Dinner

I brought some local wild boar meat with me from Sweden – close to 2 kg in fact. Including the freezer bag, it took up most of the space in my suitcase, and I was silently wondering what security would think if they decided to search my bag, but the transportation luckily caused no issues in the end. This ragù works well for meal prepping and lunches are sorted for the rest of the week now. Much like a lot of other people lately, I’ve started trying to do more meal prep to save time and energy and it’s been going pretty well so far. I took the next step and bought a bunch of meal prep containers with compartments, so I've got no excuses not to do it now!

One of the benefits of having a partner who is in the food industry is the accessibility to kitchen equipment and tableware. After having struggled for a while to get my hands on the style of tableware I like, I was kindly gifted several awesome plates and bowls by Sue (@Sue_Genware), the sales manager at Neville UK, and I finally got a chance to use one of them!


Slow cooker wild boar ragù

900g boar meat, cut into chunks

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

200ml red wine

1 tbsp Knorr Touch of Taste liquid beef stock

400g tin chopped tomatoes

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped

3 cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt&pepper

Fresh parsley, chopped

Seal the boar meat in half the olive oil and transfer to the slow cooker. Heat the rest of the olive oil and add chopped onion, letting them brown slightly. Add the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Transfer the onions to the slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients except for parsley. Leave to cook on LOW for around 6 hours. Towards the end, stir in chopped parsley. Serve with tagliatelle.

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Dinner, Beef, Swedish

I’m back in Scotland, having spent a couple of weeks travelling for work and getting a couple of days of sightseeing in. For someone who hates flying it’s a relief to leave the five flights in less than two weeks behind me. The viral death trap that is flying has led to me catching a pretty bad fever though so I’ve been in bed trying to recover for the past two days and I’ve been living off ice cream and oranges.

I was over in Sweden for a flying visit before going back and I didn’t mind the opportunity to enjoy some of the best Swedish autumn produce – lingonberries and chanterelles! And no, I didn’t pick them myself unfortunately, but they’re still very tasty. I brought back probably about 3kg of wild boar meat currently in the freezer – any ideas as to how I could divide this in two without defrosting it?!

I’m sad to say that the lingonberries are not part of this dish. In between packing and cooking dinner I completely forgot that these lovely little berries should’ve been part of this dish. We froze some of them and added them to gin cocktails instead so no losses.

1.2kg Roast beef

Sprigs of fresh thyme

5 garlic cloves

1 onion

1 tbsp olive oil

100g Butter

Chanterelles (as many as you can get your hands on!)

1tbsp Knorr Touch of Taste beef bouillon

Salt&pepper

Rub the roast beef with oil, thyme sprigs and salt&pepper. Cook for 30 minutes at 225c, then lower the temperature to 190c and cook for another 30 minutes. The inner temperature should reach 60c for a nice medium.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the chanterelles with some salt. Once the beef is ready leave it to rest for around 20 minutes. Pour any juices into the pan with the chanterelles and add some Touch of Taste bouillon. Slice the roast beef and add to the pan, top with fresh thyme. Serve with toasted ciabatta.

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Baking, Dessert, Chocolate

I’m back in Scotland again after having spent a week over in Sweden to celebrate my wee mum’s sixtieth birthday. We pretty much spent three days cooking for her party, but I think we both were happy with the results and it’s been a great week. It’s back to reality again and I’m still(!) finishing the last editing for my thesis. It’s crazy how much longer the process is than you realise, but on the other hand I’ve largely managed to avoid one of the nervous breakdowns which seem to be characteristic for the end-of-thesis-submission.

Anyway, I’ve been using a lot of white chocolate lately and since the cherries are in season, why not make some white chocolate and cherry brownies for dessert. I’d probably leave them in a bit longer next time since they were on the gooey side, but still seriously delicious and super easy to make. I managed to stuff my face with half of the cherries while making the brownies too so all in all, a success.

White chocolate and cherry brownies

Makes 16 – 180 kcal / square

100g butter

200g sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

150g flour

½ tsp baking powder

100g white chocolate

100g white chocolate chips

100g cherries (pitted)

Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until thick and fluffy. Melt butter and white chocolate on low heat and stir into the sugar mixture. Gradually stir in flour and baking powder. Fold in chocolate chips and half the cherries. Spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake in the oven at 180c for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool and top with chopped pistachios and the remaining cherries. Serve warm with ice cream.

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Dessert

I hope everyone else has been able to enjoy some of the beautiful summer weather lately! The only downside for me has been making sure that my (ginger) Scottish SO doesn’t melt away in the heat. At least you learn to appreciate the few days of warmth and sunshine living up north, and there’s something special about going outside in the morning, feeling like you’re abroad rather than at home. I’ve been trying to experiment with plating and making different new dishes, but this weekend has honestly been a disaster cooking-wise and out of all the things I’ve tried, this dessert is the only result I’m happy with. I’ve tried a couple of different types of honey cake before, never being very keen on the results, but this one’s perfect. Depending on preferred consistency you could either use finely chopped hazelnuts or ground hazelnuts, but I think the texture from the chopped hazelnuts makes the cake. The other ingredients used for plating has been a matter of preference really. We managed a brief IKEA trip yesterday and of course that means stocking up on cloudberry jam, so I wanted to make something with that. The orange also adds a bit of tartness which goes well with the sweet honeycomb so I’ve ended up with an orange-themed dessert plate.

Toasted hazel and honey cake

225g butter

225g honey

Zest from 1 orange

100g brown sugar

3 eggs

150g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

150 ml toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Melt honey and butter along with zest in a pan and leave to cool. Whisk together eggs and sugar and gradually stir in the flour and baking powder. Finally, stir in the butter mix and hazelnuts. Line a baking tray with baking paper and pour the batter into the tray. Bake in the oven at 180c for 40 minutes. Leave to cool and cut into square pieces. 

Honeycomb

100g caster sugar

30g honey

½ tbsp bicarbonate of soda

Bring the sugar and honey to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the mixture boil for a couple of minutes until it starts darkening slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate. Spread out on baking paper and leave to cool before breaking into pieces.

Meringues

1 large egg white

60g caster sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Gradually stir in the sugar and cream of tartar, whisking until very stiff peaks form. Pipe small round meringues onto baking paper. Bake in the oven at 100c for around 40 minutes for small meringues.

Plating

Honeycomb pieces

Mini meringues

Diced orange

Chopped hazelnuts

Cloudberry jam

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Dinner, Chicken, Korean

It’s a strange thing how quickly you phase out once something occupies most of your time – I was hoping to get in at least a weekly update of the blog while finishing the thesis draft, but that obviously didn’t happen! I’m hoping now that things have settled down a wee bit I’ll be able to update more regularly. I handed in the draft last Monday actually, but I’ve still been catching up on things and finishing off little bits. At this point I've pretty much given up trying to explain to people why the process of finishing your thesis takes so long (with draft submissions, final submission, viva, corrections etc.), but it really has been a life defining experience and I'm very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this for the past four years.

Since the weather has been fantastic here I thought it was time to get a barbecue going. For some reason, I’ve never actually done it here in Scotland. It made sense, I suppose, when I lived in a second floor flat, but no excuses anymore! Back over in Sweden our family always get in a couple of grill sessions and it’s always a special treat. Anyway, I decided to get a small portable grill, but slightly underestimated the weight of the grill, charcoal, and other groceries so I barely managed to get it home. Once we got started, the fire didn’t take properly at first, but after half an hour of desperately combining kindling, charcoal, lightning liquid and cardboard(!) we got a perfect temperature going. Besides, we managed to produce enough smoke to set off the fire alarm indoors. Despite everything, the actual skewers are easy enough to make and who can resist some Korean barbecue?

Dak bulgogi skewers

Serves 4

600g chicken thigh fillets (boneless), diced

250g chestnut mushrooms, halved

100g bunched spring onions, cut into 10cm rods

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 minced garlic clove

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp sriracha

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp rice wine

2 tbsp brown sugar

Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce (soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, lemon juice, sriracha, honey, rice wine, and brown sugar). Pour over the remaining ingredients and coat well. Marinade for at least an hour. Thread alternate layers of chicken, mushrooms and spring onions onto skewers.

Maple dipping sauce

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sriracha

2 tsp sesame seeds

Mix together all the ingredients for the dipping sauce. Once the grill is ready, cook the skewers for around 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice.

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Dinner, Pork

Is it too early to start longing for summer barbeques? Surely not! My latest obsession food-wise is sweet potato, especially baked ones. I usually top them with salsa, cheese, and ham, but since it’s Sunday and the weather’s nice, I decided to give these pork belly and halloumi kebabs a trial run in the oven. They turned out fantastic and I’m pretty sure this is what I’ll be serving the next time I get a chance to have a barbeque since they’ll be even more tasty cooked that way.

I’m glad I managed to make time for a nice Sunday meal and a wee blog post since I feel like all I’ve been doing lately is working pretty much. A deadline for my thesis draft has been set for May 7th so things have been pretty hectic – it’s amazing how productive you get when working under pressure!

Baked sweet potatoes with pork belly and halloumi kebabs

Serves 4

500g sliced pork belly

250g halloumi

4 sweet potatoes

Salt&pepper

To serve

Tomato chutney, spring onions, spinach, pomegranate

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap them in tin foil. Bake in the oven at 200c for around an hour until cooked. When half an hour remains, add the pork belly slices on a baking tray and pre-cook. Let everything cool. Cube the pork and the halloumi cheese and thread the cubes onto wooden skewers. Season with salt and pepper. Grill in the oven or on a barbeque for around ten minutes until browned and crispy. Serve with the baked potatoes and toppings.

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Baking, Dessert

Happy Easter everyone! This is a lovely wee dessert for Easter. The cake is so easy to make, but it’s something a bit different from your usual sponge cake. I really like baking with ricotta and I think this recipe pretty much nails the perfect combination of ingredients. I’m off to get on with trying to finish writing my final thesis chapter (it’s nearing the end!), but a treat-filled Easter weekend certainly makes it easier!

Pear and ricotta cake

150g sugar

3 eggs

120g butter, melted

250g ricotta

1 tsp vanilla

250ml flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 pears, peeled, cored, quartered with thin slits cut on the bulbous end

1tbsp fig’s jam

Candied walnuts

100ml chopped Walnuts

1tbsp butter

25ml sugar

Whisk together sugar and eggs until white and fluffy and stir in the butter, ricotta and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, spices, and salt and gradually stir into the sugar-mixture. Pour the batter into a greased round baking tin. Place the quartered pears in a ring over the cake, without pushing them down into the batter. Brush the pears with fig’s jam. Bake at 180c for around 40min.

For the walnuts, melt the butter in a pan, add the walnuts and sugar. Let them caramelise on medium heat until golden and crispy. Leave to cool on baking parchment. Serve with warm custard.

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Dinner, Japanese

My weekend has truly been in the spirit of food. Having a really well-stocked Asian supermarket within relatively reasonable driving distance is pretty awesome. I try to drag the SO with me at least bi-annually to SeeWoo in town to stock up on chicken powder, kimchi, and char siu pork buns. Seriously, if you’re in Glasgow go there and get the pork buns, they’re worth the visit. We went foraging the day after. As they say, kärt barn har många namn (‘Dear child has many names’) – how true in the case of ramsons, also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, and bear’s garlic. They’re perfect right now and the flower shoots are edible too.

Having stocked up on ingredients, I decided to give dashi stock a go, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I was given the recipe from a friend of my SO who, hands down, is one of the best chefs in Scotland after having it in a dish in his restaurant. I think the stock turned out pretty well, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a dashi-expert and there are guides out there by people who are way more knowledgeable than me like this one from Just One Cookbook . Anyway, here’s what I ended up with - a Japanese dish with a touch of Scotland added to it in the form of wild garlic, Kitsune Udon. As someone who studies names for a living I thought the story of how the dish is called Kitsune (‘fox’) because the tofu which is used as a topping was the fox’s favourite food according to folklore makes it even more tempting.

Kitsune Udon with ramsons:

Serves 2

300g cooked udon noodles

4 aburaage squares (deep-fried tofu)

600ml dashi stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp mirin

Handful of ramsons, roughly chopped

To serve:

Spring onions, finely chopped

Pickled daikon

Ramson shoots

Bring the dashi stock to a boil and add soy sauce and mirin. Add the udon noodles, aburaage, and ramsons to the stock and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve with spring onions, pickled daikon, and ramson shoots.

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Dinner, Vegetarian

Hello beetroot my old friend... My better half requested a Sunday roast for dinner yesterday, so naturally I decided to serve up veggie burgers. Not that I think he had any major objections in the end mind you, these burgers were pretty damn awesome.

I know there’s an endless number of beetroot burger recipes out there, but I’ve made this one to combine everything I like in a veggie burger. It doesn’t have any grains as a base so there’s no need to precook anything (other than the beetroot if you’re using it fresh), but rather uses breadcrumbs and black beans which are a great base for burgers. The feta cheese goes really well with beetroot and gives it more flavour – perfect combination!

Rather than using the usual burger buns I decided to try croissants, something I’ve seen a couple of times lately. It’s worth noting that you might have to make your own croissants to get a good round shape fit for burgers. I’ve actually cheated a wee bit, using ready-made croissant dough, but they’re still super tasty.

Beetroot and black bean burgers:

Makes eight burgers

230g black beans (1 drained 400g can)

250g Beetroot, cooked*

2 eggs

1 small red onion, finely chopped

100g panko

100g feta cheese

1 lemon, juice

Salt, pepper

Blitz together black beans and beetroot. Add remaining ingredients and blitz until mixed. Shape into burgers and place on baking paper. Bake in the oven at 180c for around 15 minutes.

Parsnip crisps:

2 parsnips

Oil to deep fry

Salt

Slice long strips of parsnip with a vegetable peeler. Add oil to a deep pot and heat the oil (you can tell it’s ready when the parsnip immediately starts to bubble when you add it). Add parsnip in batches and deep fry until crispy and golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on kitchen roll.

To serve:

Croissants, basil, feta cheese, avocado, tomato chutney

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Seafood, Dinner, Lunch

This recipe is basically the same as the tartlets with spinach and blue cheese I made a couple of weeks ago, but with salmon and asparagus. I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed these outside in the sunshine with my mum last week with a couple of glasses of white wine – I think that’s pretty much as perfect a start to spring time as you can wish for! Funnily enough, we went up to Aberdour to tour the medieval castle and go down to the seaside the day after and it was freezing. I’m still amazed at how changing the weather here is.

Smoked salmon and asparagus tarts:

Makes around eight 10 cm tartlets

Crust:

125 butter

300 ml flour

2 tbsp water

Mix together butter and flour then add the water. Press the dough into individual tart shells, prick with a fork and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Pre-bake them in the oven at 200 c for ten minutes.

Filling:

125g asparagus*

200g smoked salmon

3 eggs

100 ml double cream

100 ml cottage cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

Dill, chopped

Combine eggs, cream, cottage cheese, salt & pepper, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Place sliced salmon and asparagus tips in the shells and pour over the egg mix. Bake in the oven at 200 c for around twenty minutes. Garnish with fresh dill.

*I cut half of the asparagus into thin strips with a vegetable peeler, blanched them for a minute and topped the tarts with them after they were baked.

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