The Italian Kitchen Glasgow

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Last week I was invited, along with four other bloggers, to try out the new menu at The Italian Kitchen in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

The restaurant has been part of Merchant City’s landscape for over ten years now but has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. The interiors are welcoming and inviting with warm lighting, and the menu is extensive, with something to suit everyone.  All food served in The Italian Kitchen is freshly made daily, using quality ingredients, and this really reflects in the dishes I tried.

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Image courtesy of www.italian-kitchen.co.uk

We were served an amazing array of breads, including freshly baked bread with oils & olives, and three different foccacias with rosemary & garlic, chilli & garlic, and with cherry tomatoes, basil & garlic.

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An array of Italian breads

I love a foccacia bread, and the highlight of this selection for me was most definitely the Foccacia Al Pomodoro with the freshest, sweetest little cherry tomatoes.

For starter I ordered the Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte.

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Crostino Con Funghi E Dolcelatte

This was a stunning starter, with delicious garlicky Portobello mushrooms dripping in melted dolcelatte and crunchy pine nuts. The flavours were beautiful, and the contrasting textures worked perfectly to make this  a 5 star dish!

For main course I ordered the Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardon E Crema – a hollow spaghetti with pancetta, spicy sardo sausage, and onions, in a creamy tomato sauce.

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Bucatini All’Amatriciana Con Sardo E Crema

I had never tried Bucatini before, but really loved this as an interesting alternative to spaghetti. The sauce was well seasoned and not too creamy, the Sardo sausage was deliciously herby, and the crispy pancetta on top really finished this dish perfectly.

After a healthy serving of bread, and a generous starter and main course, I questioned if I would have room for dessert, however I find it hard to pass on Tiramisu, so I didn’t…

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Tiramisu

The Tiramisu was beautifully presented and did not disappoint. Beautifully light and fluffy mascarpone mousse, complemented by chocolate and light sponge soaked in coffee – this was a winning combination of flavours executed really well.

As well as being served a delicious meal we were also given a demonstration of how to make our own ravioli by chef Raphael. I have to say he made it look incredibly easy, but until I get myself a pasta maker and get to grips with it, I will most definitely be returning to The Italian Kitchen for their fresh ravioli… We were given some to take home with us, which I thoroughly enjoyed the following evening after a late shift at work. The spinach and ricotta filling was light and herby, and the pasta was perfect!

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Chef Raphael demonstrating  how to make the perfect ravioli

Thankyou to Marco and his team for entertaining us and serving us a delicious meal. I look forward to my next visit very soon…
If you find yourself in Glasgow’s Merchant City and are looking for somewhere inviting to eat a fresh, tasty Italian meal then please check out The Italian Kitchen and let me know what you think…

A Tangled Birthday Cake For Little Squirrel’s 4th Birthday

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It is hard to believe yet another month has gone by since we celebrated Little Squirrel turning 4.
For her 4th birthday cake, she had been telling me since before Christmas that she would like a Rapunzel/Tangled cake. As usual I turned to Pinterest for my inspiration, and these were my two favourite designs I came across…

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Left – Rapunzel cake by www.cutelittlecupcakes.co.uk
Right – Tangled cake by www.madeleinescakes.com

I consulted with the birthday girl herself and she decided on the design on the right. Now I usually try to put my own twist on my cakes, but this design was perfectly simple, yet effective, so I just replicated this cake.

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This was my first time using a transfer for a larger cake. Thanks to the lovely Frances Auty Bakes for recommending Edible Prints as a reliable suppler of icing sheets. My order with Edible Prints was very simple to process through their website, and the icing sheet arrived within a couple of days. I will definitely used this supplier again, and I think the icing sheet in combination with some handmade decorations gives a great finish!

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Little Squirrel loved her Tangled cake, and I was thrilled to see her happy little face as she saw it for the first time…

As I am writing this post Little Squirrel is looking at these photos of her 4th birthday cake and is telling me she would like the same cake but with a 5 on it for her next birthday. Definitely a sign that the cake was a big hit for her! 🙂

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A Bunny Birthday Cake For Littlest Squirrel’s 2nd Birthday

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Littlest Squirrel turned two almost a month ago now, so I thought it was time to publish a birthday cake post…

I had been planing her birthday cake since the New Year, and knew straight away it would have to be a bunny cake as her favourite toy is a little cuddly bunny that she cannot be without! As usual my cake inspiration came from Pinterest with this sweet little bunny cake…

The little bunny was super easy to make with some modelling paste, and I decided to introduce a little more colour with green fondant icing and some coloured flowers and little butterflies.

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We had a lovely little celebration in our home with some of our neighbours, and I loved to watch Littlest Squirrel’s face light up when the cake was presented and everyone sang Happy Birthday.

Indian Tapas Meets Craft Beer At Crossing The Rubicon, Glasgow

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Crossing The Rubicon opened on Glasgow’s Great Western Road at the end of 2016, and in my mind is the most exciting addition to the West End’s dining scene in some time. It is from the same family as Drygate Brewing Co, so if you love craft beer and exciting beers from around the world this place is definitely worth a visit.
As for the food they specialise in curries, serving small plates, and they have a really impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from.

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a bloggers evening at Crossing The Rubicon where we were treated to a fabulous showcase of some of the restaurant’s popular dishes… #bloggingtherubicon

I left this event with the biggest of smiles on my face following a feast of beautiful, delicious, fresh, and flavour-packed dishes. I thought I would share with you here some of my favourite dishes from the evening…

To begin, we munched and crunched through some poppadoms and pickles. There was a delicious little pickle of shredded apple with chilli and lime that was bursting with contrasting flavours and textures, and was the perfect accompaniment to the poppadoms.

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Poppadoms & Pickles

Next up we had a selection of vegetarian pakora and some black pudding and crispy chicken pakora. The crispy chicken pakora was the star of this show – delicious velvety chicken encased in a crispy coating of batter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Black Pudding Pakora & Crispy Chicken Pakora

We were then served some hot buttered chapati with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Chana Chat was a beautiful cold salad of chickpeas with lemon and herbs, bursting with fresh and zingy flavours.

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Hot Buttered Chapati & Chana Chat

The Dhal Makani was a rich and buttery lentil dish which was warm and comforting, like a hug in a bowl (am currently Googling Dhal Makani recipes for tonight’s dinner alongside writing this post!). I neglected to get a good photo of this dish, so just get down there and order yourself a pot!

I really loved the Crispy Tofu Mutter. The light crispy tofu was perfectly complimented by a deep, rich, pea and cumin curry.

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Crispy Tofu Mutter

This Roast Carrot and Sweet Potato Korma was perhaps my favourite dish of the night! Rich, sweet and creamy – what’s not to love?! But really… korma has the potential to be sickly sweet, yet this dish is executed perfectly and was a firm favourite amongst my fellow food-loving bloggers!

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Roast Carrot & Sweet Potato Korma

From the meat dishes on the menu we tried the Tandoori Butter Chicken and a Venison Madras. The Tandoori Butter Chicken was perfection… the tomato and butter masala was full of flavour, rich and buttery, and most definitely worth a return visit.

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Tandoori Butter Chicken

Just when we though we couldn’t fit any more food in to our very well looked after tummies, a Vegan Chocolate Pot arrived at the table. As I plunged my spoon in to this little pot of chocolate I thought this is going to be too dense, too rich, too much… oh how I was wrong! Yes, it was dense in texture, however it melted on the tongue with heavenly bursts of orange and subtle little explosions of chilli. This was the perfect ending to a night full of flavour-packed dishes.

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Vegan Chocolate Pot

I thoroughly enjoyed this huge selection of dishes we were lucky enough to try, and I have already picked out some dishes from the menu that I will be returning to try, such as the Ox Cheek Bhuna and the Lamb Achari Saag. I should also mention how impressed I was with the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu. This is the perfect spot to take your vegetarian and vegan friends to.

I really hope that you pay Crossing The Rubicon a visit if you are local to Glasgow. The food was packed full of flavour, the staff were lovely, and the beer selection was huge!

Huge Thanks to Crossing The Rubicon for inviting us along to try your dishes. You’re a lovely, talented bunch, and I wish you all the success! See you soon…

 

Celebrate Burns Night With The Calvin Haggis Burger At Byron Burgers

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Byron is getting into the spirit of Burn’s Night in true Byron style – with a delicious burger special, available exclusively across all Scottish Byron restaurants from Monday January 23 to Sunday January 29 2017.
The Calvin Haggis features a 6oz hamburger patty, haggis, bacon and onion relish, a classic tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and blanched white onions, all finished off with a dollop of Byron sauce and sandwiched between a soft glazed bun.

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The Calvin Haggis Burger – wow!!!!!

Last weekend I was invited along to Glasgow Byron, on West George Street, to sample the mighty Calvin Haggis burger…

This is definitely not a burger for the faint of heart (or for those with small appetites)!
I was a little concerned that the haggis may be a little overpowering, however it works really well alongside all the other components of this amazing burger. The contrast of the crispy bacon against the soft egg and smooth haggis, meaty beef patty, and soft tattie scone make this a really exciting combination of flavours and textures.

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Hungry Squirrel enjoying the Calvin Haggis Burger

I am a little sad that this burger is only available for one week, and am hoping that it will prove popular and maybe, just maybe, they might keep it as a permanent fixture in the Scottish branches of Byron?

If the Calvin Haggis doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other tasty dishes to choose from at Byron, and a great selection of sides and starters to tantalise your taste buds. We were very spoiled during our visit to Byron, and alongside the Calvin Haggis burger we feasted on nachos, the Cluckosaurus Rex burger (fried chicken breast, streaky bacon, onion ring, cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise), bacon cheese fries, courgette fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayonnaise, and coleslaw. Phew!

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Top left – nachos
Top right – Cluckosaurus Rex
Bottom left – courgette fries, bacon cheese fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayo
Bottom right – coleslaw

Of all the sides we ordered I most enjoyed the coleslaw. It was crunchy and light, and really fresh, and the perfect accompaniment for the meaty burgers.

The star of the show without doubt was the Calvin Haggis burger. Huge Congrats to Hayley of Glasgow Byron for coming up with this innovative burger  – a perfect burger to celebrate Scotland and Burns Night.

If you fancy wrapping your jaws around this Braveheart of burgers then make sure to pay a visit to your nearest Scottish branch (Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen) of Byron this week (January 23 – January 29).

Roast Tomato Soup

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After a recent trip to see my Dad in N Ireland, I came back to Scotland laden with produce from my Dad’s garden, including an array of Dad’s own jams and marmalades, cucumbers, green peppers, and some plump, and beautifully red tomatoes from his greenhouse. I knew I wanted to make a tomato soup with the tomatoes. There is something so comforting about a bowl of tomato soup, especially at this time of year – it really is like a hug in a bowl!

I have tried a couple of recipes for tomato soup over the years, but have not really found a winner, until now…

I came across a recipe by Rachel Allen in her book Home Cooking. I love how simple this recipe is. The oven does all the work for you, roasting off all the dry ingredients before adding in some stock and blending. Roasting the vegetables brings out the most beautiful rich and sweet flavours from the tomatoes, onions and garlic, and fills your kitchen with a heavenly aroma. I have adapted the recipe a little to my own liking. I hope you like it as much as I do…

NB – this recipe works best when your tomatoes are very ripe. 

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml vegetable stock
Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a large tray with some olive oil to prevent the vegetables sticking to the tray.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes, then halve them, and place in the baking tray with the sliced onions, garlic cloves, and thyme leaves.
NB – the best way to skin the tomatoes is to make a small nick on the base of each tomato using a sharp knife, and place in a large bowl. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for 1 minute, or until you see the skin starting to peel away from the flesh, then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once cool enough to handle the skin should just slip away from the flesh.
Sprinkle over the sugar, and then drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil.
Place the tray in your preheated oven for 30 mins, until the vegetables are softened.
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Decant the contents of the baking tray in to a liquidiser, including any juices from the pan. Add in the stock, blend until smooth, and pour in to a large saucepan.
Enjoy!
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Foodies Festival Christmas 2016 At Edinburgh EICC – Ticket Giveaway

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Foodies Festival Christmas launches at EICC Edinburgh on the 25th, 26th and 27th of November, and promises to get you ready for the culinary Christmas season!

The Chefs Theatre has a fantastic line-up of chefs sharing their tips for a tasty Christmas, including MasterChef 2016 Winner Jane Devonshire, Jamie Scott of The Newport, Scott Davies of The Three Chimneys, Mark Greenaway of Restaurant Mark Greenaway, and Gillian, Nichola, & Linsey of Three Sisters Bake to name but a few!

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Top – Jamie Scott of The Newport
Bottom – Gillian & Nichola of Three Sisters Bake

There will also be a Cake & Bake Theatre, a Drinks Theatre, an Artisan Christmas Market and an Elves Cookery School to keep the younger visitors entertained. My favourite part of the Foodies Festival when I visited last year was the great selection of Street Food Stalls… can’t wait to see what’s on offer this year!

If you fancy visiting Christmas Foodies Festival tickets are on sale now at foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111.
All children aged 12 and under go free when accompanied by an adult.

I have 5 pairs of day tickets to give away to my lovely readers. To be in with a chance of winning click on this link to submit your details and enter the competition.

Terms & Conditions

  • This competition will run until 12.00am on November 13 2016
  • The winners will need to respond within 48 hours of being contacted; failure to do this may result in another winner being selected.
  • This giveaway is open to UK entries only. 
  • Entrants must be age 18 or over.
  • The prize is offered and provided by the Foodies Festival. The prize is one of five pairs of adult day tickets to the Edinburgh Foodies Festival Christmas on the 25, 26, or 27th of November 2016.