Monday, 30 March 2015

Spaghetti Carbonara Frittata

In my mind the only thing better than a box of cheese being delivered to my door would be a box of gin. No requirement for chocolates and flowers to win my affections. As such I was thrilled to receive a parcel of award winning cheeses from The Cheese Market. The somewhat stinky, but perfectly chilled box contained:

Rosary Garlic & Herb - A soft textured young cheese with a fresh, clean flavour; hints of lemon + subtle notes of goat milk. Delicately flavoured by garlic + herbs.
Quickes Vintage Cheddar - Handmade with Fresian cows' milk for a rich flavour. Cloth bound + matured for at least nine months, it has a mellow + distinct nutty character.
Tunworth - An 'ode' to Camembert, but the taste is really unique; clean + smoother than its French inspiration. It has a nutty + sweet milky yet savoury taste.
Perl Las - A superb blue that is strong yet delicate + creamy. Hand made with some of the family presses used for the cheeses being over 100 years old.

My cheesy goodies couldn't have come at a better time as it was a week before Aberdeen's Pinnies & Petticoats Baking Club Cheese themed month. I resisted temptation and pondered what goodies I could bake but alas disaster struck and the event was postponed. Only one thing to do, dive straight in and console myself with vast quantities of biscuits and cheese. Both the Tunworth and the Perl Las were amazing. Oozy, stinky and powerful, just the way I like them. I stirred the Rosary Garlic & Herb Goat's Cheese through pasta to make a wonderful creamy sauce whilst the Quickes Vintage Cheddar was used to make a fantastically hearty supper of Spaghetti Carborara Frittata. Discover The Cheese Market for yourself with 10% off your first order using code NC101.

Not as tasty as cheese but equally exciting was the arrival of an 18cm Stellar Cookware Stackable Draining Saucepan. No more juggling with colanders, sieves and scalded fingers. The innovative design has a perfectly flat glass lid enabling you to see whats cooking and makes them easily stackable. I reckoned the toughest test would be cooking rice, would I be able to drain it one handedly with no escapee grains? I was delighted to find that the Stellar Tate worked perfectly on my Induction Hob. I've had issues with some so called "induction compatible" pans not living up to their promises but the even heat distribution brought everything quickly to the boil. Also great to have an easy to read internal measuring guide on the pan. This will come in very handy when reducing sauces to a desired quantity. Rice cooked and it was time to drain. The lidded handle clicks perfectly into place and thanks to the pouring lip draining was easy with absolutely no lost rice.

Pasta put to the test next with Spaghetti for my Carbonara. Coincidentally this dish was cooked on the day of the Solar Eclipse and it didn't matter that my colanders were engaged elsewhere. Potatoes and Vegetables have also been tried, tested and drained with success. My 10 and 12 year old have also tried it out and from a safety point of view it's much better than conventional draining methods. A lifetime guarantee means that my colander may well be redundant, at least until 2090.

The recipe I'm sharing below is a really tasty and wonderfully filling supper dish. Exactly the same ingredients you would find in a traditional Spaghetti Carbonara, its just the quantity ratios have been juggled. The recipe makes 4-6 portions depending on how hungry you are and if you serve anything alongside. It is however very much worth your while to keep at least one slice back to pop in the fridge. It makes an awesome cold breakfast the next morning.


200g spaghetti
125g sliced thick cut ham
6 free range eggs
large handful of wild garlic - chopped (or chives/parsley)
generous pinch of ground black pepper
100g strong cheese grated (I used Quickes Vintage Cheddar)
splash of oil

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water for 12 minutes and drain.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and add a pinch of pepper (no salt required as the ham is salty enough)
To the beaten eggs add chopped wild garlic/chives/parsley, 75g of the grated cheese, the chopped ham and drained spaghetti and mix thoroughly.
Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan then add mixture, spread it out and cook over a low heat for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat your grill.
Sprinkle the remaining 25g of cheese over the top and grill for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbling and lightly browned.
Slice, serve and enjoy.

The ham that I used to make my Frittata was actually my Irn Bru Ham whose recipe generated so much interest worldwide back in January for Burns Night. Fear not, its not been lingering in my fridge all that time. I froze the leftovers with the aid of my FoodSaver. This device vacuum seals food and enables it to be kept for up to 5 times longer. Once sealed the food can then be refrigerated, left to marinade, microwaved or frozen. The culinary ambitious can even cook it sous vide. Packaging foods for the freezer has been working particularly well for me. No freezer burn, takes up much less space than freezing in containers and enables me to buy in bulk and portion up. In addition to using the bags are rolls the FoodSaver can also be used to reseal existing packaging. No more excuses that you have to eat the whole family sized pack of crisps or they will go soft. 

The short video below demonstrates the system much better than I can describe or photograph. There's also an additional attachment available to vacuum seal opened bottles. I didn't receive this to review, clearly the good folks at FoodSaver are aware that leftover wine is an alien concept in this house.

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Disclosure : Thanks to The Cheese Market, Stellar Cookware and FoodSaver for providing the above products. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker

I've definitely got much more of a savoury tooth than a sweet. Crisps, nibbly bits, salted nuts and popcorn are my downfall. However from time to time only chocolate will do and ideally it should include nuts, caramel or preferably both. This is exactly what I was looking for when it came to choosing a recipe to bake from the Chocolate Indulgence section of the Dr. Oetker website. I swithered over Very Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Bark and pondered about Pistachio Marzipan Chocolates but it was their Caramel Kiss Brownies that inspired me the most. How could anyone not be tempted by this mouthwatering photo?

A bundle of chocolatey goodness arrived in the post along with a supermarket voucher to get me started on my bake. Alas my daughter has given up both Chocolate and Sweets for Lent so her face was tripping her when she saw the contents of my parcel. I'm sure there will be plenty of goodies left for her after Easter. I was impressed with the silver and gold chocolate pearls. Much more edible than the usual rock hard shiny balls. The milk and white chocolate hearts were also really cute. I'll definitely find a use for them at a later date.

Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking

The first part of the recipe for Caramel Kiss Brownies is the making of the caramel. Only once it was made and chilling in the freezer did I notice the top tip. "To save time use 200g dairy toffees instead of making your own caramel, just unwrap and use without freezing". This would certainly have sped up the whole baking process. I wish I'd thought at this point to add some salt to my caramel. Having spotted Alexa Chung baking salted caramel brownies on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off was one of the reasons I chose this bake. If she could successfully make some after claiming that she hadn’t switched on her oven in three years and instead used it for shoe storage, surely it would be a piece of cake for me?!

Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking

No matter what I go to bake I never seem to have the correct size of baking tray. This recipe was no exception. Alas no deep 18cm square cake tin but my trusty 34cm x 20cm traybake tin did the trick. The process of partially cooking half the mix, then adding the caramel kisses and topping with the remainder of the mixture was a wee bit fiddly. My caramel didn't end up quite as in the middle of the mixture as I would of liked and some of it bubbled up somewhat volcano-esque through to the surface.

Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking
Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking

I brought my batch of Caramel Kiss Brownies along to share at a friend's 50th Birthday Party. The brownies were fully cooled before being eaten and I think for ultimate gooeyness they would be better served slightly warm. Ideally in larger squares with plenty of vanilla ice cream. Saying that there were none left in the tupperware box when it was time to head home so I'm still going to award myself star baker. 

Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking
Caramel Kiss Brownies with Dr. Oetker #evenbetterbaking

If you're in the mood for Brownies that are GF do check out this recipe from Elizabeth for Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies

Disclosure : Dr. Oetker provided a chocolate hamper and a supermarket voucher for ingredients to make and share a recipe from their website. All opinions expressed are my own. This is not a paid post.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lambs, Bunnies & Hot Cross Buns - Easter Foodie Treats

Can you believe that Easter is just around the corner? I really don't know where the first quarter of 2015 has gone to. Time is just whizzing past. My 10 year old daughter has given up both sweets and chocolate for Lent. Day one was hard when I told her that yes, Nutella did indeed count as chocolate. That came as a bit of a shock to her. She's done really well bar a wee inadvertent slip up with a crunch corner yoghurt and a cube of fudge in a restaurant which was in her mouth before her brain had time to engage! A parcel of Easter treats in the post from Marks & Spencer didn't go down too well with her but the jelly carrots and chocolate bunny have been stashed away for her to enjoy at a later date. Her attempt at the carrots being one of her 5 a day didn't wash with me. I particularly loved the M&S Easter Biscuits which are delicious and very moreish - butter, spices, cranberries and currants. Like a hot cross bun in cookie form.

Easter Eggs don't necessarily have to be of the chocolate variety. Regular readers will know how much I love cute and quirky foodie creations. How about this one of mine for a novelty breakfast? An Easter Bunny Egg created from a fried free range egg, black olive eyes, string cheese whiskers and streaky bacon ears.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Fried Egg Bunny

I did give fair warning that my Tunnock's Teacake Sheep who last made an outing to celebrate Chinese New Year would be brought out to pasture again as Easter Lambs. Instructions how to make these can be found here. It's always lovely to hear when someone makes something after seeing it on the blog, I was chuffed to be sent photos of a whole herd made to celebrate the year of the sheep. Do tweet/facebook me if you try your hand at Easter lambs.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Tunnock's Teacake Lambs

I've always known of the existence of Simnel Cake and its significance in relation to Easter but am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have never actually tried it. Thanks Marks and Spencer for coming to my rescue. A gorgeous light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan inside and toasted marzipan on the top. The 11 marzipan balls represent Jesus disciples minus Judas. Their biscuit bunnies are pretty tasty too!

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Simnel Cake & Bunny Biscuits

There are plenty of non traditional hot cross bun flavours on the shelves this year. These are another thing that I feel I really should try my hand at baking at some point. Ah well, there's always next year. For now I tried three M&S varieties. Berries & Cherries, Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate and Bramley Apple. I'm clearly a traditionalist as the toffee and chocolate weren't for me. The fruity ones were the best and it was those that I used to make a breakfast/brunch dish of Hot Cross French Toast.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Hot Cross Bun French Toast

Serves 4

4 Hot Cross Buns
3 Free Range Eggs
Oil for frying
Bacon & Maple Syrup to serve

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.
Split the Hot Cross Buns in half and soak them in the egg mixture until fully absorbed.
Heat a frying/griddle pan and add a splash of oil.
Fry the eggy hot cross buns for a couple of minutes on each side until nicely browned.
Serve with crispy bacon and lashings of maple syrup.

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Hot Cross Bun French Toast

Who can resist a dippy egg? Not me that's for sure, especially when served up in these oh so cute bunny eggcups. There was a whole lot of love for these on my social media channels. The wooden spoon comes courtesy of Scotland's Rugby team...

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Rabbit Egg Cups

After my success with stamped biscuits for The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, I was keen try try out the set of three Easter cookie cutters. When it came to it I didn't get a look in as foodie boy baked up a storm with them using a Gingerbread Man recipe. They spread a wee bit when baking so the eggs were slightly wonky in shape but the bunny, flower and butterfly imprints came out successfully. The perfect homemade foodie treat for a Hoppy Easter and a Springy Spring! 

Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Gingerbread Easter Egg Biscuits
Foodie Quine -  Easter Foodie Treats - Gingerbread Easter Egg Biscuits

Disclaimer : M&S provided me with a selection of Easter products for the purpose of this post.. All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post.

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Monday, 23 March 2015

"Singing Swede" The Humble Neep, Swede or Turnip Sings for its Supper

A short and swede post today (groan!) about the humble neep, swede or turnip. It seems to have different names depending on what part of the country you are in. As a child to me in the north of Scotland it was always a turnip and it was what we used at Halloween to carve lanterns. If you think carving a pumpkin is hard work you should try a turnip. Simplistic carving is the order of the day where neep lanterns are concerned. It takes time and dedication to carve one and the smell of a stubby candle burning the inside of a neep is a childhood memory I would rather forget.

The problem with Neeps is that they are an absolute nightmare to prepare, particularly if you get a large one from a farm shop. Sometimes an axe is the only answer and always best to keep a pack of plasters handy for any near misses. The only tool I've had real success with is the Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter which works much better than a standard knife. The concept of microwaving a whole neep seems a somewhat strange one. When I posted about it on my Facebook Page the photos were viewed by over 15,000 people and the comments and shares went crazy. Some folk said they've been doing it for years (why didn't they tell me?!) whilst for others it was a revelation. 

1 whole Neep/Turnip/Swede
1 Microwave

Wash the neep and place it on a plate as it will produce a sticky superglue like residue as it cooks - I learned this the hard way!
Put the whole neep into the microwave - no need to prick or score - and cook it on full power.
Give it 15 minutes, turn it over and cook for a further 15 minutes. 30 minutes in total. 
You may need to adjust the time depending on the power of your microwave and the size of your neep.
Insert a skewer to test if it is soft all the way through. 
Once cooked it slices like a knife through butter and the flesh can be scooped out. Cutting the top off and scooping out the flesh is another option.

The singing refers to the sound it apparently makes when cooking. Alas my swede didn't sing, scream or even hiss. Perhaps I should have had ABBA playing in the background to encourage it. Next time. 

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Foodie Quine Lifehack : Microwaving a whole turnip, neep, swede. The Singing Swede. The Screaming Swede.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Foodie Photos on Instagram & Cream Cracker Fish

By my own confession I'm a bit of a social media junkie. I started on Facebook but it was when I discovered Twitter that I was really smitten. I knew about Instagram but never really "got" it however in the last six months or so I've fallen completely in love with it. My own feed is a mixture of colour, vintage, gin, Scotland, quirky and of course food. Sometimes my posts are random but I also love taking part in Instagram challenges. My favourite is the weekly #capturingcolour run by Capture by Lucy, however in March I've also been doing English Mum Dot Com's #foodiephotoaday This blog post shares some of my recent favourites and also includes an Instagram pic and accompanying recipe for one of my favourite ways of cooking fish. Cream Crackers beat Ruskoline hands down.

#capturingcolour #red

#capturingcolour #silver

#foodiephotoaday #spicy

#foodiephotoaday #coffee

#foodiephotoaday #spoon

#foodiephotoaday #international

#foodiephotoaday #crumbs

#foodiephotoaday #dinner

#capturingcolour #blackandwhite

#foodiephotoaday #frozen

#foodiephotoaday #bubbles

#capturingcolour #silver

#capturingcolour #patternandprint


4 Fillets of Fish

125g Cream Crackers
Zest of a Lemon
Clove of Garlic
Small Bunch of Parsley
Seasoned Flour (Plain Flour with Salt & Pepper)
Beaten Egg
Scottish Rapeseed Oil to fry

Cut fish into strips and set aside
Blitz together cream crackers, lemon zest, garlic and parsley in a food processor (or bash with a rolling pin)
Prepare three bowls of seasoned flour, beaten egg and cracker mix.
Dip each piece of fish in the flour, then the egg, then the crackers.
Fry in rapeseed oil until lightly browned.

#fish #coastandglen #fishbox #coley #seafood #lemon #creamcrackers #garlic #parsley #rocket #fishknife 

I've got over 4000 followers on twitter and 3000+ on facebook. Because I'm late to the Instagram party I'm lagging behind but would I'd love to reach the milestone of 1000 followers...
Do please leave your Instagram name in the comments below and I'll check out your feed. Happy snapping! 

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Casa Costello

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