Limoncello

 I was visiting the tailors a shop of real magicians on Thistle Street.  I’d plucked a small hole in my suit trousers, which they repaired for £2!  With a smile on my face as I left the shop I made a chance discovery of The Bon Vivant’s Companion, a contemporary and modern take on traditional spirit merchant offering all manor of spirits, wines, beers & what I would call specialist liqueurs.  In this case I was in the market for a bottle of Limoncello.  

This is one of those places where there are a treasure trove of delights, but the assistants are right on your case before you get your 2nd foot through the door so you don’t really get to get your bearings before your asked how can they help you.  I knew what I wanted, and barely had a few minutes in order to get back to work so I was happy to take part in their game.   Lo and behold the assistant was an avid fan  of Limoncello!  I stupidly made the mistake of asking how would one normally serve it.  To which the response was as it comes and to suggest any other way would be sacrilege.  I kept it quiet that I had other plans for it (Jamie’s Limoncello Kinda Triffle) for fear of being banned from the shop. So with purchase in hand I looked at my watch and decided that I could spare a few minutes to look round. Much more pleasurable knowing I’d out foxed the assistants….they’d got their sale and I’d got my stolen browse of the worldly libations.

This a lunch time purchase with the sun in glorious flow I thought we’d get a wee aperitif in the garden when I got home from work.  It wasn’t to be, the clouds had arrived and the gin was already on the go in the front room with our favourite cuz stopping by on her way hom from work.

So I’m now looking for the opposite word for aperitif…..digestif, taken after the meal.  We were more in the night cap stakes, post 9 pre the news at 10.  Which with hindsight we probably should have waited for the sun.  I very much feel drinks are a mood thing and and this for me is a sunshine or cocktail drink. On first sip it’s very sharp and I was left wondering if this was the right thing to continue with, I was determined though and a few sips later I started appreciating the lemon notes.  The boss, exchanged for something a little sweeter and this was reserved for the trifle I had planned and my original intention for the liquid.

I’ve seen Limoncello before, often luminous in colour, this bottle a fantastic healthy looking yellow and on looking up its heritage it came from Bepi Tosolini a distiller in Udine, Northern Italy with the lemons being sourced from the Amalfi Coast.

Next time, I think I will serve with soda or lemonade with the the view of making a grown up San Pellegrino Limonata!  Also the best of Anna Del Conte has a great syllabub recipe with poached pairs.  I have a cunning plan.

Mhor Outdoors

The excitement of a trip to the Mhor Fish bar in Callandar builds up long before we are anywhere near the Trossachs.   The mere mention of a day trip out in that direction sends the taste buds into a frenzy.

On the way up to a repeat cycle trip around Loch Katrine and the mention of the rain the last time sent the boys into reminiscing about the fish and chips afterwards.  It was just a written into law that we would be visiting after this cycle!

Tattiehash or Tattyhash

tattiehashletter_webOne of my first posts of a previous long forgotten blog was a tribute to my gran, I’m going through a consolidation and clean up exercise. It is only fitting that I re-peat and include this recipe for completeness. It’s the only recipe that I feel was passed down to me and only out of student desperation and a longing for some home cooked food did I ask for it. My Grandad who is still rocking at 97, has no recollection of any recipe collection so although this a very simple home cooked scran it’s dear to me.

So this, the first recipe that I remember asking somebody for whilst I was away from home at university was Tattiehash. In this particular case from my Grandma where I’d written to her to ask for the recipe. I’m sure google was a twinkle in somebodies eye back in 94, but back then the best person to ask about the north west of England fair was my gran and I really wish she was here now.

So without further ado, transcribed from the reply:

Have you had a go at making Taty ash yet, (sorry I should have said potato) grandad told me off for saying tatty ‘funny fella’. Well I will write it out for you the way I make it.

Peel one onion and slice it up
Put 1 tablespoon oil or lard into stew pan
Gently fry onion with this for about 10 minutes, give it a stir up now and again
Now if using uncooked meet add this sliced up to the onion and stew with water added for another 10 mins then add sliced up potato. I would say bout 3 potatoes depending on size.
If using corned beef, dice that up 1/4lb and put in about 10 mins before end of cooking, season to taste.
In all it will take about 1/2 an hour, give it a stir up from the bottom now and again and add a drop more water if too stiff. I also put an OXO cube in when I add the meat, dissolved of course in a drop of boiling water. I hope you can understand all this, but after the first time I am sure you will find it easy. Good luck (test potatoes before switching off). Let me know how you go on

There are a couple of things in there that would have struck me as obstacles, the guessing on potatoes and the size. There is also no water quantity! The things she took for granted and knew on instinct…..which is part of good old fashion cooking.

Mac and Cheese ala Jamie

2015-08-22 18.28.38Mac and Cheese isn’t too taxing and there are a huge number of ways to tackle this big favourite of the boys.  I was looking for a recipe that would use the cauliflower that had come with the vegi box.

I’ve also set myself a target of working through Jamie’s 30 mins slowly and surely learning as I go.  So this was the first recipe to tackle from the book with a slot just slap bang in the middle of tea time just after a 3 year olds birthday.

A little bit of a fuzzy head after a couple of glasses of fizz, my 11 year old son as sous chef. The boss and the 9 year old in charge of the pre dinner dips (under our feet in the same kitchen space), a kitchen that I still can’t find the bits and bobs in.  I think we were in no danger of making this two course meal within 30 mins.

Armed with the spotify top 100 we set off……..Cauliflower Macaroni (Chicory Salad with Insane Dressing and Lovely Stewed Fruit).

The recipe is laid out in a way that takes care of the thinking in terms of what do we do next……the complication for me was keeping the 11 year active on things that would help me along the way….eg measure that, chop this, go get that.

First off the recipe is for 6, so that needed some tweaking on the pasta stakes. No way we were going to eat 500g of pasta.  So scaled that back to 300, and did everything else pretty much as is.    Tweaked by adding in the chopped grilled smoked streaky rather than pancetta, this was supposed to go in the breadcrumb topping and this felt like sacrilege to me to waste that bacon.

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Stewed plums again another household favourite, not done it this way before and loved the orange twist with a bit of brandy….will definitely do this again despite forgetting to put in the cinnamon stick.

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Insane dressing…..so this was new to the house.  Chicory I found to be quite expensive and also more likely serving 2 with the salad part.  So cut it back to two, the vegi box had some (what I think) was purple basil, and a I added in a bit of mixed salad.   In the end only needed one of the chicory plants.  The dressing was definitely very tasty and the boss is taking half into work to go with her salad.

The New Jotter

2015-08-24 06.55.04Sometimes the urge to get a new domain name is too strong.  The names I’ve had in the past felt right at the time and we’ve drifted apart.  A bit like a used jotter that gets put down, time moves on and it just doesn’t feel right to start again where you left off.

Domain names though feel key to your identity, and can dictate the content of the site.  Maybe I procrastinate over this process too much and over analyse.  Maybe I use it as an excuse not to write.  Today though I feel like I’ve come up with the a good blend and inspired by a little Butterfly Mind: Practice Makes Perfect, its time to crack on.

The plan to have plenty of scribbles and some good scran!

We Have Stairs

StairsBeen on a bit of a forced hiatus in the kitchen for the last three months.  Everything seemed to be on hold as we as a family negotiated the tribulations of moving.  I’ve moved a few times in my life and I have to say this was the most stressful.  I think there was so much at stake with this one.  The chance to buy our dream family home at the same time as selling something that we’d put a lot of love into and thus far brought our children up in.

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions from the elation of finding that house, through to having the kitchen torn apart due to a leaking dish washer.  Things got a little dark, juggling work, primary school ending for our eldest, trying to carve out some fun time, packing boxes and basically shoving our possessions and worldly goods into boxes for a move we thought might not go through as another survey was requested from us.

We kept telling ourselves there would be light at the end of the tunnel and when one of us was up the other was down.  I’d started to shout out in my sleep and my digestion started to get out of kilter.

A week on in our new home my sleep has returned, and I returned to cooking something creative albeit very simple.  It feels a little strange, a bit like renting a holiday cottage.  The oven isn’t the same and the gas hob rusted around the fittings just doesn’t respond like I was used to.  The cupboards are all different and where I was able to get my hands on an essential piece of apparatus it now takes a hunt and a rustle through the cupboard which inevitably results in shouting up the stairs for the said item!

Stairs are a funny thing, something we longed for, a separation between the night and the day, an opportunity to create a little privacy that we were missing from one side of the house to the other.  We’ve taken on a project that much we know, the kitchen will take time to get used to, and hopefully the cooking groove will return bit by bit as the routine of life returns to normal.