Pumpkin Pasties and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Sunday, 30 October 2016
Celebrate Halloween or Harry Potter and Hogwarts with these quick and easy to make Pumpkin Pasties using canned Pumpkin and my Pumpkin Spice Mix. 

One week on and our fortnight's holiday in Orlando now seems but a distant memory. Suffice to say that we had a fantastic time when we finally got there. Hurricane Matthew intervened so we got an unintentional mini break in New York! You can read more about what we got up to in my What to Eat in New York City post. 

Whilst many head to Florida for Disney, much of our excitement was about a wizard called Harry rather than a mouse called Mickey. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is spread across the two Universal theme parks with Hogsmede and Hogwarts in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.

We've already been to the W.B. Studio Tour in London and were blown away by the recreation of Diagon Alley there, but Universal have taken the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to a whole new level. The attention to detail is simply amazing. You could literally just wander around for days and still not see everything that there is to see and that's without going on the rides. It's a Potterheads idea of heaven! There's a headline ride in each park 'Escape from Gringotts' in Universal Studios Florida and 'The Forbidden Journey' in Islands of Adventure. There's no fastpass queue for any of the rides but in all honesty the queueing is a huge part of the whole experience as you encounter the Goblins in Gringots, the Sorting Hat, the Mirror of Erised, talking portraits, Dumbledore's Office, the Griffindor Common Room and much more. There's also a 'tour only' line so you can head back with your camera and explore all the detail at your leisure. Both rides are truly wonderful totally immersive experiences.

Stepping on board at Kings Cross at the infamous Platform 9¾ or at Hogsmede Station you can make the magical journey on the Hogwarts Express between the two parks. Be sure to travel in both directions as the experience is different for each. There's a wonderful optical illusion moment as you board and walk straight through a solid brick wall. All the famous shops and establishments are present in all their glory. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Dervish and Banges, The Magical Menagerie, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment and Quality Quidditch Supplies. If the Dark Arts are your thing you'll find everything you need down the gloomy Knockturn Alley, including Borgin and Burkes. You can of course purchase your own wand in Olivanders where each wand is waiting to choose it's wizard, albeit at a considerable price! $$$

No visit would be complete without stopping for refreshments at The Three Broomsticks or The Leaky Cauldron. Sweet treats a plenty in Hogsmedes legendary Honeydukes - chocolate frogs, Cauldron Cakes, Treacle Fudge, Fizzing Whizzbees and of course Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans. (I did a live Facebook video from Honeydukes which you can watch here) Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour provides icy treats in Diagon Alley where I opted for a Peanut Butter and Strawberry Ice Cream Sundae. 

The main event for any fan is of course tasting Butterbeer. I'd tried it when we did the London studios tour and really didn't enjoy it at all. However I'm not sure if they've changed the recipe or if it tasted better in the sunshine but I liked it much more this time round. You can get it in traditional or frozen form and with or without a foamy head. I was super excited to try Pumpkin Juice and it didn't let me down. Way better than I had expected and such a gorgeous bottle. A Pumpkin Pastie was also on my to eat list. I'd expected them to be savoury but they were sweet like Pumpkin Pie. Whilst they were fresh in my mind and to coincide with Halloween I decided to have a go at making my own. 

I actually struggled to track down the Canned Pumpkin for the recipe. It seems to be on sale in larger supermarkets from the Central Belt southwards but alas does not appear to have made it onto the shelves in the North of Scotland. Luckily a Canadian friend who orders it in bulk online stepped in and saved the day with a can. I owe you big time Julia! I used a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to make mini pasties but they went a wee bit out of shape so a traditional pastie might be better and would allow the inclusion of more filling, which is always a good thing. 

“Hungry, are you?”
“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a Pumpkin Pasty.

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Pumpkin Pasties

375g Shortcrust Pastry (no shame in shop bought - that's what I used!)
200g Canned Pumpkin (approx half a can)
2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
75g Caster Sugar
Milk to glaze

Preheat your oven to 190c
Roll out the pastry until its 1/16" thick and cut out out Pumpkin shapes and place them on a greased/lined baking sheet.
Mix together the pumpkin, pumpkin spice and sugar. You can adjust the quantities to your own taste.
Put a teaspoonful of pumpkin mix in the middle of each pastry pumpkin. Brush around the edges with milk and place a second pastry pumpkin over the top.
Seal the edges of the pumpkins with a fork.
Glaze the pumpkins with milk and sprinkle the tops with a little castor sugar combined with pumpkin spice.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

You can use shop bough Pumpkin Spice Mix or make your own. I used the following recipe. The excess can be stored in a spice jar.

Pumpkin Spice Mix 
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

Witchcraft & Wizardry Pumpkin carving by Foodie Loon
For further Harry Potter food inspiration be sure to check out my recipe for Treacle Tart, Lisa's for Hagrid's Rock Cakes and Grace's wonderful Harry Potter themed Lunch Box which includes Edible Broomsticks, Babybel Owls and Wizard Hat Sandwiches. 

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www.foodiequine.co.uk Celebrate Halloween or Harry Potter and Hogwarts with these quick and easy to make Pumpkin Pasties using canned Pumpkin and my Pumpkin Spice Mix. Plus a roundup of our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.


Halloween Chocolate Candy Bark

Friday, 28 October 2016
Spooky Halloween Chocolate Candy Bark. This no bake treat literally takes minutes to make but is such fun and really effective. Perfect for Trick or Treaters - It's Bark is worse than its Bite!

Boo! Tis the season of tricks and treats so I'm sneaking in with another quick no bake treat for Halloween. Hopefully you've already seen my oh so cute Peanut Butter Ghosts? Today's very loose 'recipe' is even simpler. It's more of a general idea and there are plenty of variations of it all over the interweb but this is the first time I've made some so I though I'd share what I did and how I did it. We were in Orlando for the October Holidays and everything was full on Halloween. I finally had my first taste of Candy Corn! Not as I expected at all, very much like fudge and no crisp shell which I'd always imagined it to have. Alas I never took any home with me as I ate a huge tub there and couldn't trust myself with buying more, so unfortunately it doesn't make an appearance on my bark.

The sweets I have used are Spooky Colours Peanut M&M's, Randoms Halloween Spooky Mix and Edible Eyes. I also used some black & orange Halloween sprinkles and some red Christmas sprinkles. Red/orange/green coloured chocolate or candy melts would also be really effective as would those gummy teeth. To be honest pretty much anything slightly spooky goes! The US versions all seem to include cookies and/or pretzels so you could go down that route too or perhaps go more rocky road and add marshmallows. Scary has never tasted so sweet!

Halloween Candy Bark
Literally takes minutes to make but such fun and really effective. It's Bark is worse than its Bite!

500g Milk Chocolate
50g White Chocolate
Assorted Halloween Candy & Sprinkles

Line a traybake tin with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner.
Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or over a bain marie. Pour and spread it evenly over the base of the lined tin.
Melt the white chocolate and drizzle and splash it randomly over the top of the milk chocolate base.
Push all of your Halloween sweets firmly into the chocolate and scatter over the sprinkles.
Pop the bark in the fridge until set and then chop into random shaped pieces.

If you want to get ahead of the game with your Christmas prep be sure to check out my recipe for Candy Cane Bark.

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www.foodiequine.co.uk Spooky Halloween Chocolate Candy Bark. This no bake treat literally takes minutes to make but is such fun and really effective. Perfect for Trick or Treaters - It's Bark is worse than its Bite!

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto and Pasta

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Everyone loves a roast dinner so why do we always save it just for Sundays? Probably because we're under the impression that it takes a long time to cook, needs numerous accompaniments and is way too expensive for a midweek meal. Let me introduce you to my new friend the Mini Roast which blows all of these preconceptions out of the water. I'll fully admit that I had them too but the recipe I'm sharing today made a perfect midweek meal combining roast lamb with pasta. Not something I'd have ever have thought of doing but it worked amazingly well. I also enjoyed my first ever taste of red pesto having only ever had the traditional green up until now. My culinary horizons know no bounds!

So what exactly is a Mini Roast? Basically it’s a smaller, cheaper roasting joint. You won't find them branded as such in the supermarket but as a guide you're looking for something weighing in at around the 400-500g mark. Ask your butcher to cut a piece of beef or lamb to size for you, look on the shelves for a smaller cut or buy a larger piece and split it into half for now and pop the other half in the freezer. The recipe's that have been put together by Simply Beef & Lamb serve 2-3 people. Three of us enjoyed our Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto but it could easily have been eked out to serve 4 by making more of the pasta side dish. Oh so tasty, economical and surprisingly quick to cook. Only a couple of minutes of hands on prep time at the start to baste the mini roast with the pesto before popping in in the oven. Once its cooked and resting the accompanying pasta takes barely 15 minutes to prep and cook and the full dish is on the table well within an hour.

One thing to keep an eye out for when choosing your meat – whether its beef or lamb – is a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo. It means the meat is farm assured and is of top quality. Producers can only display this badge when they meet strict food safety and animal welfare standards so you can buy with confidence and a clear conscience. When you've gone to the effort to ensure that the meat you are eating is of the highest standard you then want to make sure that you cook it to perfection for the full farm to fork quality experience. 
  • If time allows take the joint out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature before you begin. 
  • We all like our meat cooked differently and the best way to ensure that your mini roast is cooked to your particular preference whether that be rare, medium or well done is to use a meat thermometer. 
  • Again if time allows try to allow your joint to rest for a minimum of 10 minutes, ideally 20. Cover it will foil and keep it warm. This helps the fibres to relax which makes carving easier and each mouthful more tender and juicy.
If you're inspired to try out some more midweek meals with Mini Roasts head on over to Simply Beef & Lamb where there are lots more easy recipes and short and simple videos. Why save it for Sunday?

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto and Pasta
Serves 2-3

Small on size, big on taste, quick and easy to prepare

1 x 400-450g/14oz-1lb lean lamb mini roast (I used rolled boneless shoulder) 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
15-30ml/1-2tbsp red pesto 

For the Pasta: 
175g/6oz pasta shapes (I used Mafalda Corta)
30ml/2tbsp red pesto 
100g/4oz cherry tomatoes, halved 
Large handful baby spinach leaves 
25g/1oz pinenuts, toasted
Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish 

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5, 190°C, 375°F. 
Place the mini roast joint on a chopping board and make several slits over the surface and season. Spread with the prepared pesto. 
Transfer to a metal rack in a roasting tin and roast and roast for 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too quickly. 
Transfer the lamb to a warm plate; lightly cover with foil and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, 20 minutes if time allows. 
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and return the pasta to the pan. Add the remaining pasta ingredients and warm through.
Thinly slice the lamb, and serve with the pasta. 

Some of my fellow food blogger friends have also been cooking up a storm with midweek mini roasts

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Simply Beef & Lamb. 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.


Halloween Peanut Butter Ghosts

Monday, 17 October 2016
Spooky but Cute, these Ghostly no bake treats are perfect for Halloween. Featuring peanut butter, white chocolate and edible eyes they are ideal for Halloween Parties and Trick or Treat.

Halloween is one of my favourite holidays when it comes to getting crafty with food and drink, it is second only to Christmas in this respect. There is just so much to play with in terms of ghosts, pumpkins, witches and wizards, guts and gore. Admittedly I'm a bit nostalgic for the Scottish Halloween of my youth with guising, neeps and well rehearsed turns. Not sure that trick or treat, pumpkins and a knock knock joke quite cuts it. However pumpkins are definitely easier to carve than neeps and their burning flesh smells much better so it's not all bad. As well as giving us Trick & Treat and Pumpkins, the US of A has also given us SKIPPY Peanut Butter. I absolutely bloomin' LOVE the stuff and simply can not get enough of it. Their Extra Crunchy Super Crunch is my personal preference over the Smooth variant and despite not having a particularly sweet tooth I can't resit a PB desert, milkshake, cake or cookie. Check out my recipes for Peanut Butter Ice Lollies, Peanut Butter Oreo Milkshake and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

SKIPPY® is the iconic Peanut Butter brand who have been manufacturing in the USA since 1932. They challenged me to come up with a Halloween sweet treat incorporating their authentic American Peanut Butter as part of the 'SPOOKtacular SKIPPY Bake Off'. The recipe below is a no bake treat that would be perfect to make with kids. My daughter reckoned that the ghosts are friendly, like Casper or the Pac Man ones rather than scary Harry Potter Dementors. I tend to agree with her and depending on how you position their eyes and how the chocolate sets they can take on different expressions and personalities. If you can't track down any edible eyes they could be substituted with chocolate drops or small sweets. 

The recipe is based on my recollections of a childhood treat that I remember my Great Aunt Nellie serving up. I reckon Peanut Butter must have been a pretty exotic ingredient in Scotland in the late 1970's and early 1980's! Her recipe specified the ingredients in Cups which makes me wonder if like SKIPPY it also hailed from the USA? By using orange chocolate or candy melts you could transform them into Halloween Pumpkins, and for all year round Peanut Butter treats simply roll into balls and fully or partly cover in your preference of white, milk or dark chocolate. But for now, I ain't afraid of no ghosts! 

Halloween Peanut Butter Ghosts 
Makes approx 25 

340g Skippy Peanut Butter Crunchy 
100g Crunchy Nut or Regular Cornflakes 
150g Icing Sugar - sieved 
25g Butter, softened 
300g White Chocolate 
Edible Eyes 

Put the Skippy Peanut Butter, cornflakes and softened butter into a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. 
Mix until thoroughly combined, you may find it easier to use your hands. 
Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes before shaping into approximately 25 small balls the size of a walnut. 
Place on a baking tray topped with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner and return to the fridge for a further 30 minutes. 
Break up the white chocolate into a bowl and melt in the microwave or over a bain-marie. 
Remove the peanut balls from the fridge and shape them into 'ghostly blobs' and space out well. 
Spoon over the white chocolate until the peanut mix is completely covered, allowing some to drip down to form an ectoplasm base! 
Once the chocolate is starting to set press two edible eyes into each ghost. 
Return to the fridge to chill before serving.

Some of my food blogger friends have also been whipping up spooky Halloween treats. Check out Diana's oh so cute Halloween Peanut Butter Cupcakes complete with spiders and spiderwebs and Elizabeth's spectacular spooktacular Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Halloween Cake.

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www.foodiequine.co.uk Spooky but Cute, these Ghostly no bake treats are perfect for Halloween. Featuring peanut butter, white chocolate and edible eyes they are ideal for Halloween Parties and Trick or Treat.

Have you spotted my spooky seasonal logo on my social media accounts? As always designed by the wonderful www.mimihammill.com

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for SKIPPY. 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.

Traditional Homemade Toffee Apples

Thursday, 13 October 2016
Perfect for Halloween and Bonfire Night these traditional homemade Toffee Apples will be perfect thanks to the Thermapen digital thermometer.

Halloween and Bonfire Night just aren't complete without traditional toffee apples loved by both little and big kids. Rather than buy the highly coloured bright red versions from the supermarket why not try making your own this autumn? When it comes to any kind of hot sugar work the tricky bit is getting your boiling temperature right. Whether you're looking for thread, soft ball, firm ball or soft crack, things can easily turn to burnt sugar if you're not careful. Time for my trusty Thermapen to once again come into it's own. It's an absolute kitchen essential as far as I'm concerned. British made, the Thermapen is probably the worlds fastest reading kitchen thermometer. The true temperature of a foodstuff can be tested in just three seconds. In addition to ensuring that the toffee on your apple will be crunchy it will also take the guesswork out of other areas of your cooking. Steak will be perfect, your fudge, will set, your jam won't run off your toast, your chocolate will be shiny and tempered and your BBQ won't give anyone an upset tummy.

For toffee apples the magic number you're looking for is 150c which is the hard crack stage. The Thermapen takes only 3 seconds to give an accurate reading and it's temperature display automatically rotates through 360 degrees so you can see it at any angle. There's even a back light which is triggered in dim light whilst a motion-sensing sleep mode automatically turns on/off when set down or picked up. No wonder it's one of my most regularly used and invaluable pieces of kitchen kit. I recently gave my Mum one as I couldn't cope cooking without it when visiting her! 

When it comes to colour the traditional toffee or candy apple is bright red from goodness knows what food colouring. I used Jazz apples which are a wonderful mix of red and green and their colour shines through from the light caramel colour of the 'toffee'. The variety is a cross between the UK's two biggest sellers – the Royal Gala and the Braeburn. I also experimented in adding colour by way of beetroot powder but had mixed success, as whilst it looked brilliant red at the start of cooking it turned to a rather dark brown as the mixture came up to temperature. So my recommendation would be to avoid any artificial colour in your toffee and go for a beautiful coloured fruit instead. 

Traditional Homemade Toffee Apples 
As a child I always thought that a toffee apple was the perfect sweet, as once you'd eaten the toffee the apple would clean your teeth! 

6 Apples (I used Jazz Apples) 
400g Caster Sugar 
1 Tsp Vinegar 
50g Salted Butter 
100ml Water 
4 Tbsp Golden Syrup 

You will also need 
6 lolly sticks 
Thermapen digital food thermometer 

Wash and dry the apples. Remove any stalks and use a skewer to make a hole from the stalk end, then securely push in a lolly stick. 
Set the apples aside on a baking tray topped with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner. 
Place the sugar, vinegar, butter, water, and syrup in a heavy based pan and gently dissolve over a low heat. 
Turn up the heat and boil WITHOUT STIRRING (otherwise the sugar may crystallise) until the mixture reaches a reading of 150°C on a Thermapen thermometer. 

TIP - whilst boiling have a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush to had and use the wet brush to wash down any stray sugar from the sides of the pan. 

Remove the pan from the heat and let the bubbles die down a little. 
Tilt the pan and carefully dip the apples one at a time into the toffee, twirling them to ensure they are fully covered. 
Let any excess toffee drop off before placing them back the lined baking tray. 
Once set store in a cool place - not the fridge - and eat within 48 hours (otherwise the toffee will start to soften and liquify. 

Do take a peek at the three recipes I've previously developed in conjunction with Thermapen which highlight its versatility: 

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd 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.

Moules Écosse - Scottish Gin and Tonic Mussels

Friday, 7 October 2016

Sometimes with a recipe you need to keep it simple and let the high quality ingredients shine through. Such is the case today. Without a doubt my favourite food is shellfish and my favourite drink Gin. When I was asked by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group to develop a recipe with Mussels to celebrate Seafood Week (7th - 14th October) I had a brainwave. I've had Mussels in white wine, cider and beer so why not Gin & Tonic? Scottish Shellfish needs Scottish Gin & Tonic so I reached out to local Aberdeenshire producers Esker Gin and Walter Gregor Tonic and a truly amazing dish was born.

Many of us love to eat Mussels when dining out but are more wary of cooking them at home thinking they are fiddly to clean and dangerous to eat. There is really nothing to be scared of as long as you follow the 4 simple steps below you really can't go wrong. With their plump and sweet tasting flesh they are one of the best and most affordable Scottish shellfish out there. The old myth about only eating mussels ‘when there is an ‘R’ in the month’ is incorrect and they are perfect to enjoy any day of the year.

  1. Store mussels in a bowl, covered with a damp cloth, in the bottom of the fridge. Apart from when cleaning, don't store or submerge the mussels in water or you'll drown them. 
  2. Sort through the mussels to check that they are all closed. Give any that aren’t a gentle tap on a surface to see if they close shut. Discard those that don’t close, along with any that are cracked or damaged. 
  3. Scrub the mussels well with a stiff brush under cold, running water and use the back of a knife to remove any barnacles. Pull away any tendrils or ‘beards’ from the sides of the shells. Rinse well again. 
  4. Cook the mussels according to your recipe and discard any shells that have not opened up. 

The flavours in this dish are absolutely fantastic. Of course much of that comes from the wonderful Scottish shellfish but the Gin & Tonic adds some amazing delicate notes. Feel free to experiment with the proportion of Gin to Tonic to find what works best for you. Shallots can be substituted for onions if you like a milder flavour however by cooking them and the garlic out first with the butter any real harshness is removed. I swithered about adding cream at the end as the cooking liquor tastes amazing in unadulterated form however I felt that a small amount really lifted the dish. Crusty bread for dunking is of course essential when it comes to eating, or you may prefer to dive straight in with a soup spoon. Frites work well too. We enjoyed both with our Moules Écosse. Slainte! 

Gin & Tonic Mussels
Moules Écosse
Serves 4 as a Starter or 2 as a Main Course

25g Salted Butter 
1/2 Onion, very finely chopped 
1 large Garlic clove, crushed 
150ml Scottish Tonic Water 
50ml Scottish Gin 
1.5 kg Scottish Mussels 
4 Tbsp Double Cream 
1 bunch Parsley, chopped 
Salt & Pepper 

Wash the mussels under cold running water and pull out any beards. If any are open, give them a wee tap to see if they will close shut. Discard those that don’t close, along with any that are cracked or damaged.
Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan. (Make sure it's one that you have a well fitting lid for) 
Gently fry the chopped onion and crushed garlic until soft. 
Pour in the Gin & Tonic and when it comes to the boil add the mussels. 
Cover with the lid and simmer for four or five minutes, occasionally shaking the pan, until all of the mussels are opened. 
Add the cream and parsley and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. 
Serve with plenty of crusty bread to soak up all the Gin & Tonic infused Mussel juices.

For further inspiration of what you can cook with Fresh Scottish Mussels take a look through these fantastic recipes from some of my food blogging colleagues:

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group. As always, all views expressed are my own. Thanks to Esker and Walter Gregor for providing the G&T. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.

Potato, Gruyere and Spinach Dauphinoise

Monday, 3 October 2016

I LOVE a steak. But I also love all the accompaniments that go with it. Fries, Peppercorn Sauce, Onion Rings, Mushrooms, Peas, Mustard, Fried Egg and of course Red Wine. I'm drooling at the very thought! As much as I love Steak and Chips my absolute favourite side is creamy layered dauphinoise potatoes. I simply can't resist them. A wee bit naughty but oh so nice! I'm sharing my recipe for Potato, Greuyere and Spinach Dauphinoise with you and boy is it good. Crispy topping - which everyone will fight over - with a gooey, cheesy, comfort food interior (plus the spinach makes you feel it's healthy!) To go with it I've got Surf and Turf. Not something that I've actually ever cooked at home before. My friends at Iceland asked me to try out something from their new range of luxury frozen meats and at £10 for 2 British beef fillet steaks and 4 whole shell on, raw king prawns neither my taste buds or my wallet could resist.

The new range of luxury meats from Iceland includes premium products for great prices so you can afford to treat yourself to something a wee bit special a wee bit more often. In addition to steaks there's Pork Tenderloins, Whole Poussions, Duck Breasts, Chicken Supreme, Tomahawk Pork Chops, Rack of Lamb, and Beef Wellingtons. Not the kind of thing you'd perhaps expect to find in the aisles alsongside fish fingers, burgers, pizza and ready meals. There's a perception that freezing steaks changes their quality or texture, this simply isn't the case. Modern freezing methods lock in the natural flavours of foods and retain their integrity. That's the #PowerOfFrozen I'm a shellfish fan so plumped for the surf and turf but also had the choice of Gaucho Sirloin Steak, Chateaubriand and Gaucho Rump Steaks. The 'Turf' is 21 day matured fillet steaks from British Red Tractor Assured Farms. That ticks all my boxes. 

Back to the dauphinoise. Par cooking the potatoes beforehand is a real time saver otherwise this dish needs a good 90 minutes to 2 hours to cook. Getting your potatoes and shallots thinly sliced is also another essential for a good result. Do please be so careful of your fingers if using a mandolin, they are viscous. The steak and prawns require to be defrosted prior to cooking so take them and the spinach out of the freezer the night before and let them defrost in the fridge. When you go to make the dauphinoise take the surf and turf out of the fridge and remove them from their packaging and allow them to come up to room temperature. Cook according to the packet instructions when the timer for your dauphinoise has 10 minutes to go. I always use a food thermometer to get my steak perfectly cooked - I like mine rare. Whist the steak rests the king prawns took only minutes to cook and turn pink. To accompany I added Iceland's Pea & Four Bean Medley in a Mint Butter, one of my favourite sides. The whole meal was a hit. The steak and prawns were tender and tasty and the dauphinoise added further decadence to our Saturday night in. As it serves six, I can thoroughly recommend any leftover dauphinoise for Sunday breakfast served up with bacon!

Potato, Gruyere and Spinach Dauphinoise
The perfect accompaniment to a juicy steak
Serves 6

1 kg Potatoes (I used Roosters and kept the skin on)
900g Iceland Frozen Spinach, defrosted
2 Shallots
264ml Single Cream
Chicken or Vegetable Stock Cube
2 Garlic Cloves
170g Gruyere Cheese
Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 200c
Wash then very thinly slice your potatoes, ideally using a mandolin.
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 5 minutes then drain into a colander.
Squeeze out the excess water from the defrosted spinach until its as dry as you can make it.
Peel and thinly slice the shallots as thinly as possible, ideally using a mandolin.
Pour the cream into a measuring jug and make it up to 500ml with boiling water and crumble in a stock cube.
Peel and crush the garlic and stir it into the jug of cream.
Layer 1/3 of the par boiled potato slices into a large shallow ovenproof dish.
Top with 1/2 the shallots, 1/2 the spinach and 1/3 the cheese.
Season with grated nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour of 1/3 of the cream mixture.
Repeat the layers finishing off with a third layer of potato, cheese, seasoning and cream.
Bake in the oven for for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown, the cream is bubbling and the dauphinoise is cooked through.

Some of my food blogger colleagues have also been trying out the luxury frozen meats range from Iceland. Here's what they created:

Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for Iceland Foods. 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.

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