lovely lady over at White Walls and Wanderlust to complete the ‘Be Thankful Challenge’. So here goes.

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Rules

– Share this image in your blog post.
– Write about 5 people in your life you are thankful for.
– Write about 5 things in 2015 that you are thankful for.
– Spread the love and challenge 5 other blogs to take part.

Five people I am thankful for (in no particular order!)

  • The Boy. My partner in crime, my best friend and the person who makes me laugh most in the world, who seems to be able to fix everything from broken taps to broken hearts and who makes every day better just by being in it. I’m so soppy.
  • My family. Some more of my very favourite people.  Being with them is like being wrapped in a great big blanket and protected from everything that is wrong with the world. They’re quite funny too.  And as my brother once said in one of his more profound moments, “Families aren’t made to be apart.”
  • My friends! All here together because picking one or two favourites wouldn’t seem fair. I love them all for different reasons, and they all mean the world to me. They are the most intelligent, kind and funny bunch of people, and I’m so glad I’ve been lucky enough to collect them along the way.
  • Dan. Perhaps it’s odd to have somebody on your list you’ve never actually met, but I know this person is patient, kind and incredibly good at his job. Dan is the therapist who helped my boyfriend through his serious and very scary struggle with anxiety this year, and I could not be more grateful to him.
  • Everyone reading this. Too clichéd? Sorry. But honestly, I’m truly thankful for everyone who reads my blog, and for the conversations we have in this little corner of the internet about cakes and fairy lights and adventures and everything in between.

Five things I am thankful for

  • My flat. It’s been my first home away from my family, and my first with Matt. It’s warm and cosy and clean and finally feels like home. It’s our safe little nest for the end of the day, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
  • Challenges. My first year after graduating hasn’t been without its fair share of struggles, some of them very big and real and scary. But I’ve faced them all, overcome them, and my life is better as a result. I’m grateful for everything those hard times taught me.
  • My job. I’ve found a job and a team that I absolutely love. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that a terrible job can make you truly miserable. If you hate your job I beg you to leave right now if you can find a way. There is much better out there for you, you just need to find it.
  • Britain. For all of its faults – and there are many – I’m incredibly thankful that this is my home. I’m thankful that I live in a generally peaceful, liberal country where my rights are preserved and protected. I’m thankful that medical care is free and available to everyone who needs it. And I’m also grateful for the wry humour, the conversations about the weather and that wonderful British awkwardness.
  • Language. I love the intricacies of language, discovering new words and unusual sayings, and that feeling of immense satisfaction when you find the right words. I’m also evidently a windbag, given I’ve basically written a paragraph for each of these!

Five nominations

Fuelled by Oats – a lovely positive sunbeam of a blog and blogger

The Thankful Heart – such a fitting blog name, her blog really encapsulates this whole theme perfectly.

Persephone H – a fellow foodie

With all my Affection – one of the prettiest blogs around

A Cornish Mum – this blog has a little bit of everything for everyone

Listening to: Hold my Hand by Jess Glynn, Ashes and Wine by The Civil Wars and Masochist by Ingrid Michaelson.

The words and the images apart from those relating to the challenge are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.