I don’t know about you but when you need to buy presents, I’m fresh out of ideas on what to buy for those special in my life. There are only so many boxes of chocolate, jumpers and socks you can buy before it becomes very monotonous.

So what do you buy for the people in your life that have everything? The ones who tell you they don’t need anything but you still want to get them something? I’m looking at you Dad! For me, this is where Red Letter Days comes to the rescue and perfect for last minute gifts for procrastinators like myself.

Red Letter Days was the first of its kind, pioneering the concept of experience day vouchers way back in 1989. Over the years it has transformed and now, you can choose from 6000+ variations of amazing gifts. Now surely you’d be able to find a special gift for that person in your life?

I tested out one of Red Letter Days more popular experiences, Boutique Escape for Two recently and transported myself to the Lake District for the weekend before Christmas season was upon me. Years ago, I actually went to Boarding School for two years near the Lake District. I visited Kendall and Windermere a good few times but had never been back since the early 00’s. At just under 3 hours drive, I forgot just how accessible it is from Glasgow. The Lakes are a beautiful part of England and the perfect place for some relaxation and exploration. Its been rather stressful the past few months and I desperately needed a break.

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.

Cyprus is an island-country located at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea. Its historic and ancient past combined with its bustling present is the perfect experience for any would-be world traveller seeking adventure in this part of the world. 48 hours in Cyprus is certainly not enough to enjoy everything that it has to offer. However, it is enough to see some of the most dazzling and significant locations this side of the Mediterranean.

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.