Archive for May, 2010

Cake story

May 29, 2010

This is a story about three pieces of rhubarb cake.

The cake was made one Thursday evening and three pieces were taken by Ali to work on Friday. One of Ali’s friend, Dominique,  came to visit him so he gave her a piece.  With a heartache he watched her eat the one piece and half of the second piece while D. was saying: ‘it’s a very nice cake, it’s hard to stop eating’. The point is, D. usually eats like a bird (she would order a pizza, have two slices and give the rest to whoever is dining with her) but not this time!

Ali also texted his other friend/ workmate, Chrissy, that he had brought cake. She was having lunch in a bar around the corner and had already ordered her food. Ali went out to a shop for a while and when he was back, the cake was gone. What happened? Chrissy left the bar, run to the office, grabbed the cake and went back to the bar to have her lunch.

See, this is what a good cake can do to people!


DIY bejeweled sandals

May 25, 2010

One pair of old leather sandals from the cupboard – check. A pair of sparkly earrings from a sale – check. Black strong thread and needle – check. Plus scissors and a nail file (for the earrings). Result!

This is Scotland

May 23, 2010

View over Loch Eil – on the way from Fort William to Glenfinnan. (I love Scotland!)

Best way to cook duck breast

May 16, 2010

Don’t worry, it’s not very difficult. Last weekend I learned how to best prepare duck breast and I’m so thrilled with the results that I want to share it.

Ever since the time we had duck at Cafe Marlayne, it was my dream that one day I would be able to prepare something similar for dinner at home. You want the duck breast tender but still slightly pink inside (nothing dry and chewy!). Here’s the recipe.

1) Set oven to 200 degrees. Wash the duck breasts and dry thoroughly, remove tendons and pin feathers if there are any remaining.
2) Score the skin of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern. Don’t cut into the meat!
3) Season both sides with sea salt and freshly ground pepper (basic version – the one I went with).
4) Put the breasts skin side down on a dry, non-stick pan. No need to use oil, there will be lots of fat coming out! It is important to cook at medium heat, starting from a cold pan – you don’t want to burn the meat but extract the fat. Cook on the skin side for about 5-6 minutes (or until golden brown) and another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Remove fat from the pan and save for another dish – e.g. delicious roasted potatoes.
5) Put the breast in the oven on a foil-covered baking tray. Now here’s the secret: keep them in the oven for 6 minutes for rare, 8 minutes for medium and 10 for well done. Add an extra minute if the portion is huge.
6) Take the breasts out and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Leave as they are or cut into thick slices. Bon apettit!

P.S. Beetroot caramelised with brown sugar and a bit of malt or balsamic vinegar is a great accompaniment to duck meat.

Conspiracy theory #77

May 10, 2010

What is happening in British politics at the moment is pathetic. And terrifying.

Someone wanted to get rid of Gordon Brown and they achieved their goal. He was too independent, did too much thinking on his own and was taking too many good decisions. He was not a good puppet. Britain was doing too well.

All you people repeating the argument that Brown should have foreseen the economic crisis – you must be kidding. What is he, a future teller? Even American economists, living in the country where the credit crunch came from, could not see it coming. I don’t even want to comment on the other arguments that were made. BBC should be ashamed of themselves for this witch-hunt.

And this guy Clegg, who is this person? A new-born tv star? It sure seems so.

Oh, I hate what is going on. People voted for something and will be get something else. (I will not be complaining, however, if the Tories are not getting the power.) The democracy is falling. Or failing. (As my high-school teacher used to say: it is not the ideal system, but the best available until now.)

Sorry for the moan. It is getting on my nerves. But I suppose it’s better knowing what’s going on than living in sweet ignorance. Or is it???

Ee-Usk Restaurant in Oban

May 7, 2010

You have to be careful what you wish for! When planning our little trip to Oban, I was tempted by the good reviews and awards boasted by the Ee-Usk Restaurant. It calls itself “one of the best seafood restaurants in the country” (extract taken from their website). I even thought ‘I’d better book a table in case it was a busy evening’. It was one of these situation when you get an idea stuck in your head and you will do anything to get there.

The restaurant looks encouraging at first sight: sitting at the harbour and glazed from top to bottom, it makes you imagine how wonderful it must be to  peer at the sea while eating. We went there on a Saturday evening around 8. The staff was polite but not too enthusiastic, as it mostly consisted of very young (teenage?) waitresses who would give you the specials list on one breath not even looking at you, like a shy kid forced to recite rhymes in nursery (kids don’t wear make-up, though).

Ali ordered thai fishcakes for starters and I had mussels in wine and garlic. Both dishes tasted as you would expect but they were not exceptional. At least the mussels were fresh. Another good thing – we were hungry and the food was served reasonably quickly. For main course we both decided to go with wild halibut, “locally landed, oven baked, served with creamed leeks and Ee-usk chips”. And this was a mistake. The fish arrived in a big piece but was dry and overcooked. The leeks were a minute portion, enough for two mouthfulls, and the chips were six or seven tiny pieces of potatoes. This is supposed to be a main course, for goodness sakes! And it costs £17.95 each! We finished with chocolate and coffee mousse at £5.45 per portion which was served in small wine glasses and which we would have enjoyed much more, if it had been left longer in the fridge to set.

My conclusion is: don’t always believe the award and accolade stickers on the door! The food at Ee-Usk was in our experience poorly prepared and hugely overpriced and we will be looking for a different place to eat when visiting the area again.

Rafaello cake

May 1, 2010

This cake is very easy to make (and even quicker to disappear from the table). I got the recipe from my friend in Poland – the Rafaello sweets (made by Ferrero) are loved over there. I’ve made it a few times here in Edinburgh and everybody loved it, too.

2 packets of Tuc Original crackers
1 litre milk
250 g sugar
4 tablespoons of plain flour
4 tablespoons of potato starch (‘Maka ziemniaczana’ – can be obtained from Polish deli)
200 g butter at room temperature
some vanilla flavouring or real vanilla (1-2 teaspoons)
4 egg yolks
100-150 g desiccated coconut
flaked almonds

Boil half the milk with all the sugar, take off the hob. Blend the remaining 0,5 l milk with flour, potato starch, egg yolks and vanilla (best with a blender) – stir this mixture into the boiled milk, put back on the hob, boil for a minute. You need to keep stirring as it burns easily! I usually use a blender to join the two mixtures together and keep mixing while on the hob until bubbles come up. This will form a thick custard which needs to be put aside to cool. Next, blend butter in and 100 g coconut.
You need a rectangular baking tray or a pyrex dish, lay it with tin foil /cling film. Put a layer of crackers, layer of your cream, another layer of crackers and cream. (However you arrange the crackers is fine, they just need to be tight together, you can break a bit off a cracker if there is not enough space for the last row. Careful when putting cream on as crackers stick to the spoon and move).  Sprinkle flaked almonds on top (some people also sprinkle with the remaining coconut).