October 2013


Running throughout November in Ortak stores across the country, this Saturday marks the start of two customer shopping days being held at Ortak within the St Enoch Shopping Centre, Glasgow.

Customers pay £15 for a ticket (available in store) which entitles them to a Neptune Pendant (shown above) which is worth £55. Along with this, customers also get 15% off all purchases on the day including the brand’s new AW collections, entry into a prize draw to win a £150 Ortak gift voucher and a complimentary glass of wine.

Ortak has launched 10 new collections for autumn/winter. Created by in-house designers Clare T Goodall and Laura Christie, the ranges are now available now in Ortak’s 12 stores throughout the UK and online at

If you aren’t in Glasgow then details of upcoming days throughout the country are shown below:

Ortak Event

I’ll be popping into the St Enoch’s store on Saturday to take a look at the AW range and do some rather early Christmas (yes, I said it!) Shopping, it’s the perfect opportunity!


I was recently contacted by the people behind Grow Wild who are in the process of starting a four-year campaign to bring people together to sow UK native wild flowers. They believe that they can transform areas in which we live by bringing colour and surprise to our streets. Funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, three Scottish sites have been shortlisted to win £100,000 of funding to redevelop communities.

Earlier this year, we asked people to nominate a site in their community that would benefit from a Grow Wild transformation. We heard from enthusiastic community members who’d actively rallied local people to decide what their community should do with the Grow Wild funding. Youth groups, community associations and residents groups, artists, high school design students, and landscape architects all worked to pull together some really inspirational plans.

The three shortlisted Scottish sites are:

Belville Community Garden, Greenock

The community wants to create a great big garden of native Scottish wild flowers, all looked after by an on-site community garden officer.

The garden will re-establish a lost link with nature and this brownfield site will become a green sanctuary for locals. Young people will learn about biodiversity through training and education, and there’ll be community events and workshops in outdoor pods made from customised shipping containers.

Frog Pond, Dedridge, Livingston, West Lothian

This project is hopping forwards in time to transform a tired-looking pond into a beautiful wetland and meadow, offering an inspirational focal point in a local park. The idea is to clean up the area, planting wild flowers to fill the park with colour and animals. Young people are designing a special bridge that will also be used as a stage. Plus there’ll be planting days for everyone, so the project will spread throughout the community.

The Water Works, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire

This project puts some TLC into the WC. They want to transform a disused sewage works into a quirky garden. Playing on its industrial past, the site will use the huge sewage tanks as giant planters with beautiful displays of Scottish native wild flowers.

Tanks will recreate different environments such as wetland meadows. Young people will work with a retirement club, and there’ll be cycling and walking links, so young and old will work and play together.

How to vote?


To decide who wins a £100,000 Grow Wild transformation, go to for more information on each bid as well as voting for your favourite. Voting runs until midnight on 3 November with the winning Scottish Grow Wild site will be announced in mid-November and will open in May next year.


As my last post stated, the dish I picked to make was Lamb Fillet with Crushed Potatoes & Mint Sauce or as #WhamBamThankyouLamb calls it “Butterflied Lemony Lamb Fillet”. It’s a quick & simple recipe but most of all, it’s delicious!


I’ve never cooked Lamb Fillet before so I was a little wary about cooking times but I went with my gut feeling and it came out a beautiful pink colour. Phew!

Cooking Lamb Fillets

Let’s just ignore the “little” mistake I did by accidentally adding sugar to my lemon rind when I was supposed to add it to my finely chopped mint leaves. Easy mistake to make when the two bowls were next to each other, right? Oh well…. easy mistake to fix, I’m now a whizz at lemon rinding.

I’m definitely going to make this recipe again. I’m now also converted to mint sauce. Let me know if you’re going to make the dish and if you are, follow my top tips below to help you along your way… especially if you’re a lamb cooking newbie!

My Top Tips:

  • When buying lamb, try choose the leanest cuts. Try and avoid cuts with excessive fat that looks crumbly.
  • Buy meat from a good local butcher instead of your local supermarket as they generally have a bigger variety of cuts and you can also order what you want and how you want it.
  • Ensure your frying or griddle pan is VERY hot
  • Lightly oil the lamb before cooking, don’t put too much as lamb is already oily in itself.
  • While cooking, press down on the pieces of meat to ensure they cook evenly and the browning is evenly distributed.
  • To know when the lamb is ready to your liking, use your fingers to press the piece of meat. Rare lamb does not resist your touch, medium rare slightly resists and well done is firm to the touch. I like my lamb medium rare, just as I like my beef.
  • Lamb Fillet with Crushed Potatoes & Mint Sauce

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Total Time: 25 minutes

    Serving Size: 2


    • 1 x 300g Scotch Lamb fillet, all fat removed
    • Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp olive oil 3
    • 300g new potatoes, halved if large
    • 20g butter
    • Large handful of fresh mint leaves
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 75 ml cider or malt vinegar


    1. On a chopping board with a sharp knife split the lamb fillet down its length but don't cut all the way through. Open out the lamb as you would open a book to its middle and press it open with the heel of your hand. Mix together the lemon rind, garlic and pepper and loosely sprinkle this all over both sides of the meat. Press the flavouring lightly into place.
    2. To make the mint sauce, finely chop the mint and scrape it into a small bowl, sprinkle the sugar and salt onto the mint and squash it all together firmly with the back of a spoon, to make all the juices run from the mint into the sugar. Add the vinegar and stir together well. Set aside until needed.
    3. Cook the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes until tender, while you heat a griddle to searing hot. Rub the olive oil onto the lamb on both sides and sear it on the griddle pan for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. It should be pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and keep it warm. Before serving, slice to your liking.
    4. Drain the potatoes and melt the butter on them before serving with the lamb. Don't forget the mint sauce.

    I was recently invited to attend my very first cooking class at Edinburgh New Town Cookery School courtesy of Scotch Lamb and Quality Meat Scotland along with other food bloggers. The aim of the day was to educate the invitees on Scotch Lamb, to help change perceptions about lamb and highlight that it is easy to cook, vestatile and simple to use.

    When I arrived at the Cookery School, we were introduced to the chefs, other food bloggers and then given a short introductory talk all about Scotch Lamb. QMS started the #WhamBamThankyouLamb campaign to encourage more people to eat lamb. Beef is established as Scotlands favourite red meat – on average, Scottish households only buy lamb 5.9 times a year – and QMS is out to change this [source]

    Scotch Lamb has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status which means:

    • Quality Guarantee: this guarantees a specific production method and controls which are stricter than those required by legislation.
    • A Superior Character: which also guarantees our meat to have specific characteristics or quality that is superior to usual commercial standards.
    • 100% Traceable: complete traceability of all our products.
    • Clear Labelling: this allows you to identify quality products, their origin and their characteristics.

    We then watched the Head Chef Jess re-create three simple lamb dishes: Lamb Biryani, Lamb Meatballs and Fillet of Lamb with Crushed New Potatoes & Mint Sauce. Jess talked us through each step, giving us her professional tips and making us feel at ease. While Jess was cooking away, I got the chance to chat to some of the other food bloggers who I’ve followed on twitter for a while or read their blogs. It’s always good putting a face to the name and finally meeting someone after “following” them for years.

    Jess from Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

    Jess made the dishes look so simple to make and in fact, most can be cooked in 30 minutes (after you’ve found all the ingredients, chopped them up and figured out that you’re going to be doing… so make that an hour!). After the three dishes were created, we had a taste test (my favourite part!).

    Lamb Biryani

    Lamb Meatballs

    Fillet of Lamb

    After lusting after the Le Creuset pans and Aga Cooker, we were then set loose in the professional kitchens to cook our favourite dish from those demonstrated. I decided to make the Fillet of Lamb with Crushed New Potatoes & Mint Sauce. I’ve never cooked Fillet of Lamb before but after seeing how quick & easy it is to cook, I am a convert.

    Cookery School Kitchens

    We were shown our stations, given a recipe sheet and given all our ingredients. It honestly felt like I never set foot in a kitchen before and it took me a few minutes to get into the swing of things. Let’s just forget the part where I accidentally put a tablespoon of sugar into my bowl of lemon rind instead of my bowl of chopped mint leaves. All was well in the end & I quickly fixed my mistake. I shall just blame the strange surroundings, yes?


    After we all finished cooking our dishes, we sat through in the lovely dining room with some wine eating our creations feeling very pleased with ourselves at a job well done. I had a lovely day and a great first experience at a Cookery School, so much so I really want to go to another class soon. The recipe for the Fillet of Lamb dish will be in another post along with more photos, so look out for that soon!

    My attempt at Fillet of Lamb with Crushed New Potatoes and Mint Sauce

    I do love lamb and it used to be something I just ordered in a restaurant but after learning some tips from professional chefs and learning more about lamb, I’m going to try cook more of it at home. It is lambing season after all!

    Do you eat lamb? Do you have any tips? What is your favourite thing to do with lamb? Let me know!