Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Reviews - New in my Kitchen - December 2014

Today I'm sharing some of the new items that I've been sent in the past few weeks for my Kitchen. Nothing in itself edible in this roundup, but all very useful and well worthy of a place in my kitchen. 


I've always fancied the idea of an oilcloth tablecloth but for some reason have never actually got round to getting one. Wipe Easy Tablecloths got in touch to offer me one for review and I jumped at the opportunity. Then came the difficult decision. Which pattern to choose? I pondered over a Christmas cloth via an everyday one but in the end let my head overrule my heart and after much deliberation opted for the Alium Teal Oilcloth.
"This is a beautifully fresh and modern design with a Scandinavian influence. With bold flower head colours of teal blue, mustard yellow and charcoal on a natural background, a great all round wipeable tablecloth, that will make a real statement."
I am absolutely delighted with my oilcloth and kicking myself for not getting one much sooner. It arrived via courier on a roll which keeps in in perfect ccondition and crease free during the delivery process. The pattern is stunning and looks very much at home in my kitchen. The cloth is wipeable and water resistant - no washing required. The oilcloth coating stops any fraying but still allows a soft drape effect. There are some items which may stain the cloth (tomato based sauces/curry sauce/ink/shoe polish/nail varnish/lipstick/newspaper print) however as yet I've had no issues in keeping it clean. Its already proved to be a fantastic backdrop for photos on the blog and my social media so no doubt you'll spot it making regular appearances online.
The cloth I received measures 135cm by 250cm priced at £42.47 plus £4.99 delivery

A trivet set may not sound like the most exciting of kitchen gadgets but with a new kitchen, new tablecloth and sparkly new work surfaces it's an absolute essential. The 3 piece interlocking trivet set from Oxo provides a snap together solution. Made from durable silicone with raised non slip feet so air can circulate. Its a really clever design which can be used together or separately to accommodate a range of pans and oven to tableware. The open centre means they can be hung up for storage. rrp is £12
My only gripe? They only come in red which doesn't match my kitchen colour scheme. More colours please!

Boy and Girl were both very excited when this parcel arrived. The prospect of making their own smoothies meant they couldn't wait to try out the Breville Blend-Active Family Pack. Up until now we've occassionally made smoothies in the food processor or with a handheld blender. Neither of which worked particularly well in terms of convenience. I was interested to find out if the Blend-Active could provide the promised quick and easy clean solution. 
The Blend-Active is a really clever piece of kit. The family set comes with two large and two small bottles. The difference between this and other smoothie makers is that you blend and drink from the same bottle just swapping out the blade for a lid. Another huge plus point is that it is super easy to clean. It's also really powerful and makes fast work of frozen fruit although I quickly found out that using too much frozen items left me with ice cream rather than smoothie!
Its great for the kids to use and seems very foolproof and we've had no issues with the bottles leaking. I'm definitely planning to try out its cocktail making abilities over the festive season. However come January when it will be back to reality after Christmas excess it will be time to put it to very good use in a healthy eating plan where I think it will work very well in combination with my juicer. 
rrp is £40 for the family size pack, whilst single cup is £25 and dual cup £29.99


Disclosure : Thanks to Wipe Easy TableclothsOxo and Breville Blend-Active for providing the above products. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own. 
If you're a brand who'd like to have your product featured here, please do get in touch claire@foodiequine.co.uk

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Quick & Cute Christmas Foodie Makes

I love creating cute food at any time of the year and Christmas presents plenty of opportunities to get creative in the kitchen. Alas I simply didn't have time to come up with 24 new ideas for a 2014 Foodie Advent Calendar but you can still access all of my 2013 recipes and instructions on the blog via the links below


Foodie Advent Calendar Days 1-12

Foodie Advent Calendar Days 13-24

I've not been completely resting on my laurels however and do have a few new suggestions for this year...

Cornflake Holly Wreaths
Melt white chocolate, add green food colouring - gel works best, then mix through cornflakes. Shape into mini wreaths on greaseproof paper and leave to set. Adorn with red fondant icing berries.

Mini Roll Reindeer
This one was courtesy of the December Asda Magazine. Not quite as easy to make as they first appear! You'll need mini rolls, matchmakers, pretzels, melted white and milk chocolate, black fondant icing and red smarties.
Using a skewer make four holes in the base of the mini roll for the reindeer's legs. Cut a matchmaker into four and secure the legs in place by dipping them in melted milk chocolate then inserting them into the skewered holes.
Do the same with broken pieces of pretzel to make the antlers.
Dip the face of the reindeer in melted white chocolate and attach black fondant eyes and a red smartie nose (or pink if you've run out of red!)

Marshmallow Snowmen
Olaf in marshmallow form! You'll need marshmallows, matchmakers, cocktail sticks, orange tic tacs, fizzy belts, rolos, giant chocolate buttons and black writing icing.
Secure three marshmallows together with a cocktail stick. Attach the hat made from a giant chocolate button and a rolo using melted chocolate or icing. Insert matchmakers for arms and an orange tic tac carrot nose. Draw on eyes, mouth and buttons with black writing icing and finally wrap a fizzy belt scarf around your snowman's neck.


My kids after school cookery class at Aberdeen's Inchagarth Community Centre made a fantastic job creating wreaths, snowmen and reindeer's, including some fab freestyle creations. 

Snowman Eggs
Do you wanna eat a Snowman? He might look too cute to eat but this wee guy that I created for the Good Family Food Facebook page would make a tasty addition to any festive breakfast. Slice a wee bit off the top and bottom of two hard boiled eggs and secure together with a cocktail stick. Use two carrot slices to create a hat and stick it on the cocktail stick. A triangle of carrot for the nose and black peppercorns for eyes and buttons. Poke in some sprigs of parsley for arms and serve with bacon and sausage.

Champagne Cork Reindeer
Not exactly food, but a by product from all those Christmas bottles of Prosecco, Cava and Champagne! Skewers, googly eyes, pom poms, twigs and a hot glue gun will give you a whole lot of Rudolphs!

TamingTwins

Disclosure - QMS commissioned me and compensated me for my time in creating a Christmas idea for their Facebook page. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

2014 Christmas Gifts for Foodies - Part 3

This is the last chance saloon for your Christmas shopping ideas for foodie friends (or to add to your own wish list!) 
If you missed my previous gift suggestion roundups you can catch up at Part 1 (Gillian Kyle, Tipplebox & Treat Republic) and Part 2 (Coast & Glen, North Hop, Ebury Press, Victoria Eggs, Edinburgh Gin

Rant & Stave

Based in Speyside, in the heart of Scottish Whisky County, Rant & Stave create beautiful and unique handcrafted and upcycled goods from vintage oak Whisky barrels. I'd already heard of them as they produced some wonderful branded items for North Hop Festival including cheeseboards and coasters. I was delighted to receive a parcel containing a bag of whisky barrel oak shavings to be used for food smoking and/or BBQ's, a personalised Foodie Quine Cheeseboard and the most adorable Gingerbread Man brooch pin. The products are beautiful to look at, wonderfully tactile and have an unbelievable smell!
I have a real thing about Gingerbread Men so the brooch is absolutely perfect and I suspect that my Foodie Quine Cheeseboard will become a regular feature on the blog topped with all sorts of goodies. All Rant & Stave products come with free UK delivery and while there are a range of standard items there is always the option of bespoke and personalised creations. I particularly love the distillery keyrings which come engraved with the coordinates of a Speyside distillery. Lots of ideal gifts for whisky lovers or those who just love beautiful handcrafted objects.


Here's a fascinating wee photo montage of the whole process transforming a battered old barrel head into a beautiful piece of wood ready to be upcycled.



Entwine Gifts

Based in Lancashire, Entwine Gifts provide a wine and cheese gift box service with a personal touch. They offer a selection of popular wine types from around the world and combine them with Lancashire Bomb cheese. I opted to try out their Prosecco and Green Olive Cheese combo, which is suitably entitled "The Diva"

My box arrived within the guaranteed 48 hour mainland UK delivery and the packaging and contents looked fantastic. The box is wooden effect cardboard and nestled within shred is the bottle and the glittery cheese bauble. A personalised message can be added to the accompanying gift card which also included tasting notes for both the wine and cheese. There's 15% off all boxes this Christmas with prices starting at around the £22 mark for wines and increasingly accordingly for Port and Champagne. Both the cheese and fizz tasted great and the sparkly bauble was a real talking point.


The Just Slate Company

Once upon a time the only place you'd find a slate was on a roof. Now however they now grace many a stylish restaurant table. A stunning range of slate tableware, gifts and homeware is available from The Just Slate Company all of which is handcut in Scotland. Pretty much all of their items would make fantastic gifts and look equally at home in a traditional or contemporary setting. I received an Oil and Vinegar dipping set and a Slate Tray with Antler Handles.


Both items are absolutely stunning to look at and came in stylish but sturdy gift boxes that will keep them safe between uses. I absolutely adore the antler handles on the tray. They will definitely be gracing my table over the festive period and beyond. No worries about any damage or scratching on surfaces from the slate as there's a foam backing on the base. I was unsure if the oil and vinegar dipping bowl would actually work but can assure you that it does. Proof in the photo with balsamic and olive oil.
Lots of lovely items on the website including coasters, trivets, place mats, cheese boards, cakes stands and adorable butter cloches. The Just Slate Company are offering a Foodie Quine 20% discount code on their website which is valid until 31st December 2014. To apply it, just enter FQ20 when it asked for “discount code” at the checkout.


Based in Foveran Aberdeenshire, The Store is somewhat of a local institution with its own butchery, farm shop and deli, kitchen and coffee shop. This year they are offering a #storetodoor full Christmas dinner service of Festive Feasts to take the hassle out of Christmas dinner. These can be delivered locally, nationally or collected. I received their Easy Turkey Roast which feeds a minimum of 5 people. Next step up is a Free Range Feast for 8 or you can go all out with the Bronze Banquet which feeds a minimum of 10 with plenty leftovers.
Also available are a huge range of hampers to suit every taste and budget featuring a fantastic range showcasing the best of Scottish produce and The Store's own butchery. Bespoke Hampers can also be created along with specific Cheese, Steak, Roast and Breakfast Boxes.
For the Aberdeenshire foodie who has everything, a voucher for a Butchery Masterclass would surely be the perfect gift. You start the day with Bacon Rolls & Coffee, followed by a tour round the butchery and maturation chill. The Store's Butcher will demonstrate his skills before you have a go for yourself. Finally a meaty lunch to finish off the half day experience. I really hope there's a voucher for this in my stocking.


Disclosure : Thanks to 
Rant & StaveEntwine GiftsThe Just Slate Company and The Store for providing the above products to review. All views expressed are my own.
If you're a brand who'd like to have your product featured in one of my Christmas Gifts for Foodies posts, please do get in touch claire@foodiequine.co.uk

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Slow Cooker Recipes with Scotch Beef, Lamb and Specially Selected Pork

Over the past month I've been working on a project to develop some slow cooker recipes in conjunction with Quality Meat Scotland for their Good Family Food Facebook Page. I'm delighted to now share the first three using Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.



Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Butter Beans
Serves 4 

INGREDIENTS
4 Scotch Lamb Shanks
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
Salt & Pepper
1 Leek
2 Shallots
2 Cloves Garlic
400g Tin of Butter Beans
250ml Lamb Stock
250ml Red Wine
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Butter Beans
METHOD
Coat the Scotch lamb shanks with the flour mixed with salt and pepper and place in the bottom of the slow cooker crock pot.
Peel and slice the shallots, crush the garlic and slice and thoroughly wash the leeks. Add all of the prepared vegetables to the slow cooker.
Drain the butter beans and tip them into the crock.
Make up 250ml of lamb stock and pour into the slow cooker crock along with the red wine.
Nestle a couple of sprigs of rosemary in amongst the lamb shanks.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Prior to dishing up, remove the rosemary sprigs and skim off any visible fat.
Serve with lots of creamy mashed potato
Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Butter Beans

Slow Cooked Scotch Beef with Sweet Potato and Chorizo
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
500g Cubed Stewing Steak 
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Paprika
150g Chorizo
400g Sweet Potatoes
1 Onion, sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed
1 Red and 1 Orange Pepper
500ml Beef Stock
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Sour Cream to serve (optional)
Slow Cooked Scotch Beef with Sweet Potato and Chorizo
METHOD
Coat the Scotch beef cubes with the flour mixed with the salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
Peel and slice the chorizo and add it to the slow cooker crock pot along with the beef.
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite sized cubes, slice the onions, crush the garlic and core, deseed and chop the peppers. Add all of the prepared vegetables to the slow cooker.
Make up 500ml of beef stock and add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker crock and give everything a good stir.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve on a bed of bulgur wheat topped with soured cream and a sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika.
Slow Cooked Scotch Beef with Sweet Potato and Chorizo

Slow Cooked Pork, Pumpkin, Apple & Ginger Casserole
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
500g Cubed Pork Leg
Salt & Pepper
440ml Cider (or apple juice)
2 Shallots (or 1 Onion) chopped
3 balls of Stem Ginger in Syrup, plus 2 Tbsp of the Syrup
2 Red British Apples – 1 roughly chopped and 1 coarsely grated
1 small Pumpkin or Butternut Squash
Crème Fraiche (optional)
Slow Cooked Pork, Pumpkin, Apple & Ginger Casserole
METHOD
Season the cubed pork with salt and pepper and place it in the slow cooker crock pot. 
Pour over the cider or apple juice.
Chop the shallots and grate three balls of stem ginger. Add both to the slow cooker along with 2 Tablespoons of the syrup from the jar of ginger.
Core and roughly chop one of the apples, keeping the skin on. Peel and roughly grate the second apple. This will help to thicken the casserole and make its own apple sauce. Add both prepared apples to the slow cooker.
Peel, deseed and cube your pumpkin or squash (no need to remove the skin if you are using a butternut squash as it will soften beautifully in the slow cooker). Alternatively if you are going to be carving your pumpkin you can scoop out the inner flesh in shards.
Add the pumpkin flesh to the slow cooker crock and give everything a good stir.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Optional - Before serving stir through a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche. 
Serve with grainy mustard mash and greens stir-fried in Scottish rapeseed oil.
Slow Cooked Pork, Pumpkin, Apple & Ginger Casserole

Quality Meat Scotland have provided a copy of 'Round the Table' Celebrity Cookbook, a Scotch Beef Apron and a £20 meat voucher (to be redeemed at a member of www.scotchbutchersclub.org) 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 of my three slow cooker recipes?"  For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter and like me and Good Family Food on Facebook. Closing date is 31/12/14 Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'm linking this post up to Farmersgirl Kitchen Slow Cooked Challenge where this month the theme is Slow Cooked Christmas

Disclosure - QMS commissioned me and compensated me for my time in creating Slow Cooker recipes for their Good Family Food Facebook page. All views expressed are my own.

Monday, 1 December 2014

2014 Christmas Gifts For Foodies - Part 2

Since I wrote Christmas Gift For Foodies - Part 1 I've actually been spurred into beginning my own Christmas shopping. Still a fair bit to go but lists have been written and purchases have been made. If you're on the lookout for the perfect gift for the foodie in your life, or even better something to add to your own wish list, I've got some great suggestions to share with you in part two of my Christmas gifts for foodies guide...



Pretty much every foodie hopes to get a Cookbook in their Christmas stocking and I'm no exception. The theme for the Aberdeen's Pinnies & Petticoats Cake Club January meet is to bake something from a book received at Christmas. I reckon if I don't get any from Santa I'll be OK to choose something from one of the review copies from Ebury Press. I'll definitely be making room on my already groaning cookbook shelf for these four.


First up the two vegetarian offerings - Madhur Jaffrey, Curry Easy Vegetarian and Yotam Ottolengi, Plenty More. Vegetarian dishes are at the heart of Indian cooking and Madhur Jaffrey is the queen of curries. Disappointingly there aren't photos for all of the dishes but there are excellent recipes with detailed instructions and plenty of background reading and authors notes. Ottolenghi's much awaited follow up to Plenty instantly appealed to me with its stunning photography, quirky graphics and recipes ordered by technique. The chapters include - tossed, blanched, grilled, mashed, cracked, baked and sweetened. A beautiful coffee table book but with plenty of substance. The ingredients lists are long and global but in the most part can now be found on supermarket shelves. Even the most hardened carnivore would surely be tempted by Taleggio and Spinach Roulade, Mushroom and Tarragon Pithivier or Bread & Pumpkin Fondue.
Rick Stein's Fish & Shellfish provides the definitive guide to cooking seafood with over 120 recipes. The first 100 pages are dedicated to the techniques required to prepare and cook fish and shellfish with step by step photos and instructions based on the methods taught at his Padstow seafood school . Following on from that come recipes which have been perfected over the last 40 years all accompanied with beautiful photography. I've bookmarked the panko topped Newlyn Fish Pie, Rice with Monkfish, saffron and red peppers and Stir Fried Salt & pepper Squid with red chilli and spring onion. This is the essential bible for any fish lover's bookshelf. Do however note that it is a revised, updated and re-designed edition of his classic book Seafood.
I've already done a full review of and shared a couple of recipes from Slow Cooked by Miss South and can only reiterate that it is a must have for anyone who has a slow cooker and would like to get more adventurous. This will definitely provide you with inspiration in over 200 thrifty and delicious recipes.

I've got a Christmas Dinner Apron from Victoria Eggs which comes down from the loft each December. It lists a medley of all the festive food favourites and can double up as a Christmas food shopping list. They've also designed fab bespoke ones for my local award winning Fish & Chip Shop, The Bay at Stonehaven.
I was invited to choose a couple of items from their range of playful designs which proudly salute all that makes Britain British. Its not just lip service that's being paid, absolutely everything is manufactured in the UK. I opted for two tea towels that match in fantastically well with my new kitchen. Airfix and Baking Delights both in Teal. I reckon they would look fantastic hanging on the wall as artwork. However there actually is that very option with Airfix wallpaper. A sample is on its way to me as I reckon it might just be perfect for my dining area.
I went practical with my choices of everyday tea towels but I was also very tempted by Christmas Delights which comes in mugs, tea towels, aprons and oven mitts. The Cockney Rhyming Slang range also caught my eye and all corners of the UK are covered with Scottish Dinner, Welsh Dinner and English Dinner typographic prints. 

Its no secret that I'm a dedicated fan of Mothers Ruin. I've already got three tipples from Edinburgh Gin in my collection. Elderflower, Raspberry and Spiced Orange. However there are now two new additions to the range. Rhubarb & Ginger and a limited edition Christmas Gin. I wasted no time in trying out the Rhubarb & Ginger. Its a gin based liqueur that tasted like Rhubarb & Custard boiled sweets with a warming afterglow of ginger. I tried it both on the rocks and mixed with Prosecco. The 20cl bottle disappeared alarmingly quickly.
There have only been 600 bottles produced of Edinburgh's Christmas Gin and alas I've not tried it but here's the blurb. Our wise distillers have bestowed this jolly tipple with frankincense and myrrh to add a fragrant aroma, adding a finishing note of nutmeg for genuine yuletide warmth. Heady with rich spices and sweet orange, our cracking Christmas Gin has an almost honeyed, thicker mouth-feel thanks to the miraculous addition of myrrh – all qualities which make it the perfect winter warmer.
Available exclusively at John Lewis is an Edinburgh Gin Cocktail Kit with allows anyone to assume the role of master mixologist, providing unique recipes to cater to all tastes, from classic to contemporary. The kit contains a cocktail shaker, a strainer, a mixer, a 20cl size bottles of Edinburgh Gin and Edinburgh Gin Raspberry Liqueur plus the all important cocktail recipe book.
I'm a big fan of the innovative fishbox scheme from Inverness based Coast & Glen. You can learn a wee bit more about them on my Fish Box Online Food Subscription blog post but suffice to say they are Scottish, seasonal, sustainable, fantastically fresh and deliver UK wide. They've recently launched a gift box option. What better way to Fish someone a Merry Christmas? (sorry!)
I received a £50 box which contained scallops, monkfish, plaice, red gurnard and samphire. The recipient won't need to sign for it, just specify a safe place for it to be left if they're not around. My box arrived well packaged with no sign of any leaks or smells. The insulated pack contains a polystyrene box in which the fish are packed with frozen gel packs. All are vacuum packed and have come straight from the boat so are suitable for home freezing. 
My mini masterchef is always very excited at the arrival of a fishbox and has already tackled oysters and a live lobster from a previous one. He wasted no time in getting to work on the scallops. I think a shucking knife may now be on his Christmas list. 
They looked and tasted absolutely amazing. Bed of spinach and samphire, black pudding, scallops seasoned with fennel, chilli and orange salt cooked in and drizzled with lemon infused rapseed oil. The remaining contents of our fishbox are now in the freezer for another day. The gift that keeps on giving. 

The early bird catches the Beer, Gin and Food with discounted weekend tickets available for the North Hop 2015 event until 31st December 2014. Grab them while you can for £30 as they'll be £40 come January 1st. Michelle Russell, festival organiser, said: “Following on from the success of this year’s event, I am delighted to announce that North Hop is returning to Inverness next year. 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, showcasing and promoting Scotland’s natural larder, which is the perfect fit for the event as it actively promotes a large variety of quality Scottish produce.
For a taster of what to expect form the event take a look at the video clip highlights from 2014. North Hop 2015 will be bigger and better, with an increase in both the amount of craft beers on offer and number and range of street food vendors. Expect a selection of over 50 beers and ciders, creative cocktails, artisan gins, street food, live homegrown music and much more. All done the Highland way.

Disclosure : Thanks to Ebury Press, Victoria Eggs, Edinburgh Gin and Coast & Glen for providing the above products to review. All views expressed are my own.
If you're a brand who'd like to have your product featured in one of my Christmas Gifts for Foodies posts, please do get in touch claire@foodiequine.co.uk