Food from a Physicist who loves to cook

A confession

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.


Why I love anchovies

I never thought I would love anchovies, I mean the first time I tried them on a pizza I thought they were overly salty and overpowered everything else. Someone should warn you, that anchovies on a pizza are not like anchovies in cooking, anchovies that you have cooked into a meal are silky smooth, tangy and add so much depth to a meal.

Plus they come in a gorgeous can

A gorgeous can of anchovies

I first used anchovies when making the spicy topping for Jamie Olivers cauliflower risotto (fantastic by the way), made by frying anchovies and bread with garlic and chilli, I knew I liked three of those ingredients so I thought why not. I loved it. This then grew into a pasta sauce, having bought anchovies to use with the risotto I then realised I wanted something quick, so using the three best ingredients from the topping, anchovies, garlic and chilli along with red wine and a tin of tomatoes I made a sauce that will knock your socks off. The anchovies and garlic give it depth and the chilli adds a fiery heat, and then the wine softens it back down. I cannot do it justice in writing all I can say is make it yourself.  My sister loves this sauce so much that when she once came to visit me in St Andrews, we went to every shop searching for them, we went to Aldi, Morrisons and Tesco, No Luck. We went to the delis, Mitchells, Butlers, Tail end, NO LUCK. Finally we went into kerachers fish and game shop, and there we bought a small Styrofoam cup of fresh anchovies! I’d never used fresh anchovies before but I persevered on and it made 5 Tupperware’s of fantastic sauce. So Laura this recipe is for you.

Anchovy pasta sauce


makes enough sauce for 2-4 people depending on how much you love it

  • one tin of anchovies, or about half a jar if you buy them like that
  • Three cloves of garlic crushed
  • Chilli flakes
  • A tin of tomatoes
  • one large glass of red wine (Something you might drink yourself)
  • Parmesan
  • Pasta tubes, or something with ridges that hold the sauce.
  1. Start off the pasta, the sauce takes as long to make as the pasta takes to cook.
  2. Tip the anchovies oil and all into a non stick sauce pan and separate, allow these to melt down to nothing, add the chopped  garlic and the chilli flakes as much or as little as you like. Be warned it may spit at this point.
  3. After the garlic has softened add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir well. Allow to reduce slightly then add the glass of wine, stir again.
  4. Allow the sauce to reduce down by about a third or a half, if it seems too dry add more wine or some of the water from the pasta, it should coat the pasta with a thick layer of sauce.
  5. Serve by mixing with the pasta and adding a generous grating of parmesan. Enjoy.

Fast Food and Fun

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

Lamb and Laziness

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

Smoked salmon Muffins, a journey into experimental cooking

So on Tuesday I decided to do some experimental cooking, try recipes that I have not only never tried before but probably wouldn’t even think of trying. So in the morning I made smoked salmon muffins, and in the evening I made lamb necks braised in red wine, I shall blog about the first of these two today.

Smoked salmon is one of my favourite things, with cream cheese, with scrambled egg or on its own with a generous slug of lemon juice, so when I found this recipe, though taken aback by the thought of a savoury muffin I thought I had to try it.

Smoked Salmon muffins

Adapted from a recipe found in a weight watchers magazine, makes approximately six, so if you or your family are anything like mine I’d double up this recipe, since we ate 5 between us in one day. From start to finish this takes about 20minutes so it’s a fantastically quick recipe.

The deliciously light muffins


  • 100g Smoked salmon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml of Milk
  • zest or juice of one lemon
  • 125g of self razing flour
  • 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • Black pepper
  • dill/chives/thyme
  • 1tbsp of cream cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 190C or 170C if you have a fan oven, and line a bun tray with silicone cases or grease and line with paper bun cases.

2. Sift the flour and bicarb into a bowl and season generously with black pepper and the herbs then toss the smoke salmon in and coat it in the dry mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon, egg and milk together. Combine the wet and the dry, and mix together, finally add the cream cheese blend it into the mixture.

3. Spoon an even amount of mixture into the cases, be aware this will rise so don’t over fill. Place in pre heated oven and cook until golden.

Either serve straight out of the oven when warm, cut in half and spread with cream cheese and a grinding of pepper, or if serving later warm a little and serve the same way. These are a fantastic bunch or lunch, light and fluffy and deliciously tasty.

Finished muffins smeared with cream cheese and crushed black pepper.

A Hopeful return

So last time I posted here over 20 months ago I made you a promise, to blog more, what I didn’t realise then was that the coming months would be a whirl wind of preparing for real life. Passing exams, applying to postgrad places, running off to interviews, drowning sorrows at rejections, re applying, passing more exams, writing a dissertation, attending more interviews, celebrating getting a post grad place, passing my degree and graduating! There is also a whole load of social stuff in there that I just don’t have time to manage. Now I write to you not as an undergraduate but as some one who has an MPhys from St Andrews and will soon be starting their PhD, not a great time to re start my blogging but when is?

I’ve had a very long summer about 4 months and when I haven’t been jetting off around europe, nannying in Italy and exploring the alps in France, I’ve been at home in my village with not much to do, so I did what all good foodies do, and I’ve expanded my recipe list. I perfect some oldies and some favourites, learnt a whole new set of quick suppers and been very experimental, Smoked salmon muffins were a great surprise  So I hope to blog my new set of quick suppers and give you the recipe for smoked salmon Muffins. Hopefully this time I wont let you down.

Oh and I got the best late birthday present ever off my parents, Nigella’s Kitchen book, it and Delia Smith’s complete cookery are my two food bibles, so expect adaptations and general posts about how amazing Nigella is, though DO NOT get me started on her tv shows.

Me looking overly happy about the arrival of Nigella’s Kitchen!

Happy New year

Sorry its been a while, this whole senior honours thing is harder than it looks, plus my camera died as you all know. But its a new year, a new camera (yay!) and another set of exams to procrastinate away from!

So firstly I hope every one had a happy new year, I did, I spent my new year in the lake district eating lots and lots of food, and walking up hills and climbing. I love the lake districts it’s always pretty what ever the season and this winter it was beautiful, as you may recall it was freezing around christmas and this mean that the lakes had frozen over. That is quite impressive I mean 2 square miles of water frozen right across.

brrr cold

One of the piers where in better weather you can get a ferry across the lake.

So as New year happens you tend to make a resolution, this year I made two, one I intend to stick to, and one I will try my hardest to but will probably only half manage. So here they are:

  1. To eat better quality meat. That is to say I will get all my meat from butcher or farm shops or if I have to get it from a super market, I will not buy value. This resolution will probably mean I eat less meat but I feel it’s a stepI should be taking.
  2. To write on here more often, to be honest I don’t think it’ll be every day or even every week but probably every fortnight.

Finally I leave you with an image of whats to come.

Apparently this is a butternut squash, its huge i have made 3meals with it so far and still havent finished!

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