Friday, 22 May 2015

Scottish Barley & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Hang up the bunting and get ready for a party! The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, which this year takes place on Sunday June 7th. Led by the Eden Project, funded by The Big Lottery Fund and partnered by Asda and Halifax, The Big Lunch is the perfect recipe for having fun with your neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. In this day and age how many of us really know our neighbours? People are the key ingredient in The Big Lunch recipe with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources. Sharing food is only the beginning. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding
You can find the perfect blend
Neighbours...should be there for one another
That's when good neighbours become good friends

Admit it. You're singing along. It might be cheesy but the catchy theme tune from down under really does encapsulate what The Big Lunch is all about. Big Lunches encourage friendlier, safer neighbourhoods and people taking part report feeling a stronger sense of community afterwards. Enjoying Big Lunch day is just the start, it’s also the planning and what can happen after that really makes the difference. That's when good neighbours become good friends.

Big Lunches can be big or small; they don’t need to cost much because everyone brings something to the table. Whether it’s a couple of homes getting together for a picnic or a full blown street party it all contributes to the underlying ethos that we, as a society, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. It doesn't even have to take place on the first Sunday in June. You can hold your event whenever works best for you and your community. 

I love a statistic and these ones from Big Lunch 2014 research are pretty impressive.
  • 4.83 million people took part in The Big Lunch 2014
  • 97 per cent of people who took part said they would recommend The Big Lunch to their friends
  • 84 per cent of people who took part said it made them feel better about their neighbourhood
  • 8 out of 10 people who took part have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years
People said the best 3 parts of their Big Lunch day in 2014 were:
  1. A great sense of community
  2. Meeting new people
  3. Enjoying good food
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

When The Big Lunch in Scotland got in touch to ask me to work with them and create a street party food recipe I immediately started thinking about the things that I'd like to make, bring and eat at such an event. I've got a real savoury tooth so immediately ruled out deserts. I wanted my recipe to be colourful, tasty, quick and easy to make and transport and be something that is easy to share in a large group. Most of all I wanted my dish to have a Scottish twist. I reckon I've pretty much covered all the bases with my Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing. Lots of fantastic Scottish produce showcased which ties in perfectly with 2015 being the Scottish Year of Food and Drink and May being Whisky Month. Slainte Mhath! 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch


250g Pearl Barley
2 Fillets Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon (approx 180g)
1 Raw Beetroot
3 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Flat leaf Parsley

2 Tbsp Scottish Whisky
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold running water until the water runs clear.
Place the barley in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. 
Drain the barley and leave to cool or rinse with cold water to speed up the process.
Meanwhile flake the salmon fillets, peel and coarsely grate or julienne the beetroot, slice the spring onions and chop the parsley.
Combine the cooled barley with the salmon, beetroot, spring onion and parsley and mix gently.
Place dressing ingredients of oil, whisky, mustard and honey in a jam jar and season well with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. 
Keep the salad and dressing separate until its time to serve. Mix them together at the last minute and watch the barley turn a delightful shade of pink. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

I asked my fellow food bloggers to share their favourite salad recipes that would work well for The Big Lunch and here's what they came up with. There's so much more to salad than lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Purple Sprouting Cesar Salad by Rough Measures 
Chilli, Prawn & Pasta Salad by Fab Food 4 All
Vietnamese Duck Salad by Recipes from a Pantry
Summer Italian Pasta Salad by The Petite Cook 

I really hope I've inspired you to host your own Big Lunch. Get started by visiting to request a FREE pack or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team. The pack contains invitations, activity and recipe ideas, posters, stickers and more. Just add Neighbours and Food! 

Disclosure - This is a commissioned post and recipe for The Big Lunch. All views expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial

I must admit that I had pretty much finished making this Chocolate Bouquet before it even occurred to me that others might be interested in how I did it and that I should do a tutorial for the blog. As such it doesn't have quite as many photos of of the steps as it would have had if I'd thought about it from the start, but hopefully my explanations will suffice. I made it for one of my lovely Chocoholic friends *special big birthday* and it went down a treat.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Wooden Skewers with flat ends (I got them in Sainsbury's)
Hot Glue Gun
Fun Size Chocolate Bars 
Jam Jar
Polystyrene (I used a bit of my Coast & Glen Fishbox!)
Coloured Tissue Paper
Rubber Bands

I used almost two bags of assorted fun sized chocolate bars, I also included a couple of full sized Star Bars as they are a particular favourite of the recipient! 
First you need to glue the skewers onto the back of the chocolates. A hot glue gun really is best for this but it could possibly work with superglue or double sided tape. Position the skewers at different points on the back of the bars so you get an assortment of finished heights.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

For the base I used a jam jar with a couple of blocks of polystyrene wedged firmly into it. A taller one at the back and a smaller one at the front. You need some of the fairly dense polystyrene rather than the more open stuff (I'm sure there must be a technical term for it!) Start arranging your "chocolate flowers" with taller ones at the back and shorter at the front. The packets of Maltesers, M&M's and Milky Way Stars were great for filling in any gaps. Push the skewers in well and watch out that it doesn't get too top heavy.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Once I was happy with my arrangement I laid out four squares of alternating colours of tissue paper on top of each other at adjacent angles. Then I sat the jam jar on top and pulled up the tissue around the neck and secured it with a rubber band. To finish it off I did the same with a square of Cellophane before covering up the rubber bands with a ribbon tied in a bow.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Lots of love for it when I posted on my Foodie Quine Facebook PageThe verdict from my chum? "What could be nicer than opening the door to the best "bouquet" ever? Thank you so much to my lovely friend Claire (aka The Foodie Quine). This is amazing and so me! xx"

My daughter has now requested one for her birthday and my sister wants a crisp version!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Rhubarb Curd and Rhubarb Gin

Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb. I love the stuff. Literally can't get enough of it. When it's on a menu for desert I can't see past it. For many years I had a small clump in my garden but it never really did very much and only produced a handful of stems, barely enough for an annual crumble. Then we moved it to a different spot and now it flourishes. Another of my loves is curd. For years I thought it only came in lemon however there are a whole range of recipes out there for many more exotic flavours. Here's my Rhubarb version.

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd


Make 3 small/medium sized jars

You could make this curd in the traditional way on the hob over a bain marie but I prefer to use the microwave.

500g Rhubarb
Red Food Colouring
175g Caster Sugar
4 Tbsp Cornflour
4 Eggs
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
125g Butter

Wash and chop up the rhubarb into short lengths. Cook with a couple of tablespoonfuls of water until it is completely pulpy. I do this in a pan over a low heat.
Sieve the cooked rhubarb into a large microwaveable bowl. At this stage it usually looks a rather unappetising sludgy colour so I add a couple of drops of red food colouring. 
Sieve the sugar and cornflower into the rhubarb pulp and heat in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved.
Beat and sieve the eggs to remove any stringy bits. Add the vanilla extract to the eggs and mix into the rhubarb. Chop the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl.
Place in the microwave and whisk at 30 second intervals. You will start to see the mixture thickening up, particularly at the edges, after around 5 minutes depending upon the power of your microwave. At this point its ready. (I overdid mine a wee bit on this occasion!)
Pour into sterilised jars (I had to spoon mine!) and cover with waxed discs and cellophane.
Will keep up to 6 weeks in the fridge.

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd
Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

I couldn't possibly write about Rhubarb without including one of my absolute favourite homemade drinks. Rhubarb Gin. Whenever I share this, or one of its variants, on my Foodie Quine Facebook page the post goes mad. The last one had 90 likes, 100 shares and a reach of 13, 352 people. Its great on its own or served with a mixer. Particularly wonderful with Prosecco. 

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Curd

RHUBARB GIN (or Vodka)

1 litre gin or vodka
600g Rhubarb
300g Sugar

Optional Flavouring - Vanilla Pod, Ginger, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest

Wash and chop rhubarb and crush with a pestle and mortar or similar. Combine with the sugar and vodka in a suitable receptacle Add your desired choice of additional flavouring. At this point you need to be very patient and hide it away somewhere dark for a few weeks before you can sieve bottle and enjoy.

Foodie Quine - Rhubarb Gin

If you can take your mind off the gin and back to curd for a few minutes you should have a look at some other amazingly fruity curd recipes by fellow food bloggers. I really do genuinely want to try all of these variants and can't wait for Bramble season to make some of my own Bramble & Apple Curd.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary - Orange Curd Butterfly Fairy Cakes 
Fab Food 4 All - Granny's Quick Lemon Curd
Foodie Quine - Bramble & Apple Curd
Family Friends Food - Spiced Mango Curd
Tin & Thyme - Lime & Ginger Curd
The Crafty Larder - Passion Fruit & Lime Curd

love seasonal food link up

Link up your recipe of the week

Monday, 11 May 2015

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt

Of all the family food, fun and foraging outdoor events I've done with my friend Mandy from Mud Pies we have really been very lucky with the weather. A couple of drizzly spells have been as bad as it got. Our luck had clearly run out by the May Bank Holiday weekend when we held this year's Wild Garlic Bear Hunt. The weather forecast was pretty horrendous. Rainy, windy and cold with a severe weather warning to boot. But the show must go on. If the bears could brave the elements so would we.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

They might not have felt like it at the time but our morning group of 40 intrepid adventurers got the best of the day. No spirits were dampened as everyone was equipped with wellies, waterproofs and lots of enthusiasm and we headed off on the search for cuddly bears and stinky bear garlic. We wandered via the Shell Housie down to the Glaslaw Burn and saw and smelt the swathes of wild garlic. No flowers yet but plenty of luscious leaves and buds. Bags were filled and the next mission commenced. The quest to find the perfect stick to cook damper bread and toast marshmallows on. Back to base camp and time to get shaking and making butter in jam jars. Alas our best laid plans of warming the cream to make things easier were thwarted by the weather. It got very competitive at this point with the Dads in particular engaging in vigorous efforts to be the first to separate the butter and the buttermilk.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

Pesto pounding came next. Wild Garlic, salt, pepper, Scottish rapeseed oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts ground together in perfect proportions to make each families individual secret pesto recipe. Thanks to all my friends who rallied round and lent me an assortment of Pestle and Mortars for the day. Whilst one half of the group made pesto the other half made Damper Bread. Self Raising Flour and a pinch of salt mixed to a dough with milk (or water). Rolled into a 'snake' and wrapped around the end of a carefully chosen and peeled stick before cooking over the fire.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

The hardy souls who joined us for the afternoon session unfortunately really did get the worst of the weather. It was lashing it down by this point. But we still managed to forage, shake, cook and feast on dampers, butter, pesto, marshmallows and lots of hot Ribena, tea and coffee. I definitely need to bring my hip flash next time. A wee tot of something would have gone down a treat.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter
Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter

Where these events are concerned the morning after the day before always means lots of washing up, sorting out and tidying away. Plenty of mud on everything and lots of soggyness to dry out. But every cloud has a silver lining. Whilst I got on with the dirty work boy shook up the remains of the cream to make lots of butter, girl used the buttermilk to make pancakes and we all whipped up a batch of wild garlic hummus. Tasted amazing and really is as Kermit green as it looks in the photo.

Foraging and Outdoor Foodie Fun on a Wild Garlic Bear Hunt - Dampers, Pesto, Butter


Blitz the following together with a stick blender or in a food processor

Handful of Wild Garlic leaves
Tin of Chickpeas, drained
A good splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil
Couple of spoonfuls of Tahini or Peanut Butter (optional)
Salt and Pepper
Small amount Harissa Paste or Ras El Hanout (optional)

Wild Garlic Hummus Recipe - Foraging, Wild Food

Although we are now nearing the end of the season there's still some wild garlic out there, certainly in this neck of the woods. I asked my fellow food bloggers if they had any wild garlic recipes to share. Here's what they came up with, plus a couple more from me. Bookmark them for next year if you've missed the boat this time round.

Feta and Wild Garlic Muffins from Recipes from a Pantry
Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels from Foodie Quine
Cheese and Wild Garlic Scones from Farmersgirl Kitchen
Sweet Potato, Wild Garlic and Spinach Soup from Munchies and Munchkins
Spring Roast of Scotch Beef with a Wild Garlic Pesto Crust from Foodie Quine
Wild Garlic Scones from Rough Measures
Beetroot, Walnut, Wild Garlic and Goat’s Cheese Brunch Muffins from Tin and Thyme

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Dr. Oeteker Ristorante #freshnessfrozen

Knock, Knock, Knock. Do you wanna build a snowman? Come on let's go and play! 

Yup I'm talking Frozen on the blog today, fear not there's no Elsa and Anna, only frozen food. I've got a compact four drawer freezer in my kitchen and a second huge chest freezer in my garage. I really don't know how I would manage without them. Freezing ingredients at the peak of perfection locks in the freshness until you're ready to use them, preserving them at their most appetising and nutritious. My freezer enables me to buy and cook in bulk, take advantage of the reduced to clear shelf and always have something on hand for a quick meal. Freezing allows us to choose from a vast selection of seasonal ingredients all year round. It can help reduce food waste as you only defrost what you need with leftover fresh food being frozen for another day in individual waste reducing portions. Freezing enables food to have a hugely extended shelf life. If you watched the recent BBC series 'Back In Time For Dinner' you'll have seen first hand how the freezer came into its own in the 1970's as the ultimate labour saving device for the modern housewife. There was plenty of advice for new owners of the initially suspiciously viewed appliance in "Home & Freezer Digest" magazine which in its heyday outsold Good Housekeeping. Its motto was "It's not what the freezer can do for you, but what the freezer free's you to do."

Dr. Oeteker Ristorante #freshnessfrozen

Even Mary Berry advised her readers to batch-cook healthy family-friendly dishes and worked to dispel the myth that frozen food was less healthy than fresh. In the introduction to her "Popular Freezer Cookery" published in 1972 she explains how "the food will remain in the condition it was a state of suspended animation". The nation's favourite thin and crispy frozen pizza brand Dr. Oetker Ristorante are currently running a Freshness Frozen campaign based on exactly that "suspended animation" concept of locking in freshness through freezing. Frozen food can often be overlooked despite in many cases actually being fresher than many fresh foods. Commuters in central London last month certainly couldn't overlook a pizzeria made from four tonnes of ice which opened outside Liverpool Street Station for one day only. Watch the spectacular creative stunt take shape in the time lapse video below.

A stay at the Ice Hotel has long been on my Bucket List but I very much doubt that they have their own ice pizzeria. Crafted from 34 huge blocks of ice, using 3,400 litres of water and weighing an astounding 3.4 tonnes the pizzeria stunt kicked off the PR activity to promote Dr. Oetker Ristorante's #freshnessfrozen campaign which includes the brand's first ever money back guarantee. Each block of ice contained the essential ingredients of classic pizzas suspended within its frozen walls. Passers by couldn't resit touching and stopping to watched in awe as they slowly melted throughout the day.

Dr. Oeteker Ristorante #freshnessfrozen
Dr. Oeteker Ristorante #freshnessfrozen

Sculptors worked through the night to create the showcase that promoted the freshness of frozen food. Each block of ice took five days to ‘grow’ to full size the ingredients were painstakingly set into the ice by hand. There were approximately 70 separate items inside each block and all had to be weighed down in the water individually until the ice took hold. They really could have done with Elsa and her icy powers at this point. 

Dr. Oeteker Ristorante #freshnessfrozen

You can follow the #freshnessfrozen hashtag on Twitter @DrOetkerPizzaUK or visit the Dr Oetker Ristorante UK Facebook page to keep up with the campaign.

Disclosure - This is a sponsored post for Dr. Oetker Ristorante's #freshnessfrozen campaign. All views expressed are my own. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge

As much as I love Gin there is another drink which battles for my affections. Baileys. There's always a bottle of it in my drinks cupboard. I can't understand those who keep it just for Christmas or special occasions. For me it's a year round pleasure although I do try to wean myself off it in January after overindulgence during the festive period. Its the perfect "one for the road" tipple at the end of the night and my liqueur of choice for after dinner drink - always over ice. I adore it in coffee and it's an essential for camping and at festivals. Ideal round the campfire and whilst the kids are busy toasting marshmallows make sure you dip yours in Baileys before you toast it. Sheer heaven on a stick.

Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe

Baileys was founded in 1974 and is a unique blend of Irish Whiskey, fresh diary cream, vanilla and chocolate essences. It celebrated its 40th Birthday in November 2014. I bet that was some party. Whilst over 2,300 glasses of Baileys Original Irish Cream are consumed every minute of every day it also gets used a lot in baking. Every month there are almost 450k searches across GB, Germany and Italy and the most searched is Baileys Cheesecake. With that in mind here's my Baking with Baileys recipe for Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge.

Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe
Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe


120ml evaporated milk
200g golden caster sugar
200g light soft brown sugar
170g salted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75ml Baileys Irish Cream
200g icing sugar
75g Pistachio Nuts
755 Dried Cranberries

Put the evaporated milk, butter, golden castor and light brown sugars and salt into a heavy bottomed pan.
Turn on the heat and stir continuously until it melts, then increase the heat to reach boiling point.
Stir constantly until your sugar thermometer reaches between 230-240F (soft ball)
Take off heat to cool for a minute or two before stirring in the Baileys and the vanilla extract. Be warned - it will bubble up at this point.
Slowly sift in the icing sugar in portions into the pan stirring thoroughly each time.
Finally stir through the Pistachio Nuts and Cranberries.
Mix thoroughly then pour into a lined tin. Leave parchment over the side to make it easier to lift out. Leave in the fridge for an hour to set.
Cut into squares and enjoy (ideally with a cup of Baileys Coffee...)

Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe
Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe

This complete recipe contains 75ml of Baileys which equates to 1.35 units of alcohol. The NHS recommends that you do not regularly exceed 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women a day.

Baileys, Pistachio and Cranberry Fudge Recipe

For further Baileys baking inspiration take a look at the Baileys website for some Sweet Treats. Lots of my fellow Food Bloggers have also been busy in the kitchen with Baileys. Here are some of their creations.

The Crazy Kitchen - Baileys Chocolate Lasagne

Casa Costello

Disclosure - This is a commissioned recipe for Baileys