Friday, 29 April 2016

Shakshuka - Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs



Not all tinned tomatoes are created equal. This is something that took me a while to discover. As a student tinned tomatoes were a staple of my food shop due to their sheer versatility. Once you can make a simple tomato sauce the world is your oyster. Serve it with pasta, make it into chilli or bolognaise or combine both into a lasagne. It's one of the building blocks of basic cooking skills. However as a student with limited budget I always opted for the cheapest supermarket own brand or basics version. Big mistake. Buying cheap tinned tomatoes is a false economy. It's definitely worth spending a wee bit more for a quality brand and I'm delighted to be teaming up as an ambassador with with premium Italian tomato brand Cirio.




Founded in Italy 1856, Cirio make a wonderful range of tins, jars and cartons of tomato products. Although it is tempting to reach for the cheapest tinned tomatoes in the supermarket you can tell the Cirio difference as soon as you pick up the can. With cheaper brands there is a lot of sloshing about as there will be a lot of juice and not a lot of tomato. When you open the tin the colour comparison is stark, their tomatoes are actually bright deep red, the chopped product is thick and whole tomato flesh firm. But the real difference comes in taste and intensity of flavour. Their products are simply richer, sweeter, less acidic and bursting with tomatoeyness. Give Cirio a try and you'll be converted.


The recipe I'm sharing today is for Shakshuka which is essentially eggs baked in a tomato based sauce. It works well as a Vegetarian dish but meat eaters could add spicy chorizo for an extra kick of flavour. Shakshuka has its origins in North Africa and is a simple rustic one pot dish in which the quality of the tomatoes can really shine through. The name means to mix up or shake up and in my recipe I've mixed the traditional tomatoes and eggs with seasonal Jersey Royal potatoes. It makes a perfect brunch or supper dish and you can spice it up or down according to you own taste. I'm a bit of a woose so go heavy on the smoked paprika and light on the chilli. Shakshuka is frugal food that's full of flavour, but only if you splash out a wee bit on your key ingredient.




Shakshuka - Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs

Ingredients
400g Jersey Royal New Potatoes
Splash of Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely sliced
1 Red Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
200g Carton Cirio Passata
400g Tin Cirio Chopped Tomatoes
100g Spinach
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
Chilli Flakes/Chopped Fresh Red Chilli - to taste
Salt & Pepper
4 Free Range Eggs

Method
Preheat your oven to 180c
Boil the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and thickly slice.
Whist the potatoes are cooking add a splash of rapeseed to to a frying pan - ideally an oven proof one.
Fry the onion, garlic and peppers until softened.
Mix in the Cirio Passata and the Cirio Chopped Tomatoes
Stir through the spinach and allow it to wilt down before adding the precooked sliced potatoes.
Season with the basil, parsley, smoked paprika, chilli and freshly ground salt and black pepper.
Make 4 shallow hollows in the mixture and crack and egg into each.
If you're not using an oven proof frying pan, transfer the tomato mix to an ovenproof dish before you add the eggs
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Sprinkle the eggs with some extra smoked paprika and ground black pepper and serve with a green salad and crusty bread for dipping.


For further Cirio Tomato inspiration take a look at Bintu's Joloff Spaghetti and Helen's Slow Cooked Beef Ragu and Fagioli all’uccelletto


Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for Cirio. All opinions expressed are my own.





Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A visit to Crossbill Gin and The Shed Of The Year



Some people go on holiday and come back with straw donkeys, kiss me quick hats and T-shirts. I come back with Gin. The resurgence of mother's ruin means that artisan small batch distilleries are springing up all around the UK so as a self confessed admirer of the juniper spirit it would be rude for me not to check out what the local tipple is in the area that I'm visiting. Hence when I was in Dorset & Devon last year at River Cottage a bottle of Conker Gin came back in my suitcase. What better excuse to visit my parents in The Black Isle than a bottle of Glen Wyvis. You'd like me to speak at your conference in Thurso? Can you just confirm that there will be Rock Rose Gin in the goody bag. We spent last week in Aviemore and I was aware that Crossbill Gin was made somewhere in the vicinity of the Cairngorms but wasn't sure exactly where. Time to track it down!




I'm a sucker for any of those Channel 4 shows about property. Grand Designs, Amazing Spaces, Restoration Man and the likes. Last year the Amazing Spaces Shed of The Year was none other than the home of Crossbill Gin, Inshriach Distillery. I'd also been intrigued to spot them on social media appealing to the people of Scotland to go forth and forage for Juniper on their behalf in return for cash or discounted gin. From my holiday lodge in Aviemore I tweeted one of the founders Jonathan Engels to see if I might be able to organise a visit. At this stage in proceedings I must point out the the distillery/shed is not open to the general public so please don't attempt to turn up on their doorstep as it is part of a private estate. We agreed a suitable day and time for a quick tour and I was given directions to locate said shed and meet the other half of the partnership Walter Micklethwait along with his chickens and adorable dog Monty.


With so many new gins on the market you need to have a USP and for Crossbill it's the fact that it is produced uniquely with 100% Scottish juniper. The gin takes its name from the Scottish Crossbill a native bird which can only be found in the ancient Caledonian pine forests. The distillery sits in the middle of such a forest in the Cairngorms National Park, one of the few areas of the UK to have abundant native juniper. It is picked by hand in the local vicinity and enough needs to be collected in the autumn harvest to ensure a continuity of supply the whole year round. Instead of the traditional method of drying, the juniper berries that are not used fresh are frozen for later use. In this cass small batch really does mean small batch. Only 75 litres of spirit goes into the copper still after a fortnight of steeping with juniper, rosehips and other native botanicals. The resulting gin is 80% proof but is taken down to 43.8% with the addition of Speyside water.




Prior to its reincarnation as Shed Of The Year Inshriach Distillery was a chicken shed. Its conversion and refurbishment took place primarily with recycled and repurposed materials with the only major expense being £650 on a new roof. With the look of a somewhat surreal cowboy saloon it contains an eclectic mix of scavenged and salvaged items and quirky collectibles. There are four rooms in the shed. The distillery, bar, lounge and shop. Quick pictorial tour below. If you'd like to see more you can still watch the Shed of the Year programmes on 4OD. Series 2 episode 3 features Inshriach aprox 3 mins in.

The Distillery

The Bar
 

The Lounge/Sung/Ladies Waiting Room

The Shop/General Store
The Inconvenience Store - Fully Stocked - Seldom Open

There's nothing quite like tasting a Gin in the place where it's made. We tried the Crossbill 200 Special Edition at a whopping 59.8 %. Only a very limited number of these bottles were produced retailing at £85 and selling out in a flash. Upon discovering a particularly prolific Juniper bush that was over 200 years old Crossbill 200 was produced from this single source. Each bottle featured a map detailing the exact location of the ancient bush and its OS coordinates. But how does it taste? For both the regular Crossbill and the Crossbill 200 the flavour is really strong on the juniper. Whilst we sipped the 200 neat the perfect serve is with tonic, ice and a twist of orange peel. Crossbill has definitely secured a place on my Gin Shelf while the characterful Inshriach Distillery has secured a place in my heart.


Thanks to Walter and Jonathan for facilitating my visit. All views expressed are my own.

For further Distillery Ginspiration check out my blog posts about my visits to Caorunn and Eden Mill and my fellow gin loving food blogging colleague Alex's visits to Warner Edwards and Burleigh's.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

New Zealand Biscuits aka Anzac Biscuits


The recipe I'm sharing today is one that my Mum baked regularly throughout my childhood and teens. There always seemed to be a batch of New Zealand Biscuits in the round mustard coloured Tupperware tub! I never knew then why they were named as such, however a quick Google and it seems they can also be known as Anzac Biscuits which is particularly appropriate as it's Anzac Day on the 25th of April. According to Wikipedia an Anzac Biscuit is a sweet biscuit, popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water. Yup that's pretty much the New Zealand biscuits I know and love. 




Alas there has been somewhat of a twenty year gap since I last had a New Zealand Biscuit but I remembered them with fondness and had chased my Mum for their recipe but she couldn't remember where it had originally come from or find it written down anywhere. I had a good look through her various handwritten recipe books, ripped out magazine pages and clippings but to no avail. However back home I discovered exactly what I was looking for in a teenage reporters come recipe notebook of my own. There are a few other childhood favourites in there that I remember my Mother and Grandmothers making so expect to see Ministers Slices, Cornflake Biscuits and Gingerbread putting in an appearance on the blog very soon, all served up with a slice of nostalgia. Just need to find my Grandma Corntowns recipes for Girdle Scones and Ecclefechan Tart now.




Back to Wikipedia to find out more about Anzac Day; A national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders (ANZACs) who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.

There appear to be a couple of different theories about the origins of the Anzac Biscuit. One being that they were sent by wives to ANZAC soldiers serving abroad because the ingredients didn't spoil easily so they kept well during naval transportation. Another is that they were sold to raise money for the first world war effort at galas and fetes where they were also known as soldiers biscuits.

Can't beat a wee bit of food history. In my next life I'd absolutely love to come back as a food historian. Think I've left it a bit late in the day for this one.



New Zealand Biscuits / Anzac Biscuits

50g Golden Syrup
125g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
100g Rolled Oats
100g Plain Flour
50d Desiccated Coconut
2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Tbsp Hot Water

Preheat your oven to 175c
Melt the golden syrup, butter and caster sugar in a pan.
Remove from the heat and mix in all of the dry ingredients.
Dissolve the Bicarbonate of Soda in the tablespoon of hot water and add to the bowl mixing well. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Divide the mixture into teaspoon sized pieces, you should get at least 30.
Roll into balls and place on greased/lined trays, flattening them slightly and leaving plenty of room in between.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Let them firm up for a couple of minutes on the tray before carefully moving to a cooling rack with a fish slice. 



For more oaty biscuit recipes check out Janice's Treacle Bites and Chocolate Chunk Melting Moments, Helen's Ginger Spice Cookies and Easy Museli Cookies and Isabella's Ginger and Oat Cookies

Pebble Soup & Coffee and Vanilla

Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Casa Costello

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Monday, 18 April 2016

Wake Up Mary - Cold Brew Coffee Bloody Mary



I love a Bloody Mary. It's always my tipple of choice when on a aeroplane for some reason. I've never used it as a morning after the night before hangover cure preferring to stick to a Virgin Mary, fry up or Irn Bru for those purposes. However BRITA, the filtered water people, have come up with a fab mocktail recipe with a kick. Instead of alcohol it uses cold brewed coffee. Genius! Devised by the Gentlemen Baristas for this year’s UK Coffee Week this is an energy drink for those with a gourmet palate. A fantastic flavour combination which perhaps shouldn't work but does. Wake Up Mary definitely punches above her weight. A caffeine hit and one of your 5 a day. If you want to add a shot of vodka too I won't judge you for it.






So, cold brewed coffee. It's one of those slightly hipster ideas that has crept up on the foodie scene in recent years. Much more appetising that perhaps it initially sounds sounds and far removed in flavour from hot coffee left to go cold. You don’t even need any particularly fancy equipment, just time, an airtight container and a cafetiere or standard paper coffee filter. You’ll end up with a smooth, concentrated extract that can be diluted with water or ice, enhanced with milk or syrup, used as a recipe ingredient or turned into a creative cocktail or mocktail. When you make any cup of coffee up to 98% is made up of water, so it’s important to ensure you use the best quality. By using a BRITA filter jug you reduce the impurities in tap water like lime scale, chlorine and domestic plumbing leftovers such as lead or copper and the result is great tasting coffee.






Before you Wake Up Mary you'll need to plan ahead and make your cold brew. For this you'll need ground coffee, BRITA Filtered Water, an airtight container and a cafetiere or coffee filter paper. Add the ground coffee and filtered water to the container in the ratio of 1:5 (100g coffee for 500ml) water. Stir the mixture thoroughly until all the coffee is floating on the top. Give it a final stir and leave it in the fridge for 12-16 hours. Filter twice through a cafetiere or other coffee filter and it's ready to enjoy. Any remaining coffee can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.



Wake Up Mary with BRITA Cold Brew Coffee

Ingredients
75ml cold brew coffee
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
75ml tomato juice
15ml sugar syrup
Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce and Black Pepper to Taste
Garnish - Celery Stick & Rosemary Sprig

Method
Make the sugar syrup using 1 part sugar to 2 parts BRITA filtered water.
Fill a glass with ice, add the cold brew, lemon juice, tomato juice, the sugar syrup and mix well.
Adjust to your personal taste with Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce and freshly ground black pepper.
Garnish with a celery stick and a sprig of rosemary.




For further BRITA Cold Brew Coffee inspiration take a look at the following posts from fellow food bloggers

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for BRITA. All views expressed are my own.

Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Orzo Risotto with Chorizo - Carnivore Club Review & Giveaway



Isn't it great when two things that you love collide. For a number of years now I've followed Great Glen Charcuterie on social media, eaten their products and even met proprietor Anja on a couple of occasions at food festivals. I've also been receiving Charcuterie Boxes from Carnivore Club which have featured a number of wonderful British producers and was delighted when I found out that this month's supplier was Great Glen Charcuterie. Postal subscription services for food boxes have really taken off in recent years both as as gift options or as a monthly treat for yourself. Carnivore Club UK is a monthly delivery service of British Artisan Charcuterie. The meats in the box change every month and I've tried products from The Real Boar Company, Forest Pig and Cobble Lane Cured. The price point for the box is definitely that of a luxury product but it does enable you to explore different charcuterie that you many not have otherwise discovered on your own.

Get 10% off your first purchase at www.carnivoreclub.co with code foodiequine
£32 for one box or £29 if you commit to the monthly subscription (Subscriptions can be monthly, bimonthly or quarterly)






There's a big interest in British Charcuterie at the moment and there was recently a fab piece on Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast about the British Charcutiers who are making products to rival the best Europe has to offer. Great Glen based in the Scottish Highlands specialise in producing charcuterie using only wild Scottish Venison. All their products are produced by hand and air dried to preserve their wonderful flavours. The meat selection contained in this months Carnivore Club Box comprised of Green Peppercorn Salami, Venison Bresaola, Venison Pork Salami, Venison & Pork Chorizo and Chilli Venison Chorizo. For me the absolute standout item was the Venison Bresaola. Wonderful texture and sumptuous smoky flavour. I ate it on its own straight from the packet. The great thing about the varied contents of the Carnivore Club boxes is that there is enough for you to enjoy some as antipasti with olives, capers, cheese and crusty bread and to incorporate others into dishes such as pasta, pizza, salads, frittata, stews etc. The chilli venison chorizo made its way into scrambled eggs where it had quite a kick. Both salamis were enjoyed in sandwiches and on a picnic and I used the latest addition to Great Glen's product line, the Venison & Pork Chorizo, in the Orzotto recipe I've shared below. A quick and simple dish that showcases a quality artisan product.



Orzo Risotto with Chorizo
Serves 4 

300g Orzo
750ml Chicken Stock
150g Frozen Peas
250g Baby Spinach
50g Freshly Grated Parmesan
65g Great Glen Charcuterie Venison & Pork Chorizio
Salt & Pepper

Place the orzo and the chicken stock in a heavy based pan and bring to the boil. 
Add the frozen peas and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. 
Check and stir regularly to ensure it doesn't stick and add more boiling water from the kettle if required. 
When it’s ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and all the water absorbed. 
Add the spinach and let it wilt down then add the Parmesan and season with salt and black pepper. 
Finally stir through the chopped Venison & Pork Chorizo and serve. 




Carnivore Club have provided a one off Meat Box (winner will receive the next available monthly box) as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. Prize value is £32.  
Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment "What's your favourite type of Charcuterie" For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway, follow me on Instagram or like me on Facebook. 

Giveaway ends 29th April 2016 12:00am. Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure - Carnivore Club provided me with Meat Boxes to review. All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post.


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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Game, Set & Match - Gin, Strawberry & Cranberry Cocktail



As the days get longer and the evenings brighter thoughts turn to the summer of sport ahead of us with a fantastic line up of events on the calendar for 2016. To help celebrate (or commiserate) thebar.com have devised a selection of cocktail recipes for you to enjoy whilst watching your favourite sporting event. As a Scot unfortunately I won't be cheering on my national team in the European Championships however I will be backing Andy Murray at the French Open and Wimbledon. With that in mind when I was asked to recreate one of the drinks from their Watch The Match line up I immediately zoned in on 'Game, Set & Match'.




My social media followers and regular readers will no doubt be all too aware that when it comes to spirits my tipple of choice is always Gin. As such I've put my own twist on Game Set and Match swapping Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka for Tanqueray London Dry Gin. Launched in 1830, Tanqueray London Dry Gin is double-distilled with distinct citrus botanicals, particularly grapefruit, to the fore. Whether you choose vodka or gin is up to you but I reckon this one would also be great as a Mocktail sans alcohol. To make the vanilla syrup I mixed two parts sugar to one part boiling water and added a splash of vanilla extract. I also brushed this round the rim of the glass before dipping it in caster sugar to create the frosted rim effect. Refreshing, fruity, a real taste of summer and super easy to make. Let's hope it's Game, Set and Match for Andy at Wimbledon this year.





Game, Set & Match
Contains 2.1 units of alcohol per serving



Ingredients...
50ml Tanqueray Gin
5 Strawberries
20ml Vanilla Syrup
150ml Cranberry Juice

Equipment...
1 x Glass
1 x Muddler
1 x Knife
1 x Bar spoon
1 x Jigger
1 x Crushed ice

How to make...
Place 3 of the strawberries in the bottom of a thick tumbler.
Press down with a muddler to extract the juice and flavour.
Using a jigger, measure 50ml Tanqueray Gin and 20ml vanilla syrup into the glass.
Fill the glass with crushed ice, and stir the drink with a bar spoon.
Top up the glass with 150ml cranberry juice.
Garnish with strawberries.


thebar.com is a brilliant resource full of excellent cocktail recipes featuring premium spirits to suit every taste. You can search by what’s in your drinks cupboard, lower-calorie cocktails, classic cocktails and even alcohol-free ‘mocktails’. Whatever team or athlete you choose to support be it at The Grand National, Tour De France, Monaco Grand Prix or the Rio Olympics there's a cocktail to suit. But even if sport isn't your thing what better way to make it more bearable than a tasty tipple. Cheers! 


Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for thebar.com  All views expressed are my own.


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