Friday, 21 July 2017

Caprese Bruschetta on Melba Toast

Post in collaboration with Iceland Foods

Italian flavours come to the fore in a quick and easy recipe that works equally well as a Summer breakfast, brunch or appetiser. Caprese Bruschetta combines Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil atop crunchy Five Grain & Seed Melba Toast drizzled with Balsamic. Bellissimo!

Buongiorno! That's how they say Good Morning in Italy and as I'm just back from a fantastic fortnight's family holiday in Lake Garda it's an appropriate way to start this post. Particularly as I'm sharing an Italian inspired recipe which is perfect to kickstart your morning. When it comes to breaking my fast I'm all about the carbs. Give me bread and LOTS of it! I've been working with the guys at Iceland foods for over 18 months now helping to bust some myths about frozen foods and showcasing the range of products they stock. Like me you might have been under the misconception that they only sold frozen food. Wrong! There's also a great selection of chilled, fresh and store cupboard staples on offer including their own brand Luxury range of bread, cakes and morning goods.

There is nothing quite as comforting or appetising as freshly baked bread, with the scent being voted one of the UK’s favourites. Iceland have recently relaunched their range of Luxury bakery products which are all made using traditional methods at a family run bakery and delivered instore fresh every day. Crafted using the highest quality ingredients by skilled bakers these new luxury breads have been created using a slow dough method to give rich and intense flavours. During this process, the ingredients can ferment for up to 16 hours, the greater flavours are worth the wait. I headed down to my nearest Iceland Food store at Aberdeen Beach Retail park to check out the revamped bakery offering. A poster in the window advertising the new range told me that 'Great Taste Takes Time'. Admittedly I'd left it rather late in the day to shop and the shelves were somewhat depleted - the early bird catches the loaf - but I still managed to pick up a great selection of products. Croissants, Cheese Topped Rolls, Five Grain and Seed Rolls, Plain Folded Flatbreads, Brioche Rolls, Soft White Bread Rolls and the very last Five Grain and Seed Batch Loaf. Now it was time to get creative and come up with a bread based brunch recipe. 

With the sunshine and flavours of Italy still fresh in my mind I wanted to do something with an Italian twist. During our fortnight in Lake Garda we had eaten a lot of Pizza and Pasta but I discounted them in favour of something more simple yet equally Italian. Tomato and Mozzarella. The two really are a match made in heaven. Combine them with Basil and you have Caprese. Add some bread into the mixture and you have Bruschetta. Yup I'm basically sharing the recipe for the Italian flag on toast! Usually served as an appetiser, the combination of these two Italian classics works really well as a lazy brunch dish for Saturdays, Sundays and Summer Holidays. Week three of the school holidays here and my kids have yet to surface at a time which their first meal of the day could legitimately be called breakfast! I absolutely love Melba Toast but don't make it nearly often enough. Up until now I've always used the cheapest of the cheap white loaf however having now used slices of the Five Grain & Seed Batch Loaf there's no going back. It was just so good. The texture from the crispy grains and seeds - rye, spelt and wheat grains, sunflower seeds, brown and golden linseed - make awesome toast, melba or regular. Combined with the fresh delicate flavour of Mozzarella and the sweetness of vine ripened tomatoes you'll have a truly Bellissimo Italian inspired brunch.

Warning! You may wish to go easy on (or omit) the garlic at breakfast time. When I made this for myself and my son I was a wee bit heavy handed. Suffice to say we kept the vampires at bay all day!

Caprese Bruschetta on Melba Toast
Serves 2

3 slices of Iceland Luxury Five Grain & Seed Batch Loaf
150g Fresh Mozzarella
4 Vine Ripened Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Balsamic Vinegar
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Clove of Garlic

Preheat your grill and toast the bread on each side.
Use a serrated knife to cut off the crusts and carefully slice horizontally through the toast to give two thin slices. 
Cut each slice diagonally in half then toast the uncooked side of the triangles until crispy 
They will curl up a little at the edges but this is normal.
Meanwhile slice the Mozzarella cheese and the tomatoes.
Drizzle each slice of melba toast with oilve oil. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub the cut side onto the top of each.
Top each toast triangle with a slice of Mozzarella, a Basil leaf and a slice of Tomato.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

For further breakfast and brunch inspiration using Luxury Bakery products from Iceland Foods do check out the following recipes from my blogging BFF's.

♥ Pin me for later.. Italian flavours come to the fore in a quick and easy recipe that works equally well as a Summer breakfast, brunch or appetizer. Caprese Bruschetta combines Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil atop crunchy Five Grain & Seed Melba Toast drizzled with Balsamic. Bellissimo!

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Iceland Foods. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Cullen Skink - A traditional Scottish Smoked Haddock Soup

Post in collaboration with a2 Milk™

Cullen Skink is a full flavoured, hearty, and comfortingly traditional creamy Scottish soup made with smoked fish, potatoes, onions and milk. It's Chowder with a distinctly Scottish accent. 

When I'm asked to describe my style of cooking I always struggle as it's a bit of a mish mash of styles combined with a passion for seasonality, cooking from scratch and family friendly recipes. However if there is a particular area of speciality it's probably 'Quirky Scottish' or 'Scottish with a Twist'. Today's recipe definitely falls into the Scottish category but it's my take traditional rather than one of my more outlandish creations (i.e. no Irn Bru or Tunnock's Teacakes involved!) For the uninitiated, Cullen Skink possibly doesn't sound the most enticing of foods but I can assure you that it is. Hailing from Cullen, a small fishing village on the North East coast of Scotland, it's a hearty soup made of milk, smoked fish, potatoes and onion. Think Chowder with a Scottish accent.

Touch wood we don't have any issues with food allergies or intolerences within my immediate family (although my daughter appears to be allergic to vegetables...) however I'm all too aware that many people face such challenges on a daily basis so to make my Cullen Skink I used a2 Milk™ which comes from specially selected cows and is naturally easier to digest. As a farmer's daughter this immediately piqued my interest! Research has found that different cows produce milk with different proteins (A1 and A2) and that each of these proteins are digested differently. It's the A1 protein that many people struggle to digest. The folks at a2 Milk™ work with farmers to hand select cows that naturally produce only A2 protein. Nothing added, nothing taken away, just easy to digest cows’ milk. You can find out lots more about a2 Milk™ and see if it might be suitable for you or someone you know who experiences intolerance issues with regular milk at  Both my kids drink a LOT of milk and they confirmed that a2 Milk™ tastes exactly the same as regular milk so no worries in that respect.

So with a2 Milk™ in hand it's back to my recipe for the tastiest of soups with the least promising of names. Much like Scotch Broth everyone and their granny has a different idea what should and shouldn't be in it and you can of course juggle with adding, removing and adjusting ingredients to suit. Garlic, Bay Leaves and Cream could be a good place to start. However you make it, it's really a meal in itself especially if accompanied by bread or oatcakes. I've jumped onto the on trend edible flowers bandwagon with a garnish of chive flowers. Their purple hues contrast amazingly well with the yellow fish but they are far from essential and definitely not traditional. Perhaps they can be my quirky twist and an edible nod to the Scottish thistle. 

Cullen Skink - A Traditional Smoked Haddock Soup

750ml Milk
2 fillets Smoked Haddock (approx 300g)
1 Leek
1 large Onion
400g Potatoes
Knob of Butter or splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil
750ml Vegetable Stock
Salt & Pepper
Flatleaf Parsley
Chives and Chive Flowers

Gently heat the milk in a shallow saute pan. Add the Smoked Haddock and poach for 10 minutes until lightly cooked. Set aside to cool.
Slice and wash the leek thoroughly.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Peel and roughly dice the potatoes (no need to peel if you use new/baby potatoes)
In a large soup pan melt/heat the butter/oil, add the onion and leeks and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
Add the potato and the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the potato is soft.
Add the milk from the poached haddock to the soup but not the fish.
Gently mash the soup to crush some of the potatoes.
Skin and flake the smoked haddock with a fork.
Add flaked fish, a generous amount of chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat through and serve garnished with chopped chives and chive flowers.

For more ideas utilising a2 Milk™ do check out these creative milky recipes from some of my food blogger colleagues

♥ Pin me for later... Cullen Skink is a full flavoured, hearty, and comfortingly traditional creamy Scottish soup made with smoked fish, potatoes, milk and onions. It's Chowder with a distinctly Scottish accent.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for a2 Milk™. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Double Dipping Dilemma with Philadelphia Flip and Dip

Post in collaboration with Philadelphia

You know the song lyric 'You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties'. For me it should be you'll always find me next to the crisps and dips at parties. I absolutely LOVE a dip. Give me cheesy and savoury over chocolaty and sweet any day of the week. But when it comes to dipping we are all faced with a food etiquette dilemma...

To double dip, or not to double dip? That is the question! 
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The slings and arrows of outrageous tutting 
Or to take arms against rolling eyes 
And by double dipping partake in the ultimate foodie faux pas

The majority of Brits (60%) deem double dipping an absolute no-no, except when in their own company. One in five people would go as far to ask a culprit to stop double dipping if they caught them in the act at a party. However, in true British fashion, the majority of Brits (62%) would rather suppress feelings of discontent and suffer in silence or gossip with other guests about the double dipper in question.

Double dipping was recently highlighted on a hit BBC1 cooking show in an exchange between celebrity chef John Torrode and Lisa Allen, where Lisa tasted some sauce from a pan – using the same spoon she had just licked – the judge scolded her, saying: ‘No, don’t do that! Get a fresh spoon you double dipper!’

In case you are still blissfully aware of what double dipping even is, let me give you an explanation. To Double Dip is the act of putting a food item (eg a crisp or crudity) into a dip, taking a bite and the putting the self same item back in again. I'm pretty sure William Shakespeare would have been a #singledipper But what of my food blogging colleagues? I solicited their thoughts on the subject and they all had pretty strong opinions when it came to dipping.

Where you dip, take a bite, then dip the same piece of food back into the dip? ewww! Unless, of course it's only you eating it, or you are very intimately acquainted with the person you're sharing it with. In all other instances, no. Break or cut the food into bite-sized pieces like a civilised human being! 
Nicole @

Hate double dipping - it's a tad unhygienic

I would never put the same piece of something back in but would snap a breadstick in two and use both pieces! 

Double dipping makes me cringe. I often avoid dips at parties for that very reason. And I have been known to pointedly remind my children about dipping etiquette... when really it's the adults within earshot I'm speaking to!

Double dipping is a big no no for me and is bad manners. 

Unless it's just me, on my own, in front of the TV with a bag of crisps and some dip, double dipping is totally unacceptable! 

I'm going to be really brave and admit that I double dip all the time when it's just me, my husband and the children at home but I wouldn't if I was out anywhere! I'm now thinking I may need to set a better example though!

It's my dip and I'll double dip if I want to! In all honesty, it depends on how well you know the people you are, dipping with. Close friends or family? Double dip away. At a dinner party, or around unfamiliar people? One dip will do, thank you. 

Now that my colleagues have 'fessed up I guess I should really share my own standpoint on the subject. I can't say hand on heart that I have never double dipped but it's not something that I would consciously do in polite company. However.... with my own personal tub of dip, or at home with my husband and kids my dipping morals are less scrupulous! So I'm a #doubledipper at home and a #singledipper in public.

Could a seriously enticing new product from Philadelphia (yup the cream cheese people) turn you from a #singledipper to a #doubledipper? Philadelphia Flip & Dip is the brand new dip perfect for sharing at summer barbecues, parties and get togethers. Lightly whipped cream cheese topped with one of three mouth watering sauces - Sweet Chilli, Mexican Salsa and Caramelised Onion. To serve first you need to flip and then you need to dip. The packaging is akin to that of a creme caramel with a little flap on the base to help release the dip. When you flip the contents out onto a plate the sauce drizzles down over the cheese and then the dipping dilemmas really start. We tried out all three variants with tortilla chips and a selection of crudities. I am deeply dippy for all of them but the star of the show had to be sweet chilli. If I was to dabble in double dipping it would be with this. However whilst trying it out (a purely altruistic act by me for you dear readers) I realised that the real reason I don't double dip is due to another etiquette failure. Rather than take a ladylike nibble I just shove the whole dipped chip straight into my mouth!

Could new Philadelphia Flip and Dip unleash the double dipper in you? Find it now (next to the dips, not the cheese) at Tesco and Asda with an rrp of £1.49 and join the debate on social media with #FlipandDip #DoubleDipper and #SingleDipper

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Philadelphia. 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. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

What to eat in New York City

Post in collaboration with Netflights

95 Times Square visitors, 7296 coffees drank, 1003 hot dogs eaten, 187 tweets and 83 Instagram posts. Would you believe that all this happens in a New York Minute?

New York New York. So good they named it twice. A visit to The Big Apple has long been on my bucket list. In the back of my mind I had it down as being something that I'd do for my 50th birthday (which is scarily only 5 years away!) however fate intervened by way of a hurricane. To cut a very long and rather stressful story short, last October we were heading to Orlando for a fortnight to do the whole Disney/Universal/Florida thing. Hurricane Matthew came along and put a stop to all flights into the area and we got stranded in NYC. There are undoubtedly worse places to be stranded in the world but I really would have preferred the opportunity to meticulously plan for my first trip to the NYC rather than have it thrust upon me! 

Despite being thrown in at the deep end somewhat, we managed to squeeze a lot into our short time in NYC. It's not called the city that never sleeps for nothing! The folks at Netflights have crunched the numbers to see what the world's most fast-paced city crams into 60 seconds. The results are absolutely fascinating and we certainty contributed to some of the statistics. A lot can happen in a New York Minute. From their What Happens in a New York Minute List we managed to tick off...
  • Coffee - my daughter was very surprised that they have Starbucks in America too!
  • New York Airport - although the taxi driver got lost when we were heading back there...
  • Taxi Ride - see above, but also some more successful ones!
  • Times Square - it's not actually a square which surprised me, more of an area.
  • Bridge Crossings - there seemed to be loads on the way to/from the airport.
  • Tweeting about NYC - obviously!
  • Central Park - alas no skating in October.
  • NYC Instagrams - double obviously!

Still to contribute towards...
  • Buy a copy of the New York Times - we saw the vending machines that sell them.
  • Eat a Hot Dog - can't believe we never had one, but saw loads of hot dog carts.
  • Use the Subway - nope.
  • Buy a ticket to a Broadway Show - if only! Definitely next time.
  • Trade on Wall Street - will leave that to Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.
  • Eat Pizza - is it bad that I can't remember of we ate a slice or not?!
  • See a NYC Sports Teams - alas no Nicks, Yankees or Mets for us.

Our whistle-stop tour covered Times Square, Central Park, Top of the Rock and a nigth time boat trip out to the Statue of Liberty. We never made it as far as any of the Museums or to Ground Zero. Got to leave something to do next time. Of course there was also the food, but again I had no time to plan so we had to go for iconic rather than quirky and off the beaten track. However, NYC foodie must dos that we managed to tick off were

Hershey's Chocolate World
Ellen's Stardust Diner

And on the list for next time.. (oh yes there WILL be a next time!)D

  • Hot dogs 
  • Doughnuts and Cronuts 
  • Pastrami on Rye 
  • Milkshake & Ice Cream 
  • Chicken & Waffles 
  • Pizza 
  • Bagels with Lox (smoked salmon) 
  • Burgers 
  • Tacos 
  • Something from a Food Truck 
  • Barbecue 
  • Cocktails in a Speakeasy

Dylan's Candy Bar
Junior's Cheesecake

Have you been to The Big Apple? What did you eat and are there any foodie must have's that I've missed out on?

For further NYC inspiration check out the following posts...

♥ Pin me for later... Must eat foods in New York City - hot dogs, bagels, cronuts, cheesecake, pastrami on rye... Plus find out what happens in a New York minute.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Netflights. 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. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Friday, 23 June 2017

BBQ Steak and Shrimp Kebabs with Maple and Mustard Glaze

Post in collaboration with Iceland Foods

Succulent and tender Shrimp & Steak Kebabs glazed with Maple Syrup and Wholegrain Mustard will raise your grilling game. BBQ made easy with the help of frozen food plus my top five tips for successful barbecuing.

When the sun shines everyone loves a BBQ. However as far as British Barbecues are concerned you really do have to grab the chance when the weather plays ball. This is where studious stocking of your freezer can play a part. The #PowerOfFrozen combined with sunshine can make for a perfect BBQ. Since I've been working with Iceland on their Power of Frozen campaign my eyes have really been opened to the quality and variety of frozen food they stock. Yes there are the basics of peas, fish fingers, garlic bread and pizza but I've also discovered specialty meats and fish, convenient fruit and vegetable medleys, rice, grains and superfoods. Oh and plenty of barbecue favourites! A well stocked freezer helps to avoid a last minute dash to the supermarket when barbecue weather beckons (and the disappointment of finding the supermarket shelves bare as everyone else has had the same idea!)

So you've been to Iceland (or used their convenient online ordering and home delivery service for which they've just won a Gold Grocer Award) and now it's time to fire up the BBQ. Whether you are using charcoal, gas or a disposable BBQ here are my top five tips for success...

1. Bin the firelighters and lighter fuel
They will taint the flavour of the food with a nasty chemical taste. Instead get yourself a Chimney Starter and don’t ruin a BBQ with lighter fluid flavored steaks.

2. Use a digital thermometer
Charred doesn't mean cooked and just because something looks done on the outside doesn't mean it is on the inside. A thermometer gives you peace of mind and ensures you can cook steaks exactly to personal preference whether that be rare, medium or well done.

3. If you're looking it ain't cooking
Try not to peek and don't keep lifting the lid - keep it closed while you grill. With the lid on heat works on the food from above as well as below. Take the lid off and all the hot air escapes and the food cooks from below only.

4. Practice good food safety
You want your BBQ to be memorable for all the right reasons. Use different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food. Keep cold foods below 5°C and hot foods above 63°C and don’t leave food that you would store refrigerated standing around in the warm before serving.

5. Sides should never be an afterthought
Accompaniments served with BBQ are often second rate at best. Don't let this be the case. Get inventive with your vegetables, salads and sauces. Upgrade humble burger buns to brioche and flatbreads. Put as much effort into the sides as you do with the chargrilled protein.

For today's recipe I've used a couple of premium products from Iceland's freezers. I'd previously tried the Extra Lean Belgian Blue Beef Steaks as there was a pack in my bag for the May Mystery Challenge however the Argentinian Red Shrimp were a new product for me. These wild caught Red Shrimp are responsibly sourced in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. They are raw, headless & shell on. The flavour is amazingly sweet and succulent and the shells are pre-split for easy peeling - this is such a good idea and takes away all the hassle associated with eating prawns with no need for asbestos fingers! Whilst the quality of these ingredients mean they'd be perfect cooked 'au natural' I chose to combine them with a piquant glaze made with sweet maple syrup and tangy wholegrain mustard. This works a treat with pretty much anything on the grill so don't be afraid to also give it a try with chicken, sausages or salmon. To accompany I used one of my favourite Iceland products. Cous Cous with Vegetables. This takes only 7 minutes in the microwave to cook. I served it cold with some fresh herbs stirred through. 

The sun is out, the BBQ is lit and the heavens open. Fear not you can still make the recipe below indoors under the grill or on a griddle pan. Either way - rain or shine - I'd advise optimism and stocking up your freezer! Fingers crossed for a BBQ summer. 

BBQ Steak and Shrimp Kebabs with Maple and Mustard Glaze

1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
Salt & Pepper

Serving Suggestion - Cous Cous with Vegetables 

Shrimp - Defrost at room temperature for approximately 2-4 hours or overnight in refrigerator. 
Steak - Defrost in a fridge for 24 hours. Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature before cooking.

Cut the steak into bite sized chunks and thread onto skewers alternating with the red shrimp.
Mix together the maple syrup and mustard in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. 
Brush the glaze onto the steak and shrimp skewers.
Cook on a hot barbecue for 3 minutes on each side or until the steak is to your liking and the shrimp are cooked through. 

For further #PowerOfFrozen alfresco BBQ inspiration check out the following recipes from my fellow bloggers and go forth and stock up your freezer so you are ready at the drop of a hat when the sun does put in an appearance.

Diana at Little Sunny Kitchen - Piri Piri King Prawn Skewers
Jane at The Hedgecombers - Surf & Turf Kebabs
Katherine at Veggie Desserts - Mexican Grilled Chipotle Salad in Tortilla Bowls

♥ Pin me for later...  Succulent and tender Shrimp & Steak Kebabs glazed with Maple Syrup and Wholegrain Mustard will raise your grilling game. BBQ made easy with the help of Frozen Food plus my top five tips for successful barbecuing #PowerOfFrozen

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Iceland Foods. 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. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

24 Hours in Glasgow #PeopleMakeGlasgow

People Make Glasgow. 24 hours in Scotland's second city discovering it's food, drink, culture and humour with a focus on the resurgence of Merchant City's Miller Street.

My first experience of Glasgow was back in 1988 at the Glasgow Garden Festival. I have amazing memories of this family holiday and vivid recollections of the Rotundas, Finnieston Crane and the Bell's Bridge. Another major experience was the Commonwealth Games in 2014 where we saw gymnastics, athletics and the cycling road race. In the intervening years my sister studied for 4 years at Strathcyde Uni in Glasgow and I've visited on various occasions for gigs, shopping, the world pipe band championships, my hen night (Victorias Nightclub!) and even to sing with Rock Choir at the Royal Conservatoire. Over the years Glasgow's branding has had various reincarnations. Glasgow's Miles Better, Glasgow City of Culture, Glasgow – Scotland With Style and the current People Make Glasgow. Whatever the tagline the city always has a real buzz about it, there's plenty of weegie banter, humour, warmth and friendliness to be found in Glasvegas.

I travelled to Glasgow on a Scotrail train along with fellow Aberdeen blogger Anastasia of Natbees. Rail is my absolute favourite way to travel from Aberdeenshire to the central belt. It takes all the hassle out of driving and parking, the onboard wifi enables me to catch up with work and the train takes you straight to the city centre, in this case Glasgow's Queen Street Station. The itinerary for the weekend was to explore the 'Miller Street Massive'. Miller Street lies slap bang in the middle of the Merchant City area of Glasgow and is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. To find it, come out of Queen Street Station at the George Street exit, turn left into George Square, then right at the Sir Walter Scott Column crossing the square into Hanover Street, cross Ingram Street and you'll be in Miller Street. Literally 5 minutes from the station so a perfect central location. Out hotel and three eating/drinking venues were all within stumbling distance of a couple of hundred yards. Time to check into Ibis Styles Glasgow.

The hotel reception is located on the first floor and it's contemporary Glaswegian vibe hits you as soon as you step into the lobby with the greeting of 'Have a Belter'. A lift with graffiti depicting the Glasgow skyline took us to check in at the open plan reception come bar/restaurant/breakfast room which is adorned with iconic emblems of the city and its people. Fantastic artwork on display from Hee-Haw, loved the highland cow! Our twin room continued the theme with traffic cones, tunnock's teacakes, finnieston crane and police phone box. Plenty of photo opportunities to be had and some lovely goody bag and basket treats both from Ibis and People Make Glasgow. The welcome message on our TV was spot on, although I do wonder what non Scots may make of the lingo!

Our 7th floor room was modern and practical with comfortable beds and an excellent shower. The air conditioning was spot on - nothing worse than a stuffy hotel room. There were power points in all the places that there should be - next to the bed for your phone and beside the mirror for your straighteners! USB ports too. We didn't hear any outside noise which being so central was surprising - but very welcome. Breakfast is included in the room rate and was continental and plentiful in style, there's also self service pastries, fruit, tea and coffee available 24/7 in reception which is a nice touch if you get peckish. Most definitely a hotel I would return to without a doubt. 

The first scheduled stop on our itinerary was Afternoon Tea at Cup Merchant City. Cup is located in Virginia Court, just off Miller Street. By day it is Cup and by night Gin 71. My interest was instantly multiplied! Regular readers will know that Gin is VERY much my thing. They offer a selection of Afternoon Tea menus including vegetarian, children's, teenage and gluten free. Cost per head is £20 with upgrades available to include prosecco (+£2.50) gin or cocktail (+£5) or Champagne (+£7.50) They also do Gin based sharing Cocktails served in a Teapot. We tried all three of these before moving on to Breakfast Blend Tea. An embarrassingly conservative choice seeing as they serve over 40 speciality teas.

Our Afternoon Tea Sandwiches consisted of Roast Beef with Wholegrain Mustard Mayo, Smoked Salmon with Lemon and Dill, Cucumber with Cream Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper and Coronation Chicken. The cakes were Lemon Pistachio Loaf, Cupcake of the day, Raspberry Meringue Tartlet, Strawberry Mousse and Billionaire Shortbread. For me it's all about the savouries so I cleared the bottom level completely and only had the tartlet from the top tier before moving onto warm from the oven Blueberry Scones with Jam and Cream. We'd all made a really good attempt at what was on offer, but there was still a lot of food left, however it doesn't go to waste as Cup provide take out boxes so you can enjoy the remainder later, a really great idea as at this point after such a wonderful feast I felt like I wouldn't need to eat again for a very long time.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the city on foot and by open top bus. Number one on my list was to track down the recently unveiled Sir Billy Connoly Murals commissioned to celebrate The Big Yin's 75th birthday. These join a diverse range of existing street art within easy walking distance of the city centre. with all three tracked down and duly Instagrammed we jumped on a City Sightseeing Gasgow tour bus. I always think that these are a fantastic way to get your bearings and see as much of a city as possible in a relatively short space of time. We stayed onboard and listened to the live commentary for the whole circuit but you can hop on and hop off at each stop if you so desire. I was surprised and delighted to discover how many of Glasgow's Museums have free entry. Kelvingrove, Riverside, People's Palace and The Tall Ship are now firmly on my to do list. The sun was shining with not even a hint of west coast rain and it was lovely to see the city in its full glory thanks to the 'taps aff' weather. Only wish I could have sampled dining in the sky suspended 100ft from a crane in George Square.

As the sun began to disappear it was time for pre-dinner drinks a couple of doors up from our hotel at SoHo. (84 Miller St) Clearly a popular place for both cocktails and eats. I opted for a rather wonderful Salted Caramel White Russian (£6) while my plus one went for Pear, Ginger & Raspberry Mule (£6). By this time our afternoon tea had worn off and bellies were beginning to rumble. Time to move next door.

I must admit that when I saw that dinner would be pizza my heart sank a little. Was this really the best the city could offer me? However Paesano (94 Miller St) was as far as it is possible to be from the stereotypical image of Glaswegian deep fried pizza. Clearly a very popular place to dine as there were queues out the door (they don't take reservations) of folk waiting for a seat or to collect take away orders. There's is a lot to be said for a limited menu that's done really well and that's most definitely the case here. No starters, 8 Pizza's (£5-£8), a couple of specials and a handful of sides (£2-£4). However they do let you mix and match the toppings to create a bespoke pizza - but definitely no pineapple! Some confusion over a rather exotic sounding ingredient followed by much hilarity only to find out that evvo is simply extra virgin olive oil. I went for a Number 3 - tomato sugo with capers, olives, anchovies, mozarella, garlic and evvo. I couldn't resit adding pancetta and asparagus. 

My prosecco arrived in a tumbler which surprised me somewhat, but I can live with it's rustic presentation as it suited the situation. Very shortly afterwards our Pizza's and sides began to arrive. The artisan built wood fired ovens from Naples cook at an intense heat of 500c which means your food is ready fast. We'd already made a start on the sides which included absolutely amazing balsamic onions. These I'm going to have to try and recreate. However the Pizzas were undoubtedly the star. Thin puffy crusts, just the right amount of topping and absolutely amazing flavours. Normally I'd avoid the crusts, but not these. Sourdough proofed for 48 hours mean they are moist, light, digestible and absolutely amazing dipped in a side of fresh ricotta. Now I knew exactly why all those folk were queueing outside. Stupidly we all ordered desert, big mistake, much better just to stick to a coffee. Another top tip for future visits.

Glasgow you were pure dead brilliant so you were. I'll be back to see more of you and next time I promise to stay longer and bring Foodie Loon and the Bairns. (Meantime we'll see you 12th August on a day trip to The Worlds)

For further information on booking your trip to Glasgow visit
To book a stay at ibis Styles Glasgow, please visit or call 0141 428 3400

♥ Pin me for later... People Make Glasgow. 24 hours in Scotland's second city discovering it's food, drink, culture and humour with a focus on Merchant City's Miller Street.

Disclosure: We stayed, ate, drank and explored as guests of Glasgow Life, Ibis, Cup, Soho and Paesano.
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. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Strawberry, Almond and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Post in collaboration with Scotty Brand

Fresh, delicious Scottish strawberries that taste and smell of summer combine with almonds and dark chocolate to make the perfect muffin. So quick and easy to make and perfect for breakfast, with a cuppa or as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Strawberry season is here! These days we're used to seeing them on the Supermarket shelves all the year round but local and seasonal really is best. Whilst it's great to get out and indulge in some 'Pick Your Own' action at a local farm, we all love the convenience of being able to buy berries in the supermarket. For those of us in Scotland the next best thing is available thanks to Scotty Brand. All their berries are grown by Bruce Farms in rural Perthshire, run by a family who have been farming since 1898. The gentle climate and the light, fertile soil of the region make for excellent berry growing conditions. 

Scotty Brand only use select strawberry varieties for optimum taste and they are strictly seasonal (June - September) so their customers only ever enjoy the very best fruit. Find them on sale in Scottish Asda and Morrison stores. Just one bite and you'll see that they are proper tasty Strawberries bursting full of flavour.

How do you like you eat your strawberries? Au natural? or with a dollop of cream or ice cream ? or my own personal favourite - condensed milk! Whilst strawberries are undoubtedly delicious by themselves they are also a very versatile fruit for a variety of desserts, baking and drinks. In my recipe today I've combined them with the classic flavours of almond and dark chocolate in a quick and easy to make muffin which is perfect for breakfast, with a cuppa or as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Strawberry, Almond and Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 10 large/12 medium muffins

175g Plain Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
75g Caster Sugar
50g Ground Almonds
60g Porridge Oats
1 Free Range Egg
240ml Milk
90ml Vegetable Oil
1 punnet/300g Scotty Brand Strawberries, diced
75g Dark Chocolate Chips
25g Flaked Almonds

Preheat the oven to 190c and place paper cases in a muffin tin.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Then add the ground almonds and porridge and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl beat the egg with a fork before adding the milk and oil.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Add two thirds of the strawberries and the same of the chocolate chips and gently mix. 
Spoon into the prepared tin and top with the reserves strawberries, chocolate chips and flaked almonds. 
Bake for 25 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and spring back when pressed gently.

For further inspiration of what to do with your Scotty Brand Strawberries here are some more of my recipes which incorporate them

I've even commissioned a new seasonal logo from to celebrate summer. The Strawberry takes pride of place alongside my haggis, christmas pudding, pumpkin and easter egg variants. 

I've also just published a fantastic selection of Strawberry recipes in my new role as BritMums roundup editor plus there's plenty of Strawberries to be had in my Wimbledon Recipe Roundup from last summer. You'll be berry spoiled for choice! 

♥ Pin me for later... Fresh, delicious Scottish strawberries that taste and smell of summer combine with almonds and dark chocolate to make the perfect muffin. So quick and easy to make and perfect for breakfast, with a cuppa or as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Scotty Brand . 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. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.