January blues… who has them? Not here!

January has been a good and momentous month I must say! A good time to catch up with friends and get going again with my favourite passtimes…
My garden was in need of a tidy-up but I was glad to find some colour in it–look here, if you have not seen this pic already on Twitter!

I met with my good friend Blythe for lunch as well… it is always good to hear about adventures in the Lunchquest world… our venue of choice was Circus Cafe on St Mary’s Street which, in a good mezze style, treated us well… even this vegan was happy at this sight!

Yoga classes have also resume with my lovely teacher Lisa at Holyrood Yoga–and she’s already promised us a workshop in the next weeks, so watch this space…

Most of all, it felt really good to be back in our home… and for me to be in my kitchen! Lots of soupmaking happened, alrgely also as a reaction to the cold weather… high hits have been parsnip and Bramley apple soup and one of my favourites, tomato and pumpkin!
Hubby also enjoyed a big bowl of Cullen Skink last weekend–by all accounts, according to him I am becoming an expert… so, if you wish to try…
Tomato and pumpkin soup (for 2/3)
1 carton tomato passata
1 medium squash or pumpkin
1 onion
1 veg stock
350ml water
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 tsp basil
1 clove garlic.
Peel the pumpkin and cut in cubes. Wash thoroughly. Meanwhile, heat the oil and sweat the garlic and onion in it for 5/6 minutes. Toss in the pumpkin cubes, then cover with the passata and stir well. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and then pour over the soupy mixture; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover, add seasonings and herbs and let simmer til all is tender. Take off the heat and liquidise.
Cullen Skink (for 3)
1 piece of smoked haddock, about 400g in weight
4/5 medium potatoes, cut in cubes
about 400ml water
1 bay leaf
2/3 tbsp milk
In a pan, heat the water and dip the fish into it. Simmer gently til it is cooked through. Meanwhile, steam or boil the cubed potatoes til tender; once cooked tip in the bowl of a food processor about 3/4 of them and blend to almost creamy; mash roughly the others.
Take the haddock off the water but reserve the stock. Take our also the bay leaf and discard. Tear the haddock in piece, take the skin away and eliminate any scales.
Bring the stock back to a gentle simmer and then, with the help of a whisk or fork, blend in gently the mashed potatoes into it til creamy; add the haddock along with the roughly mashed spuds; add most of the milk and boil gently for another 5 to 10 minutes til all is nice and creamy and not runny.
My mother in law who is from Banff thoroughly approved… isn’t that unusual that such high praise should be awarded to the Cullen Skink made by an Italian?
🙂 🙂

New year new adventures…

It seems like yesterday that we were looking up to Christmas… and once again I am guilty as charged from not blogging for a long time! December turned out to be a tough month, with 2 bouts of various bugs which netted me half a stone and generally made me feel pretty dreary… so much so that I missed the fabulous TFGE Christmas do at Locanda dei Gusti… 😦 what a shame, but I was still under the influence of the dreaded norovirus!
Christmas was what was needed though… spending a bit less than a fortnight with family in Rome, enjoying walks and exhibition with lovely husband recharged my batteries.
As ever, we rekindled our family traditions for the Eve–our thin dinner!–and for the Day–our big dinner! 🙂
I made my fritto alla Romana and this year it came out very well, light and fluffy. Don’t ask me how, making the batter has no rime or reason for me, I use the same method and yet every time it is different. So, cauliflower florets and apples enjoyed the batter treatment whereas sliced artichokes were just dipped in egg and flour… ok, frying for an hour and half is a bit of a chore, but then the results are rather amazing! The Eve also saw my Mum back at the helm of pasta al tonno, roasted fish in the oven and a casserole of various seafood and crustaceans!
The Day was well, traditional… fettuccine al pomodoro were followed by roast lamb and roast veal loaf, potato roasties and steamed greens–broccoli from our kitchen garden and also steamed carrots and various salads!
Capodanno was spent with good friends–and I contributed la lenticchia, i.e. lentils stewed with garlic, celery and tomato, a traditional dish for New Year’s Eve, as it symbolises money and good luck. I enjoyed these on their own, but they are traditionally served with cotechino! Look here for an idea: http://www.academiabarilla.com/italian-recipes/second-courses/cotechino-with-lentils.aspx
We got back refreshed and ready for more adventures… see the next posts for what I have been up to. I promise more regular kitchen and garden updates but watch out for my pics on twitter too!
Ciao…
🙂