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28 September 2013

The Conneticut Club (Sandwich)

Ok, so this one was a stretch. This is not a lifestyle blog. I write about food and DIY projects. Sometimes I've made the food, sometimes I review others' food. But I always like having these two avenues as my focus for each post I write. 

And then I went to Conneticut and well, I just wanted to share how gorgeous it was, and so made a sandwich, named it the Conneticut Club and away we go! 

So... let me tell you about the sandwich first. It wouldn't be fair to show you these houses on an empty stomach. 

A club sandwich is typically three slices of bread, with layers of salad, cheeses and a protein, or, in America, two proteins. I wanted to make a "club" sandwich for this post, partially because it felt very appropriate to this part of the country, and partially to represent the Country Club life that is CT. And I want in!! Being in the USA I used turkey instead of chicken, and at the local WholeFoods selected a maple roasted turkey to have finely sliced for me. First stop, the range of options of roasted turkey in the deli's in NY were just phenomenal! Who knew you could roast a turkey that many ways!! I feel sad thinking about our little deli down the street in London that has beef or ham. And that is all. 

So to accompany the turkey I put bacon, of course, some Monterey Jack and Gouda cheese's, butter lettuce and sliced tomato. I had a gluten free baguette looking for a good home and with a splosh of mayo, was good to go... 

....Off to a happy place, dreaming about life in the Club....

My first exposure to Conneticut was when I was about 6 (or thereabouts) when I started reading The Babysitter's Club, a series about a group of friends who started a babysitting service, set in the fictitious town of Stoneybrook Conneticut. I had then heard references in movies and TV shows and it was always the "Charlotte's" with blue-blooded-Conneticut-upbringings that I have always been curious to see in their natural habitats!

The train out of Manhattan is only an hour in actual time, but about 50 years in perceived time. The houses have manicured lawns (manicured by the gardener silly), each house proudly flies the Star Spangled Banner out front and the children can play on the streets without needing an armed guard. There is space. Tranquility. And maybe a few trust funds! 

We were visiting our Oxford friends who was staying with relatives in New Canaan and had two glorious days dreaming about what we could possibly do with a "small condo" that would have to be 6 times the size of our standard London flat. I mentioned that the little town looks like an advert out of the Ralph Lauren AW13 catalogue, to which my friend earnestly told me that No, Ralph lives in the next town over, not this one. Of course he does. 

We got to go for a little drive around the area and as we ogled each and every house we passed, we understood why it is such a sought-after location. One hour from Grand Central Terminal and yet a whole world away from the hectic/dirty/noisy/but-yet-incredible life of the city. 

Here are just a small sample of the photos we took driving around the New Canaan are of CT. As you can see, there is much to like (if rolling green lawns are your thing I guess). 

And well, we felt almost rude driving past these open gates, they were practically beckoning us to come on in for a pitcher of lemonade and cookies. 

If I have photographed your house, my sincere apologies. Please allow my husband and I to make it up to you over a round of golf at your club. Baby M felt instantly right at home out here, and didn't have any problems letting the locals know she felt more than comfortable!

Well CT, until we meet again, it was a pleasure.

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26 September 2013

meg-made it to Dylan's Candy Bar NYC (review)

I have always admired Ralph Lauren as a designer and bussinessman. I love his clothes, preppy as they are, and enjoy reading anything he has ever written. When we were in New York I wandered past a candy store and googled it later and discovered that Dylan's Candy Bar is actually his daughters' store. That I did not know. I had seen it in a bunch of movies and TV shows (Hitch, Gossip Girl and Project Runway to name a few) and so was pretty excited to head on in one day. And then again on the next day!

The flagship store is on 60th Street and 3rd Avenue, and is three entire floors of candy or candy-related items. 

Thank you, don't mind if I do...

 The first floor is all the wrapped candy and pick n pix style, which had a lot of young fans, but I was a little overwhelmed, so headed to the lift to go downstairs . Waiting at the lift is where Dylan Lauren's portrait was....made entirely of jelly beans! 

I was kind of excited to find my name, with my spelling and all! Usually in the US it has a pesky H in there, but alas, these were all Meeeeegan, no H!

I am a huge fan of colour-coordination in stores (and in life...back when I had all kinds of spare time I would colour coordinate my wardrobe, bookcases, herbs & spices, baby clothes, etc). I loved going into Mood because they too showed appreciation for the rainbow. Well Dylan's didn't let me down either!

And there was a fudge bar. Which was amazing on account of being able to try as many as you liked before purchasing. I tried not to take advantage of this kindness too much, but hey, I was very indecisive this particular day!

Have you ever seen the sugar crystals that you stir in your coffee?? Well these are those, but amped up even more! The flavours were not exactly flavours you'd want in a coffee (root beer, bubblegum, cotton candy), but maybe you could sweeten your vodka.....? Or...ummm hot milk for the kiddies!

Because it was the flagship store they had a wall of celebs' favourite candy from when they visited Dylans.

Three levels of candy is a whole lot of candy! I'm quite thankful that I went while Baby M is so young and doesn't understand at all what she's missing out on here. The parents of 5 year olds looked like they needed a very stiff drink on their way out of the store. 

The top floor of the store has the ice-cream parlour and bakery. Well I couldn't eat a single thing in the bakery section, but they looked amazing. 

It's a land where time doesn't stand still, it turns back however many years it takes to make you a kid again. The fun and bright decor was perfectly complimented by the ridiculously cheesy soundtrack (Mandy Moore "Candy", "sugar pie honey bunch" and "sugar sugar" were the ones I heard while I was browsing, and couldn't help but chuckle with each new track).

A lot of fun. If you are in need of a sugar hit, well, you're going to get smashed!!

I hope you all....

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Photo Phriday #24

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23 September 2013

Cinnamon sugar roasted nuts - Gluten Free

It has taken me a while to post about these, but these gluten free Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Nutes are definitely worth the wait. 

You know the old "real estate trick" of having a Roast Lamb (if you're in Australia) or a batch of cookies (in the US) in the oven when you're having an open house, as it makes the house smell homely and inviting...well..

I think these cinnamon roasted nuts can replace both of those options and could be the global real estate fairy dust.

I feel like these should be made once a week, just to "freshen up" the smell of your house, they smell that good. There is just something special about heated up cinnamon and sugar. In Australia there is an amazing chain store donut shop called Donut King, and they do the greatest ever hot cinnamon donuts. They are made to order and you get to watch your dough ring drop into the vat of oil and bubble along and land on the tray of cinnamon sugar, where they are gloriously coated and placed in your paper bag, ready to burn your hands and tongue, but its all worth it, they taste like a ring of heaven. 

Anyway, I digress.... back to the nuts! 

So these nuts take me back to many places in Australia. One is Donut King with Bridge, and the other is to a small street vendor in the middle of Melbourne city, who, in the middle of the cold winters, would be selling these roasted nuts on the roadside and they would just smell like they were going to warm you up immediately. 

So, I think you get the gist, they smell good. 

But they taste good too! Nothing that evokes childhood memories just by the smell is going to taste awful, of that I can be sure. They taste delicious. 

They are crunchy, sweet, salty, wholesome, indulgent and warming. 

I adapted the recipe from the Healthy Food For Living, as I found this recipe to be far less sugary than others and it appealed to me to use the eggwhites to coat the nuts prior to coating them in the cinnamon sugar, not unlike my donuts....

1.5 cups of mixed nuts of your choosing, but chop them to be the same size so that they cook evenly
2 T brown sugar
2 T granulated sugar (mine was white)
1 egg white
1 t ground cinnamon (but this is quite heavy handed, perhaps go for 1/2 a teaspoon if you're not cinnamon obsessed!)
A dash of salt


1. Combine cinnamon, sugars and salt in a bowl and mix well. 

2. Whisk the egg white until white and stiff, which should only take about a minute.

 3. Chop your nuts evenly and add them to the egg white.

4. Add the cinnamon sugar mix to the nuts and toss well until well covered and until there is no sugar left in the bowl, it should all be coating the nuts.

5. On a sheet of parchment paper, spread the nuts evenly in one layer and bake for 20 minutes on a slow oven (120C/250F).

I then divided these nuts into small bags as part of the favour bags from Baby M's first birthday party. I also gifted these to neighbours and foodie penpals as I wanted to share the warmth and love of these gloriously roasted nuts. 

I have been given a variety of fun spices over the past few months and think they would make fabulous nut-seasoning, and a fun way of making nuts a little more interesting. 

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21 September 2013

Cromlettes (GF)

I was pretty chuffed with my global knowledge when last month my friend in New York (who had never heard of them before) asked if I had ever heard of a Cronut, and I could say yes!! I actually read the NY Times food section each week and love learning about the new hip foods in the States (I think the Crespeu will be something I try making, it's a really cool looking stack of layered fritattas).  Here's the article from June about Cronuts...incidentally, said friend did experience The Cronut at the SoHo bakery, but getting out of bed at 5:30 to line up for your token two Cronuts (that I can't even eat) wasn't terribly enticing for this mama!

Let me state that these Cromlettes have absolutely nothing in common with cronuts, other than sounding somewhat similar. They aren't croissant based, but rather, a cross between a crepe and an omelette. 

I purchased the Williams Sonoma cookbook Weeknight Gluten Free while we were in the US as a way of bringing food back with me, since I couldn't actually bring the entire GF section of WholeFoods back! I love to read cookbooks when I am in bed at night, and when I stumbled upon Herbed Egg Crepes (how much of a cooler name is Cromlettes though) I knew I had to give it a go.

I was so excited to make these for brunch and they were so delicious we then had them again for dinner the next night too. It is great to finally have a tasty alternative to crepes! Whilst they are obvious not sweet, they made for delicious savoury crepes, filled with a whole range of breakfast fillings. 

They were light in both taste and density, and so we never felt full or bloated after eating many and many! Un-surprisingly, they are egg-heavy, and so each Cromlette uses nearly an entire egg each, and I'm sure they would work using mostly eggwhites, although I can't vouch for that, I like to use the whole egg. 

I like to enjoy my food, and to me, filling and wrapping the Cromlette is half the joy of the meal. I made the first one crepe-style...

And then the second I wrapped up like a burrito...

The possibilities for fillings is limited only by your imagination and I can't wait to make many more of these in the future! Yay for a healthy and delicious gluten free breakfast option at last.

Ingredients and method:

1. Mix 6 eggs with a dash of cream, pinch of salt,  and a small bunch of chopped fresh parsley.

2. Put a little butter in a non-stick fry pan and swirl around to coat the bottom.

3. Pour in the egg mixture, but only enough to make a thin covering over the whole pan. If the first one is too thick, just use a little less next time.

4. Let it cook through for about 2 minutes on a low-medium heat. You don't need to turn the Cromlette over, just place it to the side and cook the next one.

Fill with whatever fillings you desire and enjoy, guilt free!!!! I want to do a cheesy/mushroom one next, as well as a sweeter one too. I'm thinking cinnamon and marscapone....of course!

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19 September 2013

meg-made it to Five Leaves in Brooklyn (review)

Well technically it is in Greenpoint, but if I had of lead with that, would you have known where in the world I was talking about?!

Five Leaves is a little cafe on Bedford Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that is going great guns! 

My friend Julie and I happened to be in the area on a miserably wet Thursday so she suggested we go to this famous little Australian cafe that they had never been to because there is always such a wait on the weekends. I'm not a huge fan of waiting terribly long for my food and am a huge fan of anything Aussie, so of course we went to check it out. 

Well, we waited on the corner with the 40 year old skater boys that is Brooklyn, but happily were seated right away, pram and all.

The menu was mostly American, with just hints of Australia in there...for example, beets and pineapple on a burger (which I know I know I should have ordered, but I did not, I just don't like pineapple!) and avocado comes with pretty much every breakfast option! 

I was craving a burger though, but went for the regular grass fed beef burger with harissa mayo. It was cooked to medium-rare perfection, tasted exactly how beef should taste, was fresh and filling and just really good. Oh and fries come with...

Julie ordered a far more interesting lunch, a grilled shrimp roll. To the untrained visitor, this is grilled prawns on hearts of palm (huh..., I agree?! Apparently the middle of some palm trees are edible!!), with pickled chilies and fried capers. Oh and with fries.

And Baby M was ordered a side of truffle fries. Yep, I'm that mum!! I'm getting my baby hooked on truffle oil at 14 months old!! Had we of known that our plates were going to be 65% fries, we perhaps wouldn't have ordered the extra serving, but then again, there weren't all that many remaining at the end of the meal! 

This is going to sound silly, but I have some truffle oil in the cupboard (as you do, it was a gift) and I don't ever know what to do with it, so I think I might try frying me some truffle fries next time, they are delicious!!

We then opted to walk instead of catching a cab, it may or may not have had something to do with the quantity of fries consumed, but it was also a nice way to see a bit more of Greenpoint. Which, has some really lovely tree-lined-brownstone streets, classic Brooklyn. 

So if you are in Greenpoint and are looking for just a really good place to eat without the pretence, head to Five Leaves and you won't be disappointed. Although if you are hoping to be there on a weekend, maybe go and put your name down ahead of time (they don't take reservations) and have a pre-fries stroll around the area before you are seated. It is definitely worth a wait though, it really is very good!

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