Monday, 25 May 2015

The Store - Open Farm Sunday & Foodie Friday

As a farmer's daughter an invite where the dress code is "wellies recommended" is always going to grab my attention. Such was the requirement for a press event last week at The Store to launch their Open Farm Sunday. I always try to pop in past their farm shop at Foveran when I'm in that neck of the woods to stock up on meaty goodies and keep an eye out for their stall at local farmer's markets particularly if they've got the BBQ fired up. Their range of home produced meat is superb as are their burgers and sausages.





Farming has been in the Booth family for four generations and we were welcomed to the Farm Shop and Cafe by farmer and owner of The Store, Andrew Booth. Over Bacon Rolls and a pot of Tea he gave us a brief introduction to The Store and the format of the day before we all donned our wellies and headed off to the farm to meet the Aberdeen Angus  cattle herd.


Andrew spoke passionately about his award winning Aberdeen Angus beef herd and how he champions traditional British cattle breeds and production methods. The cattle spend the summer outdoors eating grass and are wintered indoors on silage and barley. They are sourced from breeders as whole herds of store animals and finished off to The Store's specification. Buying a herd as a whole rather than by weight at the Mart enables a constant source of beef for slaughter as not all the animals mature at the same time. In addition to beef The Store also produce their own lamb and arable crops. Wheat, Barley and Oil Seed Rape plus Oats which head to Hamlyns to become porridge oats or oatmeal. Environmental awareness also features high on the agenda with biomass woodchip dryers and recycled food waste compost.


Back to The Store itself for a tour of the on-site butchery where the beef is aged on the bone for a minimum of 21 days to ensure depth of flavour and tenderness. Because they butcher whole carcases of beef, pork and lamb The Store can offer every conceivable cut of meat from nose to tail. Master Butcher Grant gave us a hands on demo french trimming a beef rib then boning it out to a rolled rib roast. We were all mesmerised with his dexterity at butchers knots. Next it was our turn to get our hands dirty making beef sausages. Cue much hilarity, innuendo and Generation Game laughter. Lets just say its much more difficult than it looks. You can try it for yourself at one of their regular Butchery Masterclasses. 


As we sat down for lunch Farmer Both explained that we were to be sampling a selection of smoked and barbecued meats that would be on the menu at their forthcoming Foodie Friday on 29th May. As the platters arrived I cleared a space for them in the middle of the table however what I thought were sharing platters were actually one each. They definitely lived up to the billing of a carnivores dream. Head Chef Tim explained the dishes and sides to us. The Brisket, Rib and Raspberry & Chilli Ketchup were my particular highlights. To Book a table for Foodie Friday call 01358 788083 or email shop@thestorecompany.co.uk. I'd advise starving yourself beforehand as there's also a BBQ's shellfish starter and doughnut and candied bacon desert in addition to what we had.


Before heading for home a wee browse around the farm shop was of course necessary and I stocked up on some Aberdeen Angus Burgers and Ribeye Steaks to accompany my own handmade sausages on the BBQ. Whilst filling my basket with local eggs, beetroot and strawberries. I was also somewhat suspiciously eyeing up an Ox Tongue. Farmer Booth then presented me with it as a challenge. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so duly accepted!


The sausages and burgers were fantastic as always served alongside my latest commissioned recipe for Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky & Rapeseed Oil Dressing. The Ribeyes also headed for the BBQ topped with wild garlic butter and were absolutely melt in the mouth. All that was left to tackle was the elephant in the room. Ox Tongue. I tweeted Cookery Author Sue Lawrence to ask for advice and followed her 140 character recommendation  
The tongue was duly washed and soaked overnight in cold water which I then discarded. I then placed it in a deep pan along with a quartered onion, sliced carrot, a couple of sticks of celery, bay leaves and a handful of peppercorns. Filled up the pan with plenty of cold water, brought it to the boil then turned down and simmered for 3.5 hours. Once cooked I removed it from the pan to cool and then set about peeling off the skin and any ragged and grisly bits. It still looked rather tongue like and bumpy in texture so I removed a further layer before curling it up and placing in a 3 pint pudding bowl. A saucer went on top to press it down followed by weights. (the greaseproof paper is only there as the weights are normally garden ornaments!) I left it in the fridge overnight and it popped easily out of the bowl the next day and sliced up a treat. The colour is much more brown than the supermarket pre-packed pinky/purple tongue. Flavour could best be described as subtle, perhaps I should have spiced up my cooking liquor more. It did however taste fab in a sandwich with plenty of mustard. Still got absolutely loads of it left. Any suggestions?



The Open Farm Sunday event takes place at The Store, Foveran, Aberdeenshire on 7th June from 11am - 3pm. Entry is free and highlights include tractor & trailer rides, farm animals, sheep shearing, a farmers market, hog roast & BBQ. You can even try your hand at sausage making and perhaps buy an Ox Tongue?!
If you're not lucky enough to live in Aberdeenshire check out www.farmsunday.org to find a participating farm near you. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Scottish Barley & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Hang up the bunting and get ready for a party! The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, which this year takes place on Sunday June 7th. Led by the Eden Project, funded by The Big Lottery Fund and partnered by Asda and Halifax, The Big Lunch is the perfect recipe for having fun with your neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. In this day and age how many of us really know our neighbours? People are the key ingredient in The Big Lunch recipe with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources. Sharing food is only the beginning. 


Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch




Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding
You can find the perfect blend
Neighbours...should be there for one another
That's when good neighbours become good friends

Admit it. You're singing along. It might be cheesy but the catchy theme tune from down under really does encapsulate what The Big Lunch is all about. Big Lunches encourage friendlier, safer neighbourhoods and people taking part report feeling a stronger sense of community afterwards. Enjoying Big Lunch day is just the start, it’s also the planning and what can happen after that really makes the difference. That's when good neighbours become good friends.


Big Lunches can be big or small; they don’t need to cost much because everyone brings something to the table. Whether it’s a couple of homes getting together for a picnic or a full blown street party it all contributes to the underlying ethos that we, as a society, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. It doesn't even have to take place on the first Sunday in June. You can hold your event whenever works best for you and your community. 

I love a statistic and these ones from Big Lunch 2014 research are pretty impressive.
  • 4.83 million people took part in The Big Lunch 2014
  • 97 per cent of people who took part said they would recommend The Big Lunch to their friends
  • 84 per cent of people who took part said it made them feel better about their neighbourhood
  • 8 out of 10 people who took part have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years
People said the best 3 parts of their Big Lunch day in 2014 were:
  1. A great sense of community
  2. Meeting new people
  3. Enjoying good food
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

When The Big Lunch in Scotland got in touch to ask me to work with them and create a street party food recipe I immediately started thinking about the things that I'd like to make, bring and eat at such an event. I've got a real savoury tooth so immediately ruled out deserts. I wanted my recipe to be colourful, tasty, quick and easy to make and transport and be something that is easy to share in a large group. Most of all I wanted my dish to have a Scottish twist. I reckon I've pretty much covered all the bases with my Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing. Lots of fantastic Scottish produce showcased which ties in perfectly with 2015 being the Scottish Year of Food and Drink and May being Whisky Month. Slainte Mhath! 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

PEARL BARLEY SALAD WITH SCOTTISH SALMON & A WHISKY DRESSING

Ingredients
250g Pearl Barley
2 Fillets Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon (approx 180g)
1 Raw Beetroot
3 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Flat leaf Parsley

Dressing
2 Tbsp Scottish Whisky
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper

Method
Rinse the pearl barley well under cold running water until the water runs clear.
Place the barley in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. 
Drain the barley and leave to cool or rinse with cold water to speed up the process.
Meanwhile flake the salmon fillets, peel and coarsely grate or julienne the beetroot, slice the spring onions and chop the parsley.
Combine the cooled barley with the salmon, beetroot, spring onion and parsley and mix gently.
Place dressing ingredients of oil, whisky, mustard and honey in a jam jar and season well with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. 
Keep the salad and dressing separate until its time to serve. Mix them together at the last minute and watch the barley turn a delightful shade of pink. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

I asked my fellow food bloggers to share their favourite salad recipes that would work well for The Big Lunch and here's what they came up with. There's so much more to salad than lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Purple Sprouting Cesar Salad by Rough Measures 
Chilli, Prawn & Pasta Salad by Fab Food 4 All
Vietnamese Duck Salad by Recipes from a Pantry
Summer Italian Pasta Salad by The Petite Cook 


I really hope I've inspired you to host your own Big Lunch. Get started by visiting www.thebiglunch.com to request a FREE pack or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team. The pack contains invitations, activity and recipe ideas, posters, stickers and more. Just add Neighbours and Food! 

Disclosure - This is a commissioned post and recipe for The Big Lunch. All views expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial

I must admit that I had pretty much finished making this Chocolate Bouquet before it even occurred to me that others might be interested in how I did it and that I should do a tutorial for the blog. As such it doesn't have quite as many photos of of the steps as it would have had if I'd thought about it from the start, but hopefully my explanations will suffice. I made it for one of my lovely Chocoholic friends *special big birthday* and it went down a treat.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

INGREDIENTS
Wooden Skewers with flat ends (I got them in Sainsbury's)
Hot Glue Gun
Fun Size Chocolate Bars 
Jam Jar
Polystyrene (I used a bit of my Coast & Glen Fishbox!)
Coloured Tissue Paper
Cellophane
Rubber Bands
Ribbon

METHOD
I used almost two bags of assorted fun sized chocolate bars, I also included a couple of full sized Star Bars as they are a particular favourite of the recipient! 
First you need to glue the skewers onto the back of the chocolates. A hot glue gun really is best for this but it could possibly work with superglue or double sided tape. Position the skewers at different points on the back of the bars so you get an assortment of finished heights.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

For the base I used a jam jar with a couple of blocks of polystyrene wedged firmly into it. A taller one at the back and a smaller one at the front. You need some of the fairly dense polystyrene rather than the more open stuff (I'm sure there must be a technical term for it!) Start arranging your "chocolate flowers" with taller ones at the back and shorter at the front. The packets of Maltesers, M&M's and Milky Way Stars were great for filling in any gaps. Push the skewers in well and watch out that it doesn't get too top heavy.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Once I was happy with my arrangement I laid out four squares of alternating colours of tissue paper on top of each other at adjacent angles. Then I sat the jam jar on top and pulled up the tissue around the neck and secured it with a rubber band. To finish it off I did the same with a square of Cellophane before covering up the rubber bands with a ribbon tied in a bow.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet


Lots of love for it when I posted on my Foodie Quine Facebook PageThe verdict from my chum? "What could be nicer than opening the door to the best "bouquet" ever? Thank you so much to my lovely friend Claire (aka The Foodie Quine). This is amazing and so me! xx"

My daughter has now requested one for her birthday and my sister wants a crisp version!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Rhubarb Curd and Rhubarb Gin

Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb. I love the stuff. Literally can't get enough of it. When it's on a menu for desert I can't see past it. For many years I had a small clump in my garden but it never really did very much and only produced a handful of stems, barely enough for an annual crumble. Then we moved it to a different spot and now it flourishes. Another of my loves is curd. For years I thought it only came in lemon however there are a whole range of recipes out there for many more exotic flavours. Here's my Rhubarb version.


Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd



RHUBARB CURD

Make 3 small/medium sized jars



You could make this curd in the traditional way on the hob over a bain marie but I prefer to use the microwave.

500g Rhubarb
Red Food Colouring
175g Caster Sugar
4 Tbsp Cornflour
4 Eggs
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
125g Butter

Wash and chop up the rhubarb into short lengths. Cook with a couple of tablespoonfuls of water until it is completely pulpy. I do this in a pan over a low heat.
Sieve the cooked rhubarb into a large microwaveable bowl. At this stage it usually looks a rather unappetising sludgy colour so I add a couple of drops of red food colouring. 
Sieve the sugar and cornflower into the rhubarb pulp and heat in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved.
Beat and sieve the eggs to remove any stringy bits. Add the vanilla extract to the eggs and mix into the rhubarb. Chop the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl.
Place in the microwave and whisk at 30 second intervals. You will start to see the mixture thickening up, particularly at the edges, after around 5 minutes depending upon the power of your microwave. At this point its ready. (I overdid mine a wee bit on this occasion!)
Pour into sterilised jars (I had to spoon mine!) and cover with waxed discs and cellophane.
Will keep up to 6 weeks in the fridge.

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd
Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

I couldn't possibly write about Rhubarb without including one of my absolute favourite homemade drinks. Rhubarb Gin. Whenever I share this, or one of its variants, on my Foodie Quine Facebook page the post goes mad. The last one had 90 likes, 100 shares and a reach of 13, 352 people. Its great on its own or served with a mixer. Particularly wonderful with Prosecco. 

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

RHUBARB GIN (or Vodka)

1 litre gin or vodka
600g Rhubarb
300g Sugar

Optional Flavouring - Vanilla Pod, Ginger, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest

Wash and chop rhubarb and crush with a pestle and mortar or similar. Combine with the sugar and vodka in a suitable receptacle Add your desired choice of additional flavouring. At this point you need to be very patient and hide it away somewhere dark for a few weeks before you can sieve bottle and enjoy.

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Gin

If you can take your mind off the gin and back to curd for a few minutes you should have a look at some other amazingly fruity curd recipes by fellow food bloggers. I really do genuinely want to try all of these variants and can't wait for Bramble season to make some of my own Bramble & Apple Curd.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary - Orange Curd Butterfly Fairy Cakes 
Fab Food 4 All - Granny's Quick Lemon Curd
Foodie Quine - Bramble & Apple Curd
Family Friends Food - Spiced Mango Curd
Tin & Thyme - Lime & Ginger Curd
The Crafty Larder - Passion Fruit & Lime Curd





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Monday, 11 May 2015

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt

Of all the family food, fun and foraging outdoor events I've done with my friend Mandy from Mud Pies we have really been very lucky with the weather. A couple of drizzly spells have been as bad as it got. Our luck had clearly run out by the May Bank Holiday weekend when we held this year's Wild Garlic Bear Hunt. The weather forecast was pretty horrendous. Rainy, windy and cold with a severe weather warning to boot. But the show must go on. If the bears could brave the elements so would we.


Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

They might not have felt like it at the time but our morning group of 40 intrepid adventurers got the best of the day. No spirits were dampened as everyone was equipped with wellies, waterproofs and lots of enthusiasm and we headed off on the search for cuddly bears and stinky bear garlic. We wandered via the Shell Housie down to the Glaslaw Burn and saw and smelt the swathes of wild garlic. No flowers yet but plenty of luscious leaves and buds. Bags were filled and the next mission commenced. The quest to find the perfect stick to cook damper bread and toast marshmallows on. Back to base camp and time to get shaking and making butter in jam jars. Alas our best laid plans of warming the cream to make things easier were thwarted by the weather. It got very competitive at this point with the Dads in particular engaging in vigorous efforts to be the first to separate the butter and the buttermilk.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

Pesto pounding came next. Wild Garlic, salt, pepper, Scottish rapeseed oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts ground together in perfect proportions to make each families individual secret pesto recipe. Thanks to all my friends who rallied round and lent me an assortment of Pestle and Mortars for the day. Whilst one half of the group made pesto the other half made Damper Bread. Self Raising Flour and a pinch of salt mixed to a dough with milk (or water). Rolled into a 'snake' and wrapped around the end of a carefully chosen and peeled stick before cooking over the fire.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

The hardy souls who joined us for the afternoon session unfortunately really did get the worst of the weather. It was lashing it down by this point. But we still managed to forage, shake, cook and feast on dampers, butter, pesto, marshmallows and lots of hot Ribena, tea and coffee. I definitely need to bring my hip flash next time. A wee tot of something would have gone down a treat.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

Where these events are concerned the morning after the day before always means lots of washing up, sorting out and tidying away. Plenty of mud on everything and lots of soggyness to dry out. But every cloud has a silver lining. Whilst I got on with the dirty work boy shook up the remains of the cream to make lots of butter, girl used the buttermilk to make pancakes and we all whipped up a batch of wild garlic hummus. Tasted amazing and really is as Kermit green as it looks in the photo.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

WILD GARLIC HUMMUS

Blitz the following together with a stick blender or in a food processor

Handful of Wild Garlic leaves
Tin of Chickpeas, drained
A good splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil
Couple of spoonfuls of Tahini or Peanut Butter (optional)
Salt and Pepper
Small amount Harissa Paste or Ras El Hanout (optional)

Wild Garlic Hummus Recipe - Foraging, Wild Food

Although we are now nearing the end of the season there's still some wild garlic out there, certainly in this neck of the woods. I asked my fellow food bloggers if they had any wild garlic recipes to share. Here's what they came up with, plus a couple more from me. Bookmark them for next year if you've missed the boat this time round.

Feta and Wild Garlic Muffins from Recipes from a Pantry
Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels from Foodie Quine
Cheese and Wild Garlic Scones from Farmersgirl Kitchen
Sweet Potato, Wild Garlic and Spinach Soup from Munchies and Munchkins
Spring Roast of Scotch Beef with a Wild Garlic Pesto Crust from Foodie Quine
Wild Garlic Scones from Rough Measures
Beetroot, Walnut, Wild Garlic and Goat’s Cheese Brunch Muffins from Tin and Thyme