The sea in a pot – Mussel Inn, Edinburgh

5 Feb
Mussel shells. I eat too quickly to photograph my dinner sometimes.

Mussel shells. I eat too quickly to photograph my dinner sometimes.

I was reminded of how much I enjoy oysters when I tasted some lovely plump ones from AnCuig Seafoods at the Scottish Food show last week. So when it was suggested that we go to Mussel Inn for dinner Friday night I knew immediately what my starter would be. The Mussel Inn isn’t one of the places that AnCuig supplies, and I’m not going to discuss the relative values of oysters, but I will wax lyrical over a meal of molluscs. Ah, a beautiful thing, the mollusc, when fresh, sea-scented and accompanied by a clean white wine.

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Just seaweed? No, an essential ingredient

2 Feb

Several friends have mentioned their love of seaweed recently  – one vegetarian loves it for its delicious taste of the sea without compromising his principles!  I love eating samphire, and am keen to try cooking with seaweed. So I thought I’d start by getting in touch with Iain McKellar of Just Seaweed to find out more about this overlooked ingredient.

Iain McKellar  Just Seaweed

Iain McKellar from Just Seaweed

Iain lives on the Isle of Bute. He explains  “The Isle of Bute and the sea inspire me.  I set up Just Seaweed so I could stay on this wonderful island. It’s wonderful to be able to make a living from the shore and work with nature. Continue reading

Quick tipples: Hollow’s Ginger Beer

30 Jan

I am a huge fan of Fentiman’s beverages. At the Speciality Food Show in Glasgow recently, I was very excited to see two new bottles on the Fentiman’s stand their new tonic (better than any other I have tasted) and Ginger Beer marketed under the name of John Hollows. Due to licencing laws, I was unable to sample the Ginger Beer at the show. But Andrew at  Vino Wines came to the rescue. I popped into their rather classy store in Morningside to pick up a bottle.

Real Ginger Beer

Real Ginger Beer

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Vanessa Kimbell’s lovely caraway and parmesan muffins pass the test

26 Jan
Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Vanessa Kimbell put out a call to the food blogger community recently, asking for willing testers for the recipes in her next book, Prepped!. The concept is unique: every recipe leads to another one, linked by a flavour. Linked recipes are sensible and educational but also inspirational. When every recipe you cook leads onto another one, even the timid cook will begin to see how dishes link and how ingredients or entire recipes can be re-purposed or redressed. And since the focus is on cooking when you haven’t got much time, these recipes offer near immediate satisfaction. I look forward to seeing the final book when it comes out in June. In the meantime, I’ll be eating caraway and parmesan muffins.

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Quick bites: The Dogs surf and turf?

24 Jan

Perfect for a leisurely lunch, the Dogs is a firm favourite. Their delightfully short menu has a new edition: Musselburgh Pie – perhaps one of the original surf and turf recipes?

The Dogs, Edinburgh

The Dogs, Edinburgh

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Rapeseed oil: Mellow, subtle, nutty, smooth, fresh

20 Jan

I was lucky enough to dine at Mark Hix‘s restaurant in London recently. His passion for sourcing local ingredients for each and every dish and drink is extraordinary!  For us home cooks though, some ingredients are just plain difficult to replace and up until fairly recently, I would have suggested olive oil was one of them.

Rapeseed

Rapeseed

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Favourite gadget: silicone muffin cases

18 Jan
Corn muffins in ever so clever and bright silicon cases

Corn muffins in ever so clever and bright silicone cases

Silicone bakeware is great. It is easy to clean, comes in bright colours, stored away small, is light-weight and is non-stick. Pretty and easy to use.

I recently bought a bunch of muffin cases in the Habitat sale and find myself making muffins every second day. To have a good reason to make muffins, I’ve been experimenting with egg and dairy free corn muffins. Corn muffins because I love American corn bread. Egg and dairy free so that my vegetarian, dairy sensitive and currently detoxing live-in can have some too. (Hush. Don’t mention the sugar.) The recipe below yields six to eight moist corn muffins with a good chilli warmth. They go well with soup and make an easy breakfast for lazy people, like me. They are a fast way to make a tasty snack. Should you, like e rucola, have decided to spend a week eating only what you yourself have cooked, pack these when you go out.

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