Thursday, 30 June 2011

Another salad...for dinner

15 degrees and sunny....apparently it is summer and my salad packed menu plan finally starting to make sense!! Last night I made yet another salad from the fabulous For the Love of Food.  This salad took a bit of time lentils, sautéing onions and garlic, roasting courgettes, cooking peas and beans...but, I was home alone, had the time and...well...I just love being in the kitchen anyway!

I the last minute to add the end of the bag of orecchiette that I had opened earlier in the week. The addition of the pasta made this salad more substantial, but I will definitely try as it was meant to some the future.  The dressing is a simple yoghurt, oil and lemon juice combination that...I think could have benefitted from some heat (next time)...otherwise...totally yummy!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Small Ears with Broad Beans

I have been drooling over my two new cookbooks, meal planning and thinking ahead.  One recipe that jumped right out at me was Denis Cotter's Orecchiette with Broad Beans and Courgettes, a simple, fresh and gorgeous looking pasta dish.

I was immediately drawn to the bright green broad beans (cooked and then skins peeled off) and the use of orecchiette, two things that I would never have thought to put together.  Sometimes I makes these new dishes and then, when I am wolfing them down, I realise...hey! this is a variation of something I already make!...but with x, y and z...and this was one of those of my standby summer dinners is spaghetti with courgettes...cooked exactly the same way as this dish (but with added lemon zest and chilli flakes). was fantastic and brought a little bit of sunshine to yesterday's dreary day.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge: My New Cookbook

When Dom at Belleau Kitchen posted his June Challenge, My New Cookbook, I had to bide my was days before my birthday and I was hoping for some new cookbooks (no word of a lie I haven't had a new cookbook since July last year). 

Well...didn't I just luck out...two new cookbooks in my hot little hands!! Denis Cotter's "for the love of food" an incredible vegetarian cookbook with recipes that remind me of Ottolenghi's Plenty (think long ingredient lists with incredible results) and Stephane Reynaud's "365 good reasons to sit down and eat", which has a seasonal, french recipe for every day of the year.  

What to make first? Such a hard decision.

I plan my meals for a fortnight and when I made this week's plan I was thinking...end of June, sun, heat, time for salads!! Denis Cotter has a whole chapter dedicated to salads that eat like a meal and I greedily chose a handful to fill my meal plan.  

So, have you been enjoying the sun in Edinburgh? I hear you  It has rained for about a week straight...and it's been chilly....hardly salad weather.  

Sticking to my meal plan last night, with a quick tweak (or two), I made this easy warm pea salad with cherry tomatoes, basil, red onions and garlic.  The first tweak was my choice of pea...the recipe calls for sugar snaps but I used a huge heap of freshly podded peas instead.  The second tweak? serving it with some baked fish, pita and hummus...much more weather friendly.  

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Edinburgh Larder...a fantastic escape from the rain

This blog didn't set out to offer reviews of restaurants and is meant to be a log of my adventures in the kitchen and around the house...but since we've relocated to Edinburgh I can't help but want to SHARE with you some of the fantastic little (and large) finds I've...well...found!

It's a wonder I have any pennies isn't expensive, but...I've been trying to limit my new experiences to once a is only Tuesday and I've spent my coffee money for the week already!! Blame it on the rain (cue milli vanilli), blame it on my unemployment, blame it on the need to be out of the house for a few hours during the day...what ever I blame it on, the fact is...

Pottering equals coffee treat every time.

I found myself wandering around old town this morning (after a stop at the library and post mail to Canada....strike) with a knapsack full of books, some un-mailable mail and the heavens threatening to open at any minute.  I can't say that today's cafe treat happened entirely by accident, I WAS on the hunt for a cafe...BUT the cafe that I had actually WANTED to try was CLOSED!!

So back along the Royal Mile I started walking (in the rain) past totally over priced tourist traps, wondering where I would be able to take cover...when I had to stop at the corner of a pretty small street to let a truck turn...and there I could just about make out a really lovely looking sign (awesome font and colours) for a cafe...Edinburgh Larder.

When I walked in I fell in love instantly...lovely wooden tables, big glass cooler case of salads, rustic breads...local produce...

I had a seat in the window, so I could watch the rain and the backpackers tumble out of the hostel opposite.  The windowsill was covered in cookbooks, some marked, some dogeared, some new...and a collection of cookery writing books as well...if I had all day I would have just sat there reading and eating and copying out recipes.

I had a huge bowl of porridge (cooked in milk....yum!) with brown sugar and a latte.  Major bonus points for the latte served in a mug...not a glass...hey! I am picky (I quizzed the guy working there...and he agreed with me) and yes, it would have made a difference.

Anyway, if you find yourself in Edinburgh old town close to the Royal Mile and North Bridge it is worth the detour to Blackfriars street.  I'll be checking them out for lunch next!

Edinburgh Larder

Sand Between My Toes

Back from a relaxing and (mostly) sunny holiday on the North Norfolk Coast...sand in the bottom of my my my toothbrush...everywhere!

I ate really well while I was away...a lot of crab and a lot of needed something full of veggies, and warming when I arrived back in Edinburgh (to the grey skies and rain).  I bought a tin of beans, a few extra vegetables and...voila...

Cloudy and wet today...and just enough soup left for lunch! 

Friday, 10 June 2011

kedgeree leftovers...quick afternoon lunch

I whipped up a batch of indian spiced crepes (crepe batter minus the sugar and plus garam masala spice mix and some curry powder) and filled them with the left over yummy!

Tea at the Balmoral...a birthday treat

David totally spoiled me this birthday...I mean...totally...he's been studying hard for his accountancy exams the past couple of weeks, and I am pretty used to exams conflicting with my birthday...but this year...he took the day off from studying and spoiled me rotten! He's been pretty sneaky too...collecting the mail and hiding away anything resembling a birthday card...which meant I had a pile of cards to open with my coffee in bed on the morning of my birthday....followed by a scavenger hunt through the flat to "find" my pressies....followed by waffles with butter and maple syrup for brekkie...and then...the best bit...Tea at the Balmoral Hotel in the afternoon.

The Balmoral's tea room is gorgeous, high ceilings, harpist, beautiful tables and linens, gigantic napkins...totally lovely.  We had the champagne tea and toasted my birth, our families and friends.  Then we got stuck in!

Finger sandwiches, fruit and plain scones, pastries and shortbread...this girl's perfect afternoon!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Post Birthday Kedgeree

There is nothing quite like a curry chilli hit to dust those old woman cobwebs out of my head! 

Last night I made my own sort-of store cupboard Kedgeree.  While usually reserved as a breakfast dish, I love kedgeree for dinner...I love a big bowl of it, with lots of coriander and a blob of yoghurt, eaten snuggled up on the couch...perfection.   Yeah took 2 pots and one pan to make...but it is so so so easy! Rice goes (I used 2 defrosted coley portions...cheaper than un-dyed smoked haddock) and eggs into another pot to poach/hard boil...and then you just throw it all together with a gently fried sliced onion, a red chilli, a handful of frozen peas, a couple of tablespoons of curry paste and some lemon juice! 

I have a feeling 31 is going to be a good year! 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Strawberry and Pimms Cupcakes...don't mind if I do!

Even though it was only about 10 degrees in Edinburgh this weekend, and cloudy, and overcast, and spitting...the beginning of the summer harvest is upon us! On Saturday, with David's head stuck in a revision book, I wandered over to the farmers' market to drool over the cheeses and meats and baked goods and produce and preserves. Limited to £10 I selected my goodies carefully...a bunch of asparagus, punnet of strawberries, potted thyme plant, 2 individual scotch pies, baby yellow tomatoes...and a latte (of course)! Pretty good for less than (well not much less than) £10! 

At home the thyme plant was planted, scotch pies were devoured for lunch and I set about making a batch of Strawberry cupcakes spiked with Pimms for Two Hippos Cupcake Challenge.  Actually, they weren't JUST for the challenge...they were also my birthday treat to me (along with the fabulous glass bowl)!!  

Using Martha Stewart's Basic Yellow Butter Cupcake recipe I added about a cup of chopped strawberries and about 60ml of Pimms.  The cupcakes rose really well...I had been stressing over them a bit...baking with fruit...and the added Pimms...but....they puffed up nicely.  The icing was a bit more difficult.  I don't know why, but it is always hit and miss for me with buttercream.  I think I am not patient enough, I always question the HUGE amount of icing sugar, and well...this weekend was a definite miss! Instead of milk I addd strawberry puree to the butter and icing hind sight I think I should have made a regular buttercream and then added in the puree to that. It tasted great and looked fab, it just wasn't thick enough.  So after icing all the cupcakes I ended up putting them in the fridge to firm biggie seeing as I like cold cakes anyway! 

oh...just incase you were wondering...the tomatoes and asparagus were roasted with some pancetta and then tossed with fresh pasta and lots of parmesan for dinner!! yum yum! 

Monday, 6 June 2011

a few more words...

First, thank you for all your "jealous" comments... I am totally jealous of myself too!! 

I've been toying with the idea of getting a second bowl for my stand mixer pretty much since the day I wonderful David carried it home through Chelmsford town centre.  Ok, two bowls might seem a bit...luxurious...but, I don't have a hand mixer...I don't have a food processor...I only have my glorious stand mixer....meaning that those recipes that call for eggs whites to be whisked separately are totally annoying...they require more planning than I am prepared to do. So a second bowl it is.  I decided on the glass bowl is just simply gorgeous.  Saying that, it is flipping difficult to find in the UK! 

After some web searches I was beginning to fear that the only way to fulfil my Kitchen Aid dream was going to be through an online purchase.  I went to John Lewis and asked for luck...I went to luck...finally, on a whim I popped into the cute Creative Cookware Shop on Edinburgh's Rose Street, where I found the friendliest staff I've come face to face with in a long time.  I asked...and was so happy to discover that while Kitchen Aid accessories weren't stocked in store they could be ordered!! It might take a while to be delivered, I was told...I am in no hurry...says I.  

Just over one week later...My kitchen counter looks so much more happy! 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

two words...

Glass Bowl

Friday, 3 June 2011

slumming it...

Sometimes whipped cream in a can is the only thing that can turn a tough day around.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Exploring Edinburgh's Cupcake Offerings Stop 1

I was spoiled for choice in London...famous cupcakes minutes from work...easy to stop by at lunch, or for a special occasion(al) treat.  Now, in a new city...I find myself starting back at square one.

I've made a list of cupcake shops to visit over the next few weeks to try to suss out Edinburgh's ultimate cupcake shop...starting with a stop at Bibi's Bakery located just off Rose Street in Edinburgh's New Town.  The bakery is in the back, and can be seen from the sidewalk through a huge window on the side of the building.  We (I didn't have to drag David out on this errand) stopped by late in the day, so the red velvet were all gone :( weep...but managed to eventually decide on a Cookies and Cream and a Double Chocolate cupcake.  With our choices packaged up in a little box we zoomed home and put on the kettle.

The cupcakes were good and it was especially nice that the cookies and cream had chunks of Oreo mixed through the batter. I prefer my cupcakes to have risen above the cases, which these hadn't...but...that's just my own hangup.  I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if a box of these magically appeared on my table (hint hint).

I'm not going to bother with a grading system...I don't know if I can really compare cupcakes with a scientific method. Ultimately, it is all down to personal choice...and I know what I like...