How to feel good in February…

With January behind us, we look forward to spring – but it still seems a long way off, and with the wet windy weather and continuation of dark nights, there doesn’t always seem much to look forward to… UNTIL NOW!

Here are ten things to brighten up your February…

1 Prepare your garden borders for planting hardy annuals such as limnanthes, convulvus tricolor and borage. Plant roses along with deciduous shrubs if there is no frost or snow on the ground.

2 Celebrate Chinese New Year by cooking a delicious stir fry of seasonal vegetables

3 Buy some spring flowers such as tulips and daffodils to bring colour and freshness to your home.

 4 Choose a favourite winter walk near your home – preferably with a great pub at the end of it to look forward to!

5 Have a spring clear out – it’s amazing what clutter can build up in your home after Christmas!

6 Buy a bird table or feeder and gain pleasure from watching the huge variety of wildlife enticed into your garden.

7 Make an extra effort on Valentine’s day to prepare and surprise your partner with a romantic meal!

8 Plant a pot of spring bulbs indoors and take pleasure from their growth from green shoots to flowers

9 Make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and eat with sharp tangy lemon juice and sugar while they’re still hot!! 

10 Plan a trip away – whether it’s a summer beach holiday, cruise, or city break - it will be something to look forward to as the days lighten and the summer sun starts appearing!

Happy February!


Healthy New Year!

Look forward to January with our top tips to boost your energy and your approach to the start of the new year!

As the festive holiday draws to a close and your list of new year resolutions are still fresh in your mind,, it’s difficult to resist heading for caffeine and carbs when you’re heading out to work on a  cold dark morning returning to work for the first time this year.
Instead of diets, detoxes and juicing which just don’t fit into your busy lifestyle, try eating the foods which boost energy levels and raise our positivity levels.

Bananas are a great source of tryptophan, carbohydrates and vitamin B6 which help produce mood lifting serotonin. Tryptophan assists the body to make melatonin to help us sleep well. It also contains magnesium, which is linked with reducing the likelihood of depression, insomnia and poor concentration. And it’s perfect to carry around as an instant snack!

Oats in a bowl of porridge or muesli help to stabilise your mood as they release energy slowly into the bloodstream , and the addition of autumn berries, seeds and nuts provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to boost your mood.

Spinach contains folate which is a B vitamin required for the production of serotonin and dopamine which help to boost your mood. Additionally it contains iron for energy, and is delicious lightly steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice, which contains vitamin and helps to enhance iron absorption.

Oily fish is great for the brain and should form part of your diet three times a week as the omega-3 mood boosting fat it provides can only be obtained through food. Omega 3 is also obtainable from chia seeds and flaxseed oil in salad dressings.

For Vitamin D (which is associated with mood disorders such as SAD where there is a deficiency  in the body) try wild salmon, and exercise outside as much as possible.

Finally, unbelievably, it has been proven that dark chocolate (dark contains 75% cocoa solids containing all the wonderful health benefits) not only stimulates the production of endorphins which give feelings of pleasure, but also boosts levels of serotonin acting as a natural antidepressant. Additionally, the antioxidants in the chocolate help to lower the stress hormone.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!


The Roseleaf

After fifteen years of uninterrupted, loyal service my kilt has finally given up its' attempts to keep my increasing girth at bay.  I decided to take it down to the kilt-maker to get it adjusted.  The ever polite assistant gave me a sympathetic look and with well practiced sincerity said, "Ahh,  I see your kilt has shrunk,  don't worry we will fix it."

With the reassurance that I still had the same waist line as I had when I was 21, I skipped happily round the corner to one of my favourite cafe/pubs in Edinburgh for a celebratory breakfast.

The Roseleaf pub used to be The Black Swan near the shore in Leith.  The street was infamous for the night time business of prostitutes, but recently it as been cleaned up by the arrival of blocks of new apartments and the ladies of the night have moved on.

The whole place is filled with a mix of crockery and bits 'n' bobs which all match perfectly.  Odd tea cups and cutlery make for a homely, yet stylish feel.  But, as always, it is quality of the food that attracts me.

The brunch menu had some great local and hearty dishes but I could not resist the "Big Yin" breakfast.

 Their own, baked beans, potato scones and bread filled half of the sizzling, cast iron skillet. The gaps filled with a fine pork sausage from Henderson's Butchers, bacon, a fired egg, roast tomato and meaty flat cap mushroom.  To assuage the guilt  I ordered a lovely freshly squeezed OJ.

 Family friendly, reasonably priced and relaxed the Roseleaf has to be one of my favourite places to have breakfast.  As luck would have it my kilt will not be ready until next week which means I may have to stop in for breakfast again......

Wagamama Dinner

I organised a dinner for the chefs and managers at Albacore. We often go out and have a dinner together to share ideas and chat about food. The New Wagamama in Edinburgh had just opened,  offering the chefs a chance to get a flavour of a whole bunch of Asian cusines.

Earthy Food Market

Earthy Food Market is one of my favourite places to shop, full of local, organic and seasonal produce.  My nearest store is on Ratcliff Terrace in Causewayside however, they have two more stores in Portobello and Cannonmills.  They have a simple philosophy of buying great local produce and presenting it in season.  Below the store there is a great wee cafe serving yummy cakes and salads.


Dundee flower and food festival

We recently visited the Dundee Flower and Food Festival in Camperdown Park to the west of the city. A week of heavy rain meant wellies were the fashion accessory of choice – but the sun shone and made for a gorgeous day.

The theme of this year’s festival was “Chilli” which was introduced by mother and daughter team Patricia and Stacey from 'Chillilicious' and featured the indoor 'Chilli Village' - where we saw products from Scotland’s first ever Chilli Farm and took the chance to try a variety of chilli products including preserves & in the spirit of taking part, Chilli Wine!

Food writer Mary Berry (Great British Bake Off) was on hand to offer advice on all things sweet, whilst chefs Tom and Henry Herbert, (The Fabulous Baker Brothers), shared samples of their wares with an eager Dundee audience.

We also sampled multi award winning Scottish Harvest 'Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil' - a real “chef’s favourite” because it is;

Healthy, with only 6% saturated fats, a high Omega 3 content, naturally occurring vitamin E and no trans fats.

Versatile - can be used in salad dressings, salsas and marinades. It has a high burning / flash point of 240oC so can also be used for roasting, baking and in stir-fries.

and 100% natural.

 We were most impressed by the selection of fresh local fruit and vegetables on display in the judging marquees – these local enthusiasts really know their onions!

In the beekeeping marquee we saw real (winged!) honey-producers at work, and sampled their end products – flavoured honeys and wonderfully hand-carved wax crafts.

To complete the “Chilli” theme we were entertained by the wonderful Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Whiskey, ginger and orange chocolate truffles

click below for the recipe:

Quick chocolate mousse

This is the easiest chocolate mousse recipe that you have ever seen.  The recipe was developed by a French physical chemist called Herve This. It turns on its head the common misconception that chocolate should never be mixed with water.

The idea is to melt some good quality chocolate with some water.  This porduces a thin mixture similar to a chocolate sauce.  The sauce is then cooled in a bowl set over ice.  Whie it is cooling the mixture in whisked until it thickens.  As it thickens, air is incorporated and a silky mouse is created.

How to butterfly fillet a round fish

A great technique for smaller fish in order to obtain on large fillet.  As always your fishmonger would be delighted to do this for you, but it is always fun to try something new....

Tasty Salads

I am always on the lookout for new things to put into a salad. The combinations of savoury salads is limitless but, once you introcduce dessert salads to your reptiore then a whole world of new salads open up to you.

Below are three recipes for summer salads that are full of flavour and are healthy too!!

Elderflower Champagne

A friend at work recently told me about the delicious Elderflower champagne his mother used to make for him during the summer  months(non alcoholic of course).  As elderflowers are everywhere at the moment I decided to have a go.  I searched the internet and found a few great recipes.  I narrowed them down to this one:

I will let you know how it tastes in due course.....

The Royal Highland Show

We spent a wild and wet day exploring the Royal Highland Show at the weekend. The show has now developed into one of the largest food festivals in Scotland. Not only can you see the award winning livestock and meet the farmers who grow our fabulous Scottish produce. You can taste and enjoy some truly "farm to fork" food.