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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Dishes that we know and love

An old aunt, who was married into an Italian family, told me to always cook meat in wine or beer, stock was allowed but always with alcohol. Since then that’s how I’ve always made meat sauces and casseroles. Red wine in bolognese sauce and other red meat dishes, beer in beef casseroles, cider with pork and white wine with chicken, to name but a few.

A favourite dish in our house has always been beef in beer, and since my boys started drinking beer, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with the many craft beers they’ve brought home to drink. It’s a dish that needs a beer with real depth of flavour, something that produces a deep unctuous casserole, warming and bringing out the full deep flavour of the beef.

That was my choice when we had dinner at Red Onion in Glasgow, recently. Owned by Chef John Quigley, Red Onion offers, unfussy dishes that people know and love, probably one of the reasons I like it so much.

The Innis & Gunn Original Braised Shin of Beef was everything you would expect from a wonderfully slow cooked beef dish, a deep rich flavour and just so meltingly tender.

On paying the bill we were given a card with the recipe and rather than cook it myself, Chef Quigley is happy for me to share his recipe. After all, for me that’s what food is all about, sharing and bringing folk together around the dinner table.

Warming, hearty and delcious

Warming, hearty and delcious


You will need a large shallow, flameproof casserole, of 6 pint (3.5 litre) with a tight fitting lid. Serves 4. Preheat the oven to gas Mark 1, 250F, 130C.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1kg Shin/ankle of beef – cut into 4 steaks
500ml Innis & Gunn Original
100ml beef stock
40g plain flour, seasoned with 1 level tsp salt and some freshly milled black pepper
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp treacle
400g carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
1 large white onion – diced
3 good sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1. Place seasoned flour in a large bowl or plastic beg, add beef, coat with flour and shake off excess.
2. Heat oil in casserole dish over a medium heat, add browned beef and brown on both sides for 2min, removed, add carrots and onions to casserole and fry over a medium heat for 2/3 min until nicely browned.
3. Add ale, stock, thyme, purée, treacle, bay leaf, star anise,salt & pepper, bring to boil, add beef, cover and cook in oven for 4.5 hours approx.
4. When beef is cooked it can be removed from the sauce and cooled. Skim the sauce and strain through a fine sieve and cool. To reheat add portion of sauce to beef and warm through. Place beef on centre of plate, pour over sauce and serve with Yorkshire puddings and mash

Red Onion is situated at 257 West Campbell Street, Glasgow. 0141 221 6000
Twitter @redonionglasgow
Facebook Red Onion


Punjabi Cooking. A Cookery Course in a Box

Gift vouchers for cookery course always make good Christmas gifts but if you’re budget doesn’t run to that then this cookery course in a box is the perfect alternative.

A great gift for a food lover

A great gift for a food lover

The idea was developed by Yasmin McDonagh, of Scotia Spice, who runs authentic Punjabi cookery courses at her  home in Balfron, just north of Glasgow. She had been asked about writing a book but after listening to comments from people who attended her courses, the cookery course in the box was born. Many commented on the number of cookery books they owned but rarely cooked from them or had all the ingredients for the recipes. Unlike the gift of a cookery book, the box contains all the spices and a chilli jelly to cook 6 punjabi dishes.

Everything you need to cook Yasmin's soul food

Everything you need to cook Yasmin’s soul food

Priced at £20, there are 3 ‘Cookery Course in a Box’ to chose from, chicken, lamb or vegetarian, each with a different selection of recipes.

Yasmin has given me the chicken course to cook and I’m looking forward to writing about that in the New Year. However, I watched and listened as she cooked cook up three delicious meals from the lamb box. In a very short time she produced 3 really flavoursome Punjabi dishes, Keema Lamb, potato & pea curry and a classic cucumber raita. Yasmin was right when she described the dishes as real family food and winners on affordability and taste.

As she cooked, referring to the various dishes as her soul food, Yasmin talked with great passion about  learning to cook with her mother and grandmother. She really cooked from the heart, and spoke at length about the ingredients,  describing the benefit of each spice as they were added to the pan.

A demo from Yasmin on how to cook food that wins on flavour and affordability

A demo from Yasmin on how to cook food that wins on flavour and affordability

There are also three course options to chose from at Scotia Spice:

Full day – £130. Start with a spice workshop, learning about the spices and how to use them. Followed by  cooking 6 punjabi recipes which you will take home along with the recipes and a selection of spices.

Half day – £75 Start with a spice workshop and cook 3 Punjabi recipes which you will take home along with a selection of spices.

Introductory session – £30. This session will give you a taste of what Scotia Spice offers. After the spice workshop you will cook one dish which you will take home along with a selection of spices.

Numbers are restricted to 3 on each session, allowing Yasmin to guide you through the practical parts of the session.

For further information see or contact Yasmin –

Telephone 01360 449399

A touch of luxury this Christmas from Tasting Scotland

People often ask, what do you get the person who has everything? My answer is usually food and drink or some kind of experience based on just that. If you know their likes and dislikes, it’s an ideal gift and depending on your budget, there’s a lot to choose from. Food Hampers or gift baskets, are popular gifts at Christmas and let’s face it, so simple as all you have to do is chose and someone else will do all the work, wrapping and delivering. There’s a large number of companies selling hampers but it can be difficult to be confident about the quality of the food unless you are familiar with the contents.

A hamper selection that caught my eye at a recent Christmas food festival was this year’s luxury range from Scottish company, Tasting Scotland. Owner, Brenda Anderson, and business colleague Nicky of Nicole Dalby, Flower & Design, have created a unique collection that hasn’t been offered before. Offering a fusion of fine foods and floral design, the hampers give great value by presenting two gifts in one luxury package. The combination of a Highland inspired handmade wreath along with a range of speciality food makes a truly luxury gift.

Brenda regularly works with many of Scotland’s small artisan food producers on Tasting Scotland’s food tours and for her, including their products was an essential part of choosing the contents for the hampers. No massed produced food, simply artisan in nature all the way. Nicky and Brenda also wanted the hampers to reflect Scotland’s rugged and romantic landscape while protecting the country’s environment. Using mainly natural and sustainable packaging, the hampers are beautifully presented in handmade wooden apple crates with some items like oils and vinegars in refillable bottles.

Each hamper contains a luxury handmade wreath and prices start at £50 for the Christmas Joy basket. Containing a selection of rapeseed oil, vinegar, Christmas pudding, oatcakes, cheese and most unusual addition of cooking hay with a recipe, it’s great value and makes a beautiful gift.

The Seasonal Scotland hamper at £59 contains a seasonal floral arrangement with a range of artisan teas and coffees.

Christmas Joy and Seasonal Scotland

Christmas Joy and Seasonal Scotland

There’s also the Festive Warm Wishes at £85 and the Luxury Greetings at £125. Both contain a wonderful range of food, including cheese, cake, biscuits, oatcakes, condiments and preserves.

There’s also the option to add a bottle of champagne or spirits , or chose the contents to make a bespoke hamper.

Festive Wishes and Luxury Greeting with top quality artisan prodcuts

Festive Wishes and Luxury Greeting with top quality artisan products

For a full list of contents in each hamper and delivery/collection details see

Tasting Scotland’s cooking classes, tours, breaks and holidays make the most luxurious of gifts? Gift certificates are also available and you can find full details on the website


New face at Partick Farmers Market

If you’re heading to Partick Farmers market today, look out for the new face on the block. Renfrewshire artisan food company, Aye Love Real Food, are making their debut at the market. Owned by husband and wife team, Mark and Jacqui Davidson, they are no strangers at the Ayshire farmers markets, although this is their first visit to the Glasgow markets.

Using the best local Tamworth pork and Aberdeen Angus beef, they make a delicious range of Scotch eggs, beef pasties and stews. Their specialty, scotch eggs, come in a delcious range of flavours including, pork & haggis, pork & black pudding, and pork & chorizo. There’s also a special limited edition Christmas egg with cranberry and festive spices.aye love real food collageMark and Jacqui offer a variety of different stews and tomorrow’s special is their delicious pulled beef chilli. If you’re visiting the Partick market tomorrow, be sure to drop past Aye Love Real Food to stock up and try some of the tasty samples on offer

Christmas dinner and Turkey from St Brides Poultry.

If you haven’t given any thought to Christmas dinner yet, there is still time to order from the local farmers and producers who produce some of the fantastic food that makes up the wonderful Scots larder. If turkey or chicken is on the menu then why not think about buying a locally produced bird. You will be rewarded with a bird with great flavour and you’ll also be supporting local independent business.

Turkey is always the choice for Christmas dinner in our house and we’ll be tucking into a bird from St Brides Farm in Strathaven, Lanarkshire.  It’s been a busy time on the farm, as poultry farmers Robert and AJ Morris prepare for Christmas, supplying some of Scotland’s best hotels and their regular customers at  Lanarkshire farmers markets.

Doing what nature intended, foraging on the farm

Doing what nature intended, foraging on the farm

At St Brides, they select slow growing flavoursome breeds, that mature slowly, doing what nature intended, free ranging all day long, foraging and scratching around the farm. The slow growing bronze variety and more the gamey black turkey thrive in this free range setting. The birds are fed non GM grain and as a special treat they enjoy the mash from the nearby Strathaven Brewery. All of this allows them to happily grow at their own pace, promoting the texture and truly delicious flavoured bird.

There’s still time to order from St Brides, and if turkey isn’t for you, they also have ducks, guinea fowl and capons. This weekend you’ll find Robert and AJ at Lanarkshire’s Strathaven farmers market and next weekend at Hamilton (Sat)  and Clarkston (Sun).

Wandering free

Wandering free

For further information :  or contact telephone 01357 529989

To find out more about Lanarkshire farmers markets:


A wee sweet treat for Christmas – The Wee Fudge Company

Support your local food producers this Christmas, that’s been my message in the run up to Christmas. Whether you’re looking for food for meals and entertaining over the festive period or like me are giving food gifts, there’s a wealth of great local produce that will make great Christmas presents.

I’ve been listing some of my favourite local producers on ‘A Wee Pinch of Sugar’ and my recommendation today, is for a special melt in the mouth sweet treat that makes an ideal gift and a special after dinner treat.

From her base on the outskirts of Glasgow, Joyce Brady runs The Wee Fudge Company where she produces an indulgent range of delicious fudge for some of the country’s top deli’s, foodhalls and some of Glasgow’s top tourist attractions. Affectionately know as ‘Fairy Fudge Mother’ you’ll also find Joyce manning her stall at the monthly farmers market in Clarkston.

Ideas for Christmas gifts

Ideas for Christmas gifts

Unlike the massed produced fudge found on  sweet counters, every batch of Wee Fudge is  handmade from a favourite and traditional Scottish recipe, using only the freshest of ingredients. By only making small batches of each flavour to order, means Joyce can ensure the quality of the fudge and not surprisingly, this week the pots have bubbling as she keeps up with the Christmas demands of Christmas shoppers.

The very popular Christmas flavour in the range is Cinnamon dusted cranberry and white chocolate and comes packaged with beautiful red ribbons and jingle bells. Another festive favourite is the Baileys Irish cream and white chocolate, boxed and tied with rich blue ribbon.

Other indulgent and delicious flavours in The Wee Fudge range include:

White chocolate with Sicilian lemon extract

Raspberry and white choclate,

Strawberry & white chocolate

Hebridean sea salt and caramel.

Using the freshest ingredients

Using the freshest ingredients

The Wee Fudge Company fudge is a real decadent grown up treat and both the bags and the boxes make ideal special gifts. Joyce is taking orders that can be picked up on the 22nd December  at Clarkston Farmers market or the full range is also available from stockists throughout the country.


George Mewes, Glasgow.

Wholefoods market, Glasgow.

Billingtons of lenzie.

Cross Stobbs Wine, Barrhead.

The Wee Handmade Gallery, Glasgow.

Further information on The Wee Fudge or to place an order contact Joyce at

Spread a Little Wildfire this Christmas with Galloway Chillies

One of the things I love about buying food gifts for Christmas gifts, is the ease with which I can match certain gifts to particular people. Chocolate lovers, wine lovers, sweet lovers, and in the case of this ‘local Christmas shopping post’, Chilli lovers.

The Chilli gifts I will be giving this year will come from Galloway Chillies,  a great wee  independent company based in Newton Stewart in South West Scotland.  Owner, Sheena Horner, started the company in December 2012 and since then has gone on to develop eight varieties of chilli jam, with one variety, ‘Chilli Lemon Citrus‘ being awarded a gold star by the Guild of Fine Food at this years Great Taste Awards.

Bright, fiery and festive gifts

Bright, fiery and festive gifts

The festive favourite in the range has been the Chocolate Chilli Mincemeat,  a subtle mix of chocolate and fiery chilli giving a really warmth to the mincemeat. There’s also a nice Winter warmer in the range, Chilli Burnsdescribed as a hot toddy in a jar.

Other flavours include, Sheena’s Chilli Original, Chilli Lime and Ginger, & Chilli orange and Citrus. With each variety available in a different range of heat, mild, hot and extra hot, it makes the jams a very versatile gift for chilli lovers.

Gift for chilli lovers

Gift for chilli lovers

There’s also an excellent range of ready made festive gift baskets and packs available and these also include chilli chocolate and beautiful slate platters. Or why not fill a hamper or gift box with  selection of jams and other food items, or a single jar will make an excellent stocking filler

Using only British chillies in the various jams, Sheena tries where possible to include some of the forty varieties she grows herself. Her aim in the next few years is to be using her own chillies for all her products.

In the run up to Christmas, Galloway Chillies will be attending the following farmers markets and festivals, where the full range of products will be on sale.  On line ordering and a full list of stockists can be found at

7th December – St George’s Church Christmas market, Dumfries

7th December – DrumlanriggChristmas Fair

7th December – Kirroughtree Visitor Centre

8th December – House for anArt Lover, Glasgow

8th December – Creetown Christmas Craft and Produce Market

8th December – Kirroughtree Visitor Centre

14th December – Monreith Christmas Fair

14th December – Partick Farmers Market, Mansfield Park, Glasgow

14th December – Sulwath brewery

22nd December – Dumfries Farmers Market

23rd December Partick Farmers Market, Mansfield Park, Glasgow.