Tag Archives: Scotland

I Dream of Mimi’s

I dream of Mimi's
I Dream of Mimi’s

It’s not long now, in fact it’s almost started – the Edinburgh festival, so that means nearly time for a pilgrimage home.  As much as I love the festival and all its weird and wonderful activities, a trip anywhere means an excuse to sample new and sometimes, as in this case, very familiar food.  My trips home or to the UK in general, are a mix of both.  The old favourites could be places that I have known and loved for ever or, as in the case of Mimi’s Bakehouse  a discovery by a friend that has become a firm favourite of mine too.

I dream of Mimi's

The thing I love most about Mimi’s is (I have to think about this, because there are a lot of things) is their unapologetic and obvious love of cake.  The place screams decadence and you know it’s OK to eat exactly what you want here – what goes on in Mimi’s, stays in Mimi’s – anything your heart (and stomach) desires.  It feels as though the whole place is full of cake, floor to ceiling, like a cross between Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house.  Open the door to the shop and you are immediately hypnotized by the sights and smells that envelop you.  I am rendered speechless for a good few minutes but know that I have to collect myself to place an order.  Normally I can’t focus enough to read the menu as I am drooling over the cake display and usually make my choice from that.  But, if you are made of stronger stuff than I and are able to get around to reading the menu, you’ll find that Mimi not only makes the most fantastic cakes, but does a to die for bacon sandwich too (and lots of other savouries)

I dream of Mimi's

If you want your cake and to eat it too – Mimi’s is a must, proof that the Sun always shines on Leith.

MIMI’S BAKEHOUSE
63 Shore, Edinburgh 
MIMI’S PICNIC PARLOUR
250 Canongate, Edinburgh

Mimi’s Website

I dream of Mimi's

 

Porridge with Apple and Cinnamon

Porridge with Apple and Cinnamon

There’s not much I’ll miss about winter, but I already know I’ll pine for porridge with apple and cinnamon.  I’ve always been a huge porridge fan, I can’t help it, I’m Scottish, it’s in our blood (that and whisky of course), but this winter I made a change.  I played around with my porridge and added a little spice (of which I am also a huge fan) and this was the result.

Hmmm, do you think I’ll be allowed to eat porridge in the summer too?  Yeah, why not.

Preparation Time: 3 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 to 5 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings
200gr / 7 oz. porridge oats
400ml / 13.5 fl. oz. water
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of cinnamon (or to taste)
A few drops of vanilla extract
4 to 6 tbsp of apple compote
4 x tsp of honey
8 x tbsp of milk

Method

  1. Place the water, oats, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a non stick pan, and put on a high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down to a medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the oats soften and the mixture takes on a creamy texture. You can keep cooking and the mixture will become thicker if you prefer.
  3. Divide into bowls, drizzle over the honey and the milk and add a spoonful or so of the apple compote to each serving.

Tips and Variations

  • Great with some fresh berries, raspberries would be the real Scottish choice.
  • For a richer version, swap the milk for single cream, or you can start by cooking the oats in a half water, half milk liquid.
  • If you dare, you can add another Scottish touch, a wee dram of whiskey in every portion!

To make the Apple Compote

Ingredients
150 ml / 5 fl. oz. water
4 x medium apples peeled, cored and roughly diced

Method

  1. Place the apples, water and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil, then allow to simmer until the apples are soft.
  2. Mash with a fork for a rougher texture or liquidize it with a hand mixer for a smooth result
  3. As well as serving this with porridge it goes great with meat, especially pork or roast chicken. 

Tips and Variations 

  • The amount of water can depend on the apples, so if you feel it is getting to dry while cooking, just add a little water. Or , if you feel there is too much water, just turn the heat up and let it evaporate as steam.
  • This sauce keeps in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it.

 

Party Food for Burns’ Night: Haggis Samosa’s

Haggis Samosa for Burns' Night

Party Food for Burns’ Night: Haggis Samosa’s

It’s here again, Burns’ night.  Roll out the haggis.

All over the world, Scots will be celebrating their national poet tonight with meals of haggis neeps ‘n’ tatties (haggis, turnip and potato).  His famous poems and songs will be sung and, for those of us Scots living outside the country a nostalgic tear or two will more than likely be shed.

As much as I like my haggis, and as much as I appreciate a Burns’ poem or even two, sometimes I don’t want the full on experience.  And, as a Scot living in the Netherlands, I notice that not all of my countrymen are overenthusiastic about eating a meal which consists predominantly of offal.  As much as I have tried to change the image of the haggis and the opinion of my non-Scots friends, ‘It’s really just a spicy sausage you know.’  They still regard my explanation and the poor little haggis with some suspicion.  So, sometimes you have to ease people into these things gently.  This is the thought process that led to my Burns’ night drinks with little Scottish inspired snacks.  My latest being the Haggis Samosa.  The classic dinner of Haggis encased in some crispy filo pastry.   A little bite sized Scottish experience for those who feel they can dip their toe in the water but are not quite ready to jump in.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Time to Build the Samosa’s : 30 to 45 minutes (depends how dexterous you are and how practiced you are)
Baking Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Ingredients for about 40 to 45 Samosa’s
For the Filling
250gr / 0.5 lb potatoes, cooked and mashed
300gr / 10 oz. sweet turnip, cooked and mashed
400gr / 14 oz. haggis, cooked
20gr / 0.7 oz. unsalted butter
6 x spring onions chopped finely
1 x tsp of coriander powder
¼ x tsp white pepper
¼ x tsp nutmeg
2 x tbsp Glayva whisky (or whisky and a little honey)
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

For the Pastry
650gr / 1.4 lb. filo pastry cut into strips of about 9cm x 24cm / 3.5 in. x 9.5 in.
2 x eggs beaten

Haggis Samosa for Burns' Night

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Line a roasting tray (s) with baking paper.
  3. Heat the butter in a non-stick pan being careful not to burn it, add the onion and cook on a medium high heat for about a minute.
  4. Add the haggis and the spices and cook just to heat through and mix with the onion for about another minute.
  5. De-glaze with the Glayva, allow it to evaporate, then add the potato and turnip.
  6. Mix everything through evenly, check for seasoning, set aside.
  7. For the pastry, get everything ready and set up so that you can build the samosa’s. Place the baking tray(s) within reach, the filling mix, the pastry and the beaten egg. You will also need a knife and a pastry brush.
  8. I like to make about 3 or 4 samosas at a time, but this will depend on how much space you have to work. On a clean, dry work surface spread out as many of the strips as you like and brush them with egg.
  9. Place about a tbsp or so at the bottom end of one or your filo strips, slightly to the left corner.
  10. Taking the area where you have placed the filling, lift the left hand corner in a diagonal motion over to meet the right edge of your strip of filo pastry. This will give you a triangle shape. Now repeat on the opposite side by taking the point at the right side diagonally over to the left edge of your pastry. Repeat until you reach the end of your strip of filo.
  11. Place each samosa onto your baking tray.
  12. Repeat until you have used your mix, brush each samosa with some egg.
  13. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are nice and brown

Tips and Variations

  • Try using ready-made puff pastry to encase the haggis mix in a more pasty style.
  • This is a very forgiving recipe so you can adjust quantities and proportions to suit your taste and also your haggis.
  • A great party idea if you don’t fancy overloading on haggis on Burns’ night.
  • If you fancy something to dip, try a little mustard.
  • Great with a wee dram (glass of whisky)

Amsterdam Private Food Tours

If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.

Scottish Macaroons

Scottish Macaroons

Scottish Macaroons

You must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years if you haven’t noticed the obsession with macaroons.  Along with cup cakes, I think it has to be the biggest craze of recent years.  Thing is, every time I heard people talking about macaroons, every email I got about the latest recipe or the latest store to open offering the little sweets, I kept getting a niggling feeling at the back of my mind.   Something telling me there was something not right about the macaroon to which everyone was referring.

It took me a while (that’s how it goes when your head is filled to capacity with all sorts of strange foodie thoughts), but eventually I realised what had been annoying me.

The macaroon ‘craze’ was only about French macaroons, and of course, us Scots have our very own definition of a macaroon.  Totally different to the light, melt in your mouth French version, but nevertheless, just as tempting.  My confusion came from the fact that I grew up with the Scottish version, interspersed with tastes of the English version, but had never, never encountered the French version.

As you can see from the following recipe, the Scottish version uses coconut and potato (yes, I know, only a little though, just as a binding agent), lots of icing sugar and is coated in chocolate.  The English version also uses coconut, but has egg whites in the mix and there is no use of chocolate (or potato! I think  they’re missing a trick there!).

Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes (if you need to cook the potatoes)

Ingredients for around 20 to 25 macaroons

100gr /  4oz. cooked potatoes, which have been cooled and mashed smooth to remove all lumps.
500gr / 17oz. icing sugar.  This quantity can vary, so best to have extra available.
225gr / 80z. 70% chocolate.  Again, have extra available.
200gr / 7oz. desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Place a sheet(s) of grease proof paper on a baking tray or plate(s).  Set these aside ready to take your macaroons.  You will be putting them in the freezer, so they need to be a size that will fit.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add half of the coconut and three quarters (roughly) of the icing sugar.  Bring this together, I find it easiest with a spatula, or large metal spoon.  It will be very sticky, but keep going until all the sugar and coconut is incorporated evenly into the mix.  You want to get this sticky mix to a state that you can handle it enough to shape it.  If needed add the rest of the sugar, or more sugar and coconut if need be to get your mix to the desired consistency.
  3. Take small pieces of the mix, about the size of a walnut in its shell.  Roll them out, flatten a little and shape until you get thick rectangles.  Of course you can make them any size and shape you want, but I like to keep them quite small, firstly because they are very sweet, so you don’t need a large macaroon.  And secondly to keep the ratio of chocolate to centre at a balanced level.
  4. When rolling and forming your macaroons, work swiftly.  The reason for this is that if you play with them too much the heat of your hand will make them more sticky and difficult to work with.  Should this happen, you can always put them in the fridge or freezer (not too long in the freezer) to stiffen the mix up a little and make it more manageable.
  5. Once your macaroons are formed and placed  on the trays with grease proof paper, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Whilst they are hardening, set your oven to 180°C / 350°F.  Spread out half of your remaining coconut on the tray and toast it in the oven.  This should only take a few minutes, keep an eye on it.  When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool and mix it with the rest of the un-toasted coconut.
  7. Also whilst the macaroons are chilling you can melt your chocolate over a pan of gently boiling water.
  8. When it is time to remove the macaroons from the freezer, you need to work quickly.  So, set up your assembly line.  First is the macaroon, then the chocolate, then a plate with the coconut.  I like to keep the chocolate over the pan so that it doesn’t harden whilst I work.  Not of course on the heat of the stove, but on my work surface, which allows the residual heat from the water to keep the chocolate at the right consistency.  Be careful however, it is hot.
  9. Dip and coat each macaroon first in chocolate then cover in coconut and set back on your plate with grease proof paper.
  10. Once they are all evenly covered, leave to harden.  I like to put them in the fridge.

Tips and Variations

  • The quantities in this recipe are quite difficult to pin down to exact amounts.  For the quantities of icing sugar it depends on how ‘wet’ your potatoes are for example.  Or with the quantity of chocolate, this can depend on how thickly you cover your macaroons, and of course the size you make them.
  • There are many types of macaroons.  Recently the French version has become very popular, there is also an English version which uses coconut, but with egg whites.  These are Scottish version of macaroon that I grew up with.
  • Try adding a splash of whisky, brandy or rum to your melted chocolate, for a grown up version.  Just a splash though, as you want the chocolate to set hard.
  • The macaroons will keep for about 10 days to 2 weeks in a dry cool place.  I normally line a tin with greaseproof paper and keep them that way.
  • If the chocolate should get too thick and gloopy whilst you are coating, just return to the heat for a minute or two to melt it again.  You can’t do this too many times as it will affect the chocolate.  If the macaroons get soft when you are working, you can put them back in the freezer for a few minutes.  The best way though, it to be organized with your production and to work quickly, without distractions.

Scottish Macaroons

 

Recipe to Celebrate Burn’s Night

CockALeekie

Although the Welsh sometimes claim that this is one of their recipes, I don’t subscribe to that school of thought at all and firmly plant the Scottish flag, the Saltire, in the middle of my cock-a-leekie soup.  So, to celebrate the day dedicated to Robert Burns, I like to have a pan bubbling away on the stove as I recite (by heart of course) Tam O’ Shanter!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
6 x plump chicken thighs
1.8 liter chicken stock
2 x leeks, cut lengthways washed and then chopped finely
20 x prunes chopped roughly
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Place the chicken, stock and leeks in a large soup pan, cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Allow to cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is ready.  You can check if the chicken is ready by cutting into it at the thickest part close to the bone.  If the juice runs clear and there is no pink colour then the the chicken is cooked.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan, take off the skin and discard.  Remove all the meat from the bone, tearing it in strips with your fingers or in ripping motions with two forks.
  4. Return the meat to the pan along with the prunes and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Check for seasoning and serve.

 Tips and Variations

  • Some recipes call for the use of stewing steak as well as chicken.  If you want to use this too, add it at the beginning on its own with the stock and cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours.  Then carry on with the soup as above,
  • Add some rice or beans to make a heartier version.
  • Dress with some parsley should you wish.