Tuesday, 25 May 2010


The Haggis - In the absence of hard facts as to haggis' origins, popular folklore has provided more fanciful theories.
One is that the dish originates from the days of the old Scottish cattle drovers.
When the men left the highlands to drive their cattle to market in Edinburgh the women would prepare rations for them to eat during the long journey down through the glens.
They used the ingredients that were most readily available in their homes
and conveniently packaged them in a sheep's stomach allowing for easy transportation during the journey.
Other speculations have been based on Scottish slaughtering practices. When a Chieftain or Laird required an animal to be slaughtered for meat (whether sheep or cattle) the workmen were allowed to keep the offal as their share.

If you wish to read more about the haggis just click on the link attached to the words The Haggis here and at the beginning of this post.

And now for the preparation of the Haggis Sunday dinner.

OK so I need some comforting whilst contemplating the eating of this haggis -

bring on the red wine - I really need it to make the gravy.......... really......

Cooking the haggis is simple -
it is already cooked when you buy it and only needs thorough re-heating.  I wrapped the haggis tightly in tin foil and placed in a large saucepan of cold water.

Then simmer gently for 45 minutes per lb. but do not boil as this might burst the skin.

OK so I admit we decided to skip the traditional tatties and neeps - it was an executive decision to at least make a range of accompaniments we like and enjoy just in case we couldn't stomach the haggis!

So, whilst the haggis was simmering.....
made my favourite Mushroom Cranberry Gravy
and instead of mashed potatoes,
boiled some great "Jersey Royal" baby potatoes,
and added another favourite old recipe
Carrots and Petit Pois in butter (recipe to follow).

The final result was good - the haggis - a good hearty flavour, oaty, livery, and very peppery...

I can imagine eating it on a cold winter's morning, snow covered mountains surround us, and the best warm up food full of protein and carbos - the haggis!

OK - Haggis now 45 minutes on the simmer - with tongs remove the haggis from the saucepan -

and open up the tin foil - cut in half or quarters - and serve.

Now I have tried it I am keen to try out more haggis - next time I am in Scotland - which will be in the next couple of months - I want to compare the different flavours - are they all so peppery? what else is added to this haggis - the one I received didn't have an ingredients list attached - so in the end who knows what we were eating??

The finale......
drum roll....
the HAGGIS Sunday lunch.........

served with Jersey Royal baby potatoes,
Carrot and Petit Pois in butter and dill,
and Mushroom Cranberry Gravy.

The combination of flavours worked really well... especially since the haggis was the only item which we weren't sure about the final outcome!

Bon appetit !

Sunday, 23 May 2010


How delightful!?  HAGGIS...
I have been to Scotland approximately three (3) times over the last three (3) years and never tried the Scottish dish HAGGIS !  why?  well ..... ummh.... aah....
nothing to do with the contents... liver, lungs and heart, plus oatmeal, herbs and spices.....
just ummh.... there was better stuff on the menu.... really..... like venison... and seafood....
so why would I try this haggis ?
maybe one day!
maybe next time?
Well ..... ONE DAY  has arrived !

Family members returned from Scotland and brought back a HAGGIS.....
so we can try it....
I could have waited till my next trip to Scotland in June! Really.....
So today Sunday.... we are going to prepare the HAGGIS with TATTIES and NEEPS......
in English that is:  TATTIES = potatoes
and apparently NEEPS = turnips or swedes......
going to do the traditional meal .....
wish me luck.... will post again after dinner.......

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Bee Pollen

On our recent day trip to the beautiful southern seafront town of Brighton, Sussex, we meandered around and past the Royal Pavillion, wandered through the tiny streets of old Brighton and found our way to the "Inifinity Foods" shop.  Walked in to browse their shelves.... never know what goodies you can find... and the one thing I have been trying to hunt down for a few months now has been BEE POLLEN.

Surprise! Surprise! there on the shelf next to a great selection of honey ..... Organic Pollen.... about time was wondering whether I would ever find any in UK.... so excited about it.... bought two (2) jars.

I am now armed for any hay fever attacks... and the like..
Sneezing, Runny nose, Itchy bloodshot eyes, Stuffed up nose, Itching around the face and mouth, Exhaustion, Blocked sensation in ears, Headache, Wheezing, Burning in the throat, Pain in the Sinuses.... blah, blah, blah........

Taking pollen:
1 x teaspoonful in a glass of water or juice
- stir vigorously, allow pollen to dissolve, then drink.
take warm in green tea with a bit of honey.
add it to your "Kill a Germ Drink"
(see previous blog "Spring is in the air")

to be taken 2-3 times a day whilst hayfever symptoms persist.

Good bye  to hay fever.......

Bon appetit!

    Wednesday, 12 May 2010

    Pasta with Prawns and Smoked Salmon

    Sometimes, you just want pasta..... and I find on cold days the craving for pasta is even greater....

    Here is a delicious comfort food dish I like to throw together and it includes my favourite seafood - prawns and smoked salmon - and of course a hint of chilli to warm you up from the inside!
    This is a quick and easy pasta dish made with simple ingredients which you can easily have lurking in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
    Takes no time at all...  the time it takes to cook the pasta the dish is made... basically within 30 minutes you are eating.  Serves two.

    200g x raw peeled king prawns
    100g x smoked salmon
    1 x leek or couple spring onions
    4 x vine ripened tomatoes
    4 tablespoons x pasta sauce arrabbiata
    3 tablespoons x double cream
    Fresh Basil leaves
    2-3 x cloves garlic
    Olive oil
    Salt & Pepper
    Egg spaghetti


    Cook the pasta in salted water with a dash of olive oil.

    Whilst your pasta is cooking, into a fry pan, splash approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add chopped leek, saute a minute or two, then add quartered tomatoes.  Saute for a few more minutes, add the pasta sauce, and allow to simmer.

    When the pasta is close to al dente, add the cream and prawns to the sauce, stir so prawns cook evenly, but gently.

    When the prawns start changing colour add the smoked salmon and basil.

    Stir through, remove from heat.

    Strain your pasta, and dish up with grated parmesan, if you like.
    Bon appetit!

    Sunday, 9 May 2010

    Mother's Day Breakfast !

    Have you every wondered about the different kinds of breakfasts the world is having?  I know there are places in the world where breakfast is not much different from other meals of the day like for instance in Japan - steamed rice, fish, tofu, seaweed, raw egg........but no I was not thinking that far away......

    I was sitting here on Mother's Day morning wondering what I would like for breakfast and found myself thinking of breakfast in terms of styles for example:  do I want English, French, or Aussie (Byron Bay) style breakfast?

    English.....??? no thanks - fry ups not my favourite..........
    French......??? well yeah - I love croissants, I love coffee, and I love yoghurt..... hmmm??? maybe
    Aussie....??? just love Byron Bay for the variety of breakfasts - from organic muesli with yoghurt to smoked salmon bagels to roasted vegetables with goats cheese dripping with pesto olive oil on toasted turkish...... am I drooling.... the best place to eat in Byron "Espresso Head".... anyway am not there so stop dreaming...

    So for Mother's Day breakfast - and of course my kids are in Australia... so it's a weird day... just my husband and  I - so we decided croissants would be perfect........ local shop hadn't baked them yet..... WTF!  they are so slack on a Sunday.... a person could die from starvation waiting for a croissant.......  a drive into Canterbury....... breakfast in Patisserie Valerie....

    Grilled croissant with Gruyere cheese bechamel and mushrooms with a side salad....... yum yum!!!! and a very large capuccino of course....... however didn't think to take a photo.......... so you will have to imagine it.... it was a huge croissant and very delicious.... and I couldn't eat it all....... so glad my husband was able to help finish it off........... and I managed to resist the patisseries afterwards........ so full.... so good!

    Saturday, 8 May 2010

    Quick Chicken Thighs with Vegetables Stir Fry

    A very quick and easy way to prepare chicken with vegetables and get a really delicious, healthy and satisfying meal.  I love making things which can be done all in one pot/fry pan/wok. This style of cooking developed over the years........... when on holidays and  having to cook something nutritious with limited kitchen space, utensils and sometimes cooking only on one burner.  The theory was "if you put in basic ingredients - you can't go wrong" -  or in other words - the "KISS" principle.

    So even though we are talking about stir fry you don't have to use a wok - a good sized fry pan with some kind of lid (a flat baking tray will do).......... and on occasion I have even used aluminum foil when there was no lid in sight.......  of course if you are cooking at home and happen to have a wok well good for you.....

    4 x chicken thighs (skinless, boneless)
    1 x red pepper
    2 x large or 4 x medium carrots
    3 x celery sticks
    2 x leeks or brown onions
    1/2 x small white cabbage or chinese cabbage
    6 x brown mushrooms
    2 x cups broccoli
    1 x large or 1.5 medium zucchini

    6 x garlic cloves
    Tamari or Soy Sauce
    Hot Chilli Sauce
    1/2 inch x fresh ginger
    small handful of fresh coriander (optional)
    Olive Oil
    Toasted Sesame Oil
    1 x vegetable stock cube


    Slice the 4 chicken thighs into long strips, place into a bowl, ADD 4-5 tablespoons Tamari, 1-2 teaspoon Hot Chilli Sauce, 1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil, 6 crushed cloves garlic, chopped coriander, STIR well to coat the chicken pieces.

    Put the chicken aside to marinade. Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.  If you wish you can prepare the chicken pieces hours before - just cover the bowl with cling film and place in fridge,  stir every hour or so.

    If you are wanting to make the meal within an hour then leave the chicken to marinade whilst you prepare and cook the vegetables, you will need to keep the vegetables warm in the oven (temperature approx 100-150C).

    Prepare your vegetables, wash, peel, slice.  Into the fry pan or wok, add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, add red pepper and cook on high heat achieving a chargrill effect, cover with lid to prevent oil spraying everywhere - but make sure you are still chargrilling the pepper and not just steaming them.

    Remove the peppers and place in oven dish into 120C oven to keep warm.

    Next proceed with the same process for the rest of the vegetables, in following order: carrots and celery; then leeks and cabbage; then mushrooms, ginger, broccoli and zucchini.

    Each time removing from the fry pan and placing in oven.
    In the last batch of mushrooms, ginger, broccoli and zucchini add half cup water and vegetable stock cube, stir evenly through the greens and then add everything to the leeks and cabbage in the oven.

    Now cook the chicken pieces.  In the same fry pan or wok, add a couple of splashes of olive oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, add half the chicken pieces and cook on high heat turning to brown all over.

    Once browned cover for a few minutes with lid, then transfer to dish with carrots and celery.  Cook the remainder of the chicken pieces.

    Make sure the chicken has been cooked through.  Place all the cooked chicken on top of the carrots and celery and place in oven for another 5 minutes.

    Serve on warm plates with extra tamari and chilli sauces to be added according to individual taste.

    Tuesday, 4 May 2010

    Spring is in the air.......

    Spring has to be my favourite time of year....... everything is blooming..... not to mention more daylight hours and a bit more sun and the prospect of turning off the central heating altogether ! Nice.......

    Of course for some of us spring means ....... hay fever........ and for some like me more sinus headaches........

    My home remedies for relief :  Garlic - fresh is best

    Honey - local honey and unfiltered (if possible) - and if you can get it straight from the source

    Bee pollen - available in granules from health food stores (seems to be a shortage here in UK at moment)

    Ginger - fresh
    Lemon juice - fresh
    Sea salt
    and Vitamin C.......

    So what do you do with this list of items???  easy eat garlic often, include honey into your diet instead of sugar, bee pollen... well... just take it by the spoon full in morning juice and every 3-4 hrs during the day when hay fever symptoms full blown... for relief..... sea salt ? well I use it to rinse my nostrils and relieve the sinus pressure... a neti pot is good if you have one... or simple just use a dropper .... and just snort it..... whatever takes your fancy.... no need to get too complex with this.... and now to the best drink of all.... the concoction from my naturopathic study days....  it used to be coined the "Kill a Germ Drink"..... sounds a bit scary !! anyway here goes.......

    "Kill a Germ Juice"
    1 x whole bulb of Garlic
    1-2 inches x Ginger
    400g Honey
    1-2 Pinch x Cayenne pepper or Cinnamon if you are not a chillie fan.....
    Lemon juice
    (if you wish you can make a smaller batch - just half everything)

    Peel garlic cloves, peel ginger and chop into smaller pieces, place into a blender, add half the honey, blend until the garlic and ginger turn into fine pulp, add the rest of the honey and blend to distribute the garlic and ginger evenly.  You can add the cayenne pepper or cinnamon now give it another blend.

    DO NOT ADD THE LEMON JUICE...... always add juice from half a small lemon to your drink just before drinking it.

    Store in sterile glass jars you will need one 600g to 800g jar or two 400g jars - I prefer to distribute into smaller jars .... it is easier to use one small jar at a time than keep digging into the large jar.

    Exact proportions are not too crucial.... as long as you have heaps of garlic and a good dose of ginger and enough honey to sweeten the drink.....

    and now this is how you take your "Kill a Germ Drink"....
    in a good sized mug place 2-3 teaspoons of your concoction
    add juice of half a small lemon
    top up with boiling water.... drink as hot as possible.

    At first you may find it a bit of a challenge to drink ........ but you soon get used to it.......... just think of the first time you tasted alcohol .... it didn't really taste nice but you drank it anyway..........  and the benefits with "Kill a Germ Drink" are way better for you.........  and yes you will be a bit on the nose but hey if it helps relieve your hay fever, sinus, cold symptoms........ all the better....... I swear by it....... Oh and by the way you can always add the bee pollen to the drink as well and a bit more honey if you need it sweeter........
    Bon appetit!


     In March we travelled to Scotland to Dumfries and Galloway region.......... beautiful country and beautiful people......... and of course good food.......
    so naturally day before we left did a bit of shopping and had to bring back some goodies....... the local honey, a bit of Scottish flowers in a jar, a beetroot chutney and heather salt.........

    yeah I know ... I just can't help myself....