Saturday, November 22, 2014

my favorite english sandwich

Sometimes I find something so basic and so obvious that I wonder why it hadn't occurred to me sooner. I love sandwiches.  I think America does great sandwiches... hello, (veg-friendly) barbeque ribletscheesesteaks, pulled pork, and reubens!

But England does great sandwiches in a different way. Of course they do... after all, sandwiches were supposedly invented by one of their people!  Walk into any grocery store, and even sometimes a Boots pharmacy and there's wide selection of reasonably priced pre-made sandwiches cut into triangles and packed in little cardboard boxes.  Hit up a Mark's & Spencer around closing time and they're often half off. Have I mentioned how much I love England?

Of course being England, there are plenty of veg-friendly options (more love!), like cheese and onion which as far as I can tell is sharp shredded cheese mixed with chopped onions and a bit of mayo.  Or a Ploughman's... sharp cheddar and "pickle," which is really more of a chutney than pickle.

I love Branston Pickle almost as much as I love Robert.  One time I had a bit leftover from one of our hotel picnics, so I figured I'd bring it back to Denmark in my carry-on.  Excellent plan, except airport security considers Branston Pickle a "gel."   I know, right?  So I finished it off with a spoon right then and there in the middle of Stansted airport!

There's also egg and cress, and egg, tomato, and mayo.  The Ploughman's is actually my favorite, but I have to ration my Branston Pickle supply between England visits.  Still,  egg, tomato, and homemade mayo with a bit of salt and pepper on whole grain bread is a very close second.

Vegetarian Sandwich
Often, the simplest things are the best, so if you haven't tried an egg, tomato and mayo sandwich, I highly recommend it.

P.S. I posted last month on my Facebook page about finding a little honor stand on the side of the road selling eggs from a family's backyard chickens.  There's a definite difference in taste and quality between those eggs and supermarket eggs.  They're more flavorful, the yolks are much darker and have a better texture, and the eggs themselves are so big and beautiful!  Now I'll only buy my eggs from that little stand.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


My guys and I were just in England for a belated wedding celebration with our English family.  Robert and I had a fabulous party, but we also got to spend a few quiet days alone with his (our?) parents. I tried my first ever (Quorn) Scotch egg, my mother in law baked her first ever pumpkin pie, the English contingent tasted their first ever pumpkin pie, and we visited Bletchley Park and Cambridge. I practically had to be dragged kicking and screaming onto the plane back to Denmark!

I've been to London many times now, but I've barely seen the rest of England.  When I said yes to Robert, I said no to ever moving back to the States; we'll eventually move to England and I'll pursue British citizenship.   I'm already well versed in curry, salt & vinegar crisps, and Boots beauty products. but it's quite important for me to try things like Scotch eggs and to see the country whose Queen I'll be pledging my allegiance to ;-)

Our day in Cambridge started at a cafĂ© with coffee and tea for the adults and hot cocoa for the kids (The Oik and me) then we walked around the village in the late autumn sun.  I'd spent a lot of time at Yale as teenager and I remember the buildings being very old and beautiful, but Cambridge is a few hundred years older, and even more beautiful. I don't think I'll ever get used to the age of things in Europe.

Stopping at a pub for lunch, I ordered a veggie burger and realized how much England spoils me with its vast selection of veggie options.  I'm so used to settling for coffee or a boring salad, or making everything from scratch that I hardly know what to do with myself when we're in England and even a carvery restaurant has five, count 'em... five decent veggie choices!

We shopped a bit and spoiled The Oik more than we probably should have in the Hugo Boss store, but he's adorable and I'm a pushover ;-)

Here are a few photos from around beautiful Cambridge...

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College
Founded 1352

King's College Chapel, Cambridge
King's College Chapel
Construction started in 1446 and took over 100 years to complete!

Clare College & King's College, Cambridge
 Clare College (left) and King's College
Founded 1326 & 1441

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge
 The Mathematical Bridge
Built in 1749 and rebuilt in 1866 & 1905

When we move to England, I think Robert should be a Professor here :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

easy cream of broccoli soup

Broccoli is dirt cheap right now.  Nothing is ever dirt cheap in Denmark, so the idea of buying a pound of broccoli for less than $1 is all sorts of of novel.

Broccoli isn't a staple in my kitchen.  I've basically got three broccoli recipes... general tso's tofu, stuffed broccoli bread, and broccoli-cheese quiche, so I consulted Pinterest where I learned that most broccoli recipes are for the most part either one degree removed from rabbit food, or a heart attack waiting to happen.

Broccoli soup is a classic that appeals to me, but there was no middle Pinterest ground between bland baby food-like puree and a coronary in a bowl, so I struck out on my own.

On first whiff, Robert said it smelled like a soup he used to serve when he worked at a pub in England.  But as he often says, "the proof is in the eating" and fortunately, the taste lived up to the aroma!

So if broccoli is cheap in your neck of the woods, you might want to give this easy vegetarian cream of broccoli soup recipe a try...

Vegetarian Cream of Broccoli Soup
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups milk
1½ cups veggie stock
500g chopped broccoli
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/8 t  black pepper 
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat, add the onions and cook them until they're translucent.  Stir in the garlic and cook it for another minute or so, then add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook and stir for 5 minutes or so...  until the roux darkens a bit.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan.

Gradually whisk in the veggie stock, making sure to incorporate the roux, then whisk in the milk.  Add everything except the creme fraiche and the cheese.   Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer it, stirring once in awhile for about 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

Puree it to your favorite texture... I went for a full puree with an immersion blender.  Temper in the creme fraiche, stir in the cheese and cook it until the cheese melts.

I ended up with a bit more than two litres of soup... so good with garlic bread! 
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