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Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

When having a meal, how many of your senses do you really use? 

Of course, there are the obvious ones; taste and smell.  If you wanted to be pernickety, you could argue that sight, touch and sound all have their place in the dining experience.  But have you ever had a dining experience that focuses exclusively on exploring the senses?  Probably not, if you haven’t attended the Ubiquitous Chip’s event: Ingr3dients.  It claims to be the World’s first sensory dining experience. 

The event was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant, situated within Ashton Lane, at the heart of Glasgow’s West End.  This charming lane is filled with character and very pretty to look at.  But if, like me, you enjoy wearing heels… be prepared to stagger along the cobbles looking like you’ve had one too many cocktails!

I was kindly invited to experience it for myself, and asked Irene to be my ever faithful companion.  On the invitation, the event was described as “combining fine food and cutting-edge digital art, including Alasdair Gray’s first digital artwork”.  I don’t know much about cutting edge digital art, but I do love my food!

The decor in the Ubiquitous Chip made for tranquil surroundings.  Soft lighting, provided by millions of teeny lights, along with an abundance of plants and a gorgeous water feature in the corner of the room, making a relaxing trickling sound.

On the table, there were 3D glasses waiting for us.  Safe in the knowledge that everyone was going to look as cool as us, we donned our attire…

One of the waiters pointed out the interactive sea bed, on the way to our seats.  It was so cute!  There were fish, crabs and lobsters etc, scurrying around the floor from a projection on the ceiling (I assume).  When you stood within the “sea bed”, they all scurried towards you.

Throughout the event, there were various digital art displays, running in a concurrent theme along with each course.  The first image was of a giant fish, darting around the screen and zooming in at you (in what Irene found to be a hilarious fashion; she was cackling away to herself!).  We were henceforth presented with our first course: A Tassie of Cullen Skink.

This creamy soup was so moreish; it was so thick and luxurious, with delicate chunks of fish and potato.  I could easily devour a massive bowl of this, and intend to recreate it soon!

Next up, there was a visual display of 3D shells.  With our glasses on, they looked beautiful and intricate.  This was to introduce the next course: Seafood Trinity.

This consisted of:

Queen Scallop, Dulce and Mirin Ceviche

Black Bottle and Beetroot Cured Organic Salmon

Crab, Pear and Celeriac Choucroute

I have to admit, I was apprehensive about this dish.  I’m a complete seafood novice; having never tried scallops or crab and not being very keen on smoked salmon.  But, in the spirit of adventure (and being able to talk about the food here!), I tried it.  The scallops weren’t as scary as I thought, but they didn’t taste of much.  The crab had a lovely texture, and I will try it again.  The only gripe is that I felt it was overpowered by the taste of mustard.  The salmon was a nice surprise for me; the whisky and beetroot gave it a lovely taste, and I ate the lot!

Whilst we waited on our next dish, the display showed a flock of birds, flying in an erratic fashion and in a sequence that was quite hypnotic.  We didn’t even notice the waiters coming up to us with our next course: Pressed Perthshire Game Bird Terrine, with Warm Puy Lentil and Shiitake Salad, Sherry and Walnut Pickled Enoki Mushroom.

If I was apprehensive about the seafood, I was terrified of the game bird terrine!  I didn’t start eating vegetables and fish till my early twenties, so this is a big hike from my picky days.  And I’m delighted to report; this was one of my favourite dishes of the evening!  I cleared the plate entirely and I kept interrupting my meal with outbursts of “this is delicious“, and Irene wholeheartedly agreed.  The terrine was pure meaty goodness.  The mushrooms complimented it wonderfully, and the salad was sweet and fresh; perfect for lightening the dish.

As we made way for our next course, we were greeted by a massive Highland Cow, strolling across the screen lazily and grazing on nothing at all.  This indicated our next meal: Rioja Glazed Shin of Beef, Marrow Beignet, Shallot Essence, with Potato and Sage Gnocchi.

I could have used a spoon to cut through the beef; that’s how tender it was.  The Rioja glaze was outstanding.  Irene’s favourite wine is Rioja, so she was especially delighted.  She did find the shallot puree rather salty, but I couldn’t agree.  The waiter told us the gravy was made using a reduction of the meat juices with some wine and chicken stock.  It was incredibly flavoursome; if I were serving this up myself, I’d have flooded the plate with gravy (one of the many reasons I’m not a chef!).  The marrow beignet was scary in theory (I tried to convince Irene it wasn’t bone marrow), but we reluctantly admitted it was very tasty.  The potato and sage gnocchi was the star of the show for me, out of EVERYTHING.  The only criticism is that there wasn’t more of them on the plate.  Considering the large portion of beef, I feel more gnocchi would have given a better balance (or less beef, but always more potato if I can get it!).

There was just enough room for our last course; dessert: The Chip’s Famous Caledonian Oatmeal Ice Cream, with Caramelised Banana, and Angostura Rum Fattened Golden Raisins.

I’d never heard of oatmeal encrusted ice cream before, and after tasting this, I’m surprised I haven’t.  It’s absolutely gorgeous!  It creates a lovely texture, as do the glazed bananas that practically snap when you bite them.  Irene wasn’t crazy about the raisins, but I loved them.  For the second time that night, I cleared my plate. 

I tried to take pictures of the 3D show, but they just looked blurry, as if through the eyes of a drunken fool.  It would certainly not have done the artist any justice for me to post them here.  I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty about these images of the animals we were essentially tucking into.  Me being a hardened carnivore as well!  I mentioned this to Mal Young, the man who controlled the images, and he alleviated my conscience by explaining the images were more about exploring the locally sourced produce (which Ubiquitous Chip is renowned for), rather than having little animals zooming in at you, with pleading eyes, crying “don’t eat meeee”.  I’m sure it wouldn’t placate the vegetarians out there, but it’s good enough for me.

Overall, it was a wonderful night.  As much as I love having a gab between courses with my fellow diners, I absolutely adored the 3D animations and believe it did enhance the meal on the whole.  The restaurant clearly puts a lot of effort into creating an excellent atmosphere, and the staff really do make a fuss over you (in a good way; not in that intrusive way that I detest).  If I were to sum up the food in one word, it would be Magnificent. 

If you’re looking to take someone for a fancy meal, or have a special occasion coming up, I would thoroughly recommend Ubiquitous Chip.

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Cream of Broccoli Soup

A few weeks ago, my colleague Kris emailed me; he asked if I’d like to do a soup trade with him once a week.  He would bring in soup for lunch one day a week and I would do the same.  You know how much I love my soups, therefore you wont be surprised that I immediately agreed!

So far, Kris has made Cock-A-Leekie soup, Spicy Tomato & Veg soup, then Squash & Parsnip soup.  To add to the collection, I have made Yellow Split Pea soup,  Leek & Potato soup and this marvellous Cream of Broccoli soup.  Kris said it’s been the nicest soup yet, and I’ve had so much good feedback from all who tasted it, so I thought I’d post it (If you want the recipes for the other soups I mentioned, please feel free to ask!).

I found the recipe and video instruction here on Videojug – I swear I’m getting addicted to that site!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, knows that I can’t help but deviate from the original recipes…

My version consists of this:

3 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets

3 x small onions, diced

2  x cloves of garlic, minced

3  x medium potatoes, cubed

1ltr x veg stock

250ml x single cream 

50ml x milk (I used whole)

1tsp x ground nutmeg

I didn’t bother with the toasted almonds; I don’t think the dish missed them at all!

I gently fried the onions, potatoes and garlic in some olive oil, for 10 mins.

I then added the broccoli, stock and cream.

After seasoning well with salt, pepper & nutmeg, I gave it all a good stir and simmered for 10 mins.

I used my hand blender to give it a smooth, creamy consistency.

I had some oatcakes and dairylea slices with this, as I didn’t imagine it would be very filling.  How wrong I was!  It’s deceptively filling, surprisingly rich (yet delicately flavoured) and deliciously creamy (ok enough of the M&S chat).

This was my first time using Nutmeg in a dish, and the subtle hint of it in the soup was really nice.  I’m a new fan of Nutmeg!  What other dishes do you like to use nutmeg in?  Do you do any soup/lunch trades with your colleagues?

Enjoy :)

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Hi All

Thats me back from Marmaris, Turkey!  I had a fabulous time, although unfortunately the food in our hotel left a lot to be desired :( (I’ll know to look at hotel reviews BEFORE I book next time!).  I was intent on trying authentic Turkish food in some nice restaurants, however, I was struck down with a gut wrenching (literally) tummy bug for the last 3 days and just couldn’t face anything too adventurous!  I did have a gorgeous mushroom sauce with a steak one night; I will endeavour to recreate it for the blog!  Plus… I took a sneaky photo of a Turkish menu, with the descriptions in them.  They will be investigated in the future!

So, what with the tummy bug and a week’s worth of alcoholic indulgences… a major detox was required!  What better way to detox than with some lovely, veggie packed soup?  Obviously I use the term “detox” loosely (soup aint the same without buttery bread!), but it’s a step in the right direction!

I got this recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book – The Cook’s Classic Companion.  This was given to me as a birthday gift from my fellow food loving buddy (thanks Stevo) and my mouth waters with each turn of the page!

The original recipe calls for chillies and tomatoes, however, I decided to omit these, in an attempt to maintain the lovely flavours of the butternut squash and sweet potato.  The soup really doesn’t miss either of these ingredients; I personally think it’s utterly moreish!  I brought some into work for my friend Jayne’s lunch today and she enjoyed it too… Sweet Mother of Lucifer oh how I love the praise!

Such a simple combination!

Ingredients (serves 4-6 dependant on greed):

1 onion, diced

2tsp ground coriander

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced

3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1.7 litres vegetable stock (I used 3 veg stock cubes)

Directions:

Fry the onion in a little oil until soft.  Add the coriander and stir.

Add the squash and potatoes and fry for 5 mins.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 20 mins, or until the veg is soft.

Blend until smooth (I used my hand blender), then season to taste.

This soup could not be easier!  Please give it a try and let me know what you think.  Enjoy :)

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Sorry I haven’t written anything in a wee while; been busy at work + crappy computer blah blah right lets get doon to business! :)

As you know from previous posts, I like to make soup that I can freeze and take into work for lunches.  This one was very easy and ridiculously tasty.  Everyone seems to think that tomato and basil are the perfect partners.  For me, tomato and oregano is far superior. 

Heres what I done to make a flavourful batch of tomato soup (serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp sugar (to eradicate the tartness of the tomatoes)

2 onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp red lentils (thoroughly rinsed)

3 tbsp red pesto

1 litre stock (I used 1 veg & 2 ham stock cubes)

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp dried basil

3 tbsp dried oregano

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Fry the onions & garlic in some olive oil for 5 mins.

Add the chopped tomatoes (then sprinkle sugar over them) and red lentils.

Pour in the stock and stir.

Stir in the red pesto, basil and oregano.

Pop in the bay leaves, then season well with salt & pepper.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 mins.

I would take the extra five minutes to shove this through a sieve, for some smooth, glossy wonderment.

As always, tis best served with some buttery, crusty bread.  But if you’re watching your figure, you wont feel deprived just having it on it’s own.

You could easily double/treble this recipe and use some for a pasta sauce for another dish (I used one of my wee tubs to make a pasta dish with chopped smoked sausage & broccoli, it was quick and tremendous).

Enjoy! :)

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I’ve heard that chicken soup is good for “all that ails you”.  I can’t think of the reasoning behind it, but I couldn’t agree more!  Especially this recipe, of which I have reaped the benefits for as long as I can remember.  Another of my Mother’s amazing soup recipes mmm. 

I used to be terrified of touching raw meat, especially chicken.  It just made my skin crawl and I was always far too squeamish.  There have been many comedy moments, when I’ve attempted to wash a whole chicken, wearing full length rubber gloves (and still shrieking with terror) and I’ve been known to persuade other people to do it for me, with the promise of a lovely bowl of soup as a reward :p. Thankfully, however, I seem to have grown out of that phase!

This is the easiest soup I’ve ever made, because the preparation is so quick.  Heres what I do (serves 6 easily):

1 medium whole chicken

4 chicken stock cubes

1 large leek, chopped as fine or as chunky as you desire!

1 half cup barley (just a plain coffee mug, that’s plenty)

1 half cup white long grain rice

Wash the chicken (hopefully minus any traumatic episodes), put it in your soup pot. 

Fill with water until the chicken is covered. 

Add the stock cubes, leek, barley and rice, and season well!

Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour and 30mins.

Remove the chicken from the pot and stir the soup thoroughly, looking for any small bones that may have fallen off.

Cook for another 15 mins then serve, with pieces of chicken.

You could tear apart and put all the chicken pieces back into the soup, but we usually just keep it separate from the soup and add as much or as little chicken to our bowls upon serving.

This soup is so flavoursome and comforting.  It freezes amazingly too.  Perfect for breaking up a crap day at work, with a steaming hot bowl and some crusty, buttery bread! Mmmmm.  Enjoy! :)

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If I could live on only one dish for the rest of my life, it would be my mum’s scotch broth.  I’ve never tasted another soup like it.  I just had some on my lunch break at work, I had some for my dinner (with crusty buttered bread mmm) last night and I will most likely have some tonight too… if there is any left, that is! 

Mum has never given me the recipe before, despite my constant pleading.  So I have this blog to thank for her change of heart; I asked if I could write about it and she agreed to my shock and amazement!  Here she is, hard at work in the kitchen, in her wee adorable apron:

And here is the elusive recipe for the most flavoursome soup I have ever experienced:

250g Broth Mix – mum uses this one

4 large carrots, grated

1 large leek, sliced

1/4 turnip, diced

A cut of Lamb Shoulder – Mum used this one

4 lamb stock cubes

(Alternatively, you can use Beef Hough and 4 beef stock cubes; both cuts of meat will give delicious results.  Try both!)

Place broth mixture in a bowl, steep in boiled water and cover.  Leave overnight.

The next day, place meat in the soup pot and fill with water, to about 3/4 full.

Add the stock cubes and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

Put the broth mix into a sieve and run under cold water until the water runs clear at the bottom.

Add to the pan, along with the rest of your veg and season.

Cook at a medium heat for at least 1 hour and a half, or until peas are soft.

I hope you enjoy the soup as much as I do.  It freezes well, I’ve taken frozen tubs to work and microwaved before (about 8-10 mins).  Usually the whole pot is devoured before it can be frozen though!

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I dont know about you, but December (like most people) was a very indulgent month for me!  Alot of us resolve to eat healthily in January; to be honest… I am finding it rather difficult to adjust from mindless gluttony, to nutritious gastronomy.  I am not a fan of diets.  I love good, hearty food and if I weren’t going through a major slump at the gym right now, I would be able to enjoy my good, hearty food guilt free.  As it stands, my laziness has cost me a few culinary sacrifices… only until I feel sufficiently traumatised into getting my bum back on that rowing machine, of course!

The only way that I’m able to make sure I eat more healthily, is to plan ahead.  It was my first day back in the office today (from the festive holidays), so I wanted to have something comforting for lunch, to combat the chaos around me.  For me, the ultimate comfort food is a nice, warming soup.

(Thats right… I am at the office before sunrise… how shocking is that?!)
I have never tried making my own pea soup before, but I saw a lovely idea by Good Food, for “Pea and Pesto Soup with Fish Finger Croutons”.

To say I have adapted this recipe would be a bit of an understatement, as mines is so utterly different!  I adapted/transformed mines to be more healthy; but still felt it important to honour my influence for the soup.  So here is what I done:

Ingredients:

3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 medium onions (diced)
5-6 good sized potatoes (diced)
1 litre of stock
2 bay leaves
700g Frozen Peas
500ml semi skimmed milk

Fry the onions and garlic in a little olive oil.  When the onions become translucent (around 10 mins on a medium heat), chuck in the potatoes, add the stock, then the bay leaves.  Give it all a good stir.  Cover and simmer, until the potatoes are cooked through (around 20 mins works for me personally).  Next, pour in the frozen peas, bring back to the boil, then simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Add the milk and warm through, as well as more water if you feel it is too thick (I added about another 200ml of water at this point, but it’s all about preference).

Blend until the soup reaches a smooth consistency and a luscious green colour!

A few points about this soup.  I took one of my tubs into work today with me, which I really enjoyed with a slice of wholemeal bread and olive spread (hee hee that rhymed).  In an attempt to keep the soup healthy, I didn’t season it nearly as much as I normally would’ve done.  Lesson learned for me; my advice is for you to season it really well.

Also… I’m not enough of a foodie (quite yet) to be snobbish about the use of stock cubes.  I’d love to be able to leisurely make and freeze my own stock, however, until that day arrives, stock cubes will do for me!  For this occasion, I used 2 vegetable stock cubes and 1 ham.  Next time I make it, I am definately going to use a lovely joint of gammon or something.  Mmmm.

Here is my little tubs, all set for the freezer.  The big one at the top is going to be used as a pasta sauce, with breaded fish chunks and pesto… funnily enough!  

(The ultimate freezer friendly soup!  Perfect if you have a microwave in your work kitchen)

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