21 September 2015

Recipe: Lanarkshire lamb shanks with ratatouille, mini roast potatoes and feta

SATURDAY'S USUALLY INVOLVE a stroll through the Edinburgh Farmers' Market on my lunch break.  This week, I picked up some stunning lamb shanks from the Carmichael Estate stand with a view to rustling up Sunday lunch.

I buy meat from this producer nearly every week and always find it of exceptional quality and value. As I research the farm, it turns out the Carmichael family have been farming this land since 1292, which is just incredible. Their stocks are fed on grass or home-grown feed, which is crucial not just for flavour, but for the wellbeing of the animal, too. There is also an abattoir and butchery onsite, reducing stress for the animals to ensure that their journey from nature to fork is as pleasant as possible.

With my oven currently out of action, I've been relying heavily on my slow cooker. which is great as it means fewer dishes to clean up! The addition of feta actually came about as I had been watching Sat Bains cooking lamb with the cheese on Saturday Kitchen the previous morning - thanks for the inspiration, Sat!


2x lamb shanks
2x onions, roughly chopped
2x cloves garlic, bashed still in skin
Good quality lamb or chicken stock, enough to cover
1x aubergine, diced
1x red onion, sliced
1x courgette, diced
Tin of good quality tomatoes
2x cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1tsp tomato puree
Few sprigs of thyme
1x block of feta cheese
Handful of baby potatoes (Maris Peer in this instance)
Sea salt and pepper
Small glass of red wine
Olive oil


1) Brown the shanks on the hob in your slow cooker bowl.  Set aside and gently sweat the onions for ten mins, then add the garlic for a further minute.  Return the lamb to the pot, season and cover with stock.  Return to slow cooker base and place on 'low' setting for 3-4 hours.

2) Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes.  Until tender, but not cooked through. Slice in half and set aside.

3) For the ratatouille, begin by sweating the red onions in olive oil for 3-4 mins until softened.  Then add the garlic and tomato puree for a further minute.  Add the aubergine and courgette then mix around.  If you don't have a pot big enough to do this effectively, sweat each individual component off in batches.

4) Next, add the tinned tomatoes, thyme and mix. Season, then leave to simmer gently for around 30 mins, or until softened.  You don't want to overcook it, or it'll turn to mush.

5) When the lamb is flaking from the bone, allow a good 15 mins to rest.  Place a pot on the hob and add the red wine, reduce by half.  Strain a couple of ladles of the cooking liquor into the pot and reduce down to a thick, treacle-like consistency.

6) At the last minute, heat a frying pan on the hob with some oil and butter and toss in the potatoes.  Cook for a couple of minutes until lightly coloured.  Whisk in a knob of butter to the sauce.

7) Place the ratatouille (remember to check seasoning) into the centre of the bowl, with the lamb shank on top.  Place a few of the potatoes around the bowl.  Glaze the lamb with the sauce and crumble the feta around the dish.


16 September 2015

Review : One Square, Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh

BEGINNING NEW JOBS recently has meant that Sarah and I are in close enough proximity to meet for lunch, which usually ends up being around Festival Square, at the West End of Princes Street.  This has drawn my attention to One Square, which is located within the Sheraton hotel, an etsablishment of which I've heard numerous positive things.

With me always running excitedly early, we had time to enjoy a cheeky glass of prosecco in the bar beforehand, where we discussed the spacious, bright, modern interior.  Having to refuse a bowl of nuts due to my allergy, our waiter informed us that he would let the kitchen know to save us the trouble.

I was ravenous so decided to finish our bubbles in the restaurant, me still very impressed with the communication and preparation of the staff in regards to my nut allergy.  It might sound a simple thing, but given it’s life threatening, you would be amazed at how many restaurants are very casual about it.

The menu showcased a pleasing amount of modern Scottish seafood dishes, particularly in the mains section, with a more routine steak/beef description stating that One Square is “a proud member of the Scotch Beef Club”.  This combination made the visit difficult when it came to choosing our dishes. First-world problems.

I knew Sarah would punt for the grilled Troon langoustines with lemon, garlic butter and mayonnaise (£13), while I went for the shellfish bisque with Parmesan, paprika crouton and soured cream (£9.50).  Expectations were high as we discussed previously successful attempts of both.

The langoustines arrived in a quirky metal basket with branded paper, and certainly smelled delicious where I was sitting.  The flesh was juicy and cooked on the money with the lemon providing seasoning.  They maybe could have been a little bolder with the garlic, but otherwise a fine way to open a meal. 

My bisque was a deep red shade and certainly had a robust shellfish flavour to it, as you would expect.  The soured cream just halted that richness, but the whole thing needed a big whack of seasoning to elevate it.  The texture of the crouton was far too soft, although it tasted fine. 

I really fancied  a steak but I prefer to experience the more creative side to the kitchen team when reviewing, so I opted for scallops with spiced white chocolate puree, burnt spring onions, champagne samphire, and gooseberry caviar (£29.50), as well as a side of courgette chips (£3.95).

On first inspection, I thought this plate looked like a small portion, but it went down perfectly.  Tender, meaty scallops were masterfully handled and I liked the rather grown-up white chocolate, which had  a slight aniseed twang to it,  far more than I expected.  Champagne can often be hit or miss in dishes, but I was very impressed with the acidity levels and the texture added from the samphire; that really worked with the scallop.  My only issues were that the carrot was cold and the dish again lacked seasoning.

Sarah decided to try the stuffed loin of rabbit with Talisker puree, braised leg square, roast asparagus and charred baby carrots (£25.00), with a side of buttered Jersey Royals for an additional £3.95.  Stunningly presented, this dish set the bar high.  Unfortunately, while the black pudding was delicious, there was far too much of it in relation to the resultantly overpowered rabbit.  The crisp beignet was thoroughly enjoyable, the standout element being the expertly cooked Jersey Royals. The Talisker puree was a little disappointing, but the accompanying jus provided a superb sauce to bind the dish.  The veg elements were competently executed, but a bit more generosity wouldn’t have gone amiss. 

We found the front-of-house staff very efficient and professional, offering great service to us and other diners alike all evening.  I think Sarah is convinced I’m ignoring her sometimes, but I like to listen into other tables to check consistency and how issues, if they arise, are handled.

I was deeply in need of a palate-cleansing pudding to finish off but found the chocolate fondant with popcorn ice cream and vanilla sauce (£8) too much to resist.  However, while cooked well enough, the fondant lacked the intense flavour of a real quality dark chocolate.  All was not lost, though, as the popcorn ice cream was one the finest components of the night, with the vanilla cream providing a soothing note.  Shame about that fondant though…

Priced at £7, Sarah concluded with crème caramel, toffee foam, caramel with tonka bean ice cream and toffee sponge.  Another stunningly presented plate served up a sufficiently wobbly set custard and the tonka bean ice cream was truly sublime.  The little toffee chards were tasty, but the sponge was a tad dry. Perhaps a more bitter crème caramel topping would have benefitted it, but it was an enjoyable eat overall.

I’m still unsure where I’m at with this one.  There was a great deal to be impressed with at One Square tonight; the execution and presentation was excellent and the service was first class throughout, but I was disappointed with the seasoning in places.   With pricing just shy of the Michelin joints, I think it’s just about right for what was a pretty enjoyable, if  imperfect evening.

Address: 1 Festival Square,
                EH3 9SR

Phone: (0131) 221 6422

Web: http://www.onesquareedinburgh.co.uk/

One Square Restaurant - The Sheraton Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

9 September 2015

Phil's Food World Named In Top 50 UK Food Blogs

I AM DELIGHTED to have been named in the Top 50 Most Trusted Food Blogs in the UK, even if I did sneak in at number 49!  Having had a quick squint through, there are some top food blogs in there, so have a little look through them and enjoy. Have a read http://www.rebateszone.com/top-food-blogs-in-uk-to-follow

Top 50 Food Blogs In UK

3 September 2015

Review: Rivage, Easter Road, Edinburgh

I HAVE TO say that I’m embarrassed that I’ve yet to have reviewed Rivage, given it has been my most frequented restaurant in the last two-and-a-half years. Though a gastronomic hotspot, Easter Road is more associated with football than dining, but with the much-celebrated Manna House bakery, firmly-established Italian, Al Dente, as well as Cornelius wine shop in close proximity, this Indian restaurant could help change that perception further. Let me tell you why.

You could be forgiven for walking past this unassuming eatery at the top of the street, just off London Road. Tasteful teak tables and chairs adorn this spacious dining room with a nifty tandoor oven providing a definitive focal point; they still haven’t asked if I want a shot yet (hint, hint). This is one you will either regret overlooking or pat yourself on the back for giving it a punt. The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage charge, although it is licensed. I remember trying to order a bottle of wine on our first visit, only to be told: “You don’t need to buy a bottle. There’s a wine shop just up the road; there’s no hurry if you want to nip up and get something.”

Tonight, I start with probably my favourite starter from a menu that I can actually say I have worked my way through – the Rivage special (£3.75). There is no better description of this dish than that of fellow blogger Blythe (lunchquest.co.uk) who says this looks like “a Findus crispy pancake” but far more delicious and certainly unique to this restaurant. The filling is packed with precisely diced spicy chicken, onions and well-balanced spices. There’s a quenelle of tomato chutney on top with a fresh, dressed salad and cool yoghurt dressing to complete this exquisite starter.

Sarah usually favours the kebab-style option, be that the shikumpuri or, as in this instance, the Gulfan sheekh (£3.95). The juicy skewer of meat always has a distinct flavour, with a hint of chargrilled goodness, and you can taste the individual spices in this rather moreish dish. Again, it comes with a crisp salad and yoghurt garnish. A winner all day long.

The menu features an impressive range of vegetarian and fish options, but I fancied chicken jalfrezi (£7.95) on this occasion. It should be noted that we had half portions, as we had just eaten a big sharing platter but have priced as per menu. The tender chicken and crunchy peppers were sublime, coated in a light, mildly spiced and thick sauce. The rice, which we shared, was nutty and accurately cooked. The dish is well-seasoned, and again you can taste the different spices in there – often lost on many a generic Indian.

Sarah selected Murghi Malai (£7.95), which I couldn’t taste because of my nut allergy. She found the cashew nut and tomato sauce expertly blended, with the charred hints from the chicken offsetting the sweetness from the honey. I suppose it’s a more sophisticated version of a tikka masala-type dish. The one criticism is that we would have preferred the garlic naan to be reeking of the stuff, rather than a faint hint.

Rivage never fails to disappoint. It’s an Indian restaurant with personality and consistency that most restaurants can only dream of. Sure, you may have to wait a few minutes more for your dishes, but that’s soon forgotten when you tuck into the delectable delights on offer. The BYOB status is a pure bonus, so please give this one a bash.

Address: 126-130 Easter Road,
                EH7 5RJ.

Web: https://www.zomato.com/edinburgh/rivage-leith

Phone: (0131) 661 6888

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