Roberta Hall Small

Featuring Roberta Hall, chef and co-owner of The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh and finalist in the Great British Menu How long have you been a chef? I have been a chef for 20 years. Why did you become a chef? I did one week’s work experience at The Tower Restaurant when I was 16 and I…

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Merienda 30 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6TP 0131 220 2020   www.eat-merienda.com Campbell Mickel, Owner of Merienda Carol Main For anyone reading this, it’s a fairly safe bet that one of the best things about going on holiday is the food. There is endless joy and pleasure in thinking about regional cuisine as part…

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Tagliatelle al ragu

The ever readable Tony Turnbull is Food Editor of The Times. Unlike his idiosyncratic food critic Mr Coren (whose job I secretly envy) he is always worth the reading, informative and entertaining at the same time. He also appears to be no mean cook. It was therefore with some surprise that I read that he really…

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I don’t use gadgets much, but a recent article in the Observer Food Magazine gave me pause for thought, as if we needed any more free time at present. Jay Rayner was writing of cooking in lockdown, and how he felt the need to use precisely the right tool for a specific job, even if…

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Asparagus bunches

This column has long preached seasonality. Hardly original, and to country folk it’s as natural as, well, the seasons. But when you’re on the hamster wheel of business, especially in Scotland where our dull climate means we barely need to change our wardrobe from month to month, it’s easy to let the subtle changes in…

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Smoked Haddock Risotto small

We don’t have a decent chip shop anywhere near us. Probably just as well. For me, not much beats a good fish supper: conversely, few things are more disgusting than a bad one. And in Scotland, the fish has to be haddock. I’ve never been a great fan of cod, favoured south of the border.…

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And before I start counting the ways, please do NOT write in to point out that I ought to have said ye instead of thee. As I may have written before, there’s  room for only one annoying pedant in this blog. As a boss of L’s, a great stalwart of the Labour Party, was wont…

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It is said that the most successful people in life are those who made plans early and followed them through rigorously. Apparently, on leaving university, Michael Heseltine scribbled down his goals on the back of an envelope. The list read – 25 Millionaire; 35 Cabinet Member; 45 Leader of the Party; 55 Prime Minister. All…

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Guinness Cake Small

As many of you will know, making sweet things is not my forte. In an attempt to broaden my repertoire, I have tried to develop this part of my game; however, bread making apart, baking is not my thing. I therefore suggested to my sister in law, cook and baker extraordinaire, that she might contribute…

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Don’t let the two week break make you think that activity here at Casa Johnston has slowed. Au contraire. My willing helpers, PAs, research assistants, sous chefs and food stylists, have been beavering away as usual. No furloughing here. Material for future On The Side columns is tucked away in the can: recipes for Tom Cooks! are…

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Featuring Campbell Mickel of Merienda and Exec Chef Cuisine. See below for details of how to order their amazing food even during lockdown. How long have you been a chef? I started cooking full time when I was 15….February 1986. It was strange being so young out working 50 hours a week until very late…

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The Fat Duck High Street, Bray, Berks SL6 2AQ 01628 580333   www.thefatduck.co.uk The Bill 15 courses: £275 + Service (2017 price) The Score Cooking 10/10 | Service 5/5 | Flavour 5/5 | Value 5/5 TOTAL 25/25 Obviously there are no restaurants to review at present. Tom Eats! will provide a varied programme which will include…

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Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

As I mentioned in the recent article on TV chefs, I’m not a fan of Ready, Steady Cook. Of watching it, that is. Being presented with unexpected ingredients and having to rustle something up is quite fun. And occasionally there are external factors which impact upon one’s options. It started when herself went out to…

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Lamb Rack

On many dinner tables this Easter Sunday, there will be a roast. Not as large as if the family was coming to visit, but lots of you will maintain a traditional feast on a smaller scale. And for many, perhaps even the majority, that will be sheep meat, almost certainly lamb. That’s a very fine…

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  Trotter’s Independent Condiments and now Super Meals – Good Guys Doing Good Things www.trottersindependent.co.uk/super-meals 07712 339 275 I had one more restaurant review in the can. It was half done, as I had intended to revisit, the first lunch having resulted in rather too much duplication. When I invite others out to a Tom…

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meatballs and Pasta Small

I’m pretty certain that meatballs will have been with us for as long as we have had meat, and certainly for as long as we have had butchers. My late Ma alerted me to a long established trick practised by unscrupulous members of that profession, sticking a half ounce of mince on the bottom of…

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Keith Floyd Small

Here in Johnston Towers not a huge amount of TV is watched in normal times. Each of us has our own guilty secrets. And we also have guilty TV watching habits, some of which simply cannot be shared, lest divorce follow, at least as soon as lawyers’ offices reopen. So, sadly, you will hear nothing…

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Strawberry Barn Interior

Thistly Cross Roundabout Dunbar, East Lothian EH42 1ST 01368 860573  www.belhavenfruitfarm.co.uk The Bill Supper Club  5 courses: £40.00 The Score Cooking 8/10 | Service 4/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 4/5 TOTAL 20/25   I thought long and hard about continuing to publish reviews, given present circumstances. I have decided to press ahead with what…

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Spatchcock Chicken Cooked

Spatchcocked and ready to cook I received a very generous Christmas present from my sister in law, a voucher for Nisbets, kitchen equipment suppliers. Never, ever, buy stuff again from chi chi little “kitchen shops”. Nisbets will sell you professional quality stuff at keen prices. (But if you are perusing their price list, remember that…

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Craig Wood Cropped

Featuring Craig Wood, chef and co-owner of The Wee Restaurant, North Queensferry and The Wee Restaurant, Edinburgh. Obviously the restaurants are closed just now, but there is a fantastic takeaway and delivery service available from North Queensferry. See below for details. How long have you been a chef? 32 years. I started part time at…

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Peat Inn Exterior

Restaurant With Rooms Peat Inn, near St Andrews, Fife KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk The Bill Set Lunch  3 courses: £25.00 Dinner Menu of the Day  3 courses: £58.00 Tasting Menu 6 courses: £78.00 A la Carte First Dishes: £19.00 – £20.00 | Second Dishes: £28.00 – £35.00 To Follow: £11.00 – £12.00 The Score…

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Chicken and leek pie

First day of spring approaching? Well not if you shove your nose out of my door, it ain’t. After some good feed back from last week’s recipes featuring leeks, I thought I’d dig this one out. Take this pie, break the crust and you get colours of summer, succulent white chicken, pale green leeks and…

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