"No love sincerer than the love of food"


Mini Jam Explosions

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I recently took on a challenge set by the folks at Mackays to come up with recipes incorporating their lovely jam.  Mackays are a family run business, started by the Mackay brothers in 1938.  The family still  stay true to their traditional values, using steam heated copper pans.  The soft fruit that they use hails from Scottish fruit farms whilst the famous oranges from seville make their fantastic marmalade.

This recipe is the the first of three jammy treats that I have made so far. I had no idea that jam could be so versatile, until now I only thought to spread it on toast or scones.

I had recently bought a mini muffin tray from Lakeland for no other reason other than the fact that I thought it was dinky although it also crossed my mind that if I did make muffins this little size would limit my sugar intake – HA!  This was its first outing. I am not an accomplished baker but these little treasures were delightful and eaten in one go (oh not again).


They were originally called Jam Surprise Muffins but I was over-enthusiastic with the raspberry jam, which exploded out of its muffin confines creating what looked like a bit of a sticky mess. Game over, or so I thought as I peered into the oven.

As it goes the escaped jam turned all deliciously gooey and sticky and only added to the experience. They really were delightful. The muffin recipe which I sourced on-line from a lady on mumsnet is beyond simplicity and produces light feathery muffins. Mackays raspberry jam is fabulous and in my little muffins it was a real treat.  This is a great recipe to make with kids and my friends little girl certainly enjoyed gobbling them all up.

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  • 120ml milk
  • One egg
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A nice jar of Mackays raspberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C . Grease muffin tin
  2. Beat egg with a fork. Then stir in milk and oil. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg mixture to flour and stir until flour is moistened. BATTER SHOULD BE LUMPY. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  3. Fill muffin cups a third full, add a blob of jam (big blob for full explosion experience) then fill up with muffin mixture
  4. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown – cool a little before popping out of tin

mackays jam logo


Nuts about Curried Pasta Salad

Photo 07-06-2013 18 11 33

I decided to take part in this months Pasta Please challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage on a whim. Unlike lots of the food bloggers I avidly follow, I  am not adept at creating wonderful recipes from scratch, but I am a decent tweaker and if I find a basic recipe I like then I am happy to tamper with it to make it my own.

This challenge was to create a pasta dish using nuts.  Pesto was the obvious choice but I decided to go out on a limb with a curried pasta salad with lovely sweet cashew nuts.  After finding a suitable recipe to mess around with on the BBC Good Food site (never fails me) I set about making something to serve to the girls in my book group that evening.  I say book group but we normally forget to mention the book until just before we head off home and this week most people hadn’t actually bothered to read the book!  Wine and gossip my friends, that’s all it is.

A few fellow food bloggers seemed sceptical about the curried pasta salad concept but I held firm.  I love curry, I love pasta, I love nuts – it would be fine ….  surely.

I am delighted to say that it was a big hit with the girls who gobbled it all up and asked for the recipe.  It had quite a nice after-burn with the crunchy celery, cucumber and nuts working brilliantly with the dish.

Girls gobbling up the pasta

Girls gobbling up the pasta



  • 225g pasta – I used penne but I guess swirly pasta (technical term)  or bows would be just as nice
  • 4 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder ( perhaps add one then taste and add more if you need to)
  • 150g pot natural yogurt
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp hot mango chutney (I discovered this in ALDI, it is rather hot, feel free to use normal mango chutney)
  • 50g sultanas
  • 15g pack coriander, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • Great big handful of cashew nuts!


  • Cook the pasta al dente, drain and stir in a little olive oil then cool ( I find the olive oil keeps the pasta from sticking together)
  • In a bowl add the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and mango chutney and mix well
  • When the pasta is cooled add the sauce and all of the other ingredients
  • Sprinkle over a little more coriander and serve

pasta please

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Hi Ho Hi Ho – to the Highland Show we go

Highland Coo

I am not a fan of tractors or coos and was never keen on the idea of going to the Royal Highland Show. For some inexplicable reason the sheer enormity of the show had entirely passed me by. That was until one sunny weekend (they can be a bit of a rarity at the Highland Show) a few years back, when I was kindly given a ticket and thought, ‘what the hell’.

Have you been to the Highland Show? If not then you really must go. Feel free to bypass the coos and the tractors and the impossibly cute little sheep, but please do not pass any of the amazing opportunities to stuff your face full of the most splendiferous of Scottish produce. It is definitely one of the best food shows in Scotland and I for one am very excited about going along this year.

I will be returning fresh from a week of eating my way round Northumberland and will probably be as fat as a pony, but that will not stop me taking full advantage of all the foodie treats the show has to offer.

A little birdie tells me that the Highlands & Islands region forms the central theme for the food area this year. So what does that mean for my grumbling tummy?

First  I plan to visit a whole host of fantastic artisan producers from the Highlands & Islands who are showcasing the luscious larder of their region. Particularly exciting is Great Glen Game ( fingers and toes crossed that they have some of their salami left for me to taste). Cheeses, pies and preserves are other weak spots for me as well as some beautiful smoked salmon. The trick is to enjoy the samples but leave enough room for part two.

This will involve sourcing lunch from one of the many  ‘Street Food’ stands dotted around the showground and choosing will be tough. Helping showcase this produce are a host of great chefs from the Highlands & Islands involved including Muji Rahman from the Michelin recognised Cafe India in Dingwall and Steven Devlin of the highly acclaimed Rocpool Restaurant in Inverness. Mmm.

If there is time then I will also try to catch some of the chefs cooking up a storm on the cookery stage – this is a particular favourite of the mini grumbling tummy, who will be in attendance. Hates food but loves watching people cook – odd child but we love her.

Finally I will hit the plethora of stands selling innumerably lovely products  and moon over lovely trinkets before heading home – full and happy.

So roll on the weekend of the 22nd June and everybody please please do a sun-dance for the day!

photo credit: <a href=””>Rainbirder</a> via <a href=””>photopin> <a href=””>cc</a>

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A HOME GROWN ADVENTURE – originally written for Crail Food Festival

inside cheese farm

I was delighted to be involved in the Crail Food Festival’s Blog Initiative this year and was one of 12 bloggers who were matched with local producers taking part in this weekend’s festival.

When my assignment for The Crail Food Festival pinged into my inbox I almost whooped for joy.  My mission, which I most definitely chose to accept, encompassed two of life’s greatest pleasures – cheese and cake.  I was to visit two restaurants that pride themselves in using local produce, the St Andrews Cheese Farm Company’s restaurant and Kellie Castle Kitchen Cafe. 

On sale at the cheese farm Cheese Farm Gals

  The St Andrews Cheese Farm Company is the only farmhouse cheese-maker in Fife and as well as producing unique cheeses from their own herd of Holstein Friesian cows, wherever possible they also “fly the flag” for Scottish Farmhouse Cheese-making.  As Jane Stewart, who runs the business along with husband Robert says “we are all about food provenance … visitors want to know what cheeses we make and they are extremely interested in the process, keen to taste the product and invariably want to know where and how they can purchase it on their way home” .

I’m not surprised that Jane’s visitors are keen to buy their famous Anster Cheese; I can testify that is indeed delicious.  I’m a long standing fan and regularly buy it at my local farmers market.  However,  gobbling it down in record time with a box of oatcakes is about as far as I have travelled in terms of culinary experimentation.  I was about to experience a whole new world of cheese in Jane and Robert’s restaurant.

The restaurant is large, bright and airy with beautiful views across the East Neuk countryside.  Jane explained that their cheese is incorporated into the menus wherever possible “whether it be omelettes, sandwiches, soup, or in other speciality dishes”.


Jane’s hot tip from the menu  was their most popular dish – Hot Smoked Salmon served on crushed potatoes and topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.  That indeed sounded irresistible…. until I noticed one of my personal food heroes on the menu – Stornoway black pudding, served with a potato and Anster cheese rosti alongside beetroot chutney.

The Stornoway black pudding was, as ever, utterly melt in the mouth divine, the rosti was lovely and loose, unlike some cremated versions I have tasted in the past and the Anster cheese complimented it beautifully .  The whole dish was brought together perfectly with the beetroot chutney.  As John Torode would say it was “a beautiful thing”.  My mum and husband who had come along for the ride enjoyed a cheese and ham omelette and the Special Ploughman’s lunch.  Both made all the right noises and clearly hit the mark.

We would have loved to stay on to sample the famous meringues but time was ticking and we had a cake appointment elsewhere.  But we didn’t leave before browsing some of the other local food heroes available to buy. Dalchonzie Chutneys, Galloway Lodge Preserves, Summer Harvest Oils, Chrystalls shortbread, Barnett the Bakers Cheese Oatcakes, Adamson’s oatcakes, Trotters Independent Condiments and St Andrews Brewing Company are just some of the local producers on display in the small retail area.  We settled upon a jar of onion marmalade from Dalchonzie and chutney made by St Andrews Cheese Farm which was so fresh the label was not yet on – yum.

Five minutes later we found ourselves in the beautiful grounds of Kellie Castle, which lies 5 miles North of Pittenweem.  A National Trust property dating from 1360, it is renowned for its lavish interiors but should also be renowned, in my opinion, for its baking.  The Kellie Castle Kitchen Cafe may be small but it’s perfectly formed – rustic and utterly charming.  Kathryn Baker, whose own history is steeped in baking, has recently taken over the running of the cafe and is working towards “making the most of as much local produce” as she can.


The Kellie Castle Kitchen Cafe doesn’t have to look far for inspiration either, with many of the products used coming from their very own kitchen garden – you don’t get much more local than that!  Kathryn believes that being able to actually show visitors where the fruit in their cakes come from is “a great way to interact with customers”.  The local food heroes at Kellie Castle are their own gardeners who produce a whole host of goodies – from herbs and vegetables to salad and fruit.

Kathryn, a hero in her own right, is full of enthusiasm and passion for her produce and this shines through in the way she talks to her customers and tells them all about what Kellie Castle Kitchen has to offer.

  Rhubarb-crumble-muffins dresser-of-temptation Victoria-Sponge

On the day I visited, it was all about the rhubarb – seasonal and perfectly tasty.  I am one of those people who were under the misguided impression that rhubarb was plain old rhubarb.  Kathryn soon enlightened me.  The Castle garden produces at least 30 varieties of the pink stuff, including Whitby, Fenton’s Special and Hawkes Champagne.

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately for my waistline, we chose a table right next to the beautiful “dresser of temptation”.  Amongst the cakes on display were a plump Victoria Sponge, a Citrus and Rhubarb cake, Rhubarb Crumble muffins, peppermint slices and a chocolate ginger tray-bake.  My husband chose the Victoria Sponge, Citrus Rhubarb cake won the day for mum and it had to be Rhubarb Crumble Muffin with whipped cream on the side, for me (the cream is not really needed but I am a bit greedy, so there!).  We also felt the need to take a peppermint slice and a chocolate ginger slice home with us for later (because we needed more cake).

The Rhubarb Crumble muffin was Kathryn’s top tip and she was not wrong in recommending it: a crunchy top, moist light sponge and lots of fresh juicy rhubarb to surprise you in the middle – delightful.


The large slice of Victoria Sponge tasted exactly as every Victoria sponge should taste, but often doesn’t – moist and light as a feather.  My mum wolfed down her sponge and I didn’t get the chance to taste it but it definitely got the thumbs up. As for mini me – she was too busy looking for princesses, to eat cake!  I hate to say it but I am very glad I don’t have Kathryn’s talent for baking as I would be the size of a house, her produce is truly stunning.

As well as cakes there were soups and savoury herb scones on offer.  Kathryn told us about the Swiss Chard, herbs and wild garlic that are flourishing at the moment and as the contented Camerons rolled out of Kellie Castle we could smell the beautiful aroma of wild garlic all the way back to the car park.

I would take on an assignment like this every day of the week. As well as tasting stunning produce and learning more about the food on my plate, it was a joy to encounter such a depth of passion from the people running both businesses.

Thankfully the importance of food provenance is gaining momentum in this country as our desire to understand more about the journey from field to fork increases.

The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company will be displaying their wares at this weekend’s Crail Food Festival –  Kellie Castle Kitchen Cafe and The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company are good places to visit on your way to or from the event.

crail food fest