31 March 2014

Spiced Sweet Potato Pancakes



That end-of-term tired feeling has really hit hard now and the next few weeks at home are looking very appealing! I've got one more exam to get through up here and then I'm heading home for the Easter holidays to an (apparently) summery and beautiful spring climate!
This term has whizzed by with my internship at delicious sandwiched in the middle and now I'm nearly at the end of my second year (already!!!)
In order to get me out of bed the last few days I've been whipping up some energy-sustaining breakfasts including these spiced sweet potato pancakes. All you need to do in advance is boil up some peeled and diced sweet potato and then keep it in a tupperware in the fridge until you are ready to use it. 
These pancakes are absolutely delicious and make a filling but light meal to keep you going for the day ahead. 
Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, vitamins and betacarotene and so make a great healthy addition to one of my favourite breakfast choices.




To make enough to feed 2-4 people (depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients:

1 medium sized potato (roughly 225g), peeled, boiled, cooled and then mashed.
250ml almond milk (you can use normal or soya milk here instead)
2 eggs
100g plain flour ( I used gluten-free)
50g spelt flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp cinnamon

Coconut oil/butter to cook.

Method:

Measure out the flours and spices into a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, almond milk and cooled, mashed sweet potato. You could also add a little vanilla paste if you wish. Then pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ones in the mixing bowl and whisk using a balloon whisk to a batter. ( Don't worry about any lumps!)

Put a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat and then add a little coconut oil or butter. Then add heaped tablespoonfuls of the batter - I cooked 4 small pancakes at a time. Let the pancakes fry on one side for about 60 seconds until small bubbles start to appear and then flip them over and cook on the other side until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter mixture. Whilst I'm cooking the pancakes I have a plate ready in a warm oven so that I can keep the pancakes warm whilst I'm cooking the rest.

Serve the warm pancakes with a generous drizzle of honey or maple syrup, some freshly sliced banana and some crushed pistachios or a little bit of whatever you fancy!





24 March 2014

Field




Field is a small independent restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh that having only been open for just over a year is already in this year's Michelin guide. It's welcoming and cosy restaurant space invites you in to sample its delicious, affordable menu that celebrates local and seasonal produce.

I've been to the restaurant twice now and the lovely Rachel agreed to chat with me about having finally opened up their own restaurant after 3 years of looking for the right venue and how lucky they feel to have such loyal and enthusiastic customers.




Here are some of the questions I asked Rachel:

Let's start with the name of the restaurant- it's fun and simple - what was the idea behind it?

To be honest, it was quite a last minute thing. We knew the basic ideas we wanted it to represent but we lacked the branding. In the end, this was our favourite. We wanted it to show our ethos of fresh, seasonal and local food straight from the field to your table.

Why do you believe it is so important to cook with seasonal, local produce?

We believe it is important to support the new independent businesses around us as well as local suppliers, who in return have been highly supportive of our venture. Cooking with seasonal, local produce also helps to reduce our carbon footprint and allows us to be creative with our food yet maintain good value for money.

Do you think people are educated enough in eating seasonally? 

Yes, I think so, especially after events such as the horse meat scandal last year, I think people are more aware of where their food comes from and what exactly goes into the meals they are eating. For example, we source our steak from a great farm in the Scottish borders and we often visit the farm to be as involved in the process as we can be.

Would you think about putting this information about the source of your products alongside the relevant dishes on your menu?

It's something we've thought about but we don't want to bombard people with too much information. We'd like to think we are approachable and if somebody wants to know where their food is from, we can tell them everything they'd like to know.



What are your favourite dishes?

My personal favourite is the hake with ratatouille and chunky chips. As a starter, the chefs have also started smoking duck in the kitchen with applewood which adds a mild but distinctive flavour and a beautiful texture to the meat, served alongside a spicy pineapple relish and freshly made potato crisps.
I love all puddings, so that is a tough one! I can't pick my favourite but we sometimes have a spectacular dessert special such as our rocky road baked alaska!

Your food is very creative and playful. Do you all work together in producing the menus? How often are they changed?

Gordon and Byron in the kitchen are really passionate about what they do. They like to do things a little differently, it's just something that comes really naturally to them and they're always in there cooking up new ideas for dishes. I can't ever see them getting bored, it's got to be exciting and a challenge for them too!

Our menu changes in line with what fresh produce is available in the local markets for example with our lunch and pre-theatre menu we often have our fish of the day dish dependent on the catch available that day. We also don't like bored chefs- we want to keep them interested in the food they are cooking!

Do you think it is important to fight against the stereotype of Scottish food as meat and stodgy carbohydrates?

Yes, I think Scotland has so much to offer. Gordon can do things with these local ingredients that don't have to be stodgy and full of fat but can be made lighter and exciting. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be made very comforting for winter or light and fresh for summer. Our chef likes to add a twist on the traditional Scottish cuisine for example our current chicken dish is based on the Scottish haggis, neeps and tatties reconstructed through a turnip dauphionise and crispy haggis ball in a completely different style.

What have been the main challenges in setting up your own restaurant?

To be honest, we've been really really fortunate. We've had so much support from local people coming back to the restaurant instead of going somewhere else the next week, continually supporting and helping us out.We've had a really easy journey so far and there hasn't been anything yet!

You've been open a year now and have been mentioned in this year's 2014 Michelin guide! You must be thrilled?

It's one of these things you day-dream of.  It was a lunch time and I was downstairs and I thought, I'll just have a wee look to see who's in it, and when I saw we were there it was a bit of a shock- it took a couple of days to sink in! It was really amazing and the guys in the kitchen did brilliantly to get that - we've got our red sticker in the window now!

Where are some of your other favourite foodie hot spots in the city?

We've been going to The Dogs a lot recently which we love. Another one which isn't in Edinburgh is The Wee Restaurant over in North Queensferry. We went to a wine tasting there the other day which we really enjoyed.

What do you like about being based in Edinburgh?

It's just a really great city. There is so much on your doorstop in Edinburgh and the people here really embrace it. The city is very neighbourly and it's lovely to see people who have come in from a recommendation from their neighbour or friend. I think this area especially has a lovely community feel.

There are so many restaurants here in Edinburgh- do you think this is a problem for new start-ups?

Yeah it is, There's just so many restaurants in Edinburgh. There's so much choice and so much competition everywhere- people could chose to go somewhere different every night of the week if they wanted to so I think it's really really important for new businesses to look after their customers. That's what this is about, giving customers a good experience. We hope to stand out with the combination of the value and the creativity of our food. Each restaurant has their own place in the city, but this is what we are trying to do.

Do you have plans to expand in the future? What can we expect for the rest of this year?

I think the building has a lot to do with the atmosphere here. We opened with a very limited budget and have slowly been making little changes as we go along. As it is at the moment, we think it works quite well as a small place. If we were to move somewhere bigger, say a 100-seater, it would loose its atmosphere and appeal. It took about 3 years before we got this place but when this place came up it was perfect as it's such a brilliant location. It's been quite a crazy year to be honest but it's been great - there's never a low moment.


Do you hold any events in here?

In November, we did a wine testing dinner that was really nice. One of our wine suppliers had been to visit lots of wine makers and so we did a whole evening of 5 or 6 course matching wine and food. We also did a big dinner for Hogmanay which we really enjoyed.

***

The times I've been to Field, I've been welcomed with a friendly and excellent service. The menu is different, creative and extremely good value for money.
Although quite a small space, it is lovely and bright and you don't feel packed in. As it is small and the kitchen quite near to the dining room, it did get a little smoky at times but you could also smell the delicious aromas of the food and you felt like it was a personal, cosy dining experience.

They serve you fresh homemade bread rolls straight from the hot oven- I sampled their sun-dried tomato and sesame seed roll which was delicious.


To start, I had their smoothy and creamy duck liver parfait served with a refreshing and tangy pineapple relish and gingerbread toasts with a warming spice which really complement the duck. It was very light and creamy which made it a great sized started.


For main course I chose the special fish of the day which was pan-fried coley served with sweet potato fishcakes. The fish was cooked perfectly and the flavours in the dish were lovely but the fishcakes, although crispy in the outside, were a little soggy on the inside and would have been better with some chunkier pieces of potato.



For dessert, Rachel informed me that their South African pastry chef had been working on a South African style Malva pudding with banana and star anise ice cream which I just had to try! It had a deliciously sticky and spongy texture and the slight aniseed taste from the star anise in the ice cream was a great accompaniment to the very sweet sponge. A bit like the traditionally British pushing on syrup sponge pudding, this pudding is doused in syrup after baking so that the syrup seeps all the way through the sponge.





Field is one of Edinburgh's little foodie gems and certainly one to watch! With a very reasonably priced menu, it makes a great setting for a lunch out with friends or a special occasion dinner. 

They are now open Tuesday to Sunday serving lunch and dinner. 

Check out their website here. Booking advisable.


Lunch and Pre-Theatre: available between 12-2pm and 5.30-6.45pm

1 course £8.95, 2 courses £11.95, 3 course £14.95


19 March 2014

Date and Banana Bars


There is a stream of (rather miserable!) television programmes and news articles hitting our screens about the high levels of added sugar in our diets. New health regulations suggest that we should be eating way less sugar than we are but this is nearly impossible- it's hidden in nearly everything! I just aim to substitute some of the artificial sugars in my food for healthier, natural sweeteners. The date syrup in these energy bars is a delicious natural sweetener, a new obsession of mine and perfect drizzled on top of porridge. 



These bars are high-energy and perfect for an on-the-run breakfast or afternoon concentration-boosting snack! Packed full of oats, dates, golden linseed and gooey baked bananas they make a perfect energy-sustaining snack. They are squidgy and sticky with crunchy seeds and walnuts for a great contrasting texture.

Ingredients:

100g butter/coconut oil
40g date syrup
100g dates
2 bananas, mashed
160g oats
Large handful of golden linseed flaxseed
Walnuts/pecans/raisins/sultanas

Method:

Melt the date syrup and butter/coconut oil in a small saucepan. Stir in the porridge oats, finely chopped dates, 2 very mashed bananas and a good handful of golden linseed. You could also add in some chopped walnuts or pecans or some sultanas and raisins if you fancy. Spoon the mixture into a grease and lined small baking tin.

Bake in the preheated oven at 200 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes until golden. Once baked, remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and then chop with a sharp knife into equal-sized bars.

15 March 2014

Mini Blood Orange Upside-Down Cakes


These little cakes are fun, refreshing and very easy to make. I hardly ever use blood oranges as they aren't available in my local supermarkets but I managed to pick up some fresh Moro ones from the market last weekend. Blood oranges have a beautiful red-blushed orange skin and have a distinctively tart, berry-like flavour. This type of blood orange is in season from January till about April/May and is also delicious segmented and tossed in salads for a citrus zing. 




Ingredients: (makes 12 small cakes)

140g caster sugar
75g butter
2 large eggs
130g self-raising flour
20g ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp five spice powder
Zest of 1 blood orange
5 tbsp buttermilk
3 small blood oranges

50g butter
50g dark brown soft sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan).

Cream together the butter and caster sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk. Then gradually add in the eggs, continuing to whisk on a medium speed. Once both the eggs are fully incorporated, fold in the flour, ground almonds, orange zest and spices with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to bash all of the air out of the mixture when adding the dry ingredients. Then carefully stir in the buttermilk so that you have a light cake mixture.

Melt the remaining 50g of butter and the dark soft brown sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer the mixture for a few minutes until it begins to thicken. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin very well with soft butter and then add a small spoonful of the sugar mixture to each mould.

Remove the peel, seeds and white pith from the oranges with a sharp knife and then cut them into fairly thick slices. Arrange one slice on top of the sugar mixture in each mould and then top with a heaped spoonful of the cake batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes until risen, springy and golden brown.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then with a sharp knife or palette knife, run it around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the moulds. Then tip each one out onto a plate. You should have beautifully soft and spongy cakes with a slice of caramelised orange on top.

I think they are best served still warm with a dash of double cream.

PS: I'm trying to explore Scotland a little more! I've never really been anywhere apart from Edinburgh and St Andrews and so have made it my mission to get out and see some more of the beautiful coastal villages and landscape that Scotland has to offer. One day I'd love to take the trek up to the Isle of Skye but for last weekend, a little trip to the beautiful North Berwick beach was enough. It's a gorgeous natural beach with traditional seaside houses with ladders leading from their back doors straight onto the sand! We were blessed with some glorious Scottish sunshine (finally!) and had an afternoon strolling along the sand and eating fish and chips- perfect.



Sources:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1272640/individual-coconut-and-pineapple-upsidedown-cakes



9 March 2014

Roasted Cumin Carrot and Halloumi Salad



If you're a cafe lover like me, you'll never get bored in Edinburgh. Almost every other building seems to be one and you are completely spoilt for choice, some of my favourites being Loudons Cafe, Urban Angel, Leo's Beanery or Earthy. I sat in the window of Leo's Beanery last weekend with one of their chocolate brownies (which are deliciously chocolatey and gooey), a cup of fresh mint tea and my laptop in hand- I'm trying to plan my year abroad- quite a daunting task!
After weighing up the options and deciding I wanted a break from academic study, I've decided to look for a job- quite an impossible task with the current spanish unemployment levels! Madrid would be my preferred city to live in- I went there around this time last year and absolutely loved it, especially the food. So hopefully, my plan is to live in Madrid for 4 months doing an intensive  language course to improve my Spanish and then move on to a hotel job in Mallorca!- Fingers crossed it will all go according to plan and I'll come back fluent in Spanish! (Sería fantástico!)

After a morning of sending emails, I decided to grab some lunch. Leo's Beanery is a gorgeous cafe nestled down the steps of Howe Street in New Town, Edinburgh. It's a busy place, great for meeting a friend for coffee or having a leisurely Sunday brunch with the papers. They serve simple, delicious food with a daily specials menu and a great selection of freshly baked cakes and pastries. I chose a roasted carrot and halloumi salad that was served with some crusty bread and deliciously thick sweet balsamic vinegar.
I though I'd recreate a smilier salad for a dinner with some friends last night- it's quick, full of flavour and a lovely light option.





Ingredients:

3 big carrots (rainbow carrots)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp sumac

1 red onion
Mixed lettuce leaves

Halloumi Cheese
Pumpkin seeds
Golden Linseeds
Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh mint leaves

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C(fan).
Chop the carrots into thick slices (I kept the skin on but you can peel them if you wish) and then put them in a mixing bowl along with the cumin, sumac, a large drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Stir well and then put the carrots into a roasting tray.


Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile add a large handful of pumpkin seeds to a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing them all the time to make sure they don't burn.

Cut the halloumi into slices and grill them in a griddle pan over a high heat until slightly crispy and squidgy.

Once the carrots are roasted, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Mix the carrots with the lettuce leaves, finely sliced red onions, grilled halloumi, toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of golden linseeds. You could also add some cooked chicken pieces if you'd like.

To make the dressing mix 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with a dash of lemon juice and some olive oil. Dress the salad and then sprinkle over some freshly chopped mint.









4 March 2014

Lemon and Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes




As if the last chocolate-coated pancake recipe wasn't enough, here's another one for you to choose from for today's pancake celebrations!
These buttermilk pancakes are fresh, citrusy and really light. The addition of blueberries to the batter means that once they are cooked the blueberries become warm and juicy and pop in your mouth when you're eating them!
You could add raspberries instead if you fancy or just some vanilla extract and then serve with whatever topping you fancy! I went for lemon curd that I warmed up with some extra blueberries and natural yoghurt!






Ingredients:

150g plain flour
Pinch of salt
25g caster sugar
Zest of 1 small lemon

4 medium eggs
100ml whole milk
100ml buttermilk
Large handful blueberries

Butter

Extra blueberries
Lemon curd

Method:

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt and half of the sugar. Add the lemon zest and mix with a metal spoon.

In a measuring jug, mix together the milk and buttermilk. Add in 2 whole eggs and whisk with a fork.
Separate the two remaining eggs and add the yolks to the milk mixture. Add the whites to a large mixing bowl along with the remaining sugar and whisk with an electric beater until foamy and light.

Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and use a balloon whisk to whisk until the batter is just smooth- do not over whisk it! Then fold it the egg white mixture a little at a time until you have a light batter. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add in a little knob of butter. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat the base and then drop in heaped tablespoons of the batter. I cooked 4 pancakes at a time. Fry the pancakes until small bubbles start to appear on the surface (around 40 seconds) and then flip them and fry for another 30-40 seconds until golden.

Repeat for the rest of the mixture. Then pile the pancakes up high and serve with warm lemon curd and more fresh blueberries!

Delicious!




Basic buttermilk pancake recipe: https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/p/perfect-buttermilkpancakeswithchocolatesauce.html#.UxUUIHk-PwI

Pancakes baby!

Happy Pancake Day!




Just look at that thick, velvety chocolate sauce- who could resist!






Pancake day, in my opinion is one of the best days- who couldn't like a day dedicated to pancakes in all descriptions- topped with maple syrup and bacon, fluffy buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit, thin French crepes with speculoos (have you tried it?) and bananas or the classic lemon and sugar.
If you fancy something a little different this pancake day, why not try this Dutch baby pancakes recipe, sometimes called German pancakes too! It is a bit like Yorkshire pudding in that it is cooked in hot butter in the oven and rises up to a spongy delicious pancake. You could top it with whatever you fancy but I added chocolate chips to my batter and topped it with fresh raspberries, mint and hot chocolate sauce. What's not to like about pancakes, raspberries and chocolate sauce?!

Or check out some of my other pancake recipes including these delicious maple pumpkin pecan pancakes served with crispy bacon or these light and fresh lemon ricotta pancakes with a cherry compote.

I'll be popping up another recipe later on in the day for my lemon and blueberry buttermilk pancakes!

Ingredients: (makes enough for 1 pancake to split between 2)

150g dark chocolate
75ml double cream

Small knob of butter
1 egg
60g plain flour
60 ml milk
Small pinch of salt
25g extra dark chocolate, cut up finely

Raspberries
Fresh mint leaves

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C(fan).
Add the butter to a cast iron skillet pan or oven-proof frying pan. Put the pan into the hot oven.
Meanwhile,whisk together the egg, plain flour, salt and milk in a mixing bowl with a balloon whisk until smooth.
Finely chop the extra dark chocolate and mix it into the batter.
Once the butter is really hot and beginning to foam, remove the pan from the oven (making sure to wear thick oven gloves when doing so) and pour in the batter. Return the pan to the oven for 12-15 minutes until the pancake is golden brown and puffed up.

Whilst the pancake is cooking, break the chocolate up into small pieces into a glass bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to simmer and then strain the cream over the chocolate straight away. Stir the chocolate and cream together until all the chocolate has melted and you are left with a velvety, smooth chocolate sauce.

Once tha pancake is cooked, remove it from the oven and top with a generous handful of fresh raspberries, some mint leaves and a glorious glug of chocolate sauce.

Then devour.

You could also top it with fresh banana and pecans or stewed apples and cinnamon! mmmmmmm

Inspiration taken from:
http://whatshouldieatforbreakfasttoday.com/post/49507771834/dutch-baby-with-chocolate-raspberries-and-mint
https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/p/perfect-buttermilkpancakeswithchocolatesauce.html#.UxUUIHk-PwI