Total Restaurant Day Geeks!

securedownload-5Restaurant Day is a fantastic opportunity for amateurs to try their hand at creating a menu and running a restaurant for the day and for professionals and business owners to experiment and collaborate outside the confines of their existing enterprise. Total Food Geeks teaming up with Giovanni’s, on Northfield Broadway, was the perfect example.>

Founded in 2011 in Helsinki, this carnival of food has now spread across the globe, with more and more countries playing host to one-day, one-off restaurants that pop-up, then disappear the next day.

We managed to pull together our ideas, find a location and make it happen with only a few weeks notice. So imagine what can be done a bit more time and more willing volunteers across Edinburgh!

Our idea focussed on reusing leftovers, with Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign offering excellent support.

Read other reflections on the day from Scran Salon, Arianna, and Edinburgh Foody.

We had excellent fun organising our little event. Here are the recipes from the day. Try them out and let us know how you get on.securedownload-4

The Geeks





  • 600g of mixed mushrooms
  • 2 onions
  • Garlic
  • 3 bread rolls
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ras el hanout
  • vegetable stock

This is a soup that has converted friends who were either mushroom sceptics (texture issues, mainly) and/or mushroom soup sceptics (too icky creamy), but it’s never going to be a looker. It should ideally be a rich brown colour, once made.

To get there, start with onions in a little butter and oil. If you have some garlic add it in – I forgot on this occasion. Add in whatever mushrooms you have to hand. Today, I used some chestnut, some oysters and some whites.securedownload-2

Cook them down for a little while until things are colouring nicely. Then comes the magic ingredient – ras el hanout.

Translating as something like “top of the shop” (ie the best spices in the place), as with most (if not all) spice mixes, I’m sure ras el hanout has its origins in a utilitarian use of small amounts of leftover spices, blended together to make them into something more than the sum of their parts. Well, that’s my excuse for using it here, anyway…

Shop-bought versions vary wildly. They tend to have a backbone of black pepper with dried rose petals in there, but ratios and other elements (cumin, paprika, chilli, cardamom etc. etc.) can differ markedly. I was using a shop-bought one from Sainsbury’s which I think works well. Use it sparingly – I reckon half a teaspoon tops will do the job.20141115_123218

Now, the next ingredient is left over bread. You can crumb this or you can just tear it up, as you’re going to blend the soup later anyway. I was using day old breakfast rolls and given they were quite floury, I added then in a few minutes earlier than if using bread, just to make sure the dusty flour cooked down and didn’t muddy the flavour later on.

Now top with stock. I cheated and used stock cubes – if we were being true to the leftover spirit, I’d obviously have lots of stock floating around. I was keeping things veggie today, but chicken stock always works well.

It doesn’t need lots of cooking from here; 10-15 minutes works fine.

Blend roughly. You want to retain a rustic texture, so blitz it in short bursts with a hand blender then assess how it looks.

Because bread has been used to thicken, this has a major impact on the seasoning. The rolls I used today meant no additional seasoning was required. It’s likely if you use better bread, which may have less salt in it, you’ll need to season up at this point.And that’s that!securedownload



  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 onions
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 big bunch of rocket

This is a simple and straightforward one, with a little leftover twist at the end.

A lot of broccoli soup recipes advise cooking the broccoli very lightly then blending, so bright green colour is retained. I find you often end up with something bright but flavourless with this method.

For me the way to go is to start with onions and the chopped stem of the broccoli, sweat them down slowly, then add the florets. Top with stock and give the broccoli a good cook through.

Now to address the problem that you now have a pot of liquid that looks completely horrid, once you’re ready to blend the soup, add in a big load of green leaves. I used rocket, which saves on having to season with pepper, but spinach or a mix of various other leaves would do as well. This returns the green colour, adds a little extra flavour from whatever you’ve used, but you have a more rounded broccoli flavour that comes through.

I like blue cheese in broccoli soup, but I know that’s a divisive one, so crumble a little as a topping if you fancy.

Vegetable Pasties

I was inspired to prepare and bake these by the fact that all too often after Christmas lunches or dinners there are a lot of leftover broccoli, parsnips, Brussels sprouts as well as bits and pieces of cheese.  For our outing at Restaurant Day I chose the greens… however, you can make the pasties with any leftover veg and cheese you fancy!

For 12 pasties

Pastry: rub 85g margarine in 400g of plain flour, add a pinch of salt and then enough cold water to bind in a pliable pastry.  Roll out and knead it for a couple of minutes, then wrap in clingfilm and chill til required.  Mix the cooked vegetables, cubed cheese and herbs and seasonings of your choice in a bowl; add a couple of medium eggs, beaten and mix again.  Roll out the pastry and cut in rounds–I used a cereal bowl but you can use also a large cookie cutter if you have it.  Place a spoonful of filling on one half of the round, then close the other half like a flap on top and seal with some cold water or oil.  Bake for 25min at 190C.  You can brush them with beaten egg white for show! 🙂

Spicy Carrot Cake

This recipe is great for using up left over carrots, either store bought or an end of season glut if you grow your own. Its also handy for finishing off spare eggs and self raising flour (which doesnt keep for long) and the icing will use up any cream cheese you have lying about in the fridge.

  • 350g dark brown soft sugar
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 4 tsp cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 400g grated  carrot
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g cream cheese
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 250g icing sugar

Whisk together the sugar, oil, orange extract and eggs until well combined and sugar is dissolved (much easier with an electric whisk). Sift together the flour, spices and bicarb of soda and fold into the wet ingredients. Add the carrots and coconut and fold through.

Spoon the mix into a greased 8×16 inch tray bake tin (can be divided into two sandwich tins to make a single cake) and bake in a 170°C oven for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin/s before turning them out.

For the icing, cream together the butter, icing sugar and cream cheese, adding a little sugar at a time. Mix in the orange zest. Cut the cake into squares or rectangles and ice each one. Dust with cinnamon to finish.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s