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?
🙂 🙂

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Dining adventures… lunch and dinner! :)

And so, the first week of Lent is over. We’re doing well, here, I am pleased to say… the soup-making skills are very handy when the order of the day is “light and penitential meals”! Barley is an exceptional ingredient, so I was only too pleased when the BBC Scotland Programme the Kitchen Cafe’ spoke about it… and even more when I saw that they re-tweeted my very unscientific recipe of barley minestrone!

https://twitter.com/AriAround/status/442988009232027648

It is a great way of consuming leftover veg… and most of all, an easy and nutritious, yet simple dinner idea!

Anyhow, this week also saw me going out for a meal not once but twice. Tuesday lunch was spent with my dear friend and fellow Geek Blythe, for an Indian meal. This is a novelty for me–Indian is food for the evening!–but proved to be a pleasant surprise. Blythe had been telling me great things about Bindi, the restaurant on St Patrick Square–which is a stone’s throw from my workplace.  Hence, we agreed to meet for a lunch bite and a wee chat… except that we found that the restaurant was closed 😦 … I should have known better, in hindsight, though–several Indian restaurants I know close on Tuesdays.  However, we were undeterred and we therefore crossed the road to Kalpna… which was open for business and most welcoming… especially to me, as it is 100% vegetarian! So, we were ushered to our table by a very attentive member of staff who explained to us that lunchtime was buffet fare… and what a good one it was.  Mixed salads galore, including my favourite, spicy cabbage and carrot with nigella seeds; a mix of aubergine and potato pakoras and then a dahl dish and two mixed vegetable dishes.  Rice and hot chapatis rounded off the offer.  The food was wholesome and good and freshly made–I could witness first hand trays being brought in and out twice in the short space of time we were there.  I enjoyed the plentiful salad mixed with dahl (proteins are important for a girl that works and runs like me! :D) and mopped up by the occasional chapati quarter.  Blythe seemed also pleased–the man is an expert so I am sure he’ll update you on the great website that is http://lunchquest.co.uk/!

Wednesday, instead, was a completely different dinner… it was for work, and in very different surroundings.  I visited for the second time in a relatively short space of time, Timber Yard, just off Castle Terrace (more info here: http://www.timberyard.co/).  I know that the place has a great reputation for meat, game and fish… and my fellow diners seemed totally pleased by the offer.  However, I wish to spend a few words saying that they also cater exceptionally well for vegans like me!  Even without any notice, the chef was able to serve me a lovely “bite” of beetroot roasted and served with seasonal herbs and thereafter a main of wild ramps, root vegetables and mushrooms, which was absolutely delicious.  I shall go back again, this time with my hubby or my parents, because the place is really worth its reputation and made me feel, once in a while, not the odd one out! 🙂 Thank you all at Timber Yard!

And now, time for more paper reading… hubby is travelling for work so it has been a working afternoon for me, but never mind, good times all around!

Ciao!

Lunch with the experts… and a good chat!

Tuesday 18 February–a rather grey and wet day but one I’d been looking forward to as I eventually managed to have lunch with a celebrity friend of mine… you know, us Total Food Geeks in Edinburgh–we’re really a creative bunch and some of us are truly amazing!  So, 1:15 pm saw me meeting up with my friend Blythe… yes, the man behind the fantastic website Lunchquest.  If you are in Edinburgh and need a steer to a place for lunch or dinner, look no further, it is a really amazing resource. 

We had arranged to visit Beirut, on Nicholson Street… after its makeover I was looking forward to this visit… however, its opening hours at lunchtime have been erratic… hence we retreated to the Olive Tree Bistrot, on Marshall Street, just across the way.  The place was quiet and the service good and attentive–it was especially nice to see the manager and one of his pal enjoying a Greek coffee–enough to set my tastebuds going! Blythe had a bowl of soup followed by borek–in true questing style! 🙂 I enjoyed a mixed salad which was great–olives, red cabbage, tomatoes and lettuce accompanied by a warm pitta, what can a girl ask for more than this??

The meal was good; the Olive Tree is a place that deserves being patronised as the food is fresh and hearty and the service attentive and kind… but more to the point, it was the conversation that made the difference: I had not seen Blythe for ages, so it was great to catch up and hatch plans for the next few months’ activities of TFGE! I think that we may have a chutney event soon–cue to me suggesting that we may invite a pal who’s chutney and jam queen (please Lucy, let’s organise another outing to Scotland soon!:D), look up ‘grab your spoon’ and you’ll find out more about her!–and well, we’ll see for the rest.

Now, I raise a mental toast to my pal Blythe–thanks again for the chat and please let’s not wait so long for a replica! 🙂