thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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Launch of the 2013 Recipe Book Challenge

medium_360603368 (1)How many recipe books do you own?  10, 20, 30, 40 or more?  I have 75 recipe books languishing on my bookshelf and a few on active service in the kitchen.  I only recently got the collection down to 75 following the ruthless cull of 2011 when a number of books were re-homed.   I love recipe books and despite telling myself every year that I do not need more, by Christmas time I crumble and another recipe book hits the shelf.  This year it was Jamie’s 15 minute meals.

Another question for you.  How many recipe books do you regularly use?  For sometime I have been using only two books with any regularity  – ‘Everyday Veg’ from the wonderful Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal and Nigel Slater’s ‘The 30 Minute Cook’.  These books are well-thumbed and splattered with a good variety of ingredients.  However far too many recipe books on my shelf could be removed, wrapped and gifted with the recipient being none the wiser, so pristine and untouched are they.  Jamie’s Dinners, Jamie’s Italy and Rick Stein’s French Odyssey are just a few examples of my collection of unsullied books.

It’s not only celebrity chefs who make it onto my bookshelves.  There are books dedicated to Greek, Italian, French, Scottish, Moroccan and Indian food; speciality books for the healthy heart, the follower of the low GI diet (rather too many of them!) and the detox enthusiast; books with ideas for your organic veg box; baking books (despite the fact that I don’t really bake), chutney books and the list goes on, and on, and on….

THE 2013 RECIPE BOOK CHALLENGE

I have decided to make these recipe books work for their space on my shelf and have set myself a challenge.  In 2013 I will choose a different recipe book every single week and cook a recipe from that book that I have never attempted before. In a day or two there will be a new page on this blog dedicated to the challenge so you can see what I am cooking up each week.

52 weeks, 52 cookbooks, 52 new recipes  – I am up for the challenge.  How about you?

After telling my good friend Nicola at www.eatwithoutwheat.blogspot.co.uk she has decided to join in as has the mum of another friend.  Why don’t you try it too.  I would genuinely be interested to hear about the new recipes that you try out.

I have just randomly picked out the book which will feature in week one of the challenge.  It is called ‘The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cooking’. The recipe I will attempt is Pita me Kyma – translated as Minced Meat Pie.  How hard can it be?

Have a fantastic New Year and if you do accept the challenge I wish you luck.

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Easy Like Christmas Morning

turkeyThere is a Christmas advert currently running  for ASDA which tells the story of a busy mum’s preparations for Christmas day.  Mum, who is the hero of the piece, runs around like a blue arsed fly  looking more  worn out and knackered as the ad progresses.  In the end scene we are treated to a rather wan smile from mum.  The message – it may be mayhem and madness but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  I beg to differ!

My parents came to us for Christmas last year and as I sat happily with my new cookbook and a glass of fizz  mum commented on how relaxed I was on Christmas Day.  My secret weapon – M&S.  Shock horror, food obsessed blogger buys pre prepared food on Christmas day.  Thing is I wouldn’t dream of doing it on any other day of the year,  but on Christmas day I actually want to just sit and chill and eat the odd chocolate.  I don’t  want to be red-faced and sweating in the kitchen, wringing my hands about the state of the turkey.  To be honest I learned the hard way.

After 30 odd years of being catered on Christmas day by my parents I moved in with BC and we invited the elders to ours.  I spent a silly amount on books, magazines and even a DVD, offering advice on wowing my guests with the perfect Christmas feast.  The Jamie Oliver Christmas DVD was particularly influential as I recall and on Christmas eve I was to be found feverishly making an array of different flavoured butters (as suggested by Jamie) to compliment my many vegetables and fretting over a ridiculously complicated starter.

My favourite sort of cooking is one pot – stews, chillis, curry’s, tagines – you get the message.  Christmas dinner is a multitude of pots and on this memorable Christmas the pots were boiling over.  I got so stressed about the whole affair that I completely forgot to enjoy the day and most of my other guests were concerned about my rising stress levels.  Of course it was not the perfect feast – the sprouts were cooked to oblivion, the turkey too dry. I moaned about my failed efforts all through dinner whilst gulping down wine like there was no tomorrow.   Never again!pud

The following Christmas I was still mentally scarred and decided to cheat.  I went to M&S and bought lovely little chipolatas wrapped in pancetta with rosemary tucked inside, two beautiful varieties of stuffing some succulent rolled turkey breast and a pot of cranberry sauce.  I bribed my Dad to make a good old trifle and made a stupidly simple warm salad to start.  I did prepare my own veg,  but aside from adding a bit of honey and thyme to the parsnips and making sure the tatties were in goose fat – they were very simply presented.

The result of my ‘shove in an oven and cook as long as the packet tells you to’ method worked a treat and I actually enjoyed Christmas.  Many of you may be tutting and advising me  to do it myself but to prepare in advance, but you are wasting your time.  I am now a convert to the cheats Christmas.

This year my dad is in hospital so we will take a three-hour break in the festivities to drive to and from the hospital for a visit.  So this year yet again it is thank goodness for M&S.  The starter will be my homemade wild mushroom soup which I could make in my sleep and a easy peasy pavlova to finish.  Job done.  Therefore the time I do have at home will be spent playing with my daughters new toys, enjoying the food and watching a bit of festive telly.

So here’s to another simple Christmas at Grumbling Tummy HQ!

Merry Christmas one and all xx


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Hot Date at the Bonham

chicken liver parfaitLast week I was lucky enough to be taken on a hot lunch date to The Bonham; a boutique hotel which houses one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh.   I  therefore make no apologies for the fact that this review might be a bit on the gushy side.

The Bonham is one  of the marvellous Town House Company hotels which also includes the wonderful Blythswood Square in Glasgow.

Situated in Drumsheugh Gardens , The Bonham is easy to miss.  No neon signs or a-boards hint at what lies beyond the elegant frontage.  Understated elegance continues inside the Bonham where the interior decoration  is  simple and contemporary with more than a hint of luxury. There is a lovely feeling of space in the restaurant, beetroot tart finpossibly because they have not attempted to cram every available space with tables.

I must have eaten in the Bonham around ten times now and I have never once been disappointed in any aspect of my dining experience –  this lunch was to be  no exception

We chose to eat from the Festive Menu as it was our Christmas ‘date’. This was an amazing £25 per person for three courses which includes half a bottle of wine per person.  We normally opt for a “Boozy Snoozy Lunch” which is even more remarkable value at £22.50 a head for three courses and half a bottle of wine each.  The quality of the food makes this the best darned deal in the city as far as I am concerned.

Christmas dinnerTalking about quality food …

I wanted everything on the menu as usual, but in the end decided to start with Beetroot tart fine with horseradish cream and goats cheese.  BC went for the Chicken liver parfait with crispy shallots, truffle jelly and toasted brioche.  Oh my goodness what a fine start to a meal.  BC’s Chicken Liver parfait was in my humble opinion worthy of awards  –  superbly smooth with an intense flavour and a  crispy shallot surprise.  I did prefer BC’s starter due to the intensity of the flavours but my more delicate starter was also a sure-fire winner.  The goats cheese was delicious and this is something I plan to emulate for this year’s New Year’s lunch.  Watch this space!

Slow cooked rib of beefWell it was Christmas so for my main course I opted for  Roasted brown turkey with duck fat roast potatoes, parsnips, red cabbage and cranberry.  The serving of meat was generous and cooked to perfection.  I am not the biggest turkey fan but I do like it when its done well and it was.  The cranberries were terrifying at first.  After popping a fork full in my mouth I realised that these sour little critters were best smeared ‘sparingly’ on my meat where they served their purpose beautifully.  The lightly spiced red cabbage tasted amazing and is definitely something I would like to add to my Christmas repertoire.

BC opted for Slow cooked rib of beef with smoked potato puree, wilted greens and a bourguignon sauce – wowzer!  This dish was something special. The super succulent meat (of which there was a lot)  effortlessly slid off the bone.  The potatoes were extremely smoky and I have no idea how they achieved this but hey ho the Christmas pudding parfaitresult was lovely.  The wilted greens were green and wilted and very nice indeed.  Again god dammit I liked BC’s main course a teeny tiny bit more than my own.

Surprisingly there was still room in my ever-expanding Grumbling Tummy for a dessert.  Vanilla rice pudding with caramelised pears was the truly triumphant pudding which I opted for.  Rice pudding is so old school and brings back memories of my granny’s cooking,  however granny Hill never included vanilla, and any pears were straight from the tin.  This version of the retro classic was divine.  Can’t be that hard to make, can it?  Might give it a go.

Finishing as he started BC chose a parfait – Christmas pudding parfait with warm brandy custard.  It lrice puddingooked stunning and tasted lovely but I was far too engrossed in scoffing my own dessert to take much more notice than that  I’m afraid.

So another hugely successful Bonham lunch was complete and we happily rolled out of the restaurant bidding farewell to the marvellous staff  and continued rolling to the wonderful Bon Vivant in Thistle street where we finished off our date with a couple of glasses of Tempranillo wine.

Happily sated and a tiny bit tipsy we headed home to plan our next trip to the Bonham.


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Farmers Market – Use it or Lose it

I was distressed to read this week that Dunfermline’s Farmers Market was under threat of closure. The article was printed in the Dunfermline Press, and although I am not sure how much truth there is in the story, I was concerned enough to take to twitter and facebook to encourage my fellow Fifers to use the market or risk losing it altogether.

MarketVeg stallIf you think  this is going to be a sanctimonious rant then be rest assured it is not. I am ashamed to say that I am not a regular face at my local Farmers Market. I know full well that there are fabulous local producers gathered at the Glen Gates on the second Saturday of every month; but like many people I often forget on the day or just take it for granted that I can pop along “sometime soon”. Perhaps this sort of complacency could in part be to blame for the downturn in footfall at Dunfermline Farmers Market.

Feeling rather contrite, I headed off to the Glen Gates last Saturday morning on a mission to buy local produce and support this fabulous asset to my town. It was a pretty dreich day truth be told, but the top of the town was buzzing with Christmas shoppers. As you head further down Dunfermline High Street the shops and shoppers thin out a bit and then you get to the Glen Gates, the site of the market. The Market Co-ordinator was cited in the Dunfermline Press as suggesting that parking is a problem and I would agree that it is indeed an issue, however there are plenty of shopppers at the top end of the high street so I don’t think parking is entirely to blame.

The Glen Gates is a great spot for a market but I think location in this case is both a strength and a weakness. It is perfect in terms of space I grant you, but it is really not very visible to the average Dunfermline shopper. Surely they know that the market is on, just minutes away from Marks and Spencer? Well no, not really. There is nothing that I could see to remind shoppers that there is a Farmers Market happening right under their noses. No banners, no A-boards – nada! Marketing is my day job and I often get frustrated at the lack of marketing on the ground for events. A few A-Boards at the top end of the High Street promoting the market could do wonders?

The Farmers Market in Dunfermline has around a dozen local producers selling their wares including the fabulous Puddledub Wee Pie Company, Trotters Condiments and the Wee Pie Company. It wasn’t long before my shopping bag filled up and I began to question why I am not a market regular. I bought some marvellous Sweet Chilli Sausages from Puddledub which were later transformed into a Sausage Roast with Chorizo, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, peppers, paprika and rosemary. I also bought some Anster Cheese which BC and I tucked into along with oatcakes and lashings of plum chutney from Craigies Farm Shop. A couple of Cheiften’s Choice Pies from the Wee Pie Company also made it into my bag. This is a Venison and Chorizo pie which I plan to have with roast beetroot, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes – very much looking forward to it.

recipeThe lovely folk from the Fife Diet also had a stand on which stood the marvellous Christmas Mystery Recipe tree. Recipes hidden within a silver macrami star hung on a little tree, free to take. My mystery recipe was for Cloutie Dumpling – will try this soon so watch this space. As well the opporunity to buy beautiful local food it was lovely to chat to the local producers who are so passionate about what they are selling. Makes a change from a justifiably bored looking check out girl in Tesco.

West Fifers need to do a better job of supporting their local Farmers Market and perhaps a bit more needs to be done to give us a shove in the right direction. The Grumbling Tummy is one Fifer who has been guilty of complacency, but no more!

So if you are from around Dunfermline then please visit your market on the second Saturday of every month from 9am – 1pm. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Those from other parts of Scotland – please find out where your local Farmers Market is and use it.


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Spicy Bean Quesadilla

As easy as it is tasty

As easy as it is tasty

Don’t you sometimes yearn for something to eat at the end of the day which sets your taste buds tingling?  Yet more often than not you have neither the time or the energy to muster a masterpiece.

My Spicy Bean Quesadillas score very high on taste and don’t entail slaving over a stove – hot or otherwise.

My hardest days of the week are those spent running around after my lovely but ever so demanding wee girl.  It is on these days, when I am virtually on my knees by 6 o’clock, that this recipe comes to my rescue.  A once-a-week favourite at The Grumbling Tummy HQ.

It started life as ‘Refried Bean Fold Over’ from my well-thumbed copy of  Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s superb  ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday’.  Although the original recipe was perfectly lovely, I have tweaked and twisted it a fair bit along the way.  Hugh used pinto beans, has no lime juice or coriander in his recipe.  I guess most importantly,  he does not give his recipe the quesadilla  treatment.

Big thanks to Hugh for giving me all the nuts and bolts of this fantastic spicy treat.

So without further ado here is the recipe:

Ingredients

One red onion, 3 good-sized tomatoes halved,  a large can of beans  –  Hugh uses pinto beans but I often opt for Kidney beans –  both nice, a good handful of chopped coriander, couple of cloves of garlic, half  a red chilli,  the juice of half a lime,  a pinch of cayenne pepper, soft tortilla wraps (6), cheese ( as much as you like really), sour Cream

Method

Chop and fry the onion until soft

Add the garlic and the chilli 

Life is not too short to grate a tomato

Life is not too short to grate a tomato

After a few minutes take off the heat and grate the flesh of the tomatoes straight into the cooking pot – discarding the skins.  Life may be too short to stuff a mushroom but it is not too short to grate a tomato, so don’t be tempted to chop rather than grate.  It takes seconds! Return to the heat and cook for a few minutes until the juices thicken a little then add in your drained beans and the juice of half a limeGet a tattie masher and mush it all up – I like to leave it a bit chunky but this is personal tasteAdd a pinch of cayenne and the chopped coriander and stir

Spoon this  lovely spicy bean mixture onto the three wraps and smother with grated cheese.

Pop another wrap on top and then shallow fry for a few minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Serve with salad and sour cream.