Not exactly, more a whole six inches worth but fresh powdery snow nonetheless and only the third time in 6 years there's been enough to sledge on.
It's rare to get enough snow down at sea level here to attempt a snowman never mind sledging but if you know where to go in the right weather then it's pretty much guaranteed.
We headed up on to a section of the Three Lochs Way that we knew was high enough to have good snow and we weren't wrong.
2 hours of playing in the snow was enough for all of us, mince pies and a pot of tea awaited.
We don’t eat turkey for Christmas, not sure why not but it’s probably because it gives us an excuse for a discussion each Autumn about whether to have goose or duck or beef and to throw the food budget to the wind.
This year we went for beef knowing that our local farm, Townhead Farm, were planning to get one of their Shetland stirks ready in time for Christmas and working with K. Walkers to get it ready.
We’re huge fans of our local butcher K. Walkers of Kilcreggan. They are strong advocates for locally sourced and Scottish meat and work closely with Townhead Farm. We’ve had both Townhead lamb and pork from K. Walkers (and direct from Townhead) and it definitely adds to the flavour knowing exactly where your food has come from, who raised it and who has got it “plate ready”.
Kevin ages his meat for 35 - 45 days for best tenderness and colour in his “salt chamber”, a chiller with one wall lined with Himalayan salt blocks and the results are consistently excellent.
We bought 5 ribs.
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I’m pretty lazy and keep things as easy as possible, I buy great produce and cook it without fuss and wherever possible I try to convince J to break out the BBQ, yes even on Christmas Day!
J’s KISS method for perfect BBQ’d beef. 2 ribs.
Take 1 Weber BBQ (any kettle bbq will do)
Get it as hot as you can - J couldn’t fit any more briquettes on.
Cook the beef with the briquettes to either side of the beef, not under it.
1 hour is all you need
Take the beef off the grill and rest under foil for at least 30 minutes.
We like our meat on the rare side, leave it on the BBQ for another 20 minutes for medium rare plus the resting time.
We had it with goose fat roasted potatoes, parsnip purée, pickled red cabbage, brussel sprouts, carrots, pigs in blankets (weird addition I know but I love them!), Yorkshire puddings and gravy - no fancy plate of food to show you, just supper.
As for throwing the food budget to the wind......it worked out cheaper than the local supermarket for top drawer, stunning, stunning meat that you would normally expect to pay through the nose for. Often your local butcher is comparable in price or cheaper than the supermarket for high quality meat with traceability, something which is certainly true for us.
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The perfect Sunday brunch dish, easy to make, filling and delicious. This is my version of a Dutch Baby.
Sometimes known as a German pancake, a Dutch Baby is simply Yorkshire pudding mix sweetened with sugar and or vanilla. In this version, I've omitted the sugar and just added vanilla essence because of the maple syrup poured over the top.
For 4 people
A mug in which to measure equal quantities of
Eggs - roughly 6
1 teaspoon of Vanilla essence or paste
8 slices of bacon
Maple Syrup to serve
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6
Wipe a frying pan with butter and set to one side, make sure the frying pan can go in the oven
My Yorkshire pudding mix is equal quantities of milk, egg and flour.
Blend the eggs and milk together separately till smooth
Make a well in the flour and add 25% of the liquid, beat till smooth
Add another 25% of the liquid and slowly at first, beat till smooth
Add the rest of the liquid and mix till combined.
Add a teaspoon of vanilla paste or two teaspoon of vanilla essence.
Heat the frying pan till the butter is sizzling and add the Yorkshire pudding and put in the oven till done, about 20 - 25 minutes.
Whilst the Dutch Baby is in the oven (sorry!) cook the bacon and keep warm.
To serve, quickly cut in to 4, add the bacon and drizzle with maple syrup.
The trick to a juicy chicken roasted in either the oven or the BBQ is to cook it breast side down stuffed with a lemon that’s been stabbed a few times with a knife. The juices run into the breast and the lemon releases moisture from the inside out. Turn the chicken breast side up for the last 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.
The chickens we get from K. Walkers Butcher in Kilcreggan are huge so go onto the BBQ for up to 2 ½ hours until the juices run clear.
Pea and Mint Salad for 4
Handful of peas per person
Half a head of broccoli cut into small florets
Half a large cucumber
1 side of a red pepper
6 large mint leaves finely sliced
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the peas from frozen according to the packaging then put into iced water to stop the cooking (blanch and refresh)
Same for the broccoli.
Fine chop the red pepper
Slice the cucumber length ways and slice each half again lengthways and dice.
Drain the peas and broccoli
Mixed together with the cucumber and pepper, add the white wine vinegar, olive oil and season
Leave to one side for an hour
Add the mint just before serving.
Overheard the first night "Mum, you can't cook the pies, there's no oven"
Well, no there isn't. This is Greenhillock Glamping and if it's pies and an oven you're after then you're probably in the wrong spot, although undoubtedly the very hospitable owners would go the extra mile to make sure you're accommodated.
Located just north of Kirkbuddo and 8 miles south of Forfar, Greenhillock Glamping is a new arrival to the Glamping market. Greenhillock opened last year and hit the ground running. We arrived on a sunny bank holiday Saturday and, despite initial concerns that the site was heaving (it was just the angle looking up towards the paddock), the pitches are few, large and well spaced out with a fire pit already dug out and if glamping is your thing rather than camping, then Greenhillock has three well appointed bell tents already set up for you with a dedicated family shower room. Stig (one of the owners) took us on a quick tour of the essential facilities, a row of brightly coloured huts hide the composting loos (for the uninitiated they smell more of silage than sewage thanks to the straw) and the solar heated showers.
One of the things I liked most about Greenhillock Glamping was the things for the children to do. Not “organised fun” but a couple of carefully thought out activities that engage the children. E disappeared within moments of arriving there, made friends and wiled away the hours making a den, hunting for life in the pond, riveted in the bug tent with the skulls and wasp nests, colouring and sticking in the art shack. The area for the children to play games away from the tents with a couple of picnic benches and chairs for supervision was also great.
Other onsite facilities include a converted stable with covered external washing up area and inside is a food prep area, camping stove, fridge, freezer, table and chairs, which are very handy if it pours with rain as it did on our first night. Greenhillock Glamping has occasional licences, allowing them to serve alcohol, which was much enjoyed on the Saturday night! It was lovely for someone else to do the BBQing (in the thunder storm) and despite the captive audience, the food was very reasonably priced. In keeping with their eco friendly ethos, all the food and beverages were locally sourced.
We decided to head south and explore St Andrews and go to Tentismuir Beach, nr. Lechaurs (45 minutes away) but there is plenty to do locally. On the wall of the hut is a handy guide to local days out which includes country parks and nature reserves, food and drink, Glamis Castle and the Glens, Arbroath, Freedom and Smokies, the Angus Coastal Route and Dundee.
Speaking of Dundee, we drove through Scotland’s fourth largest city on our way to St Andrews. I wasn’t sure if it was being demolished or renovated but according to Kate and Stig, Dundee is firmly on the way up. Dundee has been named the UK’s first City of Design by the United Nations and the V & A Museum of Design is being built on the waterfront, the first design museum in the UK to be built outside London and the plans for the city are spectacular.
All in all, we had a fabulous couple of days on the East Coast. It’s totally different from the raw beauty of the West Coast and wonderfully midge free. I’d forgotten what it was like to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening and I must mention the bird song in morning, I haven’t heard anything like it in a long time. It was stunning, even at 0630 I didn't mind. There is much to admire and love about Greenhillock Glamping from their admirable eco ethos to the thought given to their guests comfort and needs. They even went as far as finding some dog food and bowls for us since we'd managed to leave the dogs' bag behind. Kate and Stig have some great ideas and plans for Greenhillock and we look forward to returning soon.
A tip for those to new to camping, if there's nothing else you make absolutely certain of, make certain you are comfortable and warm at night. Outwell Dreamcatcher 10cm self inflating mats are my tip for a decent night's sleep, they can't deflate in the middle of the night. Comfortable bed and a bottle of wine......
And finally, don’t forget the marshmallows for toasting in the fire. E says a golden brown crust on the outside and "melty" in the middle is perfect, J likes to set them alight for a second ensuring a flavour more akin to charcoal than caramel and frankly I'm not fussed, I just like eating them
It took us about two and a half hours from Helensburgh via the A85 (mainly to avoid the A9 and A82 on a bank holiday)
This meal is super easy and made in less than 15 minutes. I add whatever vegetables there are in fridge to the pasta cooking in the last 3-4 minutes. Tonight’s was courgettes. This is an incredibly rich dish so you’ll only need relatively small portions. Low fat it is not!
For 4 people, 15 minutes and very easy
Pasta for 4, any sort, cooked following the instructions on the packet
Tablespoon of salted butter
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
100ml of white wine (more if you fancy or none)
200ml of double cream
4 egg yolks
Heaped handful of grated cheddar – I’ve used cheddar here because it’s what most of us have in the house, Parmesan is authentic and Gruyere would turn this into a dinner party dish
Any fresh herbs like chives or parsley or basil, finely chopped
Get the pasta on, salt the water but do not add oil (where did that idea come from? It certainly wasn’t the Italians!)
Whilst the pasta is cooking:
Melt the butter
Add the garlic and chilli fry till soft
Add 100ml of white wine and reduce to half
Mix the yolks, cream and cheddar together
Take the pan off the heat and add the cream mix stirring all the time
Put back on very low heat and keep it moving till the cheese has melted
Drain the pasta and vegetables, add to the sauce and mix thoroughly
Add your herbs and serve
You can add almost anything to this dish to bulk it out. Chorizo would be delicious and fancy but equally you could make it on a Monday night and add in any leftover meat from the weekend. If you don’t eat meat then use vegetarian cheese and top up with more vegetables.
After reading about La Barca's brilliant 4th win, I began thinking about the "foodie" direction Helensburgh seems to be heading in. Helensburgh is becoming a destination town known for its food and so far local restaurateurs have been careful with the style of food they've chosen for their restaurants. Milan and Cara Nikolic have expanded their business cleverly, filling gaps in the market with La Barca, then Cattle and Creel and now La Padrone. Fruin Farm filled a much needed gap of being genuinely child friendly but also serving good food. The Sugar Boat is opening soon but without eating there it's hard to say what gap they'll fill. Peckhams are opening up in the old council offices on Sinclair Street. What else could Helensburgh take? Would there be enough room for a dedicated seafood restaurant or Japanese maybe?
There's talk that the town is reaching saturation point with the number of restaurants but, with the business rents, what else can afford to take the vacant spaces? These days restaurateurs are savvy business people not just "passionate chefs" and will have done their homework. My thoughts are that, provided no one sets up in direct competition for the evening crowd, with similar styles of food as current successful restaurants but instead aims to meet as yet undiscovered demands then the town can take a few more.
These are my favourite 5 restaurants in the Helensburgh and Lomond area at the moment.
#1 The Riverhill Courtyard
#2The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
#3 Cattle and Creel
#5 Fruin Farm
I have to declare an interest here. I've worked in the Courtyard, first under Johnny Aitken and then Dom Wrighthouse, and I absolutely love their style of food so I am biased towards them but Cattle and Creel is good too and you would be foolish to discount PJ's. PJ's may not be open every night but his menus are fresh and exciting and a meal at PJ's is always a safe bet. The Loch Lomond Arms went through a disappointing phase a couple of years ago but is back on track and eating there is an absolute pleasure, their recent awards are justly deserved. I love Fruin Farm too, it doesn't matter whether it's cake and coffee, lunch or supper, the food is always good and the service friendly.
We are spoilt for choice here when it comes to eating out locally, the number of award winning restaurants for this relatively small area is impressive and I'm looking forward to Helensburgh's foodie future.
Just a quick blog this evening.
A busy week saw us heading to the Riverhill Courtyard, Helensburgh to check out the Friday Burgers. Ordinarily we would have worked our way through the 5 for £5 each cocktail list but I was driving, we had E with us and J is more of an IPA man. However, I have sampled most of them on cocktail evenings and I would recommend.
To the burgers: beef with cheese for E; spiced lamb with a coriander yogurt for J; and buttermilk chicken for me. They were absolutely delicious. Soft, fresh, homemade brioche buns with succulent, well seasoned meat, crunchy pickles and divine relishes. There is a veggie burger for those less carnivorous but I confess I didn't take in what it was.
The nif naf and trivia...... 20% military discount Mon-Thurs, Wednesday is Steak Night 2 steaks and a bottle of wine £30, Cocktail Masterclass £20 per head.
For more details: www.riverhillcafe.com
This is a brilliant walk for toddlers and young children, it's about a mile in length on dirt track, gravel and duck boards. All terrain buggies cope well, I had a Nipper Out n' About which required no effort to push round. If it's raining, the gravel path and boardwalk are sheltered but the dirt track gets muddy.
I first discovered Peaton Hill Community Nature Reserve back in 2012 just after we'd moved up. J was away a lot and, with a fractious 4 month old, much time was spent driving around and pushing the buggy to try and get her to sleep. I'm not sure how the collobaration started but my understanding is that a group of friends, some of whom are ex MOD policemen, got together and decided to create something the community could enjoy from a patch of wilderness owned by the MOD. They have created a wildflife haven with gravel paths, ponds, small animal habitats, bird feeding stations, boardwalk over marsh, picnicing space with stunning views and tranquil areas where you can just sit, watch and listen to nature as it carries on around you.
The carpark is your starting point, there are two exits and for this walk you need to head for the wooden height restiction and in front you'll see a dirt track. This is a circular walk and about 25 meters along on the right you'll see two yellow arrows. You can turn right and do the walk that way (backwards! - long standing family argument about which is the correct way to go around. I maintain that since I discovered the walk first, my way is the correct way) or carry on. The road joining the Coulport Road and Peaton Road runs to your left. The track ends in a clearing with benches and poles with what I think are Scout related carvings at the top, on the right is a gravel path entering the woods. As you walk along the gravel path you pass numerous ponds and small animal habitats and come to an area with a bench opposite a bird feeding station.
From here the walk opens out from the woods to stunning views, along the path are picnic tables and it's a lovely place just to sit and think about nothing in particular.
At the end of the track is the start of the boardwalk which weaves its way through the woods past little ponds, in and out of the trees. As the boardwalk finishes is a bench opposite the largest pond, here you can sit and if lucky, you'll see a heron fishing amidst the bull rushes. Off the boardwalk and at the end of the path turn left back towards the carpark. In the car park is a hut which is open to the public, inside is a wealth of information about the animals you may have seen on your walk and where you can record what you observed.
This probably one of my favourite walks and one that I never get tired of. The work the group of friends have put in is amazing and they really have created something special. No matter the time of year, there's always something different to look at regardless of your age.
With so much on this weekend I had to resort to rock, paper, scissors with my daughter in order to make a decision about where to go to on Saturday. Having lost (she always starts with a rock and I never remember), we made our way to Ardkinglas Estate, via the vomit road that runs along the side of Loch Long. It's about 50 minutes' drive, probably less if your child isn't threatening to throw up if you drive faster than 30 mph......
The car park is perfectly formed but small and busy so I was glad to be directed to park on the side and, after pushing our donation into the cairn with twigs, we made our way up to the starting point via what E thought was the Gruffalo's cave and some very cool looking Skunk Cabbage plants
Stewart Ennis was our storyteller for the trail and my initial concerns about not appreciating the story told in Scots were totally unfounded. Stewart was brilliant and because the story is so well known, in Scots it takes on another dimension.
"But hooziss big bauchle wi the mingin claws,
An the bowfin big nashers in iz big jowly jaws?
Eez goat big bowly legs an pure hen toes,
An a durty big plook oan the end ae iz nose.
Eez goat huge orange peepers an iz tongue is aw black,
An erz giant purple jaggies aw owner iz back"
The Gruffalo trail is the perfect length for very young legs but you can carry on and explore the rest of the Woodland Walk which is clearly marked with arrows. I'm not going to wax lyrical about trees, I'm not an arborealist, but they've got some very tall ones, a very rare one and some very fat ones and they are interesting enough to get a 5 year to stop running away from you for 10 seconds
When we got back to the car park Alison Sykora had her pop up kitchen ready to go. A Swedish candle was the fire and popcorn maker. Alison was making the damper bread from scratch and griddling it. It smelt, looked and tasted delicious. The Loch Fyne mussels were sweet with the right amount of garlicky liquor and with the damper bread to soak it up, just perfect.
Ardkinglas Estate is a tranquil place, it's not commercial, it's not somewhere to go if you want to be surrounded by bright lights and noise. It is somewhere to go that's within an hour's drive of Helensburgh that's outdoors, peaceful, beautiful and you don't need hiking boots in order to enjoy it.
The softly opening Ferg n Lou's is a very welcome addition to the Helensburgh and Lomond area's cafe scene. Located in Garelochhead, on Main Street, the now transformed cafe offers a warm welcome, very reasonably priced tasty food and the awesome coffee that can only be from the Cardross based Home Ground Coffee
Having only meant to drop in for coffee, a glance at the menu meant we were clearly going to stay for food and at only £3 for a warm, well filled bagel there was no reason not to. One of our party, after an active morning, went for the "Breakfast Bunny Chow" and when it came out, I experienced a pin prick of regret that I'd already had a decent breakfast and really couldn't justify having a second one. A light brioche bun filled with beans, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, sausage and egg with peppery rocket on the side. It was declared delicious and just the right amount.
iI can see Ferg n Lou's swiftly becoming a popular place for a quick, light bite to eat or a place to linger over great coffee and cake. The customers today were a diverse bunch from walkers to sailors, ladies who lunch and workmen stopping off on their break. I love the South African influence, the simple yet bold flavours and the freshness of their food.
Big thumbs up.
Ferg n Lou's
We've been meaning to visit the Luss Smokehouse since it opened this summer but as ever we've never quite managed it until today, and still didn't manage it since the Smokehouse was shut up tight (failed to check the opening hours online so entirely our own fault!). We decided to cross the road to the Luss Seafood Bar instead, which we then discovered is closed for a refurb. There is a good reason for the refurb though which is to be able to serve hot food, exciting news so we will be back when it's up and running again. Undaunted, we headed for the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel for lunch.
We've been coming to the Loch Lomond Arms since it reopened in 2012 and it's been mostly hit but on occasions miss. Back in 2012, the food was stunning with a great (and excellent value) children's menu and it became the place to visit a couple of Sundays a month whilst the other halves were deployed. It never failed to be the highlight of the weekend with superb food and staff. At the back end of 2013 something changed and it wasn't the same so we stopped coming and the couple of times since then it's not been quite right, the food just wasn't as good as it had been. It was nothing worth complaining about but not worth the drive from Helensburgh.
Today was a sandwich day. I had a Ham, Pickle and Egg sandwich and J a Luss Smokehouse Smoked Salmon sandwich. When I say "I had", I mean I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a cracking (pun fully intended) sandwich with masses of melt in the mouth ham and soft, brilliantly coloured egg bound together with punchy, crunchy piccalilli on flavoursome Mhor bread. Accompanying the sandwich were two pots, one of potato salad and one of crisps. The crisps were fine; plain ready salted own brand crisps but I felt the sandwich deserved more. It was crying out for warm, homemade game chips sprinkled with sea salt - nothing else required. J was under whelmed and disappointed on the amount of filling front. If you're going to serve a sandwich that showcases a local product such as Luss Smokehouse smoked salmon then load the sandwich up, show it off. There was one, lonely slice of smoked salmon that didn't even reach the edge of the bread, which for £9 is pretty miserly. That said, the salmon was delicious on delicately flavoured dill cream cheese and cucumber slices - perhaps the plan was to leave us wanting more.
In summary, we’ll be back with the child. The full menu is interesting and varied and having got one sandwich spot on (we’ll gloss over the other sandwich’s short comings); it’s a safe bet that the rest of the food will be as good if not better.
A random pomegranate in the veg box prompted this dish along with the urge to beat the crap out of an inanimate object (been that sort of day).
2 tablespoons of Harrisa paste rubbed into 2 lamb gigot and set aside
Cooked and cooled seasoned Couscous for 2
2 large bunches of flat leaved parsley finely chopped
Handful of mint finely chopped
3 tomatoes roughly chopped
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Juice of 1 lemon
Equal amount of olive oil to lemon juice
Cook the lamb on a very hot grill till just cooked, about 3-4 minutes to each side, depending upon how well you like your lamb done and rest.
Whilst the lamb is cooking add all the other ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Taste, you might need more oil and salt.
Loved this supper, so quick to make and absolutely delicious, minimal washing up too which is always a bonus!
Tip - easiest way to get fiddly pomegranate seeds out is to cut the pomegranate in half, hold over the bowl cut side down and hit hard with a wooden spoon.
Serves 4, Medium difficulty, prep time 25 mins, cooking time 20 minutes
Turn the oven up to 200
450g Venison loin fillet
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 standard sheets of puff pastry, should be at least 4 inches longer than the fillet
10 wild garlic leaves
Lay a sheet of puff pastry out on the counter and cover the surface with the wild garlic leaves, saving 2 inches clear all the way around. Pressing the leaves down into the pastry - this will be the top.
Spread the Tartufuta over the wild garlic leaves
Heat up a frying pan, add oil and then sear the loin fillet to seal, colour and deepen the flavour
Lay the second sheet of pastry out and working quickly, put the fillet in the centre
Egg wash the edges
Lift the first sheet and lay over the fillet pressing the sides down
Seal with a fork and remove the excess pastry
Egg wash the top and sides
In the oven for 20 minutes
Serves 8, easy, time 1 hour to make and overnight to set, you'll need an 8" springform cake tin
250g of Coconut Taralli
70g unsalted butter
500g cream cheese (full fat)
70g of icing sugar
300ml double cream whipped till firm ie slightly over whipped
Zest of 3 limes
Toast the tarallis till just taking on some colour, this intensifies the coconut flavour even more
Melt the butter
Whilst the butter is melting, blitz the tarallis till like bread crumbs
Stir the tarallis into the butter then put into the springform cake tin and press down, put into the fridge till cool.
Put the cream cheese into a bowl, sift the icing sugar over the top and mix together
Add the zest and mix
Fold in the whipped cream
Pour into the springform tin, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 12-24 hours
To decorate, grate a lime over the top
I've deliberately not used gelatine in this recipe to make it vegetarian - the over whipped cream is crucial otherwise it won't set.
Half price lobster tails in the local supermarket made for a very indulgent lunch.
This serves 2, takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and is easy. Make sure everything is prepared in advance of cooking the lobster.
2 lobster tails taken out of their shells and each cut into 6 pieces
4 table spoons of shop bought mayonnaise
About a table spoon of finely chopped parsley and dill
A teaspoon of lemon juice
1 baguette sliced into 2 and 1 half sliced into 2 again, slice each quarter horizontally and set to one side.
1/4 teaspoon of Pernod
Mix the mayonnaise, herbs and lemon juice together and set to one side.
Heat a frying pan with a teaspoon of veg oil and a tablespoon of butter (the oil stops the butter from burning too quickly), add the lobster meat and let it colour slightly on one side then tossing it in the butter, keep it moving to stop it from over cooking. After about a minute, add a quarter teaspoon of Pernod and toss the lobster meat through the Pernod and butter mixture thoroughly coating it then add to the herb mayonnaise and mix.
Divide the mixture between the baguette quarters, pour over the left over sauce and get stuck in.
This would work equally well with prawns or scallops and if you want to be very greedy (unsurprisingly I was!) put the cut side of the baguette into the frying pan to properly soak up the buttery juices before adding the lobster mixture.
Sea Bass with a tomato and caper sauce
Serves 4, easy and 30 minutes prep and cooking time in total.
Incredibly simple and a pleasure to eat. Don't let a cheap, shop bought tomato sauce near it.
1 can chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cloves finely sliced garlic cloves
50ml of white wine (optional but adds another level, if you're using tarragon, go for a Chenin Blanc or similar)
tablespoon of capers
2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs inc. parsley, thyme and tarragon.
gently heat the olive oil in a small saucepan, don't let it get too hot
add the garlic, you want it to soften not crisp and definately not burn!
add the tomatoes and let it simmer for 5 minutes
add the wine and again let it simmer for 5 minutes
add the capers
finally add the herbs and reduce the sauce by a third, you don't want it watery
taste, season, taste again and keep warm.
4 Sea Bass fillets, skin on and sliced three times to prevent it curling up during cooking, seasoned
200g of the tomato sauce
Oil for frying
Table spoon of salted butter for basting
Heat a frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil and place the fish in, skin side down - don't move it!
When the skin is crispy, add the butter and when it's foaming, continuously spoon over the fish till the top of the fish is just opaque. Remove from the heat.
Spoon the sauce onto a plate and using a fish slice, gently place the fish on top.
This would be great with boiled new potatoes and a salad.
If you haven't tasted our local Townhead Farm lamb then I urge you to do so, I've said it before, some of the best lamb I've ever had.
Heat the oven as high as it'll go.
6 lamb chops
2 grated garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of mint sauce
2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Mix it all together and leave to marinate for up to 30 minutes then place on a flat tray and in the oven for 10 minutes, take out and leave to rest of at least 5 minutes, preferably 10.
We had it with chips and cavolo nero.
It's Scotland, it's February, the temperature hasn't reach double figures but.... it's not raining therefore it's BBQ time! We use our kettle bbq as an extension to the kitchen and need very little excuse to break out the charcoal, even Christmas lunch is bbq'd weather permitting. Today is Sunday and being a traditional sort of family, we tend to have a roast most Sundays.
It's not hard to use a BBQ as a second oven but there are a couple of things we do to make it work for us. Firstly, you need a kettle BBQ, ours is a Weber 47cm which is a good size without being massive and has the relevant racks inside for keeping the charcoal off to the side easily. Using a chimney starter filled to the brim, wait till the charcoal is white before putting them around the side with the drip tray in the middle, do not put the meat directly over the coals. To avoid having to top up the charcoal later, we put the hot charcoal on top of cold ones.
The two ribs of beef we had today were cooked to an internal temperature of 50 degrees Celsius using a digital BBQ meat thermometer and rested for an hour whilst the roast potatoes and yorkshires were cooked. The drip tray catches enough fat from the beef to ensure crisp, smokey and packed full of beef flavoured roasties.
We use a Redicheck meat thermometer to get rid of the "is it done yet" worry. The probe goes into the meat on the BBQ's and talks via wifi to a second screen and an alarm goes off when either the temperature starts to drop (time for more charcoal) or when the meat reaches the required internal temp.
Chicken Supper for the Terminally Lazy
For someone who is passionate about cooking I am, rather more frequently than I care to admit, occasionally adverse to preparing supper for my loving family. It's more begrudgingly thrown together than prepared with love, care and attention. However, because I am very greedy it has to taste good too.
Feeds 4, skill - easy, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 75 minutes
Heat the oven 180 degrees
4 whole chicken legs jointed
8 small potatoes cut into 8 lengthways
1 lemon, juiced and cut into 8
1 yellow onion cut into 8
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and each clove lightly crushed
Large handful of thyme
Salt to season
Mix everything together in a bowl making sure the thyme gets really bruised, I tend to take the large stalks out at the end of cooking.
Season and mix again then put into your oven dish.
Cover with foil (this ensures the potatoes cook properly) and place in the oven for 45 minutes, uncover and return to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes to crisp up the skin and give the potatoes some colour. Check the chicken is cooked properly by cutting along the bone and making sure the juices run clear.
You can also add a glass of white wine at the beginning too.
We had some sauerkraut from Dorset Charcuterie at Christmas and it was sublime, so good I was eating it neat out of the bag. This is my attempt to replicate it.
1 mason jar throughly sterilised
1 Chinese cabbage, finely shredded into a bowl.
Add three teaspoons of salt and rub into the cabbage, you'll feel,bit starting to break down as the salt draws the liquid out.
Add one teaspoon of caraway seeds and mix well.
Cram the seasoned cabbage into the jar really packing it in.
Leave for 10 days.
Serves 4, easy, 4 1/2 hours minimum
Heat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius
1 casserole dish with lid, it needs to be deep enough to layer up the potatoes and lamb with the lid on
1 boned and rolled leg of lamb
8 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a food blade on the food processor)
Handful of garlic cloves, peeled and cut in two length ways
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Large handful of fresh rosemary
Glass of white wine
Glass of water
Layer up the potatoes, garlic, onion and rosemary lightly seasoning each layer, pour in the wine and water, add the lamb on top, place on the lid and put in the oven of a minimum of 4 hours.
Gnocchi with Black Truffle and Olives (Tartafuta)
Supper for 2 or light lunch for 2. 20 minutes, Easy
500g of Gnocchi
250g of Chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
90 ml of Tartafuta
80 ml Creme Fraiche (half fat will work just as well in the recipe)
Large handful of Parsley finely chopped
2 tb olive oil (not extra virgin, this doesn't like to be heated to high temperatures)
*Using a wok for ease of frying, cook the mushrooms until they are dry, a little colour is good but don't burn them.
*Boil a pan of salted water. Add the gnocchi and they are done when they float.
*Whilst the gnocchi is cooking, add the Tartafuta to the mushrooms and heat (you'll smell toast, don't be confused by this, it's the olives). Then add the creme fraiche and 2/3rds of the parsley.
*Mix and heat gently, if there's a lot of liquid (because the mushrooms weren't cooked dry) don't worry, just let the mixture bubble away gently till reduced.
*The gnocchi should be done by now, drain and add to the Tartafuta sauce, mix, taste, adjust seasoning, taste again and plate up, add the rest of the parsley as garnish then serve.
Mushrooms are an optional ingredient, they bulk out the dish and add protein but are not necessary if you're not a fan. Toasted pine nuts would be a nice addition too if you have any to hand.
Egg royal with truffle hollandaise
Serves 2 , 15 minutes , skill level medium
2 egg yolks
25g Black Truffle Oil
Lemon juice 1/4 lemon
4 eggs to poach
Hot smoked salmon - we recommend Salar Smokehouse and as much or as little as you like
Hot, buttered toast, sourdough works so well with this.
Whisk two yolks in a bowl and place the bowl on a damp cloth
Heat the butter till almost boiling and then dribble, very slowly, from a height into the egg bowl whisking all the time (the damp cloth stops the bowl from moving too much and the height cools the butter so it doesn't over cook the egg)
Add the truffle oil, again very slowly, whisking all the time.
Taste, add some of the lemon juice, taste, add more if needed
Season, taste and adjust if required
Put to one side and keep warm
Poach the eggs, I prefer to use a frying pan for poaching. No "swirling" required just very fresh eggs and you can use the left over lemon juice to help set the eggs rather than vinegar.
This is the order that I prefer to build the plate but to be honest, it really doesn't matter. Do it to your taste and exactly how you like it.
Generous helpings of hollandaise
Bresaola with Truffle Carpaccio
Quick lunch, light supper or starter, 10 minutes and easy
4 slices of Bresaola per person - best you can afford
Handful of washed and dried watercress and rocket leaves - leave in iced water for 10 mins to pep up
Sliced Parmesan cheese crumbled - use a vegetable peeler and crumble in your hands
A lemon sliced into quarters
Black Truffle Oil
Lay the Bresaola out, liberally add the truffle carpaccio, the jars are packed so there's plenty to go around. From a height, to ensure an even spread, scatter the Parmesan crumbs, drizzle over the truffle oil and finally add a generous squirt of lemon juice. Don't forget to season the salad leaves, it makes all the difference.
This would be divine with beef carpaccio too.
Heat a pan up till smoking, add the filet of beef and sear on all sides. Cool and wrap tightly in cling film before putting it in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it much easier to slice the beef thinly. In this house we don't bother slicing it too thinly, just as it comes and loaded with truffle carpaccio, truffle oil, Parmesan and lemon juice is enough of a treat for us.