I mentioned a few posts ago the Whole 30 eating plan Ben and I have been following- we made it our 30 days and are feeling so great we have extended the deliciousness. For 30 days we have said to no to dairy, gluten, pulses, alcohol, peanuts, legumes (lentils), seed oils, white potatoes and sugar. We have been feasting on lean meats, vegetables, fruit, nuts, healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado oil. This recipe from Nigel Slater was almost Whole 30 compliant- just omitting the sugar. We even had to track down a special fish sauce.
white peppercorns 1 tsp
coriander seeds 1 tsp
turmeric 1 tsp
lemon grass 2 stalks
garlic 2 cloves
ginger a 3cm lump, peeled
hot green chillies 3 small
fresh coriander a handful
vegetable stock 200ml
coconut milk 250ml
fish sauce 1 tbsp
lime juice 2 tbsp
spring vegetables, such as asparagus tips, broad beans, peas450g total weight
shredded greens, such as spring cabbage a handful
pinch of sugar and soy sauce to serve
For the paste, put the white peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry non-stick frying pan and toast lightly for 2 or 3 minutes, then tip into the bowl of a food processor and add half a teaspoon of sea salt, the ground turmeric, lemon grass, peeled garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, 3 tablespoons of groundnut oil and a handful of coriander stems and roots. Blitz to a course paste. You can keep this paste for a few days in the fridge, its surface covered with groundnut oil to prevent it drying out.
In a deep pan, fry 3 lightly heaped tablespoons of the curry paste in a tablespoon of oil for 30 seconds till fragrant, stirring as you go. Stir in the vegetable stock and coconut milk, the fish sauce and lime juice.
Add the asparagus tips, broad beans and peas and continue simmering for 5-6 minutes, then drop in a couple of handfuls of greens, shredded into thick ribbons. Finish the soup with a pinch of sugar, fish sauce, a little soy sauce, more lime.
Given how much time and consequently money Ben and I have spent over the almost two years at Peter’s Yard, I think it deserves a bit more of a shout out. I am thankful they have a loyalty card, take that Peter’s Yard- loads of free coffees.
The first summer we lived in Edinburgh, it was the only place which opened at 7.00 a.m., this meant Ben and I could have a Friday-morning coffee date. A ritual we still to adhere to week after week when I am around. It is the best way to start the Friday.
It is a Swedish bakery with the friendliest staff members who have begun to recognize us even when we cross locations form the original location in the Quartermile area to the new Stockbridge outpost.
Top treats include the fresh-baked buns- the employees have t-shirts with FRESH BUNS inscribed on the backs. A reason enough to look for a job there, if things do not work out for us in our current roles! I am partial to the cardamon bun and Ben always chooses the ones with custard.
They are known for their loaves of bread with impressive oven-spring and uniform crumb. We were gifted a loaf of the carrot variety and I could just feel my eyes getting brighter- a real health food! Their scones always fluffy a real feat when compared to my hockey puck versions. Crammed full of rotating goodness in the form of fruit, seeds and nuts and a savory variety.
The past few weeks Ben and I have been following an eating plan called Whole 30 and we have eliminated gluten (and many other things) and have been bun free since April 1, but our coffee dates continue and we take advantage of the free smells!
To celebrate the holiest day of the Catholic calendar, Ben and I hosted a Good Friday Brunch for our newly engaged friends- Australian Sarah and Scottish James. They claim it was their first brunch, but being a well travelled duo, I highly doubt this, but they played ignorant brunchers quite well.
It also happened to be the first time we entertained after my epic trip (the adjectives will get more descriptive as I am distance from this journey!), so I might have gone a bit overboard.
On the menu:
- Blood-Orange Mimosas
- Cinnamon Pecans*
- Almond Danish*
- Grapefruit Cupcakes filled with Grapefruit Curd topped with Vanilla Bean Butter Cream and a nest of Candied Grapefruit Peel**
Sarah and James were generous with their praise of brunch, it could have been the influence of the blood-orange mimosas with the sneaky addition of Grand Marnier.
The Easter Bunny hopped by early to drop off mini-cocottes of goodies. He was season appropriate choosing Le Creuset’s rose-colored casseroles for table gifts (a big thing in the U.K.). Ben traded the red neck ties on the chocolate rabbits for pastel ones.
We had some fabulous waffles on Easter morning topped with grapefruit sections and the remaining tart curd. A spring explosion. Dont’ forget the whipped cream.
(The menu- only in Spanish)
(First impressions are everything)
(So welcoming and love the colours)
One of our fabulous MBA students from Chile gave me some recommendations of things to do/see/eat while I was in Santiago. As you have probably realized, my priorities tend toward the eating variety, so first up is FOOD!
There is a lovely, albeit, touristy place called Patiobellevista, which houses numerous shops selling Chilean handicrafts. Think copper and a blue stone which can only be found in Afghanistan and Chile- lapis lazuli (according to the open-top bus tour commentary). Patiobellevista also hosts some inviting restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating- which for a girl who rarely sees the sun living in Edinburgh, al fresco dining was a must.
I was instantly attracted by the outdoor porch setting of Cebichería Constitución,and understanding what this was, I was in. For you non-hispanophones- it is ceviche and it was the freshest tasting seafood I think I have eaten. This mixed-fish ceviche was served with fresh lime juice, a bit of yam, onions and white beans. I also tried some of their fresh octopus with an amazing black olive ‘dressing’ of sorts. I would love to try to recreate these dishes now I am home, hopefully Ben is game. We just need a Mercado Central* in Edinburgh.
*Mercado Central is a huge fresh seafood market in Santiago. I popped in for a look and smell (so fresh, there wasn’t one)! I was kindly asked several times where I was from- I the wide-eyed lost look always gets me in trouble. They make a famous eel broth here- I gave this a pass.
I love me a toasted hazelnut. I would have thought I would have od’d on them when I was in Istanbul last October (here, here and here). I think the hazelnut is the national nut of Turkey, I sustained myself on a diet of hazelnuts and green oranges. So this cookie recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle cookies was perfect. I like to make sure Ben has a little something sweet to take with him in his lunches while I am/was away. I am so old-fashioned sometimes!
We are having our friends Sarah and James over for a Good Friday Brunch and I am so excited to entertain. It has been ages and even more special than Good Friday, they have recently gotten engaged!
I have a soft spot for peppermint patties. I do not remember where this started, perhaps it was my Grandma that allowed us to pick a candy from the supermarket, but more likely it has to do with the effective marketing campaign of York Peppermint Pattie which led me to believe these were the ‘healthiest’ candy out there, being lower in fat than a Twix or Snickers (70% less fat than what York?). I probably sandwiched my full-sized pattie between some Snackwells (a popular low-fat cookie back in the day, probably now discontinued due to transfats).
Anyway, liking these candies, I thought I would like to make my own (using this recipe), it was slightly time consuming as there were numerous steps, but who knew butter and about two pounds of powdered sugar could make something so delicious. To make them more festive we used tempered white chocolate coating with red and green food colouring.
Finding food-grade peppermint oil was a challenge, it was recommended over the traditional extract for a more natural and authentic flavour, we tracked it down in an aromatherapy shop as a lot of oils can be used in cooking as we learned- the proprietor was working on a cookbook. Supposedly peppermint oil also helps with jet lag (we will see). It also burns your eyes- a good burn.
These bad boys have a bit of frost on them, they were photographed the next day out of the freezer. As the York people say ‘taste the sensation’- they are better frozen.
Ben’s sister Sarah has always claimed she is a fan of my baked goods, it could be family member flattery, and if it is, then she is now stuck with more cookies than she might ever want!
For their Christmas gift Ben and I baked a variety of cookies and sent a box down to Sarah, Richard, Emily and Adam.
We started with these gluten-free peanut butter cups. Ben is interested in the science behind the melting and tempering of chocolate and the temperature it needs to be to ensure it sets without refrigeration and without crystallising. He did an amazing job with these treats.
They are far better than your original Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, less waxy tasting and the peanut butter ‘nutella’ you make for the filling really elevates this snack.
We used the recipe from a great site called Brave Tart ( I love a good pun!) I am dying to try her 3 Musketeers Bar- maybe as a birthday treat.
I also learned that Ben is not a fan of the peanut butter cup, even when homemade and prepared with high-quality chocolate.
I say YUMMERS!
I swear this is not turning into a cooking blog, but it seems like I have been cooking up a storm recently- it must be the holidays. I will be showing some of the treats this week.
I attempted marshmasllows again- wanting to find the perfect consistency, I attempted two different gelatine amounts since you cannot buy powdered gelatine at our local shop, I used gelatine sheets. I think I figured it out, in several taste tests the green mallows won!
I used the same recipe from this post, just with six sheets of gelatine.
Ben’s mom and dad liked them as well.
There is a new lady in our neighbourhood, she has been here for a while, but she is quickly becoming all the rage, she is the Marshmallow Lady. She opened a small shop and cafe only about 2 blocks from here. She also sells her gourmet marshmallows every weekend at the Stockbridge Market. We have not indulged in any of her flavors, some of which include, maple and bacon, beer, key lime pie and the more traditional vanilla and raspberry.
Haven eaten plenty of jet-puffed marshmallows in my day, I figured, I can make these too and I did, they were tasty and quite easy to whip up (literally).
Here is the finished product.
These are vanilla bean flavour.
They were a big hit at our Sunday night pub quiz.
I found the recipe on the amazing baking blog Sweetpolita- I am in awe of this home-baker’s creativity and skill. I want to eat puffy cloud s’mores.
Here is the video.
This weekend our usual bread-based meals (here, here, here and here) could not compete with our meal of carbohydrates squared. It was Tartine’s focaccia. Almost better than the rounds of the stuff from Broders’, Italian deli, where I worked in high school, college, post college and beyond. I was first introduced to focaccia there.
Ben crafted the bread base and then we topped the airy base with madonlined potatoes. They had been tossed in olive oil, salt, fresh-cracked pepper and thyme. Then scattered over the surface and baked for 20-minutes
Coming out of the oven, shavings of pecorino romano are sprinkled strategically over the hot bread and some additional thyme. Consume immediately. You will not be disappointed.
In fact, I would have locked myself into a closet and eaten all this, but we do not have a closet, lucky for Ben and the focaccia.
Ben was sad after I sold the Heirloom Toffee Bars, he only tasted a couple, plus it was a challenge, Ben has never Ben a fan of peanut butter cookies. I have tried to convince him that these are a tasty alternative to his preferred oatmeal raisin cookies.
I think this version with white chocolate chunks might have turned him. The above picture is evidence.
More baking to come later this week.
Remember on Friday- I mentioned Ben and I were going to celebrate this weekend.
After nine Thanksgivings abroad, you begin to forget the fan fair, the traditions and the food.
Time for new holiday customs…
Brunch is my favourite meal for entertaining. It is more casual than dinner parties, usually lighter fare and no alcohol. Mimosas are only for very special occasions! So with that in mind and a quest for a new tradition we hosted our first annual Reverse Thanksgiving Brunch, complete with pumpkin pancakes, turkey sausages and loads of coffee.
(Trout salt and pepper shakers- whose were these? We lifted them from my mom’s)
(Stacked persimmons- a festive autumnal centrepiece)
(The festive table)
(Light and fluffy- packed with pumpkin deliciousness)
This weekend it will be a feast of Thanksgiving sides!
Last week, we had a bake sale at work to raise money for Kids in Need. I whipped up a batch of an oldie but goodie- Toffee Bars (renamed Heirloom Toffee Bars for marketing purposes). These were a Christmas staple growing-up-Gorrilla and they are always a hit.
I am sorry, but I cannot share the recipe, my mom has strict instructions about providing recipes to strangers.
It does go something like this- cookie base + chocolate + sprinkled nuts = easy and delicious
We then portioned four bars into a rustic-light package ready for sale. Ben whipped up a label- (note- labels do not stick to greaseproof paper).
My treats were the first to sell out- a small victory in the at work bake sale landscape.
Ben and I are attempting to mix-it-up and trying to be a bit more adventurous with our cooking. Ben has been perfecting his pulled pork recipe. It started with a tasty hunk from Peelham Farms, a local producer of high-quality meat products. You can even adopt a pig, then the team from Peelham slaughters it for you and you have piles of the other white meat.
Starting with the pork, Ben followed David Chang of Momofuku’s recipe for Pork-Belly Buns, but replace the pork belly with pork shoulder and used some of the elements of the Bo Ssam recipe that is so popular at his New York restaurant.
To cook the buns we picked up a steamer at our local Chinese supermarket. I have always wanted a steamer. With Ben, all my dreams do come true.
Perfectly puffed and brushed with oil so they do not stick together. They cook in 5-7 minutes.
The final product- with a taste explosion of ginger and scallion sauce and ssamjang, a fiery soybean paste. Momofuk-me they were good!
We had left-over pork, so the next night we had some traditional Chinese Char Siu Bao or pork buns.