Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Seasonal Recipe of the week

Leek and Potato Pie
with Roasted Beetroot V

For the Beetroot

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas6

500g baby beetroot
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the beetroot and place it in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, add the garlic to the tin and cook for a further 15 minutes until tender. Leave to cool slightly before peeling.

For the pastry

225g plain flour
65g vegetable suet
65g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
Dash of cold water

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, add the suet, salt and a dash of water. Bring together to form a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6

For the filling

2 shallots, peeled and chopped
3 medium leeks, washed and chopped
2tsp English mustard
125g mature cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
150g new potatoes, cooked and coarsely chopped
75ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg
25g butter
2tsp fresh Thyme, leaves only

Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots, leeks and garlic, cook for 2 minutes to soften.
Add the mustard, Thyme, potatoes, cheese and cream, cook gently for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the filling in a pie-dish. Roll out the pastry and place it on top of the pie filling, leave the pastry hanging over the edges to trim when cooked.

Brush with beaten egg.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with roasted beetroot.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Monkfish and Bacon Kebabs

Metal skewers are best for these kebabs. Thread the ingredients onto them several hours in advance and chill.


75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
5ml lemon juice
1tsp dried Oregano
575g monkfish, cleaned, and cut into 2cm cubes
225g rind less streaky bacon
225g button mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish with lime wedges and watercress sprigs


Combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and Oregano in a shallow bowl, large enough to hold the Monkfish cubes. Mix well, add the fish and marinate for 15 minutes.

Drain the Monkfish, reserving the marinade. Thread a rasher of bacon onto a metal skewer. Add a cube of fish, then a mushroom threading the bacon between them.

Continue to add the fish and mushrooms, each time threading the bacon between them until the skewer is full. Add a second rasher of bacon if necessary. Fill 3 more skewers and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the Monkfish kebabs under moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, basting frequently with the marinade. Serve the kebabs on a bed of rice. Garnish with lime wedges and watercress.

Monday, 28 September 2009

with Raspberries and Vanilla Cream



3 large egg whites
165g white caster sugar

125g fresh Raspberries
250ml Double cream
2tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 150C/ 300F/ gas 2
Line a baking tray with parchment paper

Place the egg whites in a large, clean, dry bowl.

Whisk with a hand held mixer, for two minutes at a low speed, turn the speed to medium and whisk for 1 minute.

Turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the stiff peak stage.

Add the sugar 1tbsp at a time and whisk at high speed between each spoonful, until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Form a hollow in the middle of each meringue. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140C/ 275F/ gas 1.

Leave them for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave them to dry for 4-5 hours.

Whip the cream to form soft peaks, add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Spread each meringue with cream (on the flat side) top with raspberries.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Potted Prawns

225g unsalted butter
450g peeled cooked prawns
1/4tsp white pepper
1/4tsp mace
1/4tsp ground cloves
Dill to garnish

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the prawns and heat very gently, without boiling. Add the pepper mace and cloves. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prawns to small pots. Pour a little of the hot spiced butter into each pot.

Set the remaining spiced butter aside until the residue has settled, then pour over the prawns. Chill until the butter is firm. Store in the refrigerator for no more than 48 hours. Garnish with Dill, serve with fingers of hot toast.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Spicy Spinach and Chick Peas


25g butter
1tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1tbsp mustard seeds
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 15oz cans chick peas, drained
1tsp turmeric
1kg fresh spinach, wilted in 1tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the coriander seeds, cumin and mustard seeds and cook gently, stirring for about 3 minutes. Keep the heat low to avoid burning.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and continue to cook for 15 minutes, until the onion is softened. Stir in the chick peas and turmeric and cook for 5 minutes, until thoroughly hot.

Add the spinach to the pan and heat through.

Season and serve.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding

Autumn is almost upon us. I always make a few 'soup and pudding' dinners when the cooler weather starts, and bread and butter pudding is a great favourite in my house, especially when it is made with marmalade and served hot with cold creme fraiche.


6 slices of bread
2tbsp marmalade
75g caster sugar
50g butter
275ml milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
60ml double cream
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
1tsp grated orange zest, (no pith)


Preheat the oven to 180G/350F/ gas 4

Make 3 rounds (1 round = 2 slices bread) of butter and marmalade sandwiches, then butter the outside of each sandwich. Cut each round into quarters, diagonally, and arrange in an ovenproof dish.

Mix together the milk, eggs, cream, sugar and orange zest and pour the mixture over the bread.

Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the pudding and bake for 35-40 minutes until puffy.

Serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Nectarine Upside-Down Cake

40g butter
275g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
75ml milk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 180C /gas 4
Butter a 22cm cake tin

Put 100g caster sugar and 2tbsp water in a small saucepan over a low heat and allow the sugar to dissolve. Bring to the boil and continue to cook, without stirring,until the sugar has turned a deep caramel colour. Add 40g butter and swirl round to mix evenly. Pour immediately into the cake tin, cover the base with an even coat of caramel. Leave to cool.

Peel the nectarines, cut off the flesh and cut into wedges, slice the rest of the flesh and arrange in the cake tin over the caramel.

Cream the softened butter and the remaining caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Sieve the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together and incorporate into the cake mixture using a metal spoon. Add the milk and mix until smooth.

Spoon the cake mixture over the nectarine slices and smooth over. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a serving dish.

Serve with chilled double cream.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Spaghetti Amatriciana


150g spaghetti
1 clove garlic, crushed
Small bunch Parsley, chopped
3 rashers smoked bacon, cut into strips
400g tinned tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1 pinch chilli flakes


Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the chilli flakes and tomatoes, simmer for 20 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water, drain and add to the sauce, mix to combine and top with chopped Parsley.

Monday, 21 September 2009

South East Coast Seafood

This week I headed down to the coast for some fresh seafood. Whitstable has it in abundance. Crabs, Winkles, Mussels, Oysters, all fresh from the sea, The choices were almost too much for me. Should I make a late summer Paella, some lovely Crab cakes, Skate in batter? I plumped for some juicy Mussels and made the following, delicious soup.

(To be honest, I also made late summer Paella, Crab cakes and Skate in batter)

Mussel Soup with Saffron


120g butter
2tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 carrot , finely diced
1/2 leek, finely diced
1 small bunch Parsley
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1tbsp dried Tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1ltr Mussels
1 bottle dry white wine
400ml double cream
A good pinch Saffron
1tbsp Chives, finely chopped


Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the diced vegetables until soft.

Add the Parsley, Tarragon and garlic, with a little salt and plenty of pepper, and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well. Remove from the heat.

Clean the Mussels and remove the beards.

Pour the wine into a large saucepan and throw in the mussels. Cook until they open and leave to cool.

Strain, reserving the liquid and remove the mussels from their shells.

Sieve the liquid and discard the sediment.

Pick out a few plump mussels and set them aside.

Place the remaining mussels in a pan containing the vegetables. Pour in the strained wine and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sieve and press well to extract all the juices.

Return the liquid to a clean pan, add the cream, bring to the boil and add the Saffron.

Simmer for a few minutes, stirring well and skim off any scum which may rise to the surface.

Add the reserved Mussels and sprinkle with the Chives.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Quick and Easy Dessert

Apple Snow
With Cinnamon Tuile

Apple Snow

500g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
3tbsp caster sugar
2 egg whites, whisked to stiff peaks
284ml double cream. softly whipped

Cook the apples with a dash of water until soft, add the sugar, stir to combine and leave to cool.

Fold in the rest of the ingredients, pour into stemmed glasses and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cinnamon Tuile

4tbsp butter, softened
2 egg whites
115g plain flour
115g caster sugar
1tsp ground Cinnamon
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line two baking trays with parchment paper

Beat the butter and egg whites together until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture, add the vanilla, mix until smooth.

Place mixture, 1 tbsp at a time onto the baking tray and spread out to a circle around 6" diameter, repeat until the mixture is used up.

Bake each tray separately for 6-8 minutes until beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and work quickly, draping each biscuit round a rolling pin. Leave until cool.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Potato, Pea and Leek Soup
With Halloumi Cheese Cubes


2tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
200g potatoes, peeled and diced
100g leeks, white only, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
300ml chicken stock
100g Halloumi cheese, diced

In a large heavy saucepan, heat 1tbsp olive oil and 25g butter, saute onion and garlic for two minutes.

Add the diced potatoes and leeks and fry for a further 4 minutes.

Add peas and stock, simmer for 12 minutes.

Taste and season.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and fry the Halloumi cheese until golden.

Serve in warm bowls and top with Halloumi cubes.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Creamy Tagliatelle with Peas and Pancetta


500g dried Tagliatelle
180g garden peas,(fresh or frozen)
200g Pancetta, cubed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 fat clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
100ml double cream
2tbsp chopped flatleaf Parsley
To serve,Parmesan (optional)
Olive oil


Cook the peas and set aside.

Gently fry the Pancetta and garlic in a little olive oil until the Pancetta is golden.

Add the pasta to boiling salted water and cook for about 7 minutes until tender but still with a bite. Drain and add to the Pancetta and garlic. Add the peas, cream and chopped Parsley and toss together to combine. Taste and season if necessary.

Serve with Finely grated fresh Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


If you have a mixer with a dough hook Brioche is simple to make. It needs to rest overnight so it would be ideal for breakfast.


625g plain flour
45g fresh yeast
40g caster sugar
3 level tsp salt
6 eggs
225g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk for glazing

Butter two loaf tins and set aside while you make the dough. Crumble the yeast and flour together in a bowl. Mix in the sugar and salt, then beat in the eggs, one by one, until they are well incorporated. Add the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Beat it thoroughly for a further 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in two, shape each half into a ball and tuck it into a tin. Leave it in a warm place for about an hour, to rise, and then put it into the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F/ Gas 6

Brush the surface of the loaves with egg yolk, making sure that it doesn't touch the tin-which would stop it rising-and bake them for 40-45 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Baked Cheesecake
New York style

You will love this baked cheesecake. It can be eaten as it is, with fresh fruit or, topped with caramel sauce and sliced banana. My personal favourite topping is just a drizzle of melted plain chocolate,(70% cocoa solids if possible) and one or two cherries preserved in Kirsch.

For the base.

175g digestive biscuits, crushed
65g unsalted butter, melted

225g ricotta cheese
225g creme fraiche
225g cream cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
225g caster sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2tsp corn flour

1. Crush the biscuits in a blender or food processor, then mix with the melted butter. Spoon into a lightly greased 20cm spring-release cake tin and spread evenly. Chill while preparing the filling.

2. Put all the filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse briefly until smooth. Spoon over the biscuit base and bake at 150°C / fan oven 140°C / 300°F / Mark 2 for 1 ¼ hours. At this stage the cheesecake will still be slightly soft in the middle.

3. Turn off the heat but do not open the door. Leave the cheesecake to cool completely in the switched-off oven, for 3-4 hours. It will continue to firm up during this time.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

"Food is life, life is food. If you don't like my approach you are welcome to go down to MacDonalds."
Keith Floyd

In Memory of Keith Floyd

The legend that was, Keith Floyd, one of the best and most entertaining, and for me, the first T.V. chef, has sadly, died.

His travel/cookery series has now become a favourite with people who were too young to see it first time round. His recipes will live on.

I, for one, will cook his chicken fricassee, raise a glass and have a glug of wine in his memory.

Chicken Fricassee
By Keith Floyd

From Floyd on Britain and Ireland


1 x 1.75kg/3½lb free-range boiling fowl, jointed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
125g/4oz mushrooms, sliced
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
50g/2oz butter
50g/2oz plain flour
570ml/1 pint chicken stock
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp cream
juice of ½ lemon

For the garnish
4 rashers streaky bacon, rinded, rolled and grilled
parsley sprigs


1. Put the chicken, onions, carrots and mushrooms in a large pan with enough water to cover. Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender.
2. Strain the stock, reserving the vegetables and stock separately.
3. Remove the skin from the chicken, carve the meat and cut it into cubes.
4. Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add the stock.
5. Bring to the boil and cook until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Add the meat and vegetables; remove from the heat.
6. Beat together the egg yolk and cream, add a little of the sauce and blend well.
7. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat through without boiling. Add the lemon juice. Transfer the fricassee to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the grilled bacon rolls and parsley sprigs.

Quick and Easy Midweek Supper

Honey Roast Goats Cheese with Walnuts
and Roast Tomatoes
On a Bed of Dressed Leaves V

I used Rocket, watercress and spinach for the salad and it worked really well. Somerset goats cheese is delicious and with just a drizzle of honey and the walnuts it made a perfect light supper. It would also make a good starter, or vegetarian main course.

Preheat the oven to 180C /350F/ Gas 4

Cut 1/2" slices of goats cheese or use individual cheeses. Coat the top with chopped walnuts and drizzle with a little clear honey.

Place some cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast the goats cheese and the tomatoes in the oven for 15 minutes.

Dress some salad leaves with a good olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

To serve place the goats cheese on top of the dressed salad leaves and place a few roast tomatoes on the side.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Lamb Madras

"Shish Mahal" Was the first Asian restaurant to open in Glasgow, in 1961. Starting with only 5 tables. The restaurant was gradually extended and today 110 people can be seated. The following recipes have been inspired by my visits to "Shish Mahal" many years ago, and this curry tastes as good today as it did then.

Lamb Madras with Basmati rice
Chapati and spiced onion

900G leg of lamb, trimmed and cubed
250g onion, sliced
125g fresh tomatoes, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
30g fresh ginger, grated
4 black Cardamom pods
2" cinnamon stick
5 cloves
125g ghee
1 1/2tsp salt
1tsp Turmeric
3tsp ground Cummin
3tsp ground Coriander
3 tsp chilli powder, strength to your taste
300ml water
2tbsp Garam Masala
2tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 fresh green chillies

Next prepare your chapati dough, as directed below. (the dough needs to rest for 1 hour).

Melt the ghee in a large frying pan, or heatproof casserole, fry the onions, garlic and ginger over a moderate heat until the onion is golden brown.
Add the rest of the spices, except the garam masala and green chillies and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add the meat and continue to cook over a gentle heat, stirring, until the meat is well coated.
Add the tomatoes and enough of the water to form a thin sauce, cover and leave to simmer gently until the meat is tender, approx 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes sprinkle the chopped chillies, garam masala and lemon juice over. Leave it to cook for a further 15 minutes.

If you use all the chillies it will be HOT, HOT, HOT! you can also cut down on the chilli powder.

280g Chapati or fine wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
220ml warm water
1tbsp ghee
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, add the water and mix to a soft dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for 1 hour.
Take a piece of the dough, roughly the size of a golf ball, place on a lightly floured board and roll out as thinly as possible to a round shape. Heat a heavy based frying pan, and cook the chapatis, one at a time for about one minute each side. If you press the chapatis lightly round the edges, with a rolled up tea towel as they are cooking, it will encourage bubbles to form.
Wrap the chapatis in a clean cloth until you are ready to serve.

Spiced onions
8oz finely sliced onion
2 1/2tbsp tomato sauce
2tsp tomato puree
1/2tsp chilli powder
1/2tsp salt
Blend all the ingredients, except the onions, mix well the add the onions, stir to combine and cover and leave for 30 minutes.
Serve with Basmati rice.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Walnut and Apple Teabread

Very easy to make and totally delicious, this teabread should last for a few days if kept in an airtight container.


1 large apple
5fl oz Cider
50g chopped walnuts
100g soft brown sugar
100g butter, softened
100g sultanas
2 large eggs
1tbsp clear honey
175g self raising flour
50g wholemeal flour
1tsp mixed spice
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C /350F / Gas 4

Soak the sultanas in the cider for 1 hour.

Grease a 1kg loaf tin and line with buttered greaseproof paper.

Peel, core and chop the apple.

Drain the sultanas.

Place all the ingredients (except the sultanas) in a large bowl and beat well for 2 minutes.

Fold in the drained sultanas.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to 160C /325F /Gas 3. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes.

Turn out onto a cooling tray.

Eat cold, sliced and spread with butter.

Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Pea Soup
With Minted Croutons

A lovely, easy to make soup, for the weekend. If you have fresh peas , use them, if not, frozen peas are quite acceptable.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
190g frozen peas
2 shallots, finely chopped
12 fl oz vegetable stock
2 sliced granary bread, cut into cubes
8 fresh mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50ml double cream
50g butter


Heat the butter in a large saucepan, over a moderate heat, add the shallots and garlic and fry for a few minutes, until softened.

Add the peas and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the peas are tender.

Add the cream and blend , with a hand-held blender, until smooth. Pass through a sieve to remove any remaining pea skin.

Season with salt and pepper.

Minted Croutons

Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/ Gas 5

Blend the olive oil with the mint leaves, until smooth. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add to the cubed bread and mix to combine. Bake the Croutons for 7 minutes until crisp and golden.

To serve: Reheat the soup and serve in warm bowls, top with Croutons.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Cheese and potato scones
Served with smoked bacon and poached egg

Try this recipe at the weekend, for breakfast or lunch. The scones are also great with smoked fish such as Haddock, topped, with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.


225g cold, cooked potato, mashed
50g butter, softened
50g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
75g grated Cheddar cheese
olive oil to fry

Prepare the potato

Mix the potato and butter into the flour, season with salt and pepper, add the cheese.

Form into rounds and flatten to 1/2" thick, on a floured board.

Rest the scones in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the scones until golden brown, around 3 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Seaonal Recipe of the week

I grew leeks for the first time this year, what a great idea that was. I pick them as I need them, leaving the rest to get bigger. This is a recipe I developed with the young tender ones. I may start blanching and freezing them now, before they get too woody, and use them for soup in the winter months. It's amazing how good vegetables taste when you grow them yourself.

Creamy Leek Gratin V


8 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into rounds
Small handful fresh tarragon, finely chopped
3tbsp finely chopped chives
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
250ml Creme Fraiche
60g cheddar cheese, grated
60g blue cheese, crumbled, (strength according to taste)
2tbsp olive oil
1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/ Gas 7

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the leeks Tarragon and garlic, saute for 5 minutes until softened, add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the grated cheddar and blue cheese with the Creme Fraiche.

Butter a 12" X 8" ovenproof dish and add 1/3 of the leeks followed by 1/3 of the cheese and cream mixture, continue to layer 1/3 at a time, finishing with cream/cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with chives and Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for10-15 minutes until brown and sizzling.

Serve with rice or pasta or as an accompaniment to chicken, or for a light lunch with crusty bread.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Chocolate Steamed Pudding
With chocolate sauce and raspberries

Just the thing for a quick mid-week pudding.


60g butter
60g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
85g self raising flour
2tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk

For the sauce

100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
hot water to mix

Lightly grease the ramekins with some of the butter. Then put the remaining butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add enough milk to give a dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and smooth the surface. Cover with greased greaseproof paper and foil both pleated in the middle.

Put the ramekins into a steamer. Cover and steam for 30 minutes. Turn the pudding out onto a warmed plate and serve hot.

To make the chocolate sauce

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water and add the syrup. Add enough hot water to make a sauce consistency.

Serve topped with fresh raspberries.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Restaurant Review

The Dome (The Grill Room). George Street, Edinburgh

After a morning taking in the sights of the Edinburgh Festival, my two companions and I were really looking forward to lunch, having resisted the temptation to snack all morning in anticipation of our feast.

We headed for The Dome in George St, (the building previously housed a bank). We were not disappointed; the grill room was a magnificent affair with chandeliers, domed ceiling, stained glass windows and a grand circular bar, central to the grill room. Vases of fresh flowers adorned the bar and the whole room had an air of opulence .

My starter of East coast mussels, cooked in sweet chilli and lemongrass, was lovely, spicy enough to be enjoyable and tasty, without overpowering the mussels. One of my companions ordered Haggis wrapped in filo pastry, with a whiskey sauce. She could not praise it enough (we all had to taste it, and agreed wholeheartedly)

My main course of beer-battered Haddock served with minted peas and thick cut chips was delicious but quite a hefty portion. I managed all of the Haddock, half of the batter and two chips. Had I eaten everything I would have felt uncomfortable, and I have a big appetite.

At this point, given what we had already consumed, it would have been wise to share one dessert between the three of us, but, we greedily shared three (the excuse being, it was too difficult to choose). I opted for apple pie and vanilla ice-cream, which was lovely, the walnuts in the pie worked really well. All of a sudden I didn’t want to share, but share I did and I’m so glad I did. The lemon tart was delicious and was topped with fresh raspberries. The chocolate fudge pudding was as light as a feather but still packed a chocolate punch. Everything was beautifully presented.

Service was impeccable, the MaƮtre'D and waiting staff were very attentive but unobtrusive. They cleared the table, brought food, cleared plates, topped up water and wine and you hardly noticed they were there.

There was a children’s menu, wheelchair access and highchairs. The background music was pleasant, not too loud.

The portion size was my only gripe, had I eaten everything it would have ruined the overall enjoyment of the occasion, from a comfort point of view.

Total price for three courses with wine. £120. (Plus a discretionary 10% service charge)

Food 9/10

Service 10/10

Value for money 9/10 Total 28/30

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Blackberry and Apple Fool
With Buttery Biscuits

The blackberry season is now coming to an end so make sure you try this wonderful dessert before its too late.


450g blackberries
450g cooking apples
2 tbsp clear honey
150ml double cream

Wash the blackberries and place in a saucepan with a lid.

Wash and slice the apples and add them to the blackberries.

Simmer in the pan until the fruit is soft.

Pass the fruit through a sieve, pressing through with the back of a spoon. Discard the pulp and sweeten the puree to your taste, with honey. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream until its the same thickness as the puree.

When the puree is cold, fold together with the cream and keep cool until ready to use.

Buttery Biscuits

150g plain flour
55g caster sugar
115g butter

Mix the flour and sugar together and rub in the butter to a sandy consistency.

Press the mixture into a buttered, square tin and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and mark into fingers whilst hot. Leave to cool in the tin.

Serve the Blackberry and apple fool in sundae dishes. Eat with buttery biscuits.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Something for the Weekend

Loin of Pork with Apricot and Stuffed Apples
Served with potato and celeriac mash and roast carrots.

1kg loin of pork, crackling removed
400g ready to eat apricots, halved
50g butter
12 fresh sage leaves
6 cooking apples
Salt and freshly ground pepper
400g white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
400g celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
500g large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 tsp caraway seeds
Butter for potato mash
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Take 6 sage leaves, Wrap each leaf around an apricot half. Make incisions in the pork and insert the apricot and sage. Rub the surface of the pork with butter and leave overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2

Peel and core the apples and stuff the centre of each apple with apricot wrapped in sage leaf, top each one with a knob of butter. Bake for 1 hour then keep warm until the pork is cooked. (if you have 2 ovens the pork and apples can be be cooked at the same time.

Turn the oven up to 220C/425F/ Gas 7

Place the carrots in an ovenproof dish and coat them with olive oil. Sprinkle on the caraway seeds.

Roast the pork in the oven for 1 hour, basting regularly. Season with salt and pepper halfway through cooking. After 30 minutes add the dish of carrots to the oven.

Boil the potato and celeriac in salted water for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash with butter and a little warm milk. Check the seasoning.

Slice the pork and serve with 1 apple per person, roast carrot and the mash. Drizzle with meat juices.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Seasonal Recipe of the Week

Three ways with Damsons

Damsons are in season at the moment. If you grow them, don't leave them lying around for the wasps to eat, gather them up and make preserves and puddings. You can even freeze them to use at a later date, just make sure you discard any bad or badly bruised ones, wash them thoroughly and dry them with a clean dish towel, they are now ready to put into freezer bags, and label.

You will also find them in supermarkets and at local farmers markets.

Damson Recipes

Damson Jam
Damson Cobbler
Spicy Damson Chutney

Damson Jam


1 kg ripe Damsons
1 kg granulated sugar

Wash the Damsons and stone them.

Place the Damsons in a heavy based pan on a moderate heat and sprinkle on the sugar. Add very little water to prevent burning.

As soon as the sugar dissolves and the juice runs freely, boil up as fast as possible until it sets. This should not take too long as Damsons contain a lot of Pectin(which sets the jam).

Pour into warmed jars, seal, and when cool, label and store in a cool place.

Damson Cobbler


For the Damsons

1 kg Damsons, washed and stoned
100 g caster sugar

For the Cobbler

80 g cold butter
200g self raising flour
100 g caster sugar
150ml milk

50 g jumbo oats
1 tbsp clear honey

Preheat the oven to 190C/ Gas 5

Place the Damsons in a deep ovenproof dish and sprinkle with 100 g of sugar. Place in the oven whilst you make the Cobbler.

Cube the cold butter and place in a large bowl with the flour. Rub in to the consistency of breadcrumbs and stir in the sugar. Gradually add the milk to form a soft dough.

Remove the fruit from the oven and place on spoonfuls of the dough mixture to cover the top.

Mix the oats and honey together and dot it over the top of the cobbler.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and the fruit bubbling.

Serve warm with custard.

Spicy Damson Chutney


500 g Damsons, cleaned, stoned and chopped
100 g brown sugar
100 g onion, finely chopped
100 g raisins, chopped
25 g salt
75 g garlic, finely chopped
50 g English mustard
2 heaped tsp Cayenne Pepper
Red wine vinegar

Stew the damsons in enough vinegar to cover, add the sugar. Mix the Cayenne with the onion, garlic, raisins, salt and mustard and add the mixture to the fruit, stir well. Allow to stand, covered, overnight. Pour into small jars , seal and label and store in a cool place.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Chocolate Ginger Whisky Cake
With Ginger Cream

Can be eaten warm as a dessert or cold with a cup of tea.


85 g sultanas
1/2 tbsp crystallised ginger, finely chopped
4 tbsp Whisky
Grated rind of 1 orange
175g dark chocolate, around 70% cocoa solids
115 g unsalted butter
70 g chopped walnuts
3 eggs, separated
115 g soft brown sugar
55 g self raising flour
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
70 g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4


Pour the Whisky over the sultanas and let them soak overnight.

Place the chocolate and butter, in a bowl, over a pan of gently simmering water and let it slowly melt. Leave aside to cool at room temperature.

Beat together the sugar and egg yolks until pale and thickened. Fold in the chocolate mixture, grated orange rind, walnuts, ginger and sultanas with any remaining whisky.

Add the nutmeg and flour and fold in gently.

Whisk the egg whites stiff and fold them into the cake mixture.

Line an 8in cake tin with parchment paper and spoon in the mixture.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake, comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 20 minutes then turn out onto a cooling tray until cool.

For the ginger cream

225 mls double cream lightly whipped to form soft peaks
1 tbsp Whisky
1 tbsp syrup from crystallised ginger

Fold all the ingredients together and keep cool until serving.

Serve cut in wedges with a spoonful of ginger cream and a drizzle of ginger syrup.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Chilli Con Carne

Traditionally eaten with rice, wraps or taco shells Chilli also makes a great cottage pie, with the addition of mashed potato topped with cheese, add a little soured cream when making the mash. Chilli pasties made with either shortcrust or puff pastry, salad and a dressing of yoghurt, mayonnaise and mint, (see my posting of 03-08-09 for the Raita recipe) and jacket potatoes filled with Chilli, topped with grated cheese are just three of my favourite things to accompany Chilli.


5oo g lean minced beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large tin kidney beans, drained and washed
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
125 ml water
125 ml red wine
2 heaped tbsp ground Cumin
1 tsp medium hot Chilli powder
1 red Chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green Chilli peppers, deseeded and finely chopped

For a milder version leave out the Chilli powder


Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is softened, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Place the minced beef in the pan and brown, stirring continuously for around 5 minutes. Add the Cumin, Chilli powder and chopped peppers and stir well to combine cook for 1 minute.

Add the tinned tomatoes, the tomato puree mixed with the water and the red wine. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered with a lid, for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and season with salt and pepper. Add the drained and washed kidney beans and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

The Chilli is ready to serve. If you do find it a little hot serve it with soured cream straight from the fridge.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fair Fa' your honest, sonsie face
Great Chieftain o' the puddin race
Robert Burns

Haggis is an old Scottish dish made from meat, spices and oatmeal. Unlike the recipes of many years ago, modern preparation of haggis ensures a healthy,and delicious meal. It is mainly served with mashed neeps(turnip/swede) and tatties but can now be incorporated into almost any cuisine.
Try this recipe for turkey breasts stuffed with haggis, inspired by my recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland. Haggis can be bought in most supermarkets either as a round (Macsweens is good) or out of a can (Grants, also good). Macsween's haggis can be bought online.

Turkey Breast stuffed with Haggis
Served with Sweet Potato Mash - Peas - and Mushroom Sauce


4 turkey breasts
1 small haggis
2 slices seeded brown bread, made into breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Place the turkey breasts between two slices of cling film, flatten with a rolling pin until approximately twice the size.

Peel off any wrapping from the haggis and cut into thick slices. Place on a microwavable plate and cook on high for 4 minutes. Allow to cool. If you are using tinned haggis, remove from the can and cook for two minutes in the microwave.

Place a ball of the haggis stuffing inside each turkey breast, roll up and secure with a wooden cocktail stick. Coat each one with the seasoned flour, dip into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs to coat.

Heat the vegetable oil, the temperature will be right when a cube of bread turns golden brown and floats on top.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas 5

Deep fry the turkey breasts in the hot oil for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the oven for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

For the sauce

200 mls Creme Fraiche
6 chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
50 g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes to soften.
Add the mushrooms and mustard and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the Creme Fraiche and bring to the boil, simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

For the sweet potato mash

3 large sweet potatoes
1 tsp salt
50g butter

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add the salt.
Bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain and mash with the butter.

Cook 250 g frozen garden peas according to the instructions, or fresh peas if you have them. Keep them warm until serving.

Serve the turkey breasts with sweet potato mash and peas, spoon over the sauce.

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