Tag Archives: fish

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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What’s in Season – January 2011

14 Jan

It a  time of year when we need those jaded palates revived – not too easy at the moment!

I’m thinking hearty soups and slow cooked stews, lovely fresh fish with delicate sauces … Do seek out some seasonal produce whether you’re cooking or eating out!

A big thank you to Archie from Earthy for his round up on What’s in Season.

Meat and Fish

The game season is largely coming to an end and some bargains are to be had. If you have some room in your freezer stock up now! Get along to your local fish shop and try something new. If you’ve not seen it, catch up on Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Big Fish Fight.

Dabs, sole, mussels, wild duck, partridge, rabbit, hare, pork, beef, lamb.

Fruit and Vegetables

Pear Souffle

Pear Soufflés

Archie’s update:

What to Eat

As we draw ever closer to the ‘hunger gap’ those bleak weeks of late February & early March when nothing is sprouting yet & stores fruit & veg are almost totally depleted it is essential to celebrate the last hurrah of local veggie goodness before the joyous outpourings of spring. Despite the snow (which has knocked favourites like Cauliflower and Shallots from our local list to the continental one) there is plenty of hearty fresh veg in Scottish fields and  the shelves of Earthy right now. Some of it takes a bit work, but always gives back in flavour & goodness more than you have to put in.

In Season and Available Locally

Carrots – Look for dirty carrots since they keep better (the dirt holds in the moisture & stops them drying out). That said we do wash our rainbow carrots – a mix of purple, white and orange – since they are too pretty not to. We just make sure to sell them fast!

Kale – Often referred to as a superfood, kale is loaded with vitamins & minerals. Go fusion and shed it through a stir fry in the place of pak choi or look out for the soft leaved variety ‘Cavolo Nero’ and fry in olive oil & garlic for a classic Italian side.

Perpetual Spinach – Pretty much the last leaf of the year, it needs cooked but along with ricotta it makes one of the world’s great vegetarian lasagnes.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – The snow has delayed its arrival, but it will be here by the end of the month. My favourite brassica is a versatile beast, but I always come back to just dipping it in some Hollandaise or tonetta (a paste of tuna, oil, capers & onion)

Turnips/Swede – As we come up to Burns Night, must I really suggest what to partner your Neeps with?

Brussel Sprouts – Still going strong, get a bit more adventurous with your sprouts post-Christmas. Think of them as baby cabbages and let your imagination take you.

Parsnips – Roasted parsnips are an absolute joy. If you find them a little tough at this time of year, just cut out the core and they will soften beautifully.

Celeriac – A fellow Earthling put me on to Celeriac Schnitzel which is a total taste revelation. They knock potato croquettes into a cocked-hat.

Cabbages – Lots of varieties but look out for Savoy and January King – Savoys are practically built for bad weather so look out for some really beauties. Lucskos Kaposzta an Eastern European pork and cabbage stew makes it the star of the show.

Thank you Archie!

Do try this Pear Souffle recipe from Rick Stein – really easy!

In season and available from the UK

Chicory, Cauliflower, Jerusalem Artichokes, Shallots, Salsify, Chestnuts/Cobnuts, Apples. Pears

Fruit from abroad

Look out for Seville oranges. Not just for marmalade, these are wonderful in savoury sauces. Look out for lychees, pomegranates and blood oranges too.




Open 7 days a week 9-7 weekdays, 9-6 on Saturday and 10-6 on Sunday.

Twitter: @earthyfoods

Earthy Food Market
33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace
Edinburgh EH9 1SX

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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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

What’s in season? October

11 Oct


October produce at Edinburgh's Farmers' Market

October produce at Edinburgh's Farmers' Market


It’s autumn, but still warm. We’ve the tail end of the summer produce (those with greenhouses are probably still picking peppers and tomatoes) and some new autumnal favourites inspiring me to make soup and simmer long cooked stews. I’m also really enjoying the figs from Turkey and contemplating how to make the most of a gift of quinces.

Fruit and Vegetables

Fennel (baby and full size); Beetroots; Broccoli, Dirty carrots (always the best, they keep so much longer); squashes in all shapes and sizes; Leeks, Pumpkins, Onions, Spinach; Swiss chard, Parsnips, Quinces, Wild Mushrooms, Figs, plums, pears.

Meat and Fish

Crab, Sole (Dover, Lemon), Lobster,  Squid, Mallard, Goose, Guinea Fowl, Chicken, Veal, Beef,


Poached figs

This is so easy, quick and delicious (adapted from a Waitrose recipe)


Poached Figs

Poached Figs


Serves 2

4 large figs (just wash gently, no other preparation needed)
1 orange juice extracted and zest grated
100 grams soft brown or demerara sugar
4 cardamon pods crushed
300 ml water
Greaseproof or non-stick paper

Find a saucepan that the figs fit snugly into. You do not want it to be too big as they will not stay immersed during cooking.

Put everything except the figs into the saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the gas so it is just bubbling. When the sugar has dissolved, put the figs into the liquid.
Bring back to a good simmer (lots of bubbles, not boiling).

Place a circle of greaseproof paper over the figs to ensure they stay mostly under the water.

Cook until soft. This will depend on how ripe your figs are – mine took about 10 minutes -they should be soft to the touch.

Remove the figs to the bowl you’ll eat from and boil the syrup to reduce it by half. Cover the figs with the sauce and add ice cream or cream.

Selling seafood on the seashore – The King’s Wark, Edinburgh

21 Sep
Smoked hake with brown prawn butter on black pudding and mashed potato. It's a mouthful.

Smoked hake with brown prawn butter on black pudding and mashed potato. It's a mouthful.

We’re so close to the sea that you would expect good seafood in Edinburgh. And you can certainly get it, from fancy restaurants in town to the pubs on the shore of Leith, seafood and fish are ubiquitous. Last weekend I took a leisurely walk down to Leith and visited three of the bar-cum-restaurants down there, finally eating in the King’s Wark.

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A Swedish favourite: crayfish party at Joseph Pearce, Edinburgh

31 Aug
Green dill, red crayfish and golden snaps. Life is good.

Green dill, red crayfish and golden snaps. Life is good.

Crayfish. Some countries go mad for these little critters. They are eaten all over the world but they are eaten with particular fervour and ceremony in Sweden. The Swedes  lure crayfish out of the murky waters they favour to pop them into boiling dill-flavoured liquor and transform them from brown-black wall flowers to bright red belles of the ball. It is my immense pleasure to announce that a traditional crayfish party can now be experienced in Edinburgh.

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The Peat Inn at Foodies at the Festival

26 Aug
Geoffrey Smeddle of the Peat Inn

Geoffrey Smeddle of the Peat Inn

Foodies at the Festival Part 2

What would you say are the perfect elements of a good cookery demonstration?

I’d suggest the following:

  • Articulate presenter
  • Passionate about their craft
  • A sense of humour
  • Engages with the audience
  • Is entertaining
  • and of course most importantly, cooks delicious food.

Geoffrey Smeddle of the Peat Inn in Cupar is self-deprecating and very down to earth and most worthy of his Michelin star. He is obviously passionate about seeking out the best local suppliers. (Mr EF and I were all for driving to his restaurant straight away). We were delighted to have secured a ticket to watch his demonstration at the festival and were in for a real treat. The audience (many of whom had been to his restaurant) hung on every word …

Geoffrey cooked a wonderful dish of halibut and heritage tomatoes in tomato essence. I was lucky enough to try a little at the end: intense, tomato-y heavenly goodness.  Those of you who have the Foodies at the Festival Brochure will have the full recipe but I thought I’d share the tomato essence with you here using the notes we took as he cooked as they are a little different to the printed version.

It’s really important to find ripe tomatoes – J M Craig at the Edinburgh Farmers’ market sell ones for soup which are ideal. Add some of their Claree variety cherry toms, and the mixture will be perfect!

Preparing the tomato essence

Preparing the tomato essence

Tomato Essence (for 2)

  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 large soup tomatoes
  • 10 gr fresh basil and coriander torn roughly
  • 1/2 tsp each of black peppercorns and fennel
  • Strip of orange zest
  • Pinch of salt and sugar
  • 100 ml water

Make the essence at least a day before you need to use it.

Chop up the tomatoes, place in a metal bowl with the remaining ingredients. Stir well then crush slightly with a potato masher. Cover tightly with cling film and leave in a warm place. Geoffrey explained that he puts the bowl above his cooker which warms the mixture. We tried the airing cupboard, then the greenhouse as the sun was shining. Leave for about 8 hours.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Now either line with a tea towel, or put a  jelly bag into the bowl. Put the tomato mixture into the sieve or the bag if you are using it. Using a plate or other suitable item, place a weight on top of the tomato mixture and leave to press overnight. Transfer the juices into a clean container and set aside until needed.  To use gently reheat.

The essence was served in a soup bowl with slices of  heritage tomatoes, olives and torn coriander and basil with lightly cooked halibut.

Tomato Essence

Tomato Essence

He told the story of where he was when he heard about his Michelin star – in Our Dynamic Earth eating a cheese and tomato sandwich. Somehow that anecdote summed up the man.

Seafish Grants: How creative could we be?

12 Aug
Fresh Fish

Fresh Fish

This news intrigued me, the Seafish authority is looking for innovative ideas to apply for funds from the 2011 Seafish Project Fund of up to £1million. They are “particularly interested in applications for grants that cover seafood marketing and consumer communication, or those that promote the nutritional benefits of seafood”.

Now, setting aside the interesting amount of money available when there are government cuts bandied about everywhere, I was wondering how creative us foodies could be and get involved.  How would you promote our wonderful seafood in Scotland? Or indeed seafish in the UK? It seems to suggest that anyone can apply!

Initial thoughts:

  • Schools programme – ideal opportunity for education on nutrition, environment, ecology, cooking, budgeting …
  • Social media campaigns to promote sales, awareness, recipes etc.
  • Appearance at local events on a regular basis (why are Seafish featuring events in Hong Kong on their site?)
  • Work with restaurants to source all fish from marine stewardship approved sources –
  • Set up new supply chains
  • Appoint a well-known ambassador for Seafish – food critic, blogger, chef??
  • Hands on sessions on how to cook fish

Just a few to get going, I’ll add more as I think of them. Let me know what you think and let’s make it happen!

You can’t get everything right every time – Hotel du Vin

11 Jun
A boiled crab, before being dressed

This guy needs to get dressed at Hotel du Vin

We met in the courtyard for a refreshing glass of something (beer for the men, white Alsace wine for the women) but were forced in to the whisky snug by inclement weather. The whisky snug is a warm and comfortable bar, with cozy sofas and armchairs. Here, we were overcome by hunger and asked for the bar and a la carte menus.

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