Cranachan Flapjacks with Whisky Icing Drizzle

Monday, 11 June 2018
Post in collaboration with Hamlyns of Scotland

Scottish Cranachan Flapjacks with Whisky Icing Drizzle bring together all the flavours of this traditional dessert in a bite sized oaty snack. The combination of both oats and oatmeal in this flapjack, combined with honey and raspberry jam create both a texture and flavour sensation. Top them off with a drizzle of whisky icing - slàinte mhath!

Whilst Scotland is known for many great dishes and a fantastic natural larder I'm not sure if anything brings them all together quite like Cranachan does. This traditional dish combines honey, whisky, raspberries, oats and cream into a delicious dessert. I've used it as my inspiration for a twist on a flapjack made with Hamlyns Oats and Oatmeal. Raspberries are incorporated in jam form and honey binds the flapjack together. There's just a tablespoon of Whisky in the icing drizzle but if you'd prefer a teetotal version this can be substituted for water. The combination of both oats and oatmeal provided a wonderful texture and is something I'm going to be using in all my flapjacks going forward. 

Edible Scottish Adventures - May 2018

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Can you believe that we are in June? Almost half the year gone already. My teenagers have just moved up to their new classes and I've now got an S5 and an S3. Where have my babies gone?! Time to take a quick look back at what you might have missed in May across my social media and on the blog. The algorithms of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook don't always want to let my followers see everything I post so this retrospective monthly roundup is my cunning way of attempting to beat the system. Expect wedding celebrations, macarons, street food, percy pigs and study break edible adventures! 

BBQ Percy Pig Pork Loin Steaks

Wednesday, 30 May 2018
What better match for the BBQ? Juicy tender pork loin steaks topped with sticky caramelised Marks & Spencer Percy Pigs. Think gammon steak and pineapple - only better! This little piggy went to the barbecue...

I have a feeling that this might be a Marmite recipe. As in you will either love it or hate it. Certainly when I shared it as a work in progress on twitter and instagram the reaction ranged from 'Omggggg so clever' to 'was this a dare?'
Personally I think it's a work of genius but I'm prepared to accept that not everyone might see it like that. In my mind surely there is no better culinary match than Pork and Percy Pig. Pop down to your local butcher for some quality pork and M&S for the iconic gummy sweets and give it a try! Think gammon steak and pineapple - only better. 


Jersey Royals with Wild Garlic and Lemon

Thursday, 24 May 2018
Post in collaboration with Tesco

Jersey Royal new potatoes typically signify the start of Spring and are one of the most warmly anticipated seasonal produce items in the food calendar. In this recipe I've combined them with wild garlic, butter and lemon for a taste explosion of Spring flavours. Serve this vegetarian dish as a hot side or a warm salad. 

My paternal Grandfather Alexander Cameron was a Potato Farmer on The Black Isle. As a little girl I recall nothing better than the taste of his homegrown new tatties served with salty butter. The main varieties he grew were Duke of York, Epicure and Kerr's Pink, much of which was sold to the local chip shop. I don't know about you but when I think of new potatoes the ones that spring to mind are Jersey Royals. So how come my Granda wasn't growing them? Because he wasn't in Jersey is the simple answer! In this instance the clue is in the name and Jersey Royals can only be grown on the island of Jersey. 
(please tell me I'm not the only one that didn't know that?!) 


Cookery Courses & Foodie Experiences in Aberdeen City & Shire

Thursday, 17 May 2018
This post was originally published in 2016 as the 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. It was and continues to be a very popular post and following the announcement of the upcoming closure of Nick Nairn Cookschool it seemed like a timely opportunity for an update...

Please do let me know of any Cookery Courses and Foodie Experiences in Aberdeen City and Shire that I've missed as I'd be happy to include them. 


Spiced Courgette, Carrot and Feta Fritters

Sunday, 13 May 2018
Fritters are surely the single most delicious way to deal with a glut in the garden! These lightly spiced vegetarian courgette (zucchini) and carrot fritters contain feta cheese for a tangy flavour. Whilst they work well as a side they are also great for breakfast and surprisingly tasty served cold in a packed lunch or picnic.

Spiced Courgette Carrot and Feta Fritters

My Granda Monearn was a fantastic gardener. A greenhouse full of the best smelling and tasting tomatoes ever, luscious strawberries protected under a net and laid on straw and three carefully weeded and precisely laid out vegetable patches. I also vividly recall him storing his onions in old pairs of my Granny's American tan tights! I'm assuming that there must have been some method in such apparent madness?! My own exploits in vegetables haven't been quite as fruitful partly due to the fact that I only have a couple of raised beds, nevertheless nothing tastes better than something you have lovingly grown yourself, protected from the ravages of weeds and slugs and harvested with your own fair hands. I was delighted to be approached by Aberdeen's Duthie Park as part of their National Gardening Week event line up to host a Vegetable Cookery Workshop within the Education Room of the Winter Gardens. Alas all my ingredients came from the supermarket - bar the foraged wild garlic - but hopefully the event provided some inspiration to the real gardeners who attended.

Edible Scottish Adventures - April 2018

Friday, 11 May 2018

Eek! 11th May already?! That means I'm seriously behind with my monthly retrospective for April. As I said last month - better late then never. Although it looks like this may be becoming a habit. Must try harder! Time to take a quick look back at what you might have missed in April across my social media and on the blog. The algorithms of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook don't always want to let my followers see everything I post so this retrospective monthly roundup is my cunning way of attempting to beat the system. Expect barbecued tomahawk, sunshine, street art, dogs, pizza and lots of wild garlic!


Royal Wedding Lemon and Elderflower Drizzle Muffins for Harry and Meghan

Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Make your own muffin versions of Harry and Meghan's wedding cake. Elderflower and lemon are THE top baking flavours of 2018 as the Royal couple have chosen them for their wedding cake. This quick and easy muffin recipe incorporates lemon and elderflower in both the sponge and a sugary drizzle.

Who's excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding? I most certainly am. Don't Harry and Meghan make just THE most wonderful couple? Being a step removed from the 'next in line to the throne' limelight of William and Katherine I reckon it's going to be the most non royal, royal wedding that we've ever seen. I've watched them all over the years. I was only 9 in 1981 for Charles and Diana and still have a collection of memorabilia. For Andy and Fergie were were on holiday but I remember watching bits of the proceedings through shop windows. Edward and Sophie, Charles and Camilla and even Zara and Mike. I tuned in to them all! My children joined in watching in 2011 for Will and Kate and some fantastic photos from then came up in my Facebook timehop recently. Seems that we like any excuse as a nation to celebrate and what better one than a Royal Wedding?


Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels

Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Preserve the flavour of Spring in Wild Garlic Pesto then use it to create the ultimate cheesy garlic bread. Using a soda bread base, these Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels are super quick and easy to make and oh so moreish. 

If brambles are the gateway drug to foraging, wild garlic is surely the next one down the slippery slope of never being able to go out for a walk without keeping your eyes peeled for free food! It's a sure sign that Spring is in the air when it starts to put in an appearance. It really is one of the most easily identifiable and unmistakable foragable foods. Take a look at the Galloway Wild Food Website for further identification and distribution information if you are unsure. It's smell is so distinctive and the taste, particularly early in the season, very pungent. You may very well smell it in the woods before you spot its long lush leaves. Look for it in semi shaded moist woodland areas, river banks are a good place to start. Later in the season it bursts into bloom with white flowers which are also edible. 


Ministers Slices - Date, Nut & Coconut Krispy Traybake

Thursday, 12 April 2018
One of my Grandma Monearns most regularly made recipes. A no bake chocolate slice with dates, nuts, coconut and rice krispies. She always referred to them as Ministers Slices but I've no idea why! Can't see that there's anything particularly religious about them but would love to know the origin of the name.

I'm sharing one of my Granny's recipes today. I've previously shared her Shortbread and her Cornflake Biscuits and this makes up the trilogy of what was always found in her biscuit tins. I've only ever known these as Ministers Slices but I've absolutely no idea why they are called that. I've Googled and can't find any reference to any other bakes with the same name. If you've heard of them or know why they might be called this then PLEASE do let me know as it's a bit of a mystery to me! My best guess is that they were submitted to a WRI cookbook or similar by a Minister.

Edible Scottish Adventures - March 2018

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The plan was that this post would be published when I was far away from Scotland enjoying an edible adventure in Tenerife. However time caught up with me and and I didn't get around to completing and sheduling before we headed to the sun. My bad. So it's a week later than it should be but I'm sticking with the better late than never adage. 

Easter has been and gone for another year, time to say farewell to my Egg logo and revert back to Bitten Heart until I can unveil the Strawberry version in the run up to Wimbledon. I do hope the Easter Bunny was good to you and you didn't fall for too many April fools. I do always enjoy seeing the foodie ones. Time to take a quick look back at what you might have missed in March across my social media and on the blog. The algorithms of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook don't always want to let my followers see everything I post so this retrospective monthly roundup is my way of attempting to beat the system. Expect BBQ, brunch, bunny bums, Hungry Squirrels and a cover girl!

Unicorn Devilled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Caviar

Thursday, 29 March 2018
Post in collaboration with Juliettes Interiors

You'll find all the multicoloured shades of a rainbow unicorn in this pretty pastel retro-tastic canape which is ideal for parties or picnics. Take your devilled eggs to a whole new level of sophistication by colouring them and serving with smoked salmon and caviar. 

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a Chaise Longue? For me it's luxury, decadence, quaffing champagne, Art Deco and The Great Gatsby! It's a piece of furniture that I would absolutely love to own and I can totally imagine myself luxuriating on one wearing a silk dressing gown and being waited on hand and foot. Surely the height of glamour and sophistication? When I was invited to take part in a creative challenge and create a lunchtime menu inspired by my favourite Chaise Longue from the collection at Juliettes Interiors I didn't have to be asked twice. But which one to choose? I pondered over Neoclassical, Contemporary or Baroque, Leather, Velvet or Linen and Mahogany, Walnut or Gold Lacquer but in the end had to go with my initial gut instinct and the absolutely stunning Button Upholstered Italian Designer Turquoise Velvet Chaise Longue. Isn't she just gorgeous?


Going Nuts for Hungry Squirrel Nut Butters

Monday, 26 March 2018
Meet the Aberdeenshire producer. Going nuts with Susan Yule and Hazel Farquhar of Hungry Squirrel Nut Butters. Completely natural products, vegan friendly with no refined sugars, palm oil or artificial flavourings. Their delicious and nutritious Nut Butters bring all the Squirrels to the yard.

In my biog I state that I'm partial to Cheese, Gin, Peanut Butter and Rhubarb and that I'm permanently looking for the recipe that can successfully combine them all. (The hunt continues...)  Peanut Butter is something that I have loved for as long as I can remember. As a child it always seemed rather exotic and exciting - particularly in relation to the US of A and PB&J sandwiches! I actually know when my first taste of another nut butter was as I wrote about back in April 2013 on a visit to the Scottish Crannog Centre. Turns out that in Iron Age Scotland they may well have been eating Hazelnut Butter so the whole nut butter craze of recent years has actually been around for much longer that the hipsters would have us believe. I was very excited when I first heard via a mutual friend last year that there was a producer in Deeside who had started making a range of nut butters. I was even more excited when they gave me one of their Hungry Squirrel taster packs to try out. Alas I have failed to convert my daughter from Nutella to Hazelnut & Cacao but myself and my son are both particularly big fans of Crunchy ABC Mix and Cookie Dough. 


Classic Custard Creams Biscuits

Thursday, 22 March 2018
Custard Creams frequently top polls of the nation’s favourite biscuit. This classic homemade version is way better than shop bought with a crumbly melt in the mouth texture and a generous vanilla buttercream filling.

Classic Traditional Homemade Custard Creams Biscuits

Every Tuesday afternoon for the last four years I've headed to the STAR Community Flat in Seaton where I am 'The Cooking Wifie' for a small community cookery class. We work to a £10 a week budget in a very basic kitchen with a rather temperamental cooker. There is a lot of enthusiasm and a great deal of fun. Last week there was a request to make Custard Creams. This was something that I hadn't made for a long time so I dug out my childhood 'Recipes, Cuttings and Notes' book and unearthed what was my cousin's recipe. The quantities were in ounces and also seemed rather small so I instantly doubled the amount of ingredients and converted to grams. I also swapped margarine out for butter and added some vanilla bean paste to pimp up the buttercream.


Tunnock's Teacake Easter Bunny Bums

Monday, 12 March 2018
The perfect no bake chocolate treat for Easter. Using the iconic Scottish Tunnock's Teacake along with chocolate buttons and marshmallow tails to make oh so cute Easter Bunny Bums. 

Scottish Tunnock's Teacake Easter Bunny Bums

It's beginning to look a lot like Easter! I feel I can finally say that now that Mother's Day has passed. I was going to update to my Easter logo last week but held on with the Bitten Heart for a little bit longer to celebrate International Women's Day and Mothering Sunday. I was rather spoiled by my favourite teenage humans with breakfast in bed, flowers, fizz and vouchers. Following this we headed for a walk in Dunnottar Woods with Pippa from BorrowMyDoggy and Ice Cream at Aunty Betty's. A late lunch at The Creel Inn was delicious whilst the day rounded off the the final episode of Call The Midwife and a Bubble Bath. Much love to all those who found the day difficult for whatever reason. 


Quick & Easy Mother's Day Breakfast & Brunch Ideas

Thursday, 8 March 2018
Breakfast in Bed for Mother's Day just got creative with a selection of quick and easy ideas that can be made by kids of all ages, with perhaps a little help from Dad for the younger ones. Say good morning to Egg in Toast, Bacon and Sausage Croissant Rolls and Bacon and Bagel 'Mum'.

Sunday 11th March 2018 is Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday. I hope you are remembering?! My two better had be! 

Traditionally children and young people who were "in service" (i.e.household servants) were given a day off on the forth Sunday of lent so they could visit their families (or return to their "mother" church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the secular Mother's Day gift giving as we know it.


Edible Scottish Adventures - February 2018

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Pinch Punch Slap Kick - we're in March! The saying goes that if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb. I'm putting all my faith in this following the 'Beast From The East' roaring in to kick off the month! Meantime lets take a quick look back at what you might have missed in February across my social media and on the blog. The algorithms of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook don't always want to let my followers see everything I post so this retrospective monthly roundup is my way of attempting to beat the system. Expect pancakes, avo cuddles, last Rolos, UV lights, coffee and dogs!


SPAM Mac and Cheese

Sunday, 4 March 2018
Post in collaboration with SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham

Celebrate the one true and original SPAM Chopped Pork and Ham with a quick family friendly Mac 'n' Cheese recipe that everyone will love. Leeks and SPAM stirred through the Mac, plus a crispy golden cheese and SPAM topping makes the most perfect comfort food.

SPAM. SPAM. SPAM. No, not the annoying stuff clogging up your inbox but the iconic meat in a tin. SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham. What does it mean to you? Monty Python? School Dinners? Guilty Pleasure?! Over the years it has been maligned, celebrated and musicalised. SPAM Fritters were one of my absolute favourite school dinners back in the 80's accompanied by the obligatory ice cream scoops of mash and spaghetti in tomato sauce. Those were the days! 


Dog Friendly places to Eat in Aberdeen

Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Over fifty dog friendly places to eat and drink in Aberdeen City and Shire. Your four legged friend will be made very welcome in this selection of Cafes, Restaurants, Coffee Shops and Pubs. 

Much to my daughters disgust we don't have a dog. Because of this we are the worst parents ever. As such she takes every opportunity possible to engage with four legged friends and is always happy to doggy walk and sit for friends (or complete strangers!) For her the Long Dog Cafe is all about the dogs and the freakshakes are secondary! Today's post came about due to a series of interrelated events. A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a researcher from the Kay Adams show on BBC Radio Scotland wondering if I'd like to appear on air and object to the proliferation of dogs in eateries. I declined. Despite not being a dog owner, give me a well behaved dog in a cafe over a badly behaved human any day of the week! 


S’mores Tiffin

Wednesday, 21 February 2018
The prefect no bake traybake to take to Scout - or any other Camp. S'mores Tiffin is a clever twist on a classic which will leave everyone wanting some more. Any recipe with 'blow torch' in the ingredients has got to be fun?!

Confession time. This recipe is not one of mine. Fear not, there's been no plagiarising, instead it was created by my son. He's now a strapping 15 year old so not sure if I can still refer to him as 'Foodie Boy'. When I first started this blog he was 9 and had aspirations to be a sushi chef. The career goal may have changed (it's now a Lighting Technician and studying for a BA in Production Technology and Management at the Royal Conservatoire) but he still has a huge love of food and will give pretty much anything a try in the kitchen. So when the request came to bring some home-bakes along to a Scouting Jamboree Training weekend it wasn't going to be me that would be making them! 


Scottish Cullen Skink Crepes

Monday, 12 February 2018
Celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a Scottish twist. Taking all the flavours of a traditional Cullen Skink soup - Smoked Haddock, Potatoes, Leeks and Milk - and using them as a savoury pancake day filling. Say Bonjour to Crepes with a Scottish accent. Much to good to save only for Pancake Day!

For the uninitiated, Cullen Skink possibly doesn't sound the most enticing of foods but I can assure you that it is. Hailing from Cullen, a small fishing village on the North East coast of Scotland, it's a hearty soup made of milk, smoked fish, potatoes and leeks. If you fancy giving it a go head to my recipe for Cullen Skink - A traditional Scottish Smoked Haddock Soup. I'm a huge fan of savoury crepes/pancakes so with pancake day beckoning and purchases of leeks and smoked haddock made at Stonehaven Farmer's Market I decided to combine them both in my Cullen Skink Crepes.


Valentine Rocky Road

Tuesday, 6 February 2018
A quick, easy and fun Valentine themed traybake that's ideal for kids to help make. The classic Rocky Road takes on a romantic twist with the addition of Love Hearts, Rolos, Lips and Jammie Dodgers. This no bake Chocolate Tiffin is sure to be loved by anyone with a sweet tooth. 

Love is in the air! 14th February is looming so I've got a romantic recipe to share. If I was being a proper food blogger I really should have made and blogged this Valentine Recipe weeks ago but as per usual it's totally last minute. But why restrict your love to just one day of the year? This will taste good at anytime! My Christmas Gingerbread Man Rocky Road was a huge success as is the perennial favourite of Scotland in a Traybake aka Tunnock's Teacake Rocky Road. What could I add to the chocolate, biscuit and marshmallow comb to signify true love?


Edible Scottish Adventures - January 2018

Saturday, 3 February 2018
Wasn't January a drag? Whether you were teetotal, vegan, gin soaked or just plain bored, broke and miserable! Let's hope February brings better things - particularly as I spend a lot of January with serious toothache due to an abscess. Fingers crossed root canal treatment next week will put paid to all the aggro. My roundup post last month Edible Scottish Adventures - December 2017 seemed to go down pretty well so I'm going to keep going in a similar vein. Lots of my Edible Scottish Adventures don't make it as far as my blog, featuring only on my social media accounts (find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). However I know that Facebook in particular likes to play hide and seek so sometimes only a small percentage of my followers actually see my posts. Here's what you may have missed that happened in January....

When it came to my logo It was farewell to the figgy pudding and roll out the haggis. As with all the versions of my branding this is by the fantastic Camilla Hammil. Find her at where she's also rather good at silk scarves. Won't be long until the Easter Egg puts in an appearance. 


Haggis Soda Bread

Monday, 29 January 2018
Irish Soda Bread with a Scottish Twist. Traditional or Vegetarian Haggis brings a Celtic connection to this quick and easy bread. No kneading, proving or yeast required in this fuss free bake.

Burns Night is all done and dusted for another year, however in this house Haggis is definitely for life, not just the 25th of January. As it happens I've hardly seen my husband - aka Foodie Loon - in the last week. As a Piper it's his busiest time of the year! Although not always at the same time, or in the same place, we did manage to enjoy plenty of haggis throughout the week in various shapes and forms and I shared My Top 10 Haggis Recipes for Burns Night in a a roundup post. No sooner had I published it than I had another idea. Haggis Bread. I'm not much of a bread maker if truth be told but Soda Bread is so quick and easy to make and it proved to be the perfect vehicle to incorporate haggis. I used traditional Haggis but vegetarian would work equally well - as would black pudding.


My Top 10 Haggis Recipes for Burns Night

Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Fancy something a wee bit different than the traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for your Burns Supper celebrations? I've got you covered with this selection of 10 recipes including Pancakes, Meatloaf, Burgers, Waffles, Birls, Shepherd's Pie, Soup, Scotch Eggs, Toasties and even Chocolate Haggis!

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 

Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! 

Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 

Painch, tripe, or thairm : 

Weel are ye wordy o'a grace 
As lang's my arm. 


Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience at Rusacks St Andrews

Friday, 19 January 2018
Post in collaboration with Macdonald Rusacks Hotel St Andrews

Blend your very own Gin with the Eden Mill Blendworks Experience at Macdonald Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews. A fun, informative and highly interactive experience that will be thoroughly enjoyed by any gin lover. Located within the historic 4 star Rusacks Hotel with views of the 18th green of the world famous Old Course and West Sands Beach.

It's always nice to have something in the diary to look forward to after Christmas as once all the hustle and bustle of the festive season has passed, the start of a new year can seem rather dreary in comparison. Last January I headed with my friend Kirsteen to Ballintaggart Farm where we enjoyed an idyllic overnight stay and participated in their Seasonal Suppers Class. It was the perfect start to the year and a fantastic opportunity to share good food, drink and friendship. So when I was asked by Macdonald Hotels if I'd be up for trying out their D,B&B with Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience in January 2018, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a repeat of a girly night away. The fact it was to be in St Andrews, one of my favourite Scottish towns, was an added bonus. 

The plan was to make a leisurely train journey from Stonehaven to Leuchars, however five weeks of Sunday engineering works had closed the line so we instead opted to drive rather than rely on the vagrancies of a replacement bus service. Rusacks Hotel is situated in the most perfect location right on the 18th hole of the iconic Old Course. Their Dinner, Bed & Breakfast package inclusive of a Gin Blending Experience at Eden Mill Blendworks is priced from £164.50 per person per night (depending on date and choice of room). 

We were shown to our room - The Bobby Jones Suite - which can only be described as stunning. It had surely the best views in the whole of St Andrews. We could actually have spent our whole time sat in the bay window watching the golfers play the 18th hole and imagining ourselves running on the West Sands in true Chariots of Fire style. Even the loo had a view although alas I didn't manage to indulge in the long luxurious bubbles that the gorgeous bath was just crying out to be filled with.

Bubbles of another kind were indulged in however as Champagne and Chocolate Coated Strawberries were delivered to our room to welcome us to Rusacks. The level of customer service received from all the staff in the hotel throughout our stay was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble for them, service was most definitely with a smile and their food, drink and general St Andrews knowledge was obvious. Despite the lure of our fantastic room with a view, we headed out for a couple of hours and enjoyed some retail therapy in town and lunch at Mitchell's Deli. The hotel is only a five minute walk from the town centre so perfectly placed for exploring all that St Andrews has to offer.

The Blendworks experience runs at 4pm for 2½ hrs from Tuesday to Saturday. It's located in a Gin Classroom below the hotel's R Bar. It is basically the most amazing looking science laboratory ever! The maximum group size catered for is 12 and you really do feel like you get your own personalised experience. Our hosts were Jasper, Sasha and Charlie who welcomed us with a G&T. This was the Scottish Rugby Gin which was blended by Scotland players who choose the gin's flavours and qualities, including a magical little botanical called milk thistle, known for its restorative medical properties. With drinks in hand (the first of three provided as part of the experience) Jasper led us through the murky history of gin from an ancient remedy to Jenever, the roller coaster of distilling in London, Gin Lane, Mother's Ruin, bootlegging and cocktails in the States, and the current booming craft gin revolution. 

Now for the fun part. Blending our own gin! We started, as all gins must start, with a base of juniper. To that we tasted four variants of base botanicals and chose our favourite. Floral, Spice, Citrus and Sweet. I opted for Spice which was a combination of coriander seed, angelica root, liquorish root, black cardamom, black pepper and ginger root. To this we then had the opportunity to add up to five additional flavour profiles - the hero botanicals. There were so many to choose from but after a good old sniffing session I plumped for Lapsang Souchong, Lime Leaf and Elderberry. With my ingredients list chosen Jasper helped me to work out the quantities of each to use and at last I got to use the chemistry set to make up a 40ml test measure of my very own blended gin. To ensure I was happy with my product it was made into a perfect serve with Ice, Tonic, Ginger Beer, Ginger Bitters and a garnish of rosemary and lime. Delish!

At this point I also had to come up with a name for my Gin Blend. There really was only one that I could go for 'Quines'. Now for the full on production process. 640ml of gin to fill 600ml of bottles. How would that work? This time we got to use the huge measuring cillinders followed by the funnels to fill our bottles. 'O' Grade Chemistry at school was never this much fun! The leftover 40ml made our final drink, a classic Martini. I opted to have mine dirty. Further choices to be made with the bottle corks and seals before sticking on our personalised labels and attempting to ensure they weren't too squint. Our creations were then gift packaged along with two 'Blendworks' glasses before we were each presented with a certificate to commemorate the gin blending experience. We'd actually overran a wee bit on timings and the whole experience took close to 3 hours but what an amazing way to spend an afternoon! If you are a fan of Gin I can't recommend it enough. Informative, highly interactive and most of all fun. There was great banter with everyone in the group and were were all absolutely delighted with our final product.

By this point we were running a wee bit tight for our 7.30pm dinner reservation, so popped in past the restaurant to let them know we'd be closer to 8pm. The package comes with Dinner in One Under Gastro Pub or £25 allowance towards Rocca Bar & Grill. We'd opted to dine at Rocca, one of only 25 restaurants in Scotland to achieve 3 AA Rosettes. We enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst perusing the menu before ordering up starters of crab tortellini and poached chicken and mains of mushroom risotto and ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce. All were absolutely delicious as was the accompanying bottle of Pino Grigio. Again the staff were excellent. Attentive and knowledgeable but not intrusive. To finish we both opted for Cheese and Port before heading through to R Bar for coffee and some Sax from a wonderful young instrumentalist. At this point we met up with another couple on the same Blendworks package who were celebrating a birthday so the four of us wiled away the rest of the evening over Gin and Cocktails.

A wonderful sleep was had in the most comfy beds ever and the sun shone over a crisp Sunday morning view of the West Sands. No golf allowed on the sabath but plenty of folk taking the opportunity to walk the Old Course. A full Scottish Breakfast completed our package and blew away any cobwebs from the night before. We squeezed out every last minute until our 11am checkout time before bidding a fond farewell to our room with a view. The Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience at Rusacks St Andrews was most definately the perfect tonic. A truly memorable experience with the best party bag to take home ever.

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Disclosure: We blended Gin, stayed, and dined as guests of Macdonald Rusacks Hotel St Andrews. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes

Monday, 15 January 2018
Post in collaboration with McIntosh of Strathmore

A delicious Scottish breakfast treat, these Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes are the ideal way to kick off your Burns Supper celebrations. But they are far too good to save just for breakfast or just for Burns Night. Haggis is for life - not just the 25th of January.

Once Hogmanay is past and the New Year begins, here in Scotland and in many places around the world, the countdown begins to possibly the most Scottish of Celebrations. Burns Night. The 25th of January makes Dry January impossible! How could you possibly toast The Bard without a dram?! To accompany that dram you also of course need the holy trinity of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Whilst Rabbie had plenty to say about the dish in one of his most famous poems "Address to a Haggis" it's been been give a rewrite by Scottish ready meal manufacturers McIntosh of Strathmore with their own version... 

Nae need tae cut up wi' ready slight 
When we've done a'things fir ye just right 
Aye, a dish tae tak yer fancy an' appeal, 
This, oor Burns Supper ready meal 

You can find McIntosh of Strathmore Haggis Neeps and Tatties ready meals all year round in the chiller cabinets of Scottish supermarkets, however in the lead up to Burns Night 2018 they'll be resplendent in limited edition promotional 'Poetry In A Pack' branding. In addition to the single serving "Wee Burns Supper" packs in both traditional and vegetarian variants, there's also a large pack which is perfect for sharing. All the meals can be cooked in either a conventional oven or microwaved and will let you enjoy Burns without the hassle of peeling, chopping, mashing and boiling! There's really no excuse not to celebrate with your very own Burns Supper whether as as individual or family and everyone can be kept happy with the equally delicious vegetarian option. 

Celebrate Burns with McIntosh and you'll have pretty much everything you need for a traditional Burns Supper in minutes! Just add whisky and you're all set. If you fancy doing something a wee bit different with your ready meal how about my Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes? I reckon they would make the perfect breakfast come 25th January but perhaps hold off on the whisky at such an early hour (although I did serve mine with a whisky cream sauce...!) You could even make blini sized ones and top them with Scottish Smoked Salmon for Burns Supper Canapes. No matter how you celebrate be sure to share your snaps on social media using the #BurnsWithMcIntosh hashtag and checkout the selection of Quick Burns Facts to impress or quiz your guests. 

Haggis Neeps and Tatties 'Pancakes' 
Makes 8 

1 x 340g Haggis Neeps & Tatties Ready Meal (traditional or vegetarian) 
50g Plain Flour 
1 Free Range Egg, beaten 
Splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil 

Tip the contents of your ready meal into a bowl and combine it all together with a fork or potato masher. 
Add the flour and beaten egg and mix thoroughly. 
Divide the mixture into eight 'pancakes' 
Shallow fry four at a time in a splash of Scottish Rapessed Oil. 
They'll need approximately 5-8 minutes on each side to ensure they are warmed through with a crispy golden exterior.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thanket!

♥ Pin me for later... A delicious Scottish breakfast treat these Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes are the ideal way to kick off your Burns Supper celebrations. But they are far too good to save just for breakfast or just for Burns Night. Haggis is for life - not just the 25th of January.

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