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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Viva Vivo salad!

It takes something really tempting for me to order a salad and actually enjoy it. I was first tempted by the combination of chicory, Gorgonzola, pomegranate and mint, simply and boldly served at Caffe Vivo last summer.

It's an atmospheric, bright place to have lunch or make the most of the all day express menu and you can get anything from a cappuccino to a hearty supper.

The salad is actually so simple, it doesn't warrant a recipe. It's great as a lunch dish or a light starter to allow space for a comforting Wintery main course and pudding. Here's a how to:

Lift the soft blue cheese from the fridge (the flavour improves if it's served at room temperature). If you're sticking to the Italian roots of this dish use Dolcelatte or Gorgonzola or if you're keen for a treat, try Cornish Blue from the award winning The Cheese Shed; it's a young blue cheese that competes well with imported cheeses and is much lighter than a British Stilton.

Wash and arrange the chicory as a base (we used a mixture of regular and red leaves).

Free the jewels of pomegranate from the fruit, set aside.

Arrange the blue cheese rustically on the leaves.

Scatter the pomegranate.

Dress with delicious olive oil (Arbequina is amazing and available here) and fresh mint.

Buon appetito!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

For safe travels: in pictures

It was a strange feeling setting the Table again, revisiting our mental supper club to do list, checking everything twice convinced something would be forgotton. The menu planning, shopping, rush of the preparations, the anticipation of guests arriving. A curious mixture of nerves and delights.

Then, the doorbell rings, old roles are resumed like putting on a pair of well worn shoes, dinner is served, friends gather to tell stories and say farewell for now. The baby sleeps, wakes briefly aware there are strangers in her home and sleeps soundly again.

Now, it is over and we're left with these pictures to tell the story, house quiet, table cleared but washing up piled high, washing machine whirring, eager to do it again.

And so to bed.

To welcome: Dunsyre blue cheese mousse, buttery oat biscuits.

To amuse: Curried parsnip soup, apple crisps.

To start: Squash, rocket, Dunsyre blue, rosemary.

To follow: Venison Wellingtons, caramelised red cabbage, green beans.

Here's how a wheat free Wellington looks.

To finish: Baked chocolate pudding, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Menu for safe travels

We're back, kind of!

As we've been missing hosting our supper club lots, the perfect opportunity to have a little practice for friends and send some of them to the other side of the world with bellies full of some fine home grown ingredients has arisen. We thought you'd like to see.

The menu has been selected from some of the most successful and decadent ever brought to the Table. Now we need to get to grips with shopping lists, transforming our home and all of the hosting/cooking things that were second nature earlier this year!

To start
Squash, rocket, Dunsyre blue, pear, rosemary.

To follow
Wellingtons, caramelised red cabbage, green beans.

To finish
Baked chocolate pudding, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Shortbread for the weekend

Holly makes the best shortbread and I asked her to share her secrets and her recipe here. You can check out other wonderful things she makes and her quest to feather her nest over on her blog. In fact, make some shortbread, grab a tea, coffee, whisky or wine and click here.



Ready to bake.

Ready to eat.

I have tried many different shortbread recipes in the past, but this one is by far the tastiest. It is adapted from a recipe by Anta who serve up big mugs of tea and generous portions of cakes and biscuits at their Highland showroom in Fearn...definitely worth a visit if you're ever on the north-east coast!

Since I began using this recipe it has been baked in heart shapes to celebrate weddings and engagements, in
holly leaf shapes to be given as Christmas presents, and in sweet little rounds just to be enjoyed at home.

To make 25-30 small biscuits, you will need:

8oz butter - I use salted
3 and a half oz caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
3 and a half oz corn flour
8oz plain flour
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a baking tray or two.
Mix together the butter and sugar.
Mix in the corn flour.
Mix in the plain flour and pinch of salt.

My mixer is not very good, and there is a lot of flour, so I have to use my hands towards the end to bring the mixture together. But once you have a soft, but not sticky, dough, flour a work surface and roll out to a depth of about 2cm.

Cut into any shapes you like and use a fork to prick holes in the tops.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack, and while still warm sprinkle with caster sugar (the heat will make the sugar stick to the tops and in the holes you made with the fork).

Enjoy with tea, coffee, whisky, sweet wine, the list is endless - this shortbread goes with everything!

*Step by step photos by Holly except for the ready to eat shot which is mine!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Canapes for ladies

When ladies gather, this time to mark a retirement, it's an occasion worthy of some delectable bites.
Hot smoked salmon mousse on homemade buttery oat biscuits.

Prawn, cucumber ribbon and mint spoons.

Pea and Pecorino toasts.

Brioche toasts, chicken liver pate and nectarine pickle.

Party pieces - Scottish fruit skewers with chocolate coated blueberries.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Rosemary spiced nuts

We love nibbling on nuts but plain nuts can be a bit predictable so, for E's Christening, we thought we'd try something a little sweet and spicy. They taste delicious and we're already planning on making them throughout Autumn (it's arrived here) and as Christmas gifts too (yes, I did just say that), they go very well with a cheese board.

You will need:

150g pecans
150g almonds
150g walnuts
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes

What to do:

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Put the nuts in a large bowl.
Melt the butter, pour over the nuts and mix so that they are coated.

Spread the nuts onto a baking tray or two.
Bake until golden (probably around six minutes but keep an eye on them every couple of minutes and turn/shake them to prevent burning).
Combine the rosemary, dark brown sugar, cayenne pepper and salt flakes in a large bowl, add the toasted nuts and mix well.

Serves ten for nibbles only but as these are incredibly moreish and keep well in an airtight container, it's safe to make double quantities. Enjoy and if you're a fan you should also try this recipe for chai spiced almonds, another perfect cold weather snack.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Simple supper

I was looking for a very quick Tuesday tea featuring some delicious home grown rhubarb. A brief leaf through Nigel Slater's pages and I decided on a roasted rhubarb and pan fried mackerel combination, served with cous cous to allow the stronger flavours voice across the palate. There's no recipe, it was very simple but it worked (and was probably quicker than a more usual Tuesday pasta dish).

Being filleted in wonderful Armstrongs.

Simply picked, washed and chopped.

Ta da!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The happiest of birthdays

To celebrate my birthday, I was whisked away to North Berwick harbour for the yummiest feast at The Lobster Shack . If you can drive there don't delay or plan a visit from further afield, it's open until 2nd October (12-6pm) and the combination of the freshest shellfish, excellent cooking and presentation, the wine list (including champagne), views and the casual atmosphere can't fail to impress.

From nature...

...to plate (of sorts).

The harbour.

The shack.

And finally, to finish of the trip, a stroll on the beach and an ice cream. E's tiny toes experienced sand and icey sea for the first time. Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Festival canapes

Back when The Festival was in full swing, we found a corner of calm among the glistening, bright shelves of sweet smelling bottles to present some Scottish canapes and escape the hustle and bustle in favour of some pampering. We met some lovely ladies too.

Dunsyre blue cheese mousse on homemade buttery oat biscuits.

Scottish berry skewers with milk chocolate drizzle.

Northern shores hot smoked salmon, mousse on home made buttery oat biscuits.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Vegetarian "wellingtons" by Chris

What's hiding in these pale parcels you may ask?*

A sweet, herby mixture of aubergine and puy lentils.

Adapted by Chris from Yotam Ottolenghi with the idea of creating a vegetarian wellington as an alternative to these.

Makes two main course sized parcels or four starter sized.

You will need:

2 medium aubergines

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

200g Puy lentils

3 carrots

2 celery sticks

1 bay leaf

3 thyme sprigs

1 onion

Olive oil

12 cherry tomatoes (halved)

1 tsp brown sugar

Chopped parsley

Puff pastry

Grill the aubergines and turn them frequently to prevent them burning. After about 45 minutes they should be ready.

Remove their skins, and scoop out flesh into a colander. Leave to drain, transfer to a bowl and mix in some of the red wine vinegar. Allow to cool.

Cook the Puy lentils with one of the carrots and one stick of celery, the onion and bay - keep in large chunks as these will be removed.

Cook for 20 mins or according to instructions then drain and remove onion, celery, carrot and bay. Mix through olive oil and vinegar.

Cut the remaining veg into 1cm cubes and mix with tomatoes, oil, sugar and salt.

Mix this cubed veg with the aubergines and lentils in a bowl, it should be moist but not too runny otherwise it will soak through the pastry.

Using puff pastry (homemade or bought) spoon the filling onto the pastry and make into parcels using an egg wash to seal and glaze.

Bake in the oven for 25 mins at 180c until the pasty pastry turns crisp and golden.

Serve with a crisp green salad and crème fraiche or a wedding style picnic should you feel the need.

*Sorry, I only managed a before shot.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Christening day

With the pain of loss heavy in our hearts, we gathered with our family and close friends to celebrate the joint baptism of our baby and our new nephew, her cousin. We may have hired a venue but we wanted to provide the light lunch for guests ourselves, of course. So it was another late night and early start in our kitchen.

My late Nana's 90 year old Christening gown.

We chose a menu which included highlights from the wedding picnic with a couple of additions:

Rosemary spiced nuts (recipe coming soon).

Grissini with Parma ham.

Chicken liver pate or hummus.

Selection of three cheeses.

Horseradish cured salmon.

Armstrong’s home smoked trout with shaved fennel.

Bower’s rare roasted beef.


Baguette by Herbies of Stockbridge.

Courgette and lemon salad.

Potato salad.

Mango and spinach salad.

Roasted cherry tomato and feta salad.

Charlie and Evelyn’s House Chutney selection: courgette, cucumber pickle or onion jam.


Christening cake, cupcakes and strawberries.

With the exception of some delicious left over beef, there was very little remaining once the guests departed. Clear plates were the only evidence we needed that the food had been enjoyed.

Bunting (first made for a wonderful wedding) on loan from a good friend in Jersey who couldn't make it but was with us in spirit.

Sunny handmade pinwheels for the children (tested but not waterproof)!

Delicate lace hydrangea.

A jar of rosemary spiced nuts on the table.

A selection.

My plate (carefully arranged for the photo) and a menu.

Mini E cupcakes.

Sleepy Eva's Christening cake.

Lavender cupcakes with Christening wraps.

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