Friday, 11 April 2008

I've moved!!

As many of you will know we've had a new design in progress for a few months and I am very excited and happy to unveil it at - please click the link to come & visit :)

See you soon,


Sunday, 23 March 2008

Leftovers for lunch and burgers for dinner

We still have some of the cooked salmon in the fridge. I enjoyed a slice of it for lunch yesterday on a slice of toasted chilli bread...

For dinner we couldn't decide what to have. It was one of those days when you know what you do not want. So we ruled out pasta (had too much recently), rice, fish & chicken. I flicked through some books for inspiration and came across the LA Burger in Bill Granger's - Every Day.

Easy and quick to make, but very nice...

Ingredients (for 4)
500g lean minced pork
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds, crushed
40g breadcrumbs
1 egg lightly beaten

Combined all ingredients together in a bowl.
Shape into 4 small burgers. Cover & leave in fridge for 30minutes.
Heat non-stick frying pan & cook burgers for about 5 minutes on each side.
Serve on a bun of your choice with a handful of rocket and thinly sliced red onion.

And we also made some crispy cakes for Easter!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

A Good Friday Feast

Yesterday I started off by making Nigella's Hot Cross Buns. The texture is actually more of a scone type bun than a shop bought one, but rather tasty and delicious when toasted.

After the buns were cooked I started on preparing a three course dinner as we had invited my parents around. Inspiration for the dinner came courtesy of Delicious Magazine.

For starters we had roasted parsnip and parmesan soup:

Followed by pancetta-wrapped salmon with saffron and herb rice, served with crushed new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli:

The salmon was surprisingly easy to make despite having to skin the whole side of a fish! & it looked rather impressive before and after cooking:

Those sticking to Good Friday traditions didn't eat the pancetta & I substituted all chicken stocks for vegetable stock.

And we finished with Nigella's molten chocolate baby cakes:

Monday, 10 March 2008

Chilli Bread

I first made this a few weeks back but I didn't blog about it after taking the photos. Tonight I've made another loaf so here is the recipe but as my loaf is in the oven the pictures are from last time.

Chilli Loaf
375g wholemeal strong flour
375g white strong flour
3 teaspoons salt
2-3 teaspoons chilli flakes (I used 2 & that provided a good heat without going OTT)
7g sachet of dry yeast

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl
Add 450ml water (at room temperature)
Combine into dough & knead until elastic - around 5/10 minutes
Leave to rise in bowl (cover with damp cloth) for 2 hours
Knock back & shape into 'tin' shaped & pop in a floured tin
Leave to rise again for 45 minutes
Cook for 15 minutes at 230 ° c then for 20/25 minutes at 200 ° c until cooked
Leave to cool on rack

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Butteries and Morning Rolls

Last time we went to Scotland we came back with a few bags of Butteries (or Morning Rolls as they are also known). Having some Scottish blood I would say it is only natural for my family to be hankering after these naughty treats.

They are a speciality to Northern Scotland - so with some of my family roots being in Elgin it is something my Gran & Grandad would have enjoyed on a more regular basis. We bought most of ours from the bakers in Aviemore but they have to be eaten fresh, so when we got back last Saturday eveing I took a quick drive round to my mum & dads so they could be enjoyed the next morning.

We froze the ones we kept and enjoyed them for a leisurely breakfast this morning. Served warm with marmalde and a nice cup of tea.

Oh, and Ginger, if you read this - you asked what I was talking about last time so I hope this now explains!

A creamy indulgent dinner

Last night we made the chicken and tarragon pie I had been meaning to do earlier in the week. But before we enjoyed this we used up the left over asparagus.

I say we, but it was Anthony that cooked up a delicious starter. Steamed asparagus spears with quick hollandaise sauce. This sauce is not a traditional way of making hollandaise but is lower fat and much easier and to be honest, tasted just as good:

Quick Hollandaise Sauce
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon cornflour
1 1/2 rounded tablespoon creme fraiche
5ml white wine vinegar
1/4 tablespoon lemon juice
25g butter

Basically you put everything except the butter in a small pan. Whisk together and heat over a medium heat until simmering - whisking all the time. Take off heat & whisk in the butter.

Serve with steamed asparagus tips.

After enjoyed the asparagus I got on with the pie. And as it was Saturday evening I thought I'd use the potatoes I picked up for mash to make dauphinoise potatoes. This is something I've had in the back of my mind to try for a very long time and I searched on the internet for a recipe that suited what we had in. The link takes you through to the recipe I used from the bbc website.

We served the pie, dauphinoise with some steamed kale.

It is certainly a dinner to enjoy once every few months as it oozed lots of creaminess. But it went down very well with a nice cold white wine.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Getting back

We have been back home for a week now. A week of work and it feels like our holiday was a very distant memory. I hate that about holidays.

I was going to post some more about our adventures in Scotland but Hubby posted about it a few days ago.

To be honest, I haven't cooked anything very exciting this week. I rustled up a tasty pasta bake on Wednesday with a tin of tomatoes, an onion, a green chilli & a clove of garlic - then mixing it through with some par-cooked pasta & mozzarella. Baked for 10 minutes and hey-presto. It was lovely & I quite enjoy it when I just throw stuff together that takes no more than 20 minutes.

Other than that we've not had anything exciting really. My enthusiasm has dipped a bit.

But I will get back & up running soon. In fact here is my list of 'must cook soon':
  • Hot cross buns - after Jules posted her pics a year ago, I've been waiting for Easter to come back around!
  • Cupcakes & shortbread - it's sport relief next week so I assume work will want some baking to sell for measly prices! Bah. But I love doing it :)
  • Pancetta-wrapped salmon for the new delicious magazine
  • Roasted parsnip & Parmesan soup, again from delicious
  • Bread - I did make a rather nice chilli loaf a couple of weeks back but didn't blog it
  • Lamb & rosemary burgers from Sarah Ravens book
Tonight I think we'll be having a creamy chicken & tarragon pie which has featured here at least once with steamed kale & maybe dauphinoise potatoes - something that's been on my 'to cook' list for ages. I had intended on making a chicken & asparagus pie in the week but ended up with asparagus risotto so I may use the last of the asparagus up with a 'quick' hollandaise sauce as a started - again a new one for me to try!

I am really keen to kick start my cooking again & I cant wait to move over to my new look blog - Hubby has been busy with things so it had to take a back seat for a while but I promise it is coming soon!!

Friday, 29 February 2008

Review: The Cross, Kingussie, The Highlands

"For a special occasion, this is somewhere to go for a treat" This was how The Cross was described in the welcome booklet we found at our accommodation in Aviemore.

As you will know, we came to Aviemore to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and for a couple of weeks before I had been googling various ideas to find somewhere special to enjoy a meal. I had found a few ideas before getting up here but nothing that jumped out at me. So when I read the above review in the booklet I had to Google it and was very pleasantly surprised. The Cross entices you by telling you that 'Dinners are served by an open fire in the stone walled and wood beamed restaurant. Menus feature carefully prepared fresh and seasonal produce and the wine list is one of the best in the UK' it continues 'The Good Food Guide has rated The Cross as one of the six best places to eat in the Scottish Highlands and Trip Advisor ranks The Cross as #1 in the area. Recommended in all other independent guidebooks, including Michelin, The Good Hotel Guide, Scotland the Best (upgraded to two ticks for 2008!), Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, and Fromers'

Further, it comments that 'we use only the finest fresh produce, locally sourced where possible. Game from local estates, Highland beef, Shetland lamb, prime fish from Scrabster, and shellfish from Skye. Wild mushrooms picked locally, soft fruits from Alvie Estate and cheeses from Mull and Galloway'

The only downside was that it doesn't open on a Sunday or Monday and our anniversary was the Sunday, so whilst we went out for a nice meal on our anniversary itself we also booked a table for two at The Cross for Thursday evening.

When we arrived we were very warmly welcomed and thus started a truly special meal.

The whole service was provided by the owners who were assisted by a couple of chefs back in the kitchen.
We started with olives whilst pondering the menu. The olives were the best we've tasted in some time, slightly flavoured with rosemary. We were then given some homemade sour dough bread and unsalted butter.

enjoying these nibbles we were enjoying the quiet surroundings and a warming log fire quietly crackling away in the background. There was only one other couple dining and a chap on his own who we thought may have been reviewing the food as he was scribbling in his notebook the whole time!

Next to arrive was the appetiser - a small cappuccino cup full of Jerusalem artichoke soup with a drizzle of truffle oil. It may have been small but it was truly delicious and warming - I could have enjoyed a whole bowl of the soup on its own and been a very happy lass but it just kept getting better...

Next was our first course. I had chosen the tian of kyle of lochalsh langoustines, avocado & vine tomato and Anthony chose the seared breast of scottish woodpigeon, date puree and goats cheese emulsion.

I really enjoyed the fresh langoustines and had a small taste of the woodpigeon and goats cheese emulsion, which just melted in your mouth. I dont think I could eat much of the pigeon myself, but Anthony really enjoyed every mouthful and said he would pick it again.

Onto the mains, we both chose roast breast of organic highland chicken, vine tomato fondue, leeks and peas with garlic mash. The chicken melted in your mouth it was just perfectly cooked. The tomato fondue was simple but the flavour was really rich. The garlic mash, again, just melted in your mouth - this is one mash I will by trying to recreate at home soon!

For dessert, Anthony had to try the hot chocolate fondant with chilli ice cream. He seems to have been craving chilli chocolate recently so this definitely put a smile on his face.

I, on the other hand, couldn't resist the creme caramel, caramelised spiced bananas with creme brulee ice cream. Not being a huge fan of banana I was very pleasantly surprised, they were very lightly spiced and truly delicious. The creme caramel and crunchy creme brulee ice cream were really creamy.

The portion sizes throughout the meal were absolutely spot on. We both finished each plateful and as we finished the meal with coffee and petit fours we decided that we were just nicely full. And as I mentioned earlier, the service through out was just right. Food and service arriving just at the right time, food was introduced to us at each course and both proprietors knew everything about the food and where it came from.

At £45 per person we felt that we got extremely good value for money. The only down side being that the credit card machine didn't have an option for service which we would have most gladly left. However the menu did state that the cost per person included service and tax. Either way we came away knowing that we will return at the drop of a hat next time we are up here, whenever that will be!

It was most definately one of the best meals we have devoured and would both heartily recommend it to anyone looking for genuinely good, well sourced food by people who obviously love it even more.

Ps. Again, apologies for lack of food pictures - I really wish we'd taken the camera with us.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

More of Aviemore

As I said last week, we have travelled North for a weeks holiday. Our first stop was an overnight stay at the Q Hotel just North of Glasgow, The Westerwood. Anthony treated us to a Suite and the price included Dinner & Breakfast. The dinner was lovely - unfortunately I didn't get any photos but I enjoyed some Pollock from Peterhead served on a potato rosti with wilted spinach and a rather lovely creamy but light sauce.

On Saturday we carried on North and up into the Highlands, arriving at our accomodation after a leg stretching walk around Loch an Eilein. We are self catering in a very nice house towards the Northern end of the town. A view of a snowy topped Cairngorm can be found from the kitchen window.

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary and we spent some of it near the top of Cairngorm where we found some snow!

After wandering around and taking photos we grabbed a warming cup of hot chocolate & coffee before heading back down. In the evening we enjoyed a very pleasant meal at The Old Bridge Inn - it even started snowing whilst we sat enjoying our food. Proper big flakes of snow. Bliss. I enjoyed scallops to start - they were served in a light sauce flavoured with lemongrass and honey. For mains, I thoroughly enjoyed braised monkfish served with asparagus and seasonal vegetables. Anthony sampled some bruchetta followed by a venison steak (no photos again sorry!)

Yesterday we drove over to Aberdeen. If I am completely honest it was a miserable day weather wise. We kind of wish we hadn't bothered with the 2 1/2 hour (each way) journey. You live & learn! On the positive side, we came back via the scenic route & literally came face to face with the most magnificent deer, possibly a stag. It was huge. I had put the camera on the back seat but was too slow in turning round to get it!

Today we ventured out for another walk, in the drizzly rain. After stopping off to get Anthony some more water resistant trousers. We climbed from Glenmore up to the valley in between
Creagan Gorm and Meall a'Bhuachaille. The views were beautiful. Lake Morlich shining in the grey light, snowy topped mountains and pine trees. By the time we reached the top the weather took a turn, the wind got up, the drizzle turned to hail and there was nowhere to shelter so we did a quick about turn and started back down the same route we had walked up.

Through the valley...
Views from near the top...

After getting back to the car we travelled a few miles back down towards Aviemore and stopped at the Ord Barn for a heart warming Parsnip & Honey soup served with homemade bread and a hot cup of coffee. Delicious. If I was to open up a cafe it would be something just like this... hot drinks with lots of homemade soups, sandwiches and cakes. Mmmmm.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Meme'd by the lovely Rosie

Rosie has meme'd me. But at the moment we are in the midst of packing for our holiday, but I did notice that one of the meme'd questions was 'what were you doing a year ago?'

Well, I can't resist quickly telling you the answer - and that, my friends, is running around like a mad hatter, bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, packing lots of bikini's and shorts into large suitcases and putting the finishing touches to our wedding!!

I really can't believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown by.

So I shall run off again now. But I will post the rest of my answers to the meme'd when we return from the Bonny Highlands. I hope you'll let me off Rosie :)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Quiet Times

I haven't really got an excuse for my lack of blogging over the last week or so. I just haven't felt our food worthy of blogging I suppose - it's been quite normal and we haven't really tried anything new... but here is a quick update!

Pancake Day
I made some pancakes last Tuesday. Hubby doesn't like pancakes (except for Little Chef ones apparently, but I think that is more of a rekindled memory as he hasn't been to a Little Chef for a very long time). Every year I make myself a couple of pancakes with lemon and brown sugar and try to tempt him into trying them to no avail. This year I think I won. Well, I won him over with the filling - ice cream and Dulce de Leche (sickly toffee sauce). I stuck to my lemon and sugar combination but here is Hubbys sickly sweet pancake...

On Saturday we took a day trip to the lovely beachside village that is Rhosneigr on Anglesey - it was a beautifully sunny day and it really did not feel like February. The kite surfers were out in force enjoying the good weather...

And we quickly visited the South Stack in Holyhead before heading home...

Sausages and Mash with Jamies O's Red Onion Gravy
We spent most of yesterday having a good clean and clear out. I had intended on sitting down at some point in the day and deciding on the weeks menu's but left it far too late. In fact we only just managed to get to a Sainsbury's about 20 minutes before closing. With the rushing around we ended up with a rather satisfying dinner - chilli & corriander sausages with mash, purple sprouting broccoli and my trusty red onion gravy...

Red onion Gravy (for 2)
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced (can be left out)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
hot water & vegetable stock cube

Fry onions & garlic gently for 5 minutes
Add balsamic vinegar & reduce by half
Crumble in a little stock cube & add hot water - keep simmering & add water as required to consistency you require

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Lemony Syllabub

Last weekend we went round to my mum & dads for a Jamie Oliver curry, a kind of belated birthday dinner for my brother as he was poorly the first time round. I offered to make pudding and decided something palette cleansing was in order.

I hadn't made or even eaten syllabub before but had been inspired after seeing the Tequila syllabub on Masterchef the other week (made by an online acquaintance). It was easy to make, though it started the evening before when I had to infuse some sugar, dessert white wine, lemon & lime juice. Served with some of the lovely Three Chimneys Shortbread it was quite pleasant. Though next time I'd put more lemon juice in as the sweetness took some of the flavour away.

Makes 6 servings
75g caster sugar
100ml sweet white wine
1 lemon
1 lime
300ml double cream, whipped

The night before - thinly pare the lemon and lime and squeeze out the juice. Put this in a bowl together with the wine and sugar. Leave to infuse overnight before straining into a bowl.

Fold in the cream and pour the syllabub into martini glasses or small pots.

Serve with homemade shortbread biscuits.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Tuna Burgers

This evening I made Tuna Burgers. You may remember I did make them last year, adapting a Simon Rimmer recipe for Salmon burgers. Anyway when I went to retrieve the recipe it was not on my blog so here goes - a slightly further adapted recipe:

250g - 300g Tuna Steaks
2 slices brown bread, crusts off (& magimixed into bread crumbs)
1/2 egg white
1 shallot or small chunk of red onion
Tablespoon dill
Salt & Pepper

1. Put bread into magimix & made breadcrumbs
2. Add red onion, and dill & blitz
3. Season
4. Add tuna (cut into chunks) & egg white - pulse magimix so small pieces of tuna remain

Turn the mixture out & shape into 2 'burgers' - cover them up and pop them in the fridge for 1/2 hour

Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly fry for around 3 or 4 minutes (depending on the thickness) on either side until cooked through in the middle

We served this with some organic mayonnaise flavoured with a little garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice & touch more dill.

We also had some homemade chips courtesy of 'Cook with Gordon' -
2 Desiree potatoes scrubbed (skin left on) cut into eighths & parboiled for 3 minutes. Season, add a touch of olive oil & chilli flakes & pop on a hot baking tray in the oven set to 200°c for around 40 minutes until crisp.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

The Results

It is an impossible task to cook, photograph & blog all at the same time. Especially when Gordon cooks so quickly! But we managed, just about, to keep up with the cooking & here are the very tasty results - even the steak was delicious...

Scallops with a warm tomato & olive salsa

Sirloin Steak with homemade chips & a rocket salad

The rocket dressing was simply 1 part white wine vinegar to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil but it was really, really lovely

And finally Chocolate Mousse

Mmmmmmm. Thanks Gordon.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Cooking with Gordon

I think I'm just about set... I'm taking up the challenge tonight on two fronts.

Firstly, I am Cooking With Gordon - after getting ready Hubby will hopefully be updating my Flickr set as we go along -click here if you'd like a nosey

Secondly, and part of cooking with Gordon, I will be cooking and eating meat. Eeeek is all I can say. I am trying to re-introduce it so why not jump in the deep end with a Sirloin Steak!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

A rather busy weekend

I cant believe it's time for bed on Sunday night already. The weekend has flown by.

On Friday evening a made a rather enjoyable dinner of sole goujons with dill mayonnaise and a buttery jacket potato. It was surprisinglyeasy to make - the sole goujon recipe is from Nigella Express.

On Saturday evening we ate out at Est Est Est at the Albert Dock. We had reasonably high expectations as we spent 06/07 New Year's Eve there & it was really nice. Unfortunately last night the staff & food let the lovely surroundings down. My porcini risotto was a very small portion, in the largest ever bowl & Hubby's pizza came covered in mushrooms - which it did not mention on the menu but we were out for a friends birthday & having everyone together was really nice. Afterwards we just about managed to grab a seat at the Pump House pub as we seemed to finish the meal at the same time as Ringo & Co. who had officially opened the Liverpool Echo Arena next door.

Tonight we ate at my parents again as its my brothers birthday tomorrow - but unfortunately he has been poorly so we ended up enjoying a creamy chicken & tarragon pie followed by marmalade pudding without him :( (Happy Birthday for tomorrow Michael xx)

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Good Intentions

We did our first weekly shop of '08 today and I did feel very proud of our trolley whilst walking around Tesco - 23 out of the 43 items were from the fresh fruit 'n' veg section. Hopefully we'll start purchasing more of this produce from a local farm but today it just wasn't viable.

On top of all our fresh fruit and veg we bought two lots of fish and some chicken breasts. And the rest was all healthy & wholesome breads, milk, pasta, lentils & teabags etc.!

It's a start anyway. Now we have to use it all up.

Tonight I made a courgette & dill soup (for dinner tomorrow & a batch to be frozen) and then I made some Herb Crusted Tuna served with green beans & tagliatelle. It was really delicious and light.

Herb Crusted Tuna
2 fresh Tuna steaks
1 tablespoon chopped of each - dill, parsley & spring onion
1 tomato (pips discarded, skin chopped up)
1 tablespoon low-fat fromage frais
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
30g brown breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 190°c

Rinse & pat dry the tuna steaks. Put them on a baking tray (I put them on a sheet of tin foil too) and season with salt & pepper.

Next, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl & then spoon this on top of each tuna steak.
Cook for 20 minutes & serve (I put the water on to boil for the beans & pasta at this point and then put the pasta & beans into the water at the 10 minute mark & it was all pretty much ready at the same time).

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Three Chimneys

For Christmas I bought my mum & dad a recipe book called The Three Chimneys, Recipes & Reflections from the Isle of Skye's World Famous Restaurant. Hubby & I came across the beautiful book when we were in the Spey Larder, Aberlour. My mum & dad where in the shop at the same time so we didn't get long to look through it, but we instinctively knew (well, we hoped) it would make a great present.

To go with the book, I decided to make their recipe for Scottish Shortbread as an extra present and I am soooooooo glad I did. After trying to make vanilla shortbread a while back from a BBC GoodFood recipe which was nothing short of disappointing (they were vanilla biscuits, not shortbread). This new recipe was nothing short of fabulous. I think the main difference was that T3C recipe called for rice flour.

Now two days before Christmas (yes, it was a Sunday too), in a Tesco Extra the size of, erm, something very large with two floors I didn't think this would cause me too much of a problem. After failing on my first visit, Hubby reluctantly came back with me after I got home & found out rice flour is gluten free. Disappointingly I still couldn't find any. So we drove to Sainsbury's. Nope, no rice flour. So we tried the larger Sainsbury's - that had closed 5 minutes before we arrived. Gah.

Christmas Eve arrived and I was in work but Hubby had a list of things that we still needed to get so he tried a smaller (not small) Tesco in Chester & found me a packet of all that is light and crumbly, rice flour.

I made 3 trays full of biscuits on Christmas Eve and threw away a lot of dough. Everyone who tasted the biscuit the next day were very complimentary, even though they were made with Danish butter! A few biscuits were more golden than the others but here is a couple of wee photos...
My mum & dad seemed very happy with their new cookbook and after leafing through, my dad decided to tackle T3C famous Marmalade Pudding (which even has it's own club) on New Years Day. It was simply fantastic...
I'd love to visit T3C restaurant one day soon and if we were ever to have a few hundred pounds to spare it would to be great to spend a night. Another thing to add to my A girl can dream To Do list!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

The New Year

Happy New Year to you all

As the Zutons sing 'this is just a night in the city of culture'. Well it is now. 2008 is finely upon us. For some it may just be another year but for us up here in the Northwest it is a date that has been slowly dawning for nearly 5 years - I even remember hearing the announcement that Liverpool had won the badge for '08 on Radio Merseyside! I digress...

Anyway, ever since the announcement, the construction world in Liverpool has gone crazy mad. The skyline shows the splendid waterfront interspersed with huge cranes. Liverpool One is well on its way to being opened in the Spring. It should be great with lots of new shops & I believe a new flagship store for John Lewis!

As you probably already know we don't live in the City of Culture but we do have a rather grand view from our flat & it was here that we welcomed in the New Year. Despite being told that there were no fireworks display for the Capital of Culture, there was a service at the Catholic Cathedral & at midnight they did have some lovely fireworks - together with a lit up 2008 sign. As we weren't expecting any, we didn't have the camera ready but here are a couple of pics we managed to get...
So, its the new year and that means lots of resolutions. Here are a couple of foodie ones I'd like to share:
  • Cook new recipes more often - try something new each week
  • Eat more healthy foods - we are hoping to sort out a weekly veggie box
  • Eat at Simon Rimmers restaurant

I hope 2008 is a good year for you all.