Friday, 29 November 2013

Love Food Hate Waste at Aberdeen Forward

I'm a big supporter of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Many of my best meals have been recreated from leftovers and my Meal Planning Mondays certainly help to keep food wastage to a minimum. I was delighted to be asked by Aberdeen Forward to do a Love Leftovers demo at their HQ as part of European Week of Waste Reduction. Here's what we cooked up on the day
TUNA FISHCAKES
Leftover Mashed Potato
Tin of Tuna
Large Squirt of Ketchup
Herbs (whatever is just about to go slimy in the bottom of the fridge)
Salt & Pepper
Breadcrumbs (made from stale bread/wraps/buns/pita bread)
Flour
Egg
Oil

Mix together the mash, tuna, herbs, S&P & Ketchup in a bowl
Form into balls and flatten
Dip each fishcake into seasoned flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs
Fry in oil until golden brown on each side

Variations
use any type of fish or corned beef or make a veggie version with pulses
leftover veggies can be added to the mix, sweetcorn works well
instead of breadcrums used crushed savoury biscuits like cream crackers

COLA CHICKEN
Oil
Onion
6 Tbsp Passata
Handful of Mushrooms
1 Pepper
1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tsp Chinese 5 Spice
2 Chicken Breasts
250ml Flat Coke
Tin of Pineapple Slices

Chop onion and fry in oil. Add chopped mushrooms and peppers. Add chicken and brown. Pour in coke, passata and add spices. Leave to simmer until the sauce reduces and gets sticky. Aprox 20-25 minutes. Add pineapple towards the end. Serve with rice or noodles.


Variations
use pork or beef instead of chicken or omit entirely and bulk up with veggies
experiment with different flavours of soft drinks
spice it up with garlic and chillies
LAYERED FRUIT CRUNCH
Natural Greek Yoghurt
Honey
Gingernuts
Breakfast Cereal (Special K)
Fruit (Apple, Pears, Strawberries)
Cinnamon
Sugar

Prepare (peel and chop) the fruit then stew in a small pan with a little water adding sugar and spices if desired. Leave to cool.
Crush the biscuits and cereal in a bag using a rolling pin
Layer up fruit, ceral/biscuit mix and yoghurt and repeat in a glass.
Chill until required
Drizzle with honey before serving.

Variations
ring the changes with different flavours of yoghurt
any fresh, frozen or tinned fruit works well
use your favourite biscuits and cereal

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Mincemeat, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce

Every Thursday night since Halloween I've been heading along to an evening class run by the local community education centre. It's held in the Home Economics department of a local secondary where the facilities and equipment are somewhat retro. It reminds me very much of my own Food & Nutrition classroom at school. Our tutor is the lovely Julie Lawrence who runs Julie's Coffee Shop. It's the second of her courses that I've attended the first being Feast of Fish. I'm not very good at sticking to recipes so over the weeks I've used those provided as a starter point and added my own twist. I suspect Julie has me down as the class trouble maker as I'm always turning up with extra ingredients. Here's a taste of what we've made so far. I'll be twiddling my thumbs come December at this rate.
MINCEMEAT
175g Rasins
100g Sultanas
275g Currants
100g Mixed Peel
150g Dried Cranberries
175g Suet
250g Dark Brown Sugar
50g Whole Almonds, sliced into slivers
Half a Freshly Grated Nutmeg
2 Tsp Mixed Spice
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon and 1 Orange
450g Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 Tbsp Brandy

Mix together all the ingredients, except the brandy in a large ovenproof bowl.
Cover with foil and bake in a low oven, 110c for 2 hours 30 minutes
Stir well, mix through the Brandy and leave to cool slightly.
Fill sterilised jars, cover with a waxed disk and seal.
Sausagemeat Stuffing
1kg pork sausagemeat
4 heaped Tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 Large onion finely chopped
Small bunch of fresh Sage or 2 Tsp dried
1 beaten egg
Salt & Pepper
Finely chopped dried Prunes & Apricots

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Use your hands to form into balls. Open freeze on a tray then store in the freezer in a plastic bag/box. Defrost before baking alongside your Christmas Dinner.
CRANBERRY SAUCE
350g Fresh Cranberries
200g Caster Sugar
50ml Port
Zest & Juice of 2 Oranges
Cinnamon Stick

Put all the ingredients into a pan and let them simmer until the berries begin to pop. This should only take 10 minutes. Leave to cool and store in the freezer until Christmas
I'm feeling quite virtuous having these three made already. How's your Christmas prep going? Anything else I should be making now to freeze or jar for later? Rest assured I've already put the sprouts on to boil.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

#MPM Cheesy Egg Man & Giant Pancakes

Last weeks meal plan just didn't really come to fruition for one reason or another. A manic week combined with lots of changes of plan is my only excuse. I don't even have any photographic evidence of what we did eat. Bad blogger. Promise to try harder this week. Despite this, lots of foodie fun was still had over the last seven days.
Went to the launch of Merchant Bistro in Aberdeen's Correction Wynd on Thursday night. Great to see someone following their dream to open a restaurant and supporting local producers. Lovely tasters on offer and the menu includes a good selection of vegetarian and gluten free options. I'll definitely be back.
Enjoyed some fine dining with friends on Friday night at the recently refurbished Blair's Restaurant at Ardoe House. Lovely surroundings and food but their cheese map was undoubtedly my personal highlight.
Saturday saw me putting on my demonstrators hat and spreading the Love Food Hate Waste message at Aberdeen Forward as part of the European Week for Waste Reduction. Mini Fishcakes, Cola Chicken and Layered Fruit Crunch.
Boy had his chefs hat on too. When he couldn't find a ring mold to serve his scrambled egg in he improvised with a gingerbread man cutter. He reckons that Cheesy Egg Man could be the next big thing in breakfasts.
Road trip up to Elgin on Sunday on the trail of a new car. Late lunch at Baxters of Fochabers on our way home. Giant Pancakes were eaten. It's the law that you must have one when you are there.
So this weeks meal plan (with significant carry forward from last week!)

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Chicken, Sweetcorn and Broccoli Lasagna
Baked Lamb & Apricot Cous Cous
Mushroom Risotto
Pot Roast of Pheasant with Shallots and Caramelised Apples
Chateaubriand

Also on the menu is a rescheduled recording of three recipes with BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe, two sessions singing with The Rock Choir in local shopping centres, Gourmet Gals Festive Food Swap and a visit to the Mearns Winter Food Festival.

Busy Busy. Enjoy your week.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

All I want for Christmas is... Cake (and biscuits and pies)

There ain't no party like a cake club party. Time for the annual Pinnies & Petticoats festive event. Held in November to allow plenty time to try out all the ideas before the big day itself. A grand turnout of bakers and a smattering of Christmas Jumpers on show. There's no way I could top the Santa Penguins of last year but I did opt for a novelty item in addition to my real bake.
Can you tell who they are supposed to be? No not Santa. It's The Grinch. Easy when you know the answer. Pretty healthy too apart from the bobble on his hat. 
My real bake was Gingerbread Biscotti which in the end I was really pleased with, a couple of folk commenting that they thought it was my best ever bake. I had real trouble tracking the tiny Gingerbread Men Sprinkles down but finally found them in Hobbycraft. They are just too cute. But even they couldn't top the undoubted Star Bake of the night. Nicole's amazing Gingerbread House. If possible, it tasted even better than it looked.
Only four savouries lined up and not a pickled onion or cube of cheese between them. Some great ideas for using up Christmas leftovers. Thankfully no sprouts to be found in any.
Leftover Christmas Dinner Pies
Chicken & Cranberry Tartlets
Boxing Day Pie
Winter Spiced Squash Tarts Topped with Whipped Basil Goats Cheese
Yule Log
Snowmen Cupcakes
Not So Merry Melted Snowmen
Yule Log
Snowflake Biscuits
Orange & Ginger Stained Glass Biscuits
Christmas Cookies - Cranberry, White Choc, Citrus & Mixed Nut
Brown Sugar Chai Spiced Marshmallows
Chocolate Brownies with Sparkly Tinsel
Chocolate Chestnut Truffles
Sticky Sparkling Gingerbread
Sparkly Chocolate & Grand Marnier Truffles
Roasted Parsnip Cupcakes with Brandy Cream Cheese Frosting
Giant Chocolate Bauble filled with Baileys and Pistachio Fudge
Cinnamon Kringle Wreath
Ginger Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing
A quick share of my last year's efforts for the same event. The iconic Penguin Santa's and Upside Down Gingerbread Men Reindeer. See all the 2012 bakes blogged at Festive Pinnies & Petticoats. There is rumour of a bake free night out in December but with that exception Cake Club is over for 2013. First meet in the new year will have a Back to Basics theme. Best lookout the gruel and sackcloth.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

#MPM Mini Sausage & Mash Pies

So the boy did my meal plan last week and actually helped cook up a fair bit of it along the way. He was particularly proud of his Oriental Chicken Pies (with decoration by girl). They tasted as good as they looked. Creamy chicken, leek, ham and mushroom spiced up with Ginger and Chinese Five Spice.
I live tweeted our meal of Mini Sausage & Mash Pies which seemed to prove very popular. As requested by some of my Twitter followers here are some additional instructions and a rather loose recipe. Its something you could easily adapt to taste or use as a basis for your own creations. It's got me thinking about making a Christmas version with turkey mince and cranberries.
Mini Sausage & Mash Pies
8 Pork Sausages skinned
Pack of Streaky Bacon
2 slices of Breadcrumbs
Parsley
Worcestershire Sauce
1 clove or squirt of lazy Garlic
Freshly ground Nutmeg
Large squirt of Tomato Ketchup
Potatoes
Knob of Butter
Splash of Milk
Grated Cheese

Line 8 muffin tins with streaky bacon
Squish together the sausagemeat, breadcrumbs, parsley, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic, Nutmeg and Ketchup.
Divide mixture between pies.
Mash tatties with a splash of milk and knob of butter.
Top pies with mash & grated cheese.
Bake for 25 Minutes at 180 degrees until golden brown
Paid a visit to a lovely reincarnated cafe when the kids were off school on Monday for an inservice day. Delighted to be a small part of Foodstory who have moved around the corner to bigger and better things with help from Kickstarter. I am proud to be one of their 139 backers.
The second say of inservice saw me enlisting boy and girl to help create our contribution to the School Christmas Fair. Although we couldn't manage to attend I'm told all our goodies sold out. Find out how to make them on my Festive Cake & Candy Blog Post.
Pinnies and Petticoats Christmas Cake Club on Wednesday night with a great turnout of folk and fantastic selection of baked goodies as always. Here are my personal highlights. Will blog about them and my own bake later this week.
Thursday night and we went Native. Launch event for Nick Nairn's latest venture in the Granite City. Canapes, Champagne and a catchup with the man himself. Will definitely be back for a meal very soon. And perhaps another Paddington Bear Cocktail. 
Busy weekend away with extended family celebrating significant birthdays including a 50th and a 21st. The only foodie photos I took along the way were of our afternoon cuppie at The Happy Plant. Affa fine cakes and my first mince pie of the season.
Another really hectic week coming up so I'm aiming for quick and easy on the plan this week #mealplanningmonday

Monday - Beef Olives done in the Slow Cooker with Carrots, Tatties, Barley and Squash.

Tuesday - Something fishy with wedges and homemade tartar sauce.

Wednesday - I have BBC Radio Scotland joining me in the kitchen today to record three segments for their Kitchen Cafe show. Tea could well be Candy Cane Bark, Christmas Pudding Vodka and Gingerbread Biscotti. Or a freezer rummage.

Thursday - Mushroom Risotto. Using some dried Bricioloni de Porcini I got for my Birthday along with some Truffle Oil I brought back from Tuscany.

Friday - not 100% sure of our plans yet. Either steak dinner at home or eating out with friends.

Saturday - I'm doing a Love Food Hate Waste Demo at Aberdeen Forward today as part of the European Week of Waste Reduction so will be conjuring up dishes with leftovers for lunch and raiding my freezer for Lasagna for tea.

Sunday - Pot Roast of Pheasant with Shallots and Caramelised Apples This was recommended to me so I'm going to give it a try with a couple of birds from the freezer.


Enjoy your week whatever is on your menu.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Christmas Cake & Candy

Tentatively sneaking in the back door with a Christmas post. The countdown really is on now and I've been making and baking this week for the Cake & Candy stall at our School Christmas Fair in addition to the Pinnies & Petticoats Cake Club Christmas Meet. A couple of easy ones to start with. No baking skills at all involved in Reindeer Candy Canes but you do need to be a dab hand with a glue gun.
Poundshops are the best places to source your candy canes whilst you should be able to get googly eyes, red pom poms and brown pipe cleaners at any craft store. Glue two canes together and leave till set before winding a brown pipecleaner round the bottom half. Arm yourself with a glue gun once again and attach a pom pom nose and googly eyes. Rudolph is born.
Candy Cane Bark
300g Dark Chocolate (worthwhile spending a wee bit more to get a good quality one)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint essence
300g White Chocolate
10 candy canes

Line a swiss roll tin with aluminium foil.
Melt* your Dark Chocolate and add the peppermint essence. Pour and spread evenly over the base of the lined tin and put in the fridge to set.
Meanwhile smash up the candy canes in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. You still want to keep some chunky pieces.
Sieve the crushed candy canes to separate out the very fine dust from the more substantial pieces.
Melt* the white chocolate and stir in the candy cane dust.
Spread the white chocolate and candy cane mix on top of the dark base and sprinkle with the broken up pieces of candy cane.
Put back in the fridge until set and then chop into random shaped pieces.

**If you want to have a more professional shiny finish with a better snap you can Temper the chocolate when you melt it but the bark will work fine without.
Festive Marshmallow Pops are another very simple but effective non bake. Great fun for the kids to help make too. Push a lolly stick into each marshmallow, dip in melted chocolate and top with festive sprinkles. I got these fab sprinkles in Lidl for a bargain price of £1.29 a jar. To allow the pops to dry I stand them in the holes of a wire cooling rack.
Again sourced from a pound shop I used a pack of mini candy canes to make Candy Cane Lollies. Lay out the candy canes on a lined baking tray with a lolly stick in the middle to form a heart shape. Warm them in the oven until the canes become malleable. 3-5 mins at 180 should do it. Be warned there is a very small window of opportunity in which to do this before they completely melt and I had some casualties along the way. Using asbestos fingers pinch the bottom of the two canes so they attach to the stick and the top so they attach to each other. Ease out the sides to get a good heart shape and leave to cool. Carefully spoon in melted chocolate to fill the hearts and decorate with sprinkles.
Next a recipe I've developed for the #ChristmasWithMackays blogger challenge. Mincemeat & Ginger Muffins featuring their Spiced Ginger Preserve. These have all the wonderful spicy flavours of Christmas in them. Quicker to make and lighter in texture than a traditional mince pie. You can yous your own homemade mincemeat or shop bought. For extra decadence top with a Brandy Buttercream. Thanks to Mackays for sending me a selection of their artisan preserves to work with. Have a look at my previous #BakingWithMackays blog post for further jammy inspiration.
#ChristmasWithMackays Mincemeat & Spiced Ginger Preserve Muffins
225g Plain Flour
85g Porridge Oats
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Bicarb of Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
85g Golden Caster Sugar
1 Egg
240ml Milk
170g Mackays Spiced Ginger Preserve
170g Mincemeat
90ml Vegetable Oil

Sift together all dry ingredients in one bowl.
In another combine all wet ingredients, including the mincemeat and ginger preserve.
Pour wet into dry and mix until just combined.
Spoon into muffin cases.
Bake at 200C for 25 minutes until tops are lightly browned.

Sift icing sugar over the top for a snowy effect.
So that's all my Cakes and Bakes packed up for the School Christmas Fair. Some new ones this year plus a couple of old favourites. Hopefully I've provided some inspiration for any bake sales you have coming up. Unfortunately we won't be there on the day as we are heading off to Costa del Peterhead for the weekend. At least it means there will be no upset if my cake and candy doesn't sell. 
After all that, the festive floodgates must now be well and truly open. Expect plenty more Christmas bloggage over the next few weeks. Only 39 baking days until Christmas!


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Wild Food & Foraging with Galloway Wild Foods & Foodie Quine

From small acorns giant oaks grow. Following on from a visit to Crail Food Festival when we went on a Coastal Forage with Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods an idea began to germinate. I made contact with Mark and asked if he might be interested in facilitating a foraging event in my neck of the woods. I reckoned I should be able to get enough folk on board to cover costs and have an informal wee get together to satisfy my own interests. It was then that the acorn began to grow arms and legs.
Taking a giant leap into the unknown with Mark's help and advice from Kathers Kitchen who had hosted a similar event, we agreed a date and put the event on sale with the proviso that we'd pull the plug if there was no interest. My first ever "Foodie Quine Presents..." event. Within half an hour of tweeting that sales were live I'd sold my first 2 places and within a week 19 out of 20 had been snapped up. Long story short we ended up hosting a two day Wild Food and Foraging Event for 40 people.
We were so lucky with the weather over the weekend as the forecast didn't look all that favourable and the Friday was a total washout. Despite somewhat squishy underfoot conditions the skies remained clear. We had fantastic support from the local Bodging group based in Dunnottar Woods who had heard what we were up to and offered to get involved. They gave us access to their cabin, tarp, fire, shared their green woodworking skills and knowledge and even provided us with Venison. Huge thanks to all round good guys Alan and Dave. 
When creating the blurb for the event I nominated myself to provide edible treats along the way. At least we'd have something to snack on if Mark didn't come up with the goods. I brought along an assortment of foraged fruit jams & jellies, mini bannocks and wild garlic pesto pinweels made by me and amazing bread from Lisa at Auchenblae's Old Post Office Tearoom & Shoppe

Photo heavy post now coming up as I'm not going to even begin to try to identify and name all the edible and non edible plants, berries and fungi that we found on our travels. That's far outwith my level of knowledge and I need to sell places on future events. Rather I'll share what we got up to and give you a flavour of what we did, saw and ate over the two days. Even although it was late in the season and the Autumn fungi harvest was in its twilight we were nevertheless lucky enough to encounter a huge selection of interesting species. Practically all of which I would have walked straight past on any other day.
Following our walk  it was time to head back to base camp for the wild food tasters. We had been out and about for almost 3 hours and covered a surprisingly small area. Mark and myself cooked up tasters from what we had gathered combined with some additional foraged goodies brought along by Mark. Over the course of the two evenings we enjoyed Venison (provided by the Bodgers), Wild Mushroom Fricassee, Seaweed Popcorn, Elderberry, Rowan & Apple Sauce and Wilted Greens moped up with Lisa's Bread and washed down with Elderflower Champagne.
Huge thanks to Mark for his invaluable knowledge and enthusiasm that he so readily shared over the course of the weekend. To everyone who came along. An amazing group of interesting folk. Especially great to have some chefs on board to add to the expertise. Thanks for all the feedback, both positive and constructively negative. All will be taken on board. It was a steep learning curve for me and next time round hopefully things will run easier and we will implement changes from what we have learned along the way. Did I say next time round? Yes there definitely will be more to come. We are currently in discussion for three events in 2014. 

Spring - Woods and Hedgerows
Summer - Coastal Foraging
Autumn - Full on Fungi.

Interested? Drop me an email and I'll keep you posted foodiequine@gmail.com