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A Slice of England

Olympics – London 2012; Indeed “inspires a generation” and Men’s Cycling Road Race by our street!

Have you watched the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony? What a glorious, breathtaking, welcoming event it was.  It always fascinates me how this wonderful event bring people, nations all over the world together, celebrates diversity,  inspires fair game, hope and friendship. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, please tune in BBC’s iplayer Olympic Ceremonies – London 2012 Online – you won’t be disappointed!  One of my favorite parts has been the Queen’s appearance with James Bond, where two of them made their way by helicopter to the Olympic Stadium – please check out Queen and Bond unite for London 2012 Olympics video ; unforgettable, we will be watching again and again.

Weybridge, Surrey dresssed up for the Men’s Cycle Race

Here in Surrey, England, we have been very lucky to watch and cheer for the Men’s Road Race Cyclists, passing through our door step. We lined up with thousands of other folks cheering for the racers, an incredible, unforgettable atmosphere; here are some photos from our street in Weybridge during the race:

One of the many bicycles decorated for the race!

Cheers for Team GB's Mark Cavendish!

We are all lined up waiting for the racers!

 

And here they are!

 

... and gone in a flash!

And here are the wonderful game makers of volunteers, who helped the games happen, posing with a happy relief after the race

I know many folks are getting together to watch the games and share a delicious bite. Here are some ideas for you to spice up your London 2012 get -togethers;

Zucchini fritters with feta and dill; delicious, a real crowd pleaser; you can prepare ahead of time and enjoy with friends and family.

Zucchini fritters with feta and dill; wonderful with garlic yoghurt by the side

Puff pastry pockets with cheese, potato and parsley; you can serve these delicious treats as a starter or you can enjoy them for lunch with salad or with afternoon tea.

Puff pastry with cheese and potato, delicious treats

Like sports and music, love of food brings people together and celebrates diversity. I feel very lucky to get to know many wonderful bloggers all around the world. Here I wanted to share and celebrate  some wonderful recipes showcasing the cuisines of some of my favorite bloggers – these may be a wonderful addition to your Olympic Games party spread too :

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s grilled south-indian-style lamb chops with yellow daal – what a wonderful way to spice up the BBQ!

Cuisine de Provence’s Tian of sun kissed vegetables would be perfect aside to some BBQ’d lambchops :)

How about Kalofagas’ delicious mouthfulls of ouzo-cured salmon? Very tempting, and so refreshing with slices of cucumbers!

I love My Italian Kitchen’s Mediterranean inspired salads, and this summer salad would go so well with the Games!

Last but not least, Phil’s delicious and seriously addictive Cake-meringue pie would be a wonderful finish for an Olympic feast!

London 2012's wonderful slogan; "inspire a generation"

One of the slogans of London 2012 has been “Inspire a generation”; I loved the fact that during the Opening Ceremony, the cauldron consisting of 204 petals (one for each competing nation or territory) were lit by seven young athletes chosen by British Olympic champions. What a lovely way to inspire and empower the future generation. London 2012 has had a very promising start and I am sure it will be an inspiration for a generation to come.

 London is buzzing with excitement again. Hope you enjoy London 2012!

Ozlem

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Victoria Sponge Cake with Berries and Lemon Curd & Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

The Market at the Covent Garden, dressed for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

It is an exciting time to be in Britain. London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games,  we are all counting down the days. But before that, it is the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, that gets us all excited at the moment.  We have been celebrating this remarkable occasion with street parties (apparently over 10,000 all around Britain), and today over 1,000 boats have been on River Thames for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant to mark this special occasion, just spectacular.

The Tower Bridge, London. It is a rare sight to see the bridge open up, which we witnessed a few years ago. The Tower bridge is now decorated with blue, red and white lights for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

We were in London yesterday, to soak up this amazing celebratory atmosphere, and I hope these few photos coming up would do justice  to visualise the city, dressed to celebrate.

To join in the celebrations, I made BBC Food’s Victoria Sponge Cake with Berries and Lemon Curd, (adapted from Simon Rimmer’s recipe). Being a lemon fan, I enjoyed the addition of the lemon curd in this recipe. The curd’s zingy taste worked really well with the fresh berries and the mascarpone filling.

Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries

For the Victoria sponge

175g/6oz butter, plus extra for greasing

175g/6oz sugar (I used unrefined golden caster sugar)

lemon, zest and juice

3 free-range eggs

175g/6oz self-raising flour

For the filling

225g/8oz mascarpone

50ml/2fl oz double cream

50g/2oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

225g/8oz strawberries, sliced

For the lemon curd:

4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice

200g/7oz unrefined caster sugar

100g/3½oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk

Raspberries and blueberries to decorate the cake

You’ll need 2 x 22.5cm/9in greased and lined cake tins.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Grease and line the cake tins.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon zest and juice until well combined, then fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and remove from the tins once cool.

The lemon zest adds a wonderful tangy flavour to the cake

While the cake is baking, make the lemon curd; put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.

It is easy to make lemon curd and it adds a wonderful zesty twist to the sponge cake.

Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, you can spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal.

For the filling, beat the mascarpone, sugar and cream together until well combined.

Spread the lemon curd onto one of the cakes. Cover with the strawberries, then the mascarpone filling. Place the other cake on top and dust with icing sugar, then decorate with raspberries and blueberries.

Now back to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations; London is a great walking city and walking is one of the best ways to appreciate wonderful sites. We started our walk from the Covent Garden, where the market has been decorated with lots of flags.

Friendly Pimms lady, preparing refreshing drinks at Covent Garden

At the side streets of Covent Garden, we discovered a charming, and one of the best coffee makers in town, The Monmouth Coffee, definetely worth stopping by.

A gem find in Covent Garden; we will be back to Monmouth for more great coffee and pastries

The Sofra Restaurant in Covent Garden also offers genuine Turkish hospitality and wonderful mezzes and Turkish delights for a delicious stop.

Sofra Restaurant in Covent Garden; a delicious stop for Turkish food

From the Covent Garden, we walked to the Trafalgar Square, passing by the National Gallery (which houses the national collection of Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge.)

View of Big Ben from the Trafalgar Square

View of Big Ben from the Trafalgar Square

We kept walking from the Trafalgar Square, straight to the Mall, which looked very atmospheric with giant flags at both side. The end of the Mall takes you to the entrance of the Buckingham Palace,  the official London residence of the Queen.

The stage has set up in front of the Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee Concert

A giant stage has been built for a star-studded concert,  set against the spectacular backdrop of Buckingham Palace to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 60 year reign. The concert will be broadcasted live on Monday, June 4th on BBC1, starting at 7.30pm local time.

And here are a few more photos from our neighborhood Diamond Jubilee Street party;

“Prince Harry” was again at the center of attention

 

Baker Street was full of flags, food stalls, amusements for the children

Tanju Bey (Mr Tanju) is happily grilling kebabs for the crowd

I greatly admire the Queen. On her 21st birthday, the then Princess Elizabeth made a pledge to the Commonwealth: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service..”. 65 years on, the Queen still continues to honor that pledge, by exemplifying sense of duty, compassion, kindness, tolerance, selflessness and respect for all. So admirable, so well worth celebrating.

It is indeed an exciting time to be in Britain.

Long live the Queen!

 

 

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Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser & Some Delicious Nibbles to Share

I was delighted to be a part of a good cause last week; Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser in Surrey, England.

Peterson’s Fund for Children’ is a registered local charity that supports children who struggle with cerebral palsy and other similar mental / physical disabilities. It has been in existence for nearly 4 years and through extensive fundraising efforts has provided therapy and equipment otherwise unavailable at the NHS in England. The aim of the charity is to help as many local children in need as possible in the hopes of improving their quality of life and offering them opportunities in order to maximize their individual growth and potential.

Twice a year, Charlene Peterson hosts this fundraiser and kindly opens her house to vendors to raise money for the charity. Wonderful vendors from different lines of businesses have joined forces together last week to help raise funds for the charity, and it was a big pleasure to be a part of this wonderful event. Here are some wonderful vendors from the fundraiser:

Ilgen’s Peshtemal towels can be used as beach towel or sarong or other outdoor use.

Here are Ilgen’s wonderful Turkish Peshtemal towels and natural soaps from the fundraiser event. Her light, super absorbent 100% cotton peshtemal towels (or mixture of luxurious blends including bamboo and silk) are simply wonderful and practical. llgen’s website Cotton & Olive will be up and running within a month, for further enquires please email ipaydas@btinternet.com.

Anila’s delicious home made curry sauces

I was delighted to meet Anila’s and taste her award winning curry sauces and samosas!!

Maro’s wonderful herb infused olive oil

Maro’s Kitchen was another wonderful vendor, with her herb infused extra virgin olive oil from Crete, so delicious. She also carries individually made spice mills; for further enquires, please email maroskitchen@gmail.com.

Home made baklavas for a sweet treat

I had some delicious home made baklavas, walnut, red pepper paste and olive oil dip over crackers at my table. I served the dip with rocket salad over the top; very easy to prepare and great for entertaining. The spice bowls are hand painted from Turkey, they have been a big hit. My heartfelt thanks goes to my parents and my sister for providing them :)

Walnut and red pepper paste dip on crackers and spice bowls from Turkey

Olives with Red Peppers, Spring onion and Parsley

I would like to leave you with this easy to prepare but very tasty, refreshing mezze, appetizer. It’s ready within minutes and goes very well over crackers or toasted bread. I also like to mix it with cooked pasta, bulgur or couscous for a healthy and delicious meal. Pomegranate molasses, a southern Turkish dressing, adds a wonderful, sharp and tangy taste to it. If you can’t get pomegranate molasses, you can replace with a good quality balsamic vinegar.

Seasonal, fresh ingredients make refreshing, healthy, delicious meals

Serves 4

Preparation time:10 minutes

175gr/6oz Turkish, Greek, Italian or Spanish olives, pitted

1 small red pointy or bell pepper, quartered and sliced coarsely

1-2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

10ml/1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

5ml/1 tsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Simply mix the chopped vegetables and olives in a bowl. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and the pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar) over them, combine well. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Serve the mezze over crackers or mix with cooked pasta, bulgur wheat or couscous for a delicious and light meal.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

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