30 January 2013

Spicy parsnip and maple syrup cake

I've always loved sweet recipes that incorporate vegetables or fruit into the bake, adding a natural earthiness and helping to keep a cake moist. 
I was surprised to find parsnip cake on a recent visit to Borough market and although I've tried carrot cake, courgette muffins and dark chocolate beetroot cake, I'd never thought of using parsnips.
So this cake recipe contains the same base as my tangy carrot cake but I've spiced it up and substituted the carrots for parsnips and apple which give the cake a wonderfully deep earthy flavour- accompanied by a sweet maple syrup and cream cheese frosting.
It's a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea away from the snowy January weather.

200ml sunflower oil or any vegetable oil
200g light brown muscovado sugar
3 eggs
1tbsp maple syrup
225g gluten-free self raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spice
3 small parsnips
1 eating apple

50g slightly salted butter
150g icing sugar
225g philadelphia or any cream cheese
2tbsp maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. 
Whisk together the sunflower oil and light brown muscovado sugar and then slowly add in your eggs, whisking between each addition.Whisk in the maple syrup. 

Next measure out your flour, spices and salt and mix them into the wet ingredients.

Once fully incorporated, peel and deseed your apple and the parsnips, cutting the ends off each parsnip.

Grate your parsnips and apple and add to the mixture, stirring thoroughly and pouring into two greased and lined cake tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 mins and then cool the cakes on wire racks.

To make the frosting, whisk together the icing sugar, butter and cream cheese.

Spread a thin layer of frosting on the bottom half of the cake and then sandwich the two halves together. Swirl the remaining frosting generously on top of the cake and then drizzle over the maple syrup.

Eddie couldn't sit still with all this snow- he was super excited!

27 January 2013

Homemade herby burgers with a chilli tomato relish

There's something just so tempting about homemade burgers.
They're 10 times better than shop bought(guaranteed not to be horse meat!!) and surprisingly easy to make. Choose good quality beef mince and make the burger patties a few hours before you plan to eat them so that they have time to firm up before frying.
My homemade chilli and tomato relish is a perfect sticky and sweet sauce along with any of your other favourite burger toppings.

To make 9 burgers(for very hungry friends):
1kg good quality beef mince
2 eggs
2 slices white bread(with crusts removed)
large handful chopped flat leaf parsley
large handful of basil leaves
small bunch of rosemary leaves
small handful sage
salt and pepper
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds

For the relish:
1 punnet baby tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 red chilli
2 small garlic cloves
Splash of red wine vinegar
small handful of caster sugar
black pepper
1 tablespoon light brown muscovado sugar

sliced cheese

buns (we're lucky enough to live near to Hambleton Bakery- just been voted Britain's Best Bakery)

Firstly, wash and prepare your herbs by removing the stalks and finely chopping.

Add the herbs to your beef mince

Season your mix generously with salt and pepper and then add in two whole eggs. Using a pestle and mortar grind your cumin and coriander seeds and add to the mixture. 

Next,cut the crusts off your bread and using a food processor, blitz to fine breadcrumbs. (I used gluten free Warburtons bread here which works just as well.)
Add these to the bowl.

Using your hands, work the mixture into a firm ball, mixing all the ingredients thoroughly.

Once mixed, divide your mixture into equal balls and flatten slightly into round patties.

Lay the burgers on a cling-filmed tray and cover with cling film before chilling in the fridge for approximately 2-3 hours.
(This allows the burgers to firm up slightly so that they keep their shape when cooking.)

Whilst the burgers are in the fridge, make the relish.

Deseed your pepper and red chilli and remove the tomatoes from their stalks.

Chop the vegetables into small chunks (not too small as they will cook down later on) and crush your garlic cloves.

Put a frying pan on a high heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Add your vegetables and fry until slightly softened.

Once the vegetables begin to release their juices add a good splash of red wine vinegar and your caster sugar, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the sugar from catching on the bottom of the pan.
Season with black pepper.

As the relish begins to reduce add your light muscovado sugar and keep stirring until you have a sticky sauce.

Remove from the heat and decant the sauce to cool.

When you are ready to eat, put the frying pan back on a high heat and add a small splash of olive oil, making sure to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is very hot and bubbling add your burgers.

Fry on each side for about 5 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. 

Once cooked serve your burgers in a bun with your relish and whatever toppings you fancy. My personal favourite is cheese, fried mushroom and a piece of bacon on top!

22 January 2013

Delicious suppers and Sunday morning brunch @ the Pantry - Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I'd heard about the Pantry through loads of foodie websites listing the best and cosiest places for brunch in Edinburgh.
It seemed to be buzzing with positive reviews and looked like just my type of place. 
I'd only just managed to work out Twitter and through their profile found out that they were planning on having a few evening taster suppers at their restaurant and deli shop in Stockbridge. 
I decided to seize a chance to sample what looked like a delicious menu at brilliant prices with some very eager friends. Stockbridge is a lovely place to stroll around and the Pantry is situated just at the top of North West Circle Place. 

So last week, I headed to the Pantry for a seasonal taster supper. It has a lovely warming and welcoming atmosphere and is beautifully decorated with a sort of rustic and cosy feeling, mix match chairs and a very unique, farm animal wall paper which is fun and relaxed. 

It was a short menu of beautiful dishes showcasing local produce and celebrating key ingredients.I had an arbroath smoky and leek risotto with fried egg on toast and then beef shin with spinach, barley, shallots and red wine. 

The risotto was beautifully smoky, rich and deliciously creamy in texture. I'd never tried arbroath smoky before but am a huge fan of smoked fish.
The slow-cooked beef shin melted in my mouth, with the barley as a perfectly contrasting texture accompanied by a deliciously tangy red wine sauce. 

The others had pigeon breast with pumpkin seeds, puy lentils, parsley and potatoes to start, and then mackerel with lemon gnocchi, caper butter and mizuna and "surf and turf" hake with leek, truffle, potato and onion. The food was healthy, creative and amazingly tasty with deliciously rich flavours.

The dishes were also presented beautifully 

I was so impressed by the inventive menu and friendly atmosphere at the Pantry so thought I'd try out their brunch menu as well. On a Sunday morning it was bustling with people and a lovely hide away from the freezing Scotland weather outside. 

I can't rave enough about the food at the Pantry- it's upmarket and creative without being at all pretentious and is incredibly healthy, tasty and affordable at the same time. We pondered over the brunch menu for ages trying to decide before ordering ham hock hash with poached duck egg, arbroath smokie kedgeree with soft quail's eggs, sweetcorn fritters with spicy tomato chutney, sweet and creamy porridge and homemade granola. 

Very satisfying Sunday morning food!

Sweetcorn fritters  with a spicy tomato chutney

Homemade granola with dried cranberries and milk served in mini milk churns- a great little detail

They also offer a whole array of breakfast rolls, the full-on breakfast and their own version of eggs Benedict as well as hemp seed pancakes with buckthorn yoghurt.

We headed on from the Pantry- warm and full of delicious brunch to Stockbridge Market- held on Sundays from 10-5. It's a perfect size for a leisurely stroll and is full of really interesting  fresh produce from local producers and delicious hot food stands. 

We even found some delicious gluten free carrot cupcakes from Cuckoo's Bakery - a gorgeous cupcake shop and tea room on Dundas Street.

Make sure to visit:


1-2 North West Circus Place




 and Cuckoo's Bakery

150 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 5DQ