Food from a Physicist who loves to cook

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I have a confession to make up until last Wednesday, I had not really cooked in 2013, that’s 16 days without doing any real cooking, I’m ashamed. I mean I cooked on new years day, and did the big roast but after that nothing real until the 16th. This is partially due to the fact that I’d been with excessive amounts of family and friends and stuff had been pre cooked for those days, it’s partially due to the fact I had a bad cold for about a week, and so ate very little but it’s mostly to do with the fact that the people I am lodging with are on a health kick. Why is the latter so important? Well I don’t know how to cook low-fat healthy food! I like cream, butter and cheese, I like the fat on my meat, and I’ve never been good at judging what is in meals. Up till now all I knew was that if you replaced cream with low-fat creme fresh it was healthier.

See I know that this is healthy

See I know that this is healthy

So I have had to have a little think, a break from cooking where I planned recipes etc, to makes sure what I was making was low-fat. In the mean time the people I have been living with cooked, they have the hairy dieters book, and let me say, it is fantastic  in fact I am rather tempted to put a review on here. First though, we shall have one of the first things I cooked in 2013, and it’s healthy!

Spinach and feta filo Pie

Ingredients serves 4

  • 2 onions halved and chopped
  • a little olive oil
  • 500g chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • nutmeg
  • 200g feta cheese (low-fat if you choose)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4-6 sheets of filo pastry or there abouts.
What to do if you have any left over

What to do if you have any left over

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Cook the onions in a little oil until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  then if using fresh spinach, add in batches and cook until wilted. If using frozen defrost and then stir in.
  3. Allow this mixture to cool then tip into a bowl  leaving behind any excess moisture.  Give it a generous grating of nutmeg. then mix in the feta,  and eggs, then season.
  4. Using a  non-stick springform cake tin, about 20-22cm, placed inside a roasting tin, so that any mixture that leaks out doesn’t burn to the bottom of your oven. Brush the inside with olive oil and lay a sheet of filo in the tin, letting excess hang over the sides, brush this with oil and add another layer, repeat until you have 3 layers.
  5. Spoon in the spinach mixture and then fold the excess edge over the top. Now with the remaining filo, cute into about 3cm squares, brush with a little oil and scrunch them up  like little twists, then place the twist on top of the pie. Cover the whole top with twist like this.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-30minutes or until the filo has gone crisp and golden brown. Then leave to cool for 5 mins, press out and slice to serve.
Plates of filo pie

Plates of filo pie

We worked out that if you use low fat feta this should be about 350-370 kcalories per quarter, and served it with a simple salad of rocket, red cabbage, plum tomatoes and cumber with a balsamic dressing and light dusting of parmesan, as seen in the picture at the start of this post.

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Fish fingers! They’re not exactly gourmet but sometimes you just want something simple something relaxed, something to make you happy, and for me Fish fingers tick all those boxes. In first year when I used to have to do labs, I’d come home on a Wednesday and spend the evening frantically writing, I only interrupted this for food, sometimes chinese with my flatmates but more often a fish finger sandwich, it would be perfect for perking me up.

More recently I got a hankering for fish fingers, and had a bit more time so I thought I’d play around. Instead of trying to make my own, because who am I kidding, I’d never manage to get the balance right on the crumb, I tried to plate them. I present fish fingers like they were restaurant quality.

Fancy fish fingers

Fancy fish fingers

What you see before you is a fish finger stack on a bed of mustard and basil mash, with just a hint of garlic. I did play around a little with the mash I must admit, and I was surprised that the mustard and the basil went together so well, tangy and sweet at the same time with a soft undercurrent of roasted garlic as a pleasant aftertaste. There you have it though fancy fish fingers! If you’ve had fun playing around with plating, let me know comment with links or pictures!

Fun Plating

Fun Plating


Let be Honest I’m always making excuses about this blog, so instead today I am going to make a resolution, to blog more consistently but scale back my posts. No more fluff about my life etc prattling on for a few paragraphs, at least not until I have a life that involves more than, get up, go to PhD, come home coffee, hang out with the girls (1&2 years old), eat watch tv and bed. Strangely with all that time though I haven’t found time to blog, which is annoying, but I guess I am just a very sleepy person. So here is a post about food I cooked in November when I went home for my mothers 50th.

Rosemary and Port Lamb

This is a recipe I have adapted from Nigella, and I’m going to be honest so far I have yet to use port in it, I find that a half and half mixture of red wine and red vermouth works rather well.

Ingredients For two

  • Two table spoons of olive oil
  • A table spoon of  of Worcester sauce
  • Two bone less lamb legs steaks (a bit pricy but this meal is a treat)
  • Half a red onion (use the other half in a couscous salad to accompany the lamb)
  • a 15g Knob of butter or there about
  • Two sprigs of rosemary
  • A fat clove of Garlic or two small ones finely chopped
  • 50ml of red wine mixed with 50ml of red vermouth
  1. Trim the lamb of any fat, then in a bowl mix together the oil and the Worcester sauce  and then cover the steaks with this mixture, I tend to dunk the steaks in it and let them rest a bit.
  2. While the lamb is resting in the mixture, finely chop both the rosemary and the garlic. Cut a red onion in half and chop into small pieces  you only need one half, but the other half can be used to make a cous cous salad, combine the onion with things like sun-dried tomato, pepper olives and mint.

    Frying off the onion, rosemary and garlic

    Frying off the onion, rosemary and garlic

  3. Heat a heavy bottomed non stick frying pan and cook the steaks for about 3 minutes on either side if you like your lamb pinkish like me or a little longer if you prefer it well done. Then wrap in foil and let it rest while you cook the sauce.
  4. In the juices left over from cooking the lamb and any excess oil and Worcester sauce mix, cook the red onion until it softens down, then add the rosemary let that cook in for a minute and add the garlic. Now pour in the wine and vermouth into the pan and let it sizzle stir and then let it reduce down .
  5. Un wrap the steaks from the foil and add the juices the to sauce, then serve steaks covered in the sauce with the cous cous salad  and some green veg or  fancy mushy peas.
A plate full of goodness

A plate full of goodness


So this is the third time I’ve attempted to write a post on here and hopefully it will be a successful attempt, what with uni work and the weather and just general winter blues I haven’t had the motivation to write, and sometimes I haven’t even had the motivation to cook. However, my little sister was visiting this weekend which gave me the opertunity to cook for more than one person, which to me means only one thing. MEAT!! As many of you know I live with a vegan, which means we rarely cook together, so when I do get to cook for other people I kind of go all out and cook a fancy meat dish. This time it was Braised Oxtail, and the recipe was in fact from the times so here it is with a few modifications.

Braised Oxtail

  • 4 chunky rounds of oxtail
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 big carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 plump cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bushy sprig of rosemary
  • 2 large bay leaves (or 3 small ones)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500ml red wine
  • Juice of 1 orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Cut off the larger bits of hard white fat from the oxtail. Put the flour in a bag with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Throw in the oxtail rounds and shake until they are all dusted with flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a casserole large enough to hold all the meat and vegetables. Brown the meat and then set to one side.
  3. Add the vegetables, herbs and star anise. Sweat over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes until starting to soften, then stir in the tomato purée. Add the browned meat (plus any accumulated juices), wine and orange juice, then season well. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Place in the oven. Cook for about 3 hours, stirring halfway through. Depending on the oxtail, it may be ready half an hour earlier or later. Prod it – you want the fat to be soft and gelatinous and the flesh falling off the bones. Check the seasoning and spoon off as much of the fat as you can.

Notes:

I removed the star anise half way through cooking as the smell coming from the pan was starting to be over powered by its scent, but it is up to your own tastes what you do. I like this recipe as it seemed very festive, the wine and spice mix put me in mind of mulled wine and the combination of flavours is lovely and warming. The Oxtail was from the new farm shop out side of St Andrews, somewhere that is well worth a visit, the butchers is amazing and very reasonably priced, and the veggies are impressive, with onions the size of my head!


Now I know this isn’t the most healthy of posts or abundant in photos, still no luck on the camera front sadly. But I had success this week with deep-frying. Normally when I fry anything in either batter or crumbs, it falls off and I end up with “naked” chicken and a lot of random bits of batter clogging up my oil.

Chinese style batter

  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of backing powder
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of sugar
  • enough flour to thicken
  • a little water to thin down
  • what ever you wish to batter
  • oil or ghee
  1. Crack the egg into a mixing bowl and beat, add the seasoning and then enough flour to have the right amount of batter for you.
  2. Add baking powder and sugar mix, slowly add water till the mixture thins down a little, try to keep the batter as smooth as possible.
  3. Heat the oil or ghee on a medium heat, use a small pan and fry in batches so you use less fat.
  4. Dip the chosen object in batter making sure it is fully coated and then carefully place in the batter. cook for approximately 2 minutes on either side, then fish out and place on kitchen roll.

I served this with a sweet and sour sauce with noodles, it would go equally well with most oriental sauces or as a replacement to shop bought chicken dippers.

A brief note on the batter:

Though it crisped well it was a little heavy so possibly substitute the cold water for beer, to get a lighter batter, if you are going to have them without sauce i would suggest adding some garlic, ginger or chilli to the batter mix to give it some extra flavour.


yeah it sounds weird i know, but we’d just done an asda online shop, and I had a lot of lovely thin streaky bacon, the best kind of bacon in my opinion. I was craving sugar and flicking through one of the many food blogs i have recently bookmarked, when i found a recipe for bacon and maple ice cream http://www.deliciousdays.com/archives/2010/06/29/bacon-ice-cream-with-a-hint-of-maple-weird-but-in-a-good-way/ and though I have an ice cream maker I didn’t quite feel up for this quite yet. Though it did make me think of candied bacon, I think the Wednesday chef has a recipe for bacon fudge on her blog but I’m not sure. Anyway the long and short of this rambling post is that I lay down 5 strips of bacon and coated them liberally in a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked them for about 5-10 minutes, turning them and adding more of the spiced sugar.

It was defiantly an interesting flavour, the cinnamon cutting the smoked edge of the bacon. I’d recommend trying it.


So I’ve been in the bubble now for 7 Days. For those of you who don’t inhabit it yourselves, the bubble is St Andrews. I guess it’s called the bubble for a few reasons, it’s pretty secluded for one, everybody kind of knows everybody else and it’s got it’s own microclimate. Very Bubble like.

So I’ve been back a week, freshers last week, and so hectic and busy and mad. Today Lectures started again, and since I’m in senior honours they have piled on the work, with online lectures and tutorials and books to look up in the library. All very scary. Plus with this being my third year here, I’m allowed to adopt my own little academic children to mess with, so far I have two little American children – yay!

Framing the bridge

Anyway, back to the food. Today has been a hard day, only one lecture but over 2 hrs of personal study already and that’s scary. Plus I’m really not sure I’ve fully recovered from freshers, so a hearty meal is in order.

Haggis Stuffed Chicken with rich Gravy

  • Chicken ( I used de boned thighs but breast would probably be better)
  • Haggis (Shamefully mine came from a can but hey it was cheap.)
  • Stock
  • Whiskey
  • Seasoning
  • Cream
  1. De bone the chicken if you are using thighs, and place about a teaspoon of haggis in the middle, roll this into a tube, imagine the haggis is the bone, and tie in place.
  2. Brown the chicken in a pan with a little oil, then roast in the oven at about 200.
  3. In the pan you browned the chicken in, add about half a pint of stock, if you like you can add a little haggis to this. To the stock and haggis add some cream, the amount depends on how you like your gravy. Finally add a little whiskey, I used about a tbsp, and then season with pepper.

This was served with cabbage, parsnip and pots, all mashed together, and as per usual  when I mash I got the

proportions wrong. Sorry there are no photos of the actual food I have a new camera and can’t quite figure out the flash, so everything is overly bright, plus it’s not the prettiest of meals anyway. Hope you all like it.



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