A Bunny Birthday Cake For Littlest Squirrel’s 2nd Birthday

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Littlest Squirrel turned two almost a month ago now, so I thought it was time to publish a birthday cake post…

I had been planing her birthday cake since the New Year, and knew straight away it would have to be a bunny cake as her favourite toy is a little cuddly bunny that she cannot be without! As usual my cake inspiration came from Pinterest with this sweet little bunny cake…

The little bunny was super easy to make with some modelling paste, and I decided to introduce a little more colour with green fondant icing and some coloured flowers and little butterflies.

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We had a lovely little celebration in our home with some of our neighbours, and I loved to watch Littlest Squirrel’s face light up when the cake was presented and everyone sang Happy Birthday.

Indian Tapas Meets Craft Beer At Crossing The Rubicon, Glasgow

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Crossing The Rubicon opened on Glasgow’s Great Western Road at the end of 2016, and in my mind is the most exciting addition to the West End’s dining scene in some time. It is from the same family as Drygate Brewing Co, so if you love craft beer and exciting beers from around the world this place is definitely worth a visit.
As for the food they specialise in curries, serving small plates, and they have a really impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from.

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a bloggers evening at Crossing The Rubicon where we were treated to a fabulous showcase of some of the restaurant’s popular dishes… #bloggingtherubicon

I left this event with the biggest of smiles on my face following a feast of beautiful, delicious, fresh, and flavour-packed dishes. I thought I would share with you here some of my favourite dishes from the evening…

To begin, we munched and crunched through some poppadoms and pickles. There was a delicious little pickle of shredded apple with chilli and lime that was bursting with contrasting flavours and textures, and was the perfect accompaniment to the poppadoms.

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Poppadoms & Pickles

Next up we had a selection of vegetarian pakora and some black pudding and crispy chicken pakora. The crispy chicken pakora was the star of this show – delicious velvety chicken encased in a crispy coating of batter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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Black Pudding Pakora & Crispy Chicken Pakora

We were then served some hot buttered chapati with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Chana Chat was a beautiful cold salad of chickpeas with lemon and herbs, bursting with fresh and zingy flavours.

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Hot Buttered Chapati & Chana Chat

The Dhal Makani was a rich and buttery lentil dish which was warm and comforting, like a hug in a bowl (am currently Googling Dhal Makani recipes for tonight’s dinner alongside writing this post!). I neglected to get a good photo of this dish, so just get down there and order yourself a pot!

I really loved the Crispy Tofu Mutter. The light crispy tofu was perfectly complimented by a deep, rich, pea and cumin curry.

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Crispy Tofu Mutter

This Roast Carrot and Sweet Potato Korma was perhaps my favourite dish of the night! Rich, sweet and creamy – what’s not to love?! But really… korma has the potential to be sickly sweet, yet this dish is executed perfectly and was a firm favourite amongst my fellow food-loving bloggers!

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Roast Carrot & Sweet Potato Korma

From the meat dishes on the menu we tried the Tandoori Butter Chicken and a Venison Madras. The Tandoori Butter Chicken was perfection… the tomato and butter masala was full of flavour, rich and buttery, and most definitely worth a return visit.

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Tandoori Butter Chicken

Just when we though we couldn’t fit any more food in to our very well looked after tummies, a Vegan Chocolate Pot arrived at the table. As I plunged my spoon in to this little pot of chocolate I thought this is going to be too dense, too rich, too much… oh how I was wrong! Yes, it was dense in texture, however it melted on the tongue with heavenly bursts of orange and subtle little explosions of chilli. This was the perfect ending to a night full of flavour-packed dishes.

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Vegan Chocolate Pot

I thoroughly enjoyed this huge selection of dishes we were lucky enough to try, and I have already picked out some dishes from the menu that I will be returning to try, such as the Ox Cheek Bhuna and the Lamb Achari Saag. I should also mention how impressed I was with the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu. This is the perfect spot to take your vegetarian and vegan friends to.

I really hope that you pay Crossing The Rubicon a visit if you are local to Glasgow. The food was packed full of flavour, the staff were lovely, and the beer selection was huge!

Huge Thanks to Crossing The Rubicon for inviting us along to try your dishes. You’re a lovely, talented bunch, and I wish you all the success! See you soon…

 

Celebrate Burns Night With The Calvin Haggis Burger At Byron Burgers

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Byron is getting into the spirit of Burn’s Night in true Byron style – with a delicious burger special, available exclusively across all Scottish Byron restaurants from Monday January 23 to Sunday January 29 2017.
The Calvin Haggis features a 6oz hamburger patty, haggis, bacon and onion relish, a classic tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and blanched white onions, all finished off with a dollop of Byron sauce and sandwiched between a soft glazed bun.

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The Calvin Haggis Burger – wow!!!!!

Last weekend I was invited along to Glasgow Byron, on West George Street, to sample the mighty Calvin Haggis burger…

This is definitely not a burger for the faint of heart (or for those with small appetites)!
I was a little concerned that the haggis may be a little overpowering, however it works really well alongside all the other components of this amazing burger. The contrast of the crispy bacon against the soft egg and smooth haggis, meaty beef patty, and soft tattie scone make this a really exciting combination of flavours and textures.

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Hungry Squirrel enjoying the Calvin Haggis Burger

I am a little sad that this burger is only available for one week, and am hoping that it will prove popular and maybe, just maybe, they might keep it as a permanent fixture in the Scottish branches of Byron?

If the Calvin Haggis doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other tasty dishes to choose from at Byron, and a great selection of sides and starters to tantalise your taste buds. We were very spoiled during our visit to Byron, and alongside the Calvin Haggis burger we feasted on nachos, the Cluckosaurus Rex burger (fried chicken breast, streaky bacon, onion ring, cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce, and mayonnaise), bacon cheese fries, courgette fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayonnaise, and coleslaw. Phew!

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Top left – nachos
Top right – Cluckosaurus Rex
Bottom left – courgette fries, bacon cheese fries, blue cheese dip, chipotle mayo
Bottom right – coleslaw

Of all the sides we ordered I most enjoyed the coleslaw. It was crunchy and light, and really fresh, and the perfect accompaniment for the meaty burgers.

The star of the show without doubt was the Calvin Haggis burger. Huge Congrats to Hayley of Glasgow Byron for coming up with this innovative burger  – a perfect burger to celebrate Scotland and Burns Night.

If you fancy wrapping your jaws around this Braveheart of burgers then make sure to pay a visit to your nearest Scottish branch (Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen) of Byron this week (January 23 – January 29).

Roast Tomato Soup

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After a recent trip to see my Dad in N Ireland, I came back to Scotland laden with produce from my Dad’s garden, including an array of Dad’s own jams and marmalades, cucumbers, green peppers, and some plump, and beautifully red tomatoes from his greenhouse. I knew I wanted to make a tomato soup with the tomatoes. There is something so comforting about a bowl of tomato soup, especially at this time of year – it really is like a hug in a bowl!

I have tried a couple of recipes for tomato soup over the years, but have not really found a winner, until now…

I came across a recipe by Rachel Allen in her book Home Cooking. I love how simple this recipe is. The oven does all the work for you, roasting off all the dry ingredients before adding in some stock and blending. Roasting the vegetables brings out the most beautiful rich and sweet flavours from the tomatoes, onions and garlic, and fills your kitchen with a heavenly aroma. I have adapted the recipe a little to my own liking. I hope you like it as much as I do…

NB – this recipe works best when your tomatoes are very ripe. 

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml vegetable stock
Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a large tray with some olive oil to prevent the vegetables sticking to the tray.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes, then halve them, and place in the baking tray with the sliced onions, garlic cloves, and thyme leaves.
NB – the best way to skin the tomatoes is to make a small nick on the base of each tomato using a sharp knife, and place in a large bowl. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for 1 minute, or until you see the skin starting to peel away from the flesh, then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Once cool enough to handle the skin should just slip away from the flesh.
Sprinkle over the sugar, and then drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil.
Place the tray in your preheated oven for 30 mins, until the vegetables are softened.
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Decant the contents of the baking tray in to a liquidiser, including any juices from the pan. Add in the stock, blend until smooth, and pour in to a large saucepan.
Enjoy!
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Foodies Festival Christmas 2016 At Edinburgh EICC – Ticket Giveaway

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Foodies Festival Christmas launches at EICC Edinburgh on the 25th, 26th and 27th of November, and promises to get you ready for the culinary Christmas season!

The Chefs Theatre has a fantastic line-up of chefs sharing their tips for a tasty Christmas, including MasterChef 2016 Winner Jane Devonshire, Jamie Scott of The Newport, Scott Davies of The Three Chimneys, Mark Greenaway of Restaurant Mark Greenaway, and Gillian, Nichola, & Linsey of Three Sisters Bake to name but a few!

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Top – Jamie Scott of The Newport
Bottom – Gillian & Nichola of Three Sisters Bake

There will also be a Cake & Bake Theatre, a Drinks Theatre, an Artisan Christmas Market and an Elves Cookery School to keep the younger visitors entertained. My favourite part of the Foodies Festival when I visited last year was the great selection of Street Food Stalls… can’t wait to see what’s on offer this year!

If you fancy visiting Christmas Foodies Festival tickets are on sale now at foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111.
All children aged 12 and under go free when accompanied by an adult.

I have 5 pairs of day tickets to give away to my lovely readers. To be in with a chance of winning click on this link to submit your details and enter the competition.

Terms & Conditions

  • This competition will run until 12.00am on November 13 2016
  • The winners will need to respond within 48 hours of being contacted; failure to do this may result in another winner being selected.
  • This giveaway is open to UK entries only. 
  • Entrants must be age 18 or over.
  • The prize is offered and provided by the Foodies Festival. The prize is one of five pairs of adult day tickets to the Edinburgh Foodies Festival Christmas on the 25, 26, or 27th of November 2016.

Feast Of Fife – The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company

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Day two of our Feast Of Fife Adventure started with a trip to Falside Farm. Situated just 8 miles from St Andrews, and 4 miles from Anstruther, Falside Farm is home to the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company – Fife’s only unpasteurised cheese makers. The land here has been farmed by the Stewart family since the 1930s. In 2008 Jane & Robert Stewart began cheese production, with their original Anster cheese. Since then they have opened up a coffee shop and have expanded their range of cheese, and are winning awards for their beautifully crafted traditional cheeses.

Stepping out of the minibus I was struck by the stunning views… fields of lusciously green grass rolling down to the Firth of Forth, and of course the beautiful Friesian Holstein Cows that produce the milk that makes St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese.

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We were all seated in the Coffee Shop and were welcomed by the very lovely and charismatic Jane Stewart.
Jane spoke to us about how their cheese business began in 2008 when milk prices were low. Jane & Robert recognised a gap in the market, in that no one else in Fife was making cheese. Jane spent some time in Wales with a traditional cheese maker who was retiring, learning her craft, and was then able to buy the equipment she would need to start cheese production. This wonderful video from Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy in Settle shows how the cheese is made, and illustrates perfectly Jane’s enthusiasm and passion for what she does!

 

Jane explained that at St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company they are about making the best top quality cheese that people want to buy. They have five varieties that they have mastered. We were served a cheeseboard allowing us to sample the wonderful cheeses that Jane & her team produce, alongside some beautiful cheese scones, cheese biscuits, and oatcakes and chutney.

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Left – a beautiful board of the five cheeses produced by St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company
Right – homemade cheesy biscuits and cheese scones

The original Anster is a Cheshire-style cheese, matured for 2-4 months, with a crumbly texture and a tangy taste. The Mature Anster is matured for 7-9 months and as a result has a more pungent flavour and a flaky texture. Red Anster is the sister cheese to Anster, made using the same recipe but with the addition of a natural red colouring and garlic and chives. Smoked Anster is smoked in nearby St Monans, using traditional methods with real oak and beech chips. Finally St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar is aged for 9-12 months, resulting in a bold creamy cheddar.

I am fond of my cheese, so it was a real treat to sample the beautiful cheeses that Jane and her team produce. I particularly loved the original Anster and the Farmhouse Cheddar. If you are visiting Fife, St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company is well worth a visit. The coffee shop is set in a beautiful location, and offers a lovely menu of freshly cooked food and home-baking using locally sourced ingredients. There is also a great deli section where you can buy some of the UK’s best farmhouse cheeses.

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Glasgow-based cheese lovers can pick up some Anster cheese from Iain Mellis on Great Western Road or from George Mewes on Byres Road.

Feast Of Fife – The Newport Restaurant by Jamie Scott

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After a fabulous first day for the Feast Of Fife Bloggers Event at Eden Mansion, there was just enough time to check in to our accommodation for the night, and get ready for an evening at The Newport Restaurant in beautiful Newport-On-Tay.

Jamie Scott, Masterchef: The Professionals Winner 2014, and his wife Kelly opened the restaurant in early 2016. The menu is heavily influenced by its surroundings and by the seasons. Have a look at their current menu… Just reading the menu makes me smile and makes my mouth water.

Our evening kicked off with a cookery demonstration and talk from Jamie himself. Jamie’s excitement and enthusiasm for food is clear to see and I love his approach to using what is on his doorstep in Fife.

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Left – Jamie Scott, Masterchef The Professionals Winner 2014
Middle – a crate of produce foraged from the Eden Estuary
Right – vinegars, pickles and preserves

We were shown upstairs for dinner, and were all in awe of the stunning views over the River Tay. We had a perfect evening for capturing some shots on our cameras with a most beautiful sky.

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Next we took our seats, in readiness for the five course tasting menu that was put on for us. We began with a selection of snacks, including a simply divine Anster Cheese Gougere – the lightest, fluffiest savoury choux you could dream of with a heavenly molten middle filling of fondu-like  Anster cheese. I love pork belly, and I love bau, so the Puddledub Pork Bau was definitely a hit with me. The Buckwheat, Flowers & Curds was beautifully light, with contrasting textures, and beautiful colours from the edible flowers.

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Left – Anster Cheese Gougere
Middle – Puddledub Pork Bau
Right – Buckwheat, Flowers & Curds

Our next course was an Autumnal Salad, described as a selection of the seasons offerings. A beautiful plate with contrasting textures, and layers of flavours… This was a huge hit with many of the guests, with many of us commenting that this was one of our favourite dishes from the night. The fact that Jamie can make a salad so exciting speaks volumes about his skill as a chef.

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Amazing Autumnal Salad

For the fish course, Pittenweem Mackerel was served with Pittormie Tomatoes & Basil. I do not eat fish or seafood, however I was served a lovely Greek style tomato salad.

Before the meat course arrived we devoured a beautiful treacle and stout bread with whipped creme fraiche butter. The flavour of this malty bread was warm and the whipped butter was deliciously light.

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Treacle & Stout Bread with a Creme Fraiche Whipped Butter

Next we were presented with a beautiful plate of Starr farm beef with mixed onions. I especially loved the short rib, with its intensely beefy flavour, and the little crispy onion rings were just perfect – light and crunchy against the melt in your mouth beef. My only grumble with this dish is I would have loved more sauce/gravy (but then again I am the girl who always asks for more sauce/gravy)!

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Starr Farm Beef – Smoked Shoulder, Short Rib & Allums

Finally, for dessert we were served Newport Plums with popcorn, liquorice and white chocolate. Unfortunately for me I am not a fan of liquorice, so found the liquorice a little overpowering, but I thoroughly enjoyed the plums and the panacotta. Once again the presentation was perfect.

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Newport Plums, Popcorn, Licquorice & White Chocolate

This really was a fantastic evening at The Newport, especially sharing it with a group of like-minded food-lovers. Jamie and Kelly and their team have created something very special in Newport-Upon-Tay and I highly recommend a visit to their beautiful restaurant if you are visiting Fife.

Thankyou so much to Jamie & Kelly and to Welcome To Fife for hosting a fabulous evening with amazing food.

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Cheers!