Thursday, 12 January 2017

Travelling to Thailand... The Back Story!

Readers,

I'm keeping this short and sweet tonight, just as a bit of background to what you'll be seeing online over the coming days.

Back in November, I entered a travel competition for bloggers around the world, to write about their ideal trip to Thailand.  It's part of the Tourism Authority Thailand's campaign Fly Me to the Honeymoon, promoting Thailand as the ideal destination for honeymoon travellers.
Hopefully we'll see some of these! Taken in Bangkok in 2011

We are super delighted to have been chosen as the winners of the Culture category and tomorrow morning, we're making our way to London to board a British Airways flight to Bangkok.

tourism authority thailand

It's all been incredibly sudden, two weeks ago, we had no idea we were going, but in a vow to say yes to live to the full and take every opportunity that lands by us, we're going!

Over the coming days, you'll see lots of Thai travel info on social media... I'll be blogging, tweeting, instagramming and facebooking our travel exploits.

Right now, I can't say too much, other than we're taking you somewhere that many Europeans have never been to - the areas of Nakhon Phanom and Sakhon Nakhon Province.  It's up in the north of Thailand at the Mekong River.  We're hoping over the next week to show you some cultural sites you've never seen before and tell you stories of culture - far away from the beaches and islands side of the country.
Travel adventures to the USA in 2016

Stay tuned for more coming soon!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Pork & Haggis Ragu with Macsween Haggis

Readers

I've been busy in the kitchen this weekend. Recently Macsween contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing their new range of sausages. They very kindly sent me a few packs to try. In the madness of Christmas, I didn't have time to work on a recipe before the end of the year, so have made something that is warm and comforting for January. It's also not something you would automatically think of doing with a pack of sausages. 

Macsween is a Scottish family business, making great products (most notably their range of haggis) however, their new range of products come with great history - being created from a recipe used back in the day at their family butchers in Edinburgh. 

These sausages were packed with flavour and made a great meat base for my rich ragu. Note - I made my own pasta for this, but if you are in a rush, a pack of fresh tagliatelle from the supermarket would do the job.

Thanks to Macsween for providing the sausages for this recipe.

Winter Warming Ragu 


Ingredients - serves 4 


400g Macsween Pork & Haggis Sausages (skins removed)
1 red onion 
2 garlic cloves
10 cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 spring fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
1 dessert spoon fennel seeds 
1 bag fresh tagliatelle 


Method 


1. Peel and chop onions and garlic. Fry in a pan with the rosemary, fennel seeds and cherry tomatoes. 
2. Add the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes to the pan. Lower the heat to prevent sticking, whilst you prepare the sausage meat.
Meat ragu
3. Remove the sausage meat from the skin of the sausages and crumble into small pieces in the pan, cook through for 25 minutes until the sauce is thick and rich and the meat is cooked.
Meat ragu sauce
4. Cook tagliatelle according to pack instructions, drain and add meat and sauce to the pasta. Mix through to combine.  Serve immediately with flat bread or garlic bread. 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Festive Cocktails with Smirnoff Vodka

Readers, It’s party time over our way.   Festivities are well underway.  I may not know what day of the week it is and it’s the only time of year that champagne is acceptable mid-morning… heck, even cocktails at lunch are full on acceptable.

When Smirnoff contacted me before Christmas to take part in their cocktail campaign in the run up to Christmas, I was chuffed.  I recently did a gammon with gin recipe – click here to read it.  This time round though, it was all about the drinks rather than the food.

I’ve been a bit cheeky - originally, the brief was to work up a bloody mary recipe with the all the trimmings.  However, as someone terrified of drinking tomatoes in a juice format, I’ve taken my own style on this and made a vodka cranberry and lime cooler, that’s perfect for drinking with friends this New Year’s Eve.
Smirnoff vodka cocktail
I made this in a small cocktail shaker and the recipe below is for one.  For more great cocktail ideas, visit the Smirnoff website or view their social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Claire’s Cranberry Vodka Cooler with Smirnoff

Ingredients

50ml Smirnoff Vodka
25ml Lime Cordial
Dash Sugar Syrup
1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
Ice Cubes
Soda Water to top up

 Method

  1. Add a few ice cubes to your glass to chill it or, pop the glass in the freezer for a few minutes prior to pouring.   Remove ice cubes prior to pouring the drink..
  2. Add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce to the shaker, add the vodka, lime cordial and a splash of sugar syrup.
  3. Shake well to mix.   Use the strainer on the shaker or a tea strainer, to pour the mix into your glass.  Discard any pieces of cranberry left in the strainer.
  4. Top up your glass with soda water. Serve immediately.
Smirnoff vodka cocktail


Disclaimer:  I was sent a bottle of Smirnoff to create a cocktail.  Any opinions expressed are my own.   

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Glasgow Living Part 10 – Opening of Revolucion de Cuba

Readers, it’s been such a busy week this week.  I’ve done two reviews and had dinner out this week.  Needless to say, we are having a quiet weekend!

On Wednesday night I was invited to the opening of Revolucion de Cuba alongside a number of other Glasgow bloggers.  I went with Kaitlin from Cocktails & Fairytales, however, it was as really friendly crowd and we soon got to know people.

Revolucion de Cuba is a Cuban rum and cocktail bar with tapas served until 10pm.  It’s even got a stage AND a coffee bar tucked away in the back corner.  The team behind Revolution Vodka Bars are the creators of this new concept.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
The Bar

We were greeted with mojitos on arrival then shortly were whisked over to a group table to learn about making pulled pork and infusing it with Cuban spices.  Afterwards, we made our own spice mixes and packaged them into kilner jars as a take home from the event.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
spice lesson

After our spice session, we were treated to rum tasting…. 5 dark rums and a white rum to finish (although confession, I was too chicken to try the last one!)  We were brought rum cocktails to the table too… getting us into the Cuban vibe as a band played in the background.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
Rum tasting with the gang!

Next, it was on to tapas and chat, where we were brought a range of dishes – from calamari to patatas bravas, prawns, chicken skewers and to finish… churros with either salted caramel or chocolate sauce. Delicious. 
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
Tapas time!

Turns out the venue used to be a big opticians and the design team have done an amazing job turning it into a bar with a relaxed Cuban vibe.  Oh and the mixologists are amazing.  We were lucky enough to sample some of the Christmas cocktail menu including a berry sharing number that came in a kilner and was big enough for three of us!

You’ll find Revolucion de Cuba on Renfield Street in Glasgow City. It’s a perfect place to get your girls night out started – meet the girls, grab a booth and get the cocktails flowing.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow

To find out more visit Revolucion de Cuba’s website, or check out their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Disclaimer: I was invited to the launch event to enjoy complimentary food and beverages. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Glasgow Living Part 9 - Dinner at Buck's Bar

So fried chicken… so good that American singers Zac Brown Band wrote a song about liking their chicken fried along with a cold beer on a Friday night.  It wasn’t quite Friday, but my experience at Buck’s on Tuesday night wasn’t far away from the song.

A few weeks ago I got in touch with Buck’s Bar, a recently opened fried chicken joint in town to come in a for a review.    Buck’s is situated on West Regent Street, down a set of stairs and you’re greeted with fried chicken puns on the walls.   A good start.
Buck's Bar Glasgow
Outside Buck's

The bar is fairly sizable, has a stage for live music and a series of big booths which comfortably seat around 6 people. As we were a small party of two, there was plenty of space for us at the table.
The staff were quick to come over and sort us with drinks – Mr WhatClaireBaked went for something local from Drygate.  Beer and fried chicken… ultimate man food.   I’m not a big beer ginger so instead went for a pear, ginger and raspberry cocktail which arrived at the table in a little copper cup.  Would happily have taken it home with me afterwards.
Buck's Bar Glasgow

Buck's Bar Glasgow


Don’t be fooled by the small dinner plates… the grub is filling.  I went for the classic of fried chicken and waffles after discovering them in Vegas.  These bad boys were just as good.  It sounds wrong, but it’s SO RIGHT.    My dining partner went for fried chicken with a side of skin on fries and we shared some fried halloumi on the side.  It’s not often I’m beaten by a plate of food, but I just couldn’t quite get to the end.
Buck's Bar Glasgow


Buck’s is also really good value – the chicken and waffles were £8.95.  Sides and extras come in between £2.00 and £3.00 each and if you’ve still got space for it, a dessert will only set you back £3.00 too!   I’m fairly certain that you could easily have a date night for two and leave with change of £30.00.  Food was clearly cooked fresh, as we waited 20 minutes for it to arrive, which is fine by me. I’d rather know someone had the fryer going in the kitchen and not the ping of the microwave.

All in, we enjoyed the Buck’s Bar experience… it’s great for a quick pre-gig meal, or a bit of food and beers with a group of mates after work.
Buck's Bar Glasgow


Also, if you like hot sauce, there’s 50 to choose from.  Just saying.

For more information, visit Buck’s Bar website or their Facebook and Instagram



Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gordon's Gin Gammon

Readers, I’m back in the kitchen again, as Christmas is looming.  There’s something incredibly enjoyable about the smell of Christmas, in the house.  That smell that you can’t quite describe, other than "Christmas".

Anyway, Diageo got in touch a few weeks back, asking if I’d like to get a recipe together for them using one of their iconic spirits.  Being a fan of a good G&T, I went down the gin route with this post.  Whilst a dessert or a cake may have been the obvious choice, I’ve gone savoury for this recipe.

My Gordon’s gin gammon is a winner throughout winter, not just at Christmas and if you have any left over, it cooks down perfectly in a pea and ham soup.  The key to this recipes success is long, slow cooking so don’t rush it!

To find out more on Gordon's check out their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Gordons Gin Gammon
Gordon's Gin Gammon


Gordons Gin Gammon         

Ingredients - serves 4 (with sides)

1 small gammon joint (remove all packaging)
75ml Gordon's Gin
1 cup orange juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger (peeled)
4 star anise
4 bay leaves

Method

  1. Set your slow cooker to low.
  2. Add the gin, orange juice, vegetable stock, garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaves to the slow cooker.
  3. Before adding the gammon, use a fork to pierce the meat on both sides (this will help the flavour seep through the meat).
  4. Add the gammon to the slow cooker, place the lid on and cook on low for around 7-8 hours, turning the gammon over halfway through cooking.
    Gordons Gin Gammon
  5. Before serving, remove gammon from the slow cooker and rest on a plate for 5 minutes, before proceeding to cut into thin slices.
  6. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal veg and gravy if desired!
    Gordons Gin Gammon


Disclaimer:  I was sent a bottle of Gordon's Gin to create a recipe.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Glasgow Living Part 8 – Boozy Snoozy at Blythswood Square Hotel

Readers,

I send you all my sincerest apologies for the lack of blog posts of recent.   It’s been a wild few weeks.  For those of you who haven’t yet heard me shouting from the rooftops (sorry Glasgow Southside) we got ENGAGED.  We’ll officially be Mr & Mrs What Claire Baked.  It’s so regal!

Aside from my over watching of Say Yes to the Dress, looking at venues and seeing family, I’ve been out celebrating with the ladies in the family at the weekend. Which brings me to my first post in my popular Glasgow Living series for ages!

Last Saturday, 4 of us booked in for the Boozy Snoozy Lunch at Blythswood Square Hotel.  It was nothing short of amazing.  Fantastic value for money, great food, prosecco and seeing my granny getting a Pink Lady gin cocktail down her was priceless.
Image Credit:Google

In the year and a half we’ve lived in Glasgow, I’ve never yet made it to Blythswood Square.  I’ve walked past many a time, stared inside and thought, I really need to come here.   Face of regret that I didn’t book an afternoon tea here after a disaster at Malmaison Glasgow the other week, but that’s another story and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. 

Anyway, more about Boozy Snoozy… get 4 people together and for £88 you’ll get a 3 course lunch for 4 people, including a bottle of prosecco to share and tea or coffee to finish.  We arrived at 12.30pm on Saturday and were still there nearly 3 hours later.  There was no rush to leave, the staff were attentive, regularly topping up our glasses from the never ending prosecco bottle.

What struck me most was the service and attention to detail.  A doorman greeted us on arrival and was incredibly jolly.  And dapper.  Our coats were hung up by staff and we were shown to our table.  I ordered a round of cocktails with a request to bring them out with dessert and they arrived without prompting.  Two of asked for a little extra bread for parfait starters and it was brought without question.


So often, you book table deals for venues and are treated like a second class citizen for not going for a main menu or for using a voucher.  This absolutely cannot be said about Blythswood Square.  They were fantastic with us from start to finish.  So much so, that I’ve been compelled to write about the experience. Not just the food, but the overall enjoyment of a long leisurely lunch.

The food was fantastic as well.  We sampled a number of the different starters – from cream of parsnip soup, to smoked mackerel parfait and chicken liver parfait.  Main courses were mostly chicken supreme, although Granny (adventurer and fan of new culinary experiences) went for the seared fillet of hake because it came with samphire and she’d never tried it before.


For dessert, it was a full house enjoying the white chocolate tart, which was served with citrus accompaniments and madeleines. We finished with tea and coffee – points to the restaurant for having soy milk so I could enjoy a flat white with the rest of the group.


All in, a fantastic experience and I’d definitely go back. For more information, check out their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.