Tuesday, 1 December 2015

2015 Christmas Stocking Fillers for Foodies - 25 ideas under £10

It's now December and Christmas is looming well and truly large. Alas I've not even started making my list let alone checking it twice. If you're more organised than me and on the lookout for the perfect gift for the foodie in your life, or ever better something to add to your own letter to Santa, I've got some great suggestions to share with you today. Stocking Fillers that will suit foodies absolutely down to the ground. Best of all they all come in under the £10 mark. I've tried, tested and can personally recommend them all. Get ready to shop until you drop with my 25 top foodie Christmas stocking fillers.

Sagaform Fresh Bottle with fruit piston

A stylish and sturdy infuser bottle at a brilliant price. We all know we should be drinking more water and this makes it much more palatable. Perfect for that post Christmas Detox.

Love it, Hate it, now you can personalise it! Up to 11 characters on either a classic, naughty or nice jar. Everyone loves a personalised gift and everyone knows someone who is a huge marmite fan!

A sweeet and zesty yard of chocolalatey orangeyness. 4 packs of 12 cakes that fully comply with elf and safety. You can also order a box of personalised Jaffa Cakes at the online Sweeet Shop. 

Social Bite are a Social Enterprise who train and employ people from backgrounds of homelessness. In this cookbook with a conscience quirky illustrations combine with stories and thrifty recipes from formerly homeless people turned chefs. 50% of all profits go to help the homeless.

Coffee in a Squeeze. A revolutionary new way to enjoy a seriously good cup of coffee. Simply squeeze and add boiling water to make 16 cups per pocket sized bottle. Great stocking filler for coffee lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

These gorgeous packs of seeds from The Garden House, Brighton with their Art Nouveau style illustrations are works of art in themselves. Each packet comes with growing instructions and all seeds have all been chosen for their quality and performance. 

£1.39 from Asda, Sainsbury’s and Boots 
The perfect stocking filler for Baby's First Christmas. Packed full of turkey, potatoes and all the trimmings - even sprouts, suitable for Santa’s little helpers from 7 months with 30p from the sale of each pouch going to Save The Children.

4 x Ball quilted crystal jelly jars
A great idea for those who love to make their own preserves, jams and edible gifts. Their embossing gives them a gorgeous vintage feel. You might get one back next year filled with something tasty!

Grow your own Giant Chillies
A self contained miniature garden that promises massive red hot chillies, with a bit of TLC seedlings will appear in 1-3 weeks. Once established put the plants, complete with biodegradable bag, straight into the soil.

The Venison Bible by Nichola Fletcher
£4.99 - all good bookshops
A new addition to the series of compact books celebrating iconic Scottish Foods. This little gem is informative yet accessible, containing useful cookery tips and 43 wide ranging recipes.

Chocolate Sprouts
The perfect secret Santa gift for sprout lovers - or haters! Incredibly realistic looking, these are made by hand of pure white Belgian chocolate. Guaranteed not to be left on the side of a plate. Lots more gift inspiration to be had at Qwerkity.

Zyliss Italian Pizza Wheel
Cut pizza in true style with this effortless to use, handheld, and oh so stylish Italian flag pizza cutter. Much more controllable and less pressure required than the traditional handled versions.

Gingerbread Man Eat Me Plunger Cookie Cutter
Who doesn't love a gingebread man? This one is for life and he wants you to eat him! Simple to use and gives a perfect result every time. Lots more festive gift inspiration for those who love to bake at www.theshirebakery.com

Summer Harvest Spiced Cranberry & Orange
Enjoy the taste of cranberries all year round with this delicious dressing, dip or marinade. Made with Scottish cold pressed rapeseed oil it has an outstanding flavour and an amazing colour.

Baking Cups
Take your cupcakes, muffins or fairy cakes to a whole new level with a pack of 20 pleated baking cups. A huge range of colours and patterns and no muffin tin required as they are so sturdy.

Blue Tit Recipe Tin
This cute metal recipe tin has a nostalgic feel about it. Perfect to store those treasured recipes with dividers to keep everything in place. Matching range of Blue Tit kitchen items available at www.dotcomgiftshop.com

Made and printed in the UK from Organic Cotton this teatowel is practical in more ways than one. Stylish graphics combine with all the information you need to produce the perfect Sunday Roast. Cooking times and temperatures for meats, top tips for sides and a recipe for Yorkshire puddings.

From £3 in department stores and supermarkets
Everyone loves a tin of biscuits at Christmas and Borders produce some of the best. I absolutely can not resist their Butterscotch Biscuits in particular. Their Christmas range includes Deliciously Different, Shortbread, Classic, Dark Chocolate Gingers and Chocolate Classics. 

These have such a clever design and lock together for storage. No more stabbing yourself when rummaging in the drawer. Bright colours, easy to use and make the whole business of eating corn on the cob dripping with butter much less messy.

Oh Come All Ye Tasteful
This is the perfect stocking filler book for any foodie. Humorous anecdotes, a touch of food history, a smattering of recipes, top tips and a large dose of tongue firmly in cheek. Perfect for dipping in and out of or to use as a guide for a Christmas Dinner to end all Christmas Dinners.

Coffee Club Tasting Pack
A tasting pack of four coffees which typify its four flavour categories: Chocolate and Caramel, Floral and Citrus, Fruit, and Nuts and Spice. Perfect for those wishing to test their senses and identify their favourite flavours through the ‘cupping’ process. 

Cupcake Box Tin

This stylish tin would make the perfect receptacle for gifting homemade cakes, bakes or sweets. Or fill it with a selection of stocking fillers for your favourite foodie. 

Zyliss Lemon Zester
Bright and stylish with an ergonomic handle this zester makes easy work of citrus fruit. Sharp enough to cut through the toughest of peel into either thin zest or thicker garnish strips for cocktails and deserts. 

Seasonal Fruit & Veg Chart
Printed on sturdy laminated paper this attractive illustrated chart measures 88cm x 18cm. We all know that we should be eating in season and this is a fantastic pictorial reminder. Plenty more gifts for the foodie gardener at www.whatyousow.co.uk

Kitchen Timer
If your budget can't stretch to the real deal how about a cute stand mixer kitchen timer? Mechanical movement up to 60 minutes. Also available as a toaster, juicer, coffee pot and kettle. 

Happy Christmas Shopping! 

Disclosure : Thanks to all the brands and PR's who provided the above products for review. All views expressed are my own.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Haggis Shepherd's Pie with Scotch Lamb

Many people tend to associate eating lamb with Springtime, but for Scotch Lamb the best time of year is the Autumn when it's at its peak of seasonality. Scotch lambs are bred in the spring so whilst a newly born Easter lamb may look cute, it won't be ready to eat until the Autumn. The Scotch Lamb label has European PGI status which ensures quality, safety and taste. The label also guarantees traceability of the meat from farm to fork meaning it has been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland.

Quality Meat Scotland's Good Family Food Facebook Page asked me to come up with an Autumnal Scotch Lamb dish that would also celebrate St Andrew's Day. Keeping with an all Scottish theme I incorporated Haggis, Neeps and Tatties to make a Shepherd's Pie. My daughter declared this dish the best thing I have ever made, which is high praise indeed! I've often combined haggis with beef but it worked particularly well with the flavours of Scotch Lamb Mince. A perfect winter warmer with which to raise a glass and toast our Patron Saint.

Haggis Shepherds Pie with Scotch Lamb

1 Tbsp Scottish Rapeseed Oil

1 medium Onion, finely chopped

1 large Carrot, finely chopped

500g Scotch Lamb Mince
1 Lamb Stock Cube
75g Petit Pois
450g Haggis
800g Potatoes
500g Neep (Swede)
25g Butter

Preheat the oven to 200c
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the finely chopped onion and carrot until softened, approx 5 minutes.
Add the Scotch Lamb Mince to the pan and stir gently until broken up and browned.
Crumble in a lamb stock cube and add the frozen peas.
Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile peel and roughly chop the potatoes and cook in a large pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Once cooked, drain the potatoes well and mash along with the butter.
In a separate pan of boiling salted water cook the peeled and roughly chopped neep, also for 15-20 minutes, or until soft. Mash until smooth and season with black pepper.
Remove the haggis from its outer cover and cut into small cubes. 
Take the Scotch Lamb Mince off the heat and stir through the cubed haggis. 
Transfer the lamb and haggis mix to a large ovenproof dish. Top with the mashed neep and finally the mashed potato. Use a fork to make a criss cross 'tartan' pattern on the top of the pie.
Cook for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. 

For further inspiration with Scotch Lamb have a look at the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb website. Plus here are some more recipes incorporating lamb mince from food blogging friends.

Moroccan Shepherds Pie - The Hedgecombers
Pastitsio - Greek Macaroni Pie - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
Samosa Pie - Supper in the Suburbs
Shepherd's Pie Jackets - It's not easy being Greedy
Moroccan Lamb & Egg Tagine - Gingey Bites

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for Quality Meat Scotland

Link up your recipe of the week
Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Shortbread Kilts for St Andrew's Day

As Scotland's Patron Saint, poor old St Andrew doesn't always seem to get the attention he deserves. Celebrated on 30th November St Andrew's Day is often overshadowed by the Burns Night celebrations of 25th January. However in recent years, particularly since 2006 when the Scottish Parliament designated St Andrew's Day as an official bank holiday, there has been somewhat of a resurgence in celebrations surrounding the date. The Good Family Food Facebook page asked me to come up with a quick and easy foodie idea to help celebrate. There's not much more Scottish than Tartan and Petticoat Tails so I made some Shortbread Kilts!

So who actually is St Andrew? Here are some quick facts about our patron Saint. 
St Andrew was one of the 12 disciples and brother of St Peter. He is also the patron saint of Romania, Greece and Russia. He is believed to have died on a diagonally transversed cross which the Romans sometimes used for executions and which, therefore, came to be called St Andrews Cross. Scotland's St Andrew's flag in the form of a white X on a blue background and is commonly known as The Saltire 

Petticoat Tails Shortbread - recipe
Writing Icing 

Use a sharp knife to cut the points off Petticoat Tails Shortbread (you can buy or make your own using my recipe above).Then create your very own edible clan tartan using writing icing. Great fun for both little and big kids. 

Continue celebrating all things Scottish Food with the following ideas. 
  • Beetroot & Scotch Beef Meatball Thistles 
  • BBQ'd Tunnock's Teacakes aka Scottish S'Mores 
  • Irn Bru Pulled Pork
Click through to the original blog posts for recipes and instructions.

Disclosure: Shortbread Kilts commissioned by Good Family Food

Link up your recipe of the week
Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fishing, Golf and Local Produce at Forbes of Kingennie Country Resort

A couple of inservice days, 2 kids to occupy and a husband working in South East Asia. All these factors collided perfectly with an opportunity to visit Forbes of Kingennie Country Resort. Situated in Angus just 5 miles from Dundee meant a journey time of just shy of an hour for us. The weather on our arrival was a typically driech Scottish Sunday afternoon however even then we could see what a fabulous setting and great views were on offer. These became even clearer the next morning when we awoke to autumnal sunshine streaming through our lodge windows.

Our accommodation was one of the waterside lodges just a stones throw from the Restaurant, Bar and Sport's Reception. The lodge sleeps 6 and with only the three of us we had a room each which pleased boy and girl very much. All the rooms in the lodge were very spacious, bright and light with plenty of storage space. I even had a walk in wardrobe in mine and a jacuzzi bath in my ensuite, much to the consternation of my daughter. The bedrooms and bathrooms were downstairs and there was a huge open plan living space upstairs with lounge, kitchen and front and rear balconies. There are 14 lodges on site, some of which are dog friendly. They sleep from 2 - 10 people and all offer four star luxury self catering facilities. They are all named after Angus glens (ours was Glen Shee). The Leannan Boathouse looks like the most fantastic romantic hideaway. It was built in 1855 and when the resort first opened it was the fishing shop. Now many of those who get married at Kingennie spend their wedding night in it.

Two of the main things that bring visitors to Forbes of Kingennie are fishing and golf. Our previous fishing experience was zero and golf to us means crazy golf. We took a fishing lesson under the expert tuition of Grant who soon had us casting like professionals. He assured us of a catch and before too long boy got a bite and reeled in his first ever fish. Girl wasn't too far behind and over the course of an hours lesson they each caught two good sized trout. No tales of the one that got away as both proudly displayed their catches and weighed them in. Girl wasn't quite so keen on the gutting part but ever the foodie boy borrowed a sharp knife form the kitchen and did the needful. 

Next on our to do list was the Angus Thistle Maze however we were disappointed to find it was closed for a couple of days due to maintenance. All the more reason to return at some point to tackle it. Green and Copper Beech and a trail of questions combine in the shape of a thistle. Instead the Cairngorms Putting Green was to be our next challenge. 18 holes spread over a course designed to emulate the Cairngorm Mountains complete with Glens, Corries, Passes and Munros. The fishing lesson proved its worth as a number of balls had to be retrieved from lochs along the way. We didn't keep score but I'm pretty sure I won. At least I didn't have to go fishing on the golf course. 

We headed to the Waterside Restaurant for lunch where local produce features prominently on the menu. The family farm next door to the resort supplies peas, strawberries, free range eggs, rhubarb, pork, beetroot, raspberries, blueberries, haskaap berries and salad leaves. They also support other local family run suppliers and have been awarded a Taste our Best award from Visit Scotland. I had the pork dish of the day which was a fantastic chunky chop with peppercorn sauce. The Forbes Peas with my daughter's sausage and mash were some of the sweetest I've tasted. These definitely need to make an appearance more widely than just on the kids menu. I was joined over coffee by Marketing Manager Libby Forbes who took me for a tour of the function and events facilities. With such a stunning setting and a location central for the whole of Scotland they can cater for everything from conferences and weddings to family gatherings and birthdays. Upstairs from the restaurant the Inglesmaldie Suite can hold up to 150 with stunning view over the fishing ponds, golf course and countryside. Meanwhile the high ceilings, beams and natural light in the Buddon Burn Suite is perfect for more intimate events and I can imagine it looks wonderful for a small wedding. 

Our lodge was fantastically well equipped when it came to cooking facilities, plenty of equipment, utensils, pots and pans plus basics like tea, coffee, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets and dish towels. Things like these make such a difference. The first night we cooked up na Orzo, Chorizio and Scallop Risotto before getting cosy on the couch for a movie night. Breakfast next morning was Bacon In Pancakes with Maple Syrup. The Maple Syrup also made an appearance for dinner as we combined it with wholegrain mustard as a glaze for our freshly caught trout. Leftovers were served up for breakfast alongside scrambled eggs. That's almost another item ticked off my foodie bucket list although I did specifically want to catch, cook and eat a fish on a riverbank. Perhaps its a case of close but no cigar.

Two days passed way too quickly and all too soon it was time to pack up and head home. Recharged, relaxed with some new found fishing skills and a couple of trout for the freezer. Hopefully it's not too long before we can return and conquer the angus thistle maze.

Disclosure: Accommodation, fishing lesson, putting and lunch courtesy of  Forbes of Kingennie. All views expressed are my own.