Barbeque brilliant!

Who doesn’t love a good old burger? I’m not talking a sorry slab of meat from the takeaway here, I’m on about a big beefy bad-boy bursting with flavour! We like to have our burgers with mustard and ketchup so we figured why not add that into the mix.

Ingredients (for two meat-tastic burgers)

250g Minced steak
1 tbsp Wholegrain mustard
1tbsp Tomato ketchup
1 tsp Dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

Pay attention now, this one is very tech….

Mix all the ingredients together, good to squish with your hands here as it feels nice. Form the mix into burgers (big or teeny as canapes) and fry or gill to your liking. If, like us, you make your own mince you can have these as rare as you dare – perfect for BBQ season (ie any time it’s sunny for more than half a day in Scotland).

We served ours with salad, pickles and lashings of mayo. Ooh, and a side of crispy wedges with secret spices.


Break it down man…

We love pesto and were messing about with the key ingredients one day. We ended up with this which we think turned out to be great! Good as a starter for four or serve with some chunky bread and green salad as a main.

Deconstructed Pesto Pasta:

250g Orzo pasta
200g Toasted pine nuts
Big bunch of basil, roughly torn
2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped and lightly fried
4 tbsp Cold pressed rapeseed or olive oil
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
100g Grated pecorino, plus some extra as shavings
 for decorating
Juice of half a lemon

Cook the pasta and allow to cool after draining. You can use any pasta you like really but Orzo works brilliantly – we think it’s the rice sized pieces. Stir through all of the other ingredients saving a few whole basil leaves for decorating along with the pecorino shavings.

Munch away!

Flowers in the wind

image © iris

Iris, on quaint cobbled Thistle Street has been one of our favourite eateries for a while, especially when looking to impress. Great for entertaining inlaws but equally fabulous when out for a mid week treat with a friend visiting from the Big Smoke.

The three of us were warmly greeted by the staff when we arrived – even sharing a wee joke at the nonsense of changing our booking time three times in one hour. They didn’t seem to mind too much which was a great bonus. Inside Iris the restaurant is split into three rooms; a bar area and two main dining areas. We were shown to a table in the main dining area which is decked out nicely with wall length mirrors to add light, comfy benches and large wooden tables. The tables are quite close together but when seated you don’t get the feeling that you’re sharing your meal with complete strangers, which is testament to the intimate feel of the restaurant.

Bread was delivered along with menus and we relaxed while perusing. Be warned: the menus are very meat oriented but that’s no biggie, just worth bearing in mind if you have veggie chums. We settled on our choices quickly – with starters of Grilled Goats Cheese, Spiced King Prawns and a meat feast starter of Fried Chorizo and Morcilla. A fruity bottle of house red fuelled the conversation while we waited…

On arrival our starters looked and smelled fantastic! The prawns lasted no time at all and I wasn’t far behind with my chorizo and posh black pudding. The combination of salty chorizo and rich black pud was perfectly balanced by sweet caramelised apple pieces – definitely something to experiment wit in the Stovies kitchen at a later date. The goats cheese salad surprisingly light and accompanied by a taste bud popping cherry and chilli jam – quite probably the most imaginative accompaniment we’ve had with goats cheese yet.

Iris is obviously a place where people like the wine to flow as every table (including our own) was chatting loudly and having a great time. The dishes arrived (two steaks and a lamb loin salad) along with our selection of side dishes. Love it or hate it, in Iris you order all side dishes separately. Mrs Stovies has concluded this is a good option as you can avoid the withering looks that inevitably ensue if you ask for an alternative! Our sides were a mix of Sweet Potato Fries, Buttered Green Beans, Sweet and Sour Roasted Tomoates and Griddled Asparagus.

Now, I am pretty picky about my steaks. A badly cooked steak can really rile me and spoil my night out. Luckily my rare steak was perfectly cooked and decadently drenched in a salty garlic butter. The lamb salad was perfect too, a lucky side effect of having a lot of meat on the menu is that it will all be cooked to perfection. Our plates would only have been clearer if we’d licked them!

Sadly we’d no room left for desert but on previous outings the offerings to the sweet tooth have been delicious. Next time we’ll be more dedicated diners….

The damage: £25 a head but ever so worth it.

Iris, 47a Thistle Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 220 2111

Pomme tiddly pom

Apple pie is one of my all time favourite puddings but it’s fancy friend Tarte Tatin is vying to shift it from the top spot. If you’ve never made it before this is a straight forward recipe that will send you to apple heaven in a heartbeat.

1 Small pack of ready made puff pastry
3 Medium apples – Braeburn or Cox work really well
1 1/2 tbsp Caster sugar
1 heaped tbsp Salted butter
2-3 drops Vanilla extract

Slice the apples, I like them done thinly as they make a lovely pattern when they’re laid out flatI also leave the skins on for a little colour. Melt the butter, vanilla and 1 tbsp of sugar in a heavy bottomed round tin or oven proof frying pan (not too wide a pan, about 20cm across is perfect) and let it bubble until it starts to go golden.

Lay out the apple slices making a ring around the edge of the pan then filling in any gaps or just toss them all in randomly if you’re feeling lazy! Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the apples. Keep on the stove with a medium heat for another 5-10 minutes. The apples will soften a little and let out some juice, the sauce will become quite syrupy.

Roll out the pastry and lay it on top of the apples. Bake in a medium-hot oven (gas 7 / 220’c) for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Now for the tricky bit. Put a plate over the pan, quickly but carefully flip it all over so the pastry is on the plate apple side up. Slice up and serve with ice cream or cream. Yum.

Easy peasy sauce for well, everything!

This is such an easy sauce that we love as a lighter alternative to pesto. It only takes seconds to make and is so handy for throwing onto pasta, spooned over roast meat and even to juzz up bangers and mash. Fab as a dip for crudites and crisps alongside houmous and all the rest plus the B and E vitamins in the almonds will make you look and feel rather lovely.

Romesco sauce

2 Red peppers, deseeded and cut into rough chunks
2 tbsp Whole almonds
1 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tbsp Olive or rapeseed oil
1 tbsp Cider vinegar
A good pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper

Blitz in a blender until not quite smooth.

Ta da!

Bag me up!

A lovely lazy meat dish that is just as delicious on a freezing night or a hot summer evening. Just the kind of versatility you need for spring in Scotland then!


for each person:

1 Chicken Breast
1 inch Chunk of chorizo, chopped into small pieces
1/2 a Shallot, chopped
A handful of sliced roast peppers, make your own or cheat and buy them (we did!)
Black pepper
Olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley

Cut a reasonably sized piece of tin foil and place it onto a baking tray, shiny side up. Lay the chicken in the centre and toss the chorizo, shallot and peppers on top. Drizzle with oil and give a good grind of pepper. Gather up the sides of the tinfoil to make a pouch and fold over the top edges so that the pouch is completely sealed. Repeat until you have one for everybody…. Bake in the oven at 220C/gas 7 for 20-25 minutes. Serve with salad and potatoes or good old mash!