Celtic Food Festival at The Scottish Crannog Centre

Tuesday, 30 April 2013
What a fantastic day out we had at the Scottish Crannog Centre Celtic Food and Drink Festival on Sunday. We have visited the Crannog a couple of times before but this was our first time as a family and first at an event. I really wasn't sure what to expect but the sheer range of Iron Age food on offer was astounding.
But "What's a Crannog?" I hear you cry. Its a pretty awesome Iron age dwelling found on lochs throughout Scotland and Ireland 2,500 years ago. The Scottish Crannog Centre features a unique reconstruction where you can experience first hand how these ancient people lived.
One of the first things we tasted at the festival was a savoury Nettle Dumpling. Nothing like jumping straight in at the deep end. This had been boiled for two hours like a clootie dumpling. Not the tastiest thing ever but not unpleasant.
Boy and Girl couldn't get enough of the crepe style pancakes cooked over an open fire and were keen to taste all the toppings on offer. Honey, Nettle Jelly, Goats Cheese and Hazelnut Butter. I'm now really keen to make some of my own Nettle Jelly. Need to find me a nettle patch and some sturdy gloves.
Next up spit roasted lamb. Those Iron age folk really knew how to have a great BBQ. All washed down with lashings of Nettle Tea and Rosehip Cordial.
One of the highlights of the day for the kids was making their own bread rolls and butter. Bread first where they kneeded and shaped the dough before sprinkling with dried nettle leaves, poppy and flax seeds. 
Whilst the bread cooked in the clay oven it was time to make butter. This was hard work and took the whole time that the bread cooked. Twizzling wooden spoons in wooden bowls of double cream until it thickened and finally split to butter and buttermilk. Could there be anything better than handmade bread and handmade butter?
Fantastic soup and stews were bubbling away all day on the open fires. Lamb Stew, Creamy Wild Garlic and Trout Soup and a delicious veggie Barley, Leek and Mushroom Stew. Rustic perfection. Desert was a Fruit Bread Pudding cooked in the clay ovens. Very fruity and super sticky due to lots of honey. Some iron age custard or ice cream to accompany would have been great.
The clay baked salmon was a real showstopper. A large fillet was stuffed with butter and wild garlic leaves before being tied up in string. It was then wrapped up in wet clay and sealed with water. The parcel was placed next to - not on top of - the fire to cook. When the clay was cracked open the resulting dish was tasty and very moist.
Plenty of foraged greens on offer with Wild Garlic being extensively used. Its something I've smelt in the local woods but embarrassingly never actually knew what it looked like or what could be done with it. Fingers crossed that Wild Garlic Pesto will be featuring on my menu very soon.
The final dish of the day was Pit Baked Pork. A cooking pit was dug and filled with fire and stones. The pork was wrapped in wild garlic leaves then encased in moss and grass prior to being lowered into the preheated pit and covered up with turf. 
Tense moments as hours later the turf was removed and the pit cooked pig was unveiled in a cloud of steam. and unwrapped like pass the parcel. A perfect conclusion to a day of Iron Age feasting.
I even managed to pick up something foodie in the gift shop. There were lots of really interesting books but I opted for some Nettle Cordial and Hazelnut Butter. Better than a badge and a bookmark.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Scottish Crannog Centre. They are now open daily until 31st October. The next event is a Festival of Nettles coming up on the 27th of May and there's a very tempting looking Iron Age Gourmet Day in July. Only last week they hosted an Iron Age Banquet for a Hen Doo. Think I might have to get married. Don't tell my husband.

Meal Planning - Sushi & Superheros but alas no Wombles

Sunday, 28 April 2013
Sad news first. I'm not going to be a Foodie Womble. My Foraging Course has been cancelled. Can't believe how gutted I am that I'm not going to get to eat weeds. Keeping my fingers crossed that it gets rescheduled in the Autumn. However we did spend yesterday at an amazing Celtic Food & Drink Festival at the Scottish Crannog Centre and had some foraged greens there. Had the most fantastic day with delicious iron age food. Full blog post to follow but for now a pictorial taster.
Last week was National Stationery Week. I am a bit of a Stationery geek and since I started taking part in #mealplanningmonday I have combined my love of food and stationery with my fab "What to Eat" pad. 
Didn't quite stick to the plan on the pad last week for one reason or another. Have already blogged about my Turkey Keema Curry and the Homemade Mozzarella and Cheesy Monkey Bread I made for Pinnies & Petticoats Bake Club. Next months theme is Eurovision which should be fun.
I panko breadcrumbed up some lemon sole goujons to go with chips and mushy peas. Beats ruskolined fish fingers any day. Think I'm going to have to give fellow Panko lover Karen of Blow Your Own Crumpet's Katsu Curry recipe a go very soon.
Did anyone else get a wee bit obsessed over The Great British Sewing Bee? I absolutely loved it and have declared that when I get old I want to be a cross between the winner Ann and Mary Berry. Both amazing women. Was so chuffed with my cotton reel chocs that my chum L brought round when she came for a cuppa.
Friday was Superhero Day at School with the pupils dressing up to support Northsound Cash for Kids. I am completely against the idea of spending £££'s on fancy dress costumes in order to donate £1 for the privilege of wearing them to school  As such boy and girl came up with their own Superheros. Super Sleepy and Super Chef to the rescue! Super Chef's powers include rescuing kitchen disasters and stopping baddies stealing your ingredients.
Superheros need a super supper and thankfully I had planned a BBQ with a selection of exotic burgers from Andrew Gordon. We had Zebra, Wagu, Kangaroo and Buffalo. Girl was most disappointed by the lack of stripes on the Zebra burger. All were very tasty but my favourite was probably Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
And so to this weeks #mealplanningmonday

Monday - Turkey Kebabs marinaded in Soya Sauce with Peanut Satay
I was at a Ladies Night in the village on Saturday and one of the stalls was Ria's Sambal & Soya Sauce I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to Ria and look forward to using her products and hopefully attending one of her Indonesian Cookery Demonstrations in the not too distant future.

Tuesday - Chorizo and Cannelini Bean Stew
Bought some Chorizo sausages from Haigs on a recommendation from a friend and going to attempt something like this from Johnny's Kitchen

Wednesday - Frittata 
Not quite sure what will be in it. Perhaps pea, feta and mint or goats cheese and red onion.

Thursday - It's our 15th Wedding Anniversary today. I had planned to cook something special however have since had a better offer. Can't say where I'm headed but I will leave Foodie Loon a ready meal for one.

Friday - Steak, Chips, Onion Rings, Peppercorn Sauce, Fried Egg, Mushrooms - the works!
Making up for being absent last night.

Saturday - Anniversary meal at Yatai
This is an awesome Japanese resturant. Check out the menu. I am already drooling at the prospect of their Soft Shell Crab Hand Roll Sushi.

Sunday - Roast Gammon, Mustard Sauce, Roasties and Veggies
Trying again with the Sunday roast that got bumped from last weeks menu

As always I'm linking up with Mrs M. Head on over and see what other bloggers have planned for this week. Do leave me a comment below - I love to hear from all except spammers. You can also follow me on Twitter @foodiequine and like me on Facebook www.facebook.com/FoodieQuine Have a good week x

Cheesy Monkey Bread & Homemade Mozzarella

Friday, 26 April 2013
If you've been paying attention you may well have noticed that I am a lover of all things Cheese. I had a Cake of Cheese for my 40th Birthday Party, a smaller version at Christmas and have already made my own Ricotta and Goats Cheese with the help of Big Cheese Making Kit

My name is Foodie Quine and I am a Cheeseaholic. 

So you can imagine my delight when the April Pinnies & Petticoats Bake Club was declared a Fromage Fest. But then the tricky bit - what to make?

For one reason or another I hadn't got round to trying my Mozzarella making kit but this was the perfect excuse. The only additional equipment I needed for this one was a pair of rubber gloves. (Fear not, they were new and not previously used anywhere near a U-bend.) The procedure was similar to the other cheeses I'd made in that you heated the milk to a specific temperature then added cheesemaking ingredients of rennet and citric acid. However the resulting curds were much more substantial than I'd seen before and had to be cut into cubes with a long knife. Very therapeutic and most satisfying.
Next came the fun bit. Microwaving the curds and kneading them to squeeze out and drain off the whey and make the cheese elastic. The cheese was so hot by this point that the Marigolds were definitely needed.
Salt and any herbs/flavourings are added at this point before you shape into balls and set them in cold water. The Mozzarella will then last up to one week in the fridge. I was so impressed with this cheese. Out of the three types I've already made this one really had the wow factor. The taste is awesome too. Boy and Girl could not get enough of it. Will definitely make pizza with the next batch.
But I couldn't rock up to bake club with just cheese. I needed a cheesy bake to accompany. I'd previously bookmarked Monkey Bread in "The Great British Bake Off How To Bake" book. Traditionally its a sweet bread with cinnamon but I opted for a savoury version with cheese and chilli flakes.
Reasonably straightforward to make the first stage although the 10 minutes of kneading required made me covet a Kitchen Aid even more than I already do. It certainly doubled in size during the first prove. Time to knock back and start creating the monkey puzzle.
I snipped the dough into small pieces, rolled into balls, dipped them in melted butter, then grated Lockerbie Cheddar and layered them in a tin with a sprinkling of crushed dried chillies. After the second prove I was a wee bit concerned as it was practically escaping from the loaf tin.
The smell when it was baking was awesome but I was a bit concerned that it was over brown however I took comfort in the fact that the majority of Mr Hollywood's loaves on Bread have had a touch of "burnt" about them.
And so to cake club where I cut open the monkey and served it with my mozzarella and homemade apple and chilli jelly. It was pretty darn good if I say so myself. The Fromage Fest was undoubtedly my favourite Pinnies & Petticoats meet up yet. Promise to tell you all about it as soon as my cheese hangover has subsided.

Turkey is for life - not just for Christmas

Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Hands up if you only eat Turkey at Christmas? Yup me too. Apart from the occasional recipe which specifically calls for it, December is pretty much the only month in which it features. I was recently contacted by British Turkey to take part in a Blogger Recipe Competition and devise a tasty year round dish using turkey. They gave me a £15 budget and it went surprisingly far.
For a grand total of £14.97 I got two packs of mince, two packs of breast stir fry and a pack of diced thigh. Each 500g in weight. Great value for five potential meals. I had actually spotted a turkey recipe on a fellow bloggers #mealplanningmonday post and had bookmarked it to make so popped it on my own mealplan whilst I pondered my own creation.
The Bacon and Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers were simple to make and very tasty. I used my trusty Lakeland burger maker to give them the perfect shape. The chopped bacon through them combined with cinnamon really lifted the flavour of what can be a bland meat. Would definitely give these a go again. 
And now to my own creation. I opted to utilise mince again and spice it up in a quick and easy curry dish. I'm a big spinach fan so had to get that in too.
500g British Turkey Mince
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 Tsp ground cumin
1 Tsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp Curry Paste (I used Pataks Tandoori)
3 Tbsp tomato puree
1 red pepper diced
tin of coconut milk
240g baby spinach
Heat oil in a deep frying pan and saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned.
Mix in the ground cumin, coriander and curry paste and cook off for 1 minute.
Add the turkey mince and cook until browned.
Stir in the red pepper, tomato puree and coconut milk.
Bring up to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the spinach and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until wilted.
Serve with rice and/or Naan bread.
Check out the British Turkey website for further recipe ideas, nutritional information and cooking tips. Plenty of inspiration there for the three remaining packs of turkey in my freezer. When I was purchasing my turkey products for this challenge I noticed that there were also Turkey Drumsticks available. Only time I have ever come across these was at the fast food stands in Disney World. Might not be going to Florida this year but I'm sure going to attempt to create a Turkey Leg Cart in my own kitchen.

Its just another Meal Planning Monday...

Sunday, 21 April 2013
Its #mealplanningmonday time again. First week back at school and we survived it in one piece. Foodie Loon was thrown in at the deep end in his new job but appears to be swimming rather than sinking so all is good. Here's what we dined on last week. Pretty much on plan. First up the one pot dish of baked rice, beans, chicken and mango. Really loved this and reckon it could be adapted with a variety of different ingredients.
The last of boy's homemade cumberland sausage was served up with lashings of onion and mushroom gravy and the obligatory yorkies. Made Rissoles for the very first time. Verdict is that I'll continue to make Stovies with leftover roast beef. Not overly impressed.
Crab and Smoked haddock tart didn't happen as I couldn't track down fresh crab anywhere. Tried a couple of different fishmongers through the week with no luck. Made a variation with prawns but it got a bit burnt and had a soggy bottom. I don't just share my successes ;-)
Boy did most of the hard work in making a version of Nigel Slaters Chorizo Potatoes which I'm linking up to Dish of the Month. I baked the potatoes with olive oil and my newly discovered Hebridean Sea Salt before he got to work scooping, mixing, chopping, grating and refilling. Back in the oven whilst I poached some Duck Eggs to accompany. Amazingly tasty dish - perfect Saturday night supper.
I tweeted the resulting dish to Mr Slater. Unfortunately he doesn't eat eggs "au natural" so I had to eat humble pie. I think I am forgiven.

And so to this week's #mealplanningmonday shenanigans...

Monday - Turkey Keema Curry
Turkey mince with coconut milk, curry paste, spinach, potatoes and peppers.

Tuesday - Baked Pappardelle with Porcini and Pancetta
Loved this so much last time I made it. Hope its as good as I remember.
Wednesday - fridge/freezer rummage
I'm not eating dinner as its Pinnies & Petticoats Fromage Fest tonight but will rummage to feed the rest of the troops.

Thursday - Exotic Burgers
Got a new BBQ at the weekend and will be trying it out with some of the exotic burgers that Andrew Gordon Butchery has been tweeting about lately. Springbok, Zebra, Buffalo, Kangaroo and Wagyu. Very excited to give them a try.

Friday - Fish goujons in panko breadcrumbs with homemade chips and mushy peas
Will see what I fancy from the fishmongers on the day but crunchy panko coating is a must.

Saturday/Sunday - Roast Gammon, Mustard Sauce, Roasties and Veggies
Have a couple of potential events taking place at the weekend but all a bit up in the air hence only one planned meal. Will wing it the rest of the time.
Almost forgot the most exciting foodie happening of last week - I'm booked on a wild food and foraging course. Can't tell you how excited I am about this. I'm going to be a foodie womble!
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