Thursday, 27 January 2011

Burns Night

It was Burns Night on Tuesday so I made a Burns Supper for a couple of my friends.  For any international lurkers out there, Burns night is a Scottish occasion celebrating the birth of the poet Robert Burns, a time of drunkenness and eating various sheep organs.  As sheep organs aren't really my thing, I cooked a vegetarian haggis for everyone, as well as my chilli chips and a sweet potato and turnip mash, so I have a few recipes for you today.  Also, I give you a photo of my friend Ruaridh piping in the haggis with a tiny saxophone.

 Vegetarian Haggis

To cook the haggis, simply remove the plastic, wrap in tinfoil and place in a dish filled with 2cm of water.  Then cook in the oven at 180 degrees for around 45 minutes.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash

Firstly, peel the turnip and two medium sized sweet potatoes.  Both Tetley and I tried and failed to chop the turnip, so we cut off the end and then boiled it whole for about 20 minutes before chopping it up which seemed to work.  Sweet potatoes are much less solid, so you can chop them into small pieces before boiling.  When the vegetables are soft, drain and mash with a small amount of butter and a dash of double cream.  Season with salt and pepper.


This is a traditional Scottish dessert that is really simple to make.  Firstly, put 85g of oats on a baking tray and sprinkle with soft brown sugar.  Put under the grill for about 5 minutes to caramelise, watching constantly instead of drunkenly wandering off and allowing your kitchen to smell like burnt sugar for 3 days like I did.  When the oats are golden, whip 570ml of double cream into soft peaks, and fold in the oats, 3 tablespoons of honey and 400g of raspberries. 

After our meal, we went to an awesome ceilidh, another Scottish tradition.  This dance has a proper name but I only know it as 'the helicopter dance' - apologies to everyone I kicked whilst being swung round!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Spicy Potato Wedges

Here's a recipe that's really quick and easy, but guaranteed to taste more amazingly flavoursome than any potato wedges you can buy in the supermarket.  All you need is:
  • Potatoes (about 2 or 3 per person)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • sunflower oil
  • chilli powder, paprika, sea salt
1. Peel the potatoes and chop them as shown in the photo, ignoring my weird looking hand.  Try to get as thin wedges as possible.

 2. Prepare the roasting dish.  Drizzle some oil into the dish, and then add the stock cube and pour a little oil over that.  You should then be able to break it up with your fingers into powder.

3. Add the chilli powder, paprika and salt, and spread them and the stock powder evenly over the dish.

 4. Add the potatoes and move them about with a spatula until they are evenly coated.  Put in an oven preheated to about 200 degrees for 40 minutes-an hour, moving the potatoes occasionally.

For photos of the cooked wedges, see my previous post as I forgot to take a photo while they were still in the dish.  They go with lots of different meals and are great with dips!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Jamie Oliver has Brainwashed Me

I wouldn't say that I'm the biggest fan of fish - I'll have a fish supper or a tuna toastie, but that's about as far as it goes.  But then I watched Jamie Oliver's Fish Supper, and I went from gaping in horror as Jamie held up a grey, slimy looking squid, to drooling over that same squid when it was beautifully cooked 5 minutes later.  I think Jamie Oliver has some kind of voodoo powers.  Not quite amibitious enough to try the squid recipe, I decided to try and make another recipe from the show, the crab fishcakes.  Unfortunately neither Tesco or the fishmonger had crab, so I made do with crabmeat from a tin.  However, according to Jamie Oliver, the fact that I tried to buy a crab has created demand, so maybe if you try to buy one (in the Dundee area anyway) you'll be more lucky...  Here is a picture of my finished recipe, of which I am quite proud:

 For the fishcakes, you will need:
  • 500g white and brown crabmeat
  • 500g potatoes
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 a red chilli (I used a whole chilli and it wasn't too spicy)
  • 3 spring onions
  • parsley
Jamie Oliver also had a salsa recipe to go with the fishcakes, but I used my sister Mairi's recipe instead as I wanted to try it out.  If you don't trust Mairi, visit Jamie Oliver's website.  For the salsa you need:
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Half a red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • Juice of one lime/lemon
  • 3 red chillies
  • Basil
1. Firstly peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks.  Boil them for 15-20 minutes, they are done when a piece of potato can easily be crushed against the side of the pot with a fork.

2. While the potatoes boil, make your salsa.  Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seed-filled centres with a teaspoon and discard. Dice the remaining tomato into small cubes, as well as the red pepper.  Dice the chilli and red onion very very finely, and add everything to a bowl.  Squeeze in the lime or lemon juice, sprinkle on the basil, and mix well.

 3. When the potatoes are done, drain them and return to the pot.  Add the crab meat and salt and pepper, and mash.  Grate in the zest of the two lemons, and finely chop the chilli and spring onions and add, along with the parsley.
 4. Divide the mixture into round patties and refridgerate for four hours or overnight.  I notied this part of the recipe far too late so I didn't refridgerate the fishcakes at all but they turned out okay, though refridgeration may have made them a bit more solid.

 5. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the fishcakes, cook them for about 5 minutes, turning once with a spatula.
Here are the finished fishcakes, they were nice but didn't taste too strongly of crab, I would advise trying to find an actual crab before trying to make them.  A recipe for the spicy potato wedges in the photo is coming soon...

If you want to save our seas from becoming empty, there is a petition here which you can sign to prevent the shocking numbers of fish that are caught and thrown back dead, just because they aren't the 'popular' cod or haddock.  Stand up for obscure fish today!

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Hello internet people!  I was looking at my blog and I realised I've not yet posted any recipe involving meat, other than a few mentions of bacon, so I thought I'd do a beef chilli today.  This is a very easy recipe, I got the basic recipe from the hamlyn student cookbook which is the best student cookbook I've seen as all the recipes are so simple and achievable.  The only downside to chilli is that you have to be a wee bit organised when making it as you need to cook it over a low heat for about an hour to so all the juices are absorbed and it's really rich, so not the best meal to choose if you're really hungry.  You will need:
  • 500g beef mince (I use lean mince to be healthy, or you could use quorn mince)
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Can of kidney beans
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Tomato passata (you can get this in little boxes at the supermarket for about 50p, mine had garlic and olive oil in it)
  • 400ml beef stock (I used a stock cube)
  • Chilli powder, cumin, paprika
1. Firstly, crush and chop the garlic, and finely chop the onions and peppers.  Fry them in some sunflower oil in a pot or a wok.

 2. When the onion is golden coloured and translucent, add the mince and fry until it is all brown.  I usually cut the mince into little cubes when it's still in the packet as it's easier to break it up this way when cooking.

3. Add the stock, the kidney beans and all the tomato related things.  I normally use only half a can of kidney beans but you can use the whole can if you like.  Also the amount of tomato puree is up to you, I use quite a lot though as it thickens the sauce a bit.

4. Next add the spices.  Again, I can't tell you amounts as this is a very personal thing, Hamlyn suggests 1/2-1 teaspoon of chilli powder but I like a lot more than that, so just sprinkle some in and then taste a little bit of the chilli to see if it's spicy enough.  Here are my spices, the mystery one on the end came with a set Tetley got for Christmas but it looked the right colour so I put some of that in too, it tastes like chillies.

 5.  Lower the heat under your pot/wok so that the surface of the chilli is bubbling only very slightly.  Don't worry if it looks watery because after 50 minutes or an hour the liquid will have reduced down.  Stir it every so often.

 Here is the finished chilli, it's not very photogenic but it tastes great.  These quantities serve about 4 people, so me and Tetley eat it two nights in a row.  It goes perfectly with rice or inside tortilla wraps, or try it in a baked potato or sweet potato with some grated cheese on top.  It's especially lovely with the sweet potato - put some holes in the sweet potato with a fork then put it in the microwave for 8 minutes, it's that easy!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Garlic and Rosemary Roast Potatoes

These roast potatoes are probably my favourite thing to cook and eat, as they're just so ridiculously packed full of flavour.  They are also a favourite with my friends, my friend Ruaridh scrapes the roasting dish clean every time I make them!  They're pretty easy to make, all you need is:
  • Potatoes - I use about three per person, depending on size
  • Half a bulb of garlic
  • Rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • Sea salt
  • Sunflower oil
  • Garlic salt, dried basil and oregano (optional)
1. Peel the potatoes and chop into smallish pieces.  I generally half the potato and then cut that half into quarters.  Boil the chopped potatoes for about 5 minutes, then drain.
 2. While the potatoes are boiling, crush and finely chop 4 garlic cloves.  Crush the remaining cloves and remove the skin, but don't chop them up.

 3. Prepare the roasting dish.  This process is layered like a sandwich - first put in a drizzle of oil, then add the salt and some herbs until it looks like the picture below.  If using fresh rosemary, tear it into little pieces and reserve some whole stalks for putting on top.

 4. Put the potatoes on top of the herbs, and add the garlic, evenly dispersing the whole garlic cloves throughout the dish.  Mix everything together with a spatula, then add another sprinkle of salt and herbs on top and complete the layering process with another drizzle of oil.

5. Put the dish in the oven at about 200 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how crispy you want your potatoes.  Take the dish out once or twice and move everything about with the spatula and add more oil if it looks a bit dry.

 6. Your finished potatoes should look like this, but possibly less yellow due to the flash being off on my camera.
 I had my potatoes with cajun chicken, but they go well with lots of things - a roast dinner, pork chops, chicken pies, whatever you like.  Leftovers are really nice heated up the next day with some little bits of bacon.
Here they are as part of the Christmas dinner Tetley and I made for our friends, they are perfect for any occasion!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Amazing Banana and Pineapple Cake

 One of my favourite Christmas presents this year was the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, given to me by my friend Laura of Cakecuccino fame, who was probably sick of me borrowing hers every time I wanted to bake.  I borrowed it with good reason - while I've sadly never been to the Hummingbird Bakery itself, which is in London, everything me or Laura have made from their cookbook has turned out pretty good.  This cake was no exception, it may look daunting and expensive because of its many ingredients, but most of them are things you'll already have in the house if you've ever baked recently.  The only things I had to buy were cream cheese for the frosting and a tin of pinapple, which combined cost me just over a pound.  Perfect for students!

 One negative point about the Hummingbird Bakery is that basically all of its recipes call for an electric mixer.  I caved to the pressure and actually bought one (for £4 from Argos...), but for the sake of experimentation I decided to mix the cake mix with the electric mixer, and the frosting by the almost non-existant strength of my own arm.  Here's what you need for the cake:
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 270g peeled, mashed bananas (I only had 2 bananas which was about 180g but it was fine)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (which I forgot to use)
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100g tinned pineapple, chopped into little pieces
  • 100g walnuts or pecan nuts (again, I had a lot less than 100g but the cake still tasted good, so if you want to save money you can skip adding nuts)
For the frosting:
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature (I never remember to take the butter out of the fridge beforehand, you could try microwaving it for a few seconds)
1. Firstly chop up the nuts and pineapple and mash the banana.  I chopped the pinapple really finely so my boyfriend Tetley didn't realise he was eating fruit, but larger chunks would work too.  Switch on the oven to 170 degrees.

2. Next, put the sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon in a bowl and mix with your fancy £4 mixer or with a wooden spoon.  Try not to think about how much oil you will be consuming when you eat the cake.

 3. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla extract in a bowl or container and add bit by bit until everything is mixed together.  Then stir in the pineapple and nuts, do this part by hand if you're using an electric mixer.

4. Line two cake tins with baking paper and pour half of the mixture into each.  I actually only have one cake tin so I had to do this part in two halves.  Hummingbird suggests you split it between three cake tins, if you have three cake tins then feel free to do this if you like.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Both my cakes took about half an hour, you can tell they're ready if you touch them and the cake bounces back.  Leave to cool.

6. Make the frosting.  Beat the icing sugar and butter together until well mixed then mix in the cream cheese.  I didn't read the recipe properly at this point and added everything in one go but it was fine.

7. Put the bottom half of the cake on a plate and cover the top and sides with frosting.  Then put the top half on and do the same.  A knife is probably best for spreading the frosting on.  Then decorate the top - I used pecan nuts and cinnamon, but if you're not using nuts, pinapple rings or slices of banana might look nice.

 Here is the finished cake - it looked better in real life than my questionable photography skills can achieve...

Here is a view of the inside. I would conclude from my mixing experiment that an electric mixer isn't neccessary, but to mix by hand you may need either a stronger arm than me or a couple of friends/flatmates/family members to take turns with you.  As you may have gathered from the amount of mistakes I made while making the cake, I'm not the best baker in the world, but hopefully this proves that you don't need to follow a recipe exactly to make something that tastes good!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


I'm going to begin with the first thing I ever learned to cook, an omelette.  In the summer before I went to uni, I went on a holiday to Portugal with some friends - we foolishly chose the cheaper self-catering package and then realised that none of us could cook.  After two of my friends tried to cook frozen peas in an oven that wasn't switched on, I felt it was up to me to take on the daunting role of chef.  We took a trip to our local Dinomart (possibly the best named supermarket ever) and ended up with eggs and bacon, which I managed to turn into a omelette-like creation of which I was ridiculously proud.  Omelettes are still one of my favourite things to cook today because they're so fast and so versatile, you can have basically anything as a filling!  For my omelette, you will need:

  • 2 eggs per person eating the omelette
  • milk
  • salt/pepper
  • fillings of your choice
1. First prepare your fillings.  I used bacon and some yellow pepper in my omelette, so first of all I cut them into bitesize pieces.

2. Next, crack two eggs into a bowl.  Add a splash of milk, salt and pepper and some parsley if you have any to make it look fancy. Beat with a fork.

 3. Heat some sunflower oil in a pan and add your fillings (if they're stuff that needs to be cooked).

 4. Meanwhile, heat some oil in another pan and pour in the egg mixture.  Keep tilting the pan so the top layer of the egg mixture runs to the edges and cooks.  Use a spatula around the edge of the omelette to stop it sticking to the pan.
 5. When you tilt the pan and no liquid runs to the edge, the omelette is cooked.  Tip your fillings onto one half and the fold the omelette over them with a spatula.  This is the stage where my omelettes usually break into many small pieces.

6. Lift the omelette out of the pan with the spatula.  I'm having mine with toast, but it's also great on a bagel or with chips and veg for an easy bigger meal. 

A Ramble into Territories Blogging


My name is Faye, as you may have gathered from my blog's unimaginative title. As a university student, I have a lot of free time, and what use of this time could be better than starting a blog!

Before I came to uni, back in the dark days of 2008, I was literally part of the cliched masses of teenagers who can't boil an egg.  I had all my meals provided by my Mum, an amazing cook yet somewhat possessive over her kitchen, to the extent that she believed that letting me make anything more ambitious than a sandwich would result in something getting blown up.  It is true that many of my culinary attempts have gone horribly wrong (the cheesecake I refridgerated for two hours instead of the suggested 24); fallen on the floor (resulting in my signature dish known as 'Floor Chicken Surprise'); or been somewhat experimental (the cookies that were grilled on the barbeque when our oven broke).  However, despite all of these setbacks, I think that now, three years on, I am a pretty competent cook.

In this blog I hope to give advice on simple cooking, whether you're a student or whether you just want to be able to cook quick and easy meals on a budget.  I'd like to think that my meals are achievable - I don't use fancy ingredients that can only be found in specialist shops, I don't expect anyone to have the time to spend 3 hours in the kitchen to create one meal, and I don't think that using food from a tin or a jar is necessarily 'cheating.'  I hope you enjoy reading, and feel free to comment if you have any questions!