Archive by Author

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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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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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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The joys and pains of specialist cafés

7 Jan
Sometimes, all you want is a good cup of coffee (or tea) and a bit of quiet.

Sometimes, all you want is a good cup of coffee (or tea) and a bit of quiet.

There are so many cafés in Edinburgh now that to compete, cafés have to become centres of excellence, specialists in one thing or another. Some are specialists in coffee. Others are specialists in something else: books, chocolate or bread, for example. Or tea. The tea house is a relatively recent addition to the Edinburgh scene and since they all serve coffee, offer hot beverages and cake I count them in the café family.

Some specialist cafés make their specialism work for them and some fail to wow you. Why is that?

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Absolutely the dog’s! – Seadogs, Edinburgh

21 Dec
Going to The Dogs. But first, Seadogs.

Going to The Dogs. But first, Seadogs.

Seadogs is a fish restaurant in the popular and successful Dogs chain. The Dogs, the first in the series, offers amazing rustic dishes based on cheap and unusual cuts. It was so popular that they opened Amore Dogs, an Italian version of the original concept. The latest restaurant focuses on fish. I went there for pre-Christmas cheer with a couple of friends a positively balmy if snowy evening in December.

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Who lives there? Making a gingerbread house

15 Dec
Three houses, waiting for a lick of icing. And a sweet or two.

Three houses, waiting for a lick of icing. And a sweet or two.

The ultimate Christmas decoration to me isn’t a Christmas tree but a gingerbread house. I remember listening outside the kitchen as a child while my mother swore and burned herself on the caramel used to put the house together. As soon as she was finished, the caramel hardened and her hands wrapped in towels and ice, it was my turn. My turn to make the gingerbread house mine with sticky icing and colourful sweets.

I’ve only made one gingerbread house since I came to Scotland but that was a corker of a house. Ever so pretty, it was. This year, rather missing the practice, I invited friends to join me. Here are our creations and a recipe so you can make your own.

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Cooking and eating – Anthony Bourdain style

9 Dec
Read all about it! Snapshot from http://www.anthonybourdain.net/

Read all about it! Snapshot from http://www.anthonybourdain.net/

When I’m not eating or writing, I’m likely to be reading. Recently, I decided to read not just about food but about cooking and eating. I started with Anthony Bourdain‘s Kitchen Confidential and so enjoyed it that I soon after read the sequel, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. Essentially, they form the first and second part of an autobiography but they are very different books. Much has happened to Bourdain in the time between the first was published and he started writing the second.

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Favourite gadget – Chinese cleaver

2 Dec
A girl and her cleaver. A magical moment.

A girl and her cleaver. A magical moment.

Did I mention that it was my birthday? I did, didn’t I? Well, another of the great gifts I got was this great cleaver. A knife is a cook’s best friend and a good cleaver is brilliant for all your chopping and crushing needs. For many years I had a favourite cleaver, one that my mum bought from a highly entertaining street vendor as part of a complete set of kitchen knives, super-sharp and very cheap. The cleaver and I made friends immediately. Such a handy blade, with complete clearance for the knuckles. The edge perfect for chopping and the side if the cleaver perfect for crushing. But that, the cleaver of my youth, was, as I realised years later when I wrapped it in newspaper, stuck it in my hold luggage and imported it to Scotland, was really quite flimsy and insubstantial. I stopped using it, eventually, feeling let down that it didn’t measure up to my memory of it.

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A flavour thesaurus – definitely a good idea

22 Nov
The sides and back of Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus

Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus is a pleasure to handle and to read.

It was my birthday recently. And for my birthday I got many wonderful presents, some of which you will hear about later. Today, I want to spread the word about a wonderful book. Not only is it pretty, it is also funny, inspiring and ingenious. There are no recipes, as such, but there are ideas aplenty. I’m talking about Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus.

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Flowers and starch – making Turkish delight

18 Nov
Turkish delight. Home made, no less.

Turkish delight. Home made, no less.

I was in Nargile for a slap-up feast in June. At the end of a meal, when we were all fit to burst, the temptress waitress brought in a small plate of Turkish delight with the bill. It was fabulous and I ate several pieces. I was reminded that good Turkish delight is a beautiful thing that I wanted to learn how to make. I’m talking about the original, gelatin-free version. It makes a nice gift and is my sweetheart’s favourite candy. So I scoured the Internet for instructions and set out to learn how to make perfect delight. Here is what I learned.

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