In the middle of London, on a very busy street, is a door. Not a very big door, and not a very flashy door. This door is stuck between large hotels and the shiny shops of Oxford Street. Only a few people ever go in, and only a few ever come out.
This is because. this little door – is the door to Tyburn Convent. This little unprepossessing convent was built on the site of the Tyburn Tree. The notorious site where criminals were hung for over 600 years. Now, it is a place of calm and has become a reall little haven in the city. Some of these nuns have been their for their whole lives – supporting and praying for those in need.
The Benedictine nuns busy themselves with the usual monastic activities, but also sports, cooking (they are very fond of porridge) and of course singing! When I visited a few years ago, I couldn’t resist asking Mother Lioba, who was showing us around, if she liked The Sound of Music. She replied – “doesn’t every nun!” Brilliant!
There are some spectacular photos of the nuns skipping and playing football. Check out more photos here.
The Sound of Music is definitely one of my favourite things – which I made my family watch over the holidays. Growing up – I listened to the record over and over again and signing at the top of my voice. I think my parents must have been relieved that when I was 16/17 – I finally got to play Maria in the Sound of Music and got the music out of my system.
I remember having such a crush on Captain Von Trapp. He was tall, blonde, played the bassoon – need I say more. The problem was that I was too petrified to kiss him. Let alone kiss him in front of an audience – the audience including my grandmother! Even more mortifying was the fact that we had to have special rehearsals so I could practice the kissing – because the director thought I wasn’t able to kiss. I bet Christopher Plummer didn’t have the same problem with his Maria! It’s still embarrassing just thinking about it :).
This recipe is on Maria’s list of favourite things. A crisp apple strudel and schnitzel with noodles. If you happen to be in London – make sure you visit Tiroler Hut – where you can have all buckets of Austrian beer and plates of crispy schnitzel while being serenaded by yodeling and accordions. It is a completely bonkers experience.
Crisp Apple Strudel Recipe
(Adapted from Felicity Cloake‘s recipe)
(Don’t succumb to the allure of the paper like filo pastry – try it – it is surprisingly easy)
For the filling:
425g Jazz apples
425g Granny Smith apples
125g baby figs
75g currants, soaked for at least a couple of hours in 4 tbsp apple brandy and drained
Grated zest of ½ lemon
50g soft light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1. Before you start, soak your raisins in 4 tablespoons of brandy – leave overnight preferably.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200oC
3. To make the pastry, put the ground almonds, flour and sugar into a bowl and mix.
4. Make a well in the centre. Whisk your eggs with a teaspoon of the cooled melted butter and add into the well. Using a fork bring the mixture together adding the water a drop at a time.
5. Don’t question this next part – just do it. Take the dough and throw it repeatedly onto the work surface. Keep doing this until your arms start to get tired. Then start again. This action will make the dough elastic and pliable.
6. Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for an hour.
7. In the meantime, make your strudel filling.
8. Mix the chopped apples, nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest. Then add the brandy soaked raisins and sugar.
9. Take out your dough and lay it on top of some cling film. Using a floured rolling-pin, roll the dough until it is wafer thin.
10. Brush the pastry with more of the melted butter.
11. There are lots of ways you can roll this up, but do what works for you. I scattered the filling and some extra sugar in a line down one side, folded the edges in a bit like a galette and then rolled it up into a sausage. You want to get your thin dough to cover the sausage a few times, so when you cut it you have a few thin layers before getting to the juicy filling.
12. Brush with egg wash and pop into a hot oven (180c / 350F /Gas Mark 4) for 30 to 40 minutes.
13. Serve with cream or custard while it is still piping hot.
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup cornbread bread crumbs
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsps groundnut oil
4-5 pork chops
I used a leftover garlic and onion cornbread as the main ingredient of the schnitzel coating – but you can use normal breadcrumbs.
1. Simply mix all the dry ingredients together
2. Whisk the egg milk and oil together.
3. Beat each pork chop between some clingfilm.
4. Turn in the egg mixture and then dig in the breadcrumbs.
5. Either shallow fry or grill for 4 minutes on each side.
My Favourite Thingswhiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things. Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels.
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
These are a few of my favorite things. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes.
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.
Silver white winters that melt into springs.
These are a few of my favorite things.
What are your favourite things? Things that make you smile just by looking at them. Pork schnitzel and apple strudel on a frosty Sunday afternoon definitely go on my list. And kittens. And bunnies. And chocolate…