DELTA Course: Week 1

You may recall that from January-April 2013 I took a CELTA course — not to “do EFL/ESL teaching as a career,” according to my previous self, but merely to have some job options during my MA.

Oh how things change. Now, about a year and a half later and finishing up my MA in English literature, all I want to do is teach EFL/ESL. Seriously. I love working with adults to help them become more confident communicators in English, and teaching adults also has an amazing cross-cultural dimension. With that in mind, I thought my job/career prospects would be improved my some more teacher training. So here I am, back at Oxford House College for the 16-week DELTA — Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults — course. As with my CELTA course, I will do my best to provide weekly summaries of our DELTA doings. Hope you enjoy!

DELTA Week 1 was mostly introductory. The first evening consisted of information overload from our primary tutor, Chris. He told us about the structure of the course — three modules — and the main assessed materials:

  • Module 1 (“Understanding Language, Methodology & Resources for Teaching) is assessed via written exam
  • Module 2 (“Developing Professional Practice”) is assessed via four Language Skills/Systems Assignments (observed teaching and background essays)
  • Module 3 (“Extending Practice and ELT Specialism”) is assessed via an extended written assignment that consists of a course plan, needs analysis, etc.

That’s the bare bones of it. Over the next 16 (now 15) weeks, input sessions for each module will be mixed and mingled together, and each of us will teach an observed lesson every three weeks or so. We also have to do ten observations of qualified teachers — these we can do at Oxford House College or our place of work (most DELTA students are full-time English teachers at languages schools or elsewhere, though some of us do not currently teach).

On Thursday of Week 1, we started delving into more detail with an input session on lesson planning — the DELTA lesson plans are more detailed than CELTA plans and have to include a class profiles/needs analysis as well as assumptions and commentary about the learners and lesson plan. We also had a short session on anticipating problems that learners might have with certain language/grammar structures. It was a good first week — a bit overwhelming, but I’m sure all twelve of us will get through the course.

Recipe: Miso Ramen with Bok Choy, Chard & Oyster Mushrooms

IMG_5793

While waiting in the airport to fly back to London from Rochester a few weeks ago, I treated myself to a Women’s Health magazine for some light and fun reading. It had a few tasty-looking recipes, including one for “quick miso ramen with poached eggs.” I tore out the recipe and presented it to F upon my arrival in London. He was game, so we whipped it up — adding chard and oyster mushrooms for more veggie punch — for dinner that evening. It took a mere 30 minutes start-to-finish, tasted delicious, and definitely helped with jet lag! Feel free to adjust the vegetable and liquid amounts to make it as soup-like or not as you want (we prefer lots of broth and vegetables).

Miso Ramen with Bok Choy, Chard, & Oyster Mushrooms (adapted from Women’s Health Sep 2014 issue; serves 4-5)

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp freshly-grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 250-300g ramen noodles
  • 200-300g bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 200-300g chard, roughly chopped
  • 100-200g oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • optional: chili sauce (such as Sriracha), for garnish

Procedure

  • In a large pot, whisk together the stock, miso paste, soy sauce, ginger, & garlic. Bring to a boil.
  • When the stock mixture boils, add the noodles, bok choy, chard, & mushrooms. Cover the pot and let simmer for 4-6 minutes or until the noodles are cooked and the veggies are tender to your liking. Serve into bowls and garnish with as much or as little chili sauce as you’d like.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Corn Cakes with Fresh Corn & Green Onions

Browsing through some recent issues of Cooking Light for the pretty pictures recipe inspiration, I came across these “Silver Dollar Corn Cakes.” As I do love my pancakes, I was intrigued by this more savory variant. Turns out that we had bought corn and green onions in our last shopping and so had almost all the ingredients on hand.

IMG_5803

The corn cakes turned out really well, acting not as a side but as the main event for our dinner, complementing chard and green beans. F thought they were great — even with ketchup! I could also imagine them being good with a dollop or two of sour cream. These are basically cornbread in pancake form, so they’d be great alongside any meaty main. We actually enjoyed the leftovers with fried eggs for Saturday brunch. I made most of my corn cakes bigger than silver dollar-sized, in part because that shortened the cooking time, but the little ones are so cute that I might do them all small next time.

Corn Cakes with Fresh Corn & Green Onions (adapted from Cooking Light Aug 2014; serves 3-5)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 1.25 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 cobs)
  • 4 green onions, minced

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.
  • Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, then stir in the corn kernels and green onions.
  • Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add dollops or ladlefuls of batter to the pan and cook about 2 minutes per side.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Zucchini Bread

IMG_5809

Happy to be back in the home London kitchen, Sunday put me in the mood to work with food. I had been planning to make granola and pizza dough, but then I remembered seeing frugal feeding’s recipe for “courgette loaf cake” — aka zucchini bread. As it is zucchini season and we happened to have a couple in the fridge, I thought the bread would make a delicious post-run treat and that F would enjoy it after returning from a very long cycle. (For the record, he did enjoy it — so much so that we devoured half the loaf between the two of us on Sunday alone.) I was also surprised at myself for not already having a go-to zucchini bread recipe (though I do have these tasty zucchini bread pancakes) so had to remedy that quickly!

IMG_5814

This quick bread is packed with zucchini, well-spiced, and not too sweet. Lemon zest — which I was initially skeptical about — adds a nice, zesty brightness to the flavor, and I subbed in some whole wheat flour for a semblance of health. The result is a moist, filling, delicious loaf, great on its own or warm with butter.

Zucchini Bread (adapted from frugal feeding; makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients

  • 200g plain/all-purpose flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 325g zucchini, grated (~1.5 medium zucchinis)
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150mL sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  • optional: 50g (~1/2 cup) pecans or walnuts

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C if using a convection oven). Grease a loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda & powder, spices, lemon zest, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the zucchini, brown sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • Pour the wet into the dry mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the nuts, if using.
  • Scrape the batter (it will be thick) into the loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. (You may have to cover the loaf with foil partway through baking, so the top doesn’t burn.)

Enjoy!

Recipe: Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime

Visiting my parents in the summer is always fun, in part because there are always so many delicious fresh/seasonal fruits and veggies around the house. My dad and I, finding ourselves alone for dinner on a Friday evening, improvised with what ingredients we had and created a colorful and healthy spread: He made delicious BBQ chicken and I came up with this salad, inspired by Mark Bittman. Add some grilled eggplant, and you have a perfect summer meal.

IMG_5776

Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime (inspired by Mark Bittman; serves 3-4)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 generous handfuls of your favorite salad greens
  • 4 cobs of fresh corn, blanched & kernels cut off
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • handful of fresh purple basil, minced (feel free to use “normal” green basil)
  • small handful of fresh mint, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 glugs olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the corn cobs in it for about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the water, let cool, then cut the kernels off the cobs.
  • Combine the corn kernels, diced avocado, minced herbs, and salad greens in a large salad bowl. Squeeze the lime over everything, add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss until the salad is evenly coated.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Terry’s Gin-Barbecue Chicken

Extra-crispy, May 2014

Extra-crispy, May 2014

I grew up eating a lot of chicken. One of the family staples, especially in the summertime, is my dad Terry’s amazing gin-barbecue chicken. Usually baked in the oven, though occasionally grilled, this is one of the simplest chicken recipes you’ll come across: marinate chicken pieces in gin and barbecue sauce, then bake for an hour and voila! An easy and delicious dinner.

Not-so-crispy (but just as good), July 2014

Not-so-crispy (but just as good), July 2014

Barbecue chicken goes well with grilled vegetables — I prefer eggplant and/or zucchini — and a big salad. Also gin and tonics, which my family affectionately calls “G&Ts”. It’s hard to go wrong with that combination! If you want some more carbs with your meal, rice does a good job of soaking up the barbecue juices.

Terry’s Gin-Barbecue Chicken (family recipe; serves 3-5, but easy to adjust for more or fewer people)

Ingredients

  • 5 bone-in chicken pieces (thighs &/or drumsticks)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups barbecue sauce (choose your favorite brand, or make it yourself)
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Rub some salt and pepper into the chicken, then marinate it in the gin and barbecue sauce for at least one hour and up to overnight in the fridge.
  • Bake the chicken in the oven at 375F (190C) for 1 hour. Alternately, grill the chicken on a barbecue (this may take longer for the chicken to cook through).

Enjoy!

Race Recap: Women Run the ROC 5k

The first thing I do when I know I’ll be be visiting my parents in Rochester is to see if the local Fleet Feet running store is putting on any road races during the time I’ll be there. This year, a race coincided with my last day in Rochester: the second annual (?) Women Run the ROC 5k. Yes, an all-women’s race — with one man who was lottery-picked to run with the ladies. That sounded like the perfect thing to round off a week with my family and to see where my fitness is after six months of low running volume and inconsistent speedwork (sorry, Jacob & Kabir — I’ll try to get back to the track soon!). 

Women running the ROC! (Photo courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester)

Women running the ROC! (Photo courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester)

The day dawned cool after a dramatic nighttime thunderstorm. I thought the storm would’ve cleared the air, but when I stepped out of the car at Frontier Field it was anything but cleared. Hello, 85% humidity! At least the air temperature was only 70F/21C, which made pushing through the humidity less painful than it might have been.

I knew from looking at last year’s results for this race that I had a good chance at being in the top 10 (this being cozy Rochester, there are not as many super fast runners as in London, where I generally rank somewhere in the middle of the pack and my club). I thought I might be able to manage a PB if I had a really good run but I also knew that would be a tough goal, since my running and speedwork volumes have been low. Nonetheless, I lined up near the front of the starting line in order to put myself in a good position and to try to let the faster women pull me along.

At 8:30am on the nose, we were off down Morrie Silver Way. I found myself among the “lead pack” (can you even call it that in a 5k?) and even got to be a front runner for a hot minute as we went up and over the High Falls bridge. Probably the only time that’ll ever happen! The one man running was up in front, too, and he said that we were under 7:00/mile pace going over the bridge. Great, I thought. Just try to keep this up. But I must’ve lost some momentum because about six or seven women pulled in front of me, while I maintained pace with a younger (I think high school) runner whose coach (dad?) was egging her on from the sidewalk. I went through the first mile in a slightly disappointing 7:10 — you have to pick it up, Tamm, you could still make it under 22:00.

The course took an interesting, windy route through downtown Rochester: up St. Paul Street, around to Liberty Pole Way, then a slight downhill on Main Street back to Plymouth for the homestretch and wind-around to the finish (that extra bit at the end, up to the parking lot and back down, was sneaky!). Though there were a few gradual ups and downs, it was essentially a flat course — especially compared to north London.

My second mile was a bit quicker than my first, about 7:05, but by then I was already starting to struggle a little to maintain my form and pace. Let the downhill carry you along, I thought, before seeing a couple women ahead of me who I was slightly gaining on. You can catch them, just stay steady and pick them off. I passed one woman right before turning onto Plymouth. Come on, only four minutes to go. Then I saw a woman in a purple tank top walking — it looked like she’d gotten a cramp. But just as I passed her, she started running again and breezed by me. That’s okay, just catch that other woman who also looks like she has a cramp. No problem. Then the purple tank to woman had to drop to a walk again. Just keep running and you can pass her. Don’t walk. You can finish! It won’t be a PB but it’s effing humid out here so that’s okay.

Finishing (photo courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester)

Finishing (photo courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports Rochester)

The last couple tenths of a mile were brutal, but I managed a small kick to bring it home in 22:00 flat (average pace: 7:06/mile, 4:24/km) for the 5km/3.1mi course. And I ended up placing 4th overall! (Remember, this was an all-women’s race, and this is Rochester, not London. But still.) The woman in 3rd beat me by a substantial 24 seconds, and the woman who won it ran 20:45. So not a super fast field overall, but I was pleased to be up in the rankings and 2nd in my age group (if you count the overall winner). I was a bit bummed not to have broken 22:00 — this was 42 seconds off my PB — but given my lack of speed training it’s pretty solid. I’m starting to enjoy the shorter races again, too, so maybe I’ll make it a goal to try to lower my 5k time and PB again. Better get back to the track!

Have you ever run an all-women’s (or all-men’s) race? What did you think of it?

———

Living Abroad & Perspectives on the US

This week has brought some interesting perspective on life and living abroad. I’ve been back in the US for my grandmother’s 80th birthday party/family reunion and a brief visit to my parents (and also some quiet time to work on my MA dissertation). It was fantastic to see all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins in California for the birthday party — I’m really glad I went. It has also been nice to be in Rochester and not have any official household duties — of course I help out, but visiting the parents is different from living with F like a “real” adult; here, I can be a bit like a kid again, albeit a grown one.

almost the entire family on my mom's side, gathered in Ventura, CA for my grandma's 80th birthday. Photo credit: Nancy R.

almost the entire family on my mom’s side (missing a couple cousins and partners), gathered in Ventura, CA for my grandma’s 80th birthday. Photo credit: Nancy R.

I lived at home for two months last summer, but that felt normal as I had only been in the UK for six months beforehand and was still on the heels of transitioning from Peace Corps/Ukraine life. Peace Corps was so different that returning to the western world was an adjustment in and of itself — it didn’t matter where I was, and there were so many changes that I had to take each one as it came.

But this year, I’ve become settled in my UK life and haven’t been back to the US for almost a year. Being “home” has felt different, in part because I’m here for a vacation-y 10 days rather than a long period of “living” time. Here are some things that have struck me about the US after living in the UK/Europe for a year and a half (of course, the following things seem extreme because I live in London, a city of 8 million, and am comparing it to Rochester, a much smaller city of 300,000. But I think I’d feel some of these differences no matter where in the US I was):

  • Open space. Americans often take for granted how much space this country has. On the flight from London to LA, my British seat-mate and I marveled at the hugeness of the land, particularly in the southwestern US, and at how much of it is uninhabited (and uninhabitable. And beautiful).
so much space!

so much space!

somewhere in the Southwest

somewhere in the Southwest

  • Traffic and driving. Okay, so LA has crazy freeway traffic, but the Rochester streets are so peaceful! My dad and I were driving to Panera the other morning for breakfast (and endless coffee refills, yes!) and I remarked on how quiet the streets were. My dad replied, “Oh, I was just thinking it was pretty busy.” That’s perspective for you! It comes from living in London, where traffic is dense no matter the time of day. In a similar vein, driving has felt really easy here after cycling in London, where I have to be hyper-aware on the bike so as not to be run over by aggressive drivers. Cruising around in a car here feels quite calm in comparison.
  • People and friendliness. Maybe I’m becoming more like a reserved European, but Americans are so friendly and open…sometimes overly so, it seems to me. I’m happy to strike up the odd amiable chat, and do it regularly in London with our fruiterer shopkeepers. But many people here seem a little too in-your-face-potentially-forced friendly. It’s fine, and I do appreciate the openness, but it’s funny to come at it now from another perspective — if anything, it reflects how living abroad has changed me. I will say that it’s refreshing to go into a store here and be able to ask an employee about what I’m looking for, because I know that they will provide good customer service and help me find what I need. In the UK and other parts of Europe it sometimes feels like people are mildly annoyed when you enter their shop…but I sort of like that, too — or at least am used to it by now!
  • Short distances. Again, this is me comparing two cities of vastly different sizes and areas. But still, it is so easy and quick to get around Rochester. In London I have to plan and map out where and when I want to go somewhere, taking into account the time and money and clothing I’ll need. Here, pretty much everything is a 5-20 minute drive away. I could get used to that again…

Oh, the cross-cultural life is always fun and interesting! I wouldn’t have it any other way — it has opened my eyes to how different people live and how different societies function, and has brought me a hefty dose of perspective along the way. I love it.

———

Summer “Issues”: Dissertation!

Apologies for the massive delay in MA updates. Last time I checked in, we’d finished courses and were writing essays and an exam. That all went pretty smoothly for me (though  nothing’s been marked yet so who really knows?) — the take-home exam was actually kind of enjoyable, as I’d prepared my texts in advance and just had to write close readings without worrying about bringing in secondary sources (some people did use criticism but it was optional so I chose not to for such short essays).

That was almost three months ago (!), and at that time I still didn’t have any ideas for my dissertation. Actually, writing about Mrs. Dalloway for one of my coursework essays made me really want to work on Woolf and trauma, but that quickly went out the window when I became overwhelmed by how much has already been written on Woolf (and trauma, in texts like Atonement and The Bluest Eye). I also wanted something more “relevant,” at least to me and my current life and experiences. So after some conversations and advice from my family, I turned toward cultural displacement/assimilation and spent a few weeks bumbling around on JSTOR by plugging word combinations into the search bars (“trauma,” “integration,” “culture shock,” “assimilation,” to name a few). Luckily, one mindless JSTOR session turned up an essay on Dave Eggers’s 2006 novel, What Is the What.

research in Senate House Library

research in Senate House Library

BINGO! I’d read What Is the What – and loved it — right before the Peace Corps and had forgotten how it deals with many of the issues of cultural integration, education, and international development that interest me. It was also a good choice because only four scholarly articles have been published on it, which leaves me room to form my own argument about it and not struggle to come up with something that hasn’t already been written on a hundred times.

Fast forward to now: I’ve re-read What Is the What twice; read lots of criticism and some theory on immigration, post-colonial novels, and storytelling traditions (to name a few); met with my supervisor twice (he’s great); and started drafting. It’s a bit overwhelming, as there’s a lot of material to juggle and an argument to work out and it’s all due on 1 September. But overall it’s going well and I am happy with my text and topic choice. I can’t tell you much because it hasn’t been marked (let alone written!), but it’s roughly about storytelling and voice and the immigrant experience, with some Toni Morrison thrown in for good measure.

———

At the Royal Opera House: Puccini’s “La bohème”

For my birthday this year, F surprised me with tickets to see Puccini’s La bohème at the Royal Opera House in London. (He’s the best.) This July at the ROH, John Copley directs seven performances of his iconic production of La bohème — set in 19th-century Paris — that is 40 years old this year. The staging is quite magical, thanks in part to great sets designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman. There are a few different casts for this revival; we saw the first one, featuring Ermonela Jaho as Mimi and Charles Castronovo as Rodolfo.

Entering the Royal Opera House, located in one corner of London’s Covent Garden, feels like entering a different world. Not an elite one, as you may think, but an old-fashioned one where people mingle with drinks and time slows down for a little while. The theatre itself may have something to do with that: dating from the late 19th-century, it’s sea of red velvet and gold ornament, complete with candelabras around the edges that you can imagine once held real candles.

inside the Royal Opera House

inside the Royal Opera House

The opera itself was great. Having seen a couple of Puccini operas in the past (Turandot at the Met and Madame Butterfly at the Kyiv Opera in Ukraine), I knew what to expect in terms of continuous music and general tragedy. I was particularly looking forward to La bohème because the musical Rent — based on Puccini’s opera — is one of my favorites. The ROH did not disappoint. Cornelius Meister led the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a lush, Romantic rendition of the score and despite a few points when the orchestra overpowered the tenors, I hardly noticed the orchestra at all (which I think is how it should be in opera). Though the large ensemble scenes — particularly Act II — are somewhat hard to follow in La bohème, the arias are gorgeous.

In terms of the singing, Ermonela Jaho as Mimi stole the show. I’d never heard of her and was at first a little disappointed not to be seeing one of the bigger names (Anna Netrebko and Angela Gheorghiu will appear in the role for subsequent performances), but now I can confidently say that I didn’t miss the big names one bit. Jaho has lovely tone and an exquisite pianissimo on her high notes — her Si, mi chiamano Mimi gave me chills. She was believable as the shy seamstress and played the tragic heroine without melodrama. Castronovo (Rodolfo) had a lovely tenor and paired well with Jaho, though his swelling climaxes were often drowned out by the orchestra (not sure if that was because of where we were sitting or a genuine orchestra-voice balance issue). The other vocal standout was Jongmin Park as Colline, whose ‘overcoat aria’ in Act IV was beautiful and moving. Simona Mihai played a fine Musetta and the other supporting singers were strong.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first outing to the Royal Opera House (and who knows when the next one will be? Holy ticket prices!). Copley’s La bohème production is fantastic and magical, and the ROH delivers a great experience (though I do agree with the Guardian reviewer that it could do without the second interval). If you can get tickets, go.

———

Recipe: Scandinavian Almond Cake

IMG_5687

Holy moly is this cake good. It’s moist (F said “mega-moist!”), buttery, not too dense, and just sweet enough. Cardamom adds a pleasing depth of flavor. It gets half a point for health, too, because there’s no flour — just ground almonds. I’d been wanting to make an almond cake for a while, and my birthday provided a good excuse to get in touch with my Scandinavian roots and make this delectable cake. I cut mine into squares and passed it around the office at work — it sure disappeared quickly! Guess I better make another one…

Scandinavian Almond Cake (adapted from Outside Oslo; makes 8 generous wedges or 12-16 squares)

Ingredients

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g (~2.5 cups) ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and grease a springform cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the almonds, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.
  • Fold the dry into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Spread the batter (it will be quite thick) into the cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.

Enjoy!

Afternoon Tea at Tea & Tattle

Emma was in London this week and, knowing she is a tea-and-scone lover like me, I made a reservation for us to have afternoon tea at Tea & Tattle in Bloomsbury, right across from the British Museum (which a friend of mine has brilliantly re-named the “Spoils of Empire Museum”).

The experience at Tea & Tattle was delightful. The bright basement tearoom is cozy yet uncluttered, with funky paintings on the walls. We got a great deal on “Traditional Tea for Two”, which allowed each of us to choose one sandwich, one tea, a jam flavor for the scones, and one cake. They even threw in a refreshing, unsweetened lemonade for free. We both had the “smoked salmon, creme fraiche with cucumber and lemon” sandwich — you can choose from four kinds of bread and yes, they will appear crustless and cut into triangles. Cute.

IMG_5721

Next came the scones, halved and spread with clotted cream and jam. We each got a different jam so we could share: the raspberry and vanilla jam was lovely, and the damson (plum) jam had pleasing spiced notes. On the cake front, I had a moist and nutty carrot cake and Emma had a pretty Victoria sponge — top marks for both.

scone with raspberry & vanilla jam

scone with raspberry & vanilla jam

Funnily enough, we both thought that the tea itself was the most disappointing part of the experience: my Earl Grey was too weak and Emma’s English Breakfast was too strong. But the service and pace more than made up for it. We told them all our choices at the beginning, and then they brought each “course” as we finished the one before. We did not feel rushed and lingered chatting long after we’d finished our cake, never feeling like they wanted to get rid of us. The amount of food was also perfect — I didn’t leave feeling overstuffed or still hungry.

Victoria sponge & carrot cake

Victoria sponge & carrot cake

Overall, I’d definitely recommend popping into Tea & Tattle, whether it’s for a full afternoon tea or just for tea and a scone. It’s a great place to escape the bustle of London and catch up with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while. Complete the afternoon by strolling through the Spoils of Empire British Museum afterwards.

Recipe: Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan

IMG_5698

I’ve been wanting to make socca for a while but had no chickpea flour (aka gram flour) in the house until I made these spinach and potato patties a few weeks ago. Left with an open Wednesday evening and plenty of gram four, I had no more excuses and turned to Cookie and Kate for guidance on how to make it.

socca-as-pizza

socca-as-pizza

Socca is a sort of crepe/pancake/flatbread hybrid, baked and/or broiled in a skillet in the oven. It is really easy to make and, after you’ve let the batter sit for an hour, cooks quickly. Though socca is traditionally enjoyed plain or sprinkled with a few herbs, I topped my first attempt with zucchini, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan to make a light and healthy pizza-like dish — great for a quick weeknight dinner. But it was so good that I made it again the next night, this time leaving it plain enjoying some sautéed veggies on the side. Feel free to try your own topping variations (let me know what you come up with!) or just enjoy the socca plain — you won’t be disappointed.

Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan (adapted from Cookie and Kate; makes 2 generous servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) chickpea/gram flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • to taste: parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved

Procedure

  • One hour before you want to bake the socca, whisk together the gram flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
  • After one hour (or more), turn your oven’s broiler on and move the oven rack up to 8 inches underneath. Put a large skillet in the oven to preheat.
  • When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 1 tbsp of the olive oil in it. Pour in the socca batter and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
  • Remove the skillet from the oven. Move the rack back to the middle of the oven, switch back to normal heating, and turn the temperature down to 215C.
  • Pour the last 1 tbsp olive oil over the socca and arrange the tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes. (Note: if you don’t want to top the socca with anything, bake it for 10 minutes at 225C, then broil it for 2 minutes or until it begins blistering.)

Enjoy!