Leakey’s

Leakey’s is an enormous second hand bookshop and cafe in Inverness.  Chock-a-block full of really old, kinda old and not-at-all old books and prints and maps and photographs, it’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing and reading and buying in between big bowls of soup, coffees and lovely traybake cakes.

If you’re coming to Inverness, I reckon Leakey’s should be at the top of your “To See” list.

Dores Inn

Excuse the silence, folks.  Busy, busy up here just now. 

No recipe today.  Just a recommendation for somewhere to eat if you’re ever visiting the Inverness area.

Dores is a small village on the banks of Loch Ness.  It’s only 10 minutes from my house and David and I often go for a walk along the stony beach there throwing sticks into the icy waters for Marco to rescue.  

The wee pub at the entrance to the pebbly beach has always been a lovely place for a pint or a coffee but, quite frankly, the food used to suck.  No more!  Having been taken over by the folk who run the fabulous Ross-shire Storehouse, Dores Inn now serves reasonably priced, locally sourced, highly tasty food. 

Delighted.

Won’t say anymore.  Think you’ll get the idea from the few pictures I remembered to take.  🙂

 

 

Improving a Goat’s Cheese Sandwich

In the same way that I ask my pupils to assess and improve a piece of writing in order understand good practice, in restaurants I often assess and mentally improve whatever dish I have been served.  It’s a very informative (though, perhaps, quite annoying) habit.   

Take yesterday for example.  On the way back from our camping trip D & I had lunch in Ullapool.  The Ceilidh Place is a café/restaurant/art gallery/music venue tucked away behind the village harbour.  It appears to be a converted croft but you’d never guess that from the light interior.  With lots of glass, wood and greenery and gentle jazz in the background, it’s a superb place for lunch.  The menu is interesting; not your typical Scottish fare.  I’ve eaten here many times before and have always been impressed by their food.  Yesterday was no exception.   

Despite having announced in the car that he was having a light, healthy lunch, D chose the French toast with bacon and maple syrup.  Yum. 

   

I chose the goat’s cheese and roasted vegetable open sandwich with a balsamic reduction.  It was impressively presented and very tasty indeed. 

  

Even though I enjoyed it very much, as I dug in I was mentally changing the sandwich.

Get rid of the butter for starters.  Softer cheese, perhaps.  Love the balsamic reduction.  Rye bread!  I’d like bitter or strong salad leaves instead of the pretty but bland… what is that leaf called?  And courgettes are in season.  I want some courgettes. 

The result was today’s lunch.  It might not have been better than yesterday’s lunch but it was more to my taste.  Apologies for the poor picture – you can’t even see the sorrel – but I couldn’t wait to eat it. 

  Goat’s Cheese, Sorrel and Courgette Sandwich

(for 1) 

Large slice or rye bread

Soft goat’s cheese

Handful of sorrel

Handful of flat leaf parsley

1 small courgette, sliced thinly length ways

50ml balsamic vinegar 

For the courgettes:

  • Rub slices with a little olive oil and seasoning.  Grill over a medium-high heat for 3 mins on each side.  Cool.

 For the balsamic reduction:

  • In a small pan gently simmer the vinegar until reduced by half.  No more than this!  The liquid will thicken as it cools. 

 Putting it together:

  • Spread the cheese on the rye bread. 

  • Top with sorrel, parsley and courgette strips. 

  • Drizzle with balsamic reduction.

The sorrel is from my garden.  Grew it specifically because you can’t buy it in the shops here and I’d never tasted it before.  It’s delicious – very bitter, almost lemony.  Only problem is I have a huge amount of it.  Any ideas as to how else to use it would be much appreciated!

Creamy Walnut & Parsley Pesto


Walnut & Parsley Pesto
Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

Earlier this week a bolshy, fourth year pupil, L, marched up to my desk and demanded to know if the rumours were true. Was I moving school? Was that true? If it was true there was no way that L was going to speak to me ever, ever, ever again. Luckily, the rumours were not true and L and I remain on speaking terms.

I’m not moving school but I am moving classroom. My colleague, Mrs D, is emigrating to Egypt (exciting stuff – though she’s rather regretting calling her son Cairo now) and before the replacement teacher arrives I am going to claim Mrs D’s room. Very excited about this as for the last three years I have been teaching in a room which acts as a corridor to another classroom: a highly annoying situation. Plus, Mrs D’s room is bigger and is not located next to the noisy 4th year common area. Hooray!

So though school breaks up at the end of the month I intend on spending the firsts week of July at work organising my new domain. Might even paint a mural on the wall. Of what I’m not sure. Any ideas will be gratefully received.

Moving on.

Whenever my Mum is in town we go out for a girly lunch together. Our favourite haunt is Contrast, the swanky Glenmoriston’s more affordable brasserie. Located on the banks of the River Ness, beautifully decorated and offering a set two-course lunch for only £5.95 it’s a lovely place for a leisurely meal. The food is very good though perhaps more suited to smaller appetites. I’d never take my partner D there for fear he’d loudly exclaim: “is this it?!”

It was in Contrast that I was absolutely wowed by a pasta dish: tagliatelli in parsley sauce. The dish was incredibly simple and all the better for it. The colour was a vibrant green and it tasted fresh and creamy at the same time. Yum.

Since that day I have been trying and failing and trying and failing to recreate the sauce. My only consolation is that the following recipe was born from one of my failures. In its own right it’s very good too.

The ragged pasta in the photo was an idea I got from “Totally Addicted to Taste”. Simply break dried lasagne sheets into large, irregular pieces and cook as normal.

Creamy Walnut and Parsley Pesto

Small handful of walnuts, bashed
Large handful of parsley
Glug of olive oil
Pinch of salt
Very small clove of garlic, chopped
2 tblspn crème fraiche
Squeeze of Lemon

  • Briefly whiz the walnuts, parsley, oil, salt and garlic in a food processor.
  • Add the crème fraiche and whiz again briefly. Pesto should be lumpy textured (light green with flecks of parsley and nuts) rather than a completely smooth consistency.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir and taste.
  • Happy? Add to freshly cooked pasta and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and walnuts.

Lamb Kathmandu

When I started blogging I went mad and started three at once.  This one, one for my seniors and a cooking one.  The first two are still going.  Chugging along anyway – the novelty of the blog seems to have worn off for my seniors (more about that later…).  The cooking one didn’t really get off the ground.  Started blogging a few of my favourite recipes then stopped.  I’ve decided to start including them in this blog instead.  Why not?  Teaching and cooking.  Love ’em both! 🙂

LAMB KATHMANDU

What this dish has to do with Nepal, I’m not sure. Vaguely remember reading about a typical Hymalayan dish which involved lamb and a side of lentils. Could this be the inspiration? Not sure. I know where I can find out though.
There is a fantastic Indian restaurant in Inverness called Cinnamon. I’ve been a regular customer since I moved to the Highlands and simply cannot fault the place. Do not be put off by the bleak exterior and the unfortunate situation (on a busy road directly across from a big supermarket). The interior may not be chic but it is warm, colourful and inviting. The staff are wonderfully welcoming and the food is superb. To top it all off they serve a dish called Lamb Kathmandu. I love it! Lamb, lentils, ginger, spring onion… It’s heavenly.
Tonight I tried to imitate the dish. The result was reasonably successful. Not as stunning as Cinnamon’s version but it was only my first attempt. 🙂

Lamb Kathmandu
(serves 4)

500g neck of lamb, diced
Vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped roughly
1 large onion, chopped roughly
4 cm piece of ginger, chopped roughly
1 tsp cumin
1tsp coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 cloves
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

200g brown lentils
400g can chopped tomatoes
600ml vegetable stock

  • Heat 2 tbs of oil in a heavy based pan. Fry the lamb until browned. Remove from pan.

  • Whizz onion, garlic and ginger in food processor to make a paste.

  • Fry paste in oil until soft and lightly browned.

  • Add spices and fry gently for a further 5 mins.

  • Add the lentils and lamb to the pan. Stir.

  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Stir.

  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 mins – 1 hr or until lentils are soft. Stir occasionally.