Sunday Lunch at The Parlour

The weekend before last I had a mission – to finally get to The Parlour on a Sunday afternoon in time for Sunday Lunch! Despite living in Chorlton for a year and a half, I have so far failed, despite several attempts, to get to The Parlour early enough to secure a table (you can’t book) for their legendary Sunday roast. (Winner of the Observer Food Monthly’s 2012 Best Sunday Lunch, no less!) The Parlour is one of my favourite places in Chorlton and I have eaten and drunk there many another time, in fact having lunch there one Monday on a day off was a particular tease as we tucked into the leftover roast beef in a sandwich – perfectly pinky red and juicy, cooked exactly to my liking. Mmmmm.

So this weekend we were up bright and early and at The Parlour for a rather early 1240pm! Even still we secured the last table for 4! After a little time warming up and letting our appetites grow while enjoying a pot of tea and the Sunday papers in the lovely cosy relaxing environment of The Parlour, we were ready to order. Despite the fact we knew there was a delicious and massive roast dinner to come, we couldn’t help but order some tasty starters to share. The mackerel pate with granary toast was absolutely delicious and definitely helped whet our appetite.

We moved from tea to red wine and soon it was time for the Main Event! We all went for the roast beef over the pork (or nutroast). It arrived on a plate towering with scrumptious looking food including perfect roast potatoes and mashed potato, roast parsnips, carrot and swede mash, braised red cabbage and a mahoosive Yorkshire pudding. All smothered in a generous helping (there’s nothing worse than having to ask for extra gravy!) of rich and flavoursome gravy. The beef, I must admit, was a teeny bit disappointing, in comparison to the beef I had previously had there – it was only just still pink in the very middle of the slice which is a bit over-cooked for my taste. However, I should probably have specified that I’d like some properly pink juicy meat! The roast potatoes were smashing – perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. I’m a big fan of roast parsnips and liked that they came glazed with mustard. I’ve never had both mashed potato and roast potatoes on a roast dinner and remain somewhat unconvinced that both are needed. In fact, while the carrot and swede mash was tasty, I may just venture it out there that I’d perhaps like a little more un-mashed veg on my plate, particularly with all that scrummy gravy sloshing around, just to keep the texture varied. But maybe that’s just me! The two real stand outs on the plate for me were the red cabbage and the Yorkshire pudding. Firstly the cabbage, this was a welcome surprise to find on the plate! We couldn’t work out exactly what the flavours were but it seemed almost like cloves or star anise had been used. However it had been cooked, it was absolutely gorgeous! The yorkie, oh the yorkie. Thankfully this was not one of those towering Yorkshire puddings that looks amazing on arrival to promptly flop, collapse and go soggy leaving you underwhelmed and disappointed. No, this was a perfectly cooked Yorkshire pudding. The texture was bang on and it remained resolutely un-soggy right ’til the end – the perfect gravy mopping companion!

Please excuse the pictures, I had to resort to using my phone when my camera battery unexpectedly died!

roast1 roast2 roast3

 

roast2

 

roast1


(Belated) Happy Burns Night!

This post is a few days late in the making, but Happy Burns Day to all of you! For those of you who don’t know, good old Rabbie (Robert) is the national poet of Scotland and Burns Night is generally regarded as a good excuse (as if we needed one!) to gather with friends, eat simple good food, have a few wee drams and celebrate Scotland and The Bard! Many would say it is more our national day than St Andrew’s Day.(probably because we are a bunch of heathens.)

robert-burns1-300x329

This of course can mean only one thing; haggis, neeps and tatties. Haggis, ‘the chieftan o’ the pudding race’ is really really truly delicious and I urge any of you who haven’t eaten it to give it a try. I’ve happily converted both my English other half and many another over recent years! It is meaty, spicy, oaty and slightly nutty with a really pleasing texture, a very satisfying eat! Scots cuisine tends to get a bad rap with preconceptions of deep-fried Mars bars, deep-fried pizzas, deep-fried-anything-that-moves, but this is a really unfair and misleading representation! There is a  lot of tasty traditional Scottish fare such as cullin skink, Arbroath smokies, kedgeree, porridge, cranachan, shortbread, wild venison and Scottish langoustines to name just a few!

This is a simple, no-fuss meal of haggis, ‘bashit’ (mashed) neeps (there is some debate over this depending on whereabouts you are in the UK or indeed elsewhere, but either turnip or swede – the orange one anyway not the white one!) and tatties (potatoes). I’m not always a fan of the ‘poshed up’ haggis, neeps and tatties you often get in restaurants, in my opinion this is something best left un-messed with, enjoyed in its comforting heart-warming and oh-so-tasty simplicity. (Although I must say, haggis used in other recipes is always a winner with me, chicken stuffed with haggis in particular, but that’s for another day!)

You will need – one haggis to serve around three (or two if you are being very greedy like us!!). I was rather pleased that I had managed to import some Macsween’s haggis from north of the border last time my parent’s visited which meant we didn’t have to rely on Hall’s (the only haggis you can easily get in England). Hall’s is absolutely fine, but Macsween’s is, in my opinion, much better.

– one neep (turnip/swede depending on your opinion…)

– a handful of good mashing potaotes

– butter

– milk

– salt & pepper

– brown sauce

– a good Scottish whisky

Cook the haggis as per the instructions, either in a pan of simmering water (still in its casing) or emptied out into a large dish and microwaved.

Peel and dice the potatoes and turnip and boil until soft. Mash with butter, milk, salt and pepper. Serve with the haggis and a touch of brown sauce (optional, but I can’t eat haggis without it now!) and with a wee dram. If you don’t like/have any whisky then red wine goes quite well too!

IMG_4380

So, as you can see, a simple, tasty and satisfying meal! There’s only thing for me to leave you with now.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face

Great chieftan o’  the puddin-race!

Aboon them a’ ye tak your place

Painch, tripe or thraim:

Weel are ye wordy of a grace

As lang’s my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,

Your hurdies like a distant hill,

Your pin wad help to mend a mill

In time o’need,

While thro’ your pores the dews distil

Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,

An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,

Like ony ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:

Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,

Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve

Are bent like drums;

Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,

Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad make her spew

Wi’ perfect sconner,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view

On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,

As feckless as wither’d rash,

His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;

His nieve a nit;

Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread.

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

He’ll mak it whissle;

An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,

Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o’ fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer

Gie her a haggis!


Asian Salmon with Edamame Bean and Udon Noodle Stir Fry

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted, life continues to be rather ridiculously hectic at the moment. I only have 20 minutes right now and I’m feeling a little tired and jaded after a great weekend with one of my closest friends visiting (late nights and cocktails!) so thought I’d ease myself back into the blogosphere with this quick and tasty mid-week meal!

I’m a big salmon fan and like to do things a little differently with it from time to time – salmon is brilliant as it is robust enough to take on quite strong flavours. The idea for this marinade originally came from my friend Charlotte.

  • Crushed garlic
  • Grated ginger
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Once again, I don’t really go by measurements – more by taste and look. Just keep adjusting this a little at a time until you’re happy with the balance of flavours. I think the earthy nuttiness of the toasted sesame oil goes brilliantly with the salmon and also in this case the edamame beans.

Pop your salmon fillets in a tin foil parcel, pour over around half of the marinade and wrap up. Leave to marinade for a little while if you have time before putting in the oven.

Once the salmon is in the oven you can forget about it for 15 to 20 minutes and prepare your noodles and vegetables. Sometimes I’ll buy specific vegetables to eat this with – I like pak choi, water chestnuts and baby corn, but other times will be a bit of a cheat and buy a ready made stir fry veg pack. This is a little bit naughty, but you can get nice ones (like this edamame bean one from Sainsburys!) and when you come home late from work and don’t have much time, it makes for a great very quick but very tasty meal with very little preparation time! Anyway, prepare and stir fry your vegetables in some more sesame oil and cook your noodles. Once ready, drain the noodles and add into the wok with the vegetables, pour over the remaining marinade and toss. Whip your salmon out of the oven and serve on top of the noodles and vegetables. Voila! Healthy fast food that is singing with flavours and just makes you feel good!

 

IMG_4370

 

IMG_4368


Turkish Night!

As some of you may know, following a trip to the spellbinding Istanbul last summer, I have recently been captivated by all things Turkish, not least, the food! Therefore I was most pleased to unwrap a Turkish cookbook from under the twinkling tree on Christmas morning!

It took me less than a week to find the chance to try out some recipes on the family! I decided to keep things simple, particularly as I wasn’t in my own kitchen, and start with some fairly basic but very tasty meze dishes! Apparently, the Turkish word meze translates literally as ‘a pleasant taste’.

I picked out the following meze recipes to try; Anadolu Palitcan (baked aubergines with mint yoghurt; I love aubergines and quickly learnt to pick anything out with patlican in the name on menus while in Istanbul!), Aci domates ezmsi (chilli tomato paste) and Cacik (cucmber and mint yoghurt dip). These were to be served as a first course with my yoghurty prawns on toast (not exactly fitting with the Turkish theme, but a request had been put in and who am I to say no! Although they do at least come with yoghurt!)

For the Anadolu Patlican

Serves 4

  • 4 small aubergines (not always easy to get in this country, otherwise 2 of the larger variety will do)
  • 4 tablespoons thick yoghurt (I used a bit of a mix of natural yoghurt and Greek yoghurt, you could of course try making your own! – I’ve earmarked this as a future project..)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with sea salt
  • bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to season

Bake the aubergines at 200 degrees. After 15 minutes, take them out the oven and slit them lengthways into halves. Put them back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, maybe a little longer if using larger aubergines. They are ready when the flesh is mashable into a pulp.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic, lemon juice and mint, and season to taste. When the aubergines are ready, mash the flesh into a sort of dip-like consistenmcy and spoon the cool minty yoghurt on top, serve straight away.

For the Aci domates ezmesi

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
  • Large handful of freshly chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot green chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • The juice and rind of half a lemon
  • Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to season

Mix the tomato puree with the olive oil until smooth. Add the tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic, lemon juice and rind, most of the parsley and salt and pepper. We then blitzed the mixture with the mortar and pestle to get a slightly smoother finish. When ready to serve, top with the remaining chopped parsley. This was our favourite, it’s really simple to make yet produces such a punch of flavour, it really smacks you in the face with delicious spicy tomatoy earthiness. I made this around an hour and a half ahead of eating and found the flavours developed really well so it’s a great one to prepare in advance!

P1040180

For the Cacik

Serves 4 very generously, we had plenty left over for lunchtime dipping the next day!

  • 1 cucumber,very finely chopped
  • Around 1/2 pint natural yoghurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with sea salt
  • Bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the cucumber then lay out on a plate and salt well, leave for 5 minutes then rinse (this helps drain excess water from the cucumber). Crush the garlic with the salt then beat into the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper then add the chopped mint and rinsed cucumber. Mmm perfect tasty moreish cooling minty cucumbery yoghurty goodness! This actually was the perfect partner to the punchy, earthy spicy tomatoeyness of the aci domates ezmesi.

P1040182

We served these with warm just-out-the-grill toasted pitta strips – perfect for dipping!

A delicious and healthy feast 🙂

P1040188

For the main course, I revisited my take on the Turkish Kebab

IMG_3213

Continuing to be inspired by all things Turkish, we drew on the pomegranate to give our prossecco a little Turkish flavour that evening! Perfectly pearly jewels of sweet juicy crunch bobbing along on the gently fizzing bubbles, cheers!

prossecco


Indian Tapas; a welcome and novel idea!

While up in Scotland visiting  family and friends over the Christmas and new year period we popped through to Edinburgh to catch up with some old friends. Meeting up on the 30th of December is fast becoming a little tradition of ours, a sort of pre-Hogmanay get together which invariably involves plenty of good food and drink. This year my friend suggested we eat at Mother India, an Indian restaurant with a slight difference; instead of picking just the one curry, the food is served in small portions for everyone to share, tapas style. This definitely suited me due to my well documented inability to order one dish decisively when out for a meal (well, they all sound so good!) as well as those dining with me as it stops me stealing wee tastes from their plates seeing as we are all sharing tastes of everything. I think it is a much more sociable and enjoyable way of eating a meal together. So, the style of dining went down very well, but what was the actual food like? I’m glad to say it did not disappoint, the various dishes we tried were all extremely flavoursome with tender meat, well balanced sauces and plenty of moreishness.

We ate so many delicious little morsels and the great thing was that because you were ordering lots of little things, you could try new things that you perhaps wouldn’t normally order if it was going to be your only dish. Highlights included lamb karahi, aubergine fritters, chana poori (tasty chickpeas served on a light pastry), fish and potato fritters with a delicious fiery dipping sauce, the most heavenly spinach and paneer I have ever eaten and, my stand out dish, an absolutely luscious warming ginger chicken curry. All mopped out with exceedingly garlicy naan that was finger lickingly good!

There’s only one slight problem… I took just one (terrible) photo at the start of the meal then promptly got so caught up in catching up, eating and drinking, that I completely forgot to take any more proper pictures for the blog! This in many ways of course should be seen as a compliment to the delicious food – it completely captivated our attention! Normally, with no usable photo, I would not bother with a blog post. However we so enjoyed this meal, both the concept and the eating of it, that I just felt the need to share it with all of you anyway! If any of you are ever in Edinburgh and fancy something a little different I would definitely recommend it!

The photo is so appalling I’m not really sure I can bring myself to post it, but it seems wrong to have no photographic evidence at all. I’m not sure I even looked through the camera while snapping, but here you can see what looks to be the ginger chicken and spinach with paneer!

tapas

Given this picture is so rubbish, I will compensate by adding a few pictures of wintry Edinburgh itself (albeit taken a Christmas previously…)

edin

edin1

edin2


Craving a little winter wonderland

So 2012 saw the wettest summer in the UK since records began and was the second wettest year in total. Nice. As if that wasn’t bad enough, research is now showing that this pattern of weather is expected to continue in the foreseeable future as a result of global warming. While I’m not going to get into the climate debate here, this is clearly something that is scary and regrettable. One side effect of all this recent wet weather has meant we had a wholly unfestive year in terms of Christmas weather – mild winter temperatures, heavy grey skies and persistent drizzle! Now I know that a lot of our preconceived romantic ideas about Christmases being white and icy come from Charles Dickens, who lived during a mini ice age, but being from Scotland, I’m afraid I have become rather used to a least a dusting of the white stuff in recent years and weather that’s at least cold enough for a snuggly hat. We managed a flew fleeting flurries that soon turned to sleet then back into heavy rain up north of the border this Christmas but sadly that was about it. So this has got me craving some ‘proper wintry festive weather’ prompting me to dig out some photos taken around my parent’s village from the last few Christmases. Hope this gives you your white Christmas fix too if you’ve also been craving some bracing cold! I’ve also thrown in a few winter sunsets for good measure!

168884_10150384738160201_4336399_n

 

 

168306_10150384743455201_1848702_n

 

 

 

168296_10150384730830201_2324028_n

 

 

168106_10150384746840201_5595390_n

 

 

168078_10150384744845201_4392676_n

 

 

 

166683_10150384730355201_2143198_n

 

 

 

166147_10150384743575201_5899112_n

 

 

165314_10150384730155201_4116043_n

 

 

165214_10150384731120201_7113452_n

 

 

164866_10150384731810201_4030635_n

 

 

 

164703_10150384734590201_2959694_n

 

 

 

163711_10150384730575201_2126710_n

 

 

163611_10150384743720201_1304177_n

 

 

163088_10150384744675201_7932559_n

 

 

 

36282_10150384745695201_2802111_n

 

 

 

35617_10150384732445201_1976876_n


Beautiful Blogger Award – Happy New Year!

blogger

What a lovely way to start 2013 – with my very first blog award! I know some people get nominated for loads of these but I’m still rather touched as this means not only that some people read my online ramblings but also even sometimes enjoy them! 🙂

I was nominated by the lovely Fashion, Food and Flirts – a blog covering a number of my favourite things!

The rules of the Beautiful Blogger Award are:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you

2. Post the award on your blog

3. Share seven facts about yourself

4. Nominate seven bloggers and tell them you nominated them.

So, I’m going to write the first seven things that pop into my head so I’m fairly sure these will be of the random variety…

1. I am a terrible singer but love nothing more than putting on a favourite song of the moment and singing along at the top of my voice as I dance around the house – it’s the one sure fire thing that will always cheer me up. Much to my other half’s horror bemusement.

2. I constantly have itchy feet. I want to be in a million different places all around the world all at once. I just wish work didn’t get in the way.

3. I have recently started researching my family history and it is highly addictive! I am concentrating on my mother’s side first which is centred around Edinburgh for many generations. I am so enjoying my new discoveries and the increased sense of connection I feel with my ancestors and with Edinburgh itself as I picture my stories floating around the city.

4. As the above fact suggests, I am rather the history geek and my dream job would be as a museum curator.

5. There is little in the world that can make me happier than waking up with sunshine streaming through my window followed by tea and toast in bed!

6. I have two almost-fully-grown-kittens called Minnie and Maisie who constantly amuse me. Maisie is named after my favourite childhood book by Aileen Patteron about tabby cat Maisie from Morningside.

7. I am very excited to be combining two of my loves, France and cycling, next summer when we plan to rent a campervan and follow the Tour de France!

The blogs that I nominate are just a handful of my favourites. They are a mixture of inspiring, touching, hunger-making and humorous (and they’re not all about food either!) I highly recommend you check them out!

1. On Top of Spaghetti 

2. Crazy Train to Tinky Town

3. This Sydney Life 

4. This is Lemonade 

5. Bread and Fruit

6. My French Heaven

7. Fika and More