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Archive for the ‘Fine Dining’ Category

Hellooo, how has your week been?

I was intending to post a Honey Mustard Chicken recipe, but I forgot my USB cable to get the photos off my phone (doh!  Next week, I promise).  No matter… I came across some pics of a Parmesan & Mushroom risotto I made a couple of months back.  How did that one manage to slip my bloggy grasp?

Risotto is one of my favourite things to make.  I don’t regard myself as a particularly excellent cook, but I can make a good risotto (so I’ve been told).  I think alot of people think it’s hard, when it’s not.  It requires effort, in the stirring, but it’s certainly not hard.  

As much as I love to cook, I’m notorious for overcooking pasta and undercooking rice; things that novice cooks are confident doing!  So I’m thrilled that I can at least get this right…

My friend Heather tried my Chicken & Chorizo and absolutely adored it… “De-fu**in-licious” were her exact words!  😛 so I hope this one creates a similar response!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

300g arborio rice

250g mushrooms, sliced

100g parmesan cheese, grated (plus an extra handful for sprinkling on top when it’s ready)

1 onion, diced

1 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 glass white wine

1 litre chicken stock

knob of butter, for frying

I fried the onions in the butter until they went translucent (around 5 mins), then added the mushrooms.  After a further 5 mins, I added the risotto.  I like to toast the risotto slightly, before adding liquid to it (only for a minute or two).

I added my herbs and vinegar, then the wine.  Next, I poured in my first ladle of stock.  Stirring continuously, I let it absorb into the rice, before adding my second ladle. 

I repeat this process until the rice is “al dente” (around 25 mins).  There was still a ladleful of stock left at this point.  But I’d rather have too much stock than not enough!  I turned the heat off and added my parmesan, then stirred it all in to create creamy, cheesy wonderment… mmmmm.

I sprinkled with some extra parmesan and served with garlic bread for Michelle and her friend David, before they went to watch Kylie perform in the SECC (two nights in a row, might I add!).  I’m sure this is a good meal for soaking up the alcohol haha 🙂

This is a fabulous mid-week meal, but wouldn’t look out of place in a more formal setting.  If people want to think risotto takes lots of craft and skill… then let them (and prepare to impress!) 😉

Of course, you can substitute the chicken stock for veg if you want to make it Vegetarian, but unless they’ve invented Vegan Parmesan, that’s as far as it stretches (ok, I’m sure you could substitute for a Vegan cheese too; I can’t vouch for the taste though!)

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week and I’ll see you next Wednesday! 😀 x

 

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This is my Daddykin’s favourite dish 🙂

The real, true, proper version (of which mines completely isn’t) he first tried in a gorgeous little restaurant in St. Anne’s, called Margherita’s.  We’ve been there many times and he never deviates from his Pollo Vesuvio, no matter how many times he says he will.  I can’t blame him; it’s gorgeous!

So gorgeous, in fact, that I just had to try to recreate it myself.  Their description of Pollo Vesuvio is “chicken breast cooked in onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, wine, brandy, cherry tomatoes, Napoli sauce, tabasco and cream”.

I refuse to buy a bottle of brandy, just to use a splash of it in a dish.  I don’t drink brandy, so I know the remains will just fester away in the back of my cupboard.  Therefore, the brandy is gone from my adaptation.  I also use tinned tomatoes for ease of use.  Here are all the things you’ll need to create this stupendous dish (my way):

 

Ingredients (Serves 4):

4 chicken breasts, whole

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 red peppers, diced

500g mushrooms, sliced

2 tin chopped tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp sugar

1 glass of white wine

Chicken Stock (1 cube mixed into 100ml boiled water)

1 heaped tbsp dried oregano

1 heaped tbsp dried basil

Tabasco, a generous dash (as much as you can handle!)

50ml cream (room temperature)

Grated Parmesan (a big handful – room temperature)

Make sure everything is all prepared before you start 🙂

Brown the chicken all over, in olive oil, then take out and set aside on a plate.

Fry the onions and garlic for 5-10 mins.  Add your red peppers and mushrooms, stirring for a further 5 mins.

Put your chicken back into the pan.

Add your chopped tomatoes, then sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over it (this will get rid of that tangy-ness of the tomato that makes the eyeball twitch).

Add the white wine, chicken stock, basil, oregano and Tabasco, then give it all a good stir.

 Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Turn off the heat, put your chicken breasts on their plates, then add your cream and grated parmesan to the sauce.  After a good stir, pour it decadently over your chicken breasts.  Mmmm.

Best served with tasty roast totties!

One of the great things about this dish, is that there is sometimes leftover sauce (which freezes no bother yay!).  Add it to some pasta and smoked sausage.  Tastiest.  Lunch.  Ever.

Have you ever tried to recreate your favourite dish from a restaurant?  There’s a starter dish I fancy trying, from the ASK restaurant.  It’s crostini with beef tomato, goats cheese, caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar, served with rocket.  LLARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Enjoy 🙂 x

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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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