The last place we ate together before leaving Edinburgh was Martin Wishart’s new brasserie, The Honours. It was fairly formal but again, fantastic food and excellent service. I’m a huge fan of places with steak and sundaes.
I thought I’d do some other highlights from Edinburgh collectively today. We ate at a variety of places that were excellent and so this post is just a photo gallery of some of my favourites.
Okay so you may have noticed my absence from this site for a while. Okay, almost the whole month of August and now a lot of September. I have totally legitimate reasons I promise. The first is that I went on a work spree. The kind of holiday inducing deadline horror where you simply work all-the-time. Weekends. Evenings. Mornings. (Gasp!) I was trying to get as much done before I left for two weeks in Scotland. And I did okay. I read four books, including one, on Culinary Capital, where I had a bit of an ‘ah ha’ moment and *may* (and I say *may* very tentatively) have found a theoretical framework for my thesis. (Small dance.) Of course this now means I am ploughing my way very very slowly through Bourdieu. I also coded most of my field notes, only a few more to go, and most of my interviews. One more set left. I also transcribed all but one of my focus groups. (That last focus group threatened to throw me over the edge of madness so I’ve shelved it for a while.) So now I’m back and continuing to code and then I will be putting things into themes and then I will be writing. *Deep breath.*
But first, I wanted to share all the fantastic places I ate whilst in Scotland. Scotland has a bad reputation about food. For reasons I don’t really understand, when I mention eating and Scotland in the same sentence people inevitably talk about deep-fried Mars bars. Personally I’ve never had one although apparently they exist – just go into any chippy and ask for one. I’m not tempted enough though. I did some blog reading and review reading before I left so I knew about a few places – this is one of them, The Scran and Scallie.
The Scran and Scallie is Tom Kitchin’s new place and is located in Stockbridge, conveniently around the corner from our apartment. My mom and I had been wandering around the Water of Leith all morning, taking in the sights.
So we arrived without a reservation on a Tuesday lunch time and were shown to a table at once. It was reasonably full the whole time we were there and the staff were excellent. We shared the chicken liver parfait to start. The presentation was just adorable and the parfait itself smooth and delicious. We ate all the extra bread in our compulsion to eat all the parfait.
I had the hogget as a main, recommended by the waitress. The meat was succulent and tender, served with peas and lettuce. We also had a crunchy spelt salad and potatoes with chorizo. I honestly can’t remember what my mom ate.
We also managed dessert, although it may have been a step too far. It’s also one of the first times ever that I’ve had dessert envy. I had the cherry crumble and my mom had the strawberry jelly. Whilst the crumble was excellent, I couldn’t help feeling I’d lost out to her beautiful (and lighter) dessert. Next time I’ll have to have that.
Welcome summer! It’s June, it’s summer and there are strawberries. Beautiful strawberries that taste red and pink and spill juices down your chin. Strawberries that fill the kitchen with their aroma that brings to mind picnics in the park. Strawberries to be eaten surreptitiously from a hidden stash in your bag during exams. On top of that, this last weekend we’ve been celebrating the Jubilee. I interpreted this as an opportunity to visit friends in Edinburgh and we had a fantastic weekend, eating ridiculously and just generally enjoying the sunshine. On Sunday we joined their neighbours for a Jubilee celebration lunch where everyone contributed something. There was some excellent fare, my favourite being the burgers cooked on a barbeque and the dessert we brought – a strawberry and cream mess (I’m not biased or anything).
We adapted this from a recipe on Waitrose.com of all places – it’s one of Heston’s. You can check out the original recipe here. Essentially it’s strawberry compote, cream, meringues and crumble layered together in a lovely glass bowl. It makes a refreshing and light dessert. And it showcases the wonderful-ness of strawberries at their peak.
Strawberry and Cream Mess
Adapted from waitrose.com
For the Compote:
120g jam sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
180g caster sugar
pinch of salt
For the Crumble:
50g caster sugar
70g ground almonds
50g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
For the Cream:
300g double cream
400g plain yogurt
Strawberries (a handful)
This is easiest if you make the compote and the meringues the day before. Then on the day you just have to bake the crumble part before assembling everything.
To make the compote, roughly chop 200g of the strawberries and place in a pot with the sugar. Leave them for 15 minutes to absorb some of the sugar. Put the pot on a medium heat, add in the lemon juice and bring to the boil. Boil for about 6 minutes, until the mixture has reduced slightly, has become syrupy and the strawberries have started to break up. Remove from the heat, pour into a heat-proof container and allow to cool completely before refrigerating overnight.The next day, halve or quarter the remaining strawberries (depending on size) and add them, together with the elderflower cordial, to the compote. Give everything a good stir and set aside.
For the meringues, preheat the oven to 120C. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl (or bowl of a standing mixer) and whisk until foamy. Add in the pinch of salt and whisk until medium peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar, whisking well between each addition. You should end up with a glossy, stiff mixture. Place dollops of the mixture onto a lined baking tray. I normally do this using two dessert spoons. Bake these for 2 hours then switch off the oven and leave them inside the oven overnight to cool. Of course you can always just buy meringues…
For the crumble, place the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place on a lined baking tray and bake at 160C for about 20 minutes, until the crumble is golden. Allow to cool completely.
For the cream, whisk the double cream to soft peak. Fold through the yogurt. Then add in 2 tablespoons of the compote and swirl through slightly. Crumble up two or three meringues and swirl them through the cream too.
To assemble: Place the rest of the compote on the bottom of a glass bowl. Pour over the cream mixture. Scatter the crumble mix and more broken up meringues on top. Finally top with halved strawberries.
I’ve been dying to visit this bakery for years and years and I finally got around to it last Saturday. We went for a late breakfast – it turned out to be lunch but you know, breakfast can be eaten at any time of the day. I ordered blind, not having read the menu and opted for the full breakfast. This comes as a bacon roll, tomato and brown sauce on the side, a boiled egg, bread basket and orange juice and coffee. A completely winning breakfast, which meant I didn’t need to eat again until tea time. The bread is fantastic and after sampling their bread basket you can buy a loaf or two or, if you feel inclined to eat anything later, one of their cake slices or pastries, all of which looked amazing. (We didn’t sample – being ridiculously full and baking cake later).
The thing about being a baker is that it is an inevitable fact of life that you are involved in the making of your birthday cake. You either make it yourself or you shuffle annoyingly about in the kitchen where it is being made, making suggestions and attempting to become involved. There is no getting around it. You want to be involved in the cake making business. You are a baker after all.
My kind friends gave me a ticket to visit them as a birthday present and on Saturday, after an excellent breakfast (which I will tell you about soon), we got down to the business of cake-making. Lemon poppyseed cake with cream cheese frosting and lemon curd. This is a cake I feel doesn’t get enough airtime and yet, whenever you have it, you are reminded about how good cake can be! There was just no way I was going to stand on by and let others have the fun so I weighed and measured and Sparry beat everything together. I poured batter into the pans (we had to bake in stages) and then brushed them with syrup. At this time in the process I normally loose interest, fortunately Sparry was on hand to whip up some frosting (taken from the Red Velvet Cake recipe which you can read about here.) The cake recipe was adapted from a blog called Always with Butter and you can read it here. Because the cake recipe uses only egg whites, we made some jars of lemon curd and at the last minute decided that lemon curd would go very well in-between the layers too.
Now, here is the lesson we learnt on Saturday: cake cannot be made and filled and iced in the space of 2 or so hours. It needs time to cool. The lemon curd needs time to cool. If you assemble the cake whilst everything is slightly warm, it will result in a very wonky cake that collapses dramatically when you slice it. This is precisely what happened and it was only due to some very skilled hands and clever knife work that we didn’t loose the entire cake to the floor (and Finlay the labrador’s stomach). Wait until everything is cool, particularly when you have many layers. That said, it is excellent when eaten slightly warm. The cake will absorb the lemon curd to some extent and it results in a super moist, light cake with creamy frosting.
Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from Alwayswithbutter.com
3 cups cake flour
1 and 3/4 cups caster sugar
4 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
220g unsalted butter, softened
zest of one large lemon
splash of vanilla
1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp poppyseeds
5 egg whites
1/3 cup water
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 3 round cake tins. (Our cake tins were 7in ones which aren’t very big. If your cake tins are bigger than this I suspect it’ll make 2 cakes.)
Soak the poppyseeds in 1 cup of the buttermilk.
Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
Add in the butter and beat until creamy.
Then add in the lemon zest, vanilla, poppyseeds and buttermilk. Beat again. The cake is quite stiff which is fine at this stage.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff before folding in the last of the buttermilk. Fold this into the cake mixture in two stages. Beat the first stage quite vigorously so that the mixture lightens before folding in the second half of the whites more gently.
Divide the mixture between the 3 pans. (If you only have 2 you can reserve the last of the mixture and bake it once you have a free tin.)
Bake for approximately 35 minutes.
Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.
For the Syrup:
Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the syrup thickens. When the cakes are turned out and cooling, use a pastry brush to brush the cakes generously.
Cream Cheese Frosting
180g butter, unsalted and soft
150g icing sugar
500g Philadelphia cream cheese
Cream the butter and sugar until bright white and soft. Add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
For lemon curd we used a Hairy Biker’s recipe. I love them. They’re so good at showcasing small producers and longstanding artisans. You can find their recipe here. It’s super easy to follow and we did exactly what they said (we just strained the curd before adding it to the jars) and it worked perfectly. We got two jars of curd and used about 3/4 of one on the cake filling.
To assemble you cake, slice each in half so that you have six layers. Layer these putting first cream cheese frosting and then curd until the top layer which you can just put cream cheese frosting on.