10 September 2017

Recipe: Homemade calzone

MAKING BREAD IS one of my favourite things. I've worked on my dough recipe over the past couple of years and I'm really happy with the results, whether it be for pizza dough or a normal loaf.  I had a few bits and bobs needing to be used up in the fridge and, having made a batch of meatballs for mid-week lunches earlier in the day, decided on a bit of a change to my usual homemade pizzas.

You can fill your calzone with whatever you like!

Ingredients (serves 1):


For the dough:

200g organic plain flour
14g dried yeast (two sachets)
Tsp sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Couple of glugs, rapeseed oil
Lukewarm water, as required

For the meatballs:

100g pork mince
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dijon mustard
Sea salt
Black pepper

For the filling:

1 tbsp organic tomato puree
150ml organic passata
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsb dried oregano
1/2 red onion, sliced
Few black olives, sliced
1/2 red chilli, diced
1 ball, mozzarella, sliced
Three slices, Milano salami, sliced


Method:

1) Pre-heat oven to 180C.  Mix all of the meatball ingredients and roll into equal balls (25g each).  Place on a lightly oiled tray and bake in the oven for 25 mins. Set aside and cut in half when ready to dress.

2) Put all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl. Add water as required and mix until it comes together.  Remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface for around five mins until a smooth ball is formed. Place back into the bowl and leave in a warm place for around half an hour until dough rises.

3) Cook the tomato puree out for a minute.  Add garlic for 10-15 secs, then add the passata.  Cook for 2-3 mins then add the oregano.  Season to taste and allow to cool. 

4) Prepare the fillings as required.

5) On a floured surface, roll out the dough to the thickness of a pound coin.  Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a couple of inches spare around the edges.

6) Dress with desired toppings.


7) Lightly brush the edge of one half of the dough with water.  Fold over and gently press down to seal.  Now roll the edges of the dough back in towards the centre until it reaches the edge of the filling. 

8) Place in the oven for 35-40 mins. Serve!


#Cookyourown








29 August 2017

Review: The Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar

HAVING BEEN ILL and house-bound for several weeks, it was good to be back in the swing of things. The Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar was the destination and I can’t say I’ve been on a more beautiful drive for a restaurant review.  But would the food make it worth the trek out of Edinburgh?
Before the visit I was very impressed by the hotel’s website.  It was slick.  Clearly it had had some investment; us restaurant critics appreciate a decent website.  From this I learned the venue was a family-run hotel with a mission statement aiming to provide excellent hospitality and use locally sourced produce, of which South Lanarkshire is blessed. The owners, Robert and Janette Allan, have been at the helm for over 25 years.  I don’t know these parts well, but judging by the talk from the clientele, this establishment is a real pillar of the community. 

The hotel sits on Biggar High Street, which is impeccably looked after and full of independent businesses. We arrived to a very warm welcome where a busy service was well underway, explaining why we could only get a table as late as 8 p.m. There is a small, semi-enclosed bar area on your right as you enter and a couple of paths that lead to other parts of the building. Initial inspection suggests this place is well loved and tended too.  It’s spotless and has a real cozy vibe to it.

The menu is an extensive one to say the least.  There is a specials page at the front, providing a slightly more modern offering, then the usual menu which serves up a mixture of steaks, classics and plates influenced by various countries around the world.  I was particularly intrigued by the ‘Breakfast Stack’ (see menu) but that’ll have to wait for another day.

I love scallops and black pudding and it was a treat to see it on the specials tonight (£7.95).  Accurately pan seared, they melted in the mouth like butter, exploding into raptures of sweetness that’s offset with the warmth and meatiness of the Stornoway black pud. A salty kick and crisp texture from the neat bacon pieces round off this symphony.  My only qualm was that a kick of acidity – a grate of lemon zest – or a dressing of some description was needed to really polish up those notes to a tee.

Sarah also went for a seafood starter with chilli and mango king prawns in breadcrumbs (£5.95) her choice. We liked how the prawns were coated in the chilli and mango jam then breadcrumbed. It was a bit different and tasted great.  The shellfish was moist but the coating was the outstanding part of this dish. 

I was drawn in by the bacon steak from the excellent Ramsay of Carluke for my main – just an example of one of the excellent producers around these parts. This is what I’d call a ‘dirty’ main course, in that it’s not healthy in the slightest – not that I care.  Priced at a generous £10.25, it came with two fried eggs, onion rings, mushrooms, chips and a tomato (the healthy part).  Sadly, the steak is covered by the eggs in my picture, but it looked and tasted amazing. Tender as you like and bristling with smoked pork flavour.  Pig of the finest quality. The onion rings were really light and crisp, with the ‘shrooms superbly cooked.  The chips were fairly run-of-the-mill, but at least they were crisp.

Delving into the specials menu again, Sarah ordered duck breast with wild berry jus and fresh sugar snap peas (£15.95).  The duck was well-rested and beautifully pink inside.  The skin could have been crisper, which wasn’t helped by the sauce been drizzled over it, but it was a sharp and tasty effort that we know works with the bird.  A big dollop of smooth mash was ideal for mopping up the dressing and the sugar snaps were al dente, as expected, and added a freshness to the plate.

It began to dawn on me the scale of the food operation at this hotel as service progressed.  There was a corridor to the left of us that looked packed, then another room upstairs ( a function of some sort, I suspected) also full, yet service was comfortable and the kitchen clearly in control.  While there were a few tourists around, it was obvious that the majority of customers were local and had probably been eating at The Elphinstone for years, if not decades. The owner mingled with guests and a young chap, 
I suspect the son judging by the resemblance, offered particularly impressive service to the guests in our section.

Now desserts were awesome to say the least.  A significant section of the puddings menu consists of a variety of sundaes made with ice cream from local producer Taylor’s of Biggar. I had the ‘Rob Roy’ (£4.95), which comprised of cream, crunch and sweetness from layers of shortbread, vanilla ice cream and a warm Drambuie sauce that transformed a rather fun offering into something more adult. 
Sarah selected the sticky toffee apple crumble option at the same price. It had started pouring with rain by this point so the warmth from the apple seemed appropriate. The tartness cut through the creamy ice cream in what was a truly delicious thing.

We were well looked after at The Elphinstone tonight.  It’s great to see a hotel remain such a strong part of the local community, both in a social sense and in the way their ingredients are used. The stunning drive from the city was well worth it.


Phone: (01899) 220044
Address: 145 High Street, Biggar, ML12 6DL






The Elphinstone Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

27 August 2017

Review: Otterstone Bar & Grill, Victoria Park Hotel, Edinburgh

VICTORIA PARK HOTEL is a small, independently owned establishment on Ferry Road that I often pass on the way home.  Naturally, I am intrigued by their food and drink offerings, especially with it being in such close proximity to my abode. I’ve had a gander at their website a few times but have always been put off by the rather boring menu – it’s old hat.  I came across a Facebook post announcing that they had appointed a new head chef and, figuring they would want to put their own stamp on the menu, duly went to investigate.

Ryan Cattigan, 21, is the new cook at the helm of the Otterstone Bar & Grill and arrives after spending a number of years with the G1 group where he progressed through the ranks at Edinburgh’s Ghillie Dhu. While that may seem young, he comes across as a driven, ambitious chef that has a clear vision for his new kitchen. He spoke about the potential the restaurant has and identified areas where he feels his food could appeal to new and old punters alike. 

The glaring problem with this space (and the hotel in general), is that it needs major sprucing up.  It’s cold and uninspiring.  I’m not saying spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on the latest in uber-trendoid hipster bar kit, but a lick of paint and a bit of imagination can go a long way. The Gosford Bar looks decent and there is a cracking beer garden that could attract people in from the heavily populated area that surrounds it.  Ferry Road is one of the busiest in the city – ideal for drawing in passing trade.

For starters, I had beetroot cured salmon with a radish, fennel and apple salad (£6.25). This dish worked well when eaten together, both flavour and texture wise.  The curing of the salmon really gave it a commendable beetroot flavour that married well with the aniseed notes and crunch from the fennel.  The pea shoots added a bit of complexity with a slight bitter taste coming through at the end.

Sarah opened with pulled pork croquettes with tangy barbeque sauce and salad (£5.95).  I could happily sit with a pint or two watching the football whilst munching on these.  A hefty portion (three would have sufficed but who’s complaining), the crisp coating gave way to unveil a really tasty, moist meaty filling.  The barbeque sauce provided a smoky dipping element ideal for these piggy treats, while a fresh salad almost alleviated the guilt that comes with gorging.


I would revisit braised pork with my main in the form of braised pork belly served with confit potatoes asparagus and red wine jus (£11.95). The presentation was very neat and modern, again a far cry from what you’d expect if you read the website menu.  The pork was very good quality and melted in the mouth.  The skin was crispy around the edges, which were tasty, but I would have liked the whole lot to have been crisp.  The asparagus was impressively cooked, although I don’t like seeing it on the menu out of season.  The potatoes were buttery and also expertly executed with a red wine jus that deserved a thumbs up for both flavour and consistency. Little dots of what I think was a lemon sauce that cut through that fatty meat and enhanced the presentation.

Supreme of chicken stuffed with black crowdie, herby potatoes, veg and a red pepper puree would be Sarah’s main this evening and would set you back £12.25.  The meat was moist with tender spuds flavoured by the promised herbs.  The root veg added sweetness and earthiness.  The puree was smooth and sweet with Cattigan attempting some Massimo Bottura-esque presentation that seem to be a feature in some of his creations.  The dish needed more of that puree or a separate jus just to add a bit more cohesion to it, but you’d happily pay for it.

Unlike the dining room, service was very warm and enthusiastic. Flitting between the bar and restaurant, the waiting staff were efficient and clearly knew what they were doing. Certainly a positive going forward and a sign that there are some building blocks already in place here.

I would end with a good old sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream (£5.50).  This always reminds me of my old chef/lecturer, Davie Edwards, who claims to make the best sticky toffee pudding ever and sells the recipe for £50 a pop.  This was a decent attempt, as it was light and not too sweet.  The toffee sauce was also pleasingly thick and not ‘just out of the microwave’ hot. 

The other half ordered cranachan with handmade shortbread (£4.50). This was disappointing and not to the standard of the rest of the food.  I mean it was OK in the sense that you’d eat it and not remember it, but it doesn’t live up to the potential of what a cranachan could be. There was a sharp raspberry kick running through the cream and the shortbread added texture, but it just lacked that real punch of whisky and sweetness from honey that’s crucial to a memorable cranachan.

To conclude, this place has definite potential and the brasserie-style food is going in the right direction. It’s well priced and commendably executed. Edinburgh is saturated with quality eateries so in order to thrive, a few quid needs to be spent to bring this restaurant to life.  Hopefully Cattigan’s ambition can be matched by the owners.


Phone: (0131) 454 2060
Address: 221 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH6 4NN


Otterstone Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

22 August 2017

The Art and Science of Gin: Edinburgh Gin event at 99 Hanover Street

The Art and Science of Gin, hosted by Edinburgh Gin at 99 Hanover Street, offers a truly unique insight into the capital's long term love affair with the spirit. 

Using cutting edge projection mapping technology and a guided sensory experience (as well as a few samples!) this was a very inciteful event, expertly hosted by the Edinburgh Gin team at one of the city's best-loved bars. 

With three centuries of gin drinking under our belts, you will leave brimming full of knowledge on Gin; a drink whose renaissance shows no sign of slowing. Being a Scot, you will leave proud in the knowledge that we played a big part in the history of it.  Be sure to stamp your 'Gin Passport' on the way out!



Ticket holders can look forward to a welcome drink, a gin tasting session, and a signature serve during the performance.

‘GIN PASSPORT’ & POP-UP GIN BARS

Set to delight cocktail aficionados and gin lovers alike, this year’s festival marks the launch of Edinburgh Gin’s first ‘Gin Passport’.

Offering a unique taste of the capital’s spirit, festival-goers will explore a series of six pop-up bars in popular locations, including Contini @ the Mound, George Street, Teviot House and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. 

Among the signature serves are classic G&Ts, gin fizzes and exclusive Edinburgh Gin cocktails inspired by some of the city’s most renowned icons; including the ‘Edwyn Collins’, the ‘James Martin Martini’ or the ‘New Town Treasure’.

By collecting a stamp at each of the distiller’s pop-up bars, guests can also lay claim to a complementary drink at Edinburgh Gin’s flagship venue at The Mound.



Art and Science of Gin

Tickets cost £20, buyers must be 18+. ID may be requested. Tickets can be purchased here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/art-and-science-of-gin

Ticket includes a welcome drink on arrival, a tasting session and one signature cocktail during the show.

Dates:  22nd-27th August
Times: 13:3015:0016:30 (duration 1 hour)
Address/Venue: 99 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
Venue number: 509
Box Office: 0131 556 6550











28 July 2017

Competition: Win tickets to Foodies Festival in Edinburgh




It's that time of year again when Foodies Festival, the UK's biggest celebration of food and drink, takes over Inverleith Park to serve up a day out that no foodie should miss.  With its usual line-up of top chefs, producers and a tantalising menu of new culinary features, the festival takes place between the 4th-6th August and Phil's Food World has five pairs of tickets for this year's event.


Festival goers can look forward to a celebrity and Michelin-starred chef line-up in the Chefs Theatre this summer, with Scotland’s top chefs showcasing their culinary skills and inspiring the audience with their delicious dishes. There will be a focus on culinary wellness, with farm-to-table dishes, sugar-free cooking and ‘feel good’ food trends. We’re delighted to announce that MasterChef Winner 2016 Jane Devonshire will also be cooking up her family favourites and showing the Foodies visitors how to make gluten-free healthy, comfort food. Prue Leith will also be in attendance!

All you have to do is simply follow Phil's Food World on Twitter and/or Instagram (see links to the right of this page) and email your preferred day Here. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday 31st July.

Good luck!

For more information check out the Foodies website: http://foodiesfestival.com/edinburgh-food-festival/

26 July 2017

Recipe: Roasted vegetable tart with bavette steak and homemade Crowdie cheese



MAKING YOUR OWN cheese is more straightforward than you might think. There are some great cheese making kits out there, but they are pretty costly and not actually necessary. We have made cheese for thousands of years after all! This post will not only will teach you how to knock up your own cheese, but will provide a tasty recipe to add to your culinary repertoire at the same time.

Rennet is crucial in the cheese making process, as it separates the solid curds from the liquid whey. You will find it in Lakeland or online, but lemon juice will do the same job if you can't find it. I also have a plastic pot (see link above) with holes in that allows the whey to drain from the curds as the cheese presses, although you could just do it Blue Peter-style and cut up a plastic bottle. You will also need some cheese or muslin cloth.

I'm using a really cheap and tasty cut of beef here called bavette, which comes from the flank.  Often overlooked in favour of the Rolls Royce cuts like fillet or sirloin, bavette just needs a quick flash in a hot pan - perfect for a steak sandwich or salad.  It's also a useful cut for marinading.

This dish was really created from veg I had in the cupboard that needed to be used up, so feel free to be creative. The difficulty in making good cheese is finding quality milk, so look for organic or visit your local farmers' market*.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1x 500g packet, puff pastry
200g bavette steak
1x courgette, sliced
1x yellow pepper, sliced
2x cloves of garlic, grated
2x medium red onions, sliced
1x parsnip, sliced
1x red chilli, chopped
1x egg, beaten
Sriracha chilli sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper
Oil

For the cheese:
1 litre of organic milk
1 tbsp vegetarian rennet (you can use lemon juice if you can't find rennet)
2tbsp good quality sea salt

Method:


1) First make the cheese. Warm the milk to 37C (if you don't have a thermometer, dip your finger in.  It should feel just warm and no more). Add the rennet and 1tbsp salt and gently stir.  The curds and whey should begin to separate.  Line the mould with the cheese cloth.  With a slotted spoon, drain the liquid from the curds and pack tightly into the mould, salting with every new batch.  Fold in the cloth and place a glass or tin on top.  Place in the fridge for 24 hours.

2) Bring the pastry to room temperature.  Roll out to the thickness of £1.  With the back of a knife, gently score a rectangle 1 inch inside the pastry being careful not to cut right through. Prick the inner rectangle with a fork.  

3) Place a frying pan on a medium heat.  Add a little oil and gently fry the veg off for two mins.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Set aside to cool.  

4) Egg wash the pastry.  Layer the cooked veg inside the rectangle, season and place in the oven at 180C for 20-22 mins.

5) While the tart finishes off cooking, place a griddle pan on a high heat.  Fry the steak for 30-45 seconds on each side.  Season and set aside for two mins to rest. Cut into strips.

6) Remove the tart from the oven.  Crumble over the cheese.  Layer over the steak.  Season lightly and dress with Sriracha sauce.




*(I always prefer raw milk, although it's not available to buy in Scotland, you can buy it online here http://www.hookandson.co.uk/RawMilk/)

22 July 2017

Recipe: Mum's biscuit slice

I'VE BEEN ILL recently and have largely been unable to eat.  For somebody who counts their main hobby as food, whether it be reading cook books, looking through menus or actually cooking, this breeds all sorts of frustration. Hunger and boredom are a lethal combination.

I can't remember how I got the idea for Mum's biscuit slice in my head.  It must be a good 10-15 years since she made it, but I had the ingredients in the cupboard and like something out of Harry Potter (or maybe due to hunger), the ingredients just kind of flew out of the cupboard, screaming to be out together. I suppose when you're ill you just crave home comforts.

This recipe is great for a number of reasons: there's no baking involved; there's a spoon that needs licking; you get to bash things with a rolling pin.  I had so much fun making this as a kid. Mum used to use cooking chocolate, which is frankly disgusting, so what I do is make it a little more adult by replacing it with actual chocolate.

Now, when cooking with chocolate (or not cooking in this case) don't be tempted to splash out on Green & Black's or a premium supermarket version - the quality isn't all that.  Instead, go for the supermarket basics bars.  They tend to be around 52-55% cocoa and cost just 30p a bar, compared to £1.50 - £2 a bar for your 'better' versions. I wager £20 that nobody would be able to tell the difference in a taste test. The slight bitterness just makes this treat a little more adult and counters the sweetness from the biscuit base.

Ingredients (makes one brownie tray worth):


3x bars of supermarket basics dark chocolate, broken into squares
300g Rich Tea biscuits
200g unsalted butter
100g Golden Syrup

Method:


1) Put the biscuits in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin.  You still want to keep some reasonably sized chunks for texture.

2) Boil water in a saucepan and place a glass bowl onto the pan, ensuring it doesn't touch the water. Place the broken chocolate in the bowl along with 50g of the butter.  Gently stir until melted.

3) In another pan, melt the rest of the butter.  Pour into the food bag containing the biscuits and add the Golden Syrup.  Seal the bag and shake to mix.

4) Pour into a brownie tin and press down with a spoon or palette knife. The base should set fairly instantly so no need to set aside.

5) Pour over the melted chocolate and spread evenly with a palette knife.  TIP: never set chocolate in the fridge.  You will lose the sheen and end up with a dull finish.  The fat from the chocolate and butter will set it naturally at room temperature (allow an hour).

6) Decorate and cut into slices!

I was tempted to jazz it up with some sea salt but decided to stick to the original version!





9 July 2017

Review: Grain Store, Edinburgh

AH, VICTORIA STREET.  The most picture perfect street in Edinburgh? Now, food is a nostalgic thing and that is certainly the case here because on rare Saturdays off, I would always visit the Grain Store for lunch.  It had been a while, but the prospect of returning to the capital’s ‘Old Lady’ was exciting.

The restaurant is on the upper level of 30 Victoria Street, just up from the Grassmarket area of the city.  Its candlelit stone walls, alcoves and wonderful views of the street below make this an ideal date spot.  Opened by chef Carlo Coxon in 1991, this restaurant is a true hidden gem.  Having built up a loyal clientele over the years, the restaurant doesn’t advertise or seek the limelight like other places.

We arrive for lunch where we are greeted by the familiar face of Paul MacPhail who instantly jokes about how long it has been since our last visit. I clock that some of Paul’s photo-sculpture artwork is adorning the old stone walls.  The contemporary think-pieces work in perfect harmony with the old building, but art critic I am not.  To the food…

We would both have the three-course lunch menu for £16 (two-courses for £14) and would open with a pair of Grain Store classics.  Mine being house-cured salmon with pickled cucumber and fennel. You can get a lot of nasty smoked salmons in the shops these days but this one was top drawer.  The meaty, delicate flesh was gently kissed by the aniseed notes and enhanced by the crunch from the fennel.  The lightly pickled cucumber just seasons with sharpness and the slithers of radish adding peppery warmth.  What made the dish was the homemade tartare sauce; packed with flavours, it wrapped this light starter up perfectly.

Stornoway black pudding with apple and watercress from the Grain Store is a favourite restaurant starter in our household and it never seems to impress with its simplicity. The exquisite superfood was cooked with a crispy exterior just how I like it and just goes so well with the sharpness of the apple and spice from the cress.  The Grain Store always impresses in the sauce department and the rich, sticky jus binds this dish together.

The menus here are renowned for game so I opted for the pigeon fillet with pearl barley and celeriac puree.  A perfect lunch dish for me.  The pigeon was beautifully rare and rich; I’ve had mixed experiences with pearl barley but this was tender and nutty – an ideal foil for the bird.  The celeriac puree was smooth as silk, but my one criticism is that I felt more was needed on the plate.

Sarah ordered Mediterranean chicken with seasonal veg.  A tasty thigh and drumstick were matched with a ratatouille-style element and a couple of roast spuds. The dish was brimming with thyme flavours with the veg neatly handled to provide bite and tenderness at the same time.  This dish was also well seasoned.

Dunsyre Blue has always been the cheese course on this lunch menu for as long as I can remember, but due to the unjust handling by the FSS towards the Errington family, the beautiful cheese is currently unavailable (Lanark Blue and a couple of newbies are, thankfully).  Hebridean Blue, which is made by the same people who produce Isle of Mull Cheddar, was its replacement and, in all honesty, I’ve never been a huge fan of it.  But my opinion was altered here.  This piece was stunning and I loved the homemade seeded crispbreads and accompanying chutney, too.

You can’t beat a good pannacotta and Sarah’s pud was certainly up there.  Paired with seasonal Scottish strawberries and sable crumb, the set cream certainly had the desired wobble and was spot on for a light lunch-time dessert.

A triumphant return to the Grain Store that pleased me no end.  Immaculate service and romantic surroundings are always matched with superb food.  No wonder this place has successfully traded for over 25 years. Until next time, old friend.

Twitter: @GrainstoreEdin
Phone: (0131) 225 7635
Address: 30 Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2JW



The Grain Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

4 July 2017

Competition: Win £100 of vouchers for Brewhemia, Edinburgh



Phil's Food World has teamed up with Edinburgh's latest opening, Brewhemia, to offer you the chance to win a fantastic prize of £100 of vouchers to spend at the exciting new venue. Boasting a beer palace, caffe, kitchen and prosecco bar, winning this competition would be the ideal way to get acquainted - but you have to be in it to win it!

The site on Market Street has undergone a £2m makeover on the old site of Sportster's Bar and City nightclub at the base of the iconic Scotsman building.  The space comprises of five unique areas, each with their own vibe and story to tell. The exciting food element at Brewhemia is overseen by award-winning Head Chef, Chris McDiarmid, previously of the Ghillie Dhu.

All you have to do to win this amazing prize is this:

1) Follow on Twitter

and

2) Answer this simple question: Phil's Food World recently reviewed its first three Michelin Starred restaurant, but where was it?

A) The Fat Duck
B) The Waterside Inn
C) Restaurant Gordon Ramsay


Get connected with Brewhemia and send your answer here HERE.  The competition ends this Sunday (9th July) at 5p.m. where a winner will be drawn at random.


GOOD LUCK








Ts & Cs

1) All entrants MUST be 18 years old or over
2) Brewhemia reserve the right to cancel or amend the competition without notice
3) Voucher must be used in one visit to Brewhemia, Edinburgh
4) The prize stated is not transferable and no cash alternatives will be offered
5) Booking must be made prior to claiming voucher
6) You will be contacted by email if you have won the competition

11 June 2017

Garlic butter roast chicken stuffed with chilli chickpeas and patatas aioli


I LOVE A good roast, who doesn't? The thought of having people around and everyone getting stuck in fills me with joy.  The meat has to be the centre piece for me and crispy potatoes are a must.

It's so important not to overcook your chicken, yet so many people do it.  *NEWSFLASH* IT DOESN'T TAKE HOURS TO COOK A BIRD - 45 mins is more than enough for a medium-sized bird.  Remember, it will continue cooking when removed from the oven and resting the bird is crucial.   The beauty of cooking poultry this way is that the butter underneath the skin will gently baste the bird and protect it, giving the leg and thigh meat time to cook through.


Ingredients (serves 2):
1x free range chicken
2x cloves garlic
Handful parsley, chopped
50g butter

1x tin of  organic chickpeas (400g), drained
1x red chilli, finely chopped
1x lemon, zested and cut in half
Maris Piper potatoes,  cut into 2cm cubes

2x heads of garlic
150 ml mayonnaise 

1x avocado, sliced
2x ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1x gem lettuce, sliced
Sea salt
Pepper
Olive oil

Method:

1) Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grate the garlic with a fine grater. Add to the butter with the parsley and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mash together with your hands. 

2) Mixed the chickpeas with the chilli, lemon zest, juice of one-half of the lemon and parsley. Season. Stuff the other half lemon into cavity.

3) Remove the wishbone from the chicken.  Stuff the cavity with the chickpea mix.  Now, gently run your fingers under the skin of the breasts to separate.  Spread the garlic butter to cover each breast. Push down with your fingers to distribute evenly. 

4) Place in oven for 40-45 mins.  Dress the sliced garlic heads in oil and cook alongside chicken for 20 mins until tender. Meanwhile, blanch the potatoes in boiling water for two mins.  Drain in a colander until no steam appears.

5) Next, prep the salad, minus the avocado (do this just before serving).  Place in a bowl until serving.

6) Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool (or if you have asbestos fingers like me, dive right in).  Remove the clove from the skin and vigourously chop, add a pinch of salt and mash with the side of your knife.  When smooth, mix though the mayo, season and add some lemon juice.

7) Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 10 mins.  Place the potatoes into a pre-heated deep fat fryer (160C) for 5-6 mins until golden and crisp.  Meanwhile, slice the avocado and mix salad through with some lemon juice and olive oil.  

8) Spoon out the chickpea mix from chicken and carve. Serve.




4 June 2017

Review: No.11 Brasserie, Brunswick Street, Edinburgh

I REVIEWED NO.11 Brasserie nearly two years ago to the day.  We enjoyed a delicious meal at the restaurant of this boutique hotel, just off the top of Leith Walk on Brunswick Street.  It appears that chef Ariel has since moved on so it would be intriguing to see what’s coming out of the kitchen these days.

On first inspection, the menu looked a little bit old school, with dishes like haggis parcels and duck parfait featuring on the starters section and sticky toffee pudding on the desserts.  Nothing wrong with classic but they have to be exceptional versions.
We were choosing dishes from the three-course seasonal menu which would set you back £27.95 so treated ourselves to a tasty raspberry bellini to aid us with our decisions.

I started with the chilli and coriander fish bites with pea shoots and tartare sauce. I suppose this dish set the tone for what was to come.  The fish balls were crunchy on the outside with a visually appealing interior. There was evidence of skilled knife work judging by the flecks of shallot, red onion and herbs but they were so under seasoned that the effort was just lost.  The tartare sauce was bizarre.  Again, the knife work was there with the veg elements, but it was like they were dressed in the watery stuff you drain off the top of a tub of yoghurt.  Not pleasant. Why go to the effort of finely chopping things then ruin them by not tasting and being sloppy?

Sarah ordered the vegetarian haggis and beetroot parcels with Glayva, chilli and beetroot puree. Slightly on the rustic side presentation wise, the filo parcels weren’t as crisp as you’d have hoped for but the filling was earthy and pleasing enough.  The puree was kind of jam-like but offered a fine balance of chilli heat, sweetness and the taste of beetroot that I adore.  Again, this dish just wasn’t sufficiently seasoned.

Pork belly is my favourite meat and I always order it when it’s on the menu.  This one was billed as crispy belly with spring onion mash, fondant carrots and cider jus. Firstly, it was obvious that the skin wasn’t crispy as billed.  It was soggy and disgusting and needed to be crisped up in a hot pan or roasted in the oven – surely any chef can see that before sending it out?  This is my pet hate given my love for this ingredient.  The meat underneath was glorious and had a pleasing note of star anise that works so well with this cut. The fondant carrots still had a little bite but were deliciously buttery.  The mash was verging on the dense side and needed seasoning but was okay overall.  I had expected the cider jus to provide a sharp contrast to the sweet components and the richness of the dish but it tasted of very little.

Fillet of sea bass with red pepper gnocchi, spinach and mozzarella was Sarah’s choice of main and her initial reaction wasn’t great, as the fillet of bass was a meagre one to say the least. On top of that, it the skin was flabby and overcooked.  The gnocchi was tasty with a hint of red pepper to it but the whole thing needed a serious injection of salt and pepper.

Despite being a throwback to the '80s, sticky toffee pudding can be a glorious thing. This one didn’t quite cut it.  The sponge was fine but lacked flavour, though the sauce was tasty.  The ice cream had crystallised so wasn’t nice to eat.  Maybe jazzing it up with a bit of salt caramel would have made it a bit more interesting, but otherwise it was forgettable.

Now, Sarah’s dessert was a real embarrassment. She ordered cranachan, which, let’s face it, isn’t the most difficult of puddings to make. This one was essentially a tower of whipped cream with some mushed up berries through it.  No sign of whisky as per a traditional cranachan, although there was a sprinkling of oats over the slate board.  There was a chocolate spoon present to add some "theatre” but it didn’t need to be there.  Not impressed.

Dinner didn’t quite live up to the heights of last time, which was obviously disappointing.  This seasonal menu is designed to offer value, but I’d suggest you could find a more modern, better executed one elsewhere. Ultimately, I think the errors here were just down to the chef not paying attention to detail and being a bit lazy. What a pity.

Web: http://www.11brunswickst.co.uk/
Address: No. 11, 11 Brunswick Street, Edinburgh, EH7 5JB
Phone: (0131) 557 6910




Brasserie - No. 11 Boutique Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato