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Awesome and great blog

January 25-27

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May 27, 2014 2

Who could have failed to notice these wee beauties at the many Scottish foodie events?

Berry Scrumptious

When you grow amazing strawberries like Claire and Ross Rennie do on the family farm in Aberdeenshire, besides picking and punneting them, what else can you do? Cover them in chocolate of course. Berry Scrumptious is the brainchild of Claire and Ross Rennie but it doesn’t stop with chocolate-jacketed berries, they also produce fudge and chocolates. Since they started their company back in 2005, they haven’t let the grass grow under their feet.

Like many small companies, innovation comes from necessity, passion or filling a niche, which is where the Rennies new venture has sprung from. Summerhouse Drinks came to fruition (pun intended) because Claire, in her own words, said,

“As I’m always the designated driver when we go out, I noticed that most of the ‘posh’ lemonade sold in Scotland is made in England and a bit of further research with the customers who buy our chocolate, showed that there was a demand for a Scottish made lemonade range. Never one to pass up a good opportunity, we decided to go for it!”

Not that life gave Claire lemons, she couldn’t resist an opportunity to let her creative streak loose and she decided what better way to showcase her drinks than from a summerhouse on the back of a van. Bonkers you might think, yet brilliant.

Give Me Lemons

“We’re making real lemonades and soft drinks with 100% natural ingredients sourced from as close to home as possible. We will have some berry flavours but not enough for it to be called Berry Scrumptious. So we’re calling our new range ‘Summerhouse’ as, let’s face it, you generally need a Summerhouse to be able to enjoy a normal Scottish summer (and escape from the midges at the same time).”

I asked Claire what the biggest hurdle was.

“Finding the right machinery to make our lemonades. It’s very specialist equipment and has a long lead time from the factory to being installed and we didn’t have months and months to wait, we wanted to be launched for this Easter at the latest.”

Product development isn’t a quick process. Claire has been working on the drinks for over a year. Most of that time was spent doing research, writing and rewriting business plans before purchasing their first piece of equipment … a Soda Stream! Claire found that this ordinary piece of kitchen kit was a great way to test out recipes. It soon became apparent that that they needed to try the recipes out on a bigger scale and last December they trundled down to Edinburgh to spend a day at the Brewing Lab of Heriot-Watt University to try out a carbonating and bottling machine.

First bottles being filledThe first batch got a big thumbs up and the second test of the day was a ‘pink’ lemonade, which (at that point in time) needed a bit of work.

Since then everything gathered pace with pallets of bottles arriving in December. While most of us were patting our over-stuffed bellies between Christmas and New Year, Ross and his dad dashed off on an overnight jaunt to Keighley to collect some bits of production kit that they had bought only the week before.

They were now the proud owners of tanks, a bottler and carbonator, capper, labeller and a lot of pipes. All this gubbins was plumbed in the kitchen unit that was originally used for storage. New drains were put in, then a new floor and a wet wall.

Work still to be done here!

As if this wasn’t enough, there was branding, label and website design to be done; recipe development; planning a programme of festivals and foodie events to attend.

Labels for Summerhouse

By April, Claire had three flavours bottled and labelled! The initial range consists of Misty Lemonade (a cloudy version), Scottish Raspberry Lemonade and Hint O’ Mint (a firm favourite with the team) made with lemon juice that has been infused with natural mint leaves. Their first wholesaler started stocking Summerhouse Drinks, which meant that their beverages could be delivered throughout the UK on a weekly basis.

Never one to stand still, once again Claire’s creativity came into its own – getting the funding for the mobile summerhouse that could be driven around Scotland, dispensing lemonades and mocktails at festivals, fairs and foodie events.

One way of funding that has been popular with many small businesses, is crowd funding; this is the route that Claire opted for.

Why crowd funding?

“We decided to crowd fund for our van as we had spent all our resources on purchasing the equipment to make the lemonade and needed some funding. However, our avenues were limited. If you went to the bank or finance company and said ‘I want to build a van that looks like a summerhouse’, I doubt we would have got a positive response.”

This proved to be an excellent resource for finance for the company and within few weeks, Summerhouse Drinks had over 170 contributors, raising almost £5,000. And what do they funders get for their dosh?

“They get a range of rewards depending upon how much they pledge, including discounts on the Berry Scrumptious website, free drinks and VIP invites to events.”

To see how Claire managed to raise her funding and the wee video she made to generate interest in the mobile summerhouse, have a gander at the Bloom VC project page.

I asked Claire, what advice would she give to other small producers who want to diversify?

“Do a lot of good market research first and never stop innovating; new products are the lifeblood of a business.”

If you have an idea, take the plunge and you too could be winning awards like Summerhouse Drinks; they have won the Best New Retail Product for companies with less than 25 employees at the Grampian Food Innovation Awards with the judges liking their Hint O’Mint lemonade. They will soon find out how they got on in the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards. They were one of only three companies shortlisted in the Best Retail Product – Non Alcoholic Drinks section.

Unfortunately, there are no images of the van yet but it will be ready for their first event at The Taste of Grampian on the 7th June and, of course, you’ll be able to see it and try the lemonades at the Crail Food Festival.

If you fancy seeing where Claire’s design inspirations came from, then look no further than her Pinterest board. I’m sure many of us would like one of the gorgeous summerhouses featured in our gardens.

To follow the journey of Summerhouse Drinks stop by the website blog http://berryscrumptious.co.uk/blog/ and to keep up to date with what’s happening with the van, they are on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Summerhousedrinks

All images © of Berry Scrumptious, reproduced with kind permission.

Author: Lea Harris
Website: Off the Eaten Track
Twitter: @BakersBunny


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May 23, 2014

Seriously Good Venison

Seriously serendipitous stroke of luck! How else could one describe my assignment from Crail Food Festival to review the Seriously Good Venison company, coming as it did in the very week I attended a venison cookery masterclass?!

Venison is remarkably healthy for you. It is very low in fat, leaner even than skinless chicken and has less than half the cholesterol. It is also a good source of Omega 3, iron, protein, vitamins, potassium and zinc.

The Seriously Good Venison company is run by Vikki Banks and you can read all about her and her company in last year’s article by Crail Food Festival blogger Karen. You can order Seriously Good Venison online for home delivery, or to collect at farmer’s markets in Perth, Edinburgh and throughout Fife. I caught up with Vikki at the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market to find out what she’s been up to over the past year and, of course, to buy some of her tasty produce now that I know all about cooking venison!

I first asked Vikki where the deer herd are living now, as she had been planning to move them closer to where she lives. They have indeed been moved and are settled nicely into their new home near Cupar in Fife. They have also had their year round grass-fed diet improved with the addition of grain during the winter months. This allows the deer to increase their size, whilst still retaining the same quality of meat that comes from being free-range, grass-fed and additive-free.

The other big development is that the Seriously Good butchery has expanded in Perth and now offers a specialist bespoke butchery service for organic beef, lamb, pork and wild boar. All the carcasses are carefully and expertly matured and butchered, providing complete traceability from their original farm. Vikki has been so delighted by the quality of the lamb that she has introduced Seriously Good Lamb into her own brand, and this is now available by mail order. Plans are afoot to introduce further products into the company’s portfolio but Vikki is wisely taking this slowly so she can be sure of guaranteeing the same Seriously Good quality she is proud of.

I had advance-ordered a couple of cuts of venison and a pile of bones for stock – to collect at the farmer’s market. Whilst chatting to Vikki I noticed she sells her own venison stock too, so I picked her brains on how she makes it. She roasts the bones, then simply simmers them in water overnight. I love that it is so pure with no additives muddying the flavour. I have now made this stock and it is fabulous, like a rich vibrant beef stock with extra flavour. So, for just a couple of quid, you can get about 2kg of Seriously Good Venison bones and make lots of your own stock…

Vohns Venison Stock
Vohn’s Homemade Venison Stock

…or you can buy one of Vicky’s pre-made concentrated venison stock pots for about the same price. I also just had to buy one of her cute little venison supper pies to try. It seems a little expensive at £1.55 for one mini raised pie but it is well worth it, as it is chock full of meat and is rich and delicious.

So, what to do with Vikki’s Seriously Good Venison once you get it home? First, a little word of warning if you have never cooked venison before. Raw venison has a slightly gamey smell which, if you are not used to, can make you think it is off – do not worry, all is well!

My first recipe comes from the venison masterclass I recently attended and is published here by kind permission of Craig Wood, chef proprietor of The Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry, Fife.

RECIPE – Carpaccio of Venison

This is a brilliant recipe for the summer, as it only takes a few minutes cooking and then marinates in the fridge for a couple of days.
(Recipe © Craig Wood)
Ingredients (serves 4)
venison loin, trimmed of all fat and sinew (I used a 315g Seriously Good Venison fillet, as this is what Vikki recommended)
½ bunch of fresh coriander
3 red chillies, deseeded (I used orange and yellow chillies, as this is what I had)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
50ml olive oil (I used cold-pressed rape-seed oil, as I like to use local produce as much as possible)
Generously season the venison with salt & pepper. Quickly sear all over in a very hot frying pan with a little oil. Leave to cool.
Blitz coriander, chillies, garlic & oil together
Coat the venison in the chilli paste and roll up in cling film
Marinate in the fridge for a couple of days
Slice wafer thin & serve (I also drizzled on the remaining marinade)

Carpaccio of Seriously Good Venison
Carpaccio of Seriously Good Venison

The venison fillet is so soft it almost melts in the mouth. The flavour is amazing as the meat is quite rare, with the fresh marinade giving a lovely vibrancy and chilli heat. I served it with a simple but pretty plate of the first of the season’s locally grown tomatoes.

Local seasonal tomatoes
Local seasonal tomatoes

Venison is one of the few game products that is available all year-round, so I also wanted to give you a winter recipe. I used a Seriously Good Venison shank for this, as I wanted the extra flavour from the bone marrow, but it would also be good using trimmed venison haunch, which is a little cheaper.

RECIPE – Seriously Good Venison Stew

This recipe is really easy, requiring only about 15 minutes prep. It is a great recipe for cheaper cuts in colder months, as it slow-cooks in the oven for hours warming the kitchen and filling it full of wonderful aromas.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 carton Seriously Good concentrated venison stock
700g Seriously Good Venison shank
freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
2 tbsp oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned is fine)
250ml red wine
1 tsp juniper berries
1) Preheat oven to 200ºC. Mix the concentrated venison stock with boiling water to give 400ml stock.
2) Season the venison with salt & pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot and sear the venison all over. Take care searing the side where the flesh is thinner, closest to the bone, as this can burn easily. Place in a casserole dish.
3) Turn the heat down to low-medium and fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the stock and scrape pan to de-glaze it. Add the tomatoes, red wine and juniper berries. Bring to the boil and then pour over the venison shank in the casserole dish. Add a lid.
4) Cook in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 150ºC. Cook for a further 3-4 hours until tender, turning the shank every 30 minutes. The meat may fall off the bone after a couple of hours – this is fine but do leave the bone in until the end of cooking as it will add extra flavour.
5) Remove the bone and juniper berries, season to taste and serve.

Seriously Good Venison Stew
Seriously Good Venison Stew

The venison is soft and falling apart, rich with a slightly gamey flavour. To use Vikki’s favourite word when talking about slow-cooked Seriously Good Venison, it is “unctuous” in the best possible sense! It is so tasty that all I served it with was plain boiled potatoes and steamed Savoy cabbage. Delicious!

There are more venison recipes on the Seriously Good Venison website. Many of these were written by former owner and award-winning cookery writer Nicola Fletcher, who will be appearing at the Crail Food Festival, demonstrating in the Cookery Theatre.

Seriously Good Venison will also be featuring at Crail’s Lunch at the Harbour, on Sunday 15th June, where they will be serving venison, beef and lamb burgers.

Head to Crail Food Festival on 14th and 15th June to enjoy some Seriously Good food!
Author: Vohn McGuinness
Blog: Vohn’s Vittles
Facebook: Vohn’s Vittles
Twitter: @VohnsVittles

Producer: Seriously Good Venison
Website: Seriously Good Venison
Facebook: Seriously Good Venison
Twitter: @SGVenison



May 21, 2014

As part of our activities in making sure that as many people know about the Crail Food Festival as possible, some of the team headed to St Andrews on 20 May to participate in the first St Andrews Tourism Showcase, being hosted by the Fife Tourism Partnership.  Attended by around 40 tourism businesses from around Fife, the aim of the day was to let people involved in the tourist sector find out more about events, festivals and other businesses in the area.

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Armed with a batch of the Honeypot’s Home-Made scones, we set up our stall and spent the day talking to visitors, and signing up local businesses to our mailing list so that they would receive the Crail Food Festival newsletters reminding them about the events.

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The Tourism Showcase provided us with the opportunity to explain to some of the food-related businesses in Fife what a great stage we provide at Crail Food Festival for them to connect with potential customers and show their wares and expertise.  We’re finalising the Tasting Theatre opportunities now, and it won’t be long before we’ll be able to tell you more about all the temptations we’ve got lined up for you. A day in St Andrews also allowed Graham Anderson, our event manager, to visit local chefs to put the finishing touches to our Chefs’ Demo Theatre which will be in Crail Kirk Hall (read more). St Andrews Tourism Showcase

When you’re planning a food festival, tools include a handy sketch map drawn on a tablecloth which illustrates all the venues for 2014!

The Festivals in Fife group were well represented at the Tourism Showcase, providing information about all of the Festivals which work together to provide entertainment for our visitors throughout the year – from StAnza, Cambo Snowdrops and the Fife Jazz Festival in the early part of the year, to St Andrews Voices and the St Andrews Day celebrations in the later months.

Crail Food Festival and Festivals in Fife will also be at Fife Show this weekend, so look out for our bright t-shirts and pretty leaflets and find out more about what’s happening over the weekend of 14 – 15 June 2014.  Remember, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and have a mailing list (sign up box to the top right of our home page).

 



May 16, 2014 6
  • Beery Mac ‘n’ cheese in St. Andrew Brewing Co.
  • Mussels cooked in St. Andrews Brewing Co. Crail Ale
  • Venison shank braised in Eden Brewery beer
  • Eden Brewery ‘Shipwrecked’ Beer Battered Pollock with homemade tartar sauce and minted mushy broad beans

WE ARE EXTREMELY fortunate to have two of Scotland’s finest craft breweries in Fife. The St. Andrews Brewing Company and The Eden Brewery are two beer producers Scotland can be extremely proud of and for this year’s Crail Food Festival, I was charged with creating a dish with beer as a key ingredient.

It was a tough task spending hours tasting beers I must admit, but somebody had to do it! I was fortunate that the Crail Food Festival gave me the opportunity to visit both breweries and get an insight into how these master brewers concoct their superb range of brews. The passion for quality beer was apparent in both camps, and it was great to hear of the success both have enjoyed in the relatively short time their respective businesses has been trading.

st andrews brewing co

The St. Andrews Brewing Company, in partnership with local restaurateur Tim Butler, recently expanded by opening up their own tap house, offering 16 different artisanal beers on tap and a tasty tapas menu to compliment them. Initially owner Bob Phaff found it difficult to find premises actually in St. Andrews, so started brewing in an industrial unit in Glenrothes. With one of his main goals to be located in the University town, Bob has recently obtained suitable premises and gets the keys just a few weeks before The Crail Food Festival.

Meanwhile the demand for beers from The Eden Brewery has been so great that they are expanding their premises in Guardbridge, increasing production hours and taking on more staff. General Manager Kevan Fraser invited me to join a tour of the brewery, which includes an insight into the history of brewing in St. Andrews and an excellent (and rather generous!) beer tasting session.

eden brewery st andrews

So what exactly did I come up with? It was too difficult to choose between The Eden Brewery and the St. Andrews Brewing Company for one individual dish, so I came up with the idea of some Fife-inspired tapas-style sharing plates using a couple of beers from both camps.

With the East Neuk being famous for fish and chips, I had to include a tapa with a nod to this most iconic Scottish dish. I give you *drum roll please* The Eden Brewery’s “Shipwrecked” beer battered pollock with minted mushy broad beans and home-made tartar sauce. Although cod supplies have been improving recently, I still favour using Pollock; it’s more sustainable and better value for money.

RECIPE – Shipwrecked beer battered Pollock
Ingredients (serves four):
2x Pollock fillets (I always advise buying fish from your local fishmonger, but it not, look for MSC accredited fish)
1x bottle of “Shipwrecked” from The Eden Brewery
250g self-raising flour, sifted
Tbsp rapeseed oil
Sunflower or vegetable oil to deep fry
250g broad beans, podded
75g Parmegianno Reggiano, grated
Few sprigs of mint
Veg stock to cover
Salt and pepper

For Tartar Sauce
150ml Mayonnaise (or make your own!)
25 g capers, finely chopped
25g gherkins, finely chopped
½ carrot very finely chopped
25g of chopped parsley
Salt
Turn fryer on to 200C. First, make the batter, as it will need time to rest. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, the rapeseed oil and add the beer. When mixing, I like to leave little lumps of flour as they pop when frying and help make it light, so roughly mix and allow to rest for 15 mins in the fridge (you could make this a day in advance).
Bring some water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 1-2 mins. Drain, add mint and parmesan and pulse in a food processor until broken down to a mushy pea like consistency.
For the tartar sauce, mix all ingredients together and season to taste.
Next, cut the Pollock fillets into bite size chunks. Coat pieces in the batter and carefully place into fryer for 1 ½-2 mins until golden.
Serve in terracotta tapas dishes and dig in!

The St. Andrews Brewing Company’s Crail Ale was actually created to celebrate the 2012 Crail Food Festival and has went on to win several awards, which include regional winner of Sainsbury’s ‘Great British Beer Hunt.’ Winning this prestigious award saw Bob’s company granted a six-month contract with the supermarket giant. Such has been the success of the Crail Ale, it is now being stocked indefinitely – a great achievement for the man who ‘brews, bottles and labels by hand, on his own’. With its fruity, citrus flavour I reckoned this would go perfectly with one of my favourite summer time lunches – Scottish mussels.

RECIPE – Scottish Mussels
500g Scottish mussels, washed and de-bearded
1x shallot, diced
1x garlic clove
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
1x bottle of Crail Ale.
Crusty bread for serving
Salt and pepper

1) In a saucepan, sweat the onion in a little oil (make sure you have a lid close by)
2) When softened, add the garlic for one minute, then toss in the mussels.
3) Add the beer and quickly put the lid on the pot. Shake vigourously for 2-3 minutes until the mussels have opened. Make sure to discard any that do not open.
4) Serve in a big bowl with some crusty bread for an ideal summer tapas dish.

The next dish is venison shank slow-cooked in beer, which I came up with after visiting Eden’s Sunday stall at Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Market. I had picked up some venison shanks at another stall, and the butcher suggested I try braising the meat in their Barley Wine beer. The dish was a resounding success and I really like the idea of having people taking meat from the bone and sharing it, almost pulled-venison style. Venison is such an underused and healthy meat and I hope this simple recipe will get people cooking it more often. The Barley Wine variety is currently out of production until November, but the chocolaty notes from Eden Brewery’s Bourbon Cask works equally as well. Be sure to choose some Seriously Good Venison for some of Fife’s finest venison.

RECIPE: Venison Shank Slow-cooked in Beer
Ingredients:
2x venison shanks
1x carrot
1x onion
1x celery stick
1x tsp tomato puree
2x bottles of Bourbon Cask
Chicken stock to cover.
Salt and pepper
In a hot frying pan, brown the shanks all over then set aside. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery and brown in the same pan. Adding the tomato puree after 2-3 mins and cook for a further minute.
Remove the vegetables and deglaze the pan with the beer, bring to the boil.
Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and allow to cook for 2 ½ – 3 hours or until tender.
Let the venison rest for 10 mins, and reduce the cooking liquor down in a pan. Place shanks into a big dish, pour over the gravy and serve.

When I was doing my research for this article, I looked at St. Andrews Brewing Company’s Tap House menu and was rather intrigued by the ‘beer mac & cheese’ offering. As it happened, I required a vegetarian option to go with the other three dishes and was keen to use Anster cheese in one of my recipes – what better way to do so?

RECIPE – Beer Mac & Cheese
Ingredients (serves 4):
250g Macaroni
65g butter
65g plain flour
1x ‘The Wee Blonde’ beer
500mls milk
Tsp Dijon mustard
200g Anster cheese, grated
150g Isle of Mull cheddar, grated
Salt and pepper
Turn on the grill to a high heat and boil the kettle. Cook the macaroni in well –seasoned, boiling water for around 8-10 minutes or until soft with a slight bite. Drain and set aside.
Next, make the cheesy beer sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Beat thoroughly for 1-2 mins to cook out the flour. Gradually add the beer and milk, whisking thoroughly as you go. Once the mixture resembles a sauce, add the mustard and the cheese (reserve some for grilling) and mix through until melted. Check seasoning.
Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix. Fill individual tapas dishes with the mixture (or use one big dish) and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Place under a grill for a couple of minutes until a crispy top forms and serve.

I hope these recipes inspire you not only to cook with beer, but to appreciate some of the great brewing we have going on in Fife at the moment. I mentioned that the passion these guys have for their work, and for me, like most small food producers, it really comes across in their work. Please visit St. Andrew’s Brewing Company and The Eden Brewery during your visit to the Crail Food Festival, and always remember the golden rule when cooking with beer – always save a glass for the chef!

Author: Phil Cook
Blog: Phil’s Food World
Twitter: @PhilsFoodWorld

Producer: Eden Brewery St Andrews
Website: Eden Brewery St Andrews
Facebook: Eden Brewery St Andrews Beer
Twitter: @edenbrewery

Producer: St Andrews Brewing Company
Website: St Andrews Brewing Company
Facebook: St Andrews Brewing Co
Twitter: @StAndysBrewing