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Ahead of Burns Night on the 25th of January, I spent an evening with Asda, showcasing their high-quality goods from suppliers across Scotland and creating a spectacular Burns Supper for us all using some of these products.

I have a confession to make, up until my Burns Supper dinner with Asda, I had never been to one before. I also couldn’t tell you much about Robert Burns other than the fact my brother shares his birthday with him.

So what happens at Burns Suppers? The whole point of Burns Night is to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns, Scotlands National Bard. Guests are piped into the dining room and seated then grace is said before the main event.

Our menu for the evening with prepared by Asda’s Head Innovation Chef Mark Richmond and his team who created some delicious recipes to help inspire us in the run-up to Burns Night, using some of the fantastic Scottish products available in store.

January. A new year and a time for fresh starts. A time when half the population are partaking in Dry January, Veganuary or have made it their NYE resolution that this will be the year they’ll become a fitter version of themselves. 

To kick a new series on the blog called ‘Cooking The Books’, I’ll be taking a closer look at James Haskell & Omar Meziane’s latest book Cooking For Fitness and attempting to re-create one of their dishes that stood out for me.

British & Irish Lion Rugby superstar James Haskell’s, brand new cookbook, Cooking For Fitness. James has teamed up with the UK’s top performance chef Omar Meziane to create this unique recipe book designed specifically to boost training performance and achieve your body goals. The book includes 79 quick and easy recipes with clear instructions and uses honest uncomplicated ingredients, most of which will already be in your kitchen cupboard. The recipes have been carefully designed with both male and female fitness enthusiasts in mind – whether your aim is to build muscle, strip fat, increase resistance, improve performance time, aid recovery or simply fuel your training, the recipes will help you do just that.

On a recent trip to St Andrews, I was in the mood to explore some other villages in the surrounding area. One that stood out for me was the pretty village of St Monans on the East Neuk of Fife, a little over 12 miles south of St Andrews. St Monans is the smallest of the East Neuk fishing ports, filled with 17th and 18th century colourful homes wrapped around the harbour.

I’m a huge supporter for recipes that are simple. Ones that you can prepare rather quickly, without much effort and most importantly, are flavoursome. A combination that I had yet to try was fruit in a salad. Okay so tomatoes are technically a fruit, but in this instance, I’m referring to the king of berries- strawberries. Yes, I’m adding them into a salad. In collaboration with M&S, I’m recreating their Strawberry and Manchego Salad. It can go one of two ways; be a flavour revelation or be awful. A true Marmite moment.

For the ingredients, I popped along to my local M&S Simply Food that I honestly don’t think I’m ever away from. Ross and I pop in for a few things then leave with a trolley load constantly. Recent favourites of mine are the ‘Best Ever Burger’ that they started doing. These are by far the best burgers you could buy in a supermarket and contain bone marrow to make them extra decadent. Delicious chargrilled or even better barbecued with crispy onions and gooey Manchego cheese in a brioche bun. Drool.

Back to the Strawberry and Manchego Salad though, you know, healthy balance and all that jazz.

I picked up the 8 ingredients required to recreate this recipe, including the all important Strawberries and headed home very proud of myself that I managed to restrain myself from buying extra goodies. This time.

We are currently in the midst of the British tomato season and what better way to celebrate than creating some healthy, easy and delicious meals using some fresh Piccolo tomatoes. Dishes so easy and with minimal effort  even the novice amongst us can prepare them.

With tomato varieties such as heirloom to beefsteak, my absolute favourite has to be the cherry tomato and in particular Piccolo tomatoes. Intensely juicy and sweet, they are full of flavour on or off the vine, whether cooked hot or eaten cold.

Growing up, I always remember my grandfather having a whole salad tomato with his lunchtime sandwich. He’d eat it whole like an apple, stopping to sprinkle some salt after every bite. I never understood how he could eat a tomato that way. My mom inherited his love of eating tomatoes like an apple, right down to enjoying a glass of ice cold tomato juice. Not for me.

I teamed up with the British Tomato Association to create some mouthwatering dishes for you all. Matt from family run business Glinwell kindly sent me a box of fresh Piccolo tomatoes direct from their farm in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

While I could never envision consuming tomatoes the same way my grandfather did, the following 5 easy & delicious recipes with Piccolo tomatoes are right up my street, allowing the tomatoes to take centre stage and shine. 

Halloumi Couscous Salad

A bright salad full of flavour and even better served alongside some grilled halloumi or chicken. Create a batch of it to use throughout the week for work lunches saving you even more time. This is my go-to salad when I’m bored of rocket leaves and balsamic glaze.

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Halloumi Couscous Salad

Pan con Tomate

A traditional Catalonian tapa, with only 5 ingredients it requires no cooking. A staple amongst the Catalans its easy to see why after a bite. Enjoy on its own or with some Iberico ham.

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Pan con Tomate

Red Lentil and Roasted Piccolo Tomato Soup

A hearty soup, perfect to enjoy as a meal in itself or as a starter. With the addition of some crusty bread, its a firm favourite of mine. I had it for dinner last night and for lunch today its that good.

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Piccolo Tomato Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses

A simple salad bursting with flavour, taking me back to my Middle Eastern days. Serve it alongside some grilled chicken, flatbread and hommous. 

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Piccolo Tomato Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses

King Prawn Spaghetti with a Tomato, Chorizo and Chilli Sauce

A decadent dish cooked and served in under 30 minutes. A great mid-week comforting dinner or one to savour with friends at the weekend. So irresistible I had it two days in a row recently.

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What is your favourite way to eat tomatoes? Do you have a go to recipe? Interested in trying any of these recipes? Let me know your thoughts.

A Merchant City staple since 2002, The Dhabba in Glasgow has consistently been named as one of the best curry destinations in the city, in particular, for North Indian cuisine. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I tried it out for myself – would it live up to its reputation?

It’s no secret that I adore Indian food, however, dining in a restaurant that purely caters to North Indian was a culinary adventure. Personally, the most I know about the differentiation between North and South cuisine is rather basic. With Middle Eastern influences in the North, Biryani is one of the most popular dishes to come out of the region. North Indian curries usually consist of creamy, thick sauces; ideal for dipping chapati or naan bread into. Food in the South, as served in The Dhabba’s sister restaurant, The Dakhin, is generally spicer with coconut based sauces, seafood and vegetarian dishes playing a huge role.

That’s where my knowledge ends.

Forget your Chicken Tikka Masala or Lamb Roganjosh, it was time to order some dishes and explore North India for myself, from the comfort of a rather elegant decorated restaurant in the heart of Glasgow.

A Glasgow institution since 1996, Mother India is the go-to destination for authentic Indian food in the city. From dishes such as Garlic Chilli Chicken to Lamb Raan, I’ve yet to find a dish that I dislike. In this post, I recreate one of my favourite dishes, Mother India’s Butter Chicken. 

With the flagship restaurant Mother India in Westminster Terrace, Monir Mohammed created a gem. With commitment to cooking quality authentic Indian food with local produce, fresh herbs and the best whole spices, it is no wonder that the restaurant became a roaring success. Now with five outlets, including takeaways and a cafe in Edinburgh, there is no slowing down for the brand. 

My parents and I have been known to drive 30 minutes to Dining In With Mother India (The Den) on Argyle Street to grab takeaway then drive all the way home. Is it worth the hour round trip? Without a doubt. Nowhere else in the area compares for me. 

On Christmas Day while we’re all gorging on our dinner with family and/or friends, what will your pets be eating this festive season? My 11-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Bobby, is spoilt beyond belief but with a liver condition from birth, we have to be careful with the foods we feed him. I’ve teamed up with More Th>n to highlight what you can and can’t feed your dog from your Christmas dinner and other dangers to watch out for around the house.

With a new festive jumper and some carrot batons to line his belly, Bobby would quite happily devour anything in sight. We joke that he’s our little kitchen hoover or our sous chef because he never leaves your side if you’re in the kitchen. From a rogue tomato falling on the ground and trying to prise it out of his mouth to his attempt to steal a whole onion. He sure is one to watch when food is around. Trouble is, while this may all seem funny, some of these foods are toxic to our furry friends and with his liver condition, these can be rather deadly. 

For Christmas, we usually spoil Bobby more than we usually do, its Christmas after all. He gets his own pet-friendly three course Christmas dinner. Want the run down?

2017 seems to have been the year that Glasgow finally started to catch up with the rest of the UK when it came to street food.

With businesses popping up all over the city like Julie’s Kitchen, Ramen Dayo!, Chompsky, Street Food Putter Club and El Perro Negro, it was time that Glasgow had a permanent street food market just like London (Hello KERB, I miss you!).Some of these pop ups have gone on to have permanent homes such as Julie’s Kopitiam in Pollokshaws Road which officially opened today. Go pay her a visit, not because she’s a friend but because her Malaysian food is exceedingly good.

In March this year, Big Feed launched as a joint venture between Street Food Putter Club, Firedog and Charlie Mills Coffee. Running bi-monthly, this was the first real street food market that Glasgow ever saw. Since launching and the initial hiccups pushed aside, it has regularly been a go-to destination for something a little different at the weekends.

2017 is the year of firsts for me.

In September, I said goodbye to the Suburban Wilderness I called home since my grandfather passed away in 2008 and started living with my boyfriend in our own apartment in the West End of Glasgow. Ross & I have also decided to cook Christmas Dinner for my parents (and dog), giving my mom a well deserved break from all the stress and panic that always seems inevitable.

Seeing the amount of stress for perfection on my moms face every year, I want to try to mitigate any arguments with Ross over who’s in charge of what, who didn’t check on the food before it burnt and who didn’t turn on the hob to boil water for the vegetables. Not that those scenarios have occurred in the past. Cough.

When Harrods sent me one of their luxury Christmas hampers as an early gift, I knew that the contents would be put to good use on the run up to Christmas and on the day itself making us the perfect hosts.

Ahead of the grand opening of the Tim Hortons flagship U.K. Store in Glasgow tomorrow, I went along last night to learn all things Timmys and get a sneak peek of the new store.

The home of the Double Double and Timbits, Tim Hortons is an infamous Canadian chain which first launched back in 1964, in Hamilton, Ontario by Canadian hockey player Tim Horton. Named after himself, the brand now have 4,500 stores worldwide and the Glasgow store is the first in Europe.

You’ve probably heard of Tim Hortons, been to a store on your travels or you’re Canadian and crave a slice of home. Never heard of it? You must have been living under a rock! Just call them the Canadian version of Starbucks, but better.

It’s no wonder that when it was first announced they were expanding into the UK market, massive social media hype was created within hours, showing no sign of decline. Timmys fans as far away as London and a Canadian expat who lives in the Scottish highlands announced plans to travel for their fix.

But the question on everyone’s lips since it was announced that Tim Hortons would be coming to the UK and where the first location would be was…

Why open Tim Hortons in Glasgow?

It makes a change that a big name like Tim Hortons would choose a Scottish city to announce their presence in the UK. Choosing Glasgow over the Scottish capital Edinburgh is also a win win for my hometown.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Glasgow Mug

I asked the UK Marketing Manager that very question. She stated that they chose Glasgow after research showed it had a large student population and that rent was cheaper than in Central London. The Glaswegian demographic was exactly what they were looking for. Simple.

Where are they opening next?

“Rapid Expansion” has been thrown around in the press but what does that actually mean?

Well England, you will have to wait. Within the next few months, Tim Hortons are hoping to open another store around the wider Glasgow area. After seeing how they perform, they do have plans to eventually open as many as 5 stores in a year. For the mean time, Glasgow is their focus.

Opening Hours?

They officially open from 9am on Friday 2nd June. Thereafter, the Glasgow store will be open from 6am until Midnight 7 days a week. Times aren’t set in stone at the moment and are subject to change. With anything, it depends on the footfall and demand. Many stores in North America are 24hrs so you never know what the future holds.

Now onto the most important question of them all

Is it worth it?

When entering the store at the launch party, tables were adorned with the entire menu line up for our visual inspection. From the Hot Breakfast Sandwich, Grilled Paninis and Soups to their Crispy Chicken Sandwich, there is something savory for everyone. Don’t forget to choose the Combo to add Hash Browns to your breakfast order and Wedges or Kettle Chips to complete your lunch/dinner order.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Soups and Chilli

Hot food is prepared fresh to order, baked and not fried thus resulting in delicious tasting food which isn’t dripping in oil. Much healthier before you move onto sugar overload and the Baked Goods.

While in store yesterday, I tried the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Potato Wedges with Garlic Dip, Medium Iced Capp. Delicious, although I did end up eyeing up the Steak & Cheese Panini. That’s next on my list. I didn’t try their coffee on the night, however, the coffee Iced Capp is a must try.

Tim Hortons Glasgow UK- Crispy Chicken Combo Meal with Iced Capp

A trip to Tim Hortons is not complete without something sweet. Ah Timbits and Donuts. I’m looking at you Birthday Cake Timbit and Apple Fritter Donut. Addictive. The problem I have with Timbits are that they are that small you can’t have just one. You need to devour at least 3. Perfect excuse to get a box of 10.

Speaking of boxes, UK prices for 10 are £2.49, 20 for £4.49 and 50 for £9.99. Quite reasonable if you ask me. My colleagues were rather ecstatic today when I wondered in with a box of 50 for everyone. After less than 10 minutes, I was left with 5 which now have my name on them. My keyboard may or may not have crumbs from the Apple Fritter Donut I am currently munching on while writing this. It’s hungry work writing about food, that’s my excuse.

 

Pay it forward

One aspect of Tim Hortons that struck a cord with me was their charity work and I hope that they will bring that philosophy with them over in the UK, whether it be supporting local charities or sponsoring a local sport team. Who know what the future will hold but one initiative they will be doing instantly is allowing you to pay it forward with your coffee. With every purchase you make, your receipt is printed with a ‘Share The Love’ section. If you pass your receipt to someone, they will receive a free medium Original Blend hot drink.

Opening Day Rewards

The very first customer to enter the store tomorrow will win a years supply of Original Blend Brewed Coffee, the first 10 will get a years supply of Timbits and the first 100 people in the queue will receive a free combo meal lunch.

Not in the top 100? You aren’t forgotten about

So will you be visiting the store over opening weekend?

Location:

Tim Hortons
Union St (Four Corners)
Glasgow G2 8BT

Opening Hours:

0600-0000 7 Days

 

The Glasgow Brunch Diaries is a new blog series where you’ll find me sharing my favourite brunch spots in the city, perfect with friends, family or loved ones, these are my top picks in the city. As this series grows, hopefully you’ll come to love my favourite places as much as I do.

It’s almost the weekend, you can say goodbye to your alarm clock and get that much needed lie in you’ve been craving since Monday morning. Brunch (after lie ins) is the best thing about the weekend in my opinion and what better way than to spend it stuffing your face and overdosing on caffeine.

In the first of the series, I popped along for brunch at family run Eusebi Deli on the corner of Park Road and Gibson Street in the West End of Glasgow. An Italian favourite, I’ve been numerous times for late lunches or dinner, however, this was the first time I tried their brunch menu.  

Eusebi Deli is always full when I pop in. I rarely book a table and I’ve never had to wait longer than 5 minutes to get a table either which is always great. On this occasion, we sat in their basement where private functions are normally held. Quieter and open plan, I love this space more than their main dining area where you can feel rather squished 90% of the time. 

I started my Saturday morning with Cacio e pepe, Roman style soft scrambled eggs with black pepper and pecorino shavings. Served with a generous amount of toast, they were cooked just to my liking, not too soft and not overdone. The addition of pecorino helped enhance “normal” scrambled eggs into something more indulgent. Say goodbye to eggs without cheese, so creamy, so delicious! Next time, I’m going to order a side of pancetta because they’d be perfect together and why not?

Eusebi Deli- Cacio e Pepe

Ross, ever the bottomless pit, ordered two dishes. First up was porridge, topped with orange compote, fruit and pistachio crumbs. Great portion size, the toppings married well with the oatmeal. I’m not a fan of porridge (a little like wallpaper paste for me) but I’m led to believe it was good. I think I’ll just take his word for it. 

Eusebi Deli- Porridge

Next up was Sugo– eggs baked in a tomato (sugo) sauce.  The Italian version of shakshuka, a rich tomato sauce was accompanied with two eggs and basil. Unfortunately, the eggs were overcooked so no yolk dipping but the flavour and taste of the sauce more than made up for it. I couldn’t resist scooping up some of the sugo with my toast, delicious. 

Eusebi Deli- Sugo

After a few more drinks, we decided to grab some items from their deli to takeaway for lunch later in the day. As well as selling a range of sandwiches, bread and popular Italian dishes to re-heat at home, they have a great selection of cakes on offer. My favourite? Bombolone. Pistachio Bombolone. Are you even surprised at that? I like the small little ones the most. Definitely make sure you have room for one of these after brunch. Or go wild with Nutella on tap. Oh yes. Trust me.