The Table #3

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Welcome into the kitchen, come on in this week we are serving up Roast Pumpkin and Polenta Salad with Hake.  I enjoyed it the fish so much last week that we had it again this weekend with the boys.  I gave Nigel Slaters Hazelnut chocolate cake with sultanas a go from his 2018 Autumnal recipe selection.  A labour of love…but definitely a keeper.   If you were staying for tea we’d be having braised lamb with home-made pasta, followed by a slice of the cake.

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment…a novel.  The Memory Stones, Caroline Brothers….one of those rare moments of luxury where you get to browse a bookshop, feel the covers, check the shelves and choose something new and inviting.   A welcome change from some of the management books I’ve been reading of late.   Then I broke my promise to myself around the new Nigel Recipe book – Christmas Chronicles.  In my defence it was on offer and starts from November in terms of the recipes.

I’m grateful for the extra hour today….the clocks went back!  Imagine what you could do if someone gave us an extra free hour every weekend!

I’m now counting days rather than weeks to a 10k race I entered months ago.  The last 10k I did was the same race last year!  I’ve been training on and off and got myself up to the 7.5k mark, hopefully it’s enough.  Have to say my back is twinging at the thought of it.

For the cinema goers amongst you….I can definitely recommend Thor: Ragnarok.  Full of good humour and a great addition to the Marvel Studios range of films.

Enjoy your week, and hopefully see you next week at the table as part of the #DSFWeeklyRewind.

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The Table #2

2017-10-17 08.45.30

Welcome into the kitchen, this week we are serving up a lovely piece of Silver Hake and a Laksa to warm those winter nights. The laksa recipe has been on my to do list for so long, and I’m amazed how quick the boys ate it.

The week has been a strange one in terms of rhythm, the half term, a 3 day working week for me. A few nights away and a family funeral. A lot to reflect on, digest and be grateful for.

A little bit of autumn adventure

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The working days seem so far away considering what we packed in, a trip to the Blair Atholl Watermill before it closes for the winter season, a top up on bread flour that will no doubt keep me going through the winter season. A gentle walk up the Falls of Bruar with every step trying to breathe in the autumn colours.

Falls of Bruar

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We challenged ourselves with 3 Munro’s…the Cairnwell Munro’s which form part of the Glen Shee ski slopes. With many of the hill climbing books complaining about the scar on the landscape that the centre has created I found it re-assuring that the paths are there and well-trodden especially when the mist came in.

The Cairnwell #munro

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Today has been a day of consolidation, a blitz of garden jobs as it shuts down for winter, I’ve planted a few daffodils to mark spring, washed the van, and repointed some of the back wall…no wonder I’m feeling too tired to pull an inspired tea together. My wife has taken care of dessert using the last of the rhubarb (the patch now clear, weeded and ready for the winter rest).  I’m not sure what it is, but smells great, orange and rhubarb with a clafoutis style sponge. I was presented with the remains of the fridge to pull something together for main. Bacon, kale and a leek (from the veggie box two weeks ago)…..an automatic reflex took control and I reached for the Arborio rice…..Risotto it is.

The last of the rhubarb, in a sponge with orange and ginger. #rhubarb #cooking #food

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My favourite moment of the day was the 5 minute break I took whilst planting the sack of daffodils I’d bought. A cheeky Robin appeared looking for the grubs I’d overturned. Nice to watch and have the company as I drunk a cup of tea in the afternoon sun.

The table is my weekly rewind, with a nod to the #DSFWeeklyRewind

Roast Fillet of Fish


Roast White Fish

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy - faith and stick to the timings
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Avoided the Saturday queue by popping into the fish shop on my way home from work on the Friday. The downside being the remains of the day. As a result I discovered and cooked Silver Hake for the first time.

I share this recipe more an aid memoir to myself, part of the recipes for life file. I tend to forget whether the skin goes down first or last and as I write this it feels obvious…..but I swear I forget time and time again.   Pan fry the flesh first before turning onto the skin and placing into the oven.   This gives the fish a lovely colour on top for serving and the Skin protects the rest of the fish whilst in the oven as it cooks through.

Credit: A nod to Nigel Slater and his Kitchen Diaries

Advice: Heat and timing key for this, if your serving with a salad get that done up front. Both a hob and ovenproof pan is needed.

Ingredients

  • 200g chunky fillet of fish with skin on
  • Knob of butter, or a tblsp or so of olive oil

Directions

  1. Crank up the oven, 220°C
  2. In the oven proof pan, bring the oil to a high heat on the hob
  3. Whilst your bringing the heat up, season the fish with salt and pepper
  4. Skin Side up if the key. Place the fish into the pan and fry for a few minutes until starting to turn golden
  5. Turn over onto the skin and then place the pan into the hot oven
  6. Depending on the fish it will take 7-10 mins.       I set the timer for 7 mins…easier to cook for a few minutes more than it is to roll back the clock if it’s over cooked.

Sweet Potatoe and Lentil Soup

Red Lentils

Saturday Morning and the main shop was done yesterday and we are walking around Bruntsfield and Morningside after dropping our bikes off for a service. Waitrose, the foodies supermarket usually calls out to us, to grab those last minute items and a free paper when you spend over £10. I love the Guardian on Saturday Food Supplement! They sell an ideal sized bag of sweet potatoes in their essentials range and apart from the addition of the weight in my rucksack I see no reason to add them to our extra swag for soup making purposes.

This is a lovely creamy style soup, great for those autumn nights.

Credit: EdinburghCook

Ingredients

  • 1.25kg bag of sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • Olive or Rapeseed Oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 400g tin of coconut milk
  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 tbsp bouillon powder

Directions

  1. Rinse and then soak the lentils in 500g/500ml or so in cold water for 30 mins
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into chunks, roast for 45 mins to an hour until soft
  3. Dice the onion
  4. Bring a tbsp of the oil to a soft heat in a heavy based pan that will hold a good 2litres of liquid.
  5. Add the onion and crushed garlic and soften until translucent
  6. Add the bouillon powder and stir in
  7. Add the coconut milk
  8. Then a litre of water, which I add boiled from the kettle, bring to a simmer and stir through
  9. You can add the lentils at this stage and cook in the broth
    1. Or cook separately in their own water to then add later
    2. I choose to do this as I didn’t want to blitz the lentils…preferring to keep them whole
  10. When the potatoes are ready, add into the broth mix and blitz using a hand blender
  11. Add the lentils if you cooked them separately.

[/recipe]

Tales from the table – October Challenge

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Welcome into the kitchen, it’s Friday at last and I’ve poured us a glass of Beaujolais. A light and fruity wine made from the Gamay grape (I’ve just discovered). I left work early (around 4) and made it to the fish shop on the way home where they were clearing up for the day. Eddies fish market is always welcoming and they were very quick to ask me how my cookery course had gone on Tuesday (I’d bought fish then last thing!). I shouldn’t have been surprised this lady is the warmest lady you could ever wish to buy fish from and been tracking my boys progress through school like a long lost ant. She gives you feeling that your there only customer and always willing to find what you are looking for.

When it comes to fish, I’m not very knowledgeable or confident to experiment, the choice is immense. Things come with bones, eyes and with all manner of textures and methods and a broad range of costs depending on the fish. Then you need to think about the whole supply and demand thing. What was caught yesterday, what was in the net so to speak. So the whole confidence thing comes into play when you walk up to the counter with a specific cut that’s in a recipe. I usually look at the window and pick something very similar to what I had last time and it’s easy to point. This is what I did with the fish for my cookery course. I’d had Coley before and knew it would fit the bill.

For the Saturday night tea though I didn’t want to scrimp on price and I wanted to stay true to the recipe. So bold as brass I asked for a nice piece of white fish for roasting…..there was a pause and a look at the window….it was half empty or half full depending on your inclination….it was close to closing so I’m going the empty route. I was about to use the I can come back in the morning card….when she leaned over and fished(!) out 2 long fillets. Silver Hake….and then we went into a conversation about eating the skin and chicken feet!

The Nigel Challenge……well he’s got a new book coming out in a few days and I’ve almost got a full bookshelf dedicated to the guy….he was the one….the cook who turned my endeavours around in the kitchen and gave me hope!  So the new book called Christmas Chronicles I believe covers the winter period with the run up to the main event in his foodie writing diary style. I already have Kitchen Diaries 1 through 3, with untried recipes, so how could I justify the next might tome, to add to bookshelf already creaking. So I’ve got myself a list of all the recipes in each diary for October through to December and I’m going to pick them off. A good 150 or so in all. There are some…that I’m just not going to attempt, most likely the game birds (see fear of fish shops and apply to butchers!) and a couple of repeats from KD1 and KD2 (pear chocolate crumble and ham with butter beans). I never really got into KD3, just felt different.

This weekend sees me tackling, Roast Haddock….(Except using Silver Hake) with bacon, Fennel, Watercress and Pear Salad (With addition of Kale!), English Apple Cake and then Orzo with Courgettes (Something the boys can take on for Sunday night tea)!

Doesn’t that just make you happy rice

Plain Basmati Rice

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A cup of rice, with magic just waiting to happen

Rice is one of the worlds treasures, the magic that exists in a palm full of rice is amazing, simple and versatile and easy to unlock with a simple method.  Water and heat, but in which combination.   I grew up with the boil to death technique, sieve and pour over a kettle of water and hope that the rice has survived the process.  Then when I left for university I discovered and upgraded to brown rice, and this to my mind enjoys the boil to death technique, 30 mins should do it.  It was good, it was healthy but it didn’t quite have the magic that white basmati has when cooked to perfection.  The recipe below comes close to it!   When the time comes to take the lid off…….it will just make you happy!   

  • The key to this recipe is steam and warmth, a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid is essential to this process, it keeps the heat and steam to cook the rice through.
  • Do not lift the lid or you will miss all that heavenly glory!  (Sorry Bruce Lee quote coming through there)

Ingredients

  • 200g basmati Rice, or a teacup
  • 15 butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 400ml boiling water, or 1½ teacup full

Directions

  1. In a heavy pan melt the butter
  2. Add the rice to the butter and stir through, the rice will become slightly translucent and gasping for water
  3. Add a pinch of salt and then the water
  4. Bring to a simmer and then place the lid onto the pan.  Turn the heat down as low as possible.
  5. Leave to cook for 12 minutes…..without peaking!
  6. Take the pan off the heat and leave for another 10 minutes…..without peaking….have faith!
  7. Now you can lift the lid and carefully using a fork, fluff the rice up and serve
  8. Doesn’t that just make you happy?

We were having coffee – Autumn Scones

If we were having coffee it would be served with a fresh batch of buttermilk scones. You might have just come in from the rain, you may have done a 3 mile run and have the runners glow about you despite what the elements have thrown against you.

I’ve had the luxury of time to throw the scones together, random flours in the cupboard, amid of wholemeal and some 00 pasta flour just past it’s sell by and the buttermilk crying out from the fridge.

The week has seen us move well into autumn, the early morning starts are now in the dark and the idea of getting out and running before work is a real struggle. I left it a week and I noticed that I was starting to feel dark with my mood dipping. Friday I broke the mould and got out after watching a programme the night before on body age versus birth age.

I love autumn because of the hunkering down, the comfort food and the harvesting spoils. I’m determined though to keep the exercise up and face the blues that winter brings by being in the right place mentally.