Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Elie Select - Luxury Holiday Homes in Fife's East Neuk

Post in collaboration with Elie Select

A selection of personally chosen unique luxury holiday homes in the delightful village of Elie in Scotland's East Neuk of Fife. Sleeping from 6 to 22 they are ideal for family holidays, get-together's or celebrations. 






With an already busy line up of a trip to Dublin for three days with girlfriends followed by two days in London at School of Fish (including a visit to Saturday Kitchen!) I resigned myself to having to reply in the negative when I received an email from Elie Select inviting me to a house party in not just one, but three of their newly launched holiday homes. However all good intentions of catching up and staying at home after five days away went out the door when I took a look at the properties and their location. I have a real soft spot for the East Neuk of Fife so that was a big plus point and then there was the holiday homes themselves. They are simply stunning. Here's the blurb.



Elie Select offers a choice of lovely holiday houses in Elie, each personally chosen for its unique style. From a 16th century turreted house with four gardens to a 17th century beach house filled with fabulous art and a contemporary eco house right on the beach, we can offer somewhere truly special for your family holiday, get-together or celebration. 

I was smitten. And my BFF could come too. Husband and kids would just have to fend for themselves for another couple of days...


Our accommodation was in Davaar a spacious and newly refurbished traditional house with huge rooms and stunning views right on the 17th hole of Elie's Links Golf Course. It's a three storey property with an annexe sleeping up to 16. Our twin room was on the third floor and the views were absolutely stunning - especially from the shower! The house was immaculate and it would seem that all needs are catered for with a welcome platter of foodie goodies from the local area, children's games, firewood, beach towels and rugs, toiletries, wifi and hotel quality linen and towels. Of course all the good parties happen in the kitchen and the one at the front of the property (there's a second open plan kitchen/living area in the annex) is huge, bright, sits 16 at the dining table and has the most amazing window seat from which to relax and admire the idyllic views. 


It seemed that no sooner had we looked around and settled in at Davaar than it was time to move onto the next house for pre-dinner drinks, canapes and a gin tasting. For this we headed to Midrock. Wow. Just, wow. This contemporary eco beach house is like something straight off Grand Designs. I was absolutely smitten with each and every thing about it. The views, the decor, the quirkiness, the minimalism, the views, the cosy sitting areas, the lighting, the sedum roof, the views, the wood burners, the nautical touches, the terrace and oh did I mention the views?! We were lucky enough to be there on a gorgeous evening and as the sun went down we had a tremendous vantage over the Firth of Forth. However I can imagine it would be an equally enticing location to cosy up in on a wild and stormy night looking out at the power of the sea and the flashing lighthouse. 


The property sleeps 12 in 4 double/twin rooms and a quirky dormitory style wooden clad annexe for 4. This would be the perfect den for teenagers as it also has it's own fantastic downstairs seating area. There is just so much clever space and light in this house and such careful attention has clearly been made with furnishings and decor to give a touch of the beach without becoming twee. The large windows make you feel like you are actually on the sea shore and have been positioned to take full advantage of the stunning views and natural light. Despite it's show home looks this is a holiday home in which you would most certainly be able to feel at home in and kick back and relax. It has all the style but none of the pretentiousness. 


We were all so taken by the property that we had to be coerced to sit down around the dining table in order to partake in a Gin tasting. On arrival we'd been greeted with Darnley's G&T's accompanied by canapes however poor Scott the visitor centre manager at Kingsbarn Distillery barely got a look in as we were all so busy oooh-ing and aaah-ing over Midrock. But Gin beckoned and we tasted three variants - Original, Spiced and Navy Strength whilst learning a little bit about the history of Gin and the new distillery and visitor centre which we were visiting the next day. My BFF who doesn't like gin was even converted! Turns out that it's the tonic she's not keen on and a Gin & Ginger Ale went down a treat. Out taxi again awaited for our final port of call of the evening where a locally inspired dinner would be served. 


It was dark by the time we got to to West House so we had to wait until the next morning on our walk to breakfast to admire it in all it's seafront beauty. The interior of this 17th century house was different again. Much more colourful, arty and 'chintzy' (is that even a word?!). In the spacious kitchen and dining room we feasted on a wealth of local produce expertly prepared by local private chef Patrick Gilmour. One of the things I love about a self catering holiday home is that it offers me the the freedom to dine out and sample local restaurants combined with the facilities to cook for myself with goodies bought from local farm shops and producers. It really is the best of both worlds and in Elie and surrounds you are spoilt for choice in this regard. Patrick showcased produce from Ardross Farm shop in a menu comprising of Sharing Platters of locally available cured hams, smoked fish and anti pasti. This was followed up with a melt in the mouth main course of Short Rib of Ardross Beef with a bordelaise sauce, roasted new potatoes, celeriac puree, greens and crispy shallots. 


Following dinner which was rounded off with the most amazing Scottish and French cheeseboard (including a new favourite - Paddy's Milestone) and homemade chilli fudge, we made the short walk back to our beds at Davaar. Cup of tea and a chat in the kitchen was the perfect end to the evening before retiring to our superbly comfortable beds. Next morning the option of a run along Elie beach had been suggested. Alas I'd forgotten to pack my trainers ;-) However my BFF headed out for a jog to blow the cobwebs away and take in the morning beach views. We were invited to The Ship Inn for breakfast and took a leisurely stroll there to enjoy their locally sourced offerings. I had a sneaky peek at the evening menu which looked right up my street as did their beachfront beer garden.


Suitcases packed and farewells said we headed off to visit some of the producers from the night before with tours of Ardross Farm and Kingsbarn Distillery. We also had a wander around some of the delightful shops in Eilie, lunched at East Pier Smokehouse in St Monans and popped in past Crail Pottery. We'd barely had time to scratch the surface of all that Elie and the surrounding area has to offer. To me the East Neuk seems to have it's own micro climate with sunshine, golden sands and an abundance of good food, drink, leisure and shopping opportunities. Close to St Andrew's for golf and so much more, Michelin starred dining at The Peat Inn, one of Scotland's loveliest coastlines with ample opportunity for walking and cycling. There are so many reasons for me to return to Elie. All I need now are 11 friends who fancy joining me for a weekend in Midrock House. Alternatively does anyone have a significant birthday or hen weekend they'd like to include me in?!


Apologies to Hege Morris for photobombing her scenic shot but thanks for letting me share it - I think it's rather atmospheric! Visit her gorgeous homes & interiors blog to read her perspective on our Visit to Midrock House.


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www.foodiequine.co.uk A selection of personally chosen unique luxury holiday homes in the delightful village of Elie in Scotland's East Neuk of Fife. Sleeping from 6 to 22 they are ideal for family holidays, get-togethers or celebrations.


Disclosure: I ate, drank and explored the East Neuk as a guest of Elie Select
As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic

Post in collaboration with Iceland Foods


Punchy Asian flavours abound in this healthy, quick and easy fish dish which is syn free on Slimming World. Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic using frozen fish cooked in a bamboo steamer over a wok. On the table in less than 10 minutes.




So much excitement to share in this post. Firstly a trip to London, secondly visiting an Iceland Foods flagship store, thirdly eating a feast of fish cooked seven ways by Iceland Head Chef Neil Nugent. But I've saved the best till last... I got to visit the Saturday Kitchen Studios! Check out little old me stood behind the self same kitchen counter where James Martin et al have stood. Alas I never got to try my hand at the infamous omelette challenge. I'll need to blag an invite on the show for real for that one.


Fangirl moment over, let me tell you the real reason for my visit to London. As regular readers will know I've been collaborating with Iceland Foods for almost 18 months now sharing the #PowerOfFrozen message (frozen food - not Anna and Elsa) and working alongside them to change perceptions of both frozen food and their brand. I'm the first to admit that prior to working with them I'd only ever visited at Christmas to stock up on party food and the ubiquitous Prawn Ring! To further enhance our partnership I was delighted to be invited to attend their 'School of Fish' day in London to find out more about the them, their products and plans for the future. Along with a group of nine other bloggers, vloggers and influencers I met the team from Iceland after having spent the night at the gorgeous Windmill Hotel. Fueled up on breakfast and coffee we were ready to be escorted to Iceland’s flagship Clapham store. 


The store looked nothing like my local Iceland. If it wasn't for the branding I would have struggled to tell that I wasn't in the adjacent premium supermarket! An abundance of fresh produce, seriously impressive drinks selection and the swankiest freezers you ever did see. Over the last two years Iceland have worked hard to up their game, change perceptions and increase their product range, but they put their hands up to the fact that the majority of their stores don't as yet look the part. This one most certainly did and I sincerely hope that this fresh modern look will continue to be rolled out across all of their sites. On a walk round the store we were introduced to a selection of new and innovative products, best sellers and old favourites. I was particularly excited to see the elusive frozen avocado halves. These have proved so popular that alas they aren't available in all stores yet. I was also introduced to some new products all of which I've since bought in my local store. Rainbow Fries, Cauliflower Rice, Multi Greens Rice and Mac & Cheese Pizza. My facebook page went crazy for the pizza. But then again we do love a Macaroni Pie in Scotland. 


From the store it was a short walk to Cactus Studios, home of the The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School and filming location for Saturday Kitchen. Here we were hosted by Iceland's Head Chef Neil Nugent who shared with us his culinary expertise and in particular the sentiment that if you want fresh fish - buy frozen. Now this may seem like a contradiction of terms but here's the Iceland explanation.

"Some ‘fresh’ fish displayed on the supermarket fish counters has previously been frozen or transported on ice. Tucked away in the small print you will find ‘previously frozen’. It often takes well over a week to reach the store, losing valuable nutrients and freshness in the process; whereas freezing is nature’s pause button so the goodness is locked in."

Makes sense when you think about it. If a fish is caught and frozen immediately (which often occurs at sea in factory boats) you literally stop the clock. The freshness is frozen in and nutritionally nothing is lost. However fresh fish on a supermarket fish counter could have been caught days if not weeks ago. There's something fishy going on there! 


Preparing fish and seafood can be a wee bit scary but Iceland have done all the hard work for you. No worries about heads, tails, guts and scales, all you need to do is defrost.The best way is overnight in the fridge but if you are in a hurry and are going to cook the fish immediately there's a quicker option. Just watch the video below for full instructions. I'm definitely going to use Neil's tip of defrosting on a J-Cloth. For our lunch Neil cooked us a risotto using white and claw crab meat and Argentinian red shrimp. I'd already tried both products (the shrimp featured in my BBQ Steak and Shrimp Kebabs with Maple and Mustard Glaze) so I knew it was going to be a tasty dish. But it didn't stop there. To finish off the dish was a perfectly cooked fillet of Sea Bream with wonderfully crispy skin. In order to achieve this make sure you dry the fish skin really, really well.


Throughout the afternoon Neil took us on a voyage of discovery on the good ship 'School of Fish' to sail through his seven (seas) methods of cooking fish (enough of the fishy puns already?!) And so we watched, learned and ate...

1. Deep Fried Lemonade Batter Cod Goujons 
2. Grilled Trout Fillet with Toasted Almond Butter 
3. Baked Cod en Papillote 
4. Poached Salmon served with Warm Potato Salad 
5. Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic 
6. Pan Griddled Tuna with Salsa Roca 
7. Pan Fried Sea Bream with Chermoula 

Yes. We did also have dessert. Luxury Sicilian Lemon Tartlets. It all tasted just as amazing as it looked and it all came out of the freezer. 





The recipe I'm sharing with you below was my absolute favourite. So quick and easy to make yet packed full of fresh and punchy Asian flavours. And as a bonus if you are following Slimming World then my version is syn free! (Neil's original recipe used the juice of 1 orange which I have substituted for 2 Tbsp of lemon juice) If you like the sound of any of the other dishes above you can find the recipes for them all in an instore leaflet or online at Iceland Fish Recipes.


The video below gives a step by step run through of the Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic. I have a small bamboo steamer basket so could only fit in a couple of fillets on a side plate. I think a visit to my local Chinese supermarket for a larger one is on the cards as I can see this becoming one of my new favourite ways to cook fish.





Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic
(Syn Free on Slimming World)
Serves Two

Ingredients:
4 Defrosted Sea Bass fillets
2 Tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce
Thumb sized piece of Fresh Ginger, grated
2 Garlic cloves, grated
1 Red Chilli - 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 sliced for garnish
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Whole Carrot, Sliced into Match Sticks
2 Spring Onions, Cut into Strips
Fresh Coriander to garnish

Method:
Defrost the Seabass fillets and pat dry. Place them on a plate and then into a bamboo steamer. 
In a bowl mix together the dark soy sauce, grated (a microplane grater works best for this) ginger and garlic, finely chopped chilli and lemon juice.
Add approximately 4cm of water to a wok, place in your bamboo basket and bring to a simmer.
Pour the soy dressing over the sea bass fillets and top with the prepared carrots and spring onions.
Place the lid on the steamer and allow to steam for 5-6 mins.
Garnish with chopped fresh coriander, sliced red chilli and serve immediately with steamed rice.



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www.foodiequine.co.uk Punchy Asian flavours abound in this healthy, quick and easy fish dish which is SYN FREE on Slimming World. Steamed Sea Bass Fillets with Soy, Chilli and Garlic using frozen fish cooked in a bamboo steamer over a wok. On the table in less than 10 minutes.


Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Iceland Foods. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me as a passionate Scottish Food Blogger to continue to share my Edible Food and Travel Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Rice Recipe Round-up for #NationalRiceWeek

Post in collaboration with www.loverice.org


25 Rice based Recipes from top UK food bloggers to celebrate National Rice Week 2017. Whether you’re looking for inspo to use up leftovers, rustle up a quick midweek meal, or discover a new go-to salad there’s something for you below. 

www.foodiequine.co.uk 25 Rice based Recipes from top UK food bloggers to celebrate National Rice Week 2017. Whether you’re looking for inspo to use up leftovers, rustle up a quick midweek meal, or discover a new go-to salad there’s something for you below.

Rice Rice Baby!  We're slap bang in the middle of National Rice Week which this year runs from 18th to 24th September 2017. It really is a staple in my cooking repertoire. A quick check in my pantry and I've currently got seven types. Basmati, Pudding, Spanish Paella, Basmati & Wild, Arborio Risotto, Sushi and Brown Basmati. That's not including the pouches of ready cooked in both my freezer and cupboard. In Britain, we now eat five times more rice per person than we did forty years ago and consumption is still on the rise as more of us enjoy its taste, versatility and take advantage of convenient microwaveable packs. (I will put my hands up an admit that when I first spotted packs of precooked rice in the shops I was a total food snob about them and thought it was something that I'd never use. How wrong was I?! I am a total convert.)


This year’s National Rice Week is focusing on the versatility of rice. This single ingredient can be eaten hot or cold, sweet or savoury and can be enjoyed as a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or pudding. My roundup below comprises of 25 Rice based Recipes from top UK food bloggers. Whether you’re looking for inspo to use up leftovers, rustle up a quick midweek meal, or discover a new go-to salad there’s sure to be something for you below. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for all the fantastic Rice Pudding variants. But before the recipes I'm a sucker for factoids so here's five things you may not know about rice. Number five is my favourite...
  1. Rice is the main food for half the worlds population
  2. Rice is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica
  3. There are over 29,000 grains in one pound of long grain rice
  4. Rice is the symbol of life and fertility, which is why it is thrown at weddings
  5. The Chinese word for rice is the same as their word for food 


























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www.foodiequine.co.uk 25 Rice based Recipes from top UK food bloggers to celebrate National Rice Week 2017. Whether you’re looking for inspo to use up leftovers, rustle up a quick midweek meal, or discover a new go-to salad there’s something for you in this roundup


Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Love Rice. 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. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to only ever bring you the cream of the crop.