Tuesday, 28 August 2012

5 Questions - Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat

Sunday mornings used to hold strong memories for me of fresh Morton's rolls, spread thick with butter before being filled with three or four rashers of crispy bacon and a splash of tomato sauce. That memory had faded over the years down to the simple fact that good flavoursome bacon seemed to have disappeared. It got so bad that bacon rarely got a mention when it came to the weekend breakfast.

Step in Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat. A family smallholding run by Allan & Susan Steel on the outskirts of Newton Mearns, south of Glasgow, they provide ethically produced, great tasting, high quality meat. At the farm they keep two kinds of native rare breed pigs, the Gloucestershire Old Spot and the British Saddleback. Both breeds make lovely mothers; they are very hardy and produce excellent, flavoursome pork and bacon.

How did you get started?

We both have farming backgrounds, Susan's grandfather had a piggery in Giffnock while my grandfather was an agricultural contractor in Jackton. We had been looking for a smallholding in the local area for about 5 years and we were about to give in, when with a last roll of the dice we wrote a letter to a local farmer about the availability of a piece of land. Luckily, this was the chance we had been looking for and after a couple of viewings we were the proud owners of 23 acres of land only 5 miles from Eaglesham where we were living at the time. So after selling our house and investing every last penny we had (and much, much more) , Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat managed to get going.

Whats the best piece of business advice you could give?

If the dream means anything to you, persevere! Don't listen to the doom-mongers, be patient and don't give up. You only live once!

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time

In 5 years time we would love to have our own farm shop, selling and delivering all our produce and also the best food and drink that our local area has to offer. We believe that at least 90% of all of our food basket could be sourced from a 100 mile radius of East Renfrewshire, leading to a more wealthy ,community based society.

If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?

If we could have only one of our own products then it would have to be a whole Gloucester Old Spot pig. The list of things that can be done with pork is HUGE, from sausages to the amazing pulled pork. Oh, and let's not forget our delicious bacon.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal “ Who would it be and why?, and what's on the menu?

Sorry, but we would have to invite two guests. The first would be the Dalai Lama, we are not religious, but this man talks a lot of sense. The other guest would be Homer Simpson, a complete contrast to the Dalai Lama, but we think that they would be hilarious together. For the meal, well Lochbyre pork would have to figure highly. We don't think Homer would mind too much and the Dalai Lama would be happy because Lochbyre pigs live the best life a porker can live!

Lochbyre have quickly become a regular on the Lanarkshire Farmers Market circuit, selling a wide selection of hearty sausages and quality bacon, to burgers, escalopes and roasting joints. However, make sure that you arrive early as they have a habit of selling out their pre-packed goodies quickly. If your looking for a tasty treat for breakfast/lunch then you might be lucky enough to get a fresh roll stuffed full with delicious pulled pork or juicy spit roast pig.

For those of you who cannot make it to the farmers markets, Lochbyre have recently started a local delivery service. You can either order online or call them for more details. Why not check out their Facebook page or Twitter feed and see when they're at a market near you?

Of course, the arrival of Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat in my local area means that I can start to turn my memories into reality once more.

For fantastic meat with a free range flavour, you'll be hard pushed to find better tasting pork!


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Competition - An Audience With Martin Wishart @ feastRen - East Renfrewshire Food & Drink Festival

feastRen Food Festival in association with Whole Foods Market Giffnock and The Cook School Scotland will run from 1st-16th September.

Michelin starred chef Martin Wishart will headline feastRen Food and Drink Festival with "An audience with Martin Wishart" cooking demo and Q and A at 7.30pm on stage at Eastwood Park Theatre on Saturday 8 September. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets worth £30, read on.

75 events right across East Renfrewshire all celebrating delicious, diverse ,fresh, fantastic foods. Local retailers, restaurants, bustling bars, culinary cafés and tasty takeaways are all getting involved. There are events for families, for serious foodies and just for plain old fun lovers. The majority of events are FREE including the feastRen Festival Weekend on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September.

You can enjoy street food, street entertainment and street cred chefs. Visit the beer and wine marquee, workshops, theatre demos, kid's tent ,producer's market, livestock and enjoy live and quirky arts and crafts.

Eat, drink, be merry and shop until you drop......what's not to love?


Brochures have been widely distributed across East Renfrewshire, packed with information on all the events. If you're looking to learn new skills, why not get yourself along to Eastwood House on Thursday 13th September for 'Kosher Style Cooking with Hilary Harris'? En Croute's expert caterer will be removing the mystery and sharing traditional Jewish home cooking tips whilst showing off her trademark flair for funky and fun food presentation. Ideal for home entertaining, with tasty treats on the night! Join her for a wee glass of sparkly as Hilary teaches how to put the magic into your matzah balls.

Tickets cost £15/£13 concession & can be bought by calling 0141 577 4970 or buy online.

If that doesn't tick the boxes for you, what about 'On Tour With the Stars, with John Quigley' on Sunday 2nd September at Whitelee Windfarm? Rock star chef John Quigley , chef/patron of Glasgow restaurant Red Onion, will be doing a "cooking for the crowd" demo and sharing stories and secrets from life on tour with the stars. Tasty treats and a glass of fizz will punctuate the evening.

Tickets cost £15/£13 concession & can be bought by calling 0141 577 4970 or buy online.

Food Festival Menu

To celebrate The feastRen Food Festival, from 1-16 September, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, delicatessens and takeaways across East Renfrewshire are running a special promotional feastRen Festival Menu. Each of our local businesses will run their own unique offer. Check out www.aplacetogrow.co.uk to see a list of participating businesses.


To be in with a chance of winning two tickets to see Michelin starred chef Martin Wishart at this great event simply go to https://www.facebook.com/gerryskitchen, like the page, then send a direct message with the answer to the following question......(do not post your answers on the wall, click on the message button)

Question - Name two top chefs that Martin Wishart has trained under? 
Hint - see Martin's website for a little help

Closing date for entries is 10:00pm on Monday 3rd September 2012, the winner will be announced on Gerry's Kitchen Facebook page on Tuesday 4th September 2012.



Friday, 24 August 2012

'5 Questions' - Tapa Organic

The next local food business to 'bare all' for Gerry's Kitchen is Tapa Organic. This bakery-cum-cafe which is certified organic by the Soil Association can be found at two separate Glasgow locations. The eastenders in Dennistoun and the southsiders in Shawlands will be familiar with the huge range of artisan breads and home roasted coffee that is on offer. If you can't manage to get into either branch, you can still buy their wonderful products at Whole Foods Market in Giffnock or by taking a trip to the fortnightly Partick farmers market in Glasgow's West End.

How did you get started?

We arrived in Glasgow 10 years ago and missed the independent neighbourhood cafes that we'd frequented when living in New Zealand. At the time, Glasgow seemed to have a lot of classic old Italian cafes and giant national or global coffee chains, but not much in between; at least, not where we were living on the southside.

We thought we should open one ourselves and since we were struggling to find a supplier of good quality homemade cakes and scones, we thought we'd bake them ourselves. At the time we made the decision to as roast our own coffee too, that way we could make sure that we got really good quality beans, freshly roasted. The site we eventually found in Dennistoun had been a neighbourhood bakery from the time the building was put up until the last baker had retired. By this time, we were experimenting with bread making too, and it was our bread that really took off when we eventually opened.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Based on experience, we would need to give these two pieces of advice. First of all, hire a bookkeeper at the outset to keep everything organised & produce reliable data. Secondly, always buy the right tool (or hire the right person) for the job - equipment doesn't have to be new, but it has to be able to do the job it was designed for. Trying to take shortcuts or save a few pennies on a compromise will cost more in the long run and there is rarely the need to reinvent the wheel.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

Producing more great organic products and tasty coffees, and making them available to more people across Scotland. We would like to take on more apprentices and run more baking classes to share all the knowledge we've gained.

If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?

A toss-up between the Light Rye bread and a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. The Light Rye because it is such a tasty, versatile bread. The coffee because it's just what you need with a slice of Light Rye toast. Please don't make us choose one or t'other!

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Hildegard of Bingen because she was such a polymath and champion of spelt. I think we'd have breakfast: poached eggs on Tapa spelt toast with a pot of Tapa coffee. Perhaps preceded by a shot of the palinka that our Hungarian baker's dad makes (it's good for the digestion!).

I would like to thank the team at Tapa Organic for taking time out and letting me run this little exposé on them. So whether you're on the lookout for traditionally baked breads, or have more time to enjoy breakfast/lunch, or simply relax with a quality coffee and slice of cake, then get yourself along to your nearest branch. If you need any further information about what's on offer, you can connect with Tapa Organic either by Facebook or Twitter.


Monday, 20 August 2012

Recipe - French-style Chicken with Peas & Bacon

I love dishes that are packed with flavours, I love them even more when the recipe can be quickly assembled after a long day at work. This tasty chicken recipe came courtesy of Easy Cook magazine and was ready in just 25 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 3 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • Bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 125g frozen peas
  • 1 little gem lettuce, shredded
  • 2tbsp créme fraîche

  1. In a large frying pan, dry-fry the bacon over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until the fat is released and the bacon is golden. Transfer the bacon to a small bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the chicken and brown for a few minutes on each side.
  2. Push the chicken to one side of the pan and tip in the garlic and spring onions, cooking for about 30 seconds. Pour in the chicken stock, return the bacon to the pan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. To finish the dish, increase the heat under the pan before tipping the peas and lettuce into the sauce and cook for 4 minutes, until the peas are tender and the lettuce has wilted slightly.
  4. Check that the chicken is cooked through then stir in the crème fraîche before serving.

Tonight I served the creamy chicken with boiled new potatoes but I think it would work equally well with boiled rice. In fact, I think that this dish could be easily altered and tweaked to suit your own taste. Wholegrain mustard, or smoked paprika would add a new dimension to the creamy sauce, whilst adding chopped leeks or sliced mushroom would also work incredibly well with the bacon and chicken.

Give it a go and look forward to hearing what little twists make this dish work best for you!


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Recipe - Chinese Style Beef with Noodles & Stir-fried Veg

I'm always looking for quick and easy recipes that I can cook when I get home from work. A friend at work had emailed me a recipe by Jamie Oliver which had lots of ingredients, I've simplified the dish to save a little time without scrimping on flavour.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 300g rump steak
  • 1tbsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 courgette, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lime
  • Dried egg noodles

  1. Mix the Chinese five spice with a little olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste over both sides of the steak and leave to marinade for 15 minutes. Heat a pan until hot, add groundnut oil and when it begins to smoke, add the steak to the pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side then remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  2. While the steak is resting, quickly stir fry the courgette and pepper in the pan that the steak was in. Add a little dark soy sauce to help deglaze the pan. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions before draining then add to the pan with the vegetables. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat.
  3. Using a fine grater, grate the raw ginger, chili and garlic over the steak. Be sure to rub the flavours all over the top of the steak before squeezing the juice of half a lime over the top. Thinly slice the beef and layer over the stir fried noodles and veg.
Chinese style beef with noodles
Despite the fact that the beef has been covered with so many strong individual flavours, they all pull together wonderfully. I have served this meal a few times over the last month making simple changes to the vegetables that I used in the noodles, as well as the quantity of the chili, garlic and ginger that I rubbed over the steak before serving. Regardless, it has tasted delicious every time!


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

5 Questions - The Wee Fudge Company

I first became aware of The Wee Fudge Company earlier this year when they were at my farmers market. At the time, the fledgling family business was only a few months of trading into what has become a bit of a roller coaster year as a home hobby has grown arms and legs and quickly grown into a successful business. From making creamy fudge for family & friends to attending their local farmers market in Clarkston, making personalised corporate goodies and beautifully presented wedding favours, Wee Fudge has progressed to selling their delicious range of fudge in a number of select retail outlets including Whole Food Market in Giffnock. In fact, as recently as yesterday, Coia's Cafe in Glasgow received their first delivery from Joyce and the team.

The Wee Fudge Company have been quick to incorporate social media into their marketing, making sure that they are keeping their fans up to date with everything that's going on. Embracing the social media sites has also been a great help to Wee Fudge as they were successfully chosen as one of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday winners on Twitter (#SBS). This has helped raise lots more awareness to the brand, as well as help drive more online traffic through their website. You can connect with them on both Facebook and Twitter.

1 - How did you get started?

The business was born following a family conversation around the dinner table one Saturday (curry!) night in the autumn of 2011. I had been making fudge for fundraisers for quite some time and often received enquiries about buying the fudge. My daughter is a wedding planner and good on marketing, her partner is a web designer and my son is an excellent photographer. They all said they would help me set things up if I decided to go for it. We started up by coming up with a name then that grew into designing a logo and building a wee website but our real ‘break’ came when Whole Foods Market opened. We went round there on their opening weekend and I spotted that they didn’t sell fresh fudge. I emailed them, they invited me in, loved the fudge, said they’d like to stock it and a business was born. (I should also mention son number two’s job is to be my main assistant in the sales department – a real ambassador for the brand and a bit of eye candy for the girls I’m told!)

2 - What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Be clear in your mission and your market, focus on your customers and don't compromise on your product, your standards or your values.

3 - Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

As the Scottish producer who has the reputation for providing a first class, bespoke and signature service and the finest luxury fudge to the finest delicatessens and wine merchants – in Scotland and beyond.

4 - If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?

I’d need to have two! First our signature Strawberry & White Chocolate –because so many people tell us they have never tasted fudge anything like it. That was I think when I realised that our fudge really was something quite special! But I also need to mention our fresh Scottish raspberry also with white chocolate because it is a very good example of our commitment to use local and seasonal produce, with no additives, in our constant development of fudge flavours – and it tastes absolutely fantastic!

5 - You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

It would have to be my Dad who passed away when I was in my early twenties. He always supported and encouraged me in anything I did and I would love for him to be able to see how this wee business idea is turning into something really special. He would be very proud! On the menu would be a Scottish soup ( made with ham ribs that Dad and I would share) , followed by very fresh Scottish haddock. We’d probably skip pudding and go straight to coffee and cheeseboard that would include some very special fudge laced with Dad’s favourite tipple - Drambuie!

So whether you happen to buy their delicious fudge from a retailer near you, or directly from their stall at the farmers markets, you can be sure that the same attention to detail has been taken to ensure that you keep coming back for more. I've not managed to try the whole range yet but I'm definitely working on it, but I've already decided that my favourite flavour is the fantastic fresh raspberry & white chocolate fudge, what's yours?


Friday, 3 August 2012

Recipe - Chicken Katsu Curry

I'm always on the lookout for easy to prepare meals that I can serve up quickly when I get home from work. At the weekend I don't mind spending time in the kitchen but after a long day in the office, I want to have dinner prepared and on the table in 20-30 minutes. Recently I stumbled upon this recipe for chicken Katsu curry that looked like it would fit the bill, and after a trip to my local Chinese grocer for some panko breadcrumbs, I had everything I needed to give this classic Japanese dish a go.
Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Seasoned flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Small piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1tbsp curry powder
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 100g basmati rice
  • Sesame oil
  • Dark soy sauce

  1. Dip the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour, beaten egg, then cover all over with panko breadcrumbs. Put in the fridge for ten minutes before cooking. This will help the breadcrumbs stay on the chicken.
  2. Heat some oil in a frying pan then cook the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes in each side before transferring to a baking tray and placing in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
  3. To make the curry sauce, put the onion, garlic, ginger & chili flakes in a saucepan with a little olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the flour & curry powder, stirring for a couple of minutes to stop the contents catching on the bottom. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Using a stick blender or food processor, blend the sauce to a smooth consistency. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
  4. Cook the rice in plenty of salted water before adding the peas for the last couple of minutes cooking. Drain the rice and peas before stirring through a splash of sesame oil and dark soy sauce.
Chicken Katsu Curry

                                                                     The chicken should now be cooked through and be a beautiful golden colour. Remove from the oven and slice the chicken into thick slices.To serve, spread a layer of the rice onto two plates, lay the crispy chicken slices over the rice and drizzle some of your homemade curry sauce over the top.

There is a little more effort involved in this meal than I would normally like on a work night but once the chicken is in the oven, there is plenty of time to carry out all of the other steps. The extra effort is definitely worth it though as I think that this was one of the tastiest meals that I have prepared in a long time and possible the closest that i have come to making a truly authentic dish.

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