I stopped by Mel Bell’s yesterday hoping to grab a ‘meal in a bag’ to cook for dinner that night. Mel Bell’s is a specialty shop located at 13 Randolph Place, near my flat in Edinburgh’s west end. After looking through the various options I chose a pasta dish with portabello mushrooms. When I left the shop I had a recipe in hand and all of the ingredients I would need to cook the meal myself at home.
The recipe was easy to follow and the food delicious. The meal consisted of portabello mushrooms roasted and stuffed with smokey bacon and leeks, topped with parmesan cheese. These were placed on top of a pasta with cream sauce and served with roasted cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes can be halved and mixed in with the pasta but I thought they looked pretty kept on the vine and put on the side. Yum!
A trip to Paris just isn’t complete without a visit to l’Entrecôte. I was introduced to this restaurant by Fiona when I first visited her in Paris in the spring of 2005. One of her favourite places to eat, and now one of mine, l’Entrecôte is located at 20, rue Saint-Benoît Paris near the Saint Germain des Prés metro.
Paul and I went for lunch on a Tuesday and found it was still crowded at 1pm. We were greeted by a waitress, clad in the traditional black dress with a white collar and white apron. We were seated at a wooden table surrounded by the traditional brasserie decor. But, we were not given any menus as there is only one choice: l’entrecôte steak with its famous, and we like to say, “magic” sauce accompanied by a heaping pile of thin french fries.
We ordered waters to drink and were asked how we’d like our steak. We had our choices written on the paper tablecloth. We were then brought fresh french baguette and a green salad with walnuts and a dijon dressing.
When our steak arrived the conversation came to a halt. We dug into the thin juicy steaks smothered in the magic creamy sauce and the warm crisp french fries. As we cleared our plates we knew just what to expect and watched with glee as our waitress piled on another helping of steak and fries. Utterly delicious.
Without drinks our meal for two came to 45 euros. Though a treat it was long awaited and so thoroughly enjoyed. Although I’ve had l’entrecôte elsewhere there is nothing quite like being at Le “Relais de l’Entrecôte” in Paris. You can reach them at 01 45 49 16 00.
It has happened again. Almost a month has passed since my last post. I can only blame exams…and a trip to Paris.
I must thank my friend Amy for this next recipe for Peanut African Stew. I made it for Paul’s parents when they visited us in Edinburgh in November. A huge peanut butter fan myself, I was extremely excited about making this dish. Paul’s parents liked it so much that they asked to take the recipe home with them. I altered the original recipe only slightly, adding more vegetables. The ingredients I used were:
3 tsp olive oil
1.5 pound boneless chicken
1 large onion chopped
2 large cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 green pepper chopped
3-4 carrots sliced thinly
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cup chicken broth
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup peaunut butter smooth
4 tbs chopped peanuts
Couscous or Rice
Amy recommends using a dutch oven, but as I don’t own one I used a large stock-pot instead.
1. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on each side. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add the garlic to the dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the bell pepper, green pepper, onion, carrot, cumin, curry powder, and oregano cook stirring until fragrant about 2 minutes. At this stage you can also add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
4. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste bring to a boil, scraping bits. Add the chicken. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
5. Combine peanut butter and some of the hot liquid, mix until smooth. Add to the pot. You can add 3 tsp of lemon juice at this point.
6. Serve over couscous or rice and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
I served mine over couscous and accompanied it with naan bread and spinach. Full of flavour and colour this is definitely a dish I will make again.
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of onion
1/2 lb Lean ground meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
splash of milk
2 1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
tablespoon of margarine
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400F or 200C.
2. Grease a baking sheet.
3. Sauté garlic and onion over low heat in olive oil. Add salt.
4. Combine meat, egg, bread crumbs, milk, margarine, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add onions and garlic. Mix until evenly distributed.
5. Form 8 meatballs each about 2 in in diameter and place evenly on baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese.
6. Bake for 12 minutes.
With chicken tikka marsala named “Britain’s True National Dish” it is difficult to ignore the importance of Indian food in the UK. Soon after arriving in Edinburgh Paul and I checked out Zest, a restaurant serving contemporary Indian cuisine on North St. Andrew’s Street. We enjoyed it thoroughly and recently returned with our friend Nick.
We had about forty-five minutes until the doors opened at The Stand comedy club and were looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat. Unable to order food on a Sunday night at the nearby bars I cheekily suggested Zest. To our surprise and delight our waiter informed us that we could order main courses in time and seated us quickly.
The decor is modern and feels smart and clean. The lighting is fairly bright but the restaurant is small enough to still feel intimate. The previous time we’d gone Paul and I enjoyed what felt like a private table set in the big windows at the front.
Paul ordered his usual chicken korma while Nick opted for a lamb dish cooked with spinach (I can’t remember the name for this one). Having forgotten my lactaid pills I passed the korma by and tried the jaipur chicken. And of course we had poppadoms to start and naan bread and pilau rice to accompany our meals. Nick and Paul each had a large bottle of Cobra beer.
As promised our food arrived incredibly quickly. Paul enjoyed the creamy korma, which I longed to try again. Though I don’t usually order lamb I liked Nick’s dish, and am a big fan of spinach in general. My jaipur chicken was delicious and I was so glad that my forgetfulness allowed me to try something new. The onion and pepper were flavourful and along with the red sauce made the dish colourful. I loved the cilantro and found the spices satisfying and not overpowering. Paul liked my meal so much that he is planning to order it next time. As usual the thick, light naan bread made the meal for me.
For the three of us, with the two Cobras, the bill came to about £50.00. We were all quite pleased with the meal and impressed with the quality and speed of the service.