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Archive for September, 2012

20120927-194946.jpgI was looking through the pictures on my phone and realised Ive been storing up a raft of food snaps that Ive taken whilst out and about over the last month or so. So I’m doing something useful with them and mentioning a few foodie spots around Edinburgh (and beyond) that I would recommend as worth a visit.

The most recent (Im going back to front here) treat was a candle lit dinner for two at Steak.

At last.

I have been dying for an excuse to get there and it didnt disappoint one bit. This picture of my pretty and delicious smoked salmon mousse (with cucumber jelly and beetroot), was the only semi-usable image I remembered to take before I got completely side tracked by my Black Isle Ribeye steak with Bearnaise sauce and buttered greens that followed… nom. Oh, and then on top of all that I had rhubarb crème brulee which was equally nom. Sorry, the camera had been completely discarded by then so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Before my dinner at Steak, I had the luck of being invited to the relaunch of the new menu at The Old Bell restaurant on the south side of town.

My highlight of the evening was this dish which consisted of clams with borlotti beans and herbs, in a very delicate white wine and garlic sauce. I don’t know why now that I’ve tried it, but I would never have thought to serve beans as a side to clams in this way and it was so simple but full of flavour at the same time.

I have been thinking about it ever since and trying to remember each element so I can try to recreate it at home. I like food that makes you jealous because you wish you had invented it yourself.

Now, before the steak… and the clams… I had some damn good ice cream.

B. Janetta’s Italian gelato from their little shop in St Andrews. I’m sorry to betray the gelaterias in my own city but I havent been in one in Edinburgh that has the volume and creativity of flavours you can find in this one (if there are any Gelateria owners currently reading this who think I have just missed out on your shop I would be more than happy to be proved wrong and find that I have something better on my doorstep so please feel free to correct me should you feel I am doing you a disservice).

I chose buttered pecan ice cream which would have been delicious just on its own but I went OTT and had it topped with caramel crunch pieces and toffee sauce.

See what I mean?

20120927-195157.jpgLast but absolutely not least, I managed to get round to another foodie event Ive been managing to miss out every month due to a combination of bad timing and a slow trigger finger (the tickets are gone within minutes of being released).

I finally went to Burgher Burger! The three course menu for BB9 started with this bowl of freshly made miso soup full of crunchy veg and zingy ginger. It might seem odd that I’ve mentioned the soup first when the whole thing is about the burger but it made me realise the miso soup I have tried in the past was frankly, rubbish. I wish someone had given me this one the first time I tried it. Unfortunately the lovely mood lighting also meant it was too dark by mains to capture my beautiful handmade burger with mushroom ketchup and parmesan crisp but all I’m saying is that tickets for BB10 are being released tomorrow and I will be hovering over my keyboard with trigger finger at the ready.

Take my ticket and you’re dead! ♥

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My favourite books to read while I’m on holiday are written by chefs about their lives, using a mixture of narrative and recipes to tell the story. I can actually quite happily read a normal cookbook like a novel but I’d have to bring a small library to keep me busy for two weeks so these keep me occupied a little longer and give me a few recipe ideas if I happen to need them.

My latest read is Dear Francesca by Mary Contini, the co-owner of the famous Italian delicatessen Valvona & Crolla. Its addressed to her daughter, telling the story of their family and how they came to Edinburgh from Italy. Strangely its the first one of her books Ive read but I loved it and Ive been plowing my way through the recipes since I got back home. There are some benefits to the Scottish climate… its cold enough to eat soup!

Besides a freezer full of soup, I finally got around to trying tomato risotto. I thought Nonna Marietta’s risotto al pomodoro was a pretty good recipe to start with. I intended originally to stick to the recipe but I had some mature scottish cheddar in the fridge and thought it would be an interesting alternative to Mary’s suggestion of adding chunks of fontina to the finished dish which melt into stringy pockets as they sit in the risotto. I thought since the book combines dishes from both countries, I wouldn’t be frowned upon by the author if she knew what I was up to.

The experiment didn’t disappoint and I am imagining all kinds of variations on my normal risotto recipes that I want to try with different base flavours and cheeses. This could turn into a very fattening winter (yes in case you are still telling yourself summer might turn up before we hit snow again, I hate to break it to you…its not coming).

Tomato Risotto with Smoked Pancetta and Mature Cheddar

I’ve written out Mary’s recipe with only a couple of small tweaks as I couldnt find a copy on the net but I wholly recommend you buy her book yourself so that you get the Italian mothering and instruction that my version is lacking.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 75g butter
  • 1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g smoked pancetta (the original recipe uses 200g but with the cheddar the smoked pancetta is very rich so a little less pares it back a bit)
  • 200g risotto rice (I normally use 100g per person due to a paranoid fear of having too little but Mary’s original recipe uses 300g to serve 4)
  • 200g Italian plum tomatoes, sieved (half a 400g tin)
  • about 1-1.25 litre hot chicken stock (1 litre is enough for 200g rice)
  • a handful of cubed mature cheddar

Heat the oil and 50g of the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. Sauté the pancetta a little and then add the rice and stir around to let it toast. Add the sieved tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Slowly start to stir in the stock, one ladle at a time. Stir everything and cook for about 20 minutes. When the rice is cooked stir in the remaining butter and divide between two bowls. Sprinkle over the cheddar cubes and gently push them into the rice so that they melt. You could also garnish with fresh herbs such as basil.

Serious comfort food! ♥

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This is a very quick update to my last post about Cocoa Boutique.

I completely forgot to add a link to their monthly competition, which enters you into a draw to be a taster – you get free chocolates, and in return you score them as you would if you were a permanent member. I can safely say its good fun, requires barely any effort on your part and frankly… you would have to be a bit weird not to want free chocolate.

So it would be remiss of me not to share the opportunity.

http://www.cocoaboutique.com/free-chocolates

And if that plan doesnt work there’s also an introductory offer on the paying membership (£9.95 instead of £34.95) if you click here.

Right I’m starting to sound like a salesperson so enough of that. Recipes to feature again soon I promise.

Happy Tuesday! ♥

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