Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lambs, Bunnies & Hot Cross Buns - Easter Foodie Treats

Can you believe that Easter is just around the corner? I really don't know where the first quarter of 2015 has gone to. Time is just whizzing past. My 10 year old daughter has given up both sweets and chocolate for Lent. Day one was hard when I told her that yes, Nutella did indeed count as chocolate. That came as a bit of a shock to her. She's done really well bar a wee inadvertent slip up with a crunch corner yoghurt and a cube of fudge in a restaurant which was in her mouth before her brain had time to engage! A parcel of Easter treats in the post from Marks & Spencer didn't go down too well with her but the jelly carrots and chocolate bunny have been stashed away for her to enjoy at a later date. Her attempt at the carrots being one of her 5 a day didn't wash with me. I particularly loved the M&S Easter Biscuits which are delicious and very moreish - butter, spices, cranberries and currants. Like a hot cross bun in cookie form.

Easter Eggs don't necessarily have to be of the chocolate variety. Regular readers will know how much I love cute and quirky foodie creations. How about this one of mine for a novelty breakfast? An Easter Bunny Egg created from a fried free range egg, black olive eyes, string cheese whiskers and streaky bacon ears.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Fried Egg Bunny

I did give fair warning that my Tunnock's Teacake Sheep who last made an outing to celebrate Chinese New Year would be brought out to pasture again as Easter Lambs. Instructions how to make these can be found here. It's always lovely to hear when someone makes something after seeing it on the blog, I was chuffed to be sent photos of a whole herd made to celebrate the year of the sheep. Do tweet/facebook me if you try your hand at Easter lambs.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Tunnock's Teacake Lambs

I've always known of the existence of Simnel Cake and its significance in relation to Easter but am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have never actually tried it. Thanks Marks and Spencer for coming to my rescue. A gorgeous light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan inside and toasted marzipan on the top. The 11 marzipan balls represent Jesus disciples minus Judas. Their biscuit bunnies are pretty tasty too!

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Simnel Cake & Bunny Biscuits

There are plenty of non traditional hot cross bun flavours on the shelves this year. These are another thing that I feel I really should try my hand at baking at some point. Ah well, there's always next year. For now I tried three M&S varieties. Berries & Cherries, Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate and Bramley Apple. I'm clearly a traditionalist as the toffee and chocolate weren't for me. The fruity ones were the best and it was those that I used to make a breakfast/brunch dish of Hot Cross French Toast.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Hot Cross Bun French Toast

Serves 4

4 Hot Cross Buns
3 Free Range Eggs
Oil for frying
Bacon & Maple Syrup to serve

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.
Split the Hot Cross Buns in half and soak them in the egg mixture until fully absorbed.
Heat a frying/griddle pan and add a splash of oil.
Fry the eggy hot cross buns for a couple of minutes on each side until nicely browned.
Serve with crispy bacon and lashings of maple syrup.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Hot Cross Bun French Toast

Who can resist a dippy egg? Not me that's for sure, especially when served up in these oh so cute bunny eggcups. There was a whole lot of love for these on my social media channels. The wooden spoon comes courtesy of Scotland's Rugby team...

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Rabbit Egg Cups

After my success with stamped biscuits for The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, I was keen try try out the set of three Easter cookie cutters. When it came to it I didn't get a look in as foodie boy baked up a storm with them using a Gingerbread Man recipe. They spread a wee bit when baking so the eggs were slightly wonky in shape but the bunny, flower and butterfly imprints came out successfully. The perfect homemade foodie treat for a Hoppy Easter and a Springy Spring! 

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Gingerbread Easter Egg Biscuits
Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Gingerbread Easter Egg Biscuits

Disclaimer : M&S provided me with a selection of Easter products for the purpose of this post.. All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Monday, 23 March 2015

"Singing Swede" The Humble Neep, Swede or Turnip Sings for its Supper

A short and swede post today (groan!) about the humble neep, swede or turnip. It seems to have different names depending on what part of the country you are in. As a child to me in the north of Scotland it was always a turnip and it was what we used at Halloween to carve lanterns. If you think carving a pumpkin is hard work you should try a turnip. Simplistic carving is the order of the day where neep lanterns are concerned. It takes time and dedication to carve one and the smell of a stubby candle burning the inside of a neep is a childhood memory I would rather forget.

The problem with Neeps is that they are an absolute nightmare to prepare, particularly if you get a large one from a farm shop. Sometimes an axe is the only answer and always best to keep a pack of plasters handy for any near misses. The only tool I've had real success with is the Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter which works much better than a standard knife. The concept of microwaving a whole neep seems a somewhat strange one. When I posted about it on my Facebook Page the photos were viewed by over 15,000 people and the comments and shares went crazy. Some folk said they've been doing it for years (why didn't they tell me?!) whilst for others it was a revelation. 

1 whole Neep/Turnip/Swede
1 Microwave

Wash the neep and place it on a plate as it will produce a sticky superglue like residue as it cooks - I learned this the hard way!
Put the whole neep into the microwave - no need to prick or score - and cook it on full power.
Give it 15 minutes, turn it over and cook for a further 15 minutes. 30 minutes in total. 
You may need to adjust the time depending on the power of your microwave and the size of your neep.
Insert a skewer to test if it is soft all the way through. 
Once cooked it slices like a knife through butter and the flesh can be scooped out. Cutting the top off and scooping out the flesh is another option.

The singing refers to the sound it apparently makes when cooking. Alas my swede didn't sing, scream or even hiss. Perhaps I should have had ABBA playing in the background to encourage it. Next time. 

Tasty Tuesdays on
Casa Costello

Friday, 20 March 2015

Foodie Photos on Instagram & Cream Cracker Fish

By my own confession I'm a bit of a social media junkie. I started on Facebook but it was when I discovered Twitter that I was really smitten. I knew about Instagram but never really "got" it however in the last six months or so I've fallen completely in love with it. My own feed is a mixture of colour, vintage, gin, Scotland, quirky and of course food. Sometimes my posts are random but I also love taking part in Instagram challenges. My favourite is the weekly #capturingcolour run by Capture by Lucy, however in March I've also been doing English Mum Dot Com's #foodiephotoaday This blog post shares some of my recent favourites and also includes an Instagram pic and accompanying recipe for one of my favourite ways of cooking fish. Cream Crackers beat Ruskoline hands down.

#capturingcolour #red

#capturingcolour #silver

#foodiephotoaday #spicy

#foodiephotoaday #coffee

#foodiephotoaday #spoon

#foodiephotoaday #international

#foodiephotoaday #crumbs

#foodiephotoaday #dinner

#capturingcolour #blackandwhite

#foodiephotoaday #frozen

#foodiephotoaday #bubbles

#capturingcolour #silver

#capturingcolour #patternandprint


4 Fillets of Fish

125g Cream Crackers
Zest of a Lemon
Clove of Garlic
Small Bunch of Parsley
Seasoned Flour (Plain Flour with Salt & Pepper)
Beaten Egg
Scottish Rapeseed Oil to fry

Cut fish into strips and set aside
Blitz together cream crackers, lemon zest, garlic and parsley in a food processor (or bash with a rolling pin)
Prepare three bowls of seasoned flour, beaten egg and cracker mix.
Dip each piece of fish in the flour, then the egg, then the crackers.
Fry in rapeseed oil until lightly browned.

#fish #coastandglen #fishbox #coley #seafood #lemon #creamcrackers #garlic #parsley #rocket #fishknife 

I've got over 4000 followers on twitter and 3000+ on facebook. Because I'm late to the Instagram party I'm lagging behind but would I'd love to reach the milestone of 1000 followers...
Do please leave your Instagram name in the comments below and I'll check out your feed. Happy snapping! 

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Casa Costello

Link up your recipe of the week

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Cock & Bull Feast with Caramelised Cauliflower

Yesterday was Mothers Day. It started with Foodie Loon bringing me a cup of tea in bed. The kids were still fast asleep. Eventually there were some rumblings downstairs followed by the smoke alarm going off. Breakfast in bed was clearly on its way. Pancakes, Bacon, Maple Syrup and assorted sauces were duly served up along with pressies, cards and flowers. I was really rather spoiled.

But the treats didn't stop there as a table had been booked for Mother's Day Lunch at The Cock and Bull in Balmedie. It would have been rude not to start with a glass of fizz. This was followed by Grilled & tempura purple sprouting broccoli with chorizo & goats curd. Main course was Peterhead cod fillet, potato dumplings, Shetland mussels, spiced courgettes and for desert baked ginger parkin, poached rhubarb & custard. The rest of the family enjoyed haggis, Cullen Skink and salmon scotch egg followed by roast beef and roast chicken and finally sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake and sorbet. All absolutely delicious. Hats off to all the staff both in and out of the kitchen on what was a very busy service with four sittings throughout the day.

We'd also enjoyed a fantastic evening at The Cock and Bull last month having a sneak preview and giving feedback on their new feast sharing platter concept. The food was as absolutely amazing as it looks, lots of it and great company. We were totally stuffed by the end of the evening. Check out the Meat, Chicken, Scottish and Shellfish options on their Feasts! page. 
Chicken liver pate, fruit chutney, Stornoway black pudding scotch egg, smoked salmon & prawns, marie rose sauce, Great Glen Game Charcuterie, home cured goose ham
Chicken liver pate, fruit chutney, Stornoway black pudding scotch egg, smoked salmon & prawns, marie rose sauce, Great Glen Game Charcuterie, home cured goose ham

Whole roast free range chicken and 35 day aged picanha steak Served with skirlie, caramelised cauliflower, roast bone marrow, chantenay carrots, winter greens, chips and gravy
Whole roast free range chicken and 35 day aged picanha steak
Served with skirlie, caramelised cauliflower, roast bone marrow, chantenay carrots, winter greens, chips and gravy

Cock & Bull Balmedie Classic custard tart, Yorkshire rhubarb
Classic custard tart, Yorkshire rhubarb

Cock & Bull Balmedie Lincolnshire Poacher and Cropwell Bishop Stilton served with fly cakes
Lincolnshire Poacher and Cropwell Bishop Stilton served with fly cakes

Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed the whole Cock & Bull feast, the two stand out items for me were the caramelised cauliflower and the eccles cake eaten alongside blue cheese. Sounds weird but trust me it really works. Cauliflower seems to be the vegetable of the moment with Diana Henry in the Telegraph and Yotam Ottolenghi in the Guardian extolling its virtues. I recreated the caramelised cauliflower for Sunday lunch and it was a hit with the whole family. Give it a try, it raises the humble Cauli to a whole new level.

Cock & Bull Balmedie Feast


1 Cauliflower
Scottish Rapeseed Oil
Salt & Pepper
Ridged Griddle Pan

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and cut into approx 1.5-2 cm thick slices.
Steam the slices over boiling water for approx 5 minutes until just tender. Test with the tip of a sharp knife.
Remove from the pan and brush each side of each slice with rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a ridged griddle pan and cook the cauliflower until it has caramelised stripes on each side.

Caramelised Cauliflower with Scottish Rapeseed Oil Recipe

Disclaimer : We dined as guests of The Cock & Bull at the Feast Night. The Mother's Day meal was at our own expense. Feast Night photos courtesy of The Cock & Bull. All views expressed are my own.

Tasty Tuesdays on
Casa Costello

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Quick & Easy Mother's Day Breakfast & Brunch Ideas

Sunday 15th March 2015 is Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday. Traditionally children and young people who were "in service" (i.e.household servants) were given a day off on the forth Sunday of lent so they could visit their families (or return to their "mother" church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the secular Mother's Day gift giving as we know it.

The Good Family Food Facebook page asked my to come up with some ideas for fun quick and easy breakfasts that could be made by kids of all ages, with perhaps a little help from Dad for the younger ones.


Preheat oven to 200c
Use a cookie cutter to make a hole in a slice of bread
Place both pieces of bread on a well greased/lined baking tray
Crack an egg into a a dish and carefully pour it into the hole in the bread
Make sure you get the yolk in first, you may not have room for all the white
Bake in the oven for approximately 10 mins until the egg is set and the toast crispy.

Breakfast - Egg In Toast - Heart - Mothers Day, Valentine's


1 Tin of 6 Ready to Bake Chilled Croissant Dough
6 Scotch Beef Sausages
100g Grated Scottish Cheddar Cheese
6 Rashers of Streaky Bacon

Preheat the oven to 200c
Place Sausages on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes
Meanwhile open the tin of croissant dough and divide into its 6 sections.
Sprinkle each triangle with cheese and top with a rasher of streaky bacon
One the sausages are cooked place on on top of each and roll up
Bake for 15 minutes

Breakfast - Sausage, Bacon & Cheese Croissants

Mum's the word with my final breakfast idea. Grill 6 rashers of streaky bacon and split and toast a bagel. Cut the bagel into a U shape and lay out the bacon to spell out MUM.

Bacon & Bagel MUM - Quick & Easy Mother's Day Breakfast & Brunch Ideas - Foodie Quine

Disclosure - QMS commissioned me and compensated me for my time in creating Mother's Day Breakfast ideas for their Good Family Food Facebook page. All views expressed are my own.


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