St-Dunstan in the East - Secret Church Garden

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ah sunny London, I love you! I've seriously learnt to appreciate sunny days since moving to England, there's not much better than a warm sunny weekend in London. Ok maybe these are better, but it's close. The problem with sun in London is that everyone is out, and they've all got the same idea as you: Picnic in the park!

You're thinking of having this nice relaxing lunch, lying down in the grass with friends, enjoying the sunshine, and you end up surrounded by tons of people. Which is great for people watching and conversation snooping, don't get me wrong, but sometimes its nice to have your own little park.

And this is where secret gardens come in - taaddaa! London's greenery isn't restricted to Hyde Park, Green Park and Regents Park... there are tons of secret gardens which I hope to make you discover! Here's the first post in the "Secret Gardens" series: St-Dunstan in the East.

The church was built in 1100, severely damaged during the Great Fire of 1666 and patched up throughout the years. During the Blitz of 1941, most of the church collapsed under the bomb's impacts... After the war instead of leaving it to ruins, the City of London Corporation decided to turn the remains into a public garden and so here we are!

The church is hidden away at the end of a little street, surrounded by skyscrapers.... You'd never know it's there! (you can find it here but shhh)

The few people there sit quietly enjoying their lunch, looking at the cute water fountain at the center of the garden. I can't wait to go back this summer when all the trees have bloomed and the vines are full of leaves!

My brother and I had a quick 'picnic' and a good catchup. St-Dunstan is right next to the city, so it'd be great for a lunchtime getaway for all you city bankers!

Couldn't help but whip out some yoga moves... the blossoms were too pretty!!

Hope you're all enjoying this pretty spring weekend!

Chaussons aux Pommes - aka Apple Turnovers

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ah... Spring has arrived, well sort of. We had three beautiful days, temperatures soaring to high 16°C, everyone was in t-shirts and shorts... and today well, it's March again. But all is not lost! Here's a delicious recipe that's sure to put a spring in your step!

I remember eating so many of these after school, before synchro practice! I try to eat (slightly) less of these now, but making them yourself is so satisfying it takes the guilt out of eating 3 in a row!

First of all you'll need some puff pastry, you can make it as I had shown here! One recipe will give you about 8 chaussons. Let's get to it then!

To make the filling:
(Tbsp is tablespoon and tsp is teaspoon just fyi)

  • 7 Apples (any local sweet apple or Granny Smiths if you like sweet and sour apple pies)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp White sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
For the chaussons:
  • 1 Puff pastry batch (recipe here)
  • 1 Filling batch
  • 1 egg
Grab your apples, strip'em and chop'em!

Put the honey and butter in a heavy bottomed pan, let it all melt and brown a little, then throw in your apples and coat them with the sweet buttery mix. Add the sugars and the cinnamon, cover and let it soften for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the apples you used.

Once they are nice and soft, crush them a little with a fork or a potato masher, just so that it's more of a sauce consistency. I like to leave some bits of apples, but that's just preference! Let it cool completely.

Ok, sweet, cinnamony apple filling done! Now onto making the chaussons.
Grab your puff pastry, cut about 1/8th off, and put the rest back in the fridge to keep firm. Roll out your section, on a clean floured surface, to about 1/2 cm or until you can cut a circle 12cm diameter in it. I don't have a 12cm diameter cookie cutter, so I used my cute little bowl and a knife. Anything goes!

Once you've got a nice circle, use the rolling pin to make it oval shaped. Then paint one side of the oval edges with egg, and add your filling to the same half. Fold it onto itself, and seal the edges with your fingers!

At this point you want to leave them in the fridge for 30mins or 1 hour, so that the pastry is nice and firm. Now preheat your oven to 200°C. Once they've chillaxed, put some egg wash all over (make sure that it doesn't go underneath the pastry or it'll stick!) and with the back of a knife decorate the top with horizontal lines. 

Bake at 200°C for 20 to 25 mins, or until a beautiful golden brown. Try to wait until they've cooled to bite into them, I didn't and my tongue still hates me for it!

Bon Appétit!

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