Gin Giveaway & Cocktails for your Valentine with Thomas Dakin and BLOOM

Friday, 29 January 2016
Valentines Day is looming large (14th February just in case you need a reminder!) love is in the air and one thing that I know many of my blog and social media followers love is gin! I've teamed up with two fantastic gin brands to offer a romantic juniper giveaway. A bottle of limited edition BLOOM Gin and a bottle of Thomas Dakin Gin. I'm also sharing a couple of gin based cocktail recipes that would be perfect to share with the one you love. The BLOOMing Valentine Cocktail has been created especially for Valentine's Day 2016 by the world's first female Gin Master Distiller, Joanne Moore. Now there's a job I'd like to have! They kept that one quiet in the careers guidance talk at school. 

BLOOM Gin, the luxurious floral London Dry Gin inspired by nature, is the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. This limited edition bottle of award-winning BLOOM Gin comes complete with a pink bow and a ready-made gift label with space to personalise.

BLOOM Gin is distilled with the botanicals of honeysuckle, chamomile and the citrus fruit pomelo and mixes equally well with a good quality tonic or in a selection of cocktails perfect to celebrate Valentine’s Day, such as the BLOOM Gin Fizz with Prosecco.

BLOOM London Dry Gin is available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado. Price from £24.00.

Thomas Dakin Gin is a classic style London Dry Gin distilled in small batches in a baby copper pot still. The Master Distiller has included eleven botanicals including juniper, orange peel and English coriander with the unique addition of red cole (horseradish) to give the gin its distinctive sweet citrus and savoury long, lingering finish. 

Thomas Dakin Gin was launched last year to great acclaim in Manchester and is distilled at the world’s oldest gin distillers in Warrington, Cheshire. The “Tom & Tonic” is the signature serve with a good quality tonic water, a strip of orange peel and a sprig of coriander to garnish.

Thomas Dakin Gin is available from Waitrose and Booth’s, price from £29.00.

My BLOOMing Valentine

50ml BLOOM London Dry Gin
25ml Lemon juice
15ml Sugar syrup
7 mint leaves

Bruise the mint in a shaker and add the rest of the ingredients
Shake and strain, pouring it into a Julep cup over crushed ice
Garnish with a mint sprig and dust with white icing sugar

The Dakinez (Our take on the Martinez)

35ml Thomas Dakin Gin
15ml Sweet Red Vermouth
10ml Cointreau
1 x Dash Angostura Bitters
Orange peel garnish

Chill a tall martini glass with ice. Add all ingredients to a Boston glass, stir well with ice
using long bar spoon. Fine strain into the chilled glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Quintessential Brands Company Ltd have provided 1 x bottle of BLOOM Gin and 1 x bottle of Thomas Dakin Gin (combined rrp £53) as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. No purchase necessary. Open to UK residents 18+ only. One winner will be drawn after the closing date. Normal restrictions apply. Promoter: Quintessential Brands Company Ltd., Melbury Park, Clayton Road, Warrington, Cheshire W13 6PH.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment "What's your favourite mixer with Gin?" For additional bonus entries you can follow me, BLOOM Gin and Thomas Dakin Gin on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway or like me on Facebook.

Giveaway ends 14th February 2016 12:00am. Good Luck!

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Disclosure : Recipes and images courtesy of Quintessential Brands Company Ltd, All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post but I have been compensated in Gin.

Haggis and Beef Scotch Eggs

Monday, 25 January 2016
How do you make a Scotch Egg more Scottish? Add Haggis! Use traditional or vegetarian haggis to me these

Sometimes foodie experiments turn out well and sometimes they don't. The Scotch Eggs I'm sharing with you today were a big success. It was only after they'd been devoured and a quick Instagram snap of them generated a lot of interest that I realised that they were most definitely worthy of a blog post. As an interim measure I shared the recipe on my Facebook Page and it produced lots of likes, shares and general excitement. Sometimes I think I should concentrate purely on Tunnock's Teacakes, Gin, Irn Bru and Haggis as these always seem to be the things that grab attention on my social media channels! Perhaps I have a disproportionate amount of Gin drinking Scots in my audience?! 

Prior to these I think the first and only time I've ever made a Scotch Egg was in 'O' Grade Food & Nutrition. As I recall it took longer to clean the deep fat fryer afterwards than it took to make the actual Scotch Egg. These are undoubtedly much healthier than a deep fried version and the double coating of panko breadcrumbs give a fantastic crunch. A good quality, not too fatty, Scotch Beef sausage will make all the difference. They taste equally good cold as they do straight from the oven and are most definitely not just for Burns Night. 

Haggis & Beef Scotch Eggs

6 Hard Boiled Eggs 
400g beef sausages
200g haggis
2 eggs lightly beaten
Panko breadcrumbs
Fry Light (or equivalent oil spray)

Boil 6 eggs for 5 minutes, peel and cool (cook longer if you're not keen on a runny yolk)
Squish the meat out of the sausages into a bowl. Finely chop the haggis and mix well through the beef. Divide the mixture into 6 equal pieces (100g each if like me you like to be exact!)
Lay out a piece of clingfilm on your work surface. Squish out one piece of meat to a roundish flat circle,
Place a hard boiled egg in the middle and draw up the clingfilm around it. 
Shape into a ball easing the sausagemeat to completely cover the egg before peeling away the clingfilm.
Repeat for the other 5 eggs.
Dip each meat coated egg into the beaten egg, then the panko and repeat so each has a double coat.
Place the Scotch Eggs on a baking tray, spray with fry light (or drizzle with oil) and cook at 200c for 25-30mins.

Some more of my Quirky Scottish Recipes that may well have Rabbie turning in his grave can be found in this post 25+ Quirky Scottish Recipes. Expect cotch Beef, Irn Bru, Tunnock's Teacakes, Haggis, Scottish Salmon, Tattie Scones, Whisky, Shortbread, Arbroath Smokies, Scottish Gin and more.

For more Haggis of all persuasions you'll be needing My Top 10 Haggis recipes for Burns night.


Byron - Proper Hamburgers in Aberdeen

Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Back in October I was intrigued to see hoardings go up for a new eatery in Aberdeen's Union Square shopping centre. At that point the name Byron meant nothing to me, however when I posted about it on social media there was an excited reaction. This would be the first Byron in Scotland and their reputation for proper hamburgers clearly preceded them. As their opening date of 17th December approached a parcel arrived for me with a bottle of their Hot Sauce, Byron Larger and a card to wish me a Happy Cheesemas and invite me to visit in January.

On a twixtmas visit to Union Square there was a huge queue outside waiting for a table and when we finally visited on a Saturday night midway through January the situation was no different. It was a wee bit confusing knowing quite what to do as we had a reservation. Half our party joined the back of the queue whilst two of us awkwardly pushed in at the front to see what the deal was. Once our booking was found we were quickly taken to a comfortable booth and introduced to our waiter. The restaurant was bright and modern with a look that seemed to be a cross between American diner and industrial warehouse. As we perused the menus and ordered drinks our waiter explained that their burgers were cooked medium so would be pink in the middle. All good by me. He also told us that there were 12 miniature plastic cows hidden around the restaurant for us to find. This proved to be great fun for both little and big kids.

We had heard great things about the thick Byron Milkshakes so girl ordered an Oreo one and boy a Maple & Salted Popcorn. You can also get hard shakes with a shot of Bailey's Bourbon or Rum. When they arrived the kids eyes popped out of their heads! "When he said they were big I thought he meant big milkshake glasses not buckets!"
The shakes were indeed awesome and super thick. There's no way I could have drunk/eaten one, a sip of each was more than enough for me. Perhaps more suited as a desert. Time to order and I'd been given a few recommendations on social media of what to go for so we ordered 3 different burgers and a selection of sides. Girl isn't really a burger fan so she chose Macaroni Cheese and Sweet Potato Fries. There aren't any starters on the menu but we went for the "While You Wait" Nachos (for two). Back to the cow hunting whist we waited the estimated 7-10 minutes for our burgers.

Our nachos arrived pretty quickly with our burgers and sides very shortly behind. Such was the speed of service that I wouldn't bother with anything for the wait on a future visit as we'd literally only managed a couple of chips each before the main event arrived. Girl said her Mac Cheese was the best and cheesiest ever and practically inhaled her dish of sweet potato fries. They were unbelievably good, so much so that we ended up ordering a second portion as the rest of us ate so much of hers! Boy opted for a Smoky Burger (cheddar, bacon, crispy fried onions, iceberg, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce) which rather strangely arrived with a "Well Done" flag. We never queried this but can only assume they have a policy not to give medium burgers to kids. Would have been nice to have been asked/told as my 13 year old mini foodie would definitely have chosen pink.

Foodie Loon chose the classic Byron Burger (bacon, cheddar, iceberg, tomato, red onion and Byron sauce) and I went for B-Rex (onion ring, bacon, American cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise). The burgers were pink, juicy and generously sized and the toppings and sauces all hit the spot. The skin on chips were almost as good as the sweet potato fries and whilst I was really excited about, and had been recommended the courgette fries they were just too greasy, as were the onion rings. All the burgers come in a a delicious squishy bun and are served with a large pickle on the side. As there were no other pickle lovers I got all three.

Surprisingly some people still had room for desert. Whilst I opted for a cappuccino and boy had a Cream Soda float, father and daughter went all out with a Chocolate Brownie and a Caramel and Honeycomb Sundae. Service throughout was friendly and efficient and the staff were happy to help my daughter in her quest to track down all 12 cows. She was a wee bit disappointed that there wasn't a prize for finding them all. Perhaps something to think about - she'd have been happy with a sticker! We also loved the staff T-shirts with "pickle" and "cheese" tying for top place in my affections.

The bill came to £102.40 which seemed a wee bit on the steep side. Between the 4 of us we'd had Nachos, 3 burgers, 6 sides, 2 deserts, 2 milkshakes, 1 soft drink, 3 alcoholic drinks and 2 coffee's. However we really didn't need the nachos or deserts which would have knocked off £15 and my two large glasses of wine accounted for a further £13.50. We loved the atmosphere in Byron and there were folk queueing for tables the whole time we were there. We'll definitely be returning and would be a bit more savvy in our ordering next time. I liked the idea of the skinny burger served without bun but with side salad. I also need to try the blue cheese dip which everyone told me was a must try but I completely forgot to order. I also really hope that they regularly moo-ve the cows around.

Byron have provided £30 of Byron Bills as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. Check out their locations to make sure there's a branch near you.

To enter, let me know in a comment "What's your favourite burger topping?" For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway or like me on Facebook.

Giveaway ends 5th February 2016 12:00am. Good Luck!

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Disclosure : Byron invited us to review a complementary meal. All views expressed are my own. This is not a paid post.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties Soup

Friday, 15 January 2016

Fair fa your honest sonsie face! Yup, we're talking haggis. Serious Burns. Although in my book Haggis is most definitely for life and not just for Burns Night (25th January for the uninitiated). However today I'm celebrating the life and works of Scotland's National Poet in soup form. Not sure why I've never gone down this route before with the holy trinity of Scottish ingredients but it absolutely works. Serve with a Nessie ladle and a glass of Scotch Whisky. 

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Soup

Serves 6

1 Onion
Splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil
500g Tatties (potatoes)
300g Neeps (swede)
1.8L beef/lamb stock
450g Haggis
Salt & Pepper
1/2 Tsp English Mustard Powder
Nip of Whisky (optional)

Peel and finely chop the onion and sweat it in a large soup pan along with a splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil.
Whilst the onions are cooking, peel the neep and the tatties and grate or finely chop them. Add to the pan alongside the onions and continue to sweat for a couple more minutes.
Next add 1.8 litres of stock to the pan. I used 2 lamb stock cubes and one beef stock pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the haggis from its outer cover and cut into small cubes. 
At this point you can either add all the haggis to the soup, warm it through and serve it in a rustic broth style or alternatively, for a smoother version add half the haggis to the soup and blitz with a stick blender. Heat the remaining haggis in the microwave and heap it up in the middle of the bowl.
For both versions you will need to taste and season before serving. How much seasoning you need will very much depend on your haggis. I added a generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper plus a 1/2 teaspoon of English mustard powder. 
True Scots may wish to add a nip of whisky.

For more year round haggis inspiration I've pulled together a collection of recipes below from fellow haggis loving food bloggers. There's a mixture of traditional meaty and vegetarian haggis in there but I'm sure you'll be able to substitute either or to suit your own taste.

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Pie - Farmersgirl Kitchen

Savoury Haggis Puffs - Tinned Tomatoes

Haggis Tattie Scones - Foodie Quine

Haggis Toastie - Foodie Quine
Slow Cooked Haggis Stuffed Apples - Farmersgirl Kitchen
Haggis Oatcakes - Foodie Quine

Last but by absolutely no means least I'm delighted to unveil a new look logo especially for Burns Night. As always my designer Camilla at has done me proud. Keep an eye out for it on my social media accounts around 25th January.


Mango, Pineapple and Coconut Tropical Smoothie Bowl

Tuesday, 12 January 2016
One of the topics of discussion when I was a guest on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe last week was new year new recipes. We asked the question - what dish would you like to master this year? Answers ranged from basics like roast beef, omelettes and stovies to donuts, Thai curry and ravioli. This got me to thinking of my own foodie new years resolutions which are more along the lines of dishes I'd like to make for the first time. The list as it stands is as follows - macarons, smoothie bowl, bundt cake, gazpacho and baking a cake/something sweet in my slow cooker.

I reckoned I may as well strike when the iron is hot and make a start at what's probably one of the easier things to tick off the list - a smoothie bowl. Six months ago I didn't even know what one was! Basically its a thick smoothie, served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. It's often decorated with fruit, cereals, nuts, seeds and suchlike. I made mine for breakfast and it certainly seemed much more filling than a regular smoothie. I reckon that's partly due to the thickness and the addition of toppings but also due to the fact that you have to sit down and take your time to eat it with a spoon. 

If a fruity breakfast is your thing do check out Bintu's Akara. These banana fritters hail from Sierra Leon and are nutmegy banana pancake balls.

Mango, Pineapple and Coconut Tropical Smoothie Bowl

150g Frozen Mango Chunks (alternatively use fresh mango and a handful of ice)
2 slices tinned Pineapple
1/2 Banana
4 Tbsp Coconut Yoghurt

Coconut Chips
1/2 Banana, sliced
Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Pineapple

Blitz together all the smoothie ingredients in a blender, smoothie maker or stick blender. Add a splash of the pineapple juice or water if it's too thick.
Pour into a bowl and decorate with your toppings.
Grab a spoon and enjoy.

Here are 10 more delicious sounding Smoothie Bowl recipes from fellow food bloggers who jumped on the bandwagon long before me!

Our Farmhouse Gingerbread House - Christmas 2015

Thursday, 7 January 2016

I've previously written about the annual tradition in the Foodie Quine household of the creation of a festive Gingerbread House. You can get the full rundown of the previous four builds in my post last year - The evolution of the Gingerbread House 2010 - 2014. At this point I should reiterate that I have no input whatsoever to the process. It's all down to my sister (aka Auntie Adele), boy and girl. I merely provide the kitchen and take all the glory on social media ;-)

The plans decided upon were for a Farmhouse Gingerbread House and the gingerbread recipe used was Mary Berry's from her Baking Bible. The sections were baked for 8 minutes, then the windows/doors re-cut and crushed sweets added for glass. Back in the oven for a further 3 minutes then all sides trimmed to exact size using a metal ruler. Asbestos hands required as you must work quickly so as not to let the gingerbread cool as then it will crack as you cut it. In the past the cement has been caramel however this year the construction team opted for Royal Icing. The house was left to set propped up by assorted soup and baked bean cans before the decoration and landscaping could commence on Christmas Eve.

When it came to decor, as always there was an obligatory sprout in the chimney. New additions in landscaping were marzipan trees and flake log piles. The walls were kept minimalist with the majority of sweets adorning the roof. My particular favourites were the curly wurlies along the roof ridge, the jelly tot path and the tic-tac fairy lights. 

Whilst I've washed my hands of the large house, for the past couple of years I've kept coming across super cute tiny wee gingerbread houses on Pinterest. Finally I got round to actually making some for myself. Clearly my architectural skills are somewhat lacking as I totally miscalculated how many of each piece I needed to build a house. Lots of spare roofs meant plenty to nibble on as I got stressed about about assembling them. They should perch beautifully on the edge of a cup of tea but mine were rather more on the chunky side. I actually had great fun making and decorating them and perhaps they too can evolve over the coming years. Apparently the three amigos are planning a Gingerbread Barn and Silo for 2016 so I may need to up my game. 

I shared the Gingerbread Farmhouse on my Instagram and was delighted when it was chosen as one of the Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream ‪#‎CrownYourPuds‬ winners for December. It's in good company along with Supergolden Bakes stunning Festive Rosewater Pavlova with Syrup-soaked Figs and Pomegranate and Emily's Recipes & Review's super cute Christmas Pudding Macarons
Not quite sure how I share the prize of a Cornishware Mug Set with my sister, son and daughter...


Top 10 Foodie Quine Recipes for 2015

Monday, 4 January 2016
Happy New Year! We're just about recovered from the Hogmanay hangover here in Scotland ;-) I hope the first few days of 2016 have been good for you and yours and would like to take this opportunity to wish you health and happiness for the months to come. Lang may yer lum reek!

As promised in my Baker's Dozen" favourite Foodie Adventures post, today I'm sharing my top ten most popular posts as clicked on by you my readers for 2015. The past 12 months were very busy for me in freelance foodie terms and I also had the opportunity to work on recipe development and sponsored posts for some well known brands including British Lion Eggs, Barber's Cheddar, Zyliss, Love Pork, Oreo, Bailey's, Schwartz, Good Family Food, The Big Lunch, SPAM, Expedia, Tefal, Thermapen, Craft Bakers Week and more. Here's hoping for more of the same in 2016. 
Without further ado, here's the final countdown...

No surprise that the top two are my phenomenal Irn Bru creations. I've had so much great feedback on both of these recipes and they have been widely shared on social media. I really must get my thinking cap on in order to emulate their success in 2016. 

It's the time of year where many food bloggers do round up posts so here are links to some more from my colleagues. Plenty of inspiration to be found within these for meal planning in the year ahead

Eats Amazing - Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015
Fab Food 4 All - Highlights of 2015 + 30 Food Bloggers’ Most Popular Recipes
Baking Queen - 2015: A Year in Review for BakingQueen74
The Veg Space - Top 10 Recipes Of 2015… And What’s New For 2016
Tinned Tomatoes - Top 15 Veggie & Vegan Recipes of 2015 - Readers Choice
Tin & Thyme - Top Ten 2015 Recipes – Your Favourites

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