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Everything posted by cfm

  1. cfm

    Mince Pies

    This is traditional in the sense that it's what I do, and what my mother did. I make a shortcrut pastry, using the Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe, which has a high proportion of butter to flour. I don't make the sweet pastry, I don't think that's necessary. I use mincemeat from a jar (to be fair to her, my mother makes her own.) In my little 12-bun trays I use a circle of pastry for the bottom, fill with mincemeat, and then use a star shaped piece of pastry for the top, so that the filling shows through. Brush egg-yolk, bake until brown. No point in dusting with icing sugar if serving warm, it just disappears. There are many, many other ways to make mice pies. I like these, though - the star shaped tops are pretty, and the whole thing has a bit more texture and interest than a solid pie. I don't think they could be achieved with puff pastry, too many corners where the puffing could go wrong. Best of luck! Catherine
  2. My favorite is certainly champagne cocktail, I think it is hard to beat. I like a French '75, but tend to think of it as a pretty dangerous drink. Catherine
  3. cfm

    Good Autumn Food

    How beautiful! What are the tiny yellow things, and what do you do with them? Catherine
  4. I would say you don't get four stars if the experience of visiting the restaurant is consistently aggravating or unpleasant. The reviewer shouldn't tie his hands, though, by deciding in advance how it is that he believes a good dining experience is created. You have to go along, experience the experience and then rate it. So, existence of dress code is not a rating issue. Consequences flowing from question of whether dress code exists may be a rating issue. It may well be appropriate to award four stars in a restaurant pushing the boundaries of conventional FOH arrangements. If this was not the case then you might as well send the guy who doesn't know much about dining, but sure does know what he likes along to write the review. What we want to know from the critic is - having gone along and tried it does it turn out that communal tables are, despite all the odds, simply the most exceptional and wonderful way to eat the great food that this restaurant is turning out? Seems unlikely, but you never know. I imagine that when a restaurant of this sort of standard takes a risk, it does it for a reason. Surely innovation isn't a necessarily a bad thing. Catherine
  5. They're tiny! Like the size of those edible silver balls you use to decorate cakes. You swish them round in herds, its quite safe. C
  6. Not a special brush as such, but I quite enjoy using my "Magic Balls." (This is their brand name, I think.) They are a jar of little metal balls that you tip into the decanter with a bit of water and then swish about, I suppose the idea being that they are scouring away at any sediment or stains as they rattle around. Catherine
  7. Me! Once I saw the menu, I really couldn't wait for my table on a Saturday night in June, so I've booked one for tonight. I suppose to some, it looks exciting rather than pretentious. Catherine
  8. Sure! Great everyday spots that I cross town for include Hanedan, a Turkish restaurant on the southside of town. We invariably eat mezze and then grilled things. Cheap and lovely. ← Cathrine, you just made me very "homesick", if I can say so. I lived in Edinburgh for 7 years (have now been back to Estonia for 2,5 years). Hanedan opened during my last year in Scotland, and I was a frequent visitor there (living in Marchmont, it was close by). I've been back to Edinburgh twice since then, and have never failed to visit Hanedan I wrote about it on my blog back in 2006, too. Glad to hear it's still thriving!!! ← What a lovely picture of the chef - another nice thing about this place is that this is what you see as you come through the door, his grill is right there in the front room of the restaurant. C
  9. First thought is an allergy but could also be a sensitivity to the low level alkaloids present in eggplants. I know it is only one member of the nightshade family but I sometimes get some a little mouth sensation with an astringent seedy eggplant. ← I'll try salting, I think, see if it makes a difference. C
  10. Can I ask an additional question? I don't salt, because I have never found a problem with bitterness. But, I do notice a tingling sensation on my lips when I eat aubergine dishes - I am beginning to wonder if this is the "bitterness"? Is it normal? Catherine
  11. I'm not so keen on my hob, which has the four burners placed in a diamond rather than a square. If all four are in use, it's hard to manage the pan at the back. I also strongly suspect the unusual design for being the reason that it doesn't allow the use of more than one larger pan at a time, although I'm not sure there is a geometric justification for this, perhaps the hob is just rather small in scale. Catherine
  12. cfm

    Dinner Party Menu

    There is a delicious cheese free recipe for Leek Pie in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. You can make it, serve a large piece to the vegetarian and slice the rest into slivers to make a pretty glamorous side dish for the meat eaters. They can share in some other non-cheesy salad or side. Catherine
  13. Forget the content, what about the fantastic cover? I just going to have to get this book, whatever's inside it. Catherine
  14. No problem with tasting Tom's dish if you make a quick booking at the Kitchen - he is runnning his winning dishes as a £60 menu. Catherine edit: oops, the Kitchin, obviously - who knows what there is to eat at "the Kitchen"
  15. Just to report back - we had a successful night out at Le Vaudeville. Although they were promoting flambeeing for February they had in a very mixed crowd of couples, larger parties and even two small children! Couldn't have been buzzier. Getting a taxi, now that was a different matter "All the world's in Paris for St Valentine" said the driver. (He was happy to hear that France won the rugby). Catherine
  16. Well, I wouldn't call it exactly a scene, but if you check out the Far East section on the website for the List magazine's eating and drinking guide, you'll see that there are a number of restaurants offering sushi - some as part of a more multi-cultural overall set-up. It might have constituted a scene when Yo! Sushi were here with their conveyor belt, but that didn't last. Not being a tourist myself, I'm struggling to think of the best places for haggis and for fried breakfast, although the good news is that you should be able to kill both birds with the one stone, as haggis ought to appear in a full Scottish. C
  17. Sure! Great everyday spots that I cross town for include Hanedan, a Turkish restaurant on the southside of town. We invariably eat mezze and then grilled things. Cheap and lovely. Also Sushiya - a tiny but popular Japanese place near Haymarket station. I always hesitate to recommend sushi although I always have it, as my experience of non-Scottish sushi is quite limited, but even if you wanted to order tempura, noodles and the eggplant dish (my favourite) it's just a great place with a clear plan that knows what it's doing. Bella Mbriana is a really good Italian in the more modern "short menu" style. (As opposed to the 40 pasta/ 40 pizza style still popular in Edinburgh.) The Dogs, last mentioned in the spring I think on this thread, seems to be going from strength to strength. Still stupendously cheap and our last meal there was really exceptionally good. Toad in the Hole is sometimes on, it's smashing. Lemon posset is always on - its magic too. Some people find the high concept service from the owner aggravating, but I'm not one of them. I'm chilled that way. I'm lucky in my locals in Stockbridge - I might well cross town for La Concha, a smaller owner-in-the-kitchen sort of Italian, and for Bell's Diner a venerable hamburger place with delicious fried onions. The first time I ordered them as a small child I was disappointed that they weren't onion rings, but I've been eating them ever since. Breakfast - Roseleaf in Leith for sunday morning waffles; Kilimanjaro on Nicolson Street (possibly Clerk Street) for coffee and every choice of breakfast roll filling, including potato scone; two branches of Urban Angel for porridge. I don't think you should go hungry, Catherine
  18. I haven't seen that book (it seems to be out-of-print now, too!), but it sounds like a good one. Is it intended to be more than just a cookbook? Like how South Beach is a diet book with some recipes, for example? Or is it primarily recipes with some extra information? ← I went and counted the pages to answer this question. More than half are recipes (there are around 80). It is more than a cookbook, in the sense that it is an account of how one food professional lost weight - she hasn't devised a new dieting method or anything like that. She just provides appropriate observations about her experience and a batch of recipes for things she cooked and enjoyed. Catherine
  19. I'm not sure that we can have much of a discussion about this, but I'm bursting to share this idea with someone, anyone at all. After a very lovely tasting menu at a restaurant somewhere in the North of England, the chocolates arrived. As we explored them it looked initially as if they were cunningly themed to echo ingredients from the courses in the meal we had just had. As we went on, the correspondence broke down and the bubble burst. But wouldn't it be great if they had?! Catherine
  20. I couldn't agree more - this is an excellent book for just these reasons. The dieting principle used is calorie counting. The author is a restaurateur and food writer and I found the book incredibly helpful on the correct mental stance to be adopted by the interested cook on a diet. Several years on from my diet, I still have some of the recipes in my everyday repertoire. Catherine
  21. No problem, it didn't come across as too rude, just as if it might direct the enquiry in the wrong direction if I failed to disclose my secret identity... Catherine
  22. Sorry, I have forgotten to sign my post. I am the wife, trying to plan a fun night out with friends. To my taste, business-as-usual will be funnest. Will most places have a mixed sort of crowd despite the date? Catherine
  23. We are travelling to Paris over the Valentines weekend for a separate purpose - Scotland play France at rugby in the Six Nations Championship on the fourteenth. This isn't a laddish sort of trip - we will be two thirty-something couples. But it isn't a double date! I was quite surprised at the extreme Valentines-purposed menu offered by our hotel on the Saturday night, so have decided to eat there on the Friday and have a more casual meal on the 14th - what style of place could be relied on for a business-as-usual atmosphere? Is a large brasserie a good bet?
  24. Advert in the papers this weekend saying on sale in Sainsburys, Waitrose and Tesco. Catherine
  25. One huge issue here is the number of colums that end along the lines of, "but we were too full to eat the pudding." For this reason alone, I see Giles Coren as a kind of hero, who I can trust to go in, eat the meal, order extra plates if necessary, and make some sort of proper effort to tell me what's being served in the restaurant. Catherine
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