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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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Quick bites … Ruthven’s at the Dean Gallery

17 Jan

QUICK BITES …

Ruthven’s is something of an Edinburgh institution it dates back to 1983. Before the museum closed for refurbishment, their restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery was a favourite lunch places for me.

Now part of Heritage Portfolio, Ruthven’s continue to operate a “scratch” kitchen ( everything cooked from scratch), at various venues including the Gallery of Modern Art and the  Dean Gallery. (Non-art lovers can be easily bribed by the prospect of tea).

Cafe Newton, Dean Gallery

Cafe Newton, Dean Gallery

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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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App solutely gluten free recipes?

29 Dec

You might be thinking of trying gluten-free foods or you may have been diagnosed as intolerant to gluten. I am sure you’ve found already how many staples have wheat in them. Trying to create  tasty alternatives to some of the items found in the free-from aisles will quickly seem a must.

Recently, one of my weekend guests needed to avoid all wheat. How best to tackle his requirements? Rather than purchase a special recipe book, I decided to dip into Phil Vickery‘s Gluten Free cooking app.

I love browsing through cookery books, I also use recipes from online sources but this was my first attempt at using a recipe App. I am not sure whether all Apps are so counter-intuitive (please do let me know)? Also, I am not particularly tidy when cooking, you can tell the recipes I cook from regularly – they are often rather splattered. So, using my iPhone was going to be tricky (and sticky)!

Gluten free bread

Gluten free bread

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Spice up with saffron – Lussekatter

19 Dec

As regular readers know, we have a strong Swedish thread through the blog (not least due to co-author Caroline being Swedish). Back in October, I spent a few hours in the Peters’ Yard bakery – a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to meet the man behind their fabulous recipes Jan Hedh was in Edinburgh to talk about his new book Swedish Breads and Pastries which I recommend for the serious baker.

Now, I know you are all frantically busy, but you might just want to try this recipe when you have some time. Easier still, pop into the bakery and try them.

You’ll need to set the raisins to soak a few hours in advance. Saffron is best used in moderation, you might just want to use a few strands the first time you make the recipe.

Jan Hedh’s Saffron Buns/Lussekatter

(makes 20 buns)

Saffron Buns (s-shaped buns on the right of the picture). Courtesy of Peters' Yard
Saffron Buns (on the right)

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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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