Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to you all!

I’ve got some lovely recipes to share including a chocolate cake that even I wanted to eat and an onion tart which my husband didn’t say would be improved with a little chorizo/bacon/other meat product.  That’ll be another night though.  It’s the first Monday night back at work after the holidays and I’m good for nothing.

Have a peek at some Marco/food photos from over the festive period instead.

Hibernation Mode ( plus a Tomato & Rosemary Sausage Bake)

Goodness, it’s dark.  The winter solstice was yesterday so I really shouldn’t be surprised by this lack of light.  And yet, I am.  There’s something deeper to the darkness this year.   The short December days have been covered by heavy, grey skies – no sparkling frosts or colourful sunsets to brighten the beginning and end of the daylight hours.  And we’ve had much, much more rain than Inverness is used to.  It’s all been a bit driech, really.

The upside of this crappy weather and lack of light is that I feel entirely justified in entering hibernation mode.  And, after the wonderful insanity that has been this year (new job, marathon, wedding, travels to Asia and the USA…), hibernation mode is just what I need. I’ve spent most of today curled up on the sofa with my book and Marco snoozing by my side.  There’s bread baking in the oven and the fairy lights are on.  I might have a hot bath later and after that a glass or two of red wine.  Tomorrow?  Well, tomorrow is looking like more of the same.  Bliss.

The following is a perfect meal for such days.  It’s hearty and comforting and super simple to make.    Just the thing for a dark December night.

Tomato & Rosemary Sausage Bake

(serves 2)

6 herby pork sausages

500g cherry tomatoes

250g plum tomatoes, halved

2 sprigs of rosemary

1/2 tspn dried thyme

2 garlic clove, crushed

1 tblspn balsalmic vinegar

1 tblspn olive oil

Salt & pepper

  • Heat oven to 180 oC.
  • Prick the sausages and add them to a casserole dish along with the tomatoes, herbs and garlic.  Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and a larger pinch of pepper then use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.
  • Tuck the sausages underneath the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes (this stops the sausages browning too soon).  After 30 mins, use tongs to place the sausages on top of the tomatoes.  Bake for another 30 mins.
  • Remove from the oven and serve the beautifully browned sausages and rich tomato & herb sauce with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Perfect Shortbread (and a pretty sunset)


I didn’t used to be good at making shortbread.  Sure, I could whip up a decent base for Strawberry Shortcake or Millionaire’s Shortbread but I had never produced a biscuit that I thought was good enough to eat unembellished with a strong cup of tea.  This had to change once I had accepted the invitation to teach a Scottish cookery course in the USA, of course.  Scotland = shortbread,

So I tried out some recipes.  A LOT of recipes.  Recipes from books, from blogs, from friends and from family and, though some of the latter ones were hugely successful in those individuals’ hands, they just didn’t work for me.  And then I tried The Three Chimney’s recipe.

For those of you who don’t know, The Three Chimney’s is a restaurant on the west coast of Skye (pics of Skye here and here).  I’ve only eaten there once and, having gone for the 9 course tasting menu plus matching wine flight, it almost bankrupt us.  Totally worth it though!  The food was amazing, the restaurant is beautiful, the service friendly and helpful,  and after 5 hours of wining and dining, I left feeling like the large amount of money we had spent had been a bargain.

Now I don’t remember if I had the shortbread when I ate at the restaurant but my lovely Aunt Anne gifted me the cookbook last year and it was here I found the Three Chimney’s recipe.  And it was perfect.  Delicate, melting, buttery and not too sweet.

I can’t, in all good conscience, reproduce the recipe here as I didn’t alter a single thing.  You can find it here, however.

Try it; you won’t regret it.

North Carolina & My Scottish Cooking Course

Last week I was lucky enough to fly to the United States and be an instructor at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.  Where do I start to tell you what an amazing experience this was?  The area is stunning & the locals simply lovely.  The school itself is so inspiring and welcoming and well run; can’t recommend it enough.   Runny marmalade aside, my course went well and the dishes were delicious.  Loved having a great big kitchen as my office for the week and my four students were delightful learners and company.

I’ll post some of the recipes we made in the coming weeks and months.  Until then, here are some photos of the week.