Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Paris: Ladurée

I finally made it to Paris the weekend before last. I have travelled as far as Mexico, been to most corners of Europe (including extended stays in Denmark and Scotland), but somehow this foodie capital had escaped me. Not anymore. I spent four wonderful days in Paris with someone who, luckily for me, spoke French, and had been to Paris before. I, on the other hand, had carefully studied several trustworthy sources (that's you, fellow foodbloggers!) for insider tips about the foodie gems of Paris. A very good match indeed.

We managed to squeeze some moderate sightseeing and one really cool concert (Lo'Jo) into our four days, but my first trip to Paris was definitely food-oriented. We spent coupe of hours wandering in La Grande Epicerie de Paris, had a wonderful meal at La Cave de l'Os à Moëlle, enjoyed a coffee and cake at 'Cafe Des Deux Moulins' in Montmartre (as part of the Amélie trail), visited Bastille Market (where I picked up some wild asparagus and fresh bay leaves), breakfasted at Bread & Roses next to Jardin du Luxembourg, paid a visit to E. Dehillerin, ate falafels at the Jewish Quarter and drank tea at Mariage Frères.

And we made it to Ladurée. We climbed the stairs to the upstairs (much less crowded and non-smoking!) room of the original Ladurée branch at 16, Rue de Royale, where we were seated right next to the window. Having only just eaten breakfast, we weren't able to enjoy the rather delicious-sounding Le Brunch Ladurée (€33), but we treated ourselves to two cups of Café crème Ladurée and studied the menu. Although Pim declares the Ladurée Ispahan to be just a poor imitation of Pierre Hermé's version (and I'm sure she's right, although we didn't have a chance to compare the two this time), we decided to order it after all (Ispahan is a smooth rose flavoured macaroon biscuit, rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees created by Pierre Hermé when he was working at Ladurée a while back). I must admit that Ispahan had a very unusual and intense flavour, which you wouldn't want to have too much of. But it was tasty and memorable nevertheless.

My date K. and I also shared four macaroons between us:

Cassis violette/Blackcurrant violet (a seasonal flavour), Pétales de rose/Rose petal, Caramel à la fleur de sel/Salted butter Caramel, Gingembre citron vert/Lime & Ginger. We both agreed that the lime & ginger version was our favourite, followed by the unusually moist blackcurrant violet macaroon (him) and salted butter caramel (me). Rose was most unimpressive of the lot, but maybe because we had already had enough rosewater in the form of Ispahan.

Next time we'll pay a visit to Pierre Hermé (shall we, K?) ;-)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wild thing or aspirational asparagus for Weekend Herb Blogging

Aah, the markets in Paris! Last Sunday morning we wandered at the noisy and buzzing Richard Lenoir Market near Bastille and were admiring the endless long rows of stalls selling skinned rabbits, huge fish and various cuts of meat, neatly piled luscious fruit and veg, and more fresh herbs you'd be able to learn the names of. This being early May, the market had also plenty of asparagus in all shape and form - white (some very fat white ones at that!), green and wild. Whereas I've been roasting green asparagus in my kitchen just recently, and have eaten white asparagus on several occasions, the wild - asperge sauvage in French - was new to me. So in addition to a large bunch of fresh bay leaves, I also got two bunches of wild asparagus to take back to Edinburgh.

Apparently wild asparagus is endemic to coastal areas of Western Europe, especially Belgium, Britain (found mainly in Dorset, Cornwall, Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire), the Channel Islands, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands. Although it has been previously thought of as a sub-species (Asparagus officinalis ssp. prostratus) to garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ssp. officinalis), then recent research seems to suggest that it's a separate species altogether and has been granted a Latin name of its own - Asparagus prostratus. The 'prostratus' in the name implies that wild asparagus stems grow prostrately - the Dutch call the plant 'liggende asperge', for instance. The taste is definitely like a delicate version of green asparagus - very pleasant and light. Here are my two dishes using this new-found gem of a vegetable.

Wild Asparagus at its simplest
(Metsik spargel, lihtsalt või ja meresoolaga)

This 'dish' is inspired by David Lebovitz's post about Paris Organics. The vendor told me (well, my date K. actually, as sadly I speak no French) to boil the asparagus for 5 minutes. David steams his, but I followed his instructions about serving the asparagus - simply dotted with butter and seasoned with Maldon sea salt flakes. Delicious!!! (Very good, if somewhat messy, fingerfood:)

Wild Asparagus with pasta and garlic
(Makaronid metsiku spargli ja kreemja küüslaugukastmega)

Take enough pasta of your choice (I used boccoletti, but might use spaghetti next time) - boil in a generous amount of salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, blanch wild asparagus in salted boiling water for one minute, then drain thoroughly and cut into shorter pieces (or leave whole if using spaghetti).
Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a frying pan and add some finely sliced garlic. Fry gently for a minute, without letting the garlic to brown.
Add the wild asparagus and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add some cream (single/whipping/double - whatever you prefer) and heat through. Remember you're aiming for just a light coating of creamy sauce for your pasta, so use less cream than you think you need!
Season with black pepper.

When your pasta is cooked, drain it and throw into your sauce. Stir to combine and serve with some parmesan cheese.

Tagged with (hosted by Kevin of Seriously Good - read his round-up here) and (this time hosted by Ilva of Lucullian Delights - read her round-up here)

UPDATE 6.2.2007: just spotted this post on wild asparagus over at Hungry in Hogtown.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Going OTT with Ginger (SHF#19): chocolate & ginger tartlets

The latest edition of Sugar High Friday is hosted by Toronto-based blogger Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. It's been a while since I took part at SHF, but this time I couldn't resist because of the theme: ginger. You see, couple of months ago I discovered dark chocolate coated candied ginger from the Edinburgh flagship department store, Jenners. Granted, I had seen them there and elsewhere before, but somehow the combination didn't really appeal to me. I love chocolate (but prefer milk chocolate to dark for nibbling) and I do like my ginger - in savoury dishes, that is. Yet, I couldn't really see how ginger pieces in dark chocolate could be nice. Until I tried them, that is. They are seriously addictive - the warm heat of the candied ginger balances the sweet bitterness of dark chocolate perfectly. The burst of flavours exploding on your tongue is so intense that it lingers there for a while, making you eat less chocolate in the first place.

The recipe below is a very slight modification of Clotilde's. I wanted to make these tartlets even more gingery by using the Organic Ginger chocolate from Green & Black - hence the OTT in the title of this post. I also used demerara sugar in the pastry, as this results in somewhat crunchier cases and I find that the slight caramel flavour of demerara complements ginger well. As Clotilde says, chocolate and ginger are a match made in heaven - and as an additional benefit, they are both acknowledged aphrodisiacs. What's not to like!?

Chocolate and Ginger Tartlets
Based on Clotilde's recipe for Tartelettes au Chocolat et Gingembre Confit
Yields 6

Shortcrust pastry:
50 grams salted butter, cubed
50 grams demerara sugar
100 grams plain flour, sifted
2-3 Tbsp of cold water

Ginger chocolate ganache filling:
150 ml double cream
100 grams Green&Black's bittersweet dark chocolate with crystallised ginger pieces (or equivalent)
50 grams butter, room temperature, diced
crystallised ginger pieces to decorate (I used Buderim Ginger Nibbles, available in the UK from Lakeland Ltd)

Mix sugar and flour in a bowl, add cold butter cubes and mix with a knife (and then pinching with your fingertips) until you have fine crumbs. Add couple of spoonfuls (one by one, as you may need less) of cold water to bring the dough together with your hands.
Roll out the dough thinly on a slightly floured worktop, then cut into 6 discs and use these to line 6 non-stick individual tartlet tins (about 8-10 cm in diametre). Put the lined pastry cases into a freezer for 20 minutes or so (this reduces the shrinkage during baking). Prick the bases with a fork and bake in the middle of 180-200C oven until golden brown.
Let them cool in the tins for about 15 minutes, then tap gently out of the tin and leave to cool on a metal rack (click on the photo on the right).

Now prepare the chocolate ganache. Break the chocolate into small pieces, cut the butter into cubes. Heat the double cream in a small saucepan until quiet simmer on a very low heat. Add chocolate and butter and stir gently (still on a very low heat!) until combined. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.

Spoon the ganache into cooled pastry cases*, decorate with a piece (or couple) of candied ginger and leave to cool in a cool place. If you are patient or organised These are even better on the following day, as the ginger flavour has infused better and the tiny candied ginger pieces in chocolate have regained their bite.

* If you have any ganache left over, then pour into small shot glasses and decorate with candied ginger for a simple, yet luscious, dessert.

Ruth's round-up of all the entries is available here.

UPDATE: Barrett has included this post in this week's Too Many Chefs Posts of the Week. This is the second time Barrett has done this - my Simple tart with tomatoes, courgettes and Roquefort was also also featured back in September 2005. Thank you;)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Laurel-infused smoky potato supper

I got lucky last weekend;) In addition to spending a wonderful long weekend in Paris in a very charming company (my first time in town - more about it later), I also - finally - managed to get hold of a large bunch of fresh laurel or bay leaves (again, my first time ever - and for just 1 Euro @ Bastille market). Laurus nobilis may not be a particularly romantic 'souvenir' to bring back from la Ville Lumière, but I had been reading about using fresh bay leaves in many foodblogs, and had been wanting to cook with them for a while. I squeezed the bay leaves (and wild asparagus) into my weekend bag and was jotting down various recipe ideas while flying back from Paris to Edinburgh.

My dinner last night, as has happened before, was inspired by lovely Italian-Swedish Ilva of the Lucullian Delights. Her recipe for Patate, piselli e pancetta con alloro/Potatoes, peas and smoked pork with bay leaves caught my eye a while ago, and refused to leave my culinary mind. I had a packet of fabulous Jersey Royals (alias, some pretty good new potatoes from Jersey island, which is the southernmost part of the British Isles at just 14 miles from the French coast) in my fridge, and I used these to prepare yet another Ilva-inspired dish last night. It was most delicious - I think bay-leave infused smoky bacon could prove a new favourite of mine.

New potatoes and smoked bacon with fresh bay leaves
(Varajased kartulid suitsupeekoni ja loorberiga)
Serves 2

500 grams of Jersey Royal new potatoes, washed and slighty scrubbed
1 Tbsp olive oil
125 grams chopped pancetta or other smoked bacon
1 large garlic clove
4 fresh bay leaves, ripped into smaller pieces
Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a pot of fresh cold water, adding some salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Drain thoroughly and cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the whole garlic clove, pancetta cubes and bay leave pieces. Fry on a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the pancetta is browned. Remove the garlic clove, if you wish.
Add potato chunks and stir gently, until potatoes are heated through and covered in the bay-scented olive oil.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Going green: roasted asparagus with Parmesan

(Photo replaced in May 2008)

This being the season for asparagus, there are lots of asparagus recipes around. Just look at the gorgous dishes created by Keiko over at Nordljus! This specific dish I spotted first over at the Finnish-language Pastanjauhantaa blog, where it had found its way through the archives of Anne's Food. Rather unusually, the asparagus are roasted in this recipe, and not steamed or boiled. Roasting actually intensifies the flavour of those tender green spears, so do try it. Perfect as a starter during spring days.

Oven-roasted green asparagus with Parmesan cheese
(Ahjus röstitud sparglid parmesaniga)
Serves 2 as a starter

a bunch of fresh green asparagus
extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes
a pinch of freshly grated black pepper
half a lemon
few tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Snip off the woody stalk ends of asparagus. Put them in a small roasting dish in one layer.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and some crushed black pepper.
Roast in a 200˚C oven for about 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during roasting.
To serve, squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle some Parmesan on top.

Other asparagus dishes @ Nami-nami:
Asparagus with pinenuts, lime and browned butter (May 2007)
Roasted green asparagus with feta cheese (May 2007)
Wild asparagus with butter / Wild asparagus with pasta & garlic (May 2006)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mushrooms again, this time in stroganoff

This is another mushroom recipe in my evergrowing mushroom repertoire. It is a lovely quick dish to serve during the week or whenever I am peckish for mushrooms (this happens surprisingly often), but not in the mood of making mushroom quiches, salads, soups or roasting mushrooms with carrots. I found the recipe on the reverse of a paper bag provided by Tesco for packing their mushrooms in - it must have been when I first arrived in Edinburgh back in October 1998, and I've been making this dish regularly since then.

Mushroom stroganoff
Serves 4, adapted from Tesco

~ 500 grams (chestnut) mushrooms
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp butter
15o ml vegetable stock
1 tsp strong & sharp mustard
1 tsp concentrated tomato puré
150 ml sour cream or crème fraîche
half a lemon
chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add chopped mushrooms and finely chopped onions. Sauté on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the onions have began to soften.
Add tomato puré, mustard and the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and gently stir in sour cream. Heat through, but don't let it boil again (this is more important with sour cream than crème fraîche, because the first can curdle easily).
Season with lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with boiled (new) potatoes and some salad greens.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A lovely carrot cake with fancy pineapple flowers

See the yellow flowers on the cake? Aren't they just gorgeous? I spotted these over at Axis of Ævil few weeks ago, and decided to use them as decoration for my carrot cake. I finally got my act together and started slicing, drying and bending my pineapple last week. Yep, these are thinly sliced and dried pineapple flowers, which do need a bit of patience to make, but are totally worth it..

And the cake? Well, if you liked my Canadian apple cake (and there were quite a few of you:), you'll like this carrot cake. It is very mild and mellow, no nuts to distract you from the delicate carrot flavour. Just a whift of cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg, that's all.. The pineapple flowers are optional, but highly recommended..

A lovely carrot cake
(Mahe porgandikook)
Adapted from (a Finnish website)
Serves 8

For the cake:
2 medium sized eggs
200 ml caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 grams butter, melted
300 ml finely grated carrots (approx. 2 medium ones)
200 ml plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of fine salt

Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and foamy. Add grated carrots and melted butter. Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg, sift into the batter and combine.
Butter a 20 cm springform cake tin, sprinkle with semolina/flour. Pour the batter into the cake tin, and bake at 200˚C for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is cooked (test with a toothpick).
Remove from the tin and let cool.

For the frosting:
100 grams Philadephia cream cheese
50 grams butter, softened
125 grams icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, spread over the cold cake.

For the dried pineapple flowers
NB! You need to do this on the previous day (pineapple flowers keep for a few days in an air-tight container)

1 large pineapple, just slightly underripe

Peel the pineapple and cut crosswise into very thin slices (mandoline would be handy here).
Place pineapple slices in a single layer on parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake in a 110˚C oven for 1-2 hours, until pineapple slices look dry on top. Flip them over and bake for another hour or so, until dry on the other side as well.
Arrange the baked pineapple slices on a metal rack and leave to cool and dry a bit more.
When slices are cool and dry, take a flower-shaped metal cookie cutter and press into dried pineapple slices. Put aside to dry even more.
When the pineapple flowers are dry, but still pliable, then pull the 'flower petals' slightly upwards to give pineapple flowers a bit more realistic look.

Use to decorate the cake.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Santorini fava or dreaming about summer, sun and sand

After 2 days in burningly hot Athens back in July 2002, I finally caught an overnight ferry from Piraeus to Santorini to spend almost a week on the island. Having been born and bred up in the North, I found the scorching 'n' bright Greek sun very difficult to deal with. But what can you do, life as an academic can be tough, and conferences need to be attended, papers need to be given :-)

To compensate, I relaxed on the beach in the evenings and familiarised myself with various delicacies on offer. And Santorini has many. The fertile volcanic soil grows wonderful aromatic tomatina or tiny cherry tomatoes which are renown for their distinct flavour. They often find their way into tomatokeftedes or meatless ‘meat balls’, made with tomatoes, herbs and butter and no meat. One can also find small white eggplants on the island, known as the apple of love. Santorini has also got some distinct desserts, among them koufeto – a spoonsweet prepared with honey-soaked almonds and is served at weddings, and melitinia cheese pies popular during Easter.

I must admit though, that I found it very difficult to eat anything in the scorching 40˚Celsius, and survived mainly on water and frappes during the day, and modest amounts of food in the evenings. Luckily, I will have another chance this summer to enjoy these culinary gems, as some Edinburgh friends are getting married on the island at the end of June. I will make an effort to chase down some Chloro fresh cheese and to sample some Santorinian wines. Meanwhile, I satisfy my craving for sun and sea with some fava spread. Fava is a puree made with special fava lentils native to the island. If you cannot get hold of them, then dried yellow split peas come closest, and I’ve used them for the recipe below. Note that Greek fava is distinct from a Turkish dish with a similar name. Whereas the Greek fava is often served lukewarm as a main dish or light meal, then the Turks prefer it cold as part of a meze table, and it is made of fava broad beans - and not lentils - there (I owe it to Tülin of the Domestic Cat for pointing this important difference out to me, she also provides recipe for the Turkish fava).

Santorini fava puré
(Santorini hernepüree)
Makes two bowlfuls

500 grams dried Santorini fava lentils or small yellow split peas
2 medium onions -quarter one, chop the other finely
125 ml extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
crushed black pepper
a generous handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
one lemon

Rinse the split peas under running cold water, put into a large saucepan and cover with double the amount of fresh cold water. Bring slowly to the boil, removing any impurities and foam that occur.
Add the onion quarters, a pinch of salt and half of the olive oil. Simmer on a low heat for 40-60 minutes, until the peas have softened and become mushy.
Push the peas through a fine sieve or purée with a blender.
Add the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, minced onion, chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir and serve.
Fava is great as a small meal with some crusty bread, or as a dip for vegetables.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cheesecake, with curd cheese and lots of lemon

Lemon cheesecake / Sidruni-kohupiimakook

I'm back from a very relaxing weekend in Cambridge, which means that nothing was cooked in my Edinburgh kitchen during the last few days. I did help my host to cook a buffet lunch for ~20 yesterday, but I was too occupied to even think about taking out my camera. Hence this recipe of a lemon curd cheese cake I made more than a few weeks ago. I've posted a recipe for a lemony curd cheese cake before, but this is a very different cake altogether. With its dense texture and intense lemon flavour and scent, it cuts beautifully and would be perfect for early summer picnics.


Lemony curd cheese cake
Adapted from the April 2006 issue of Olive
Serves 8 or more

Lemon cheesecake / Sidruni-kohupiimakook

150 grams butter, softened
150 grams caster sugar
2 to 3 juicy lemons (depending on your taste), juiced and zested
3 medium eggs
300 grams low-fat milk curd cheese or ricotta
125 grams plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream the soft butter with caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, whisking thoroughly each time.
Mix in lemon juice, grated zest and curd cheese. Sift in flour and baking powder and mix the dough until combined.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the dough, little by little.
Pour the dough into a buttered and floured 24 cm cake tin.
Bake in the middle of 180C oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake has risen and is lovely golden brown.
Let it cool for an hour in the tin before cutting into pieces and serving.

PS If you like raisins, then this cake would happily accommodate some. Maybe soaked in some rum or lemon liqueur beforehand?

Photos replaced in 2010

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Birthday Party & Smoked salmon pâté

It's not every day that a girl gets to celebrate her 25th birthday all over again, so I had a small party at my place on April 24th. I only decided that I'm not too old to make a bit of fuss about my birthday a few days earlier, but despite the rather short notice, a very impressive 22 friends turned up. I had fantastic time, got lots of flowers (including a very special bunch delivered very early in the morning by a courier;), lots of chocolates to satisfy my chocoholism, and some lovely presents. Thank you all who came by, emailed/called/texted me or left birthday wishes on my blog..

Here's what my friends were nibbling while drinking bubbly and chatting away:

* Grissini sticks wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto slices
* Crostini with pesto (spread on crostini before they are put in the oven)
* Crostini with a salad of salted Estonian chantarelle mushrooms (yum!), minced shallots and sour cream
* Carrot sticks with hummus
* Salmon and cream cheese canapés that I tested just few days earlier.
* Crostini with goat's cheese, smoked salmon and parsley (below)

And then there was the mocca and almond cake, obviously. Devoured in an instant:)

Smoked salmon pâté

This simple but gutsy spread was inspired by a recipe in Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends. I replaced crème fraîche with sour cream and used goat's cheese instead of cream cheese. I'm not a great friend of fennel either (although I love dill), so my pâté had parsley in it. As it can be made up to a week in advance, it's great for parties.

100 grams of organic smoked salmon
50 grams Welsh soft goat's cheese
100 ml sour cream
a handful of parsley
sea salt
crushed black pepper
a squeeze of lemon juice.

Whiz up chopped salmon, goat's cheese, sour cream and parsley in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper and refresh with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Spread on crostini or crackers and garnish with some parsley.

For more great finger food ideas, check out this recent post by Angelika of the Flying Apple and all those fabulous canapé recipes by Johanna of the Passionate Cook.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Roasted pork fillet, Malaysian style

I finally got lucky and bought a nice piece of pork fillet from the Puddledub Pork & Fifeshire Bacon Co at the farmers' market last weekend. Usually I never make it to the market early enough, you see, and although the stallholder has offered to put some aside if I ask him too, I haven't taken up the offer yet. The market takes place on Saturday mornings, after all, and sometimes staying in bed until noon is just too tempting.. The pork fillet led to this exotic (to an Estonian, at least) pork dish. It was easy to make, and the I loved the subtle sweet heat of the roasted pork, and the pink tenderness of it. I altered the marinade a little, adding some lemongrass, and replacing sugar with the Hummingbird Sweet Chilli Sauce from Scotland's enterprising wunderkind Fraser Doherty's Doherty's Preserves. I served the whole lot with sprouting broccoli again.

Malaysian BBQ Pork
(Ahjus röstitud malaisiapärane seafilee)
Adapted from pure points 2 cookbook
Serves 4

~ 500 gram of pork fillet, trimmed of all fat

For the marinade:
1 Tbsp honey
150 ml dark soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
50 ml medium-dry sherry
150 ml stock (I used Marigold Swiss vegetable stock powder)
1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 cm piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 shallot onion, finely chopped
1 lemongrass (outer layers removed), finely chopped

For the garnish:
chopped spring onion (optional)

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Let cool.
Put the pork fillet in a shallow dish, cover with marinade and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Turn the meat every now and then to ensure even flavouring.
Take the pork fillet out of the marinade, reserving the marinade.
Place the meat on a rack over a roasting tin, and pour about 1 cm boiling water into the tin to keep the moisture.
(Note the inventive use of Christmas cookie cutters in the absence of roasting rack in my kitchen).
Put the roasting tin into the oven, and roast in the middle of a 200°C oven for about 30-40 minutes, basting with marinade half way through.
Meanwhile, strain the marinade into a small saucepan, bring the liquid to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the marinade has reduced by about 1/3.
Serve the sliced pork (either hot or cold) on a bed of slightly steamed bok choy, spinach or sprouting broccoli. Drizzle some reduced marinade on top.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nuts coconuts

One of the positive aspects about living in a beautiful town like Edinburgh is the amount of visitors. This year's visitors' season has definitely began, and I'll be hosting various friends from home and abroad quite frequently for the next few weeks. My first visitor this spring is a former colleague of mine, Hille. We used to share an office back in 1999-2000, and we had another colleague at the head office who was called Sille. Imagine the confusion:)

Having guests is great - especially if they bring you some rye bread, cheese, salami and chocolates from home. However, having guests will have probably a somewhat detrimental effect on my blogging. Acting as a tourguide and a B&B hostess (as well as trying to do my paid day job) can be exhausting. I tend to stick to tried and tested favourites as opposed to spending too much time trying to come up with new dishes. Since Hille's arrival, I've made penne alla vodka again, using smoked pancetta (note that I've replaced the original picture in that post and edited the recipe slightly - so go and re-read it:). This kept us suitably warm for the couple of hours we spent at Calton Hill enjoying the Beltane Fire Festival. On Tuesday night I made haggis, neeps & tatties again, followed by cranachan a la Sue Lawrence, with caramelised oats instead of oatmeal and mascarpone cheese to make it creamier.

We have also been out and about a bit, enjoying various cuppas at Peckham's and BeanScene, and great smoothies at Centotre on George Street to recover after some window-shopping. On Monday we feasted at Nile Valley, a Sudanese restaurant near the University. A spicy lamb stew for Hille and a delicious okra dish (okra, cruncy carrots and soft mushrooms in a slightly spicy sauce) for Pille, whereas we both devoured the coconut icecream above. I dislike both Bounty bars and Raffaello chocolates, but this creamy and overly coconutty ice cream I liked. It was a perfect pud to kickstart a long salsa night that followed:)

* The title refers to a rather unusual show I saw at the Edinburgh International Festival last summer, "nuts coconuts: the story of the 'Gibraltar Follies' variety theatre company" . The programme for this year's Edinburgh International Festival is out now.