Gin Butter (for your Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Roll over Brandy Butter, there's a new festive sauce in town! My Gin Butter tastes SO good generously dolloped on your warm Christmas Pudding or Mincemeat Pies. You can even indulge your juniper addiction at breakfast time by spreading it on toasted Panettone. Brandy Butter is so last year darlings!

There are some ideas that take a long time to reach fruition. This is one of them. I've had a post for Gin Butter sitting in my blog drafts for almost two years now. After buying a jar of Sloe Gin Butter in Fortnum & Mason on the way back from a visit to the Christmas Markets in Bruges and Brussels I reckoned I could come up with my own version, using one of my favourite Scottish Gins. 

If you like a smooth butter use the full quantity of icing sugar, however if you like a more granular version go full on golden caster sugar. I reckon my quantities below give the best of both worlds. When it comes to adding additional flavour look to the botanicals in your gin of choice and the recommendations for the perfect serve. I've opted for cinnamon and lemon but feel free to experiment with variations of citrus and spice. Depending on what you want to serve your Gin Butter with you may wish to allow it to come back up to room temperature before use. I've been enjoying it rather too much straight from the fridge melting over a piping hot mince pie. Slainte and Merry Ginmas! 

Perfect for generously slathering over Mince Pies or Christmas Pudding

250g Unsalted Scottish Butter, at room temperature 
150g Golden Caster Sugar 
100g Icing Sugar, sieved 
Zest of one Lemon 
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
100ml of your favourite Gin 

Cream together the butter, both sugars, lemon zest and cinnamon until pale. You can do it manually with a wooden spoon or use an electric hand whisk or stand mixer. 
When you have a smooth and pale mix, gradually add the Gin a little at a time. Keep beating throughout. Don't add the gin too quickly or the butter may split. 
Taste and add more Gin if you think it needs it! 
Chill thoroughly before serving. 
The Gin Butter will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, or can be frozen.

For further Gin-spiration check out my other Gin based recipes


Smoked Salmon, Crowdie and Tattie Scone 'Scottish Blinis'

Sunday, 18 December 2016
Scottish produce combines to make a canape with a twist. Smoked Salmon, Crowdie and Tattie Scone Stars are an effortless yet sophisticated Scottish nibble, perfect for Christmas, Hogmanay, Burns Night or St Andrew's Day. 

Only a week to go until Christmas and I'm all sorted with the presents, I've surprised myself with my efficiency this year as they're all wrapped too! No Christmas cards written though as we have decided to make a donation to charity in lieu. Maggie's Highland has been an enormous support to us as a family this year so a contribution has been made to this very worthy cause and I hereby take the opportunity to wish all those who have read, commented, liked, shared and RT'd my blog and social media posts this year a very Merry Christmas.

What is it that they say about a cobbler's children having no shoes? This may well be the case here too as food is the one thing that I've given precious little thought to so far! My turkey is coming from Barra Bronzes to be collected at the end of the week, veggies have been ordered from Fernieflatt Farm, 2kg of Raclette from Mellis and I'm reliably informed that the three amigos are making a Gingerbread House. My festive visitors start arriving from the 22nd so I really should get my finger out and start making a proper menu plan! 

Back in November I was working on some festive canape ideas using Scottish Smoked Salmon in a recipe for Lidl Scotland. I gave them a number of options to choose from and they opted for Scottish Smoked Salmon, Crowdie and Oatcake Canapes which appeared in their instore leaflet across all their Scottish stores at the start of December. However my second choice was an idea just too good not to be shared. A Scottish version of Blinis. Instead of pancakes and soured cream I've used Crowdie and Tattie Scones. The idea got a lot of love when I shared it on twitter as part of the #ScotFood twitter hour chat. Any shape of cookie cutter will work, you could even cut freehand. Top tip - try a rummage in the play-doh cutters if you are searching for a star! 

Smoked Salmon, Crowdie and Tattie Scone Scottish Blinis
An effortless yet sophisticated Scottish nibble, perfect for Christmas or Hogmanay
Makes 18 Canapes

6 Tattie (Potato) Scones
100g Scottish Smoked Salmon
50g Scottish Crowdie (soft cheese)
Fresh Dill to garnish

The first step comes down to personal preference and how soon you are going to be eating the canapes. You can either pop the tattie scones in the toaster for a couple of minutes, or leave them au natural.
Use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut out three stars from each scone.
Spread a small amount of crowdie on top of each tattie scone star.
Finely shred the scottish smoked salmon and place it in bundles on top of the crowdie.
Garnish the Scottish Blinis with fronds of fresh dill.

♥ Pin me for later... Scottish produce combines to make a canape with a twist. Smoked Salmon, Crowdie and Tattie Scone Stars are an effortless yet sophisticated Scottish nibble, perfect for Christmas, Hogmanay, Burns Night or St Andrew's Day.

Salmon Coulibiac - an Unconventional Christmas Dinner

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Turkey has been on the table for Christmas dinner pretty much every year of my life. It really is the must eat food at Christmas (along with the dreaded sprouts!) I did have a couple of years when I branched out into duck and goose but come 25th December it's traditionally been a 'big bird' taking pride of place in the oven of the Foodie Quine household. But it's not always been the case, before the widespread introduction of turkey to the UK 500 years ago the meat gracing the table at Christmas was goose, boars head and even peacocks! Today we are spoilt for choice and there's no need to stick to convention. Christmas dinner is constantly evolving to cater to various tastes, cuisines, allergies and dietary requirements. There's no longer a one size fits all approach. I'm lucky that I don't have too many foodie requirements to juggle over the festive season. My Dad is allergic to shellfish (and my daughter seemingly to vegetables...) but apart from that anything goes. 

Six months ago I headed down to London on the sleeper train to spend a rather hectic but immensely enjoyable day checking out Christmas In July events. These are showcases run by all the big brands and stores previewing their Christmas range. My first stop was Iceland Foods where I stepped into a veritable winter wonderland and got a sneak preview of what would be hot (or should that be cold?!) this Christmas! With over 200 delicious items in their Christmas range Iceland can provide everything from impressive centerpieces to show stopping deserts plus everything in between. I was wowed by Carrot Baubles, Macarons, Penguin Igloos, Lobster Thermidor, Mulled Wine Sausage Rolls, Chocolate Log Stacks and Luxury Whole Brined Turkeys. The tastiest trends of the year had all been incorporated to produce a fantastic range with an added touch of luxury at surprisingly affordable prices. 

Fast forward 6 months to now.  All the products are now available instore and Iceland asked me to come up with a recipe for an Unconventional Christmas Dinner. My first thought was Salmon as we usually opt for something fishy on Christmas Eve. I remember my Mum making a rather wonderful Salmon Coulibiac for a festive dinner party and somewhere in my mind I thought that it was a Russian Christmas speciality. A quick Google told me I was right on the Russian bit but must have made up the festive bit! Either way it's a fantastic showstopper of a pie for a pescetarian Christmas dinner. It's absolutely perfect for entertaining as it can all be assembled well in advance. Leave it in the fridge until needed, then pop it into the oven just before you dish up the first course. I served it alongside three fab Iceland festive sides; Grilled Sprout Mash, Red Cabbage & Apple and from the Luxury range Carrot Baubles with orange slices and herb butter. To wash it down with I picked up a bottle of their Charles Montaine Champagne for an amazing £11.99 and I couldn't resist the award winning Luxury Mince Pies. With a little help from the the #PowerOfFrozen, Iceland has Christmas this year all wrapped up! 

Salmon Coulibiac
Serves 6 

This showstopping fish pie makes a great main for Christmas Day as it can be assembled in advance. The unbaked Coulibiac can be kept in the fridge for up to a day.
Chill any leftovers and they will make a fantastic addition to a Boxing Day Buffet

2 x 425g packs of Puff Pastry
1 Sachet (200g) of Cooked White Rice
300g Spinach, well drained and chopped
2 tomatoes, finely diced
2 hard boiled Free Range Eggs, finely diced
1 Tsp Garlic
2 Tsp Parsley
Salt & Pepper
1/2 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 Egg beaten 

Defrost the salmon fillets, rice, puff pastry and spinach thoroughly in a refrigerator.
Roll out one pack of the puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 25cm x 30cm, this will be your base. 
Roll the second piece of pastry out to a rectangle slightly larger than the first, this will be the top of your Coulibiac.
Place the base pastry sheet on a good solid baking tray, you don't want it buckling in the oven.
In a bowl combine together the rice, chopped spinach, diced tomatoes, diced hard boiled eggs, garlic and parsley. Season the mixture well with the grated Nutmeg, Salt & Pepper.
Place half of the rice mixture in a rectangle on the pastry leaving a 3cm clear strip around the edge.
Remove the defrosted salmon from its packaging and pat dry with kitchen roll 
Lay out the salmon fillets in a row on top of the the rice.
Cover the salmon with the remaining rice mixture.
Brush any stray grains of rice off the border, then brush the border with beaten egg. 
Drape the top sheet of pastry over the coulibiac and gently press the edges to seal the 2 pastry sheets together.
Trim the edges to neaten and crimp all the way around with a fork to ensure a good seal. 
Use pastry trimmings to decorate your Coulibiac then brush the whole thing with beaten egg.
Refrigerate until needed.
To cook, preheat oven to 190c.
Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve the Coulibac cut in slices accompanied by melted butter mixed with an equal quantity of lemon juice. 

Can I make a confession? Before I started working with Iceland at the start of this year it was a store that I only really ever visited at Christmas to stock up on Party Food and the ubiquitous Prawn Ring! As I've found out more about the #PowerOf Frozen things have changed and I'm now a regular customer thanks to their tasty, high quality, innovative and convenient offerings. Perfect for festive meals but also supplying me with ingredients to cook up a storm the whole year round. Check out my previous posts in partnership with them to see what I mean and look out for further collaborations in 2017. 

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.

The Perfect Warninks Snowball

Friday, 9 December 2016
However you choose to pimp your Snowball it'll be the perfect addition to your festive countdown. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Advocaat. The classic Snowball has been reinvented with a twist to suit all tastebuds and truly get you into the spirit of Christmas. Which one will you choose?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Who am I kidding? I'm already in full blown festive frenzy. For once I'm actually ahead of the game with my Christmas Shopping (famous last words...) and have even wrapped it all! There are some special moments that Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without and for me festive tipples come pretty high up at the top of that list. Many of them only ever make it into my supermarket trolley in December. Yup Mulled Wine, Sherry and Advocaat I'm talking about you! As part of their #NowItsXmas campaign, Warninks, the UK’s number one Advocaat asked me to share some of my favourite moments in the run up to Christmas. Naturally mine are all food related!

I've blogged on a pretty much annual basis about the tradition of a Christmas Eve Gingerbread House built by Foodie Boy and Girl in conjunction with their Aunt. The designs have become increasingly complex over the years, starting out with a shop bought kit and progressing to making their own from scratch. I'm informed that this years plans are for a Gingerbread Barn and Silo. As always there will be a Brussel Sprout in the chimney. 

I've got a Christmas Tree in my kitchen and naturally all of the decorations on it are food related! Above is only a small selection and I'm always on the lookout for new additions. Even my christmas tree lights are cookie cutters. Naturally lots of them are gingerbread themed but I've also got sprouts, pigs in blankets, Tunnock's Teacakes, s'mores, coffee, utensils, fast food, biscuits, cupcakes, Christmas puddings, shellfish and beer! A couple of new additions shall be added from my travels this year to New York and Orlando. Expect a big apple and a gingerbread Minion. 

I absolutely adore cute and creative Christmas food. Back in 2013 I created an online advent calendar and shared a different idea each evening on my Facebook page. It's still one of my most popular ever posts with 24 fab festive foodie ideas. Many of them we make again and again and there will most definitely be a Sausage Wreath, Olive Santa Penguins and Candy Cane bark being made in the run up to the big Ho Ho Ho. 

Taking things back to festive tipples, which is of course what brought us here in the first place. Put simply, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Warninks. It's been made in Holland since 1616 and was one of the original producers of advocaat. Today it uses 16 free range egg yolks in each bottle. The drink is full bodied, sweet and creamy with delicious aromas of vanilla. Advocaat was originally made using avocados by sailors visiting the Caribbean. However, when they returned back to Europe, they discovered they could recreate their new favourite tipple using fresh egg yolks.

Warninks Advocaat really hit the big time in the seventies with the Snowball Cocktail (advocaat, fresh lime and lemonade). It can also be enjoyed neat over ice or in a Fluffy Duck. The classic Snowball has been reinvented with a twist to suit all tastebuds and truly get you into the spirit of Christmas. Which one will you choose? 

The Snowball... to get into the Christmas Spirit (Cinnamon) 
The Snowball... for Party Lovers (Chocolate Powder & Shavings) 
The Snowball... for Winter Nights In (Cinnamon Bark & Star Anise) 
The Snowball... for those with a Sweet Tooth (Gingersnap & Marshmallows) 

Despite not having a particularly sweet tooth I'm completely smitten by the Gingersnap and Marshmallow combination. I can also highly recommend a slug of Warnicks to perk up your coffee or hot chocolate or liberally drizzled over ice cream, waffles or pancakes. However you choose to pimp your Snowball it'll be the perfect addition to your Christmas countdown. 

The Snowball for those with a Sweet Tooth 
Enjoy with a slice of Christmas cake 

50ml Warninks Advocaat 
25ml Lime Juice 
Lemonade or Soda 
Cubed Ice 
Gingersnap Biscuit 
Mini Marshmallows 

Shake 50ml Advocaat and 25ml freshly squeezed lime juice or cordial together, strain into a glass mug and top up with lemonade or soda and some cubed ice. 
Garnish with a gingersnap and lightly toasted mini marshmallows. 

♥ Pin me for later...

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Warnicks. As always, all views expressed are my own. Cocktail images courtesy of Warnicks.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you.

Brandy Snaps Baskets with Mulled Fruit Compote

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Someone really needs to develop scratch and sniff on the internet. Smells are so evocative, particularly in relation to food. The aroma of a dish gets to you even before the taste. At Christmas, the spicy scent that for me conjures up the season is undoubtedly Cinnamon. It is present in so many of our sweet Christmas favourites. Mince Pies, Eggnog, Cookies, Mulled Wine and Figgy Pudding. Schwartz one of the world’s largest producers of dried herbs, spices and seasonings, have launched a 'Christmas Is Cinnamon' campaign for the festive season. Because they know that this particular spice evokes lots of lovely memories of Christmases past, they asked me to create and share a sweet, festive recipe that has significance to me. The one that immediately came to mind was Brandy Snaps, from my Mum's Cordon Bleu Cookery Course.

I vividly recall helping my Mum to make Brandy Snaps at Christmas time. The recipe she used was from the Cordon Bleu Cookery Course. This was a 72 part cookery magazine from the 1970's. The Brandy Snaps take pride of place on the cover of the first issue of the magazine (priced at a hefty 75p). They are the suggested desert for your very first Cordon Bleu Dinner Party Menu which comprised of: Potage Madrilene to start, followed by Chicken Veronique with Julienne Potato Cake and rounding off with Oranges in Caramel and the ubiquitous Brandy Snaps. To enable you to 'make the meal a success without wasting a single precious second in the kitchen' a detailed timetable was provided to make it possible for even 'a beginner cook to produce a Cordon Bleu meal'.

When it came to Brandy Snap making at Christmas it was always for a large gathering of friends on Christmas Eve. We used to unearth all the wooden spoons and spurtles in the house to shape them around. Asbestos fingers were definitely required as there is a very fine line between the brandy snaps being too hot to handle and having cooled so much that they break when you try to roll them.

My Brandy Snap Baskets are definitely an evolution of a later decade and are much less fiddly to make. The combination of Ginger and Cinnamon is always a winning one, although I was somewhat surprised to discover that most Brandy Snaps don't actually include any Brandy in the recipe! A wee bit of Googling led me to discover a few possibilities for the name. One being that the cream they are filled with should be flavoured with brandy another that brand-schnap came from them being burnt gingerbread and a third that uneducated palates made the use of brandy redundant thus manufacturing the biscuits without brandy was cheaper! Whatever the true origin of the name, Brandy Snaps most definitely encompass the sentiment of 'Christmas is Cinnamon' for me.

Brandy Snaps Baskets
Makes 8

60g Butter
60g Demerara Sugar
60g Golden Syrup
60g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 180c
Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. This will take about 15 minutes over a low heat. Don’t let the mixture boil as it may crystallise. 
Leave the melted ingredients to cool slightly then sieve in the flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
Pour in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and stir well to combine. 
Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner. 
Spoon the mixture into 4 'blobs' on each sheet.
Space them well apart as they will spread. Cook for 8 – 10 mins until set, golden brown and lacy in appearance. It's best to do this in two batches.
Leave for a minute before shaping. The biscuits should still be pliable but set enough not to tear. If they start to cool too much and become brittle, return to the oven for 30 seconds
To make baskets, oil the base of small ramekins or dariole moulds and drape the biscuits over them.
Once set, transfer to a cooling rack.
If not using straightway, store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Serve the Brandy Snaps Baskets filled with whipped cream (with or without Brandy) or ice cream. Top with your choice of fresh fruit, berries, fruit, toffee or chocolate sauce or try my seasonal Mulled Fruit Compote.

Mulled Fruit Compote
500g Mixed Frozen Summer Fruits
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
50ml Port
1 Tbsp Cornflour

Gently heat the frozen summer fruits in a saucepan until they are fully defrosted and there's plenty of juice.

Add the Cinnamon, Ginger and Port and stir through 

Slake the cornflour with a splash of water and add it to the pan, mixing well to combine.

Turn up the heat and allow the sauce to thicken.
Serve in the Brandy Snap Baskets along with cream or ice cream and finish with a sprinkling of Cinnamon.

Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Schwartz. 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


Review and Giveaway Üutensil Stirr, Super Smash and Spudnik

I've got some funky kitchen gadgets to share with you today. Futuristic and space-age were the words that first came to mind when I saw them! Strangely given that we are now in December it was six months ago at a Christmas in July press show that I first came across the Üutensil brand. They are a British design company that create exciting, innovative and award winning kitchen products. They really do stand out in your kitchen and have been exhibited in the Design Museum. Pretty much any of their products would make the perfect stocking filler for the foodie that has everything! I've been trying out three of them - stirr, super smash and spudnik. Even the names are cool. In addition to being super stylish I would imagine that all the items I tried would be really useful for those who have reduced use of mobility or power in their hands for whatever reason. 

Porridge, Juniper Berries, Tatties & Neep!

First up is the spudnik (rrp £7.99) If you hadn't worked it out already it is in fact a potato masher. Goodness knows what the Smash aliens would make of it! Rather than pound your potatoes the flower design of the spudnik is rotated and rolled around in the pan. It makes a mundane task rather therapeutic. Definitely much easier to clean and none of the clogging of a traditional masher. It did take me a wee while to master the required technique and produce a perfect mash, old habits clearly die hard. Available in Olive and Magenta.

Super Smash (rrp £27.99) does exactly what it says on the tin and and reinvents the Mortar & Pestle. A larger pestle with a bigger surface area fits exactly into the curves of the mortar. Much like the Spudnik, rather than pounding you use your palm to rotate the pestle. This make the whole process of grinding spices much more efficient in terms of both time and effort. Some clever grooves have been added to the base of the pestle which help keep whole spices in place at the beginning of the grinding process. A big thumbs up to no longer having to chase stray peppercorns around the kitchen! Super Smash is a generous 12cm across but for smaller jobs has a little brother Smash (rrp £19.99) I can't wait to see how Super Smash handles making Wild Garlic Pesto in the spring on a Bear Hunt

Last up is Stirr (rrp £16.99) This is an automatic pan stirrer. No more slaving over a hot stove! At the push of a button it rotates and travels around your pan leaving you free to put your feet up get on with doing something else. It runs on 4 x AA batteries and the plastic stirring legs are removable and dishwasher safe. There are three speed settings which are operated via an easy one handed push button on the top. Ideal for soups, sauces, gravy, porridge, custard and more. Basically anything that requires constant stirring. I was really excited about this one, as was Foodie Boy who had already spotted it being reviewed on You Tube by some of his favourite vloggers. It does what it's been designed for but for me there were a couple of downsides as it is rather noisy, especially when at full speed and stops rotating when the foodstuffs get too thick. A wee bit of a novelty item so I won't be throwing away my porridge spurtle quite yet!

Üutensil have provided a stirr, super smash and spudnik RRP £52.97 as a giveaway for readers of Foodie Quine. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, let me know in a comment

"What kitchen utensil couldn't you live without?"

For additional bonus entries you can follow me on Twitter, Tweet about the Giveaway, follow me on Instagram or like me on Facebook.
Giveaway ends 21st December 2016 11.59pm Good Luck!

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