Sunday, 29 April 2012

Brunch: Gardener's Cottage popup restaurant at Edinburgh Farmers' Markets

Miss K has had some truly splendid gastro-ideas lately. One of her top one's was booking us places as Gardener's Cottage popup restaurant at Edinburgh Farmers' Markets.

We had both read up about what this was all about, and the very quick rundown is this: 2 acclaimed chefs who are soon to be opening a restaurant in Edinburgh have been doing a popup dining affair in the outdoor Farmers' Markets on Edinburgh's Castle Terrace.

To read a bit more, have a click on here.

By some magical twist of fate, the weather Gods were feeling generous, and offered us sun for the first time in weeks!

We made for the markets and were taken aback my how gorgeous the table looked, standing majestically in the centre of the markets. Folk walking past, curiously looking to see what the fuss was about, it all felt a bit VIP really.

We were shown to our seats and offered blankets for our legs. Coffee was poured for us, and we were run through the menu, which was pretzel and Virgin Mary to start and smoked haddock with wilted spinach and poached eggs to follow.

We were informed that the Virgin Marys were made with Isle of White tomatoes and were unlike any Mary I had ever tried before, virgin or otherwise.  It was zingy-fresh, with the fresh tomatoes coming through first and foremost.

 The pretzel was a trip straight back to Germany, salty and crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside: served with butter and (for those who opted for it) locally produced Jam, I tasted the Jam and it was out of this world... like grown up candy!

 It was wonderful watching out hosts preparing our food before our very eyes.

 And our light, refreshing yet bold and refined breakfast. Firstly, the idea of fish for breakfast (brunch) took me a little while to get my head around, til I realised that I have indeed had smoked salmon with scrambles many a time.

The poached eggs were ever so slightly overdone, but apart from that it was a lovely breakfast.

The apple juice was also produced locally and was also really nice, and the waitress was wonderfully observant when it came to making sure out coffee cups were always full.

A suggested £10 donation was all that was required to be a part of this last-of-its-kind event. Quite a a shame about that, but quite looking forward to the gent's restaurant opening.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Kyloe: Food that is ridiculously good looking.

For a leisurely ladies lunch today Miss K suggested Kyloe, I had been there before for dinner and it took almost no convincing for me to agree to go again. Miss K, Miss L and I met out the front and headed in.

They have a lunch special of 2 courses for £10, which is incredible value!

We arrived without a reservation at 1, and were shown to a table.

The decor is just as warm and welcoming as I remember and the views are even prettier in the daytime.

We studied the Two for Ten menu but were all tempted back to the a la carte , for big manly steaks.

As lunching ladies do, we chatted and chatted, and I must give full compliments to the very patient waitress for kindly waiting for us as we took our time to make our drink and lunch choices.

Cranberry Juice with fresh lime... it was a booze-free lunch today
Eventually, I decided on the Oysters, au naturalle, K went for the Duck Rilettes and L the Ceviche of Sea Bream.

The oysters were super fresh, and were... pretty big, kinda. Oh I've been far to spoilt with oysters in my life, I won't lie, if they are any smaller than a man-sized thumb I get a little disappointed. The flavour however was lovely. Served with half a lemon and red wine shallot vinegar. I tried some of the vinegar but it wasn't to my liking so I stuck to my usual, cracked black pepper and lemon juice.

L said her cerviche (marinated fish) salad was very refreshing, and K offered me some of her duck rillette, which is kind of like a more-textured pate... a little... and we both found it very delicious. The wait staff were more than happy to bring more toasted bread to finish it off.

Our very meaty steak lunch: For me 45day aged Rump 400gm (all steaks came with standard sides of roasted tomatoes and leaf salad) done rare with bearnaise sauce, skirley mash and onion rings. The girls also had steaks, K done 'very blue' and L medium rare; sauces of peppercorn and bearnaise respectively, with shoestring fries for both and creamed spinach for K.

We all ordered the beef dripping chips. I especially was looking forward to giving them another try, but we were informed they were all out. This was very disappointing for all of us.

 What a stunning plate. These colours are fantastic. I think the meat was a perfect size (for me) the salad and tomatoes were a nice albeit different side. But I don't think there was anywhere near enough sauce for the £2 price tag. I guesstimate there was around 50mL of sauce in total. Fortunately, my mash was very creamy, so I didn't miss the lashings of sauce I'm used to- too much.

 For me, this is a perfect rare. As I have learned more about the preparing and cooking of steak I have lost all of my preconceptions regarding 'puddles of blood' on the plate, I now know that with a good resting all of those juices stay in the meat which makes for a juicer piece of meat.
There were 3 big chunks of in-edible fat in my steak. I never know how to feel about this. I know the benefits that fat offers a cut of meat, but I suppose it all ends in... 'but I want to eat ALL of it'.

 These little devils were the star of the show.  More like a crispy donut than an onion ring, the batter was so very light, with a shattering crunch which almost lead me to squeal with excitement. Definately made up for the lack of dripping chips.
I really do like this restaurant. I think the service is spot on, the atmosphere is the perfect balance of comfortable steak house and top class restaurant, I would feel as comfortable in ripped jeans and sneakers as I would a formal gown. The food on both occasions had been pure class.

 I must say, I am really happy that I've found a place so close to home that just makes me feel so confident of a great steak, a great meal, really an occasion- not just a feed.

Kitchen Geekery

I'm so excited....

My prawn cocktail made it into the Kitchen Geekery photo gallery.

Click here to see it.

I really enjoy this blog/site, worth a look.
My other favourite blog, and the inspiration behind this blog is The Food Pornographer. She is Australian, and I love checking in for a little taste of home.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

What I learnt from River Cottage, or Fish for Tea!

I had the most gorgeous dinner tonight. After my big burger lunch I felt like something light for dinner.

I had a couple of fillets of cod in the fridge, and really thought I'd end up making a fish pie with them, but I didn't have any white sauce mix and didn't feel like the gluginess of a flour-based sauce. Then I remembered back to a River Cottage episode I saw where Hugh showed everyone how easy it was to cook fish at home.

In essence, get a chunk of fish, add some flavours, wrap in foil, and throw in the oven. And that is precisely what I did: With spring onions, flat leaf parsley, finely chopped garlic and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

While waiting for the fish to cook, I decided to char some courgette, which I did on a griddle pan, with just a touch of oil and freshly cracked pepper. (see also my post from 3 days ago).

 And to fill out the meal, and to use up some pre-cooked rice I had leftover from casserole night, I whipped up a very fast fried rice.

Garlic and onion sauteed... finely chopped mushrooms and tiny broccoli florettes, flavoured with oyster sauce, a squeeze of lime (which incidentally I overdid and had to try to take away the tartness using) a tiny blob of sweet chili sauce.   I also made made a little side sauce of mayo, parsley, lime juice and chili flakes.

 Here's the fish, after twenty mins at 180 deg.

And here is the final product! The fish turned out just perfect, flaky and moist, though next time I think I will season it with salt before baking it. The courgette, well it's just become one of my favourite sides. And the rice was very tasty.

The mayo was one to remember, I think it would make a lovely accompaniment to many things, boiled tatties, chips, just on the side of most plates, I would think.

Whats on my plate: casserole, quiche

 What else has been on my plate this week?

Well... I have noticed on all of my favourite cooking shows, a surge of slow cooked meals being presented (possibly due to the fact the UK is in recession again?), and this inspired me to make a lovely slow cooked beef casserole.

I was brought up on casseroles, goulashes, stroganoff, basically, slow cooked, cheap cuts of meat that are served with a starch (rice, pasta or potato, or even just fresh bread to dunk) that develop the most extraordinarily deep, complex and warming flavours.

'Wet-dishes' have always been my forte. Both cooking and eating.

These dishes are really simple to make, and really are a dish you can make with whatever you have laying around.

I started with onion, garlic and celery which I sauteed. (Normally carrots would go in as well -a standard soup base.)

While waiting I quickly marinated the 450gm stewing beef in olive oil, Tabasco and oyster sauce.

When the onions go translucent,  I added the beef to the pan to brown.

Once sealed, I added approx 300mL red wine, and about 300mL of boiling water mixed with 2 beef stock cubes. Also added about 5 roughly chopped mushrooms. Reduce the heat right down, and walk away.

There are 2 things to remember with slow cooked foods... 1: the longer the better... serious. A minimum... MINIMUM of 3 hours cooking time.... but six, eight or even twelve hours cooking will make deeper flavours and more succulent meat. 2: taste, taste, taste (although this should be true with all cooking.)

Stir once every 30-45 mins. About 2 hours into the cook, I tasted, added dried mixed herbs, a diced very ripe tomato, 1 diced red pepper and another 4 big mushrooms. And allowed to bubble again.

After around three and a half hours I put on a boil-in-bag rice and chopped some parsley then served.

 The meat was sooooooooooo tender, the flavours were intense and deep. I served with a big blob of natural yoghurt, which I find is really refreshing with a thick rich casserole.

 Also for lunch this week. A sainsburys quiche and easy green salad with mayo. Light and tasty!

Food Art Construction

 Sometimes I think food is absolutely beautiful, art even. I decided to photograph my beef bagel burger as I made it, and I think it has come out quite Warhol-esque.

Then I made a wee animation of it.
Beautiful. I love this!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Three Dinners in One

Saturday night: Barbeque Pork Ribs and Salad.

As I have chosen the 'quiet life' (for the moment anyway), the highlight of any particular night is dinner (and Come Dine With Me, reading Game Of Thrones et al). I had my Sainsburys delivery due for Sunday, but had to pop out to get something yum for Saturday Night In.

As I waited for the ready made ribs to cook in the oven I prepared my starter: the very retro, prawn cocktail. I LOVE prawn cocktails! I get quite narky when I see celebrity chefs bemused at people presenting prawn cocktails as a starter. Yes, it's simple, yes it's easy, but it WORKS!

My cocktail or Marie Rose sauce, I have been making since I can remember: full egg mayo, tomato sauce, Tobasco, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Today I also added spring onions and flat leaf parsley for a bit of extra zing.

The prawns were pre-packaged from the supermarket freezer. But as I have found (and mentioned before) I'm yet to find a good prawn over here- these ones actually turned out not too bad. I was surprised that on the packaging they didn't mention the country of origin, and I looked really hard.

I plated the prawns on a bed of mixed leaves and topped with the Marie Rose.

The very simple, but ridiculously tasty main of barbeque pork ribs and pre-made Italian salad, was exactly that: put the salad on my plate, took the ribs out of the oven and put them all on the plate.

Ready made ribs are fantastic, always so moist and tender. I just love them. The ready made Italian salad, well, it was about as Italian as nachos, or sashimi. Mixed greens, cherry tomato and red peppers, no dressing included. Fortunately I had some broccolini and snap peas,and dressed it with extra virgin, balsamic and lemon juice.

Sunday Night: Steak!

The Sainsburys delivery was due for between 7pm and 8pm, and I was starving by 5 but didn't want to ruin my appetite.

Unfortunately for me, Mr Sainsburys driver couldn't find my street, and didn't get to mine till right on 8pm... I was famished. Luckily steak only takes a few minutes to cook.

Tonight: rump, crushed potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and a white wine and cream sauce with mushroom and diced celery.
I hate that there are brown bits on the broccoli, I cut them off before eating.

The steak was beaaauuuttiiffuuuuullll! The potatoes which were 'Sainsburys Roasting Potatoes' were so fluffy, like really fluffy. When I need to eat fast, I cube the tatties to maybe 1-1.5cm squared, they only take about 5-7 minutes to boil, once I drain them I throw them back into the pan on the hob and evaporate any remaining moisture, and get some nice crumbly edges and brown crunchy bits.

The sauce was diced celery and mushroom sauteed, then 50/50 cream and philly cream cheese finished with flat leaf parsley.

Monday: Char-Griddled Veg with Guacamole and Thai Curry Pumpkin Mash.

If you've had a read through my blog you'll notice that as much as I love meat, and I LOVE meat, I am not adverse to a bit of veg, actually my veg cravings can come on quite hard and fast. Tonight I had one of these pangs for veg.

 I cut courgette (zuccini), red pepper (capsicum), celery, mushroom, and placed them on a really hot, oiled griddle pan and allowed them to char slightly.

The guacamole was avocado, diced tomato (runny, seedy bits removed), spring onion, Tabasco, lemon-salt and about a teaspoon of philly, mashed together and seasoned with pepper.

I had some 2cm cubes of squash (pumpkin) boiling away, and when they were done, I drained, added a teaspoon of thai green curry paste, a big blob of butter and mashed.

Then arranged all on the plate with flat leaf parsley.

The vegetables were so lovely and sweet, and with every mouthful you could combine different flavours the peppers with the squash was divine.

The squash mash would make an incredible dip to serve with crackers.

I just can't get over the stuning colours in the veg. Veggie dishes make me really happy.