Monday, 30 July 2012

What's for Dinner Vol 1. Part 2: Leftovers

With a big plate of savoury mince leftover from last night I needed to think of what to do with it.

All wet dishes (casseroles, curries etc) taste so much better the day after, so I wanted to do something interesting, and didn't want to just heat it up on toast.

Inspired by a mix of enchilada and an old Eastern European recipe my uncle used to make, I stopped into the shop on the way home and picked up some cabbage, soured cream and grated cheese.

So, basically the theory was going to be using the mince as a stuffing in cabbage leaves, (could easily be done in pasta sheets a la canelloni or in tortillas a la enchiladas) topped with tomatoes and cheese and served with guac and soured cream.

After preheating the oven, I pealed some of the soft leaves of a savoy cabbage and began to create cigars using the mince as a filling.

I realised at this point, canned tomatoes or a pasta sauce would have been perfect, but my favourite part of cooking is thinking outside the box, so I decided to just cut up some of my beautifully ripe mixed tomatoes from M&S, and a hearty splash of Tobasco.

I love these colours.

Then voila, bung him in the oven with a couple of handfuls of cheese. I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella. 
  Twenty five minutes later (and just in time for Come Dine With Me)...

So I plated up, with a side of leftover guac from last night and a generous dollop of soured cream.

I really can't explain how tasty this was. It was a beautiful mix of flavours with the meaty savoury mince whose flavours had intensified several times over in just one night. The cooling cream and guac against the heat of the chili and tobasco and the stewed veg and wonderul flavours of the roasted tomatoes.

I'm trying to really focus on being gluten free at the moment, and I'm really excited with the creations I'm coming up with.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

What's for Dinner Vol 1. Savoury Mince

Today I did my very irregularly spaced weekly shop (which can incidently be anywhere between every couple of days and month-to-month) at M&S. I think M&S have the best quality produce you can find in central Edinburgh (apart from the Farmer's Markets) and I really don't think their prices are too bad.

So loaded up with fresh fruit and veg and some reduced-to-clear mince, I headed home, had a glass of wine and started on Dinner. NB Jacobs Creek Sav Blanc is horrible- thus the reason I am typing this and not sloshed right now!

I thought a savoury mince would be good, so I cut up a bunch of spring onion, shallots and garlic, and sauteed with rapeseed oil. Once translucent, I added the mince and browned.

To flavour I added chili flakes, curry powder, a beef stock cube, dried mixed herbs, salt, pepper and tomato paste.

To this I added a truckload of diced veg- beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, and peas, and added a splash of wine and some water, and let simmer.

As it cooked I tasted and it needed something a bit bold in it so I added Vegemite. Don't be grossed out, it's a yeast extract, and commonly used in Oz to flavour casseroles et al. I also added a good spoonful of dijon mustard and pepper jelly.

Then a little more simmering and that was done.

I was going to serve it with rice, but I am really bad at cooking rice- like one of 2 things I have never mastered in the kitchen- perfect rice, and cracking eggs without getting shell in the pan/bowl.

So whilst still deciding, I decided to do a wee guacamole to go with it. Guacs are so easy... spring onions, tomatoes, mayo, salt, pepper, lemon and a touch of tobasco, moosh together- done.

Then I figured out what to have with the chili. Inspired by my old Aitkins' Diet days (completely carb free- don't do it, it'll turn you bonkers), I remembered omelette noodles, which is basically an omelette cut into fine, tortellini-esque noodle strips.

Gluten-free, tasty amazingness.

I do have to say, I love Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals, but this meal took me about 20 and that's a good 10 mins more than I usually ever spend on a meal. It was also tastier than many of the take-outs I have had recently, and healthier. Fast healthy meals are really doable, and not to mention cheap. The Farmfoods/Iceland shopping lifestyle over here is so very sad I think. I wish people could realise this, and stop living out of their freezers and get into fresh food.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Italian Lunch- Vittoria

 Miss K has been trying to get back to Vittoria on leith walk since her last visit, I had seen her pics and was more than happy to accompany her.

As soon as we were seated in a lovely outside table, I boldly ordered us a pitcher of Cosmopolitans. Tart and tangy, a perfect aparatif.

The menu was truly inspired, with a huge selection of Italian favourites. It was a very vast menu, with around 5 pages of selection to choose from. Fortunately I was in a very decisive mood and made my selections.

For a starter I chose mussels done in tomato and garlic.

Now, since I have been over here, my love for mussels has never feigned, every time I have had them they have been lovely in white wine and cream, so I was interested to see what they'd be like done differently. They were heavenly, more gutsy than the usual cream base, great quality mussels too.

 For main, I was taken with the veal, topped with parma ham and mozzarella with sauteed potatos. This was a beautifully rustic dish. Aesthetically I just wanted to put it all in my mouth, and fast.

The sauteed potatos were incredible, so beautifully flavoured. So soft in the middle and perfectly al dente on the edges.

The side veggies were a masterpiece: Cooked and seasoned to perfection.
 The veal looked amazing, though just too overcooked. This could have been one of the nicest lunches I had ever tried, but that one small fact that the meat was dry was such a shame.

 For dessert, a wee scoop of pistachio ice cream. Unfortunately it had ice crystals through it. Otherwise it would have been fine. Another disappointing thing that happened with dessert is K and I ordered 3 scoops to share (and ordering 3 scoops in one bowl is cheaper than ordering a bowl with 1 scoop and a bowl with 2). We mentioned to the waiter that we were intending to share, and very politely he asked if we'd prefer separate bowls, and we thought that was very sweet. However, when we got the bill, we had been charged as two desserts.
My ice cream and Ameretto.

Overall, this was a really nice experience though, I think it has the potential to be great. It is not a cheap place to eat, so great is what I'd really hope to get next time. There will be a next time, and I look forward to seeing how they go.

Posh Fish and Chips

 When I checked the weather forecast and I saw sunny, I knew I was going to head to the beach.
Miss K and I got in the car and headed to North Berwick, just outside of Edinburgh for some fresh air, sun, fish and chips and shopping.

 First and foremost on our minds was lunch. My housemate had recommended the Lobster Shack on the Harbour, but as we were headed there we passed a restaurant called the Rocketeer which had a great looking menu, and outdoor tables. (Also owned by the same company)
 So our drinks arrived in plastic cups, which I thought was gorgeous and gave us an idea of what we could expect- that is, traditional fish and chips in a restaurant setting.
 Miss K and I ordered the same thing, prawn and crab cocktail, and half a lobster with garlic and herb butter with chips and salad..
 We had them all come out at the same time, and they all looked divine. I love the cardboard box. The lobster meat was ever-so-slightly overcooked in the tail, but the meat in the claw was melt in the mouth.

The chips were genuinely tasty, really home-made, potato-y flavour! The salad was lovely too, no iceberg lettuce in sight (a real pet hate of mine).

 The cocktail was fantastic! A tonne of prawn and crab meat. Lovely velvety Marie Rose sauce. You just can't beat a prawn cocktail, in my humble opinion.

 He was so tasty, and good looking.

Regarding the service at the Rocketeer. Well, not entirely impressed. The lass serving looked either bothered or flustered the whole time. I was appauled when we were waiting to get the bill, and noticed she excused herself from a table ordering to answer her phone. Busy or no- that's not okay, there's causal dining, then there is sloppy service.

After lunch we got an S.Luca ice cream from the van on the beach. It was my first taste of a Luca ice cream, and it was sensational. Starwberry ice cream that tasted like strawberries, tasted home made even. My new favourite discovery.

The weather was sensational, and North Berwick was a really lovely town to wander around. If only we had more sunny days up here in Scotland, I could really get used to beach days!

Monday, 23 July 2012


I didn't do a great deal of eating on my recent trip to Yorkshire.

I focused mostly on Pickering and Whitby to catch up with some great friends I met at Download Festival back in June, but I did have an incredible time.

It really was a beautiful part of the world, and I really miss it already. I'm sure it was as much for the folk I was there with as the actual location.

There is nothing quite as amazing as being brought a huge plate of Chili a couple of drinks into a big session.
This particular batch I could smell brewing all morning, and it was spectacular. Thanks Mr J d'A.

I caught a steamtrain on the Moors Railway and tried some of the chocolates that I won at a raffle, well they were: amaziiinnggggg! It felt so ye olde country trip eating handmade chocolates on a steamtrain to the sea side.

Whitby was a lovely town, I was recommended by L and J d'A, and I'm so happy I discovered it. It is the setting for Bram Stokers Dracula, and it was so charming.

For dinner I ate in the hotel I was staying in, and it was a real surprise at how good it was. Starter of scallops with salsa verde. Cooked to absolute perfection, with a lovely tangy salsa and delicious salad.

 Being in a wee coastal town I had to have fish and chips, and again, such a surprise to have such great quality. Really light batter, lovely hand-cut chips and crushed peas.

 Whitby from the hotel window showing the abbey and the beach that Dracula's boat landed at (above) and (below) Whitby Abbey.

Back in Pickering I located the chocolatier which made the beautiful chocolates I had earlier and I was blown away with the Cakes in the window.

 And then I found pickled eggs, I honestly didn't think pickled eggs were a real thing, well maybe once but not anymore. I had to try...
What can I say- it takes very much like a boiled egg, with a very strong after taste of vinegar. But I can say now that I have tried one.

And that was my trip to Yorkshire. Can't wait to go back.