Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London-Madame Tussaud's!

I know it is corny, but…

I recently returned home from a 3 week trip to Istanbul and England.  My friend Kim and I had planned this trip for over a year.  Kim planned all the Istanbul part and I took the easy part and planned some of the England part.  One of the weeks in England was spent at Oxford taking a class.  I will talk about that in another post.  But I am going to start at the end of the trip with our stay in London.  I have to go back a couple of years though to preface why our visit to Madame Tussaud’s was so exciting for me. 

In the summer of 2010, Kim and I had been in London and the one place I told her that I had to visit this trip was Madame Tussaud’s.  I had been there before but I had recently found out that one of my favorite Bollywood actors, Shah Rukh Khan, had had his statue added to the small group of Indian movie stars and I had to go see it!  She was a good sport and went but when we got there we couldn’t find his statue anywhere and when we asked, I was informed that it was on loan to the Los Angeles CA Madame Tussaud’s.  It had been sent in conjunction with the opening of his movie “My Name Is Khan” earlier that year.  I was VERY disappointed...
Disapointed in 2010
...but I also remembered that my husband and I would be visiting LA a couple of months later so, my photo shoot with SRK would have to wait.
Fast forward to September and Bruce and I were in LA and went to the museum on Hollywood Blvd. and this time I checked before buying tickets to see if SRK was still there.  The attendant had to check with the manager but I was sadly informed that his statue had just been sent to the NYC 2 weeks earlier.  My hopes were dashed.  As much as I love his movies, I was not going to make a special trip to NYC chasing down his statue! 

Now 2 years later, we are on a visit again and I scheduled in advance tickets to go to Madame Tussaud’s.  I am even more excited this time because 2 other of my favorite Indian actors had been added since 2010 so I had really high hopes for this time! 

We arrived just as they opening and the line was already quite long but we didn’t have to wait more than fifteen minutes.  We didn’t stay long in the “movie star” room because most of them were the same as last time but the two I did stop at were Colin Firth (YUM!) and Daniel Radcliff (for the grandkids…of course). 

My Favorite...Shah Rukh Khan
Then we hurried on to find my Bollywood favs and find them we did! Their collection is growing. They have six in total now. I was in heaven to say the least! 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Hrithik Roshan

Madhuri Dixit

And one more of Shah Rukh Khan

Amitabh Bachchan(from 2010 trip)
Salman Khan(also 2010)

Now they need to get just a few more and here are my requests:   Aamir Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Madhaven, Shahid Kapoor, and Juhi Chawla for starters...then...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Easy, Cool, and Delicious Summer Treat

I’m home!!!!

I recently got home from a trip to Europe.  Well I guess I could include Asia in that because we went to Istanbul and it is technically on two continents so…  I digress.  When my friend Kim (one of the best travel partners next to besides husband), and I visited Chatsworth.  I had wanted to visit here for years and we finally got it on the trip itinerary.  We traveled up from Stoke on Trent to get there and arrived right at lunch time. 
Me, outside Chatsworth.  The home that was Jane Austen's inspiration for Pemberely
We decided to have lunch before heading into tour the house and grounds.  Our lunch was delicious but I can’t remember what it was.  What I DO remember is the dessert.  Kim had always wanted to try Eton Mess so she got some to try.  I had heard of it but didn’t know what it was.  Well she thought it was wonderful and asked me to try it and I did and it was heavenly!  It was a cool, sweet, and refreshing treat! 
This picture dose not do this yummy treat justice.  You are just going to have to trust me on this one. 

Since we have got home, we have both tested it out on our families at dinners and it has been a hit.  Especially when it is hot in Arizona, a cool dessert is wonderful!  Here is the recipe I used.  I don’t know the one Kim used but I will compare it sometime and let you know. 

Eton Mess (Serves 6)
6 oz (175 g) golden granulated sugar
3 large egg whites

 (*note- the above ingredients are to make the meringue.  I just used store bought meringues already made.  They came in 7 ounce containers holding approximately 28 cookies.  For this recipe you would need about 4 oz. or about 20 cookies.)

1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled

1 rounded T powdered sugar
1 pint (570 ml) heavy whipping cream

To make meringue:
First, have the caster sugar measured out ready, then place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk (beat) until each T of sugar has been thoroughly whisked in. Now take rounded dessertspoonfuls of the mixture and place them in rows on a lined baking tray (sheet) (I use either parchment or brown paper). Place the tray in the 250-275 degree oven on the centre shelf, and leave the meringues there for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.
Begin here if using store bought meringues: 

When you’re ready to make the pudding, chop half the strawberries and place them in a blender together with the powdered sugar. Whiz the whole lot to a puree, then pass it through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds (I don’t do this). Now chop the rest of the strawberries and whip up the double cream to the floppy stage.
All the above can be done in advance, but when you are ready to serve, break up the meringues into roughly 1 inch pieces (I actually do this ahead of time, also). Place them in a large mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, then fold the cream in and around them. After that, gently fold in all but about 2 T of the puree to give a marbled effect. Finally, pile the whole lot into a serving dish, spoon the rest of the puree over the surface and serve as soon as possible.

P.S. Everyone I’ve served this to has loved it.