Thursday, 25 December 2008

pinot noir for lunch

pinot noir for lunch
Originally uploaded by silamuta
this is the wine we had with our christmas lunch today which was superb. further blog will explain all. hope you are all having a nice break from work etc. take care
kel and mel xxx

Sunday, 7 December 2008

dotori finsbury park

I met mel in The Crown pub on friday (work drink thang) which was heaving and not particularly enjoyable. We were also not in the mood to deal with Piccadilly circus and surrounding environment at that time so we hot footed it back up north to our patch. I had spied a Korean/Japanese place a few days earlier near Finsbury Park station and knowing that mel loves sushi we decided to give it a go. Research told me that Dotori had been open since the summer and seemed to be doing quite well for itself thank you very much despite its slightly dodgy location in Finsbury Park. On entering it looked busy and we overhead the one and only waitress say that people were having to share tables. I had already clocked a couple of "bar" seats by the street window so we asked for those. Drinks and menus came quickly enough and the choice looked good. The place was clearly crying out for more wait staff even tho it seemed like there was a random guy who came of the kitchen to serve food and take orders. Anyhoo we placed our orders and waited. I plumped for the variety of dumplings as a starter and Mel ordered the Agedashi tofu which is cubes of tofu fried in dashi (broth). Both very good, no complaints. Mel commented on that even tho fried tofu was a simple dish very often a lot of people do it wrong. In this case tho it was all good. Next up was the salmon, eel and tuna nigiri for mel and I ordered strips of beef served with soba noodles and vegetables. Red wine was also orderd which came slightly chilled. Mel's nigiri came fairly quickly and was quickly gobbled. Mel reckoned it was pretty fresh. I tried a piece and had to agree. No complaints there. However, I was still waiting for my strips of beef. And I waited and I waited. Mel had also ordered a spider crab roll which came and went while my strips of beef still eluded me. Okay enough was enough. I turned around and gave the struggling waitress one of my most pissed off looks and within seconds she produced another plate of on the house dumplings to apologise for the wait for the beef. The chef had clearly forgotton about it and they apologised. Fair enough. It arrived fairly soon after but I was pretty full after scoffing the extra dumplings so perhaps I didnt enjoy it as much as I could have. Despite the slow service we enjoyed the food and the experience and would definately try it again. The bill came to £43 which is pretty decent considering we had a beer and 2 glasses of wine each. Check it out!

Dotori Stroud Green Road Finsbury Park London, N4 2DF

Thursday, 4 December 2008

our wordle

I like to read wendys blog which can be found here A wee bit of cooking
I was well impressed with her wordle so i did one too. see above. kewl huh? if you would like to do one too go here

the noble stroud green n4

I walked to finsbury park station last nite with our good friend julia (fellow crouch end inhabitant) in order to meet mel off the train. julia and mel wanted to talk shop so a drinkie was in order somewhere. there is a glut of places on crouch hill and on the way to and from finsbury park and crouch end and i had already eyed the noble. anywhere that advertises tapas will always catch my eye coz im an expert on tapas dammit and i like to give my two penith worth!!! so we went to the noble which can be found at 29 Crouch Hill Stroud Green N4 4AP tel.: 02072817444. First impressions were good. Blackboards advertising mains and wines that they sold by the glass and bottle. We seated ourselves and found the tapa/starter menu there. Prices seemed pretty hefty for a tapa but my hunch was that the portions would be bigger than yer average size spanish when in spain tapa. We ordered 5 which included white bait, duck pate, mezze meat selection, lime and chilli squid and crispy duck. Julia ordered a bottle of the house red which was decent enough and glugged quickly. We didnt have to wait too long for our food and we were suitably impressed. Mel particularly liked the whitebait and duck pate and I was well impressed with the squid and crispy duck. Our only complaint was that on two of the plates the side garnish rocket salad came without some kind of dressing. no excuse there really. Julia mentioned that she had been to this place before and liked it but she reckoned the owner/staff were a little bit too cool for school. When i went up to pay the bill I have to say I got the same impression. Still its a place i would definately check out again. I like the feel of the place; it has great art on the walls which is for sale and the tile effect wallpaper is fab!! They sell deuchars on tap and they have a good reputation for their cocktails. Further research of the place has led me to believe its a bit of a celeb hangout too. Ooooh wonder who ill see next?! (apologies for lack of food pics but i just a got a new phone and im still getting used to the camera on it!!)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Aye, aye, lemon meringue pie

I had lemons, i had eggs and i thought, Mel, it's about time you tried making a lemon meringue pie. Never made one before, ate plenty and have fond memories of sitting in tacky new jersey diners watching them in the rotating cake display case. I don't know, until now lemon meringue pies have been something that somebody else makes. I just never thought to do it myself.

This particular pie was meant to make 8 individual pielets, but i don't yet have a set of individual tart tins (see i don't really have EVERYTHING in the kitchen yet). Instead i made one big pie, and well, being the piggies we are, kels and i finished this off in 2 days -- that's 2 portions x 2 days. Yup, that good.

This recipe is courtesy of one of last year's issues of
Olive Magazine.

Lemon meringue pie

For the pastry:
125g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
75g unsalted butter,diced and chilled
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

For the lemon curd:
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
75g unsalted butter, diced
100g caster sugar
2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar

  1. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and 2 tsp cold water, add to the pastry mix and pulse until it comes together. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface, lightly knead then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

  2. Dust the work surface with fiour and roll out each piece to thickness of a £1 coin. Carefully press the pastry into a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin and prick the base with a fork. Chill for 5 minutes.

  3. Heat the oven to 180C/160C/gas mark 4. Line the pastry case with a square of foil and baking beans or rice. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden.

  4. To make the lemon curd, beat the eggs and egg yolk together in a heatproof bowl. Add the butter, caster sugar and lemon juice. Put the bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir until the mixture reaches the consistency of very thick custard. Take off the heat, strain into a clean bowl and add the lemon zest. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with clingfilm then cool. Fill each pastry case with lemon curd and chill for 20 minutes.

  5. Turn up the oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas mark 8. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, beating, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Fill a piping bag with the meringue and pipe a generous swirl of meringue over the lemon curd (or just spoon it on top). Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the meringue is tinged golden brown at the edges. Cool before serving.

Monday, 24 November 2008

California sunshine in Crouchend?

We're all moved in, and the first week of the new job is history now. What better way to celebrate than an exploratory venture into the as yet undiscovered delights that our new hood offers.

Yesterday was sleety, gray, cold cold cold but still we made the three block trek to Pick more daisies. From the outside, and from the website it sounded like it could be a ray of sunshine on an otherwise bleak autumn day. What else does 'california cafe' make you think of?

When we got there at half eleven the place was packed and we resigned ourselves to an estimated 20 minute wait. Never mind, the seats were facing the open plan kitchen and I got to see the nimble chefs in action. I don't really know why, but the thing that always catches my eye is the various food containers that are used for mise in kitchens. I love to see what they prep beforehand and how it's stored. I don't know why?

Less than 20 minutes later we were seated in the front area and had a good look thru the menu. In addition to the breakfast offers there's a variety of other things on offer throughout the day. But breakfast was on the brain so we ordered.

Kelsie had freshly squeezed orange juice, and banana hotcakes. I had a cappuccino and huevos rancheros. Kelsie found the pancakes good, but (of course) not as good as mine. They were a bit dense, and she had to add lots of maple syrup to counteract the density. Remind me to post my banana pancake recipe. I swear it turns out the lightest, fluffiest pancakes i've ever had!

The huevos rancheros were a nice alternative to your traditional fry up, but, compared to other huevos rancheros i was a bit disappointed. Mostly i was disappointed by the slightly stale tortilla, which could have easily been revived by either a splash of water and zap in a microwave, or, a super quick toss in a lightly oiled frying pan. The salsa was a bit bland but that was easily counteracted with several dashes of habenero sauce.

All in all, we think we'd probably go back but not any time soon, as there's still so much to explore!

Here's our final ratings:
Atmosphere: 6/10 -- from the front room things seemed less lively than the back room and there was a mean draft from the front door which our host apologised for.
Food: 6.5/10 -- different offerings than your average caff but a bit mediocre in execution.
Service: 10/10 -- our host was really attentive and friendly and our server didn't leave us waiting.

Total score: 22.5/30

Pick More Daisies / 12 crouch end hill london n8 8aa / 020 8340 2288

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


hey all
sorry we havnt posted much since our trip to france and spain but we have been busy getting ready for our move to london. we move next week and we found a fab spot to live in crouch end which is in north london. we already have two good friends who live there and we are looking forward to discovering the width and breadth of all crouch end has to offer.

we have already sampled one or two food places but there are so many more not only in our manor but also in muswell hill, highgate and finsbury park. YUM!! all will be posted dont worry. look out for new posts soon.
take care
mel and kel

Saturday, 27 September 2008

ma langs pancit

day 4 in south west france and ive come down with a cold. i actually didn't feel like eating much today but mels ma had planned on pork pancit for dinner. i didn't know if i would feel like eating it but after a glass of sangria my apetite perked up. pancit is one of those dishes that cures what ails you.kinda like a philipinos version of chicken soup. im still sneezing but at least my belly is full!

A Day of Indulgence in San Sebastian

So we made our annual pilgrimage to the old quarter of San Sebastian for some pinxtos and wine. We've been there several times over the past few years and on each visit seem to discover yet another gastronomic delight. This visit didn't disappoint. We decided to head straight for La Cuchara de San Telmo for the first set of pinxtos. I've read about La Cuchara before and every review has been fantastic. They were right! We started with a couple of beers and order Foie Salteado and a Risotto of goats cheese and mchrooms. The foie was sublime -- just the perfect amount of caramelisation on the outside followed by a rich creamy texture inside. The sauce had a perfect balance of sharpness and sweetness to match the foie. The next set was all pork. Kelsie ordered Costillas de cerdo and I ordered Pork belly. It was called something else in Basque and to be honest I had no idea what i was going to be getting. Both were extremely tender and well flavoured, and I imagine they had been cooking slowly for hours. The pork belly had a lovely crispy skin. In the space of about 30 minutes the bar filled and emptied and filled again, which is when we decided to head to our next destination. Our second stop was at Bar Gandarias. We had been there last year and liked what we had so decided to try it again. This time I had a deep fried piquillo pepper stuffed with cod and Kelsie had a brocheta of lamb. The lamb was a lovely pink inside and had a nice tender texture. At our third stop we had a brocheta of shark and shrimp as well as gratineed scallops. By this time most of the bars had cleared out and we were starting to lose our steam. We finished with strong coffees and Basque cake to give us energy to get back to the train and home. We heart San Sebastian!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Ma's Magret

We arrived at my parents on Wednesday, after stopping off at the local Le Clerc to check out their wine fair (thanks Ian!).
Ma had dinner all prepped -- Magret with boiled potatoes and a green salad with THE BEST home-grown beef tomatoes. I'm talking real tomatoes with real sun flavour. Just like i had growing up and which these days, in Glasgow especially, is so so hard to find.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

clams in france

clams in france
Originally uploaded by silamuta
2nd day in france. and we ventured out to st jean de luz to have lunch. sorry but i dont remember the name of the restaurant but we liked it!!!. we started off with razor clams and marinated anchovies wth a basque beer called eki. to follow we ordered the the belly of tuna with a bottle of the local rose. no complaints. finished off with expresso and gateau basque with cherries. yum. great to be on holidays!!!!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

on food and love

Like Kelsie said, it was our anniversary yesterday. i thought it would be nice to add a wee comment about our relationship and food.
So I first met Kelsie online. I can clearly remember some of our early conversations. We used to ask each other what the other was eating. One time Kelsie said 'tortilla' and at that time i had never heard of or tried spanish tortilla. I thought she was talking about a flour or corn tortilla, which i thought was strange! Another time she told me she was eating 'salad'. Not enough information! I wanted to know to the last detail what was in that salad so that i could imagine eating it with her. I used to take photos of what i was eating and send them to her.
When Kelsie came to visit me in Toronto we decided to make our own ravioli. We didn't have a pasta maker so rolled the dough out by hand. It was, THICK and not very nice, but we both put on brave faces and ate as much as we could.
When i visited her in Aberdeen for the first time we decided to stay in and make risotto. Until this day, making risotto is something best done with the one you love next to you. Cos while you're stirring the rice, you can sip on a glass o wine and whisper sweet nothings to each other.
So much of our relationship has been about our shared love of food. We've introduced each other to new delights and have enjoyed discovering more together.
Love and food. Food and love. What more does a gal need?

pear and blue cheese bruschetta

pear and blue cheese bruschetta
Originally uploaded by silamuta
yesterday (monday 15th sept) mel and i celebrated our two year civil partnership anniversary. even tho it was a work day i didnt want the day to go by without trying out a new recipe in order to celebrate. i had been wanting to try the pear and blue cheese combo for a while so i gave it a go. its fairly easy to do. peel, quarter and slice thinly two pears. melt a knob of butter in a pan and add the pears. add two tblsp of honey and cook on low heat till caramelised. meanwhile toast your bread of choice, sprinkle some oil on top and the slices of blue cheese, grill till cheese melted. add the pears on top and serve with rocket. as we had some smoked mackerel in the fridge i also threw together a pasta mackerel type salad to fill any gaps. all washed down with freixenet cava. mel surprised me with flowers and i surprised her with food and wine. what a team huh!!!

Monday, 8 September 2008

mels sandwich at cafe soure

mel and i decided to have a cultural day on saturday so we checked out the list mag online to find what was happening. we aimed to see a few photography exhibitions that we were showing in glasgow. in between gallaries we stopped off at cafe source at st andrews in the square to grab a bite to eat and a swift half, or two. i plumped for the homemade burger and mel went for the rare sirloin and horseradish sandwich with tomato and rocket. we were both suitably impressed. cafe source has a good selection of ales too and they regularly hold concerts both upstairs in the church and down below in the cafe. check it out if you are in glasgow. oh and some of the exhibits we saw were as follows:

Street Level Photo Works
48 King Street
Glasgow, G1 5QP
Phone: 0141 552 2151

Jo Spence, Self-portraits
An exhibition of images by the British photographer Jo Spence (1934–92) held in Glasgow Museums’ collections. Included are 13 works that were recently gifted from the Jo Spence Memorial Archive in London.

Friday, 5 September 2008

it feels like autumn lasagne

Kelsie was away shooting a music video of our favourtie band Marshan last Saturday. It was, as usual, grey and wet. I thought it would be nice for her to come home to a big plateful of lasagne.

When Kels was in her twenties she went across to New York to be a nanny for a couple on Long Island. The mother was Italian-American and it was at her family gatherings that Kels first got introduced to real Italian-American cooking. She described the first Christmas Eve meal there and the table that was groaning with food. Kels says that the grandmother's lasagne was probably the best thing she's ever tasted. I can only imagine.

Actually here's what i imagine. I imagine the ragu probably cooked for at least 3 days before even being assembled into a lasagne, and that the meat was probably not your standard beef mince that you get at a grocery store. I imagine really good sausage was added as well and that some kind of magic happened over the course of slowly ticking over those 3 days of cooking. Who knows? Kels never got the recipe and so I guess i have figure out the secret of the grandmother's lasagne all by myself.

So the ragu i made last Saturday did NOT tick over for 3 days. I made the ragu early in the afternoon and estimate it was probably cooking for about 4 hours on the stove before being assembled.

I used a recipe from the BBC recipes site which can be found here. And I've recreated it below:

Lasagne by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi from Return to Tuscany

Serves 6-8

For the ragu:
4 tbsp olive oil
4 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig rosemary
700g/1lb 9oz beef mince
340g/12oz pork mince
1 bottle red wine (750ml/26½fl oz)
2 x 400g tins tomatoes, roughly chopped
200ml/7fl oz beef stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the bechamel sauce:
1 litre/1¾ pints whole milk
2 bay leaves
¼ onion
pinch of nutmeg
50g/2oz butter
50g/2oz plain flour

For the lasagne:
14 slices of fresh pasta
3 balls mozzarella, cut into small cubes
small handful grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the celery, carrots and onion for approximately 15 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary.

  2. Add the beef and pork mince and cook until the liquid from the meat has been absorbed.

  3. Pour in approximately 400ml/14fl oz of red wine and stir well. Cook for approximately 45 minutes. (NOTE: I used a whole bottle)

  4. Once the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stock. Leave the mixture uncovered to cook slowly for two hours. Top up with more warm stock if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. (NOTE: I cooked it for an extra hour and definitely added more beef stock.)

  5. To make the bechamel sauce, place the milk in a large non-stick saucepan, add the bay leaves, onion and nutmeg and gently bring to the boil.

  6. In a separate saucepan melt the butter and add the flour. Beat well and cook for two minutes. Remove the milk from the heat and add a little to the flour mixture. Combine well, and when all the milk has been absorbed, add a little more. Continue to do this until all the milk has been added, whisking continually.

  7. Blanch the pasta in salted boiling water for three minutes. Put the bechamel sauce at the bottom of a lasagne dish in a layer, then place some of the pasta strips over the top. Follow this with some of the mozzarella and parmesan, and sprinkle over freshly ground black pepper. Follow with a layer of ragu. Repeat this step twice until all the ingredients have been used up. Dot knobs of butter over the surface and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

smoked mackerel with beetroot salad

it's still raining in glasgow, but that hasn't deterred us from bringing some colour into our lives. there's something about that brilliant fuschia of roasted beetroot that makes me humm. maybe it's the russian roots or maybe it's because it reminds me of manic panic hair colour from the 70s.

this is the kind of meal you can whip up in minutes (provided the beetroot have already been roasted).

Smoked Mackerel with Beetroot Salad
serves 2

3 smoked mackerel fillets
2 medium to large beetroots
spring onions
cherry tomatoes
handful fresh coriander leaves

for the dressing:
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp walnut oil
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste with salt

  1. First roast the beetroot. Preheat the oven to 200C. Wash the beetroot, and trim the ends. Wrap each beetroot tightly in foil and put into the preheated oven. Roast from 50-75 minutes until you can easily pierce the beetroot with a paring knife. Let the beetroot cool while you prepare the dressing.

  2. Put the mashed garlic in a small bowl or jug with the balsamic vinegar. Whisk together. Slowly add the walnut oil while whisking until it's emulsified. Add sugar, pepper and salt to taste. NOTE: at this point i also put on some basmati rice to have along with the fish and salad.

  3. When the beets are cool peel and cut into smallish chunks (about the same size as cherry tomato halves). Add chopped spring onion, halved cherry tomatoes and roughly chopped coriander leaves. Pour over the dressing and combine everything thoroughly.

  4. Heat your grill to high and grill the mackerel fillets for about 3-4 minutes each side.

  5. Serve the mackerel and beetroot salad alonside some steamed rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


Originally uploaded by silamuta
so on a rainy glasgow last friday mel and i booked a table at cafezique. its a place that ive been wanting to go for a little while. its only been open for a few months. the space where its at was formerly occupied by its bigger sister of delizique who has moved up the street a bit. despite the rain that evening the place inside feels bright and welcoming. we were attended to quickly, shown our table, given menus and ordered drinks. bam! the menu looked gooooood. ooh ooh mussels oooh crabcakes and both were on as starters. no worries i was able to order a bigger main crabcake. hoorah!!! mel ordered a green salad that was divine for a starter and sirloin steak for main. she ordered it blue/rare. it came rare but she still liked it. its soo comfortable in cafezique. simple lines, minimal but just enough and quirky touches like the old school blackboard that hosts the menu. the bar is well stocked and wine choice good. great. perfect evening. it reminded us of eating in new york. and thats saying something for a rainy day in glasgow!!!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

dinner with lorna and italian for beginners

Yesterday was a lazy day. Kels and I spent the afternoon in the garden talking about our plans and other musings. We also built a ping pong (i call it ping kong) table of sorts and played a couple of sets.

As the afternoon progressed, so did thoughts of dinner. We kept alternating between barbecue chicken (it was sunny out) and just using what we already have. We decided to go with the latter, and chose Sweet Potato Curry. I found the recipe on the blog Gastronomy Domine that i really enjoy reading. Given that it was a vegetarian dish we thought we'd invite our friend lorna over to share it with us.

For dessert I wanted to keep to the really easy theme so decided to make Eton Mess. Ainsley Harriot has a version of it in his book ainsley harriott's all new meals in minutes that uses crushed maltesers. Don't ask me why, but those maltesers make all the difference! Turned out we made a quick run to the store anyways to get the eton mess ingredients, and to get a 'sticky' as kelsie is now calling sweet dessert wine. We actually didn't have to get the meringue nests because Lorna brought some home made ones over -- way better of course, than store bought meringues.

Not sure if i've mentioned this before, but we're going to be taking a beginner italian course this autumn with our friend lorna. To get us psyched for the course we watched a dvd of the film Italian for Beginners. Lorna and Kels were quite right in pointing out that the film really isn't about Italian lessons, but hey ho, it was in the title, and i enjoyed it.

Eton mess with maddie malteasers
[from Ainsley Harriott's All New Meals in Minutes]
Serves 4

300 ml double cream
50g caster sugar, plus extra, if the berries are tart
250 g fresh raspberries
2 meringue nests, about 75g
40g packet Maltesers

  1. Whisk the cream with 1 tablespoon of hte sugar in the bowl, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater, until soft peaks form. Be careful if you're using electric beaters, as this will happen really fast.

  2. Place the reaspberries in a separate bowl with the remaining sugar and, using a fork, lightly crush -- you may need to add some extra sugar if the raspberries are particularly tart or if you have a very sweet tooth.

  3. Lightly crush the meringues and the maltesers. Don't overmix here, but gently fold the raspberries into the cream wtihthe crushed meringue and Malteseres, until you get a rippled effect. Spoon the mixture into serving glasses. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

last sunday lunch

Originally uploaded by silamuta
just a wee post to say we had a fab extended lunch in the garden last sunday. wunderfully hot and sunny in glasgow again for a change. we had vegetable paella. an assortment of meats and cheeses. and a lubley strawberry and lemon curd roulad. yum. thanks to jose and nuria and lorna for bringing the drinkes.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Dinner last night: Grilled lamb chops with broad bean salad and avocado salsa

Yesterday was Glasgow Fair which meant that i had one more day to ease back into the routine. It also happened to be a gorgeous sunny day. Exactly the kind of day that should be spent sitting in the garden, sipping a daiquiri, eating your meal al fresco.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Broad Bean Salad and Avocado Salsa
Serves 4

8 lamb chops
lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the broad bean salad:
250g podded broad beans, skins removed
3-4 mint sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
couple of handfuls of watercress
olive oil

For the salsa:
100g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 avocado roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime

  1. First marinate the lamb chops. Combine the lemon juice, a couple of glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper, and crushed garlic in a shallow bowl. Coat the lamb chops on both sides with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

  2. Make the salsa. Combine all the salsa ingredients in a bowl.

  3. Heat a griddle pan up until hot. Grill the chops for 2-3 minutes on each side depending on how you like them. Remove from the pan and let rest while you prepare the salad.

  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the skinned broad beans and heat through. Toss in the chopped rosemary and mint and stir through the watercress until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. To serve, place the broad bean salad on a plate, lay over the lamb chops and drizzle over any juices from resting. Spoon over some avocado salsa. Eat and enjoy!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Review: Coast, Fishguard

OK, i think Kels and I unanimously agree that our meal at Coast this past week is currently our #1 rated meal of the year. Everything about the evening was perfect, from the moment we were seated to our last sips of brandy and coffee with gorgeous puds.
Coast is just a skip across the road from Bar 5 where we ate earlier in the week. We again took a chance and came without booking. We arrived at 6:30 pm and there was still a 'closed' sign on the door, so we nipped back to Bar 5 for a quick drinkie. When we came back the 'open' sign was hanging on the door and our wonderful hostess was able to give us a table.
Everything about the space oozes cozy comfort: exposed beams on the ceiling, rustic wooden tables, an upright piano tucked in the corner, and a leather sofa next to a cast iron fireplace. There is room for about 30 covers, which meant we were very lucky to get that table when we did. At least 3 other couples also tried their luck and were turned away for that night.
For starters I had Blue-Black beef fillet. It was seared on the outside and wonderfully rare (blue) on the inside. Thinly sliced, it was served with a refreshing coriander salad, and steamed jasmine rice. Kelsie had fishcakes generously featuring salmon, with a homemade tartare sauce. Our mains were steamed Sewin(sea trout) fillet on a cucumber salad for me, and a mains portion of Seared scallops with a shallot puree for Kelsie. Our sides were steamed new potatoes and spring cabbage tossed with mint. Finally, the puddings were vanilla creme brulee with cherries compote for Kels, and a gooseberry fool for me.
There was 1 server that night and she handled the tables with effortless, and pleasant ease. She really made the evening a delight for us and even when all the orders were happening at once, kept her cool and took care of all the customers.
This was exactly the kind of eating out experience I love to have. From the inventive recipes using the best of local produce, to the inviting and comfortable surroundings, to our most professional hostess -- all of these added up to a dinner we'll be remembering for quite some time.

COAST / 28-30 Main Street, Fishguard

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Review: Bar 5, Fishguard

Finally, finally finally I got some lobster! It's been ages since i've had some. I can't remember when the last time was. Bar 5 is one of a handful of restaurants in Fishguard that we're wanting to try out this holiday. We took a chance and went there without booking a reservation first. Luck was on our side and we were able to get a table immediately.
Initial impressions of the space were positive: modern, sleek lines that manage to complement the style of the listed building. The bar area is well lit, and there is a picture window with seating that overlooks the sea.
After finishing our drinks at the bar we were taken to our table. We immediately went for the grilled lobster and ordered 2 sides of new potatoes and green salad with vinaigrette. Not knowing how big the lobster was going to be we opted out of a starter. The grilled lobster was sweet and succulent and left me wanting more!
All in all the food was flawless and well prepared.
Our only complaint would be about the service. Between our main and the cheese board we ordered the wait stretched on to an excruciating 30 or 40 minutes. To our server's credit he took the chocolate cake with chocolate sauce off the bill and apoplogised for the delay.
If we're ever in Fishguard again we'll definitely plan on going back to Bar 5.

Bar 5 / Main Street, Fishguard / 01348 875050

Sunday, 13 July 2008


paw sila
Originally uploaded by silamuta
hi all. Just to say that we are having a wee hol in pembrokeshire in west wales. we are staying in a wee town called fishguard. today was our first day exploring. check out my flickr page for more photos. i m managing to get internest access je je je so we may upload our food exploits before we get back. we will see how we do.
k and m and happy wet dawg sila

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

the contenders (beer tasting)

the contenders
Originally uploaded by silamuta
we had a wee pot luck at dave wagners hang out last sat nite. each person either prepares a starter, main or dessert. i decided to provide the beer for an ale tasting.
the ales i chose were:

sierra nevada pale ale
ben nevis ruby red
anchor steam
brew dog punk ipa
badger harvester
williams brothers midnight sun.

the results were as follows: (1= euch! 5=yum)
sierra nevada 3.32
combined tasting notes were
appearance: foamy, like a frothy shoreline
smell: slightly hoppy, fruity, sweet
taste: sweet, butter, pears or berries, mild hop or cream
mouthfeel: smooth, inviting, tingly
how drinkable: not very, too bitter, could have a good numer. 1 or 2 max

ben nevis ruby red 3.22
appearance: mid brown rather than amber
smell: sweet, pleasant
taste: creamy, sweet
mouthfeel: soft and gentle,
how drinkable: very, fairly 2/3 bottles

anchor steam 3.44
appearance: caramel golden, smally grainy head, orangey froth
smell: fruit, sweet
taste: rich tasting with a sweet balanced aftertaste, hint of copper
mouthfeel: not too fizzy, not too heavy
how drinkable: very, fairly, pretty good, 1 or 2 max

punk ipa 2.6
appearance: strawlike yellow, pale yellow
smell: hoppy, hoptastic
taste: soapy,hoppy, sour, bitter
mouthfeel: gassy, fizzy, thick, sharp and tangy
how drinkable: not very, good on a hot day
other comments: brewers with balls!

harvester 2.6
appearance: pale and frothy, watered down irn bru
smell: oddly sweet, a hint of soapy socks
taste: subtle, soft, nothing inspiring just wet
mouthfeel: slightly frothy, too carbonated
how drinkable: very, easy to drink but little reward in the end

midnight sun 3.74
appearance: stout like, good thick colour, like cola
smell: guinness, malty, chocolate malt, salami
taste: heavy smoothe, bittersweet, full, chocolate syrup
mouthfeel: creamy, like being cuddled by a baby blanket, frothy
how drinkable: good with salami sandwich, very(kev), 1 or 2

looks like midnight sun is the winner and thanks to dave et al for a nice night!! check out daves pics

Adventures in Ice Cream: vanilla, vanilla vanilla

For my xmas this year Kelsie gave me an ice cream maker. This is something I've been wanting for a very long time. It's the kind of ice cream maker where you have to freeze the bowl first -- for at least 24 hours in fact. Between Xmas and now I haven't had the space in my freezer to fit the bowl in! Chicken carcasses waiting to be made into stock, chinese sausages, frozen veg, leftovers from a gnocchi experiment and a big tub of leftover minestrone have taken all the available space. I finally cleared enough room and was able to fit the bowl in this past week.

Next step was finding a basic recipe to start with. Kelsie also gave me Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream book to help get me started. They have three different sweet cream bases each with varying amounts of butterfat which is one of the deciding factors in how creamy your ice cream is. I also got Iced as a back-up. The difference between the B&J recipes and the Iced recipes is that B&J don't say anything about cooking the custard first. They pretty much say to whack everything into the machine and churn. Iced, as well as other recipes say to make a custard first. I figured I'd try the harder one first and went for the Vanilla recipe in Iced.

You may have read about my past trials with custard. And again on this occasion i felt a bit of trepidation. Lucky for me, our friend Lorna was over to watch some tennis and help out with sampling the first batch. She's got a great attitude about facing challenges in general and encouraged me to just go for it and not worry. So i did, and i must say, i'm very happy with the results!

Vanilla Ice Cream
makes 1 litre

375ml milk
375ml whipping cream
2 vanilla beans, split lengthways and seeds scraped (i used an extra pod that had already had the seeds scraped)
145g caster sugar
8 large egg yolks

  1. Put the milk, cream, vanilla beans, scraped seeds and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is just about to boil. Set aside for 15 minutes to infuse. Remove the vanilla beans and gently reheat.

  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk in 60ml of the hot milk mixture until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture, then return to a clean saucepan and stir constantly over low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not allow to boil. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until cold.

  3. Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to manuFacturer's instructions. Alternatively, transfer to a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple of hours until frozen and creamy. Freeze for 5 hours or overnight. Soften in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

5Rhythms and Fennel Risotto

Yesterday was the kind of Saturday that i like: loose agenda, time with friends, impromptu discovery and of course, good food.
The day started with a 5 Rhythms Open Space (Sweat Your Prayers) do at the Scout Hall in Partick. I've been wishing this would happen in Glasgow and Iona of Dance on Soul made it happen! Lorna and Kathy were there too and we spent 2 sweaty hours moving. Btw, the next gathering is on July 19 if you're in Glasgow and interested.

Afterwards we met up with Kelsie and went for some lunch. It was a toss up between Cafezique and Rio Cafe. We chose the latter. With our half pints of San Miguel, we got to catch up on each other's news since our wunnerful holiday together in Cabo de Gata. The food was ok-ish: me and Kathy had bagels with smoked Ullapool salmon and cream cheese; Lorna had a veggie bean burger with chips and Kelsie had fish cakes.

So, one of the loose agenda items was to get some seafood. A little background: Our veg box came on friday with a beautiful head of fennel. The whole kitchen smells of it still! As soon as Kels saw the fennel she emailed me saying she wanted seafood risotto this weekend. The past couple of times I made seafood risotto I just used a bag of frozen seafood from Tesco. Blech! In fact, Kelsie has now banned the use of that seafood. I have to say, I agree -- it's tasteless and rubbery, and why waste other good ingredients like fennel on that?

So, next door to Rio Cafe is a lovely little deli -- blas store which sells the same fine Scottish produce that is served in the restaurant by the same name. We got GORGEOUS scallops for the risotto, and clams for Kelsie's fave -- lingiune and clams -- which she's gonna make tonite. I had to restrain myself from picking up some langoustines -- they looked exquisite.

Back at home i got started with the risotto. The basic risotto recipe stays the same and you can vary it by adding in whatever you fancy. I love saffron, so did the milanese version of risotto which includes the addition of saffron and makes everything a lovely pale yellow.

Risotto with Seared Scallops
Serves 4

1.2 litres vegetable or chicken broth, hot
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 head fennel, finely chopped
325 g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 glass white wine
olive oil
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

For the scallops (note: this was for 2 servings):
6 large scallops, cleaned
olive oil

  1. First heat up the broth. I just use 2 stock cubes to the amount of water in the recipe.

  2. In a wide, shallow pan heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and fennel and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. You don't want any of it to colour, so watch the heat and stir it occasionally.

  3. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain. Again, you don't want it to colour, but you do want the grains to lose their translucence. It takes about 3 minutes or so.

  4. Add the wine and stir into the rice until evaporated. Sprinkle in a good pinch or two of saffron threads. Now add the broth 1 ladleful at a time. Each time you add the broth stir until incorporated. Keep the heat on medium-low and keep stirring so that the rice doesn't catch in the pan. The objective is to have the rice al dente but not too stodgy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. When the rice is just about ready stir in 1 knob of butter and the grated cheese.

  6. Prepare the scallops just before serving. Heat a frying pan with a knob of butter and some olive oil until hot. Season the scallops with a little salt and pepper. Sear in the pan for 1 minute each side. It's really important not to overcook them as they'll become rubbery and lose their flavour.

  7. To serve, put a portion of risotto in a shallow bowl and top with 3 scallops. Garnish with snipped fennel fronds.

Can i just say that these scallops were AMAZING?!? Sooo sweet and succulent. I'm drooling writing this. And the kitchen still smells like fennel! How cool is that.

Friday, 27 June 2008

raspberry and chocolate cupcakes

wimbledon time and none of this strawberry and cream malarky for me oh no! been there done that spilled the stuff down my top at wimbledon in the 90s mainly due to the fact that i had just realised how much i had paid for it!!!! so yes wimbledon is on the telly and i aint busy at the moment so i am enjoying watching andy murray kick ass. (steady steady its only week 1!!) so, after the deflation of my macaroon disaster
( i must remember to take eggs outa the fridge and age the whites: see post below) anyhoo i fancied sommot sweet and cupcakes are the way to go. basic cupcake, fairy cake recipe can be found anywhere so i aint gonna bother posting a link. for the topping i melted 125g dark chocolate and blended with 125ml of cream and splodged on top. oh and i added slightly mushed raspberries to the sponge mixture. now the perfect partner to these is beer. and sierra nevada is great. can be found in tescos and other annoying money grabbing supermarkets if you cant source it elsewhere. one of the better american ales. from california. hey they make good wine there dont they?!! unfortunately, they are much like the french and keep the best stuff for themselves. thats why im soooo looking forward going to nantes in sept/oct to try some. ian take note. start sourcing now. cant imagine it will be hard job tho. there is all of this on offer.
so yes eat drink and watch tennis. at least for a wee while.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

experimental macarons

yesterday i had a wee go at making macarons. kept seeing the damn things everywhere and as far as im aware there is nowhere in glasgow to buy them. i did find out tho that laduree have a shop at harrods in london i mite have to give em a quick call to order some if i or we cant crack the recipe. but im trying not to be too dissapointed. from what ive read over the last few days making these lil belters doesnt come easy to most and there are a few set rules or things to bear in mind. above and to the left you can see what happened to mine. they cracked and they cracked bad. they are not meant to do that. see the other pic as to how they should look. i used the recipe from serious eats (mel advised me to)
so what went wrong. i think that it could have been one or all of a number of things.
1. i may have overbeat the eggwhites.
2. i may have overbeat the eggwhites with the icing sugar and almond meal.
3. my oven could have been too hot or cold.
4. i may need to age my eggswhites for longer.
if none of this makes sense read the serious eats link above. lots of good info can also be found here:
ach well i might have another go this week or better still let mel try.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

naveens birthday dinner

this weekend mel and i headed up to aberdeen to celebrate our friend naveens birthday. the trip to aberdeen also consisted of mel getting referee signatures for her british passport application and of course to see our family there. dinner was provided by our good friend naveen at his house. and despite a hair line fracture to his wrist he and his south indian friends cooked us up a feast. the delight of the dinner was naveens dosa making lesson and the dosas
which accompanied the meal. the meal consisted of lamb curry, chicken curry and baby aubergine curry. mel also got a nice surprise when naveen presented her with an idli (steamed rice cakes) maker.
click here for recipe.
thanks naveen!!!!