Monday, 26 January 2015

Love is Back on the Menu at Hopetoun Farm Shop Master Class Series

Attendees of the next Hopetoun Farm Shop master class will be served up a lesson in the art of cooking with love, provided by Dakota Hotel's Executive Chef, Marc Robertson.

The master class, which takes place on Thursday 12th February, will adopt a Valentines theme, with Marc demonstrating how to put together a sumptuous selection of delicious dishes, created especially for the most romantic night of the year.

Using the finest seasonal produce from the Farm Shop, such as their Hopetoun Estate Aberdeen Angus beef, Marc will show how to prepare each dish and give helpful tips and advice on how to prepare simple but great tasting food intended to stir up seduction.

Along with Marc, Neil Robertson from Wood Winters Wine will be on hand to partner up a selection of delicious, hand picked wines to accompany each dish, providing a sommelier's touch to what will already be a restaurant quality meal for two.

Elaine Shirley, Hopetoun Farm Shop manager, said: "Our master class series has been such a big hit and it's great to see the same faces returning. We are delighted to welcome Marc for the first time and looking forward to seeing what he is going to rustle up for a romantic night in. All of us really enjoy seeing the produce from the Farm Shop turned into these incredible dishes - it means we can give advice to customers on what they can make with their ingredients and also gives us some really useful cooking tips that we can try out ourselves!"

Marc's master class will take place at Hopetoun Farm Shop near South Queensferry on Thursday 12th February between 18.30 and 20.30. Previous master classes have sold out in a matter of days, with a waiting list created in case of last minute cancellations. Tickets are £10 and can be purchased direct from the Hopetoun Farm Shop or by calling 01506 830 716.




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Recipe - Pine & Lime Pan Fried Chicken

This is a recipe that I created many years ago when I was just beginning to potter about in the kitchen. I had no idea whether it would work but as I liked the flavours of lime, coriander and pine nuts, I figured that they might make a good marinade for chicken before pan frying.
As it turned it, the flavours were great together and I have been cooking my Pine & Lime chicken ever since. I always serve on a bed of stir fried noodles and veg using whatever vegetables are in the fridge at the time.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 100g noodles, cooked
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 50g sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
  • an inch of ginger, finely sliced
  • 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds, lightly toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Zest & juice of one lime


  1. Put the garlic, pine nuts and coriander seeds, along with a little olive oil into a mortar and crush with a pestle until you have a paste with a smooth consistency before adding the lime juice and zest.
  2. Place the chicken breast into a ziplock back with the pine & lime paste and put in the pride until you need it. Ideally, you want to let the chicken breast marinade for at least two hours. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 15 minutes before you plan on cooking it.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan and once the pan is at a medium heat, place the chicken breast in to the pan. Cook the chicken for about 5-6 minutes on each side until crispy on each side.
  4. Whilst the chicken is cooking, stir fry the red pepper, garlic, ginger and sugar snap peas until the begin to soften. Add the noodles to the wok and continue to stir fry until the noodles are heated through before adding a little sesame oil to season.

To serve, divide the stir fried noodles between two plates then top with the sliced chicken breast and finish with a final drizzle of sesame oil.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.





Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Review - Restaurant Mark Greenaway, North Castle St, Edinburgh

The first post that I published in 2014 was a write up about our lunch at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, so it's fitting that I start 2015 with a write up of another fantastic restaurant visit.
Between Christmas and New Year myself and Nicola normally go to London for a few days to take in the festive mood of the capital whilst grabbing the chance to enjoy some fine dining and drinks. This year however, the West Coast Mainline was closed for three days for essential maintenance which made getting to the Big Smoke that little bit more difficult so we decided to spend a few nights in Edinburgh instead.
We actually split our hotel accommodation and spend a night at the wonderful Hotel Du Vin, where we also had a very nice dinner, before moving to The George Hotel for our second night. We deliberately chose a hotel in the New Town for our second night because we still had every intention of enjoying a fine dining experience and there are no shortages of places within a short walk of George Street that we could do that.
Edinburgh is no stranger to fine dining with Castle Terrace, Number One @ Balmoral Hotel, The Kitchin, Restaurant Martin Wishart, and 21212 all boasting Michelin stars. In addition to these highly regarded restaurants, there are a number of chefs at other establishments who are wowing diners with food that can't be far from being recognised by the Michelin inspectors.
Earlier in the year Edinburgh chef, Mark Greenaway, had taken time out to answer 5 Questions for Gerry's Kitchen. As we were in his part of the city, we decided that it was only right that we should pop in and say hello. Of course whilst there, it would be rude not to stay for dinner at Restaurant Mark Greenaway. So that's what we did!
Restaurant Mark Greenaway is just a short walk from Edinburgh's main shopping thoroughfare of Princes Street and a five minute taxi ride from our hotel at the far end of George Street. When we arrived we were greeted and seated very efficiently before being offered a complimentary glass of champagne.
A festive menu was being served through December up until Christmas Eve so when we arrived for dinner we would be ordering from the a la carte menu.
Our evening was kicked of with an appetiser of Lentil Espuma with micro herbs and toasted nuts. Espuma is the Spanish word for foam or froth and is the descriptive word for a technique developed by Ferran Adrià. The appetizer was light and airy but rich with an earthy lentil flavour. The micro herbs and nuts added just the right amount of texture to get our taste buds and minds ready in anticipation for the main event.
The appetizer was a great opening gambit and it wasn't long before our meal started in earnest. For starter, Nicola had ordered a dish that has become Mark Greenaway's signature dish - Loch Fyne Crab 'Cannelloni', smoked cauliflower custard, lemon pearls, herb butter & baby coriander.
This dish first appeared when Mark threw his hat in the ring in the Scottish heat of Great British Menu. The dish is a beautiful piece of creative pairing with sweet crab and the slightly sweet cauliflower balanced by the sharp lemon and herb flavours whilst the drama of the smoke isn't just for show - the smoke helps pull all of the flavours together to create an almost perfect dish.
For my own starter I opted for the Rabbit Ballotine, savoury granola, pomegranate, wild flowers and hazelnut milk. I love rabbit and wish that I could eat more of it. I also love the fact that I've never had rabbit cooked the same way twice. My rabbit ballotine had a subtle gamey flavour which was complimented in taste and texture by the sweet pomegranate and nutty milky sauce. When rabbit tastes this good, I can understand why Elmer Fudd spent so long trying to catch that "pesky wabbit"!
The wine list at Restaurant Mark Greenaway is an extensive array from across the globe. In the end we selected a very nice bottle of Fairview Darling Chenin Blanc which was a perfect accompaniment to the mains that we were about to be served.
Tasty starters finished, we were both looking forward to the arrival of our mains and after a short interval we were each served our own personal works of art. Nicola had ordered the Scottish fillet of Hake, lobster tortellini, fennel and dill purée, purple mash, butternut squash, radish, ginger and spring onion broth. This was a beautiful plate of food, bursting with colour, it was such a shame to set about it with knife and fork. The meaty hake fillet was cooked to perfection with each of the accompanying items having good reason to be there. The ginger and spring onion broth brought an almost oriental flavour to the dish and worked so well with the lobster tortellini.
I struggled to choose as each of the main courses sounded fantastic. In the end I ordered the 11 Hour Slow Roasted Clash Farm Belly Pork, pork cheek 'pie', blackened fillet, sweetcorn, and toffee apple jus. All I can say is Wow! I was so impressed with this dish, in fact it may be they best plate of pork that I have ever been served. The pork belly was tender with a proper crackling top whilst the blackened fillet was a moist and juicy piece of tenderloin, but what topped of this dish was the clever little pie filled with pulled pork cheek and topped with creamy mashed potato. Instead of the usual side serving of apple sauce, my pork was set upon a wonderfully flavoured swirl of toffee apple jus, which coupled with the chargrilled corn off the cob rounded this dish of perfectly.
We were both feeling pretty well fed so far and as we finished off our wine we were treated to a pre-dessert of burnt orange jelly, pannacotta wrapped in shortbread, and a red wine and chocolate sauce. This was like an adult version of a Jaffa Cake although it only worked properly if you had the right amount of each of the components on your spoon. It was the taste equivalent of 'rock, paper, scissors' and as I found out on most of of my spoonfuls - burnt orange beats pannacotta every time! That said, it did act as a very effective palate cleanser.
After a decent break to allow our mains to settle, it was time for dessert. Nicola's choice of 'Knot' Chocolate Tart, custard jelly, frozen cookies, crème fraîche parfait, salted caramel & kumquat purée, was a chocolate lovers dream. This is another dish that Mark entered into The Great British Menu does Comic Relief and offered up a delicious rich deconstructed chocolate tart with a playful side. I'm happy to say that by this point, Nicola was beginning to feel a little full so I gallantly lifted up my spoon and helped her finish.
I had opted for the Jam Jar which turned out to be pear compote, sorbet, rice pudding & pear jelly. This was a fun way to end the meal with creamy sweet rice layered in the jar with a pear jelly and compote. The sorbet was served in the lid of the jam jar. I'm not usually a big fan of pears but I fancied the sound of the this dessert and wasn't disappointed. It looks like the Jam Jar might be a regular menu item as I notice that this month there is a raspberry version of the dessert available on the a la carte.
After dinner we were shown into the compact kitchen where we had the chance to thank Mark and his staff for serving up a truly wonderful dinner, as well as thank Mark in person for answering 5 Questions back in May.
I follow Mark Greenaway on Twitter and know that he is a huge fan of The Wee Fudge Company so as it was Christmas, I took Mark a gift of the latest flavour sensation to come out of the kitchen of the fairy fudgemother, a bag of heather honey fudge made using honey supplied by Plan Bee. I think that my gift was well received as it certainly didn't last very long!
Our visit to Restaurant Mark Greenaway was thoroughly enjoyable with great service provided throughout and some well thought out dishes that should definitely give the Michelin inspectors something to think about in the coming months.
We ate from the a la carte menu but if you get booking early, you can grab a bargain on the lunch menu with three courses available for just £22 which offers fantastic value. However for those diners looking for a treat, why not leave your dining experience in Mark's hands and try the eight course tasting menu at just £65?
So to sum up - did we miss London this Christmas time? Yes. Did we miss out on a fine dining experience? Absolutely not!
Keep up to date with Restaurant Mark Greenaway on Twitter and Facebook, or why not book yourself a treat by visiting the website?

Monday, 15 December 2014

5 Questions - Allan Bell, Owner of Taco Mazama Mexican Kitchen

Many years ago, Billy Connolly joked that Mexican food was all the same thing just wrapped differently, and until fairly recently I was probably of the same opinion. However after trying out some of the latest Mexican restaurants and takeaways that have opened in Glasgow, maybe my mind has been changed to see Mexican food in a very different light.
Earlier in the year I was fortunate enough to be invited to a launch night at Topolabamba on St Vincent Street in the Glasgow's city centre and had a fantastic night working my way through some of the tapas style dishes that they serve up. More recently, I was invited along to the latest branch of Taco Mazama Mexican Kitchen, a growing chain of Mexican fast food outlets.
I was aware of Taco Mazama from the whiffs of spicy food that I would get as I walked by the door of the Renfield Street branch on my regular lunchtime walks around the city centre. I knew that there was a branch in the West End if the city on Byres Road too but Ive never had the chance to pop into either. In all honesty, fast food isn't really my thing at lunchtime so it was easy for me to walk on by. So perhaps it was a bit of good fortune that I was invited along to the recently opened restaurant which sits inside Glasgow Central train station.
Taco Mazama's tagline reads "Burritos, Tequila & Tacos" so it was fitting that our night started off with some frozen margaritas. As I was driving I could only have a little sip but what i did taste was packed a good tequila kick balanced wonderfully with fresh lime juice, fortunately the drinks didn't go to waste as Nicola loved a frozen margarita and helped me finish. Our margaritas were accompanied by warm nachos served with homemade guacamole, fresh spicy salsa, and a slightly scary salsa made using refried beeans and ghost chillies!
The menu at Taco Mazama boasts a mix of burritos, soft and crispy tacos, nachos, quesadillas, fajitas and salads. Over the course of the evening, the staff done their best to let us try everything on the menu, starting with delicious soft flour tacos stuffed with slow-cooked barbecue pork, chargilled marinated chicken, barbacoa shredded beef, and vegetarian chilli.
Next up were quesadillas filled with Monterrey Jack, caramelised onions and more of the marinated chicken. I could eat quesadillas all day, they're such a great pick'up snack! In fact, all of the food that we were served, including the crispy filled corn tacos, was great and a fantastic introduction to Mexican street food.
As the night came to an end, the non drivers were treated to a shot of chilled honey tequila whilst I tucked into a creamy baked vanilla cheesecake whilst the owner of the Taco Mazama, Allan Bell filled us in on his plans for his growing empire.
Here's Allan's story;
How did you get started?
I got the idea backpacking around California one summer, and after waiting for a few years for someone to open a burrito bar in Glasgow eventually decided if I wanted a burrito I’d just have to do it myself. To start off I spent a couple of months in the US trying out different burrito and taco chains, then spent a year or so developing recipes and finding premises, and Taco Mazama was born.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Know how to do every single task in your company and what the difference is between it being done well or done badly. You don't need to be able to chop as fast as the chef or be as organised as the office manager but if you don't know the process, you can't manage it. But don't be afraid to delegate to people that can do it better!
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years’ time?
I'd like to us to be large enough to be able to be able to experiment more. There are some amazing Mexican dishes that are virtually unknown here, and as a small business it’s difficult to develop a market for a new or unknown product, the bigger you get, the easier that is.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
Guacamole! Definitely Guacamole. It’s impossible to buy pre-made, goes with pretty much everything (Guacamole omelettes, shouldn’t work, but do!) and is really good for you as well. Does it count as cooking though?
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Ah, well it'd have to be someone dead as I could invite living people anytime. I'd be inclined to pick someone that could make a meal last a really, really long time as well. A Roman emperor maybe, as far I can remember from history they had dinner parties that lasted for days. I think I'd leave the menu up to them - I'm always keen to try new things, and when in Rome...

Having now tried out the food on offer at Taco Mazama Mexican Kitchen, if I were ever passing one of their branches around lunchtime, I would be more than happy to pop in for a bowl of tacos and a plateful of quesadillas. With branches dotted around Glasgow and now reaching across the M8 to Edinburgh, it's going to be a whole lot easier to get my next Mexican fix.
If you love your Mexican food, why not head along and try the Burrito Challenge? If you succeed, you'll win a years worth of free burritos!
Keep up to date with all that's going on at Taco Mazama on Facebook and Twitter.

 Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian