Monday, 28 April 2008


There are some days when you return home from work and wish you'd never bothered crawling out from under your duvet that morning in the first place. These are the days when I most crave something really reassuring - food which means home. Today was such a day.

This age of food-obsession has brought about the availability of so many different types of produce, and thank goodness for that. It is always with some disbelief then that I scan the shelves when buying fresh herbs. Parsley, basil, coriander, rosemary, mint, chives. Thyme and dill if you're lucky. And whilst I am delighted to be able to buy these in abundance, where's the tarragon, marjoram, sorrel, lovage, lemon verbena? I live for the day when I walk into a supermarket and find chervil. And so it was with pleasant surprise that I found fresh oregano and lemon thyme on my latest trip to the supermarket. Not the rarest of herbs, granted, but a nice change from the usual suspects.

So dinner this evening was free-range organic turkey roasted with lemon thyme, garlic and lemon. There is something about the taste of lemon and garlic with poultry which is so comforting. I once had the misfortune of working with someone (who will remain nameless), who delivered to me an astonishing diatribe about the over-use of lemon in cookery, and particularly with chicken. 'Lemon is for putting in gin and tonic, and nothing else' was his insightful offering. It is worth noting that this individual had the esteemed title of 'Creative Director' and professed to have a love of food. What a creative attitude indeed.

My need for solace found me reaching for the enormous bulb of fennel which was languishing in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. To me, there are fewer foods which offer the essential comfort factor I was seeking this evening. Gently baked until tender and sweet, this delicately scented bulb is my nursery food.

Simply cut into wedges before being laid in an oven proof dish and drizzled with olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar and and sprinkle of Maldon sea salt, it also ticked the fuss-free box. After half an hour in a 180 degree oven, I spooned over the top tomatoes which had been cut into chunks and scattered with oregano before the obligitory slug of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and a stir. Back into the oven for 5 minutes or so, and it was ready.

Delicious, comforting, homely food. My spirits are restored.


Thank you to Alex and Rowan who gave me this tiny little tomato plant which they cultivated from seed. I have been entrusted with it's growth in the hope that it will bear fruit. They have planted a veritable jungle of fruit, vegetables and flowers in their garden, and in my distinct absence of an actual garden it's nice to have a tiny wee pseudo one.

I can not tell you how excited I am at the prospect of eating something I (well, Alex and Rowan really) have grown. You will be noted of any sign of development.

Sunday, 27 April 2008


The best thing about going for a nice long run on a Sunday - and in the scorching heat at that (in EDINBURGH!) - is the stuffing of your face afterwards.

Miso, soba noodles, smoked tofu, all the vegetables I could find, red bird's eye chilli and a sprinkling of sushi nori for good measure. A hefty slug of Kikkoman soy sauce and it's all set. Marvellous.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


I don't know if it's common for new food bloggers to desperately cram three pretty unrelated stories into one but here we are.

Despite being assured by weather experts that it's a lovely day everywhere in the country, this morning in Edinburgh it's bleak, grey and drizzling. To be honest there's a wee part of me who secretly likes it when it's like this because I can happily potter around in the kitchen for hours without a shred of guilty conscience about missing the sunshine outside (and rest assured this happens quite frequently in Edinburgh). So to compensate for the lack of summer, I decided to create some of my own in the way of a Campari Sorbet from Puddings, Cakes and Ice Creams, a River Cafe Pocket Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

After making a sublime Calvados-soaked Raisin ice cream (thank you Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) by hand at Christmas, I was given an ice cream maker as a gift. It's a cheap and cheerful number which is great for those impulsive moments when only homemade ice cream will do. It doesn't quite take it to the point of frozen enough to scoop, but rather takes it to a point where it resembles softly whipped cream. I'm happy with that though because I have to admit to really quite enjoying the process of making ice creams and sorbets entirely by hand, complete with repetitive trips to the freezer for the obligitory breaking up of ice crystals. It feels more like I made it that way, and adds to the general feel of alchemy which is such an essential part of cooking. Anyway, the point is the ice cream maker comes in particularly useful when making sorbet as it takes it to a lovely slushy point before going in the freezer.

This sorbet would be perfect as a palate cleanser after a heavy meal, or as a refreshing respite on a hot summer's day. If like me, you love the bitterness of Campari and the cold iciness of sorbet, you'll love this.

CAMPARI SORBET from Puddings, Cakes and Ice Creams by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Serves 10

200ml Campari
1 litre grapefruit juice
400g caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 2 oranges

Whisk together the grapefruit juice and sugar. Add the Campari and the lemon and orange juice.

Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen, or freeze in a suitable container.

It would appear to be de rigueur amongst food bloggers to lay bare the contents of their fridges. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my fascination of what other people eat. I have to confess to having a surreptitious nosey in friends fridges when I am visiting. Well, not always so surreptitious to be honest but to be fair they tend to just let me get on with it. I think this must be the food-lovers equivalent of looking in peoples medicine cabinets.

So here goes:

From the top:

jar tahini
jar kalamata olives (in olive oil)
jar cornichons
Cauldron organic beech smoked tofu
undyed smoked haddock
tupperware full of ground coffee
fresh parmesan (what's left of it)
organic free range eggs
Total Greek yoghurt (mmmmm)
pot of Activia youghurt with prunes
President unsalted butter
2 cans of Red Bull
goose fat
free range turkey breast steaks
Italian sausages
bottle Sauternes
bottle Tokaji Aszu (best dessert wine ever mmmmm)
purple sprouting broccoli
chestnut mushrooms
raw beetroot
tomatoes on the vine
2 cucumbers
fresh oregano
fresh lemon thyme
large fennel
little gem lettuce
3 courgettes
birds eye chillies
balloon shallots
red onions
shed loads of garlic
fresh ginger
tube of tomato puree
assorted nail varnish (keeps them nice and runny)
jar Bonne Maman blueberry preserve
jar green fig conserve
jar rhubarb and ginger conserve
Marmite with Guinness (love it)
illy ground decaf coffee
coconut block
jar beetroot and horseradish relish
jar red harissa (mmm)
jar Maille Dijon mustard
jar capers
jar jalapenos
jar lime pickle
HP sauce (of course)
Heinz tomato ketchup
bottle organic ginger cordial
bottle S.Pellegrino
organic milk (semi-skimmed)


Incidentally, I love a good sticky beak in other peoples trolleys too. I especially have a morbid fascination with the trolley of the exasperated woman with three screaming children and a trolley full of biscuits, frozen Findus Crispy Pancakes and the obligitory 8 litre bottles of brightly coloured fizzy pop.

And speaking of fizzy pop, I saw these pictures in yesterday's press of 1,500 students in Belgium simultaneously dropping Mentos into bottles of Coke, creating so called 'Mentos Fountains'.

Who knew?


Bit of an ominous start to a so-called food blog, but not to worry. I love to cook. I cook A LOT. And I bake too. So when my friend had her Mum to stay (the lovely Sue) and had us all round for dinner I suggested I'd make dessert. I'd been eyeing up a chocolate-tart-topped-with-soft-meringue recipe in Sainsburys Magazine (bored, in a queue at the till, you pick it up to pass the time and before you know it you've bought it) and decided this would be the perfect excuse.

4 hours, 5 packets of shortbread, 900g of 80% cocoa solids chocolate and what felt like several gallons of cream later, I managed to create said chocolate-tart-topped-with-soft-meringue. No thanks to the recipe. Rather than bore you with the many reasons why this has now become my Chocolate-Tart-Topped-With-Soft-Meringue Nightmare Story, I'll say this - to the nice lady who wrote the recipe: I don't believe that you wrote this and tested your methodology...

Lesson learned from this episode: always follow your instincts. You're usually right (honest). It was pretty tasty though.

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