Scotch Pancakes (25th Feb '09)

Yesterday was Pancake Day, or to be more precise Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Karnival/carnivales...whatever you want to call it. Shrove Tuesday is traditionally the day you make pancakes to use up all the eggs and milk before Lent(a fasting period). Pancakes are traditionally served with lemon juice and sugar in Britain.

Another strange tradition is the Pancake Race. Woman compete against each other wearing an apron, high heels, and carrying a frying pan and tossing pancakes at the same time. This wierd custom started when a woman in Olney ran out of her house with her frying pan and forgetting her apron when she heard the church bells for the service.

This year I decided to do something a bit different than the normal pancakes and made Scotch pancakes. They differ only slightly to pancakes in that they are smaller and thicker. They have a light, fluffy texture although can be slightly filling. They are very similar to American pancakes. I followed this recipe from Scottish Teatime Recipes and found it doesn´t need any tweaking. The trickest part was flipping them over (as it usually is). I served them with strawberries and cream and they were delicious- even if I do say so myself! As you can see, I need to improve on my presentation....I´d never win Masterchef!

Ingredients (makes about 6)

4oz (1 cup) self- raising flour
pinch of salt
1oz (2 tbsp) caster(superfine) sugar
1 egg
1/4 pt( 140ml) milk


1. Whisk egg and milk together.
2.Sift flour and salt into a bowl and add the sugar.
3. Add the egg and milk mixture gradually and combine with wooden spoon
4. Once all ingredients are combined, melt a small amount of butter in small frying pan or girdle.
5. When hot (you can test by adding a tiny amount of batter and if the bottom turns brown in less than a minute, then it is ready), add tablespoons of the batter.
6. When bottom is golden brown, use a slice to flip the pancake over and cook the other side for a minute.
7. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Britz Backlash (23rd Feb,09)

Well, we certainly did well in the Oscars and what with the Brits Awards too, it seems like there is a real backlash at the moment so to get into the spirit of things thought you might find it interesting and helpful to have a list of the most important ingredients in British cooking but not in any particular order. I got this idea off Sunflower´s really useful Chinese ingredients list so am not so original, I´m afraid! If I´ve missed any, please let me know! In fact, many of these ingredients are difficult to find where I live in Spain so end up having to stock up.

1. Cheese- there is a variety of English cheeses such as Stilton, Cheddar, Cheshire, Lancashire which can be used for sauces, main meals, sandwiches, salads even desserts.

2. Gravy granules- Bisto is the best brand

3.Stock cubes- Oxo and Fallo are the best- used in meat dishes such as casseroles, stews etc

4. Fresh cream- single/double/clotted-the thickest and most delicious cream ever- sauces, main meals, cakes, desserts and sweets e.g fudge

5. Custard/ Custard powder (Bird´s) - desserts, cakes, serving

6. Worcestershire sauce- Lea & Perrins-soups, casseroles/stews

7. Beer/Lager/Spirits e.g. Guiness, Bailey´s, Pimms etc- batter, casseroles/stews, meat dishes, bread, even desserts and cakes.

8. Sausages e.g Lincolnshire, Cumberland- casseroles, toad-in-the hole etc

9. Treacle- Lyle & Tate´s- desserts, sweets

10. Golden syrup-Lyle & Tate´s- cakes, biscuits, desserts, sweets

11. Rhubarb - side dishes, sauces, desserts, jam, cakes

12. Gooseberries- sauces, desserts, jam,

13. Suet- puddings, pastry, cakes

14. Oats- Quaker Oats/ Scots- porridge, biscuits, cakes, desserts

15. Malt vinegar- serving on chips, pickling

16. Lemon curd - cakes, desserts, breakfast

17. Baked Beans- Heinz- jacket potato fillings, toast, main meals/pasta dishes

18. Barley- beer, drinks, stews/casseroles

19. Black pudding/ Haggis - starters, main meals


Spanish- style meatballs (18th Feb, 2009)

I made these last week as a special treat for Valentine´s Day as it´s one of my boyfriend´s favourite meals. It´s based on some blog recipes from La Cocina de Lala and La Cocina de Lechuza and what I can remember of the usual recipe I use in Spain from my recipe book, "1000 Mejores Recetas" so should be fairly authentic. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo the meatballs didn´t retain their round shape and ended up a bit flat looking-more like a burger! However, the end result is moist, soft and tender meatballs.

Ingredients(for 2/3 people)

300g( just over 1/2 lb) of pork mince (it´s more authentic if you can buy pork and beef mince mixed)

1 slice of bread, crumbed (use 2 slices if bread is small or you can also use ready made breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup of milk (I used 1/2 cup and the mixture was too wet!)

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1tsp dried parsley

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper(optional)

1 egg

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 cup of white wine

2 tsps paprika

1/2 tsp flour


2 tbsps olive oil


1. Soak breadcrumbs in milk.
2.Mix pork mince, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper, parsley, garlic and egg in bowl. If meat mixture is very sticky, add a bit of flour to help bind.
3. Shape into balls, about 8 in total. Roll in flour.
4.Heat oil and fry meatballs till browned. Set aside.
5. Using oil left over from meatballs, fry onion until soft.
6. Add wine, paprika and flour and cook on medium to low heat till sauce thickens.
7. Replace meatballs and simmer until meatballs thouroughly cooked.
You can serve this with rice, pasta or fried potatoes whatever you prefer, the typical way Spanish people serve this is without any side dishes as this would be served as the first or main dish. Spanish meals usually consist of two large dishes. The first may be a soup, pasta, vegetable or fish dish usually followed by a meat or fish dish.


Yokoso Japanese Steak house & Sushi Bar, Pittsburgh (14th Feb, 2009)

This is another new experience for me as I´ve never been to a Japanese restaurant, seeing as I don´t really like fish or seafood. However, as it is also a steak house I thought I´d give it a try. I´m not sure whether this is an Americanized chain of Japanese restaurants or whether it is actually an authentic Japanese restaurant. The restaurant has a very stylish, modern & chic decor and you can choose whether to sit at the sushi bar or at the grill where the chef cooks your meal in front of you...we chose the latter of course, which I highly recommend.

If you're a carnivore through and through and are not too keen on fish & seafood like me, then although this restaurant has a couple of meat dishes, this is not the place for you. As the main meal comes with a choice of green onion soup or salad plus hibachi vegetables and rice, we decided not to have a starter. I chose the salad and my boyfriend had the soup. I wasn´t too impressed with the salad as it had this really sharp, acidic dressing of maybe garlic and ginger and the soup was a bit lacking in flavour. The main course was definitely worth the visit though and not only for the show! It was like the film Cocktail, only with food! I had chicken terriyaki and my boyfriend had hibachi scallops. The chef was tossing the egg up in the air and catching it with a metal scraper etc and piled the onion ring on top of one another, poured some wine (maybe sake?) onto it so it lit up in flames,like a volcano. As I said it was very entertaining and great for a special night out! The food was delicious and very tender. I even tried a bit of the hibachi scallops and to my amazement liked them! They didn´t taste too fishy and were very tender...they reminded me of calamares or squid a little, only not as chewy! All in all I´d say this restaurant is great value for money as you get wonderful food and entertainment at an affordable price.

Love Muffins-ooer! (11th Feb, 2009)

Love is in the air! It´s coming up to that time of year again, Valentine´s Day and if the way to a man´s heart is truly through his stomach, then these simple cakes will do the job....he´ll be wanting to grab more than these love muffins!

This recipe is from my cupcake calendar which takes its recipes from 500 Cupcakes. I couldn´t find fondant icing or silver balls in the supermarket but instead found these great icing pens from Cake Mate which come in a variety of colours and with the aid of a knife managed to ice the cakes. As you can see, I need to work on my icing skills!

Ingredients (makes about 18 cakes)
1 cup (around 227g) of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup(around 192g) caster sugar (superfine)
2 cups (around 222g) self-raising flour
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2oz red fondant icing
2oz white fondant icing
3tbsp raspberry jam
Silver balls

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
2. Place all ingredients in large bowl and beat with electric mixer until all ingredients are combined (if you haven´t got a mixer, you can do it by hand although I´d cream the butter and sugar together first and then add flour, vanilla extract and eggs gradually as it´s easier!)
3.Place backing cups in muffin or sponge cake pan and place on middle shelf in the oven.
4. Bake for 20 mins
5. Cool cakes for 5 mins
6. If using fondant icing, roll both red and white out to 1/8 in. thick, then cut white fondant icing into circles using a 2 1/2 in. cookie cutter.
7. Cut out 18 hearts using a small heart shaped cookie cutter or a heart template and knife.
8. Brush each muffin with a little jam and place white fondant circle on top and place a heart on top of the circle.
9. Decorate with silver balls.

I´m sure your loved ones will enjoy these simple yet delicious treats. Enjoy your Valentine´s Day with your loved one(s)!


3 Bean Chilli (5th February, 2008)

I was a bit dubious about this recipe as beans have never played a vital part of my diet. In fact, apart from baked beans I´ve never really experimented with beans until recently. However, as they are part of a healthy diet and also to make my diet more varied, I decided to try this slightly adapted recipe from Carnegie Cooks and found it to be a tasty alternative to a meat chilli although it was a bit on the mild side. I have made this recently and have improved the recipe so this is the updated version.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 red & 1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 170g (6oz) can tomato paste
1/2 439g (15 1/2 oz) can black beans
1/2 439g (15 1/2 oz) can of chickpeas
1/2 439g (15 1/2 oz) can of red kidney beans
1 1/2 -2 tsp of chilli powder-put more if you like it very hot! ( I used just under 1tsp and found it too mild)
salt & pepper
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves (I reduced the amount of cloves as my boyfriend doesn´t like the taste of them)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp of olive oil

1. Drain beans, saving liquid to thin chilli if necessary.
2. Fry onions,garlic and peppers in olive oil until soft.
3.Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin & cloves. Cook slowly about 15 mins.
4. Add beans and cook another 15 mins on low heat. Add salt & pepper to season. Thin with bean juice or water, if necessary.
5. Serve hot with rice.

And there you have it! A tasty, filling and healthy meal for everyone to enjoy.


New Year, New Resolutions (Jan 25th,2009)

Happy New Year! I haven´t been doing much blogging because I haven´t been doing much cooking as I haven´t needed to! It´s been hectic times, first I was in Spain for Xmas with the "in-laws" so didn´t do much cooking, apart from a trifle and Egg Nog to have some British traditions over the festive period. Then, it was off to Portugal to spend some quality time with my parents. I made a couple of vegetarian meals for them and a German meal "Jaegerschnitzel & Spatzle" but didn´t get round to blogging them.

A lot of time was spent playing with my parents´ two Cairn terriers, Eve and Amber, reading and watching lots of British TV...particularly Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen and a couple of episodes of Come Dine With Me. I even managed to catch up with some of the soaps like Eastenders. And how can I forget stuffing my face with all my fav food...we even had a delicious if overdue turkey Christmas dinner! It was great to spend so much time with my parents and have a relax. This is the life,eh? We even squeezed in a brief trip to England.

Well, it´s that time of year when people start to make those promises which more often than not get broken, resolutions. After leafing through one of my mum´s books " You Are What You Eat", which is really interesting, this year my resolution is to eat more healthily. A hard task when you´re a foodie and everything that is tasty is forbidden! Eating healthily means eating fish so it means overcoming my dislike for fish and seafood....can see this being broken right off! The book recommends drinking warm water with lemon juice in the mornings and in the evenings...Disgusting, you may think but it´s not actually as bad as it sounds. Tastes a bit like Lemsip. Apparently, it cleans your bowels and it does seem to work. I´ve also been trying to drink more water and drink liquids half an hour before or after I eat as it´s better for digestion. Watch this space for more info about how I get on and hopefully I´ll be blogging some healthy yet tasty recipes as well as the usual unhealthy ones!
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