Friday, October 29, 2010

Scottish Food Adventure

There are two dinners that I want to write about before I move on from our Scotland trip. Wednesday night we ate at 63 Tay Street in Perth, listed as one of the top 10 restaurants in Scotland. We didn't know it but the meals was prix fixe (36 pounds) and consisted of five courses.

Two courses stand out in my memory. The amuse bouche was a shooter of orange granita, fresh orange slice and a sweet tender date.My first course was Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute with Diver Scallops. The veloute was velvety smooth and savory and scallops were briny sweet. This dish was the single best dish I had in Scotland.

Our final night in Edinburgh we feasted on seafood at the Cafe Royal. Just off of Princes Street, we would never have found it if we didn't have good directions. Parts of Chariots of Fire were filmed here and it is just what we all think an old pub should be- dark paneled walls and shining glassware surrounding an ancient bar.

We ate in the pub area and had our first taste of Cullen Skink with Abroath Smokie- this is a rich smoky chowder filled with smoked salmon and potatoes. Cafe Royal Fish Stew (photo above)and Traditional Beer Battered Fish and chips both were very good entrees. For the last time we ended with Sticky Toffee Pudding topped with a poached pear and ice cream. Good thing we did a lot of walking!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food in Scotland A Pleasant Surprise.

Aside from Scottish breakfasts which we were disappointing for B&B lovers, we had some fabulous meals in Edinburgh. Our first night we ate at Fisher's Bistro on the waterfront in Leith. It's always on the lists of top restaurants and was an easy walk from out hotel.

Because Scotland is almost surrounded by water, seafood is one of their most important industries. We started out with Fisher's Fish Soup, a creamy smoked salmon chowder with dill and chives that had a mild smoky flavor. My King Scallops from Skye had a hazelnut pesto, an herb salad and a balsamic drizzle. The scallops were delicate and fresh. We ended with one of our great discoveries for the trip- Sticky Toffee Pudding with Cream and Caramel Ice Cream. From this point on, we ordered this homey dessert every chance we got.

We had dinner the second night at The Dome, a restaurant in the New Town (1700's), located in an old bank building. The bar in the Club Room was buzzing and busy. I ordered the Herb Coated Fillet of Salmon with Green Beans and a Red Pepper Sauce and my husband had the Roast Chump of Lamb with Spiced Barley. Our entrees were accompanied with a dish of fresh vegetables to share.

Next posting I'll write about our meal at one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Scotland in Perth, slightly north east of Edinburgh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Starting the Day with a Scottish Breakfast

Shortly before we left for Scotland, a friend told me we would have the same breakfast at every B&B during our stay. I was surprised and really thought they'd be different as B&Bs in the states are very creative. She was right!!

At each of the four B&Bs where we spent the night we got "traditional Scottish breakfast". We couldn't believe it- it included a fried egg (fried in bacon fat), one or two strips of bacon (much meatier than ours), sausage (links or patties), toast, a grilled tomato half, a potato scone (similar to lefse and not what we consider a scone at all, mostly mashed potatoes, lightly fried)and baked beans.

We were well fed but somewhat disappointed, although we both liked the potato scone.

If I'm rambling, I'm still a little jet lagged!

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Apples

The leaves are 10,000 shades of gold, with a little scarlet and green. The temperature is going up to 70 today, unseasonably warm but no one's complaining. It's still autumn and apples are everywhere. I'm doing a lot of baking and have been using Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Golden Delicious. These are great apples for baking because they keep their shape and aren't too juicy.

Here's another favorite apple recipe.

Apple Praline Coffee Cake

When you prepare this coffee cake for a special occasion, arrange small pecan halves instead of chopped pecans on top to dress it up. Apples and brown sugar keep this cake moist for several days.


1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples (about 2 medium)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle. Spray a nonstick 10-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray or thoroughly grease and flour.
Combine apples, sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Combine flour, baking powder, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in another medium bowl.
Beat butter in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until light in color. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to Low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of milk. Scrape down bowl after each addition. Beat until smooth.
By hand, stir in the apple mixture. Spoon the batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with a metal spatula.
Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The apples should be fork-tender. Cool on wire cooling rack 15 minutes and remove cake from pan (see Baker’s Notes below).

Heat brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan over medium heat, bringing mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook until butter is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.
Drizzle glaze over cake, allowing some to run down the sides. Sprinkle with pecans.

BAKER’S NOTES: Spray the Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray or grease with shortening and coat with flour. Make sure the ridges are coated so the cake will come out completely.
Use a metal spatula to release the center and loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. With the cake side up, gently shake the pan to loosen the bottom, rotating as you shake. Carefully remove the cake from the pan by inverting it onto a cooling rack.
Because the glaze is cooked, it sets up quickly. As soon as it is smooth, drizzle it over the cake.

It's Apple Time

Wednesday I was on Showcase MN and prepared Apple Bars with Browned Butter Frosting and Apple Cheddar Muffins. Developing recipes for Scandinavian Classic Baking I found a few that used browned butter and I love the flavors.

Here's the link.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Butter is Better

Earlier this week I attended the Edesia Cookbook Discussion group founded by Emmy winner Kim Ode. Her guests were Zoe Francois, author of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and Heidi Woodman, of Heidi's Restaurant. The discussion was about baking and their go to cookbooks.

Several they recommended: Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Ratio by Michael Ruhlman,Dessert Fourplay by Iuzzini and Finamore, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee and The Last Course by Claudia Fleming of NY's Gramercy Tavern. Heidi said her most used "go to" book was The Joy of Cooking, it has the basic information everyone needs at some time. Good ideas for holiday gifts to bakers.

In the discussion about ingredients there were two important points.
1. always use unsalted butter (you can control the amount, but salt is essential)
2. Special salts make fabulous finishes, such as smoked salt on chocolate sorbet with pears.