Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Greek Spanakopita Pie #MyHolidayDish




My first ever foreign holiday (bar a school trip to Holland in sixth year) was a fortnight in Kavos on the Greek Island of Corfu. It was the summer of 1991 and I traveled with a dozen newfound friends from my first year at Uni. Admittedly the majority of the time was spent drinking, but I also got my first ever taste of 'foreign food'. At that point you'd never have even thought about taking a photo of your meal. The 36 exposures were far too precious to waste on such frivolities. However I do recall tzatziki, stifado, deep fried squid, stuffed vine leaves, olives, taramosalata, and moussaka. But the dish I took home and have recreated in various shapes and forms ever since was Spanakopita and I'm delighted to have teamed up with James Villas to share my version of the iconic Greek dish. 




Over the years I've discovered that one of the best things about going on holiday is discovering a new culture, and particularly trying the food. Part of what makes a villa holiday so much fun is the freedom that self-catering offers. You have the flexibility to dine out in a local bistro, indulge in some Michelin starred cuisine, or even try your hand at recreating local delicacies in your home from home. James Villas have teamed up with chef and author Jo Pratt to create a range of #MyHolidayDish recipes to take you on a gastronomic tour of the destinations where they have Villas. I'm a huge fan of Spanish Tapas and Jo's quick and easy Pepper & Goats Cheese Tarts have gone straight onto my must make list. Washed down with a large glass of Sangria of course!


Back to my own dish. One of the problems that I faced when attempting to recreate authentic Spanakopita at home is the sheer quantity of spinach that you require. What seems like a huge bag disappears to nothing when cooked. In the recipe I'm sharing below I've bulked out the traditional spinach and ricotta filling with basmati rice. For speed and convenience I used a packet of pre-ccoked rice. I reckon it could be seen as a nod to rice stuffed vine leaves. The Greek flavours are encapsulated further with the inclusion of olives, mint and lemon. Bon Appetite! Or Καλή όρεξη! (Kalí óreksi!) as they say in Greece. 


Greek Spanakopita Pie

300g Spinach, washed 
50g Sliced Olives, drained 
3 sprigs of Mint, stems removed and leaves finely shredded 
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon 
200g Feta Cheese, cubed 
280g Pouch of Pre-cooked Basmati Rice 
Salt & Pepper 
7 Sheets Filo Pastry (defrosted if frozen)
50g Butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 180c
Place the damp spinach in a large pan and let it wilt down over a low heat. Drain well in a sieve or colander, squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop using a scissors or knife.
In a large bowl mix together the chopped spinach, sliced olives, shredded mint leaves, lemon zest and juice, rice and cubed feta cheese. Combine well and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. 
Brush a 25cm loose bottomed quiche tin with melted butter. 
Lay out the filo pastry sheets and lightly brush the top one with butter. Carefully place it in the quiche tin to line the base with an overhang at each side. The pastry doesn’t have to fit in smoothly – a few wrinkles and folds in it are fine. 
Brush the second pastry sheet with melted butter and this time lay it down into the tin the other way round, so it drapes over and lines the base. Repeat the criss-cross layering with 6 out of the 7 butter brushed filo sheets.
Spoon the spinach, rice and feta mixture into the pastry lined tin. Crumple the final sheet of filo to cover the top then fold in all of the other pastry to form a parcel. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. 
Remove the tin and transfer the Spanakopita to a serving plate. 
Can be served warm or cold, ideally with minted yogurt, a Greek salad and a glass of Ouzo! 



Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for James Villas. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.




CookBlogShare

Sunday, 21 August 2016

My Edible Summer Adventures...

The six weeks of the school summer holidays have flown past. In my wee corner of North East Scotland the schools went back last week. Can't quite believe that both foodie boy and foodie girl are now at secondary school. Where have my babies gone?! (Clearly I was a gymslip Mum!)
Despite no foreign holidays this summer (saving ourselves and the pennies for Orlando in October) we've managed to have lots of fun. Of course food always features prominently in any of my adventures so without further ado here's a quick roundup of what I've been up to since the start of July. To keep abreast of my Edible Scottish Adventures as they happen do make sure that you're following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (I'm particularly loving the new stories facility on Insta and I'm posting new content there daily so do take a look.)


Foodies 100 - Blog of the Month
To kick off the summer I was delighted to be chosen as the Foodies 100 blog of the month for July 2016. Have a read and you might find out something about me that you didn't know... July's Blog of the Month - Foodie Quine

BBC Radio Scotland Out for the Weekend 
I had great fun cooking pizza in the car park of the BBC Radio Scotland Aberdeen Studios during the live broadcast of Out for the Weekend. Dobbies provided a Wood Fired Pizza Oven and I proved that pizza doesn't have to be savoury with my Nutella, Scottish Raspberries and Highland Brie creation. 

Sainsbury's Magazine
The July issue of Sainsbury's Magazine included my foodie guide to a Scottish Staycation featuring Butteries, Raspberries, Arbroath Smokies, The Three Chimneys, The Bay Fish & Chips, The Potting Shed Cake Shop and Mhor 84. Read the full article and listen to my radio podcast at Scotland Staycation - What to Buy & Where to Eat.

The Cat in the Window Cafe, Aberdeen
I really didn't quite know what to expect with a visit to Aberdeen's The Cat in the Window Cafe but both my kids were super keen to go so I gave in and booked an hour long session of 'Kitty Cuddles'. Lovely setting, fab kitty-ccino and a good selection of cakes (including GF and vegan). As a total sceptic I was completely smitten by the amazing cats and their wonderful personalities. They are the absolute stars of the show and their welfare clearly comes first. A purrfect afternoon!

Daily Record Page Ate
I was fair chuffed to feature twice on Page Ate of the Saturday Daily Record Magazine. Firstly with three recipes all perfect for making with the kids over the summer holidays then again with three barbecue recipes. 

St. Andrews, Fife
We enjoyed a lovely weekend in St Andrews staying at The Fairmont Hotel And Spa. We lunched at Forgan's followed by ice cream at Jannettas Gelateria and a wonderful dinner of Scottish Steak and Seafood at St Andrews Bar and Grill.

Wester Hardmuir Farm Shop, Nairn
Thanks must go to fellow blogger Mess in the 'Ness for the recommendation to visit Wester Hardmuir Fruit Farm. We managed a couple of trips whilst journeying on the A96 and enjoyed wonderful Very Berry Ice Cream and amazingly colourful PYO fruit and vegetables. Absolute highlight was the purchase of an elusive Spaghetti Squash. Although I'm now desperate to find a source closer to home.

Cromarty, The Black Isle
Spent a fantastic foodie day in Cromarty on The Black Isle. First stop was The Egg Box Shop overlooking the Cromarty Firth which takes the farm gate honesty box to the next level with egg vending machines. Milkshakes and Ice Cream at Couper's Creek, Cheese from from The Cheese House and Chanterelles and Pizza at the wonderful Sutor Creek Cafe.

No. 10 Foodies Club 
It was a real pleasure to attend the inaugural No.10 Bar & Restaurant Foodies Club event. A wonderful selection of Cheese from I.J.Mellis, Wine from Corney & Barrow and Breads from The Bread Maker. I was even converted to liking Honey! (with the addition of truffle oil). Already looking forward to the next event. Email info@no10aberdeen.co.uk to be added to their mailing list.

CALA Homes Summer Event
A fantastic time was had at the CALA Homes summer event. Supping CALA Cosmopolitans in the stunning top floor apartment of their Parklands development in Aberdeen. Nibbles, sunshine, music, home fragrance, wonderful views and a Porter's Gin tasting. When can I move in?

Edinburgh
A quick overnight trip to Edinburgh saw us staying at the conveniently located Novotel Edinburgh Centre. Fab food at The Tap Music Lounge followed by Gin and Fizz at The Stand in the Square and late night crepes at The French Connection Creperie in the Grassmarket.

The Food Life Beach Pop-Up
To celebrate Foodie Boy's 14th Birthday we headed to the inaugural event from Angus based The Food Life. This new real food collective are all about showcasing their epic local & foraged produce through Street Food Pop-ups What an absolutely fantastic afternoon! The sun shone and the event was a victim of its own success in terms of queues and crowds. We waited a long time for food but it was worth the wait and we were well entertained by yoga, beach games, music and storytelling. Well done to all the organisers and traders who had planned for 1000 attendees and were faced with 5000! Can't wait for the next event and to sample more of the foodie delights of Angus

Camping at Aboyne
A fantastic weekend camping in Aboyne and attending the Highland Games with piper husband, drummer son and piper daughter playing in Newtonhill Pipeband. Read all about it at Coconut, Prawn & Spinach Camping Risotto #WeDoSummer

Aperol & Campari at Rye & Soda
I had the pleasure of attending an Italian Aperitivo training event and drinks reception at Rye & Soda hosted by Gruppo Campari. Great fun was had learning all about iconic brands Aperol and Campari. Somehow, along with Julia Bryce of Just Julia, I ended up on the judging panel of the Campari Cocktail Competition! Congratulations to the winner Paul from The Chester Hotel and runners up AJ from Jam Jar and Elias from Rye & Soda.

Blaeberry Bash
The final event of the summer holidays was the Mud Pies and Foodie Quine Blaeberry Bash. 80 folks joined us to squelch in mud, pick berries, toast marshmallows and make pancakes. Lots of outdoor fun was had and everyone went home with their very own mini jar of Woodland Berry Jam.  To be first in the know about future events sign up for the newsletter on the Mud Pies Website. Autumn Bramble Ramble and Festive Food in the Wood will be here before I know it!


Disclosure: I was a guest at the No. 10 Foodies Club, CALA Homes Summer Event, and Gruppo Campari Aperitivo Training. Accor Hotels provided our dinner, bed and breakfast whilst in Edinburgh. All other summer adventures were at our own expense.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Coconut, Prawn & Spinach Camping Risotto



I'm a wee bit of reluctant camper. Truth be know glamping is more my thing. However given the right circumstances I'm happy to rough it under canvas for a couple of nights. Friends, sunshine, music and booze most definitely help but alas no Festivals for us this summer. We did however have a camping tripped planned to attend the Aboyne Highland Games. Foodie Loon, boy and girl are all members of Newtonhill Pipe Band. I've got two pipers and a drummer and throughout the summer I'm often a pipe band widow when they're gallivanting to various events but this time I was invited along.




Our previous family tent had seen better days so I jumped at the chance of a new one from Millets. A Vango Beta 450XL duly arrived along with a couple of camping chairs and a Trangia Camping Stove. To help us on our way we also received a camping care pack with an assortment of goodies. I was really impressed with the Steripod clip on toothbrush protectors. These will have a permanent place in my toilet bag, not just for camping. I can imagine that the giant wipes would be particularly useful in a festival situation and whilst there were a few midgies around there were no mozzies but the 'Zap It' has been set aside for our trip to Orlando in October.


The Trangia Camping Stove was a totally new concept to me. Apparently its an essential piece of kit for the serious Boy Scout or anyone doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award. They've been around for almost a century and remain as popular as ever. The entire packaged stove, including the 2 saucepans and a frying pan, is no larger than a standard cooking pot. Lightweight, durable and simple to use, it's easy to see why it has lasted the test of time and become so iconic. We used it at every meal over our two night stay from cooking up supernoodles to frying sausages and heating beans at breakfast. We struggled a wee bit in controling the heat and clearly need to work on finding out how best to adjust between full flame and off! There are a wide range of additional accessories for the stove and I suspect that Foodie Boy already has his eyes on some. Even before our trip I was conned into buying him the matching fuel bottle.


The Vango Beta 450XL is a 3 poled tunnel tent which offers generous sleeping space for 4 along with an extra living area for storage and shelter. No sooner had it arrived than my Boy Scout took it upon himself to erect it in the garden and spend a couple of nights under the stars. The pitching time is given as 15 minutes. On his own erecting it for the first time he had it done in less than 30 which is pretty good going in my book. With four hands to the pump it was pitched well within 15 minutes at the campsite with the whole set up being very intuitive. The porch/living area is absolutely huge in camping terms. The weather was kind to us on this trip but there would have been plenty room if we'd all had to sit inside. Diamond clear PVC windows provide lots of light and internal pockets and lantern hanging points are conveniently positioned. The winds picked up overnight so we were grateful for the tension band system which prevents any sideways movement. The real test would of course be could two pipers and one drummer get changed into their band uniforms within the tent?! I left them to it and I'm pleased to report that all three emerged fully attired and ready to perform. That's one spacious tent.


Camping does of course provide its own food and cooking challenges but with a wee bit of forward planning greater things than beans and hot dogs are possible. Here are a few of my top tips along with some camping recipes from blogging friends

Noodles, quick cook pasta, tinned potatoes and pre-cooked rice pouches are convenient carbs.
Tinned meat and fish are your friends (make sure you bring a tin opener if they don't have ring pulls!)
Egg based meals work well for any time of the day - not just breakfast.
Ambient goods such as chorizio and smoked sausage can be combinned with tinned tomatoes and pulses.
Measure ingredients for each meal ahead of time and pack in labeled ziplock bags. 
Simple one pot dishes work really well, don't try to overcomplicate things.
Prepare soups, stews or chili etc ahead of time. Freeze and used as ice packs in your cool bag.
Remember to pack salt and pepper. They will make a huge difference to your cooking. 'Acquire' some individual sachets.

Coconut, Prawn & Spinach Camping Risotto
This is much more of a general idea than a recipe. The basis of a risotto made with pre-cooked rice works really well and can be adapted by using different flavours of rice and substituting or adding extra ingredients.

N.B. We made and ate this on our first night when we arrived. Prawns and a coolbox may not be the best combination. Use tinned meat/fish, ambient chorizio/smoked sausage or buy something fresh from a farm shop to enjoy this mid camping.

250g Pack of precooked Coconut Rice
1 x 50g Sachet of Creamed Coconut
100g Baby Spinach
150g Cooked & Peeled King Prawns
Salt & Pepper

Heat through the precooked rice in a pot over a camping stove along with the creamed coconut and a a cup of water.
Add the spinach and let it wilt down.
Cook for a few more minutes until the rice is hot and most of the excess liquid has been absorbed.
Finally add the prawns. Warm them through, season with salt and pepper and serve.



Disclosure : Millets #WeDoSummer campaign provided our camping equipment for review. This is not a paid post. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.

CookBlogShare

Monday, 15 August 2016

Blackcurrant Oaty Flapjacks


It would appear to be a fantastic year for blackcurrants if the crop on the singular bush in my garden is anything to go by. It is literally heaving with berries and they are huge to boot! Trouble is that they aren't quite as versatile as strawberries and rasps. They are just a wee bit too tart to eat in any quantity au-natural and whilst I've been throwing them in smoothies and using them at breakfast time to top my porridge and bircher muesli I've really not made much of a dent upon the bumper crop. At this point I'd usually freeze a batch however there are still a couple of bags in there from last year! Time to get inventive.


Jam is of course the obvious choice and I will definitely get round to at least one batch. I spotted that Lucy at Baking Queen had made some Blackcurrant Curd so wasted no time in making three jars of my own. It looks and tastes amazing. Such a vivid colour. I found the recipe a wee bit fiddly and next time I'd sieve the blackcurrants prior to adding them to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Pie and crumble are other possibilities, perhaps with the inclusion of apples. I think something boozy may also be on the cards. Homemade Ribena is another obvious and I also quite fancy the idea of fruit leathers. But first up surely the easiest way to get them eaten would be to incorporate them into a bake. Sticky sweet flapjacks were for me the obvious choice. The blackcurrants almost go jam like when baked with the oats and syrup. Perfect for breakfast, lunchboxes or simply with a cuppa.


Blackcurrant Oaty Flapjacks

150g Butter
100g Soft Brown Sugar
2Tbsp Golden Syrup
350g Porridge/Rolled Oats
250g Blackcurrants

Preheat your oven to 160c degrees and grease/line a tray bake tin.
Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup over a low heat in a good sized pan.
Stir in the oats and blackcurrants and mix until well combined. You want to squash the berries a wee bit so the colour starts to bleed out.
Tip into the prepared tin and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.
Cut into squares whilst still warm, but don't attempt to remove from the tin until completely cool.


More recipes below from some of my fellow food bloggers to help you deal with a blackcurrant glut. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!





The Wingfield Gin Aperitif - Giveaway


When the summer sun shines I love nothing better than a refreshing aperitif. Up until now the choices have been pretty much limited to Pimm’s and Aperol but there's a new gin based contender on the market that's perfect for al fresco summer drinking and it's based on none other than Gin. The Wingfield is named after the 1870's pioneer of British Lawn Tennis, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. The bottle is stunningly good looking with the unique twisted shape giving it a 1920's look. Award winning designers Stranger & Stranger worked with expert London blenders Pontoon to create the stylish 70cl bottle.


The Wingfield is blended to a secret recipe from a small batch London Dry Gin, cucumber, pink grapefruit, elderflower, bitter orange and ginger. It tastes like a garden at dusk - clean and fresh with complex layers of quintessential summer flavours. Serve chilled over the rocks or with soda water or sparkling wine (yup Prosecco, we're talking about you!) and an orange twist. Fresh and perfectly balanced with a dry finish. The Wingfield is stocked at Harvey Nichols stores and online www.harveynichols.com, Master of Malt, Hedonism Wines and The Oxford Wine Company, price from £30.00.


I have a 70cl bottle of The Wingfield worth £30 as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. 

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment "What's your favourite summertime tipple?"

For additional bonus entries you can follow me and The Wingfield on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway or like me on Facebook and Instagram. Closing date 09/09/16


Disclosure : Images courtesy of Quintessential Brands Company Ltd, All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post but I have been compensated in Gin

Thursday, 11 August 2016

#Rio2016 Caipirinha Mocktail Juice


Have you been swept away with Olympic fever yet? After the excitement of a home setting for London 2012 I wasn't sure that Rio could compete, but I've been glued to the TV with my personal highlights so far being the diving and gymnastics. Whilst the athletes are no doubt eating and drinking super healthily, I wanted to take a look at what the national foods are in Brazil. Barbecued meat was really the only thing that immediately sprung to mind but it appears that there are there are a whole range of South American delights to be discovered at the Copacabana!


Moqueca (fish stew), Brigadeiros (chocolate truffles), Feijoada (black bean, sausage and pork stew), Acarajé (black eyed pea fritters with shrimp filling) and Pão de queijo (cheese bread) all had my mouth watering. And then there's there's the drink! Cachaça is to Brazil what Whisky is to Scotland. It's a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. The Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail made with Cachaça muddled with sugar, lime juice and ice. Perhaps it's not the perfect drink for athletes to quaff at the games so as an alternative I've made a refreshing Caipirinha Mocktail Juice. It has the flavours of the real thing but none of the alcohol and definitely counts towards your 5 a day. Cheers! or Saúde! as they say in Brazil. 


Caipirinha Mocktail Juice
makes 1 large or 2 small glasses

1/2 Pineapple, peeled
1 Lime, peeled but leave on as much white pith as you can
1/2 Cucumber
3 sprigs of Mint
Large handful of Spinach
Crushed Ice

Juice the pineapple, lime, cucumber, mint and spinach.
Once done pour over ice, garnish and enjoy!
(If the sun is over the yardarm feel free to add a shot of Cachaca. Your boozy green juice secret is safe with me)


For a further taste of Brazil take a look at these recipes by some of my food blogging colleagues
And for boozy versions of a Caipirinah check out

Disclosure: I am an Ambassador for Froothie Juicers and the links in this article are affiliate. This means that if you buy a juicer through them I will earn a small commission.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.