A vealy nice Sunday meal


So it’s Sunday and I’m not sure what to have for dinner. Went to the fridge and I have a pack of veal mince I bought last week. It’s 3 days out of date but gave it the tried and tested sniff test and it passed.

With mince I’m always torn between lasagna and meatballs, this week lasagna was the winner. It’s such a simple meal and the leftovers make great lunch for the week. To get started the ingredients:

Veal ragu
300 gms veal mince
1 small red onion
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 red pepper
Handful of chestnut mushrooms
Small glass of red wine
1/2 beef stock cube
Handful of parsley

White sauce
Large knob of butter
Grated cheese

Starting with ragu, in a pan sautée the onion, garlic and peppers. After a few minutes add the veal and cook until the mince is brown. Add the mushrooms and the red wine and ketchup. Allow the red wine to reduce and then add the tomatoes, oregano and parsley. Cook over a medium heat and allow to reduce. If needed add a little water. I tend to crumble in the stock cube at this point. When adding the water add a little flour and cook it out. It helps the consistency.

For the white sauce, make it yourself, don’t go for jarred it’s just not the same. In a pan melt the butter, allow it to froth and then add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon to bring it all together into a rue. Slowly add the milk and whisk, keeping adding milk till you have a nice smooth sauce. To give it flavour add mustard & seasoning. A little grated cheese really adds flavour.

In your dish add a layer of mince, then pasta sheets, white sauce, mince, pasta sheets and then white sauce! Cover with grated cheese and you are all set.

Preheat the oven to 200, cook for 30 minutes and enjoy :0) ! Veal lasagna comes highly JD Recommended!!


Shin of Beef – A Winter Treat


Back to the Burgh and all of a sudden Christmas and the festive season is over, I find myself wanting to eat some proper comfort food. Having a chat with Fred from L’Escargot he was talking to me about the essence of what’s important in food. The main thing being taste……simplicity and making the best of a great ingredient. When you’re at the farmers market this makes even more sense.

So with all of this in mind I got a great selection of produce from the market and went off home to create something.

Starting with shin of beef, beef stock, onions, mushrooms, maris pipers, smoked butter, thyme and streaky bacon. Using a base of diced carrots and celery I was good to go.

With the beef I took the meat from the bone and removed the marrow from the centre. Dredging the cubed meat in the flower I seared it in the pan. Adding some oil to the same pan I sautéed the onions, bacon, cubed bone marrow, celery, carrots and some garlic in the pan. Once soft I added mushrooms and after a minute put in 2 large glass of wine.


Using the wine to deglaze the pan I then put back the beef, added a pint of stock as seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Then left on a low heat for 90 minutes it makes for a relaxing Sunday.

To go along wither beef I made a nice buttery mash, for something a little different I added some smoked butter. The smokeyness worked really well with the beef and make for a satisfying Sunday meal.

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Simple flavours, local ingredients……bit of love and care to create a delicious meal! Shopping and living by the ways of the farmers market comes highly Jd Recommended :0)



#Eatlocal with not so local flavours


My cooking lately has all been about foreign flavours with the best of Scottish produce. Above you’ll see Scottish scallops with black pudding, cauliflower purée and grated chorizo. Served on black slate I thought it made for a visually stunning dish.

The chorizo comes from Peelham Farm who if you know me at all by now you’ll be aware I am a huge fan of. The dish itself its a great dinner party starter that looks the business even though the cooking involved is pretty simple.


Another foreign flavour dish with local flavour I tried recently was buffalo madras. Using buffalo from the now famous Steven Mitchell in Fife made this curry with ribeye steaks in less than 30 minutes. Using a wok the dish is cooked on a base of onion, garlic, ginger and chilli with cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric adding depth. Finished with a touch of garam masala it comes together using tomato pasta a little water and coriander. Simple cooking with awesome flavour.

The point of all of this though is that using the best of what’s on our doorstep we can enjoy food with flavours that transport us to any corner of the globe

Scottish Produce with a Taste of Spain

Sunday brought round for Steph and I our weekly jaunt to the Stockbridge farmers market, although we had been resolved to the idea of walking as part of our healthy January the sight of the snow quickly lead to a strategic decision to get the bus instead, an afternoon gym session that lay ahead justified this to us easily.

With it being still the start of the year not all of the producers are back from their well earned breaks but the stalls still hold a wealth of fantastic produce. The Stockbridge Market does lack one thing to my mind, a true Scottish seafood stall, Ridleys Fish & Game however hailing from Northumbria more than make up for this shortfall as I have said before. Their game selection as I have also said before is superb and this week we decided to go for a selection of their seafood.

With funds tight in January we had decided dinner had to incorporate the king prawns we had at home but we still wanted something a little special to beat the Sunday blues. A seafood paella was agreed upon, from the good people at Ridleys I got 4 langoustine, a piece of monkfish, a few handfulls of mussels and a squid.

To prepare dinner I started by cooking the langoustine in my pan with a little oil for 3/4minutes, letting them cool and then removing them from their shells, I then cooked the prawns and medallions of monkfish in the same pan and left to one side. Using the same pan I added oil, the langoustine shells and a combo of thyme, sweet and hot paprika and a little cayenne. I fried off the shells then added half a glass of dry white wine and reduced then half a pint of water. This will make a brilliant stock for later.

I cooked off the stock for 15 minutes then strained into a jug, I added boiling water until I had a pint of liquid. Back to our pan and in went 2 cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper and one onion with some oil. Cook till soft. Now add thyme as well as sweet and hot paprika, a large teaspoon of each. Fry for 1-2 minutes and then add your arborio rice. I used a mug full. Fry the rice for 2-3 minutes mixing well. To loosen the mixture add some of your fish stock and add a teaspoon of saffron, now put in a tin of chopped tomatoes and 2/3 of your fish stock. Put the heat to simmer, try not to stir at this point and let the rice cook and soften. After 10 minutes check the rices progress and add more stock if required.

Check the rice and taste your sauce, season as required. If your rice is cooked it time to get your seafood in. I started with the mussels, burying them throughout the pan – in the pan they will take 5-6 minutes to cook sufficiently. Shortly after I added the rings of squid then monkfish and finally the prawns. Mix well ensuring even coverage of your fish across the pan. Season with lemon juice and parsley and you are almost ready to serve. To finish I took a separate pan and with a little oil finished off the langoustine, these are too precious to be mixed in and once cooked I added to the plate once the paella was dished out :)!


What you have is a delicious meal using some of the best of Scottish seafood with a real taste of summer that will warm you on even the coldest of nights. Seafood paella is highly Jd Recommended.


Healthy 2013 let’s go!

So 2013 is here now and I have decided that its time to get healthy again, since being hit by a car exercise has well been limited to non existent. So as well as doing the Cancer Research Dryathlon Steph and I thought well let's get to the gym and get eating healthier. Over the next few weeks I will post a few of the meals we have a long the way.

In replacing some of the more common staples I know couscous is going to become a close friend of mine. For this meal I roasted some root veg added lemon juice then mixed into the prepared couscous. Served that with some spiced chicken and asparagus. I love yogurt spiced chicken but to be healthy I used low fat Creme fraiche. Little asparagus and it worked well.

For tonight's meal I used some cracking trout from the freezer that I bought before Christmas. Once defrosted I made a paste of chilli, lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, coriander, ginger and sea salt. Once formed I coated the trout and left to marinate. In the meantime I prepared red pepper and carrot for a noodle salad. I went for vermicelli as I love the texture they keep once cooked. I cooked the trout in parchment on a bed of onions for 15 minutes at 180 degrees. It came out moist and delicious.

So far so good on the healthy eating express :)!

5th January

So today we had some veal from the fantastic Peelham Farm. Tonight's chef was my lovely Steph, she cooked the veal in a herb citrus sauce and served with asparagus and spinach. Delicious 🙂



Eat Scottish, Eat Fresh, Eat the Best

In Scotland we are blessed with some of the best produce anywhere in the world, this is especially true of our seafood. A huge proportion of Scottish fish and shellfish are put on ice, distributed to other parts of the UK, and exported primarily to Europe where they prize our langoustine and shellfish in particular, even more than their own. I'm struck by a story I recently read of somebody on holiday in Spain, they went to a supermarket and were amazed by the huge variety of shellfish on the counters. They noticed stunning lobsters and langoustine and with their basic Spanish asked where they were fished, the answer….. Scotland.

A fish manger friend of mine has moaned for the longest time that close to 90% of our langoustine catch goes abroad only for he scraps to be packed as scampi as sold back to us. Not a great deal for us it as to be said.

These are the tastiest most succulent prawns you will ever have and they come from our own doorstep when compared to the Asian caught tiger prawns you find in your supermarkets. People may say, but the price is too high, well if we can get past that and increase the demand at home, more will stay here and the price will go down….! So for the sake of my wallet please start buying them :).

To cook them it couldn't be easier, start by taking a big knife and cutting them in half right down the shell. Get a griddle pan nice and hot and put the langoustine on flesh side down, after a minute turn and liberally add garlic butter and some parsley. Cook for 2 minutes and serve with bread or as part of a tapas selection.

Another gem of the Scottish waters are our oysters, freshly shucked and served with lemon juice is a dream for me but they have a number of serving options. A shallot vinegarette is the classic french option but I do also enjoy Kilpatrick, bacon and a balsamic drizzle grilled oyster. Delicious.

The real message is, eat scottish, eat fresh, eat the best. Highly JD Recommended


Just like mamma used to make

Inspired by young Oli on Masterchef I fancied trying his duck egg yolk ravioli with truffle mash and mushroom velouté. This meant also making my own pasta.

Making pasta is one of these things that sounds like should be really hard, certain flour….certain oil……not too much water, what ratio of flour to eggs……! I went back to basics and found an old Italian cook book that stated use high qaulity strong bread flour, for every 100gms use one egg and add a tablespoon of water and olive oil.

After mixing with my hands and kneading the dough I had a nice textured ball as per the below.

Wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge for 4 hours, should be fine after 1 but I was out for the day. In a pan of salted water I put some pieces of maris piper and boiled till soft. Once cooked I mashed added a knob of butter and a half teaspoon of truffle oil.

For rolling out the pasta I used my trusty pasta machine. Once done I created rings of potato and placed inside in a duck egg yolk.

With the egg yolk safely placed in the ring I placed over the second layer of pasta and gently sealed the ravioli.

For the mushroom velouté I cooked out shallots and garlic with white wine till soft then added chopped chestnut mushrooms and topped up with chicken stock then left on a low heat for fifteen minutes. Once cooked I blended and added cream then it back on the heat for five minutes.

For the ravioli I cooked them in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, this is just enough to cook the pasta and warm the egg through. Served in a bowl the dish is delicious. Rich duck egg with earthy mushroom and truffle, it just works so well. Highly Jd Recommended :)!