Tuesday, 27 November 2012

5 Questions - Creeside Charcuterie



Creeside Charcuterie
For years, I couldn't even pronounce the word 'charcuterie', let alone understand what it meant! However now that I have aged in years, I now know that 'charcuterie' is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products , such as bacon, ham, sausages, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit. Charcuterie, which translates from the French language as 'cooked flesh', was originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, although nowadays they are prepared for the flavours that come from the preservation process.
A couple of months ago, my local farmers market announced that there was a new exhibitor heading our way. Our market already had a great range of local producers offering fresh fruit and veg, fish and shellfish, chicken, pork, beef, lamb, venison (which some folk think is dear, but I think reasonably priced), plus a wide range of speciality breads, home baking and fudge. After a little thought, it made perfect sense that the new kid on the block was Creeside Charcuterie, owned by Sarah Redman. The missing link?
I was excited to meet with Sarah when the market came to town mainly because it fell on the same weekend that I was hosting my famous tapas night, and hope that Creeside could supply me with some cured meats. The current range of products available include various pâtés and terrines, plus an incredibly more-ish hummus. Unfortunately for me, the range doesn't include Serrano style ham or chorizo sausage (yet), so I had to make do with the delicious Shepherds Pâté which fitted in very well with my cheese and meat selection.

Here's Sarah's story;
How did you get started?

In April 2012, having sold our large commercial dairy farm and ice-cream business in Cornwall, we opted for an easier life! We bought Creeside Farm, a 200 acre farm on the banks of the River Cree in the far corner of South Ayrshire. With my background in food (former chef and ice-cream maker) and hubby busy farming Black & Belted Galloway cows & sheep, I wanted to use local produce (and eventually our own home produced meat) to create an artisan product – Creeside Charcuterie was born.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

You need to enjoy what you are doing, believe in your product, be resilient and prepared for lots of hard work.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

Instead of cooking in my own kitchen I would like to convert one of our farm buildings (don't tell hubby!) and be able to produce terrines, parfait and pate for the wholesale market and sell direct to farm shops, deli's and small independent shops. I would also like to have an online shop and be able to provide a postal service too.

If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?

My Chicken & Pistachio Terrine – it's something a bit different, looks amazing and tastes fab. I'd serve it with some local salad leaves, homemade bread and some of our own Red Onion Marmalade.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

I would invite my husband. We both run busy businesses and have a young family so find that getting quality time alone together is very rare! I really don't mind what we have to eat as long as somebody else is doing the cooking and washing up! No matter what is on the menu, we must have plenty of champagne to accompany the meal.

I've now met Sarah a few times at the market and been able to sample most of the products available. Everything that I've tasted has been full of flavour, so with myself responsible for preparing Christmas dinner this year, I think that I may have to take the easy route and order a couple of tubs of the homemade chicken liver pâté for our starter. I'm sure that my guests won't mind if I take a little shortcut when they sit down to their Christmas lunch and get a taste themselves.
Keep up to date with Creeside Charcuterie on Twitter and Facebook.





Sunday, 25 November 2012

Review - Tron Bar & Kitchen, Glasgow

The Tron has been a familiar landmark in Glasgow's Merchant City, easily recognised by the 16th century church steeple. In fact, the home of The Tron Theatre has always played an important part in the rich history of the old industrial city. The building started life as St Mary's Church in 1637 before being almost completely destroyed by a fire which was started by a couple of drunken members of the notorious Hell Fire Club in 1793. The only part of the building to survive was the now famous steeple which was incorporated into reconstruction work by the architects, James & Robert Adam. Over the years the building has been place of execution, a meeting hall, a market and a store house, a police station and a theatre.
Whilst long respected for its theatrical offerings, The Tron Bar & Kitchen is gaining a reputation for offering good food. In addition to traditional pre-theatre meals or after show drinks, the kitchen serves up light lunches, snacks and wide range of homemade meals.
As LittleGems Jewellery was exhibiting at a craft fair that was being held within the Tron last weekend ,( and I was helping), we were able to try try out their excellent value lunchtime menu.
Goats cheese & red onion marmalade sandwich
The menu boasted a wide selection of light snacks and sandwiches as well as hearty burgers and baked potatoes. The range of fillings for the sandwiches was huge, and after changing her mind a few times, Nicola decided to get the goats cheese and red onion marmalade sandwich. What she received was two massive doorstops of fresh bloomer bread, filled to the gunnels with creamy, slightly salty goats cheese and a tart marmalade of red onion which gave the perfect balance to the distinctive flavours of the cheese. The sandwich was served alongside a garden of mixed salad leaves dressed in a light mustard dressing.
Brocolli & Stilton soup with Coronation chicken sandwich
Although I was tempted by the sound of their homemade burger, I decided to order the 'soup and sandwich'. I don't know why but I had been expecting a creamier soup, however the chef had kept the soup very simple using just stock, broccoli and a little Stilton. The soup was deliciously flavoured and well seasoned. To accompany my soup I had opted for the Coronation chicken sandwich. Like Nicola's sandwich, mine was packed with tons of filling and loads of flavour. The Coronation chicken was a fanatic blend of diced chicken breast, mayonnaise, and curry powder, served with dressed salad on two huge chunks of wholegrain bread.

Pint of West Brewery Lager
The bar serves up a wide range of bottled and draught beers and lagers including locally produced St Mungo which is brewed less than a mile from the Tron at West Brewery on Glasgow Green. The award winning German style lager was a perfect way to round off my lunch.

Lunch for two including a pint of lager, a diet Coke, and a packet of crisps came to just over £13. With excellent portion sizes packed with flavour, we would definitely return in the future.

If you're ever near Trongate and in need of some sustenance then make sure that Tron Bar & Kitchen is somewhere in your thought. Keep up to date with Tron Theatre on Facebook & Twitter.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Recipe - Cottage Pie

Homemade cottage pie
After a fairly disappointing summer and a very short autumn, winter has arrived and looks set to be a cold one again. I generally don't mind the cold winter months as it means that I can start cooking traditional one pot dishes that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a little warmth in the tummy.
With one of these dishes in mind, on Monday evening I prepared my own twist on the classic Cottage Pie. The term 'cottage pie' has been around since the late 18th century when the potato was introduced as an edible crop for the poor, with cottage meaning the modest dwelling of a rural worker. The dish was prepared by lining a pie dish with mashed potato, a filling of leftover roast meat was added before being topped with more mashed potato and then baked. This is of course not to be confused with shepherds pie which is made using mutton or lambs mince.
Not much has changes over the years, cottage pie is still as popular now as it was then. My own recipe has a little twist that I think works very well.

Ingredients (serves 2/3)


  • 250g lean steak mince
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 oxo cube
  • 150g cauliflower ,cut into small florets
  • 100ml soured cream
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 40g strong cheddar, grated
  • 250g potato, floury potatoes work better for mashing
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Dash balsamic vinegar
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
Method
  1. Cut the potatoes into small chunks and boil in pan of salted water. When the potato is cooked through, drain before putting back in the pan with a little milk and a couple of knobs of butter, then carefully mash until you have a smooth consistency. Remove from the heat and stir the egg yolk through the potato. Set aside whilst you prepare the rest of the pie.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened. Add the mince to the vegetables and keep stirring. Once the mince has browned all over, add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Keep stirring, making sure that the liquid has fully evaporated. Crumble the oxo cube into the mince and stir through. You may want to add a little splash of water to the pan but be careful not to add too much. The mixture should be glossy but not saturated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Add the cauliflower to salted boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes. The florets should be al dente. Drain the water from the pan before stirring the soured cream, mustard and grated cheese through the cauliflower.
  4. To assemble, layer the mince into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Top with the cauliflower mixture before spreading the mashed potatoes over the top.
  5. If you are planning on serving when you make it, place under a hot grill for 5-10 minutes until the potato is golden and crispy. I made mine the night before I was planning on serving it so needed a longer cooking time. If you are doing the same, cover the dish with tinfoil and place into a preheated oven 170C. Cook for 25 minutes then remove the foil, cook for a further 20 minutes until the top is crispy and the pie cooked through.

Cottage pie with tenderstem brocolli














To serve, spoon a generous amount of the piping hot cottage pie onto a plate alongside your favourite veg, with a little gravy on the side. The secret layer of cauliflower cheese work well with the creamy mash, adding another texture dimension to this classic and comforting dish.





Saturday, 17 November 2012

Review - Livorno Fish & Chips, Clarkston, Glasgow

Earlier this year there was much excitement in Clarkston as word spread of a new Italian fish and chip shop that was soon to open. Work on 'Livorno' started back in April or May, with rumours spreading that they were ready to open towards the end of June. After months of anticipation, Livorno eventually opened a couple of weeks ago with little fanfare.

As I was helping LittleGems Jewellery with a craft event last night, I had little time to prepare dinner so it made perfect sense that we try the new 'chippy', eager to see if it was worth the wait.


Livorno Fish & Chips, Clarkston
As part of an opening offer all suppers are priced at £2.99 for a limited period. Normally when we get dinner from the chippy, we usually get a fish supper and a single black pudding to share between us, but last night I took advantage of their opening offer and bought two suppers.

When I opened the box containing the fish supper I was surprised to see only one fish! These days, it is normal to have two battered fish in a supper, (which is why we share ours). I have a big issue with the 'Two Fish System'! The world bangs on about overfishing and using sustainable fish, yet the fish and chip shop industry serve two fish as a standard occurrence. Why? Maybe someone in the industry can answer that one for me?

Anyway, last nights fish was huge! A giant piece of delicious flaky haddock, in a light and crisp batter, that ran the length of the box, served on a bed of very nice, fluffy chips.


Fish supper
After being surprised by the sight of just one fish, I was surprised a second time when I opened the other box to see two black puddings! Had I stepped into some weird 'chippy' parallel universe?


Black pudding supper
We both love black pudding, the spicier the better, so you can imagine the excitement of having two! Unfortunately, the excitement didn't last. The black pudding was dry and mealy with virtually no actual flavour, which was a huge pity as it was served within the same brilliant crisp batter as the fish.

Despite the disappointment with the black pudding, overall we were impressed with Livorno, and would happily recommend giving them a try the next time you have a hankering for Scotland's other national food. The portion sizes were great, especially with the offer price. I don't know what the real prices will be, but based on the size of the portion I still expect it to offer great value.



Thursday, 15 November 2012

5 Questions - Yumm! Bakery

Yumm Bakery

The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. In previous centuries, before muffin tins were widely available, the cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds and took their name from the cups they were baked in. This is the use of the name that has remained, and the name of "cupcake" is now given to any small cake that is about the size of a teacup. The name "fairy cake" is a fanciful description of its size, which would be appropriate for a party of diminutive fairies to share. While English fairy cakes vary in size more than American cupcakes, they are traditionally smaller and are rarely topped with elaborate icing.

No matter where you live, I'm sure that there are plenty of highly skilled cake makers producing a huge range of imaginatively flavoured, beautifully decorated works of art.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Pamela, Creative Director of Yumm! Bakery, a cupcake company based in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Yumm! Bakery believe that every day is a day that should be celebrated with cupcakes. Here's Pamela's story;

How did you get started?
Whenever I went over to my in-laws house, my mother-in-law (who sadly passed in 2011) always had home baked treats and goodies...she inspired me in my late 20s to take up baking with a passion. It became a running joke amongst my friends and family that I would never turn up without some baked treats for them to test and tell me what they thought. Yumm! Bakery grew slowly as a pipe dream over many years of people telling me I should sell my cupcakes. That eventually grew into something more during a long exciting talk with my husband on a Sunday, and by Monday morning Yumm! was born.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Do you research - find out who your competition is, what their pricing is, who they target and how you can make yourself a little different. I think this is such an important step that a lot of people over look. You have to know your competition.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

I would like to be a cupcake brand in Glasgow - a company that sits along side some of the well known Glasgow Cupcake Companies that people know. And maybe a shop!

If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?

This is so difficult because everything I bake I love, that's why I make them. I have recently started selling CakePops which I am a little in love with because they taste amazing. But for me I think its got to be my Caramelised Banana Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting it tastes so moreish...YUMM!

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Originally I had a whole answer about Robert Pattinson because I think he is gorgeous, but when I read back my answers I realized that it wouldn't be R-Patz and I couldn't pick just one person. I would have to have the people I love most - my family both those with me and those who have passed. I know this is cheating but I figure its my last meal I can be a little difficult & demanding.

To eat? It would have to be cupcakes of course!

Delicious cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago when I was helping LittleGems Jewellery at a craft event, Pamela and Yumm! Bakery were set up on the stall next to us. With a massive collection of cupcakes and cake pops on offer, it wasn't easy to pick one to take home, so I picked two instead!

The cupcakes above were both fantastic. The cake with the star on top was salted caramel with a home made cinnamon shortbread star and the other is a maple choc chip, which was my favourite. Yumm! can deliver fresh baked cupcakes to your home or workplace across Glasgow & Lanarkshire. Check out the website for more details or keep up to date on Facebook or Twitter.






Monday, 5 November 2012

Review - Torres Tapas Restaurant, Glasgow

Torres Tapas Restaurant & Wine Bar, Glasgow
This weekend I have been busy helping LittleGems Jewellery with some of the many Christmas craft events that she will be attending over the coming seven weeks. After a long day at an event at Cottiers Theatre organised by the Glasgow Crafters Co-operative in Glasgow's West End, we made our way into the city centre to make use of a voucher that had been given to Nicola for her birthday a few weeks ago.

As many of you may already know, Nicola and me both love tapas. We have eaten at Torres once before and were very surprised at the authenticity and quality of the tapas that they served up, so were both looking forward to returning tonight.

Torres have been offering various deals through Groupon and other deal websites, tonight our voucher was good for any six tapas dishes to share plus a dessert each. The menu has a wide range of traditional Spanish tapa and paella, as well as some Mexican influenced dishes. After ordering the house sangria, which was prepared to order, we picked Croquettas de Pollo, Patatas Bravas, Ensalada de Queso de Cabra, Pinchitos de Pollo y Gambas, Chorizo y Butifarra Negro, and Gambas Pil Pil.

Patatas Bravas, Butifarra & Chorizo, Croquettas de Pollo
Gambas PilPil, Pintxos de Pollo
As we waited for our food to be prepared, we began to wind down with our sangria, a great blend of red wine, lemonade and plenty of chopped apple, lime & lemon. It didn't take long before our tapas began making their way to the table. The patatas bravas were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and covered in a rich smoky tomato sauce. The salad was good mix of dressed leaves and red onion with plenty of creamy cubes of goats cheese. The chicken croquettes were ok. Crispy with a good chicken flavour but maybe lacking a touch of seasoning, although not a patch on my own croquettes de pollo. The Gambas Pil Pil were great, four huge prawns cooked perfectly having been marinated in a blend of chilli, lime and garlic. Nicola's favourite dish was the pinchitos de pollo y gambas. This was cubes of chicken and prawns marinated in a salt, pepper, lemon juice and mustard before being skewered and cooked on the grill. My own favourite was the superb combo of chorizo y butifarra, thinly sliced smoky chorizo served with a deliciously spicy black pudding.
Crema Catalan, Baked New York cheesecake
With six emply plates sitting in front of us, we were full..... well almost full. After a quick look at the dessert menu Nicola ordered the New York Baked Cheesecake, whilst I opted for the traditional Crema Catalana. Both of the desserts were very nice, the cheesecake was light and creamy with just a slight wobble. The Crema Catalana was one of the better versions that I've tasted outside of Spain, a delicious creamy, eggy custard set under a crisp burnt sugar top.
Each of the dishes that we ordered were packed with flavour, however the portion sizes were not huge. As we were using a discount voucher I'm not sure if the portions sizes are any different than if we were eating off of the à la carte but as most of the tapas dishes are priced individually between £2.50 - £4.00, I would be a little disappointed at paying full price for the small dishes served tonight.
I would happily recommend the food at Torres but make sure to look online to see if you can find a deal. The food at Torres is authentic and tasty, coupled with the value offered through the Groupon or 5pm.co.uk vouchers, you'll be hard pushed to find better value for money tapas in Glasgow.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Recipe - Linguine with Meatballs, Garlic & Spinach

Linguine with meatballs & spinach
At a recent farmers market I had purchased a pack of ginger & spring onion meatballs from Lochbyre Rare Breed Meats. My plan was to serve the meatballs with pasta although I wasn't sure whether to serve with a cream or tomato based sauce. In the end, I decided that a tomato based sauce would be too overpowering for the delicate flavours in the pork meatballs.
Ingredients Serves 2
  • 150g dried linguine (you can use whatever shape pasta you prefer)
  • 250g meatballs
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 4tbsp soured cream
  • 2tbsp soft cheese
  • 50g spinach leaves
Method


  1. Heat a little oil in a pan, brown the meatballs before removing and placing in an ovenproof dish. Put the meatballs in a preheated oven 180C for fifteen minutes.
  2. Heat a little more oil in the pan and add the garlic, ginger & spring onion. Fry for a few minutes before adding the soured cream and soft cheese. Stir the contents of the pan together, you can add a little milk to loosen the mixture.
  3. Cook the pasta and drain, retaining a little of the cooking liquor in the saucepan. Pour the creamy sauce over the pasta, stir in the spinach leaves and meatballs. The heat from the pasta will help the spinach wilt and cook through.
To serve, divide the creamy past between two bowls before covering with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish took just twenty minutes to prepare, give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Meatballs with linguine