Mexican Shrimp Pitta Pockets

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An easy Mexican feast you can make at home. We enjoyed ours with red wine but frozen margaritas or mojitos would work just as well!

For the shrimp pitta pockets you’ll need:

  • 6 white or wholemeal pitta breads
  • 1 1/2 – 2 avocados
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli – deseeded and chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 deseeded red tomatoes
  • handful of coriander
  • 1 packet of baby shrimps or cooked prawns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • cucumber – thinly sliced
  • baby gem lettuce – thinly sliced
  • A sprinkling of cheese – your choice which kind!

To make:

First add the onion, garlic, chilli & tomato to a food processor with a glug of good quality olive oil. Whizz that up until it’s all quite well chopped. Add in your avocado, lime juice and chopped coriander and whizz again – not too much, make sure there are some avocado chunks left. Set aside.

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Put some olive oil in a non stick frying pan, add your mix of cumin, cayenne, paprika & chilli powder.

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Warm the spices up for 2-3 minutes in the pan then add your prawns (chopped into smaller pieces) or baby shrimp and make sure they are all completely covered in the spices. Fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

To assemble:

Cut your pitta breads in half and fill with a tablespoon of your guacamole mix, followed by some prawns, then the shredded lettuce and cucumber, then top with cheese.

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Pop your pitta pockets under the grill for about 5 minutes, careful not to burn the edges (oops!)

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As everything in your pocket is already cooked you are really just heating the pitta breads and letting the cheese go all gooey and delicious!

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Now pour yourself a well deserved glass of wine and enjoy! Served here with some tasty sweet potato wedges, sour cream and a side of corn on the cob.

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Posh Bangers & Mash

birdseye view bangers and mashHere’s a really quick and easy dinner, perfect for colder, autumn nights – posh bangers and mash with steamed vegetables and the all important home-made gravy. The reason they are posher than your usual bangers and mash is because I used venison sausages from Highland Game. You can pick these up in Tesco and more often than not they are on offer. They are really delicious – much meatier tasting than pork sausages, and also great for casserole dishes.

I choose to cook the sausages in the oven, mainly because I don’t like the mess from frying sausages, and grilling them is not a good choice for someone who is easily distracted when cooking!

So, for two people, slice half an onion and some cherry tomatoes and put them in an oven proof dish – this will help make your gravy later on. Lay your venison sausages on top and drizzle some good quality olive oil over the top and season with some salt and pepper. Give the dish a shake to ensure the oil is covering everything and pop the dish in the oven for about 40 minutes at about 170 degrees. Make sure you turn the sausages half way through to give them an even colour.sausages onion and tomatoes pre oven

Whilst that’s in the oven, chop up your potatoes and boil for about 20-25 minutes depending on how small you’ve chopped them. We leave the skins in on this house – they add flavour and are good for you, but if you’re after smooth mashed potatoes you’d been peel them.potatoes ready to boil

Once cooked through (you should be able to stab them with a fork easily, but you don’t want to cook them so much they crumble!) drain them and pop them back in the pot. Add a reasonable spoonful of butter (maybe two!) and start to mash. Once the potatoes and butter have melted together, swap your masher or a wooden, add a dash of milk or single cream, and stir together. Once you’ve got a consistency you are happy with, season with some salt and pepper. mashed potatoes with skinsBack to the sausages and onto the gravy.

cooked sausages

About 10 minutes before they are done, scoop out about 3/4 of the onions, tomatoes and some juices and pop them into a pan on the hob. Heat gently to begin with and add about 200ml of stock (I used beef stock), a glug of wine (preferably red, but white works too) and a small teaspoon of cornflower – this will help the gravy thicken. Stir this all together until smooth and leave on a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring to make sure the gravy doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.gravy boiling

If you’re gravy is too thick simply add a little more stock. Once you’re happy with it, if you would like a smooth gravy all you need to do is sieve the onions and tomatoes away. A bit like the potatoes, I keep mine sort of rustic and just pour it all into the gravy jug.

Finally, whilst your gravy is bubbling away pop some vegetables in the microwave to steam. I chose broccoli stems and just added a centimetre or so of water to a shallow bowl with the broccoli and put them in the microwave on a high heat for about 5 minutes. steamed broccoli

And you are ready to plate up. The mash should be lovely and creamy and buttery, the veggies nice and crunchy and the sausages should be evenly cooked through with a yummy, rich gravy to go over them. posh bangers and mash

table set with bangers and mashbirdseye view bangers and mash

Date Night

date nightThursday nights are the best date nights. After a hectic week that’s very nearly over, there’s nothing better than sharing a bottle of chilled wine, or sipping that first G&T, and enjoying some good food and even better company.

But here’s a question for you – where would you go for date night in Edinburgh? Where would you book, or like to be taken, depending on who is reading this, for that first, all impressive date night? When match.com posed that question to Mr F&P and myself, we both knew exactly where to head…

On a warm Thursday summers evening, Stockbridge is buzzing with city dwellers enjoying the menagerie of eateries in this upmarket part of town. For us, that particular sunny Thursday night, Tom Kitchin’s new-ish gastro pub, The Scran and Scallie, was to play host to our “first date”.

Scran and Scallie outside

outside of restaurant

We decided to meet straight after work. Content with my day to night work outfit (a dress, blazer and wedges) I touched up my make-up before leaving the office and headed down the hill from town to Stockbridge.  Despite this “first date” really being four and a half brilliant years into our relationship, I can honestly say I was excited to meet Mr F&P that evening, and I soaked up all the details of the evening with a first date in mind.

The Scran and Scallie is an impressive, yet relaxed choice of restaurant for a first date. The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive, and there is warm gastro-pub look and feel to the place. At 6.30pm, with near full height windows, the restaurant is bright and inviting. Pleased to find my date already at the table, I headed on in.

restaurant

As well as bright open plan spaces there are cute little corners of the restaurant where I could quite happily relax with a glass of red wine in the winter time.

corner of restaurant

Drinks ordered and conversation flowing, we turned out attention to the menu. Tom Kitchin is known for cooking with plenty of fresh, Scottish ingredients, and also for transforming old-fashioned, and often obscure, cuts of meat. There were lots of classic, homely dishes on the menu, and “scran” really did feel like an appropriate way to describe what this menu had in store for us.

G&T

Menu

table setting

I didn’t know it at the time, but my starter dish was the star of the evening on the food front – pea soup with poached egg. Simple, stunning and scrumptious. The flavour was just as intense as the colour, and the poached egg in the middle was cooked to perfection.

Soup side view

Soup birds eye view

soup close up

Meantime Mr F&P enjoyed Pig’s Heid Pate with gribiche – a mayonnaise style cold egg sauce. He claims it was as good as my soup but I’m not convinced 😉

pigs head starter

pot close up

pate with sauce

By the time we finished our starters almost all the other tables were now full with earlier dinners, and there was a real buzz to the place. The fact I don’t recall any music playing is a good sign in my mind, the buzz was atmosphere enough. And despite having booked an early table, at no point did we feel rushed, and there was a comfortable amount of time in between our starter and main course.

On hearing the specials, there was only one choice; a whole plaice with lemon and spinach, on the bone or off. I certainly didn’t need a side to go with the plaice, and on reflection, my eyes were probably slightly bigger than my stomach, but every bite I did manage to eat was amazing.whole plaice

whole plaice with lemon wedge

plaice close up

Oh go on then, one more…

plaice on fork

Mr F&P choose equally well with the Highland BBQ brisket and chips…talk about food envy, probably not the most attractive trait to disclose on your first date. Fortunately Mr F&P knows me well enough and quickly offered me a taste… the meat quite literally melted in my mouth and the BBQ sauce was deliciously sweet and sticky.Highland BBQ brisket

BBQ brisket

chips

BBQ Brisket close up

One espresso and strawberry Eton Mess later (guess who had dessert 😮 ), our “first date” was drawing to a close. With full tummies and happy hearts we enjoyed a leisurely stroll home.

eton mess

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espresso

espresso top

Had we wanted to carry on for more drinks, we would probably have stopped off at Hamiltons, just along the road. A watering hole where good drinks and a friendly crowd are guaranteed.

If you’re not yet convinced that Scran and Scallie is the perfect first date, maybe this next part will seal the deal. The following evening this happened…

engagement

Ok, ok, you know it wasn’t really our first date, but I say who’s to argue when love is in the air!

With lots of love, from me to you…. xx

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The Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh

When I heard the guys at Bon Vivant on Thistle Street in Edinburgh were opening a third restaurant in the old town I knew I had to check it out.

Looking up Advocates Close
Looking up Advocates Close

Unless you were lost, I’m not sure you would ever “stumble across” The Devil’s Advocate. The bar and restaurant is tucked away on Advocate’s Close, just off the Royal Mile, and this location gives it a selective vibe, like you had to be in the know to go there.

From the old town close, heavy and clean cut wooden doors with large glass panels give way to a very open downstairs bar space. Against the opposing wall and behind the bar there are rows upon rows of bottles, some I recognise, but most I do not – lots of bourbons and whiskys. To the left is a mezzanine level with tables.

On arrival we get a drink at the bar, I’m on a glass of prosecco and my other half enjoys a whisky old fashioned. The dining area upstairs is softly lit. Candles on tables and low ceiling beans make for a cosy space and the Friday post work hubbub from the bar downstairs creates a nice buzz as we turn our attention to the menu.

For starters I go for Haggis bon bons with coriander, cumin and chilli sauce and my other half tucks in to smoked haddock, leek and pear barley risotto. The haggis is full of flavour and the sauce adds a nice kick.

RissottoHaggis Bon BonsFor my main course I ordered the fish and chips – ceilidh battered pollock with shrimp tartar and chips. Is it just me or is shrimp becoming a popular side dish? I feel like I’m seeing it on a lot of menus, however, I’m not complaining as it was a great accompaniment. The pollock was nice and juicy and the batter was crispy and light. I must admit I was quite jealous of the lamb rump on haggis mash that my other half was tucking in to. The lamb was nicely pink in the middle. My other half thought there was a bit too much haggis in the mash, but he enjoyed the dish nonetheless. I loved the little roasted shallots and the accompanying jus was really rich and silky.

Fish and chipsRump of LambWe tried a bottle of red wine, one which we had not drank before, and knew nothing about! As it was a Beaujolais we thought it would be quite light (I’m not a huge lover of “gritty” red wines), but this was not the case. Note to self, ask the staff, I’m sure they would have told us that!

ice creamAs always, my other half enjoyed his trademark dessert, a single scoop of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was deliciously creamy – you can imagine he greatly appreciates the quality of vanilla ice cream when there is nothing else on the plate to make a fuss about.

By the time we finished, all the tables upstairs and the bar downstairs were packed – the weekend in full swing.

I must admit my pictures on this post do not do the food justice, and make want to look into a proper camera for future blogging exploits…

Dinner for two, with a bottle of wine and a couple pre-dinner drinks came to about £70. Much like Bon Viviant, I can see The Devil’s Advocate will be a great go-to place for a relaxed meal out. It’s another example of why I love Edinburgh in comparison to huge cities like London – good quality food and drink are plentiful and can be found at reasonable prices. I should also add that for whisky lovers this is the place to go as the whisky list is extensive.

The Devils Advocate
9 Advocate’s Close
Edinburgh
EH1 1ND

0131 225 4465

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The Honours, Edinburgh

GalleryOn Friday evening I was treated to dinner at The Honours, one of Martin Wishart’s restaurants in Edinburgh. Located on North Castle Street, there are plenty of nearby options for pre dinner drinks, and we decided to go to Tonic, a cocktail bar a few doors along from The Honours.

Some of the cocktails on the menu
Some of the cocktails on the menu

Take a peek online at their cocktail menu, I think you’ll like it as there are lots of fun combinations to try. On this occassion I opted for a Rasberry Kiss. Made up of tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade rasberry syrup topped with prosecco, it was yummy! The Haribo lips sweetie on top, is a good reflection on the sweetness of the drink!

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Raspberry Kiss – tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade raspberry syrup and prosecco

After a couple drinks I only had to totter a few steps down the hill in my heels to arrive at The Honours. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my own pictures of the meal, so hopefully we descriptions will do the dishes justice! You can take a look at the menu online here, and I’ll try and talk you through the yumminess!

To start I opted for the crab cappuccino, and I’ll admit I was not quite sure what the expect. I was greeted with frothy and intense crab soup. It came in a large shallow bowl and had lovely pieces of soft crab and garlic through it. I’m a huge garlic fan, the more the better, so this was right up my street. The size of the dish was deceiving and due to the richness of the cream based soup I wasn’t able to finish it which is extremely unlike me!

For my main course I enjoyed the fillet steak, which the waitress informed me was cooked on the bone. A technique,  she told us, used to hold in the flavour and juices from the meat when cooking. I had never tried fillet on the bone before, so that was quite exciting. The steaks are are served with vine tomatoes and choice of sauces, I went for a bearnaise sauce and ordered a side of potato dauphinoise (see, garlic again!) and shared some green beans. The steak was cooked to perfection – I like it medium and it melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious and totally worth the special occasion price tag (£32).

Dinner was washed down with a bottle of Fleurie. This wine, in my opinion, (and I have to say I’m no wine expert, at all) is a really light red wine – perfect for those who are eating red meat but aren’t wild about red wine!

The dessert menu was extensive, and after two very filling courses all I could manage was a scoop of passion fruit sorbet. All the ice creams and sorbets on the menu are offers as a whole dish or simply a single scoop. A really nice touch for those who aren’t quite finished but can’t manage a whole dessert.

After coffees and a desert wine we decided to call it a night. I mentioned that our trip to The Honours was a treat, and I’d love to say I’ll be back in a flash, but the prices simply don’t allow for that. However at the end of the day we were looking for a special evening we would remember, and that was exactly what The Honours gave us. So, thank you!