thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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Kelpies and Cake

20141019_155843It has been such a lovely summer that I had forgotten the very British tradition of battling the elements on a family day out,  when the sensible course of action would be sticking on a movie and eating Jaffa Cakes.

And so the Grumbling Tummy three found themselves in Falkirk on Sunday on a quest to see the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies,  or as my daughter calls them, The Skelpies.  There was rain, there was cold and a wild wind that blew a new white hat clean off a small curly head into the mud.  We were grimly determined like the other mad day trippers with their wellies on.

We took refuge in the cafe at the Falkirk Wheel and watched this amazing feat of engineering through the rain battered windows.  It was here that I had the misfortune to be introduced to a haggis and brie panini.  The only word I could muster to describe this unfortunate franco-scottish combo was “interesting”.  In my family “interesting” and “different” are terms used by my mum to express her dislike for something without actually saying so.   So this sarnie was indeed different and slightly interesting but not something I ever wish to repeat.  Worry not readers – good grub coming soon …

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We had decided to settle for a drive-by past the Kelpies when lo and behold the sun burst its way through the clouds and there was a lull in the rain.  So with only the bluster to battle we got out to see these 30 metre high equine head sculptures which were a beautiful sight to behold.  There was only one problem – cake was thin on the ground.  I was determined to have cake and good cake at that.

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OFF THE EATEN TRACK

 

20141019_155152Kincardine is probably not the first place you would think to head to for splendiferous cake but trust me, it is home to one of my secret places to procure cake of the finest standard.

The Baking Room http://www.thebakingroomkincardine.com/ sells breakfasts  and lunches but the highlight is the home-made cakes.

On offer amongst other delights on Sunday were:  giant custard creams, a pink Victoria Sponge complete with giant chocolate buttons, an amazing tray-bake made from brownies, white chocolate and mint ganache , Rolo tray bake, peanut butter fudge and salted caramel cheese cake.

B and N shared the pink striped Vic Sponge and it must have been good as they seemed to be fighting over selected parts of it – chocolate icing seemed to be the main battle ground.  Calm down  WI Vic Sponge purists – it was bloody good.

And let  me tell you how nice my Rolo tray bake was.  I didn’t ooh or aah about it one little bit.  I tasted it quietly and then cunningly hid it behind my coffee cup in the hope that it would not be noticed and that I would not be called upon to share.  Sadly I was found out and had to offer a tiny bit to B but oh how much did I resent that little bit of wonder going somewhere else apart from into my mouth.  Not only do I like cake but I am also a tiny bit greedy and am not keen on the whole concept of sharing.  Probably due to being an only child!

Not content with the cake that we had eaten – we felt the need to buy a giant custard cream and take it home.  I think the plan may have been to sit down and share it over a freshly brewed coffee but in reality it was opened and devoured before we had time to fill the kettle.

 

So Cake and Kelpies – it’s a great day out.  And as for the diet – there is always Monday!

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TORTILLA PIZZA

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This variation on a pizza has become a firm favourite in the Grumbling Tummy household.  It is slightly healthier and lighter than a regular pizza as well as being super duper quick to make.   I make it on days when I have dragged myself to the gym and have neither the time or energy to make anything complex yet I am craving something supremely tasty.

I have always stubbornly stuck to the same topping but would love to hear your alternatives.

 

INGREDIENTS – serves 2

2 soft tortilla wraps, 6 tablespoons of passata, 6/8 slices of Parma ham, 10 pitted black olives, 2 small handfuls of rocket, ball of mozzarella, 50g of parmesan, spray oil

 

20140924_215537METHOD

I take the oven shelf right out and line it with baking paper (do not use foil) on the kitchen counter

Pop the tortillas on top and spray lightly with the oil

Spread 2tbs of passata on each tortilla

Add 3/4 slices of parma ham to each tortilla

Split the cheese between the two tortillas

Pop on 5 olives per portion

Put in the oven (pre heated to 180) for around 15/20 minutes

Once ready put the rocket on top and serve

 

NOTE: If you do use foil you will spend a frustrating 10 minutes trying to peel your pizza away unscathed and it might be a bit soggy in places.  Use the baking paper and it will slippety-slide off like a dream and the tortilla will be lovely and crispy.


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GUEST BLOG: Just a Spoonful of Sugar?

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So how about we depart from food and stray into one of my other favourite indulgences – wine.  Now I know very little about wine but I know a lady who does – the lovely Kristina Naden who with her husband runs a successful wine importing business called  La Cantina in Aukland. As successful wine importers/merchants they  knows lots and lots about wine and Kristina has kindly agreed to write a guest blog for me this week.

Kristina was an old work mate with whom I spent many an evening putting the world to rights with a fine bottle of wine. I must say her tastes were always more sophisticated than mine. Whilst I would pick up whatever was on offer from Tesco, Kristina would choose a bottle from the collection sent by the wine club she was in. I am delighted that she has turned her passion into a business.  A rare and wonderful thing to do.  I hope you enjoy her blog and if you want to read more from Kristina then visit her blog on http://www.lacantina.co.nz/blog.cfm 

 

OVER TO KRISTINA NADEN FROM LA CANTINA

Sugar has been getting a lot of bad PR all over the place lately – and if you look at the number of sweet fizzy drinks in shops, and check to see how much sugar is added to ‘sports drinks’, muesli bars and breakfast cereals that are all meant to be good for you, it’s not surprising processed sugar has got a bad rap. Books like “Sweet Poison” have become bestsellers and alternatives like stevia and dextrose powder have been added to a lot of shopping baskets.

So what does this have to do with wine?

Wine obviously does have a natural element of sugar – grapes contain sugars including fructose and glucose, and during fermentation these sugars are converted by yeasts added in the winemaking process to become alcohol (and a bit of CO2 pops up on the way as well).

It’s because the amount of sugar in grapes is directly related to the amount of alcohol in wine, that winemakers will sometimes use chaptalisation when making wines – this is a process of adding sugar to unfermented wine to increase the alcohol content. (Chaptalisation is different to the practice of dosage though, where some liqueur d’expédition – usually a blend of the base wine and sugar but this varies from winery to winery – is added to Champagne and sparkling wines. If any dosage is carried out, it’ll be done after fermentation as opposed to Chaptalisation which is done before fermentation. )

Chaptalisation seems a bit controversial – some countries have highly regulated it’s use. And fair enough – adding a large pile of processed sugar into a wine is not ideal, surely. Countries such as Australia and France have banned the use of straight sugar being added to wine before fermentation, and instead concentrated must is added.

Winemakers in New Zealand however are allowed to add straight sugar.

Essentially, sugar, or must, is used to give wine a full taste – it adds length, weight and volume.

Improvements in modern viticulture has meant that less sugar needs to be added these days. Higher sugar levels in fruit are being achieved in the vineyard, as opposed to being added in the winery. Higher quality wines tend to have a lighter crop, giving better flavour and aromas. It also means winemakers don’t need to add as much sugar to increase alcohol volumes and the wine has more weight and volume.

There’s still the question of residual sugar though – this is sugar left over in the wine that hasn’t been fermented. I wonder if we are all getting so used to sweetness in our food and drink that wine with a low level of residual sugar is not palatable to us?

Apart from being converted to alcohol, sugar obviously has a role to play in wine with balancing acid, but are the books right and are we turning into sugar junkies?

What do you think?