Friday, 9 December 2016

Find your perfect Warnicks Snowball this Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Who am I kidding? I'm already in full blown festive frenzy. For once I'm actually ahead of the game with my Christmas Shopping (famous last words...) and have even wrapped it all! There are some special moments that Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without and for me festive tipples come pretty high up at the top of that list. Many of them only ever make it into my supermarket trolley in December. Yup Mulled Wine, Sherry and Advocaat I'm talking about you! As part of their #NowItsXmas campaign, Warninks, the UK’s number one Advocaat asked me to share some of my favourite moments in the run up to Christmas. Naturally mine are all food related!

I've blogged on a pretty much annual basis about the tradition of a Christmas Eve Gingerbread House built by Foodie Boy and Girl in conjunction with their Aunt. The designs have become increasingly complex over the years, starting out with a shop bought kit and progressing to making their own from scratch. I'm informed that this years plans are for a Gingerbread Barn and Silo. As always there will be a Brussel Sprout in the chimney.

I've got a Christmas Tree in my kitchen and naturally all of the decorations on it are food related! Above is only a small selection and I'm always on the lookout for new additions. Even my christmas tree lights are cookie cutters. Naturally lots of them are gingerbread themed but I've also got sprouts, pigs in blankets, Tunnock's Teacakes, s'mores, coffee, utensils, fast food, biscuits, cupcakes, Christmas puddings, shellfish and beer! A couple of new additions shall be added from my travels this year to New York and Orlando. Expect a big apple and a gingerbread Minion. 

I absolutely adore cute and creative Christmas food. Back in 2013 I created an online advent calendar and shared a different idea each evening on my Facebook page. It's still one of my most popular ever posts with 24 fab festive foodie ideas. Many of them we make again and again and there will most definitely be a Sausage Wreath, Olive Santa Penguins and Candy Cane bark being made in the run up to the big Ho Ho Ho.

Taking things back to festive tipples, which is of course what brought us here in the first place. Put simply, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Warninks. It's been made in Holland since 1616 and was one of the original producers of advocaat. Today it uses 16 free range egg yolks in each bottle. The drink is full bodied, sweet and creamy with delicious aromas of vanilla. Advocaat was originally made using avocados by sailors visiting the Caribbean. However, when they returned back to Europe, they discovered they could recreate their new favourite tipple using fresh egg yolks.

Warninks Advocaat really hit the big time in the seventies with the Snowball Cocktail (advocaat, fresh lime and lemonade). It can also be enjoyed neat over ice or in a Fluffy Duck. The classic Snowball has been reinvented with a twist to suit all tastebuds and truly get you into the spirit of Christmas. Which one will you choose?

The Snowball... to get into the Christmas Spirit (Cinnamon)
The Snowball... for Party Lovers (Chocolate Powder & Shavings)
The Snowball... for Winter Nights In (Cinnamon Bark & Star Anise)
The Snowball... for those with a Sweet Tooth (Gingersnap & Marshmallows)

Despite not having a particularly sweet tooth I'm completely smitten by the Gingersnap and Marshmallow combination. I can also highly recommend a slug of Warnicks to perk up your coffee or hot chocolate or liberally drizzled over ice cream, waffles or pancakes. However you choose to pimp your Snowball it'll be the perfect addition to your Christmas countdown.

The Snowball for those with a Sweet Tooth
Enjoy with a slice of Christmas cake

50ml Warninks Advocaat
25ml Lime Juice
Lemonade or Soda
Cubed Ice
Gingersnap Biscuit
Mini Marshmallows

Shake 50ml Advocaat and 25ml freshly squeezed lime juice or cordial together, strain into a glass mug and top up with lemonade or soda and some cubed ice.
Garnish with a gingersnap and lightly toasted mini marshmallows.

Warninks Advocaat is available in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and any good convenience stores.

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Warnicks. As always, all views expressed are my own. Cocktail images courtesy of Warnicks.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Cookery Courses and Foodie Experiences in Aberdeen City and Shire

Today's post came to be as a result of an enquiry on my Foodie Quine by Claire Jessiman Facebook Page from someone looking for recommendations of foodie experiences in and around Aberdeen that could be suitable as Christmas gifts. Some immediately sprung to mind as I've has the pleasure of sampling them myself and I did a wee bit of research to find others. Please do let me know of any that I've missed and be sure to drop not so subtle hints to your nearest and dearest as to which ones you'd like to find Gift Vouchers for under the tree on December 25th. Also check out my Where to Eat in Aberdeen #EatLocal guide for details of 100+ Independent Cafe's and Restaurants currently operating in Aberdeen City. I'm sure the vast majority would be more than happy to sell you a gift voucher.

The Bread Maker
50/52 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen
£100, 10am - 3pm, max 6 in a class, everything you make you take home

The bread maker situated in the heart of the city offers a very unique course taking participants through the bread making process.
The course covers every aspect of bread making from scratch, including hand mixing, proving, finishing and firing. Breads covered are un-yeasted breads, various whites, wholemeal, ciabatta, foccacia and pizzas.

Caber Coffee 
614 Holburn Street, Aberdeen, 
£75 Barista School

The ultimate treat for the coffee lover in your life! A great experience in our Coffee School with one of our Barista trainers. Come and learn how to make your favourite coffee perfectly! Leave with an official Coffee school Barista apron and a sample of beans roasted here for you on the day.

Cocoa Ooze
24/28 Belmont Street, Aberdeen
£38.50 Chocolate Making Workshop

On the workshop you will have the opportunity to taste our chocolate before having a go at making your own chocolate bars and truffles with guidance from one of our experienced chocolatiers. The best part is, of course, taking home everything you make and sampling your creations.
Voucher's have a 1 year expiry and can be purchased by calling 01224467212 or in our shop.

Wark Farm
Butchery Experience - half day £65 whole day £115

Wark Farm is offering vouchers for half and whole butchery and meat cookery days, giving you the opportunity to test your knife skills, learn more about how to cook different cuts and find out what's involved in rearing organic sheep and cattle.

Eat On The Green
Udny Green, Ellon
Chef for the day - half day £100 - includes a light lunch, full day £200 and includes a 4 course dinner

Offering a unique experience for people of all cookery skills and abilities the Chef for a Day package gives you the opportunity for some one-to-one tuition and the chance to experience the buzz and excitement of a busy professional kitchen; learning new skills and techniques, whilst producing mouth-watering dishes which can be re-created at home. The day starts with a chat with Craig Wilson, owner/proprietor, following this you will meet with the kitchen brigade and then will be put to work helping to prepare for the busy lunch and dinner services.

The Store
Newburgh, Ellon
Butchery Course - £60

The Store’s Butchery Course is the perfect stocking filler for those looking to gain an enjoyable new skill. After receiving demonstrations and guidance from our master butcher, Grant, meat-lovers can then try out the traditional butchery process for themselves. The half-day course also includes breakfast and lunch at The Store. 

Kincardine Cookery
Kincardine Castle, Kincardine O'Neil, Aboyne
Group courses start at £75 and include a delicious lunch. Private lessons are tailored to your own foodie interests and tastes, and prices start from £150 plus ingredients. 

Louisa and Rupert were teachers at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London before moving up to Aberdeenshire in 2015. They currently run Kincardine Cookery, a private catering company, that also offers cookery teaching. They run regular courses throughout the year at Kincardine Castle and can provide private lessons for individuals or small groups in your own home. Courses cover everything from how to chop an onion to advanced pastry, bread and butchery skills. 

Raw by Design
New Byth, Turriff
Vegan/vegetarian and plant-based cooking classes from £99

Union Square, Aberdeen
Learn to cook Tasty Thai at Thaikhun - £60 per head

Our Cookery and Cocktail classes run every Sunday to Thursday 2-4.30pm, and Sunday 7pm to 9.30pm, and can hold up to maximum 15 people. 
Course includes - One cocktail (Coconut Mojito) One starter (Tom Yum chicken soup) One Main course (Chicken Phad Thai noodles) Recipe cards, A goodie bag with discount cards, herbs and spices and some Thaikhun goodies.

Nick Nairn Cookschool
15 Back Wynd, Aberdeen
Gift Cards from £59

Cooking Class Gift Cards - The ultimate foodie Christmas gift and our number 1 best-sellers. Nick's TV career spans two decades and it shows in every class. The lucky recipient chooses the location, the class and the date - we promise they'll still be talking about it...forever. Put some celebrity sparkle in their stocking!

Cook at the Nook
CFINE, 2 Poynernook Rd, Aberdeen
Classes coming soon to Cook at the Nook Community Training Kitchen. 
Gift Vouchers £30

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Brandy Snaps Baskets with Mulled Fruit Compote

Someone really needs to develop scratch and sniff on the internet. Smells are so evocative, particularly in relation to food. The aroma of a dish gets to you even before the taste. At Christmas, the spicy scent that for me conjures up the season is undoubtedly Cinnamon. It is present in so many of our sweet Christmas favourites. Mince Pies, Eggnog, Cookies, Mulled Wine and Figgy Pudding. Schwartz one of the world’s largest producers of dried herbs, spices and seasonings, have launched a 'Christmas Is Cinnamon' campaign for the festive season. Because they know that this particular spice evokes lots of lovely memories of Christmases past, they asked me to create and share a sweet, festive recipe that has significance to me. The one that immediately came to mind was Brandy Snaps, from my Mum's Cordon Bleu Cookery Course.

I vividly recall helping my Mum to make Brandy Snaps at Christmas time. The recipe she used was from the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course. This was a 72 part cookery magazine from the 1970's. The Brandy Snaps take pride of place on the cover of the first issue of the magazine (priced at a hefty 75p). They are the suggested desert for your very first Cordon Bleu Dinner Party Menu which comprised of: Potage Madrilene to start, followed by Chicken Veronique with Julienne Potato Cake and rounding off with Oranges in Caramel and the ubiquitous Brandy Snaps. To enable you to 'make the meal a success without wasting a single precious second in the kitchen' a detailed timetable was provided to make it possible for even 'a beginner cook to produce a Cordon Bleu meal'.

When it came to Brandy Snap making at Christmas it was always for a large gathering of friends on Christmas Eve. We used to unearth all the wooden spoons and spurtles in the house to shape them around. Asbestos fingers were definitely required as there is a very fine line between the brandy snaps being too hot to handle and having cooled so much that they break when you try to roll them.
My Brandy Snap Baskets are definitely an evolution of a later decade and are much less fiddly to make. The combination of Ginger and Cinnamon is always a winning one, although I was somewhat surprised to discover that most Brandy Snaps don't actually include any Brandy in the recipe! A wee bit of Googling led me to discover a few possibilities for the name. One being that the cream they are filled with should be flavoured with brandy another that brand-schnap came from them being burnt gingerbread and a third that uneducated palates made the use of brandy redundant thus manufacturing the biscuits without brandy was cheaper! Whatever the true origin of the name, Brandy Snaps most definitely encompass the sentiment of 'Christmas is Cinnamon' for me.

Brandy Snaps Baskets
Makes 8

60g Butter
60g Demerara Sugar
60g Golden Syrup
60g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 180c
Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. This will take about 15 minutes over a low heat. Don’t let the mixture boil as it may crystallise. 
Leave the melted ingredients to cool slightly then sieve in the flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
Pour in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and stir well to combine. 
Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner. 
Spoon the mixture into 4 'blobs' on each sheet.
Space them well apart as they will spread. Cook for 8 – 10 mins until set, golden brown and lacy in appearance. It's best to do this in two batches.
Leave for a minute before shaping. The biscuits should still be pliable but set enough not to tear. If they start to cool too much and become brittle, return to the oven for 30 seconds
To make baskets, oil the base of small ramekins or dariole moulds and drape the biscuits over them.
Once set, transfer to a cooling rack.
If not using straightway, store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Serve the Brandy Snaps Baskets filled with whipped cream (with or without Brandy) or ice cream. Top with your choice of fresh fruit, berries, fruit, toffee or chocolate sauce or try my seasonal Mulled Fruit Compote.

Mulled Fruit Compote
500g Mixed Frozen Summer Fruits
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
50ml Port
1 Tbsp Cornflour

Gently heat the frozen summer fruits in a saucepan until they are fully defrosted and there's plenty of juice.

Add the Cinnamon, Ginger and Port and stir through 
Slake the cornflour with a splash of water and add it to the pan, mixing well to combine.
Turn up the heat and allow the sauce to thicken.
Serve in the Brandy Snap Baskets along with cream or ice cream and finish with a sprinkling of Cinnamon.

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Schwartz. 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

Review and Giveaway Üutensil Stirr, Super Smash and Spudnik

I've got some funky kitchen gadgets to share with you today. Futuristic and space-age were the words that first came to mind when I saw them! Strangely given that we are now in December it was six months ago at a Christmas in July press show that I first came across the Üutensil brand. They are a British design company that create exciting, innovative and award winning kitchen products. They really do stand out in your kitchen and have been exhibited in the Design Museum. Pretty much any of their products would make the perfect stocking filler for the foodie that has everything! I've been trying out three of them - stirr, super smash and spudnik. Even the names are cool. In addition to being super stylish I would imagine that all the items I tried would be really useful for those who have reduced use of mobility or power in their hands for whatever reason. 

Porridge, Juniper Berries, Tatties & Neep!

First up is the spudnik (rrp £7.99) If you hadn't worked it out already it is in fact a potato masher. Goodness knows what the Smash aliens would make of it! Rather than pound your potatoes the flower design of the spudnik is rotated and rolled around in the pan. It makes a mundane task rather therapeutic. Definitely much easier to clean and none of the clogging of a traditional masher. It did take me a wee while to master the required technique and produce a perfect mash, old habits clearly die hard. Available in Olive and Magenta.

Super Smash (rrp £27.99) does exactly what it says on the tin and and reinvents the Mortar & Pestle. A larger pestle with a bigger surface area fits exactly into the curves of the mortar. Much like the Spudnik, rather than pounding you use your palm to rotate the pestle. This make the whole process of grinding spices much more efficient in terms of both time and effort. Some clever grooves have been added to the base of the pestle which help keep whole spices in place at the beginning of the grinding process. A big thumbs up to no longer having to chase stray peppercorns around the kitchen! Super Smash is a generous 12cm across but for smaller jobs has a little brother Smash (rrp £19.99) I can't wait to see how Super Smash handles making Wild Garlic Pesto in the spring on a Bear Hunt

Last up is Stirr (rrp £16.99) This is an automatic pan stirrer. No more slaving over a hot stove! At the push of a button it rotates and travels around your pan leaving you free to put your feet up get on with doing something else. It runs on 4 x AA batteries and the plastic stirring legs are removable and dishwasher safe. There are three speed settings which are operated via an easy one handed push button on the top. Ideal for soups, sauces, gravy, porridge, custard and more. Basically anything that requires constant stirring. I was really excited about this one, as was Foodie Boy who had already spotted it being reviewed on You Tube by some of his favourite vloggers. It does what it's been designed for but for me there were a couple of downsides as it is rather noisy, especially when at full speed and stops rotating when the foodstuffs get too thick. A wee bit of a novelty item so I won't be throwing away my porridge spurtle quite yet!

Üutensil have provided a stirr, super smash and spudnik RRP £52.97 as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment

"What kitchen utensil couldn't you live without?"

For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway, follow me on Instagram or like me on Facebook.
Giveaway ends 21st December 2016 11.59pm Good Luck!

Monday, 28 November 2016

A Dozen Scottish Recipes 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. In honour of the event I'm staring a dozen of my recipes with a particularly Scottish slant. I've been working with Lidl in the run up to Christmas developing a series of five recipes to feature on their in store weekly offers leaflets in all of their Scottish stores. If you're not in Scotland or haven't been able to pick up a leaflet I've shared links to the first three of my recipes which are now available on the Lidl website.

Disclosure : Steak Pie, Haggis Cottage Pie and Scotch Beef Stew commissioned by Lidl Scotland. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Parmigiano Reggiano Chicken (or Turkey) Filo Pie

I'm all for a shortcut when it comes to cooking. If Delia can write a whole book about cheats and Mary 'fesses up on Bake Off that she doesn't make her own Filo Pastry I reckon I'm in good company. Personally I'd prefer to use a pre-prepared product that helps me short circuit cooking times and techniques than resort to a ready meal. I'm not saying they don't have their place but there is definitely room for a halfway house between cooking everything from scratch and popping a ping meal in the microwave. In today's recipe I've been working with Giovanni Rana and their new Italian Indulgence Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce. It's an instant time saver that will allow you to create fabulous food without a faff.

The fresh chilled sauce is made with authentic PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano blended with cream. Whilst it's undoubtedly great served traditionally with pasta it also makes a wonderfully versatile ingredient. A second new addition to their Italian Indulgence range is a Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts & Garlic. Giovanni Rana’s authentic pesto is vibrant and rustic and lends itself to countless dishes, from simple spaghetti through to pesto topped salmon fillets and stuffed chicken breasts. In my recipe today I've used the wonderfully silky and creamy Parmigiano Reggiano sauce to help make the filling for a showstopping Chicken Pie. 

The timing of publishing this recipe is particularly apt with the festive season approaching. My Parmigiano Reggiano Pie would be the perfect way to use up leftover turkey and you could easily add in some ham, cranberry sauce or even leftover sprouts! Filo pastry is a fantastic shortcut and makes an impressive finished product for very little effort. Pop a pack of filo and a tub of Italian Indulgence Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce in your trolley when you do the Christmas Shop and you'll be sorted for an effortless twixtmas meal. To make it year round with chicken, my top tip would be to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker. Pop it in with nothing else and cook on low for 6-8 hours. I promise it will work and you'll have fantastically succulent chicken just falling off the bone. The by-product will be a wonderfully rich chicken stock which will be perfect to use in the pie instead of a cube. Win win! 

Parmigiano Reggiano Chicken (or Turkey) Filo Pie

500g Cooked Chicken or Turkey, shredded
200ml Chicken Stock
1 Tub/180g Giovanni Rana Parmigiano Reggiano Sauce
2 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
Salt & Pepper
50g Butter, melted
8 Sheets Filo Pastry
20g Parmigiano Reggiano, Grated

Preheat your oven to 180c
In a large bowl mix together the shredded cooked chicken/turkey, chicken stock, Parmigiano Reggiano Sauce, chopped parsley and smoked paprika. 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 8 butter brushed filo sheets.
Spoon the cheesy chicken mixture into the pastry lined tin. Crumple the final 2 buttered sheets of filo to cover the top then fold in all of the other pastry to form a parcel.
Brush the top with the last of the butter and sprinkle over the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and some more Smoked Paprika.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Remove the tin and transfer the Parmigiano Reggiano Filo Pie to a serving plate.

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Giovanni Rana. 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.