22 June, 2009

Once upon a time in Scotland..

Oli and I went off for a wander around Edinburgh this last weekend. I say wander when really I mean we were on a quite specific mission to find and acquire "authentic Scottish tartans" to be mailed back to the U.S. in time for the annual McNabb family reunion. From Oundle the drive is about 5 hours, which is not bad for a girl from Texas, but to an English person it's clearly a feat, so Oli and I set off early that morning and arrived at about lunch time.
Whenever I venture to a new big city I look on HappyCow's Returaunt Guide to find a suitable and often off the beaten path place to eat. As usual HappyCow did not disappoint and we were able to grab a bite at the EngineShed restaurant, a vegetarian cafe/bakery/tofu processor housed in a converted train station. The daily menu was presented on a blackboard but the salad bar was to say the least imaginative; I love the idea of trying something completely new and the EngineShed presented me with plenty of options. I had the butternut squash soup and salad plate and Oli had the lemon and mushroom pasta (though I still regret not venturing for the savory nut pies).
After having grabbed our lunch and a package of fresh tofu we set off shopping, which was exhausting but fruitful. Once we loaded all of our goods in the car I quickly fell asleep after assigning Oli the task of finding a place to eat (as it was now 5pm) before heading back. As I woke up I was pleasantly surprised to see the coast ahead of me and a small village of North Queensferry to my right. We parked the car and set out for a bite and stumbled across the Ferrybridge Hotel, where we were greeted by a lovely bartender/waitress and a group of locals sitting in the corner. Service was quick and friendly and the food was top notch!

Above is a very blurry picture of my grilled mushrooms and blue cheese which was superb; I love English Stilton.

Oli had the haggis in filo dough with a beetroot chutney and liked it very much, I, of course, did not try it as it's quite clearly not vegetarian, but I did have Oli google haggis when we got home.. needless to say he was taken aback.

The hotel even had a lovely view of the new bridge being built, which Oli enjoyed quite a bit, even I have to admit, it was pretty cool.

20 June, 2009

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is one of my favorite things to order at indian restaurants, it's essentially a creamy spinach mixture with chunks of homemade indian cheese, aptly named paneer. Being the traditionally trained indian chef I am, I set along with nothing but the best and freshest ingredients of unquestionable authenticity.. Okay, so that's not true. I just went off of what I knew and could remember from eating out at curry places and since I'm stuck in a bachelor pad for the summer, frozen spinach and the spices I could find had to do.
So if you've ever had saag paneer or even "Googled it" you'll notice that it varies quite a bit from place to place with the creamy/spinach ratio. Mine turned out a little more on the creamy side than most, but it was lovely.
Coupled with two mini-whole wheat pitas it made quite a lovely lunch, and is still one of Oli's and my "easy to make" fast and warm dinners.

(recipe serves 3)
1/2 package (8oz) of paneer cheese
1/2 tbsp butter/margarine
1 onion finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder/ chili flakes
2 tbsp of flour
1/4 cup of shaved parmesan
2 cups of semi-skimmed milk
2 1/2 cups (packed) de-thawed frozen spinach
1 tbsp salt
black pepper to taste

Add small amount of cooking spray to a pan and brown paneer on each side. Remove paneer from pan and set to the side. Add butter to pan with sliced onions and garlic and sauté until caramelized, add chili powder/ flakes, and cumin at the end of the sauté. Add 1/2 tbsp of flour to the onions and garlic and incorporate (soaking up the butter from the sauté) slowly add another 1/2 tbsp of flour to the mixture and incorporate well. Gently mix in (and I mean gently) small amounts of the milk, stirring constanly, and then the rest of the flour to make a rue. Once you've added all of the flour and about 1/2 a cup of the milk, add the shaved parmesan, black pepper, and salt. slowly add another 1/2 cup of the milk and then add in the spinach and cooked paneer, mixing constantly. Slowly incorporate the last cup of milk and allow for the mixture to simmer until thickened to desired consistency.
Add more salt to taste and enjoy!

19 June, 2009

The Affection of Confections

Cupcakes; what do they mean to you?
To me, they mean an inexpensive (sometimes) present that has an automatic 'wow' factor. We all see beautiful cupcakes in the windows of fancy patisserie shops and they seem so unattainable, so grand, and there is an undeniable pleasure that comes from gifting something like that to others.. especially when you made it yourself.

I make more cupcakes than I eat, and probably make more cupcakes than others would wish; I'll be the first to admit that. I'm just bent like that I suppose; creation for pleasure under the guise of selflessness.

I like to make pretty things; I've yet to find something prettier than a maraschino cherry.

First entries are always the hardest..

Lunch at the Eco-Cafe in Camden (London). I originally wanted the veggie tikka in a jacket (or baked) potato, but alas, they were out.
My life in the United Kindom thus far has incited a great love for semi-skimmed cappuccinos; my favorite is the froth. Semi-colons are also my favorite.
Sorry about the dirty utensils, I couldn't help myself. I'm Whitney by the way.