Friday, 8 November 2013

Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

Mmmmm I've just made chickpea and chorizo soup from the Sainsburys Magazine Cookbook and its delicious so I thought I'd share the recipe!

Serves 4

1 large onion (chopped)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 Garlic cloves (crushed)
4 tsp chopped rosemary
3 x 410g tins chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
850ml chicken stock
100g chorizo (skinned and diced)

Soften the onion in olive oil until golden then add the crushed garlic with half the rosemary. Stir and cook for a further 2 mins.

Add two tins of chickpeas, all the chicken stock and season well. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer briskly for 5 mins. 

Meanwhile dry-fry the chorizo in a small frying pan until crisp. At the last minute add the remaining rosemary and stir for 15 seconds. 

Blend the soup with a stick blender until smooth then add the third tin of chickpeas. Check seasoning. Warm through then serve in warm bowls topped with some of the chorizo...And a big chunk of crusty bread if you're anything like me!


Recipe: Tamsin Burnett-Hall from the Sainsburys Magazine Cookbook

Friday, 25 October 2013

Review of Garfunkels Restaurant

Four weeks ago I had a beautiful baby girl, Paige. It's been an amazing four weeks, and last night Paige, hubby and I had our first dinner outing together. We visited Garfunkels restaurant on the Royal Mile.

We were welcomed by a really friendly waiter who let us pick the most convenient table as we had Paige in a pram. The restaurant was quiet (it was only 5.30pm!) so we chose a spot in the corner so we wouldn't be in anyone's way. We were shown straight away where the baby changing facilities were without having to ask and the waiters couldn't have been more helpful, getting the door for me etc. 

We settled down to look at the menu and were told about the new British Classics menu and hotdog menu. We were spoilt for choice! An extensive menu ranging from classic pub grub to Italian pizzas and pastas. We ordered some drinks - I went for a chocolate milkshake which was scrummy! 

We decided to go for a couple of starters from the new British Classics menu, haggis balls and mushrooms with blue cheese. Both arrived promptly. I was actually changing Paige when our starters arrived and our waiter kindly offered to keep them warm for us. Starters were tasty, we both particularly liked the haggis balls which were in a crispy light batter served with chilli sauce. 

Our mains arrived a short while afterwards. Hubby opted for traditional fish and chips and I went for the goats cheese pizza. (Can you tell I'm enjoying eating all the things I couldn't when I was pregnant?!) Both were nice, but we weren't blown away by our choices. I'd say it was very pricey for what we got. That said we enjoyed it. 

As usual, as soon as our food arrived, Paige demanded to be fed! As I'm breastfeeding, I did this discreetly at the table. I'm not a fan of feeding her in the toilets, however, I know some people prefer this, so one thing to note was that there was no chair in the baby changing toilet. 

For desert we couldn't see past the sticky toffee pudding which came with a coffee, so we shared this and it was delicious! And huge! 

All in all a nice dinner. Only negatives were that the restaurant was a bit cold and for me, expensive for the food quality and portion size. Our bill came to nearly £50 which I thought was quite a lot in comparison to many other Edinburgh restaurants. 10 out of 10 for customer service though. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Review of La Tasca (South Charlotte Street) Edinburgh

I was asked recently to review the new menu at Spanish Tapas Restaurant La Tasca in Edinburgh, created by Executive Chef Antony Bennett on his return from filming in Salamanca.  I hadn't been before, so hubby and I went along one Tuesday evening in August.  The Festival was in full swing so I was intrigued to see how the food and service would be at such a busy time.

We were welcomed by a friendly hostess who had our booking, and showed us to a nice window seat.  Our knowledgeable waiter then explained the menu and took a drinks order.  I opted for a yummy non-alcoholic cocktail and hubby taunted me with a lovely big glass of red wine...something I am looking forward to once baby arrives!

We deliberated over the menu for a while, as being pregnant, there was quite a few things I couldn't have.  However, we finally settled on a selection of tapas to share.  Here's what we had:


King prawns, dipped in a special-recipe San Miguel batter and fried until crisp, then served with homemade paprika & roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon.


Butternut squash, red onion, chickpeas, celeriac and cannellini beans in a winter warming spicy tomato sauce topped with crushed almonds and parsley.


Hand-crumbed with chicken breast and served with roasted garlic mayonnaise.


Beef & pork meatballs, in a rich, slow-cooked tomato sauce.


Spanish omelette, served with a spicy red pepper tapenade and roasted garlic mayonnaise

Spanish black pudding and chorizo cooked with fire roast peppers, basil and onion.


Doughnut twists, served with fresh strawberries and marshmallows, plus a rich chocolate sauce for dipping.

As we waited on our little sharing plates to we arrive, we munched the bread and oils - well, I ate most of it!  We waited quite a while on our mains, which I think is a good sign that it was all cooked fresh.  I never think tapas looks very much when it's all laid out on the table, however, it was more than enough!  

All in all it was a nice meal.  It didn't blow me away, but then to be honest, tapas rarely does.  The omelette was a little dry, but everything else was really tasty and fresh. I especially enjoyed the churros for dessert - I'm a big fan!

The service was excellent and the restaurant had a really nice atmosphere and didn't feel too much like a chain.  

La Tasca Restaurant

9 South Charlotte Street

EdinburghEH2 4AS
Tel: 0131 220 0011

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Foodies competition now closed

Just a quick post to let you know my Foodies competition has now closed.  Thank you to everyone who entered and well done to those who won!

If you were unlucky this time, check out Breakthrough Breast Cancer Scotland's Facebook page as they still have some tickets up for grabs.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Foodies Festival Ticket Giveaway

Time flies when you're having fun!  It's hard to believe it's been a year since Foodies last graced Edinburgh's Inverleith Park.  But it's back from 9th - 11th August and promises to be the best yet!
I have 2 pairs of tickets to give away, courtesy of Lavazza UK
Visit the Lavazza stand at the Edinburgh Foodies Festival next weekend (9th-11th August, 10am to 7pm) for a taste of the authentic Italian coffee experience. To share the culture of real Italian coffee, Lavazza will be holding coffee tasting masterclasses at 11am each day with lots of goodys and coffee recipes for everyone to enjoy, as well as showcasing their A Modo Mio coffee machine range.
Coincidentally, I will also be at Foodies in a work capacity with Breakthrough Breast Cancer promoting The Great Pink Bake Off.  So please do stop by our stand and say hello!
To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, drop me an email at - names will be drawn from a hat.  The tickets can be used any one day of the festival.
Thank you to Lavazza UK.  Have a great Foodies Festival everyone!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Great Pink Bake Off - in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Some of you may know, my 'real life' job is Fundraising Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland.  It's an amazing charity, funding life saving work across the UK, including here in Edinburgh and in Dundee.

To my delight, the new breast cancer awareness month (October) fundraising campaign was launched last week and the theme this year is....The Great Pink Bake Off!  My work and personal lives have finally collided in a cake filled frenzy!  Finally, I get to talk about cake at work and not be told to shut up!

So, here's how it works.  Friday 18 October is the date (or any date really!). It can be at school, at work or at home with friends - anywhere.  You might be a member of a local baking club, golf club or other social group.  Let's face it - cake is always welcome!  So, ask your friends to get baking and then ask people who attend to make donations for these goodies.  Simple right?!

The money you raise will go towards funding world-leading breast cancer research.  Guilt-free cake - what could be better!?

Please register today for your free fundraising pack by visiting and anything you can do to encourage your foodie friends to hold their own bake off events would be amazing.  You can follow the charity @BreakthroughSco on twitter using the hashtag #GreatPinkBakeOff.

Go on.  Fire up your oven, get baking and raise some dough for a good cause!

Friday, 5 July 2013

It's been a while!

It feels like I haven't written anything on here for ages! 

For those of you who don't know, I'm 6 months pregnant.  So many people have said to me recently that they thought I'd be blogging furiously about all things related to food during pregnancy.  But in all honesty - I've been more 'off' food and haven't had any weird cravings - although I have been partial to more than my fair share of ice cream... I've certainly not really felt like cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

One place I did visit recently was out in Midlothian, where I now live, called The Howgate.  It's a really cute place hidden in the hills (about a mile from Penicuik) - a converted stable block I believe.  Think candles and log fires.  It's a really cosy welcoming place, lovely atmosphere and the food was great.  I had stuffed my face earlier that day at Frankie and Benny's (!) so didn't go for a starter.  But my dining companions had the mussels and the Cullen Skink and both were very happy!  I opted for the beef stroganoff which I've not had for years, and it was really tasty - the beef melted in the mouth.

I was delighted that the Lucas ice cream on offer didn't contain raw egg, so I went for 3 huge scoops of ice cream to finish off.  Delicious! 

Worth a visit if you're out that neck of the woods.

The Howgate Restaurant and Bistro
Howgate, Midlothian, EH26 8PY
Tel: 01968 670000

Friday, 3 May 2013

It all starts with a Chop Chop

When I was approached recently by online dating website to write a restaurant review on somewhere good in Edinburgh to go for a date, it really got me thinking.  It’s been a while since I’ve been on a first date!  It took me back, thinking about all the places my husband and I have been over the years.  So I started asking around my friends and work colleagues: “What makes a good first date restaurant?”.  The response I got was fascinating!  I expected the usual requirements, candlelight,  quiet, cosy, intimate.  But things seem to have moved on since I was last on a first date and the response I got was more along the lines of: somewhere light (so you can recognise them from their online profile photograph), somewhere the food is served quickly (in case the date isn’t going well), somewhere ‘buzzy’ (in case there isn’t much conversation) and somewhere cheap (if you’re going on a couple of dates a week it can get pricey).  Somewhere that seemed to tick all these boxes was Chop Chop on Morrison Street.  I had never been before and it was somewhere I’d wanted to try for years. 

So, in true first date style, my date (hubby!) picked me up from work and off we went.  We arrived at Chop Chop and were invited to sit where we liked.  It was about 6.30pm on a Thursday evening and already the place was busy – a good sign, and one first date requirement ticked off the list already.  It was also light so we could see each other!  A very friendly waiter came over to give us menus and explain how things worked at Chop Chop.  We decided as it was our first time, we’d go for the unlimited banquet for 2 (£19.95 each) which gave us a flavour of the menu with a range of Chop Chop’s most popular dishes.  Our food arrived promptly a couple of dishes at a time, which ensured it was all lovely and fresh (another tick off the list).

The nice thing about going for the banquet was that we shared everything, which I appreciate isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but nice when on a date.  It was also a great talking point, so had we not known each other, it would have given us plenty to chat about.  Also, as a girl you never want to completely stuff your face on a first date (give it a couple of dates!) so sharing allows you to pick away and you can’t really tell how much you’ve eaten!  Here’s what we ate:

Prawn Crackers
Cucumber Salad
Prawn Dumpling (Fried)
Pork and Coriander Dumplings
Northern Beef

Cucumber Salad

Northern Beef

Garlic & Chili Flavourings 

Steamed Dumplings

Chicken Wings

It was safe to say were both suitably stuffed by the end of it, and we had no room to order more, which we could have done as many times as we liked.  We asked for the bill which was dealt with quickly and we were on our way home.  As far as the first date requirements of my friends went, I’d say Chop Chop fulfilled the criteria perfectly.  It’s not fancy inside, pretty relaxed and the food was great and reasonably priced.  I would definitely recommend it for couples on a first date, or any date for that matter! 

**With thanks to**

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Krua Thai Cookery School in Edinburgh

A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend a day at a one-to-one Thai cookery lesson at The Krua Thai Cookery School in Edinburgh.  I spent the day in the company of owner and chef Ru Herd, who is honestly one of the most talented and friendly people I've met.  It was an amazing experience and I picked up so many hints and tips that I've carried on using, as well as some of my favourite recipes.
To my delighted, I noticed they were doing classes through an online voucher website, so mum and I jumped at the chance to book (thanks for the Christmas pressie dad!).
So on Saturday, off we went to the school, which is situated on Liberton Brae in Edinburgh.  We were greeted by Ru and she was just as friendly as I remembered.  We joined our fellow chefs round Ru's dining table, where we sipped jasmine tea and nibbled on fresh pineapple.  Once everyone had arrived, we headed for the kitchen.
We spent the afternoon making chicken won tons, Thai red chicken curry, egg fried rice, dipping sauces, and banana's cooked in coconut cream.  It was such a fun day and Ru chatted for hours about the ingredients (which were all very fresh and authentic), growing up in Thailand, her family, her work - which takes her all around the world training chefs from the top restaurants.  The afternoon whizzed by!
After the cooking, we all sat back round the table and were treated to the fruits of our labour.  I can honestly say Ru's food far surpasses any Thai restaurant I've ever been to.  We were given all the recipes away so I look forward to adding these recipes to my repertoire!
Well worth a visit if you are interested in Thai cooking.  I can't recommend it highly enough. 
For information please contact:
Rujira Herd
Krua Thai Cookery School
19 Liberton Brae
EH16 6AQ
You can find the school on Facebook too.
**Photos by kind permission of The Krua Thai Cookery School**

Saturday, 5 January 2013

My First Supper Club - Charlie & Evelyn's Table

Whilst organising our afternoon tea at the farm back in September, I did some research into Supper Clubs.  We really are spoilt for choice in Edinburgh, but the one that kept getting the "best one in Edinburgh" recommendation was Charlie & Evelyn's Table, run by Rachel and Chris Rowley.  But what would it be like?  Would we be the only ones there who didn't know everyone?  How many people would be there?  What would the food be like? I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about going for dinner to a strangers house, to dine with strangers!

So off we went, mum and I, down to their beautiful home in Stockbridge to check it out and get answers to all of our questions...

We were welcomed by a little note on the door politely asking us to be quiet when we came in as their baby was sleeping and hadn't been very well.  We tip-toed up the stairs, only for me to clatter into the umbrella stand like a baby elephant (apologies once again for that!).  As we arrived, the lovely Rachel greeted us.  We took our places in the living room and began chatting to our fellow diners.  It didn't take long for everyone to relax and settle in for the night!  We were joined by a whopping 14 other diners, all in pairs and none of whom knew each other.  And what a fun and interesting group they were!

After some very scrummy canapes (three herb pesto bites and tandroori stuffed mushrooms), made freshly by chef Chris, we were shown through to the dining room, which was beautifully set for all 16 of us eager diners.  

For those of you who don't know, the name of the supper club comes from this beautiful table, which belonged to Chris' grandparents Charlie and Evelyn.  A lovely photo of them stands proudly over the table on the mantelpiece. 

Here's what we ate:

To amuse Sweetcorn soup with truffled popcorn.

               To start Pear, rocket and Parmesan salad with rare roasted beef.    

To follow Roasted fillet of salmon with foie gras, spiced Puy lentils and braised red cabbage.

                                 To Finish roasted figs and spiced Winter loaf.

                                            With coffee petite raspberry macarons.

We didn't leave until about 11.30pm (and we were one of the first to leave) which is the sign of a great host and a brilliant night.  We had a great time, met some lovely people, had a giggle and ate some fantastic food.  What more could you want?!  Huge thanks to Rachel and Chris for being so lovely and welcoming.

To quote one of my fellow diners "I feel like I've been given a great big hug from the minute I arrived to the minute I left."  Sums it up perfectly.