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Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company.


The finalists for the BBC Food Programme, Food and farming Awards were announced today and it was great to see The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company amongst them. They were one of the food companies I caught up with during my visit to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham last November. The company was a real worthy winner of a BBC Good Food Show Bursary and it is fantastic to see them as a finalist in the Best Food Market category of the Food and Farming Awards.

Taste of the sea with Pembrokeshire Beach Foods
Taste of the sea with Pembrokeshire Beach Foods

 Their seaweed products are definitely in the deliciously different category. The company use foraged seashore ingredients found on the Pembrokeshire coastline to produce a range of seaweed based products, including Ship’s BiscuitsLava Bread Pesto and seaweed flavoured butters. They also have 5 mobile beach huts and have cleverly combined foraged ingredients from the seashore to create a number of delicious signature local dishes, including, Salmon Laverbread and Cheddar CheeseBacon, Cockles and Laverbread and Sea Spaghetti Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

For further information on The Pembrokeshire BeachFood Company see

Further information about forthcoming BBC Good Food Shows – and for information on BBC Good Food Show Bursary Awards, contact – Katy Truss – 


Taste Ayrshire

My neighbouring county has a very strong food culture and boasts some of the most fantastic food producers in Scotland. Situated in South West Scotland, Ayrshire can be rightly proud of it’s food. With  a strong farming community, artisan food producers and freshly landed seafood, the area is well known for the quality and provenance of its food.

A visit to any of the weekly farmers markets is testimony to the dedicated and collaborative network  of food producers, meat, fish, cheese and eggs, along with coffee, chocolate, bakery and vegetables can all be found on the market stalls.

From the best quality beef and lamb,  delicious award winning cheeses, the famous ‘Ayrshire’ bacon, and ‘Ayrshire’ tatties, along with the freshest of fish, it could be said that Ayrshire has it all when it comes to good food.  At the forefront of promoting the area’s Food Tourism  is Taste Ayrshire, a group led by the area’s  top hospitality businesses, producers and manufacturers. 


A recent invitation to Scotland’s Creative Places Awards in Kilmarnock, gave me the opportunity to speak to some of the great producers who are part of Taste Ayrshire and to taste some great food products. With entrants to the awards along with their supporters attending from the length and breadth of Scotland, it was great opportunity for Taste Ayrshire to showcase the best of food and drink in the area.

 Here’s a snapshot of some of the producers I met.

Dunlop Dairy owned by farmer and cheesmaker, Anne Dorward  produces an award winning range of 8 cheeses from the dairy’s  small herds of Ayrshire cows and goats. The cows milk cheeses include the hard Ayrshire Dunlop and the Smoked Dunlop, along with 3 soft cheeses, Aiket, a Brie,Camembert style cheese, Clerkland Crowdie and Paddy’s Milestone. The goats cheeses, made with milk from Anne’s Saanen and Toggenburg goats include the extremely popular Bonnet, a hard cheese and the two soft cheeses, Ailsa Craig and Glazert.

dunlop cheese

The  cheeseshop and tearoom at Dunlop Dairy is well worth a visit. It offers the very best in simple fresh homemade food and of course stocks the full range of Dunlop cheeses. You’ll also find Dunlop Cheese on sale with Petrie Fine Foods at Ayrshire & Glasgow farmers markets.  A full list of stockists can be found at

Everything Chilli owned by Lynn Duthie, makes a range of chilli spreads along with a selection of chilli based seasonings. The spreads include Pepper & Pear, Lime Shred and Original Chilli, and  I particularly liked the range of seasonings designed to add flavour and an extra chilli kick to a range of dishes.  A full range of Lynn’s products, stockists and the farmers markets Everything Chilli attends can found at

everything chilli

Fencebay Fish, situated at Fairlie on the Ayrshire coast is a firm favourite of mine. Not only do they catch and harvest their own fish and seafood, they also have their own smokery and ‘Fins’ restaurant on site. Fencebay is very popular with customers at farmers markets, not only in Ayrshire but throughout the West of Scotland where there’s  always an extensive range of fresh fish on sale.  Check out to see the full range of smoked & cured products, fresh fish & shellfish and to find out more about Fins Restaurant.


Barwheys Dairy is another of Ayrshire’s award winning cheesemakers. Owner Tricia Bey makes the award winning Barwheys Cheddar at her dairy in Maybole. Having visited the dairy and  made cheese with Tricia last year, I needed no introduction to this delicious cheese. Barwheys is an unpasteurised cheese, and is made with milk from the dairy’s own herd of pedigree Ayrshire cows. No more than 45 truckles of the hard cheese are made each week and these go on to mature for between 12 and 18 months. In 2012, the first truckles of the now popular ‘Barwheys Beastie‘, a 24 month old matured cheddar were released for sale  and occasionally a smoked version of the cheddar is available. For for further information and stockists, see  The full blog post about my cheesmaking experience at Barwheys Dairys can be found in the January posts of this blog.

two truckles


Little Doone Foods is another firm favourite of mine. I’ve been using their balsamic dressings since Colin and Tanya Hanna started the company back in 2007, with their Original Sweet Balsamic Dressing. Since then, another 8 dressings have been added to the range including, Orange Zest, Raspberry, Ginger, and an appropriately Scottish flavour, Whisky. All are based on the Original Sweet Balsamic Dressing, a product that sits somewhere between a balsamic vinegar and a reduction.  With a good range of flavours, the products  have great versatility and can add quickly add an extra depth of flavour to a recipe. Use as a dressing for salads or add to cooked dishes for extra flavour, use in marinades or simply enjoy with crusty bread.

little doone

Little Doone Dressings  are available on line at http://www.littledoonefoods and  from delicatessens, specialist food stores, farm shops and garden centres, nationwide.

Round Square Roastery  Although coffee is not a locally grown product in Scotland, this is Ayrshire’s only roastery and wholesale supplier of ethically sourced coffee and ‘Directly Traded‘ beans from family farms in South and Central America. Owner and Head Roaster, Heather Stevenson, started Round Square Roastery in August 2013 and now supplies hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, delicatessens and the public with 100% Arabica bean coffee. Heather’s small dedicated team are passionate about the whole journey from farm to cup. There are currently 7 blends available in the Round Square Roastery range including their own house blend and ‘The Gentleman’s Blend’. All are available from the on line shop. Find out more about  Round Square Roastery and the stories behind their coffees at


To find out more about about Taste Ayrshire, the many food producers, restaurants and hotels in the area, visit

The Whole Cow

5 cow collage

There’s no shortage of cookery books on my shelves. I own around 200, some are very well thumbed and used regularly, while others are not used that often, but they still deserve a place as  they’ve been a big part of my food journey over the past 30 plus years. I’ve probably cooked something from every book but what  I’ve never done, is cook my way through an entire book.  That’s about to change as one of my cooking projects for this year is to cook my through ‘The Whole Cow’ by Scottish author and consultant chef, Christopher Trotter.  A bit of a Julie and Julia project but hopefully a bit more relaxing on the cooking front.


The book was first published in 2013 and Christopher cites it as collection of recipes that celebrate the cow from horn to hoof. There’s plenty of  historical information in the section, ‘A potted history’……… “Beef whether roasted, fried, grilled or simmered in a rich sauce, has been the focal point of feasts from ancient Roman times to the present day. Records of the most splendid banquets come, naturally, from the literate wealthy classes  and it is harder to surmise the diet of the peasant, but – except when times were hard – ordinary people enjoyed roasted meat on special occasions and festivals”.

When I first flicked through ‘The Whole Cow’ , comfort food was what came to mind. The recipes and the pictures just ooze that lovely feeling comfort and warmth, but it is much more than just a collection of recipes. ‘Recipes & lore for beef and veal’ is what it says on the front cover,  and the book is also full of interesting history and stories about beef and cattle.

Cooking with beef is not unusual for me and although I cook a wide variety of different recipes, I have tended to stick with the same cuts of beef, despite having some very good quality Scottish beef farms on my doorstep. When beef is mentioned I always think of comfort food, hearty wholesome casseroles, large roast dinners with gravy and Yorkshire pudding or a big plate of mince and tatties.

For casseroles I love shin of beef. It’s a cheaper cut that requires long slow cooking and it gives  the depth of flavour and texture I want from a beef casserole. We’re  big fans of casseroles in our house, so that’s where I’m starting with this book. Once a dish like this is in the oven, you can relax, the next few hours are your own. Also an ideal meal for the weekend if you want dinner to be ready after an afternoon out with the family.

This shin of beef recipe just oozed of  Winter  flavours, with juniper, ginger, nutmeg, mace and Rowan jelly.  I served it with potato and celeriac mash.

Ingredients collage

Shin of beef with red wine and Rowan jelly.

Serves 4 – 6

2 tbsp butter

2 onions chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1kg/ 2 1/4 lb sliced beef shin

1/2 bottle of fruity red wine such as Merlot

2tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground mace

10 juniper berries

2 tbsp Rowan jelly

225g/8 oz fresh chanterelles

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas2. Heat the butter in a casserole dish over a medium heat and soften the onions and the celery. Dry the meat thoroughly. Heat a heavy bottomed pan, add the olive oil, then brown the meat all over and add to the casserole. Deglaze the pan with a little red wine, then add this wine and all the other ingredients to the casserole. Bring to the boil and season. Cover with a tight fitting lid and put in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours until tender. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Throughout the book, Christopher has included lots of useful ‘tips’ to help you get the best from the recipes. Here’s the tip for this recipe.


Chanterelles and CEOs (porcini are also available dried. For this recipe, you will need about 40g/1 1/2 oz dried mushrooms. Reconstitute them by pouring on boiling water and leaving until cool. Add a little of the soaking liquid to this casserole and use the rest in a risotto.

About the author

Christopher Trotter is a freelance chef and food writer, restaurant inspector and food consultant. As Fife’s Food Ambassador, he organises bespoke food tours around Scotland as well as running cookery classes. He is the author of several books, including the whole hog, Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking with Carol Wilson and the National Trust for Scotland’s The Scottish Kitchen


twitter – @CTScotfood


ARTWORK – Thank you to Alice Strange for permission to reproduce the ‘cow’ artwork. A full selection of her work can be viewed at

Learn to Cook Authentic Pakistani Punjabi Food

There’s rarely week passes that I don’t cook spicy food and over the years I’ve experimented with lots of different ‘curry’ recipes. Many of the dishes I’ve  cooked are recipes that have been developed for the British palate including the popular restaurant type curry. Shortly before Christmas,  I met Yasmin McDonagh who runs the cookery […]

Supporting Scotland’s Food and Drink.


Scotland’s local produce is playing a key part in the country’s food revolution and we should all do more to promote it, according to the Rural Affairs Secretary.

Richard Lochhead has written to all 108 agricultural shows taking place in Scotland this year to ensure as much Scottish food as possible is sold at the events.

He also announced nearly £5,000 in funding for the Crail Food Festival through the Community Food Fund, which is funded by the Scottish Government.

Speaking at the NFUS AGM in St Andrews, Mr Lochhead said:

“The raw materials needed for our food and drink industry is provided in communities across Scotland, enabling us to supply high quality products that are in great demand across the world.

“Much of this spectacular produce is right here on our own doorstep, from Scotch Beef and Lamb, to Scottish farmed salmon, and many other Scottish foods, not to mention the best malt whiskies in the world.

“With a surge in the number of food tents at events, showcasing our food and drink is now a major part at many of our famous agricultural shows. However, it would be fantastic to see as much as possible of the food and drink sold at our shows being locally produced, and be able to tell people of its journey from farm to fork and grain to glass. That’s why I have written to all of our shows, asking them to do this where possible and participate in our food revolution.

“Scotland’s food provenance is a major selling point and we know visitors prefer to buy food and drink with a story behind it – where, when, how and by whom it was produced. Local produce is key to that and Fife is playing its part in this success story.

“I was delighted that Ardross Farm Shop near Elie was recently awarded the UK Farm Shop of the Year; and today I can announce that I’m granting Crail Food Festival £4,750 through the Community Food Fund to enrich what is already a really great showcase and celebration of Fife’s fabulous produce.

“Scotland’s food and drink is up there with the very best and I want our agricultural shows and local events to work with us and cement our reputation as a Land of Food and Drink. High quality products from our natural larder will create a highly enjoyable experience, so let’s make 2014 a year to remember.”