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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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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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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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Father Christmas here’s our cookbook wishlist

29 Nov
Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver

Cookbooks by Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver

I love that delicious anticipation of discovering a new cookbook. The pictures look wonderful, the recipes sound delicious, you can’t wait to get started.

But I get ahead of myself, there’s the all important step of acquiring the cookbook. Yesterday, I was in a bookshop and got chatting to a few people all of whom were looking very unsure exactly what they were doing there. They needed help.

There’s also the cook who’d like to discover something different – maybe try cooking they enjoyed so much in a restaurant. I needed suggestions from people who know cookbooks, have gazed and drooled over them and of course enjoy cooking!  So, with the help of many Twitter followers (thank you everyone!) and a couple of local chefs, here is what WE want for Christmas.  And to make it easy for you, I’ve created an Amazon list with all of those (bar one) listed.  I am currently stumped with the Martin Wishart cookbook, it seems to be out of print!

We’re a pretty adventurous lot with eclectic tastes which makes this list so enjoyable. Please feel free to add some more – there are bound to be some must-have books that should be there.

Chef Recommends

Neil Forbes at the Atrium restaurant: Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer
Craig Wood at the Wee Restaurant, Queensferry – Martin Wishart’s cookbook

For beginners/basics

Ainsley Harriott – Just Five Ingredients
Jamie Oliver – Meals in 30 minutes
Jame Oliver –  Naked Chef

Simply Inspirational

Rene Redzepi Noma

Two from Thomas Keller The French Laundry Cookbook and Adhoc at Home

The Ottolenghi Cookbook and Plenty

For the baker

The Handmade Loaf from @dan_lepard

The Great British Book of Baking featuring @bakersbunny @pinkwhisk @theboywhobakes

Peter Reinhart Artisan Breads Everyday

Scottish

Sue Lawrence – Scottish Kitchen
F.Marian McNeill  Scot’s Kitchen
Nick Paul – The Scottish Farmer’s Market Cookbook

Exotic

Thai Street Food This has to be the largest cookbook I’ve every seen – challenging to find somewhere to put it whilst you’re cooking from it!

India Cookbook –  Imagine a 1000 recipes to dip into.

Anissa Helou – Modern Mezze

Silvena Rowe – Purple citrus and sweet perfume

Madhur JaffreyCurry Easy

Thomasina Myers – Mexican Food

Comfort Food

Nigel Slater –  Tender  – books I and II
Nigella Lawson – Recipes from the Heart of the Home

The Silver Spoon

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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What’s in season? November

19 Nov

 

Hand dived scallops

Hand dived scallops

We’re really into Winter mode now the clocks have gone back. The weather seems to have deteriorated too. All the more reason to cook hearty soups and stews and glory in the fruits still available. I was surprised to see blueberries on sale this last weekend, but they really were Scottish! The other delight was to see a pack of Scottish chilis from Scotherbs – these have proved to be delicious.

 

Fruit and Vegetables

Fennel; beetroot; Broccoli, Dirty carrots; butternut squash; Leeks, Onions, Spinach; Swiss chard, Parsnips, russet apples (and many more types), Wild Mushrooms, pears, ceps (last few). And from further afield, truffles, some amazing large juicy pineapples and cranberries

Meat and Fish

Crab, Scallops, plaice (very reasonably priced), Lobster,  Squid, Mallard, Chicken,  Beef, Pork , Turbot

Recipe

Spiced berries

This is a really quick dessert. It can be made from any combination of berries you might have in the freezer or indeed a packet of frozen fruit is fine. It’s also worth freezing a bag of cranberries if you spot some.

Equal quantities of blackberries, redcurrants, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries – you’ll need about 100 grams per person.

1 stick of cinnamon (about 4 cm long)

4 cloves

4 green cardamoms (lightly squashed)

100 grams of sugar (brown or white) – you might need more depending on the fruit you used.

Method

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook slowly until the juices run. If you are using cranberries, make sure they have softened, these usually take longest to cook. Remove the spices and add more sugar if very tart.