Posts Tagged: cooking


I swear this is not turning into a cooking blog, but it seems like I have been cooking up a storm recently- it must be the holidays. I will be showing some of the treats this week.

I attempted marshmasllows again- wanting to find the perfect consistency, I attempted two different gelatine amounts since you cannot buy powdered gelatine at our local shop, I used gelatine sheets. I think I figured it out, in several taste tests the green mallows won!

 I used the same recipe from this post, just with six sheets of gelatine.



Ben’s mom and dad liked them as well.


Thank you Chad Robertson. Your Tartine Bread cookbook has saved us from the dreary post-life-in-France bread void we faced in the U.K. Ben has really taken his bread artistry to the next level.

This weekend our usual bread-based meals (here, herehere and here) could not compete with our meal of carbohydrates squared. It was Tartine’s focaccia. Almost better than the rounds of the stuff from Broders’, Italian deli, where I worked in high school, college, post college and beyond. I was first introduced to focaccia there.

Ben crafted the bread base and then we topped the airy base with madonlined potatoes. They had been tossed in olive oil, salt, fresh-cracked pepper and thyme. Then scattered over the surface and baked for 20-minutes

Coming out of the oven, shavings of pecorino romano are sprinkled strategically over the hot bread and some additional thyme. Consume immediately. You will not be disappointed. 

In fact, I would have locked myself into a closet and eaten all this, but we do not have a closet, lucky for Ben and the focaccia. 


Ben and I are attempting to mix-it-up and trying to be a bit more adventurous with our cooking. Ben has been perfecting his pulled pork recipe. It started with a tasty hunk from Peelham Farms, a local producer of high-quality meat products. You can even adopt a pig, then the team from Peelham slaughters it for you and you have piles of the other white meat. 

I digress… 

Starting with the pork, Ben followed David Chang of Momofuku’s recipe for Pork-Belly Buns, but replace the pork belly with pork shoulder and used some of the elements of the Bo Ssam recipe that is so popular at his New York restaurant. 

To cook the buns we picked up a steamer at our local Chinese supermarket. I have always wanted a steamer. With Ben, all my dreams do come true.

Perfectly puffed and brushed with oil so they do not stick together. They cook in 5-7 minutes.

The final product- with a taste explosion of ginger and scallion sauce and ssamjang, a fiery soybean paste. Momofuk-me they were good!

We had left-over pork, so the next night we had some traditional Chinese Char Siu Bao or pork buns. 


I have mixed emotions when it comes to smoked haddock. Most of the time, smoked fish is on my top foods-I-really-like-list, but growing-up- Gorrilla and eating my fair-share of Christmas Eve finnan haddie left me with an aversion to the fish especially when it is cooked in milk. I am sure my brother’s would agree.

(The finished product)

Mr. Fearnley-Whittstall’s recipe was just the thing for me to wade back into the smoked fish, cooked in milk realm. This was absent pimentos- the dreaded ingredient to Grandma Betty’s version. 

For the tomatoes 

  • 400g smallish, ripe tomatoes 
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Sea salt and black pepper
(Slow-roasting the tomatoes- key)
For the brandade
  • 250g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks 
  • 25g butter 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 300g undyed smoked pollack or haddock fillets 
  • 100ml milk 
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the garlic toast
  • 6–8 slices of coarse-textured bread, such as sourdough 
  • 1 garlic clove, halved 
  • Extra virgin olive oil

At least 3 hours before serving, preheat the oven to 75–100C/gas low. Halve the tomatoes and lay, cut side up, in a roasting tin. Trickle with some oil and season. Bake for at least 3 hours until wrinkly, but juicy.

Put the potatoes into a pan of lightly salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to dry.

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and sweat the garlic for a minute or two. Add the smoked fish, cutting it into pieces to fit in a single layer. Pour over the milk, partially cover and simmer very gently until the fish is cooked.

Drain the fish, reserving the liquid. Return this liquid to the pan and add the olive oil and some black pepper. Either push the cooked potatoes through a ricer into the hot liquid or just add to the pan and mash.

Discarding the skin and bones, break the fish into flakes and beat into the mash. Season.

Toast the bread. Rub with the garlic and trickle with olive oil. Pile the brandade and tomatoes on the toast and top with olive oil and black pepper.

(Ben made the bread- look at that crust)


I am oddly fascinated by English celebrity-chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It could just be his name, but more than this, he uses ingredients of the region, in simple, tasty dishes. I have seen his cooking shows several times and have been impressed with his use of the open fireplace to prepare his dishes.

Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall has anew cookbook, Hugh’s Three Good Things… on a plate. A small sampling-booklet of these recipes were included in last Sunday’s edition of The Guardian and this week, I am going to chronicle the recipes which tempted us on Turning Over a New Leith.

I will even provide the recipe so you can try some of these at home. Enjoy!

Barley, onions, tomatoes

Serves 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 150g pearl barley or pearled spelt, rinsed
  • 750ml good quality stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the roasted tomato puree

  • 2kg ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Action Stations:

If making your own tomato puree, preheat the oven to 180°C. Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, in a single layer in a large, deep baking tray. Scatter garlic and thyme on top, tuck in the bay leaves, trickle over the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about one hour, until soft and pulpy and starting to caramelise on top. Remove and leave to cool for half an hour or so. Tip into a large sieve and run through with a wooden spoon. Discard the skin and pips. Your sauce is now ready to use. If you haven’t produced the 750 mL you need here, increase the quantity of stock to compensate.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft.

Stir in the pearl barley of spelt, then add the stock and 750ml tomato puree or passata. Bring to a simmer and cook very gently, uncovered. Barley should take 30-40 minutes; spelt will on need 20-25 minutes.

Season to taste, then ladle into bowls, trickle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Tomorrow: Barnade, tomatoes, toast


Our Edinburgh summer weather has been pretty miserable (this video sums it up). When we moved here last year, we heard, “this is is the worst summer in years”. As soon as this June hit with record levels of rain and now moving through July with flooding, the Edinburghers are saying,  ”no seriously, this is the worst summer we have had- ever”. It does not look encouraging for future summers. 

On the plus side, Ben and I are never hot, we can sleep under a duvet every night, wear jackets and even wool sweaters. While my American friends and family are looking for ways to cool down we are trying to stay toasty and dry. 

This quest means we have been craving some non-summery foods. I found myself wanting tuna noodle casserole this week. When I told Ben the Minnesotan in me was trying to get out, he had a really sweet response, “I love it when the Minnesotan in you comes out, it reminds me you are foreign and exotic and I love you. Peas tuna noodle hotdish sounds great.” I tried this recipe. Ben loved it.

We invited some friends over for Bastille Day brunch and I made the above cake. The original recipe called a triple-berry summer buttermilk bundt cake with lemon glaze (from Smitten Kitchen), mine was a double berry summer buttermilk (make my own bundt tin) cake. We do not have a bundt pan. I also opted against glaze. It was really tasty and the lemon zest was a great addition. 

My Mom turned me onto Food and Wine, she has a subscription to the magazine and highly recommended the Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese, which lucky for those of us without a subscription can this and loads of others. For additional smokey flavour she suggests cooking it on the grill, another way to stay cool during those hot mid-west summers.

Both Ben and my cousin Jack have June birthdays, so when Jack was here, I made Food and Wine’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Walnut Crust. It was my first cheesecake and it was really nice.

YUMMERS PLUS… When I was at my brother’s, he prepared some really nice meals. He is an excellent cook and has an Architectural Digest-worthy kitchen. Two of the dishes which stood out were a Chicken-Peanut Stew from Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit fame. I want to get his new book, Yes, Chefthere was an excerpt in June’s Vogue (Chef Samuelsson and model wife-they are quite the good looking pair-were featured). For afters Johnners whipped up Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp with Pistachio Crust and threw in some strawberries for extra zing. 

MAC N’ CHEESE… Some recommend starving a cold others say to feed it. Ben and I went with the latter, making some really tasty macaroni and cheese. I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. If she is good enough for Liz Lemon, she is good enough for me. I did change it up a bit and used Scottish Mature Cheddar and English Stilton as our cheese picks. This recipe makes a very large American-sized quantity, and is very saucy, which according to Ben is a good thing. Enjoy.

We followed it up with this cake, without the frosting… much healthier

GARLIC… Yum, one of the super foods and according to the New York Times one of the oh about 15 foods we are not eating enough of (my future sister-in-law knows the rest). John (the cycling brother) says this works very well. I giggle to myself thinking of him shaking the bowls. 

MORE BREAD… It just keeps getting better and better, check out the oven spring. Now that Ben has more spare time, I can only imagine the carbohydrate comas that await me.

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