Category Archives: breakfast

Oatcakes and Orange Flower Water

Greetings, Friends.
The ship may no longer be going Full Steam Ahead, BUT it is not idling away in dry-dock, either.
For all you non-nautical types out there (including me), please refer to my disclaimer about overworked metaphors. While I do have a broken right arm, I’m planning on sneaking my way around that obstacle at least a few times over the course of the next 3-5 weeks. Probably with the help of my friends.
As for my two main goals for the beginning of 2012- training for the 10-miler and increased pace of writing- they will both be put on hold. Tuesday I get fitted for my cast, and I plan to pepper the orthopedic surgeon with questions about what I can do to promote healing and what I shouldn’t do to prevent further problems. I dunno, team, do we think I can ramp from nothing to 10 miles in 5 weeks?
Since I am right-handed, typing cack-handed severely slows down the flow of words. I suppose I could still invest the same amount of time and just get half the anticipated output, but I kind of don’t want to slog through that. Or am I really just scared that nothing will come if the spigot isn’t all the way open? Could be.
I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks!
But now to think back to a time when I had two working arms, when I could multitask like nobody’s business, when I could pump out three recipes a night… 
That’s right, more Scottish food! I actually made these the week before Christmas, as a balance to all the Cookie Swap sweetness. I found a link to the Leftover Queen’s recipe, and found that she was quite the blogging queen, coming much belatedly to that party. The dough was quick to come together, easy to manage, simple to scale. The oatcakes’ texture was nubbly, toast-y. The flavor was mild and wheat-y and heartland-y, if that makes sense. Pretty great! It made me think more on what a culture’s food says about its people… fascinating speculative exercise…
The same day, I thought I’d better get my mojo going on the cookie swap recipes I’d bookmarked. Two that I was closest to having all the ingredients for shot to the top of the list: HungrySquirrelCakes’ Chocolate Orange Chunk Cookies and Mrs. Galvan’s Dark Chocolate Cafenelas. Here I’ve got the first one, which got more oooh’s and ahhh’s from the officemates (even though they were both fab, I think this one was more unique).
Standard mix-and-drop cookie, with one out-of-the-ordinary ingredient (orange flower water, which can be found in Middle Eastern/ Lebanese groceries or near syrups and jams in a Whole Foods), and the need to keep a close eye on the oven exposure- you want to nab these guys before they’re fully cooked to avoid going to the Crispy Side.

**Helpful Note for Americans looking to convert this recipe from metric measurements: 225g = ~3/4c butter; 200g = 1 1/4c sugar; 175g = 5/6c sugar; 350g = 3c flour; 175g = ~5/6c dark chocolate; 170 deg C = ~338 deg F ** I think.
Yum. Next up: Cafenelas and what to do with Black Radishes!

Scottish dumpling, not your dim sum variety

Scottish Food, Installment 2 of 3
The last post was mostly food in Edinburgh, so here we’ll progress on to other places and experiences.

First up (and making a grand impression) was the breakfast set-up at my B&B in Inverness. (highly recommended!)
Keep in mind, this was just the COLD breakfast. Gorgeous cereals, fruits, yogurt,etc. Add to that your choice of eggs, meats, and my favorite, tattie scones. They might be a bit of work for one who is not accustomed to having mashed, or in fact any, potatoes on hand, but they were tasty enough to give it a try nonetheless.

Next is the food at the cafeteria of the Culloden Battlefield Memorial site. Now I’ve heard that there is a fancy guest house and gourmet restaurant nearby, but you’re off your rocker if you think I could afford to go there. As it was, I had to check at the bus station for where to pick up the city bus to visit the memorial site, as it was not obvious from their website. After an inside talk, a self-tour of the museum, and an outdoor guided tour, I scoured the gift shop and settled into the cafeteria to stave off a food-headache. I saw these crisps, which amused but did not entice!

I also tried Clootie Dumpling, a traditional fruitcake-type dessert, which turned out to be fabulous, ‘smoored’ as it was in custard. SO good, especially on the misty, rainy, chilly day that we had that day. But once again, there’s a challenge to make it– where on earth does one get suet in the States?
Third, we have the famous visit to Leakey’s Bookshop & Cafe. I loved this bookshop, not least because it had a cafe upstairs where one could procure delectable baked treats and a warm beverage to best accompany the reading material at hand.
On my first visit, I had a pot of tea. And I didn’t look closely at the menu because I was busy observing and then speaking with a young Swiss mother traveling with her young son (but not too young- he was old enough to talk excitedly about where they’d been and what they’d seen, about 11 or 12 years old). Did I mention we spoke in French? It was AWESOME!

 The second time I returned however, I tried a baked good (a caramel shortbread, I believe) with my tea. And perused the menu details, which included a historic bit.  I’ll wait while you read.

Good bit of cheeky humor there, eh? And another connection back up to that Diana Gabaldon and her fictionalized version of the Culloden Battle- really fascinating!

Fourth and finally, we leave Inverness to include the day trip to Stirling Castle, in a metaphorical middle of Scotland: between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (E-W), and between the cultures of the lowlands and the highlands (S-N).
At Stirling, I had a very informative tour which encompassed different ages of the castle, famous architectural elements, rituals of life, changes for military needs, etc. But the one place the guide didn’t take us to but strongly recommended was seeing the exhibit on the Renaissance kitchens.
There were very lifelike mannequins/models pictured at work, and everything looked so busy! There was sound piped in to mimic the hubbub of a feast in the making. It was really well done.

This shows a servant slowing down in the course of serving all the courses (hehe) at a typical 16th century banquet, which included:

  • pottage (soup)
  • roasts
  • small pies and pastries
  • tarts or fritters
  • fresh or preserved fruit and sweetmeats

I guess they didn’t go in for salads, hmm…

Here was my favorite- all raise a cheer for the bakers! Rough men’s work at the time, because it took a lot of bread to feed the people, who didn’t have much of a varied diet unless they were high-fallutin’.
Don’t they look real? Better than a wax museum, though; those are just creepy.

The last photo from Stirling kitchens was an oven that was used before the expansion for the palace’s guests, when it was more of a fort stronghold. These kids were around and I felt a strong urge to be the witch pushing them into the oven for getting in my shot…

Next up will be the final installment of Scotland food (Glasgow) and some preamble about the New England road trip, where Produce, and not Preparation, turned out to be King (a-ha-ha, we were just talking about the Castle, get it?)

Scottish Food, and I don’t mean McDonald’s

I’ve got a request for “More Scotland, while it’s still fresh!” but there are a host of other things going on too, which I’ll try to capture in a logical and pleasingly readable fashion.
First, an installment of food-related pictures from the Scotland trip.

Here is the first place in Edinburgh I plunked down for something to eat- it took a lot of thought. I would have been ill-equipped to make the decision had I not spent all morning wandering up and around Calton Hill’s fresh air. It was a quite respectable pub-looking place that turned out to be a cut above: The Conan Doyle. This is their Cullen Skink.
No, it doesn’t involve skunk like it sounds, skink is a word for a style of soup, and this one came from a place called Cullen. Simple enough, right?
Amaaaaazing. Smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions, a creamy soup but not over-heavy like some chowders here in the States can be. Mmmmmm, next time I get my hands on some smoked Finnan haddie (haddock), watch out!

This was the smoked halloumi salad I got to go with, which was unnecessary because 1) I was full and 2) the smoked halloumi cheese was the only worthwhile part. Oh well. Win one, lose one.

 Breakfast setting at the B&B in Edinburgh- pretty glassware can make a big difference. Who knew? (Well, I guess Stewarts are an ancient clan…)

 Breakfast surroundings at the B&B in Edinburgh. That is, I believe, one of the reputed Aga stoves? Or am I completely wrong? It looks like I’m wrong by the Google images, but it did look exactly like the stove in the one-room hovel (a ‘single-end‘) exhibited in the The People’s Palace (in Glasgow).

And just in case we were wondering, this is the state of beef in Scotland:

 Moving on quickly now to safer topics…
this is a Bedfordshire Clanger: meat pasty with 3/4 mincemeat/ savory filling and 1/4 marmelade/ sweet filling. Too good not to give it a go, right? Definitely the most interesting thing on the menu here at The Dogs in Edinburgh, although in practice it was very heavy and I didn’t get half through it. Cool decor, though. This is a huge mural behind the bar just visible in the mirror.

Other updates:
  • I took the recommendation of Heidi of 101 Cookbooks and used the Magic Sauce with scrambled eggs this evening for a light dinner. It didn’t look too hot, but it tasted good.
  • The Lemon Rosemary Zucchini bread? First loaf tasted great, but second had disturbing pockets of what I can only call acridness. A lump of something like sand in texture, but tasting like… well, the word pustule came to mind. Rather than risk other coworkers besides Catherine and me experiencing this, I threw the rest of the second loaf out. If I was a superstitious person, I would be spitting up a storm here to ward away the bad luck. Yeuch.
  • Cooking adventures at home since Scotland, including my own Millionaire Shortbread, a rice FAIL, treats at the work retreat, my first ever, of-any-kind, kugel, and a girls’ night out for a 7-course meal at Thai X-ing in DC, which was absolutely heavenly.
  • Oh yeah, and a solo road trip from Philadelphia through upstate New York to Vermont and back to DC. That was pretty awesome too. :-)
  • All this… and more! Coming soon…