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.