Back from Scotland! and a Strawberry Custard Tart Recipe.

Hello again! I am safely returned from an amazing adventure in Scotland. Good whisky, otherworldly fish and chips, fun people, and gorgeous hills and sky everywhere you look—not to mention, my calves still burn with the effort (and satisfaction) of summiting Ben Nevis, the British Isles’ tallest mountain. Here are a few highlights of the trip (culinary and otherwise)…

First, some gorgeous sightseeing with my family, who hosted me for a night of authentic Scottish food and great fun!

Then in Edinburgh, my fabulous traveler friend Caroline and I met up. We had a very tasty breakfast and great cup of tea at an adorable cafe called Urban Angel (note the butter portion):


My first souvenir purchase was, of course, Nigella Lawson’s new book Nigellissima (which I love with every centilitre of blood in my body, despite the book’s use of the metric system).

We tried haggis

…and devoured it!

And we couldn’t say no to my favorite Irish late-night classic, garlic cheese chips:

One of my favorite parts of the trip was our visit to the battlefield at Culloden Moor near Inverness. Not only was it very moving and historically cool, but you could pretty much turn your camera in any random direction and still end up with a gorgeous photo:

Then in Fort William, we befriended an Aussie and a Kiwi, and together we climbed Ben Nevis in a rather impressive 6 hours flat! I’m pretty proud of us. Fans of The Simpsons will appreciate the similarities between Ben Nevis and Springfield’s Murderhorn (“yes, that’s it….just to the right of the one you’re looking at.”) Who needs PowerSauce Bars?

And another favorite moment was our glorious high tea at Stewart Victorian Tearooms in Glasgow. Mmmmm. Clotted cream.

It was a fantastic trip.

But my hands were itchin’ for the kitchen by the time I got home, and this was the first treat I prepared: my own birthday custard fruit tart. This tart is inspired by a custard from Laura Calder and a shell from Ina Garten, and it’s every bit as good as you’d expect a dessert from those two to be. It was super easy even though I did make the shell myself, but if you really want to streamline the whole process, you can buy a premade pie shell and simply cook the custard and top with berries. Creamy and light and a great alternative to birthday cake!


for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
water, if needed

for filling:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
splash of vanilla
1 scant cup Greek yogurt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups strawberries, sliced
lemon juice


First, prepare the tart shell. In a food processor, pulse butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and pulse. Then combine the flour and salt in a bowl and add in two batches, pulsing until just combined. The dough should just hold together when pressed, so if it doesn’t at this point (mine didn’t), add a few drops of water and pulse until it reaches the right consistency. Turn the dough out onto wax paper and press into a disc. Wrap in paper and let it rest in the refrigerator at least half an hour.

Take the cold dough and carefully roll it out to to the size of your greased tart tin or pie dish. Press the dough into the dish and up the sides. Put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the tart shell out of the fridge and carefully lay a sheet of parchment paper over the dough. Fill the parchment-lined shell with dried beans, or fit another smaller pan into the shell. This will help it keep its shape while it bakes.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans or pan and use a spatula to touch up any thin or slipping parts of the shell base or sides. Prick a few times with a fork and place it back in the oven to cook another 13-17 minutes until golden brown.

Remove shell from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the custard. Whisk together eggs and sugar. Then add vanilla and yogurt and stir until smooth.

Pour the custard into the shell through a sieve so that it’s totally smooth. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.

Bake 18-24 minutes, until set. Let cool completely.

When the tart is completely cooled, arrange the strawberry slices on top of the custard. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy! Happy birthday to me.


Kelly…out of the Kitchen.

I’m off to Scotland – by the time this post auto-publishes, I’ll be in the air and on my way to Edinburgh! I’ll spend the night with family outside of Stirling, then a few days in the capital city before we head north to Inverness, stopping in St. Andrews on the way. From there we’re off to Fort William, where we’ll climb Ben Nevis and get some quality time with the great outdoors. We stop in Oban before making our way back to the Lowlands to Glasgow, and then finally to Edinburgh to fly back home 10 days later.

So it’s one more hot toddy for me before I fly fly fly away. Goodbye for now, readers. See you in 10 days. And, since I’ll be gone when it’s time to say it, Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple Walnut Cake.

Many many thanks to fantastic art director and mi amiga Vanessa Palacio for photographing this cake for me! These are by far the most expert and mouth-wateringly gorgeous shots that have graced KellyintheKitchen. And not only that, but she also picked the apples herself on a recent apple orchard excursion, so muchas muchas gracias a ti, Vane!! We got together on Sunday at my apartment to bake this yummy apple walnut cake, inspired by a similar recipe from smitten kitchen. It’s a pretty unique cake—we loved that instead of butter, this recipe calls for olive oil and lemon-flavored yogurt, which really changes the texture and makes it super moist and soft. After all our hard cake-prep work, it was quite a struggle waiting for our pastel de manzanas y nogales to finish baking, but once it was done (and had posed for its close-up), each bite was everything we dreamed of and more. Nos gusta comer manzanas.


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup lemon yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until totally smooth and incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Alternate adding half the flour mixture and half the oil, stirring between each addition.

Then fold in the apples and walnuts.

Pour into a greased springform pan and shake from side to side, to distribute batter evenly. Sift the cinnamon over the cake.

Use the handle end of your spoon to swirl the cinnamon into the top of the batter.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it gently. If you find that a toothpick inserted into the cake never comes out clean, don’t worry—the toothpick test doesn’t work with this cake. It’s too moist!

Dust with powdered sugar…

…and enjoy!

Hot Toddy.

Another recipe in preparation for my eagerly-awaited trip to Scotland. In one month, I’ll be hiking through the Scottish Highlands, wrapped up all toasty warm in a scarf and mittens and a new pair of boots. The days will be short this late in the year, and the weather will be cold but otherwise unpredictable. I’ve done a good bit of traveling so far in my life, and I don’t think I’ve been anywhere more romantic and almost eerily tranquil as Scotland in wintertime—I can’t wait to go back. I’m looking forward to indulging in a bit of Scottish cuisine (including haggis, eek!) and will do my best to appreciate Scotch whisky, though I know very little about it. If any of you, dear readers, have the knowledge and inclination to educate me on the ins and outs of Scotch, I would much appreciate it. For now, I’ll mix up a hot toddy before bed and drift off to sleep, dreaming of fog and heather.


1 tsp honey
4 tbsp just-boiled water (or more—dilute as needed!)
3 tbsp whisky
1/2 cinnamon stick
tiny pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Squeeze honey into teacup. Add grated nutmeg and cinnamon stick.

Pour water over honey and add whisky and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir to dissolve the honey, and drink up.

Peach Gin Fizz.

A retro gin cocktail? Why yes, I did watch an episode or two of Mad Men this morning. I don’t make a lot of fun ‘n’ fancy cocktails at home because it’s too hard to keep all those ingredients around, but thanks to a generously huge bottle of gin from my godfather (which I’m slowly but surely making my way to the bottom of–thanks AJ!), I’ve always got the option of a stiff gin cocktail. Lucky me. So this morning on Mad Men, when Joan ordered a gin fizz with her dinner, I was all over it. This peach version is a perky pink take on the classic gin fizz that was daintily chugged by my advertising foremothers. A great way to say goodbye to warm weather!

Peach Gin Fizz | KellyintheKitchen | 4 shots of gin, 1/2 peach, 1 lime, tonic water, ice

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

4 shots of gin
1/2 peach, sliced
1 lime, juiced
tonic water (I used diet tonic water, whatever that is…)

*I like to make these in mason jars. Besides being so cute, they also have the dual function of cocktail shaker and cocktail glass! It’s all about multi-tasking.


Take two mason jars and place the peach slices inside. Pour two shots of gin into each one and add the lime juice. Screw the tops onto the jars and shake well. If you like, add a few ice cubes before shaking.

Throw in some ice cubes if you haven’t already and top it off with tonic water. Garnish with a little slice of peach and enjoy the last days of summer!

Poule au Pot.

Sunday didn’t start out rainy. I woke up at 9:30, and despite feeling a bit low-energy, I grabbed my yoga bag (which I somehow had the foresight to pack the night before) and headed out the door to get my butt kicked for an intense hour and a half. By the time I left the studio, it had become overcast, and a cool, late summer rain was falling. As I walked an umbrella-less mile back to my apartment, I realized it was the perfect weather for that rare and elusive treat: light comfort food. In other words, it was time to make poule au pot! I first saw this peasant’s poached chicken and vegetable dish being prepared on one of my favorite cooking shows, Laura Calder’s French Food at Home. It’s incredibly easy and serves up all beautiful and mellow, with buttery flavors that make you think it’s more indulgent than it is. Since the chicken and veggies are poached, you not only have a very healthy dish on your hands, you’ve also got a whole bonus pot-ful of super-flavorful chicken broth leftover, to do with as you wish. And as for the chicken, I serve it in a pool of hot broth with the veggies and a little pile of quinoa on the side, but let me tell you, it is perfect for chicken salad too. Whatever you do with it, poule au pot has all the warming and homey power of comfort food, with none of the greasy richness. This is the magic of chicken in a pot–what’s not to love?


1 whole chicken
2 bay leaves
5 whole cloves garlic, skin on
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
3 turnips, halved
2 parsnips, peeled and cut to about the size of the turnips
3 carrots, peeled and cut to match the parsnips
3 celery stalks, cleaned and cut in two
2 leeks, sliced longways, halved shortways, and washed (I find it’s easier to cut leeks first, then wash them after)
1 onion, quartered (Laura Calder suggests pearl onions, but I didn’t have any)


Place the chicken in a deep pot, breast-side up. Fill the pot with water until it covers the chicken. Add the bay leaves and garlic and bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the surface of the water every few minutes.

After the foam has stopped forming, add the thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, tarragon, and salt and pepper. Cook on a low boil for 30 minutes.

After 30 minute have passed, flip the chicken over so that the breast side is down. Turn the heat down slightly and cook another 10 minutes.

Next, add the turnips, parsnips, and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes.

Then add the celery and onion. Cook 5 minutes.

Finally, add the leeks to the pot. Cook 5 minutes.

That’s all! After a total of 60 minutes of chicken-poaching, with the veggies staggered so that they’re all just perfectly fork-tender, you’ve got an efficiently glorious dish that will make you pat yourself on the back a few times. My, you’re a good chef. Now eat some chicken.