Liverpool was fun but the grandeur of London beckons. It was heart warming to be met at the train station by DongXing and her two lovely children. After having some delicious freshly made ice cream at Tutti Frutti, we went by the Asian market and Sainsbury to pick up some groceries. I am a food blogger afterall, and cooking is what I do. I can’t wait to check out DongXing’s gorgeous new kitchen.
It is always fun to cook with friends. We spent an enjoyable afternoon in the kitchen cooking, catching up, and snacking over cups of tea. We cooked a variety of dishes from cookies and pie to kimchi and curry. It was all very delicious, made even more so with laughter and good company. My camera was clicking away too!
At the end of the evening, I had a chance to get acquainted with Mina of Authentic Vegetarian Recipes. We had a nice, long chat, as if we had known each other in person for years. Unfortunately we were not able to meet as my stay was short and Mina lives a couple of hours drive from where I was. I also had the opportunity to talk with Adora of Adora’s Box. Again we could not meet as Adora was preparing to leave for vacation to Las Vegas. Phew…it’s a busy summer!
The next morning, we took the first train to London after the rush hour with the Off-Peak London Travelcard (valid after 9:30am) with unlimited train, underground, and bus travel in London zones 1 to 6. From the station we got onto a bus to the iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames. This majestic bridge should not be mistaken for the London Bridge which is the next bridge upstream.
It was just a short walk from Tower Bridge to the Tower of London. The Tower of London is not to be missed as there is lots to see there. We spent more than two hours exploring and reading the history and story behind this awesome fortress. The highlight is of course the Crown Jewels, the priceless symbols of the British monarchy. The display includes crowns, sceptres, orbs, rings, swords, spurs, bracelets, and robes. The world’s most famous diamonds, Cullinan I, Koh-i-Noor, and First Star of Africa are also on display. No pictures of the Crown Jewels are allowed. Please use your imagination here.
At the entrance to The Tower, we were met by the first ever woman Yeoman Warder or Beefeater. She was selected over five men and started her public duties at the Tower of London in September 2007. I asked if she would pose for me and she happily obliged. Look at that gorgeous smile!
Our tummies were complaining by the time we finished our tour of The Tower. We decided to head to Chinatown at the edge of Leicester Square. On the way there, we stopped by Trafalgar Square which commemorates Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory against Napoleon’s navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The central monument in Trafalgar Square is the figure of Nelson gazing over London.
We had a late lunch in Chinatown. We were in the mood for noodles and so we ordered Cantonese style beef noodles, wonton noodles, and a plate of roasted duck and crackly pork. Dessert was coconut tapioca pearls, compliments of the house. I was famished and only remembered towards the end of the meal that I should have taken a picture. I was quite sure you will not want to see half empty bowls and so I proceeded to finish the remaining food.
We hopped on a bus to Green Park. We wanted to cut across the park onto The Mall, which is the road running from Buckingham Palace, so that we could walk along it towards the palace. Instead, we found ourselves at the entrance of the palace.
That’s me and the view of The Mall to Admiralty Arch from the palace.
After catching our breath, we walked through St James Park towards Whitehall.
Whitehall is the center of HM Govenment. We did make a brief stop at the entrance of Downing Street which is all barricaded.
Our next stop was Big Ben. As you can see it was getting late but since it is summer, we still have more than an hour of daylight left.
I had to see Westminster Abbey, the traditonal place of coronations, burials, funerals, and weddings. The latest wedding there was of course that of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the inside of the abbey as it was past visiting hours.
Our last stop in London was St Paul’s Cathedral. Daylight was waning and we were ready to head home on the train. It was an exciting day out!
And now for the recipe. My dear friend, DongXing, has very generously agreed to share her excellent fish pie recipe here with us. I clicked away with my Panasonic FZ35 while she cooked. I do apologize for the poor shot of the dish as daylight was fading when we were ready to eat and I did not want to keep everyone waiting.
This pie can be assembled ahead and kept in the fridge. Just take it out of the fridge and pop it into the oven just before meal time. Do not be deterred by the long list of ingredients. It is actually quite simple to put together and you will be happy you did!
- 9 oz (250g) cod
- 9 oz (250g) trout
- 9 oz (250g) smoked haddock fillets
- 9 oz (250g) shrimps, shelled and deveined
- 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise
- 1 carrot, cut into rounds
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups (480ml) low fat milk
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1? lb (600g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 tbsp milk
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups milk reserved from poaching fish
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- A dash grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
Place potatoes in a medium sized saucepan. Add about an inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat and mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add milk, salt, and pepper and continue to mash till smooth well combined.
Sauté onions and garlic in a tablespoon of oil until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Parboil carrots for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Discard water from saucepan. Pour in milk and bring it to a low simmer. Gently lower fish into milk and poach for about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Reserve milk.
Start layering vegetables into a 4 quart casserole. Evenly spread cooked onions and garlic at the base, followed by a single layer of sliced tomatoes. Next, add peas, carrots, eggs, and shrimps.
Then add fish, breaking them into smaller pieces.
Now, cook the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and continue to stir for about 3 minutes until lightly browned. Slowly add reserved milk a little at a time, stirring constantly so that flour will not clump. Bring it to a gentle simmer until sauce is thick and bubbly. Add parsley, salt, and pepper. Grate in a little nutmeg. Stir till well combined.
Pour béchamel sauce onto fish and vegetables in casserole. Spread mashed potatoes evenly on the top. Run a fork from the edge of casserole to the center to create ridges on the mashed potatoes.
Place in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately.
Many thanks to DongXing for this delicious fish pie recipe! I can’t wait to make it at home.
I really enjoyed the fish pie and could not wait to prepare it for the boys. I made this the same week I arrived home. I used rice flour for the béchamel sauce to keep it gluten-free. As I was not able to find smoked haddock, I substituted it with smoked oysters. I also omitted the eggs and added some spinach at the base. The boys were eager to dig in. It was very tasty and delicious and we all enjoyed the dish. As it was a complete meal in itself, there was no need for salad or any sides but a glass of wine. Ro-Ri San and I had a glass of riesling each.
Finally, the winners (yes, not one but two!) of the Joy Bauer books…
The first winner for Food Cures is commenter number 6, Lyndsey and the second winner for Slim & Scrumptious is commenter number 18, Nami! Congratulations Lyndsey and Nami! Please e-mail me with your addresses so that I can forward it to the the people at JoyBauer.com. Thank you all for participating in the giveaway. A very special thank you also to Joybauer.com for their generosity.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)