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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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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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Favourite ingredient – black (beluga) lentils

13 Nov
Black lentils on a white plate

Presumably, they're called beluga lentils because they look like beluga caviar.

Black lentils. It doesn’t sound great, does it? You’ll be surprised. These pulses are fabulously flavourful, an attractive dark colour and surprisingly versatile. I’m a little obsessed with them at the moment. They are aromatic, with hints of cinnamon and cloves. I imagine that they are good for all kinds of things, and like them in an easy dinner-for-two salad. Recipe below.

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The most seasonal restaurant in Edinburgh?

9 Nov

Many restaurants proclaim they use local, seasonal ingredients. I think I have found the most seasonal restaurant in Edinburgh.

The Atrium Edinburgh - Neil Forbes gathering ingredients

Neil Forbes gathering ingredients

Picture this. I am standing in the Atrium kitchen salivating as dish after dish of prime seasonal food is lovingly prepared: Organic chicken with cep and tarragon cream, Borders roe deer with red cabbage, plum and cinnamon; beef with a sticky unctuous gravy, roasted roots and buttery mash: Isle of Lewis Scallops, Stornoway black pudding and puree of Lewis’ apples (he’s the Maitre D). The atmosphere is calm. Staff coming on shift have checked out the ingredients and cooking methods for tonight’s dishes in case the diners quiz them. The pot washer is rattling into an alarmingly high pile of dishes. A huge stock pot is being fed with roasted bones, trimmings and vegetables and set on to cook for about 12 hours. Continue reading

Seafood at Ondine Restaurant Edinburgh

30 Aug
Shellfish at Ondine

Shellfish at Ondine

It’s always a bit of a challenge eating out during the festival.  You’re either trying to work out whether you can fit a decent meal in between shows or are reluctant to try somewhere as it will be overwhelmed with all the visitors in town. We ended up with a booking at a very precise 5:45 pm as the table had to be back at 7:15. Having  just seen the Korean show Chef (think kung fu mixed with beat box) we were ready for a delicious meal. Continue reading

What’s in season – July

28 Jul

It’s always great to know what’s in season when your planning what to cook or what to eat in restaurants. How many times have you seen the phrase we focus on seasonal local food and you get parma ham and chocolate cheesecake on the menu?

This list is not exhaustive, it’ll just give you an idea of what to look for, and to avoid oddities such as asparagus from Peru when it was in season here (guess which big supermarket that was). No apologies for including some fruit from Europe such as apricots. You can even get Scottish cherries from Edinburgh’s farmers’ market currently!

Home grown yellow tomatoes

Home grown yellow tomatoes

Fruit and Vegetables

Apricots,artichokes, beetroot (look for the yellow ones), beans (broad, french and runners), chard, courgettes, cherries, fennel, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, peas, mange out, peppers, red and black currants, sweetcorn, tomatoes (many different varieties at the markets).

Meat and Fish

Brill, organic or free range chicken, pork, halibut, lamb, langoustines, pilchards, plaice, queenie (small) scallops, wild salmon.

Savouring 21212 Edinburgh

23 May

Mr EF and I celebrated our anniversary at 21212 in Edinburgh last evening.

The food is really quite unlike anything else we’d tasted before. We’ve become used to having finely judged separate flavours melding together to create a delicious dish, but here the dish is the sum of its ingredients.

The name of the restaurant explains the composition of the menu, you choose between two dishes for the first course, the whole table has the second and so on. Mr EF and I decided to have one of each then swap over: not the easiest thing to do, to give your dish away when you are enjoying it so much! The dish pictured below is described as:

Slow baked baby halibut with an assiette of aubergine, tomato, garlic, a little ragout of apple, pistachio and currants, celery, white asparagus, onion and saffron, very fresh garden chives (look out to the back garden).

I didn’t take to the decor or design. It’s a curious mix of 60s graphics and Georgian elegance, and some of the staff wear peculiar brown pinafores. But hey, does that matter?

The staff are, well, sassy. Very knowledgeable about the dishes and ingredients, much more “forward” than you might be used to in a restaurant. Great at adapting the amount of help (or not) that a guest might want. Refreshing.

The kitchen is open to view. We enjoyed the huddling that seemed to take every so often as up to 6 chefs joined together to assemble the elements of a dish. Every so often we would look up see Paul Kitching languidly leaning on a counter keeping careful eye on the proceedings.

Would we eat there again? Yes. Certainly it is quirky – we loved the cow jugs full of “milk, coconut and porridge” served as a pre-dessert but it is so much more. You really should “Discover the Taste”.

Slow baked baby halibut