Friday, 30 December 2016

Festive Cocktails with Smirnoff Vodka

Readers, It’s party time over our way.   Festivities are well underway.  I may not know what day of the week it is and it’s the only time of year that champagne is acceptable mid-morning… heck, even cocktails at lunch are full on acceptable.

When Smirnoff contacted me before Christmas to take part in their cocktail campaign in the run up to Christmas, I was chuffed.  I recently did a gammon with gin recipe – click here to read it.  This time round though, it was all about the drinks rather than the food.

I’ve been a bit cheeky - originally, the brief was to work up a bloody mary recipe with the all the trimmings.  However, as someone terrified of drinking tomatoes in a juice format, I’ve taken my own style on this and made a vodka cranberry and lime cooler, that’s perfect for drinking with friends this New Year’s Eve.
Smirnoff vodka cocktail
I made this in a small cocktail shaker and the recipe below is for one.  For more great cocktail ideas, visit the Smirnoff website or view their social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Claire’s Cranberry Vodka Cooler with Smirnoff


50ml Smirnoff Vodka
25ml Lime Cordial
Dash Sugar Syrup
1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
Ice Cubes
Soda Water to top up


  1. Add a few ice cubes to your glass to chill it or, pop the glass in the freezer for a few minutes prior to pouring.   Remove ice cubes prior to pouring the drink..
  2. Add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce to the shaker, add the vodka, lime cordial and a splash of sugar syrup.
  3. Shake well to mix.   Use the strainer on the shaker or a tea strainer, to pour the mix into your glass.  Discard any pieces of cranberry left in the strainer.
  4. Top up your glass with soda water. Serve immediately.
Smirnoff vodka cocktail

Disclaimer:  I was sent a bottle of Smirnoff to create a cocktail.  Any opinions expressed are my own.   

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Glasgow Living Part 10 – Opening of Revolucion de Cuba

Readers, it’s been such a busy week this week.  I’ve done two reviews and had dinner out this week.  Needless to say, we are having a quiet weekend!

On Wednesday night I was invited to the opening of Revolucion de Cuba alongside a number of other Glasgow bloggers.  I went with Kaitlin from Cocktails & Fairytales, however, it was as really friendly crowd and we soon got to know people.

Revolucion de Cuba is a Cuban rum and cocktail bar with tapas served until 10pm.  It’s even got a stage AND a coffee bar tucked away in the back corner.  The team behind Revolution Vodka Bars are the creators of this new concept.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
The Bar

We were greeted with mojitos on arrival then shortly were whisked over to a group table to learn about making pulled pork and infusing it with Cuban spices.  Afterwards, we made our own spice mixes and packaged them into kilner jars as a take home from the event.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
spice lesson

After our spice session, we were treated to rum tasting…. 5 dark rums and a white rum to finish (although confession, I was too chicken to try the last one!)  We were brought rum cocktails to the table too… getting us into the Cuban vibe as a band played in the background.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
Rum tasting with the gang!

Next, it was on to tapas and chat, where we were brought a range of dishes – from calamari to patatas bravas, prawns, chicken skewers and to finish… churros with either salted caramel or chocolate sauce. Delicious. 
Revolucion de cuba glasgow
Tapas time!

Turns out the venue used to be a big opticians and the design team have done an amazing job turning it into a bar with a relaxed Cuban vibe.  Oh and the mixologists are amazing.  We were lucky enough to sample some of the Christmas cocktail menu including a berry sharing number that came in a kilner and was big enough for three of us!

You’ll find Revolucion de Cuba on Renfield Street in Glasgow City. It’s a perfect place to get your girls night out started – meet the girls, grab a booth and get the cocktails flowing.
Revolucion de cuba glasgow

To find out more visit Revolucion de Cuba’s website, or check out their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the launch event to enjoy complimentary food and beverages. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Glasgow Living Part 9 - Dinner at Buck's Bar

So fried chicken… so good that American singers Zac Brown Band wrote a song about liking their chicken fried along with a cold beer on a Friday night.  It wasn’t quite Friday, but my experience at Buck’s on Tuesday night wasn’t far away from the song.

A few weeks ago I got in touch with Buck’s Bar, a recently opened fried chicken joint in town to come in a for a review.    Buck’s is situated on West Regent Street, down a set of stairs and you’re greeted with fried chicken puns on the walls.   A good start.
Buck's Bar Glasgow
Outside Buck's

The bar is fairly sizable, has a stage for live music and a series of big booths which comfortably seat around 6 people. As we were a small party of two, there was plenty of space for us at the table.
The staff were quick to come over and sort us with drinks – Mr WhatClaireDid went for something local from Drygate.  Beer and fried chicken… ultimate man food.   I’m not a big beer ginger so instead went for a pear, ginger and raspberry cocktail which arrived at the table in a little copper cup.  Would happily have taken it home with me afterwards.
Buck's Bar Glasgow

Buck's Bar Glasgow

Don’t be fooled by the small dinner plates… the grub is filling.  I went for the classic of fried chicken and waffles after discovering them in Vegas.  These bad boys were just as good.  It sounds wrong, but it’s SO RIGHT.    My dining partner went for fried chicken with a side of skin on fries and we shared some fried halloumi on the side.  It’s not often I’m beaten by a plate of food, but I just couldn’t quite get to the end.
Buck's Bar Glasgow

Buck’s is also really good value – the chicken and waffles were £8.95.  Sides and extras come in between £2.00 and £3.00 each and if you’ve still got space for it, a dessert will only set you back £3.00 too!   I’m fairly certain that you could easily have a date night for two and leave with change of £30.00.  Food was clearly cooked fresh, as we waited 20 minutes for it to arrive, which is fine by me. I’d rather know someone had the fryer going in the kitchen and not the ping of the microwave.

All in, we enjoyed the Buck’s Bar experience… it’s great for a quick pre-gig meal, or a bit of food and beers with a group of mates after work.
Buck's Bar Glasgow

Also, if you like hot sauce, there’s 50 to choose from.  Just saying.

For more information, visit Buck’s Bar website or their Facebook and Instagram

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gordon's Gin Gammon

Readers, I’m back in the kitchen again, as Christmas is on approach. I love this time of year.  It's the joy of locking myself in the kitchen for hours, making sauces, trying new things and using cinnamon to my heart's content.  There’s something incredibly enjoyable about the smell of Christmas in the house.  That smell that you can’t quite describe, other than "Christmas".

Anyway, Diageo got in touch a few weeks back, asking if I’d like to get a recipe together for them using one of their iconic spirits.  Being a fan of a good G&T, I went down the gin route with this post.  Whilst a dessert or a cake may have been the obvious choice to include gin, I’ve gone savoury for this recipe.

My Gordon’s gin gammon is a winner throughout winter, not just at Christmas and if you have any left over, it cooks down perfectly in a pea and gammon soup.  The key to this recipe's success is long, slow cooking so don’t rush it! I mean it... don't.  This one had 10 hours on low in the slow cooker.

To find out more on Gordon's check out their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You'll have ample time to do this whilst your gammon cooks away!
Gordons Gin Gammon
Gordon's Gin Gammon

Gordons Gin Gammon         

Ingredients - serves 4 (with sides)

1 small gammon joint (remove all packaging)
75ml Gordon's Gin
1 cup orange juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger (peeled)
Pinch of ground cinnamon 
4 star anise
4 bay leaves


  1. Set your slow cooker to low.
  2. Add the gin, orange juice, vegetable stock, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and bay leaves to the slow cooker.
  3. Before adding the gammon, use a fork to pierce the meat on both sides (this will help the flavour seep through the meat).
  4. Add the gammon to the slow cooker, place the lid on and cook on low for around 9-10 hours, turning the gammon over halfway through cooking.
    Gordons Gin Gammon
  5. Before serving, remove gammon from the slow cooker and rest on a plate for 5 minutes, before proceeding to cut into thin slices. The meat should be tender enough to fall away. 
  6. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal veg and gravy if desired!
    Gordons Gin Gammon

Disclaimer:  I was sent a bottle of Gordon's Gin to create a recipe.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Glasgow Living Part 8 – Boozy Snoozy at Blythswood Square Hotel


I send you all my sincerest apologies for the lack of blog posts of recent.   It’s been a wild few weeks.  For those of you who haven’t yet heard me shouting from the rooftops (sorry Glasgow Southside) we got ENGAGED.  We’ll officially be Mr & Mrs What Claire Baked.  It’s so regal!

Aside from my over watching of Say Yes to the Dress, looking at venues and seeing family, I’ve been out celebrating with the ladies in the family at the weekend. Which brings me to my first post in my popular Glasgow Living series for ages!

Last Saturday, 4 of us booked in for the Boozy Snoozy Lunch at Blythswood Square Hotel.  It was nothing short of amazing.  Fantastic value for money, great food, prosecco and seeing my granny getting a Pink Lady gin cocktail down her was priceless.
Image Credit:Google

In the year and a half we’ve lived in Glasgow, I’ve never yet made it to Blythswood Square.  I’ve walked past many a time, stared inside and thought, I really need to come here.   Face of regret that I didn’t book an afternoon tea here after a disaster at Malmaison Glasgow the other week, but that’s another story and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. 

Anyway, more about Boozy Snoozy… get 4 people together and for £88 you’ll get a 3 course lunch for 4 people, including a bottle of prosecco to share and tea or coffee to finish.  We arrived at 12.30pm on Saturday and were still there nearly 3 hours later.  There was no rush to leave, the staff were attentive, regularly topping up our glasses from the never ending prosecco bottle.

What struck me most was the service and attention to detail.  A doorman greeted us on arrival and was incredibly jolly.  And dapper.  Our coats were hung up by staff and we were shown to our table.  I ordered a round of cocktails with a request to bring them out with dessert and they arrived without prompting.  Two of asked for a little extra bread for parfait starters and it was brought without question.

So often, you book table deals for venues and are treated like a second class citizen for not going for a main menu or for using a voucher.  This absolutely cannot be said about Blythswood Square.  They were fantastic with us from start to finish.  So much so, that I’ve been compelled to write about the experience. Not just the food, but the overall enjoyment of a long leisurely lunch.

The food was fantastic as well.  We sampled a number of the different starters – from cream of parsnip soup, to smoked mackerel parfait and chicken liver parfait.  Main courses were mostly chicken supreme, although Granny (adventurer and fan of new culinary experiences) went for the seared fillet of hake because it came with samphire and she’d never tried it before.

For dessert, it was a full house enjoying the white chocolate tart, which was served with citrus accompaniments and madeleines. We finished with tea and coffee – points to the restaurant for having soy milk so I could enjoy a flat white with the rest of the group.

All in, a fantastic experience and I’d definitely go back. For more information, check out their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dinner at Upstairs at 21, The 21 Club, Manhattan New York

Readers, every so often you come across somewhere that sticks with you long after leaving.  Sometimes you turn up at a venue with no idea of what you’ve booked, apart from the little knowledge you gained from the internet before you emailed to make a reservation… which asked for a credit card to secure it.

Fast forward a few weeks and with Mr WhatClaireDid dressed with no sneakers, no jeans and a mandatory jacket for dinner and me in the nicest, least crumpled dress at the end of the holiday, we headed to 21 Club.  We were met at the door by the concierge who accompanied us upstairs and knocked on the door.  Yes knocked.  Next thing we were met by two waiting staff in full dinner suits and led into the dining room.

Upstairs at 21 is something special and from what we could gather, is relatively unknown.  The private dining room seats 32 people maximum.  

Let’s start with the venue.  21 officially opened on 1st January 1930.  It’s New York’s original speakeasy.  In the era of prohibition, the bottles would drop out from the bar, down trap doors into the cellar.  During a raid, the alcohol disappeared without a trace…  Sitting in a room with so much history makes you think, what was it  REALLY like back then? If only the walls of the private dining room had ears.

Celebrities, heads of state and figureheads have dined and drank here in peace over the years.  The original owners Jack and Charlie were enthusiastic collectors of art… in the great depression, customers who couldn’t settle their bills with cash did so from their art collection and as a result, the venue has a rich and varied selection of paintings and sculptures, which the staff are only too happy to tell you about. 

You’re greeted at the doors by ornamental jockeys’ many of whom were donated by some of America’s top stables. The wrought iron gates at the front entrance date back to 1926.  Let’s be clear… this place comes with history as standard.  
Image Source:

The private dining room “upstairs” is nothing short of beautiful.  Four huge murals adorn each wall of the rectangular room, depicting iconic New York landmarks across the four seasons.   There’s white linen on the tables, the cutlery carries significant weight and there’s crockery when you arrive “for show”.   I’ll be honest, we had no idea what we’d booked until we turned up. It was near on impossible to find out much online. I came across 21 by chance on a New York dining guide.  The likes of 11 Madison Park were out of budget, but we were looking for something with class and elegance for the last night of our east to west to east American trip.   The four course tasting menu sounded exactly what we were looking for. 

upstairs at 21 club new yorkupstairs at 21 club new york

Upstairs at 21 oozes elegance.   It’s 1930s glamour throughout. Walking in through those iconic iron gates you can imagine the days of old.   Wives of Wall Street brokers mingling with America’s first lady.  Walt Disney sneaking to a table in the corner… you get the picture. 

Dining at Upstairs at 21 is an experience.  It’s to be savoured; food is taken to your table slowly, drinks are poured as you need them and there’s no in, out, have a nice night approach.  We were in the restaurant for nearly 3 hours.  Every course was a masterpiece in itself.  The highlight though: it wasn’t pretentious.  We’re fairly sure a number of diners were significantly wealthier than us, but to Steven (our host for the night) it didn’t matter.  We were there to enjoy the experience as much as everyone else.  We bonded over our “across the pond heritage” – both dining room hosts were from Ireland.     The couple sitting next to us had been coming to the venue for years and took the time to ask where we were from, how we found the food and wished us well for our lives back home. 

It didn’t feel appropriate to take photos of my food.  So I’m afraid there aren’t any.    I’ll just need to talk you through it…

...We started with fish courses – me enjoying crab cakes and Mr WhatClaireDid trying oysters for the first time, which came served over ice, with lemon and salsa.     Next, came the mid-course and for both us, lobster ravioli was the only choice.  Pasta was perfectly al-dente, the filling rich and creamy. 

Moving on to mains – a filet mignon for me, with a rich meaty sauce, potatoes and seasonal veg, whilst my partner in crime went for the duck.   

I broke my own rules of white wine with white meat only, justifying it with the two fish courses I started with, forgetting the beef that followed – enjoying a Sancerre which I savoured.  

Never one to shy away from dessert, despite the mammoth amount of food we’d consumed, we saved space.   In fact, I was delighted to be told there was a wait for the chocolate soufflé.  It arrived towering over its ramekin (soufflé goals) with cream and a tart raspberry ice cream.  Absolutely delicious. 

Several hours later, stomachs full and in a comatose state, we realised we were the last table left in the dining room.  The staff hadn’t rushed us, in fact encouraged us to stay as long as we liked and enjoy the surroundings: just in case we didn’t find ourselves back in Manhattan again. 

Despite being slightly anxious on arrival at the formality of the dining room, we both enjoyed the experience, were delighted with the quality of food, standard of service and the wonderful once in a lifetime trip to savour a little piece of Manhattan history…
Image Source:

So much so, I’ve managed to find a copy of Jack and Charlie’s Iron Gate yearbook published in 1950. A memoir from the original owners, documenting the famous faces who'd walked through those iron gates  I’m not bothered if it’s battered, bruised and a little worse for wear when my copy arrives.  I just want my own little piece of Manhattan history to stay with me on the bookcase.  When I’m old and my years of travel are a distant memory, I’ll look back on this red leather book with great fondness, recalling a night of unexpected surprises and enjoyment. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Lunch at Bellagio Las Vegas for Under $100 for Two

Readers, yes, you read the title correctly.  It is possible to dine at Bellagio in Las Vegas for under $100 for two people.

Bellagio is without a doubt, the jewel of Vegas’ crown.  In the middle of the strip, escalators leading to the entrance surrounded by the biggest fountains I’ve ever seen  and crucially, a great place to play the 1c slot machines if you’re in town with no plans to gamble big time.

By chance I read a Vegas blog when I was looking at places to go for some fine dining in Vegas, as a break away from fried chicken and waffles (I won’t lie to you all… they were amazing, but back to that later).

I’d read online that Lago, run by award winning Julian Serrano was a pretty amazing place to go if you are into tapas style dining and small plates… they have a gorgeous European style sun terrace and best of all, it’s in the middle of the front of the hotel, overlooking the famous fountains.

lunch at lago las vegas
Starting with cocktails

But shhhhh…. Here’s the bit not many people know.   Bellagio’s famous fountains start at 3pm.  The last sitting for lunch is at 2.30pm… looking for the best seats in the house for the dancing water whilst enjoying delicious food?  Lago could be the place for you.

The best bit – they do a 3 course prix fix lunch menu for $28 per person.  Not widely advertised, but its right there in the middle of the menu if you look closely.  The servers might not mention it, but if you’re keen for Bellagio on a budget – this might just get you there.

We pre-booked well in advance, as Bellagio is world famous. We went on a Monday, so possible quieter than a weekend in the height of summer, but by the time our mains appeared, we had the terrace to ourselves.  15 minutes later, the fountains came on and are nothing short of spectacular.  I could only describe it as feeling like we were part of a private showing as there was nobody else around us.  The water feature is so huge, that the tourists on the pavement opposite, may as well have been ants!

Aside from the spectacular setting, it’s a great place to escape the madness of the Vegas strip.  The terrace has a laid back vibe, cocktails and great beers are available and special mention should go to Antonio from Lisbon who was our server.  He never rushed us, left us in peace to enjoy the view and provide some recommendations of things we might enjoy off the menu.

I started with the antipasto plate – filled with Spanish cured meats, cheeses, olives and roasted peppers.   So much for small plates… I could have shared my plate with Mr WhatClaireDid as it was HUGE.  But in the spirit of testing the food for the blog.  I wired through by myself.  Mr WhatClaireDid went for the equally delicious seafood salad.
lunch at lago las vegas
Antipasto to start

After a bit of a breather, we got stuck into the Italian themed mains – this time a bit smaller, but still enough to feel satisfied after.  Note – we went wild and ordered rosemary potatoes and grilled asparagus on the side but even without these, the small plate sizes were filling.  I had two gigantic meatballs whilst the lasagne verde was served across the table (tried a little, it was also fab).
lunch at lago las vegas
Our mains

The only thing you don’t get to choose is the dessert, which is noted on the menu as “chefs choice”.  Provided you’ve no food fears and are open to try anything, you’ll probably not be disappointed.  We were served a delicious tiramisu with coffee ice cream and a lemon meringue slice with pastel coloured chocolate disks.  Presentation was beautiful.
lunch at lago las vegas
Spot the fountains in the background

After an amazing lunch, we took the time to enjoy our drinks in the sun overlooking the fountains and never once felt rushed.   A little piece of tranquility on the Vegas strip.  And if you get the chance, don’t rush out after lunch.  Enjoy the themed display around the lobby (Autumn was the feature during out visit), take a stroll around the shops and make sure to place your bets in their famous casino… for a small tip, waitresses will make sure you have a drink in hand as you place your bets.  

So there you have it, lunch for under $100 for two at the famous Bellagio resort. 

For reservations visit their website
or to find out more about Bellagio, check out their Facebook page.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Vegan, Dairy Free & Gluten Free Caramel Shortcake

Readers, a miracle happened in the kitchen this week… I made something with substituted ingredients which tasted, not too bad AND remotely close to the real deal. I found the original recipe for these on Pinterest, named as Twix Bars, but in reality, when I made them, they looked more like slices of caramel shortbread.  Maybe in America, they don’t get caramel shortbread?

Anyway, this actually only uses about 6 ingredients, just reformatted in a lot of different ways.  I even ended up with something remotely chocolate like from cocoa powder.  Who knew?!

This made around 10 slices, and they are REALLY filling, so around 5 days after making them I still have 3 slices in the fridge.  Be warned, you really need to keep these refrigerated before you eat them, otherwise the “chocolate” and the “caramel” go really soft and gooey – I made the mistake leaving it on the desk at work, barely edible by the time I got to it in the afternoon.

Anyway, many thanks to Bakerita for the original recipe.  I made my own nut butter for the recipe – easy – ground almonds, in a food processor for a bout 15 minutes.  Prepare to be amazed!!!!


2/3 cup coconut flour
¼ tsp salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup solid coconut oil

½ cup almond butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

¼ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup coca powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan.
  2. Line a silicone 8inx8in pan with baking parchment.
  3. Combine all ingredients for the base in a bowl and bring together to a dough, using your hands.  Press the dough into the base of the baking pan and transfer to the oven. Bake for around 8-9 minutes until the biscuit goes golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.
    Press into the tub

    Bake perhaps for 30 seconds less than I did!
  4. For the filling, add all filling ingredients to a small pan and gently warm through, stirring, until the ingredients are fully combined.  Remove from heat, pour over the biscuit and transfer to the fridge to set. 
    Prep the filling 
  5. Make the chocolate topping by melting coconut oil and whisking with the maple syrup and cocoa powder.  Pour over the set filling and use a silicone spatula to smooth out before returning to the fridge to set.
    gluten and dairy free caramel shortcake
    The finished article
  6. Once set, slice into small rectangles and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Dairy Free & Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Readers, for health reasons I’ve been trying to cut dairy from my diet.  The cheese is an issue.  A big issue.  Other than this, I’ve managed to find substitutions, including swapping to almond milk at breakfast, cutting tea and coffee (I’m trying to wean myself off bit by bit and swap to water) and eat as normally as I can, making dairy substitutions if possible.  I did a nutrition course last month and learnt loads about why eating less dairy can be good for you.  

Anyway, as I love a cake, I’d been trying to make some changes to a standard cupcake recipe.  Going home for the weekend, I didn’t want to turn up empty handed, but equally didn’t want to have to avoid my cakes I’d made.  So we went dairy free.  A word of warning – these will only keep 3 days tops, hence the smaller recipe for 6 cakes, as they don’t preserve too well.  I also kept mine in the fridge until just before serving , to keep the topping firm.   And who knew…. It’s even possible to make a substitute for buttercream!

Happy Dairy Free Baking!
dairy free gluten free cupcake

Ingredients (makes 6 large cupcakes)

125g coconut oil (solid consistency)
125g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g gluten free self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 can full fat coconut milk (refrigerated for 24 hours before use)
Icing sugar to whip
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Strawberries and cherries to decorate

  1. Put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for 24 hours before baking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.  Add 6 large cupcake cases to a muffin tin.
  3. Cream together the coconut oil and sugar, in the way you would do with butter.  The coconut oil needs to be firm and not in liquid form.  Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Once creamed and fluffy, add in the eggs one at a time and mix with a spoonful of flour to prevent curdling.  Then, add in the remaining flour.  The batter should look like a cake mix. If it’s a little too thick, add a splash of almond milk to loosen.
  5. Spoon the mix into the cases to around ¾ full then bake in the oven for around 17 minutes, or until golden in colour and a skewer inserted each cake comes out clean.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Put a mixing bowl and your beaters into the freezer for 10 minutes.
  7. Whilst cakes are cooling, start to prepare your topping.  Remove the bowl and beaters from the freezer.  The cold will help set the frosting.  Tip the coconut milk upside down,  This will separate any liquid from the solid. Drain off the liquid and transfer the solid to the mixing bowl.
  8. Slowly add in icing sugar and start to whip up as you would butter cream.  Add in the vanilla extract and taste as you go – the aim is to have a sweet frosting to your liking, with a hint of coconut. Mix until the frosting is strong enough to be piped through a nozzle and hold its shape. 
  9. Once happy with consistency, transfer to a piping bag with an open star nozzle.   Check cakes are cool before piping a swirl on each.
  10. Finish with a cherry or strawberry.  Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat.

dairy free gluten free cupcake

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Glasgow Living Part 6 - Dinner at Atlantic Bar & Brasserie

Readers, it’s been an exciting week for my wee Glasgow living feature.  On Tuesday night, Nikki from Couthie Cantie and I were invited along to an exclusive blogger event being held at Atlantic Bar and Brasserie at St Vincent Place in the City Centre.  Owned by the Di Maggio Group and located under sister venue Anchor Line, this classic French bar and bistro was the high of a sophistication for some Tuesday dining in the city.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow
Welcome to Atlantic
We were spoiled with the weather – the sun was splitting the pavement when we arrived and hoards of people were enjoying cocktails and drinks on the terrace.  Honestly, we could have been in a glamorous European city when we turned up. 

Our event started at 7pm with cocktails in the bar.   We had a choice from some fantastic beverages, all mixed in house in front of us by some great mixologists. Nikki went for a Bardot to start, whilst, as a gin lover, I stuck to the Saveur D’Orange with refreshing citrus flavours, which got us set up for the night.  We could have enjoyed several cocktails but instead decided to stick to one and move onto wine with dinner.

We were seated at an elegant table for two in the back corner of the restaurant – surrounded by photos and memorabilia from the golden age of sea travel.  Coat pegs were numbered – just like you’d find on the cabin of a boat… how very elegant!

We were offered a L’Escargot to begin out night.  Needless to say, neither of us are regular snail eaters so were apprehensive, but after one of the staff suggested there was no better time to try than in a French restaurant, we gave them a go.  Served in a delicious sauce with bread, the idea was more scary than the actual eating of them.  We managed 3 each, before toasting each other with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the house selection – delighted we’d conquered the fear.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow
Next we moved onto starters -  as two people who were completely indecisive when it came to selecting our choice, some guidance from the incredibly helpful staff led us to try the scallops and black pudding with apple puree, as well the charcuterie selection (meant for two).  So there’s already enough for three on the table, but we went for it., leaving a little morsel of scallop behind.  The scallops were beautifully presented with a portion having 3 scallops on the plate – just the right amount.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

After warming up with starters, meat loving Nikki decided to take a risk on a vegetarian main and was not disappointed.  Choosing La Tartiflette, she wasn’t disappointed by the layers of Ratte potatoes with garlic, onions, crème fraiche and golden melted cheese which arrived.  It smelled and looked amazing, however, as I’m currently cutting out dairy, I could only admire from afar. I selected a classic beef bourguignon.  It was soft, tender, slow cooked and was richly flavoured with Burgundy red, served with mash and carrots and courgette.  Rich comfort food at its best. Portions were generous and had it been a cold winters day, I probably would have demolished it all.  Given we’d gone overboard on the starters, I didn’t quite manage a clear plate.

Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

There was no way we were leaving hungry and our lovely servers were keen to make sure we enjoyed something from the selection of delicious desserts.  I’d have tried everything given half the chance, however, due to current dairy restrictions, I’d to ask for an off menu selection.  The staff couldn’t have been more helpful, suggesting a blackcurrant sorbet with a selection of forest fruits.  It was the perfect end to a rich dinner.
Atlantic Bar Brasserie Glasgow

So highlights from us – the staff for sure.  We felt like each of them really cared about their job and the customer.  They were knowledgeable, helpful and went the extra mile to ensure that we were looked after.  Nothing was too much trouble.    The owner even popped in to see us, took the time to come over to each table and asked what we’d enjoyed about the night.

A relative newbie to the Glasgow dining scene, we were impressed by the experience, loved the décor and thought it would be a great place for a girls dinner… starting with a cocktail in the bar and ending with a crème brulee (or two) over a Glasgow of cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Cocktail Menu! 

For more information check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Disclaimer:  We were invited along to dine at Atlantic as guest bloggers. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Glasgow Living Part 5 - Wontons at The Glad Café

Readers, I’m off back to my ever popular Glasgow living series tonight.   I discovered a great activity the other night… Wonton making at The Glad Cafe

Organised by Ricefield Arts – a cultural group bringing Chinese culture across Scotland – it was a fantastic night, great value for money and the only disappointment being that not more people attended.  All in there were around 8 of us – meaning we could really learn what we were doing in a small group environment.

Our teachers were young people who’d come over to Scotland – some as students, some for careers but all in, they wanted to share their experiences of real Chinese food with us all. We travelled to Northern China and Inner Mongolia back in 2014, so could share our experiences of food and travel with everyone.

The night got started with a presentation from Ricefield, telling us about wontons – how they vary across the country, how many ways they could be folded and the different things they could be filled with.  We split the group by meat and veggie – we took up some spaces at the meat table and learned how to make “little clouds” – when the dumplings are boiled they go a little like pasta and suck in towards the filling, making something that translates as swallowing crowds.  Our teachers also fried up some dumplings to start with, which were amazing.
ricefield arts wonton night
Making our dumplings

We used pre-made dumpling wrappers, available from your local Chinese supermarket and learned how to fold them in different ways.  Our teachers then took our dumplings back to the kitchen and turned them into a delicious broth, made with water soy, bok choi and cabbage.   Not only did we get to learn a new skill, we also got fed.

ricefield arts wonton night
Our soup (cooked up by the experts)

Many of you will be aware that I love The Glad Café for brunch, but until Thursday, I had no idea there was a whole area through the back, with a stage and bar.  It’s usually used for gigs, but provided the perfect space for us to work from.   

The highlight for us, was sitting down as a group at the end of the night and sharing our wonton soup around the table whilst discussing our different cultures and learning from others.  After everything that’s been in the news in the last week about racial hate crimes on the rise, our evening couldn’t have been further from this.  What makes me proud to live in Glasgow, is our acceptance towards different communities and the fact we all live peacefully and integrate with each other.  Part of Ricefield’s remit is to help the Chinese community integrate better with their Scottish neighbours and this definitely was achieved on Thursday night...
Hi everyone!

...Oh and the best bit, the whole night cost us less than £10 each (excluding the additional alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks we purchased). 

A great event, a fantastic way to bring different backgrounds together and I’m really hoping to get along to one of their future classes.

For more information, visit the Ricefield Arts website.

Until next time, happy weekend! 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Salted Caramel Rocky Road

Readers, I'm telling you now that these are seriously naughty bakes!  I repeat... seriously naughty.  Although, if you cut into 20 pieces rather than 10, it might not be quite so bad?  And they've got dried fruit in them...

These salted caramel rocky road bars are the ultimate for a sweet tooth.  Great for preparing ahead of time if you're having a bake sale, afternoon tea party or a potluck event.   

My traybake recipes are generally always popular on the blog, so I hope you enjoy this one too! 

Happy Baking!
salted caramel rocky road bars

Salted Caramel Rocky Road Bars


Makes 10 slices or 20 small bitesize pieces
300g crushed Hobnobs
3 dessert spoons golden syrup
125g salted butter
75g mini marshmallows
50g chopped yoghurt coated bananas
50g dried cranberries
180g dark chocolate
100g dark chocolate (melted)
Handful mini marshmallows
Handful chopped yoghurt bananas
20 raisins                                            
Salted caramel sauce to drizzle
Salted Caramel Sauce
100g golden caster sugar
50g salted butter
70ml double cream
2 pinches sea salt (ground)


  1. Firstly, make the salted caramel sauce by adding the golden caster sugar to a pan over a medium heat.  This is the dry method of making caramel, so keep stirring the sugar with a heat proof spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  The sugar will begin to clump together and melt into a golden colour.  Be careful not to burn it. Keep stirring!
  2. Once sugar has melted, stir in the butter and boil for 2-3 minutes – be careful, the mix will bubble up when the fat is added. Then slowly add in the double cream and stir through.  Heat for around another minute, continuously stirring then remove from heat and allow to thicken.
  3. If there are any lumps in the sauce, pass through a sieve to remove, then stir in sea salt to taste.
    Making the sauce
  4. Next, make the base for the rocky road.  Add 180g dark chocolate, 3 dessert spoons golden syrup and 125g salted butter to a pan over a medium heat.  Melt all ingredients together and remove from the heat.

    Preparing the base
  5. Once melted, allow to cool slightly, before breaking up the hobnobs into the mix. You want to keep the pieces a reasonable size, rather than a crumb, so the tray bake has some bite.
  6. Stir in the mini marshmallows, chopped yoghurt banana chips and dried cranberries to the mix.
  7. Using an 8in x 8in silicone bake pan, pour in around half of the base mixture and flatten out into the pan, making sure to reach the corners.  Then, drizzle 3 teaspoons of salted caramel sauce over the top, before adding the remaining half of the base mixture over the sauce.  You’re almost creating a salted caramel sandwich! Flatten out, as per the first half.
    Add the salted caramel filling to the rocky road bars
  8. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set into a solid block (around 1 hour).
  9. Once chilled, melt 100g dark chocolate in a microwave cup for around 1 minute until smooth.  Pour over the base mixture and use a spatula to flatten out into a chocolate topping.  Then, add some raisins, marshmallows and chopped yoghurt bananas scattered across the chocolate, before finishing with 3 teaspoons of salted caramel sauce drizzled on the top.
  10. Return to the fridge to set the topping (around 1 hour) before cutting into 10 equal sized bars. 

Top Tips
  • This can be made a day ahead of time and stored overnight – just cut before you are ready to serve.
  • The recipe is fairly dense, so you could get 20 smaller pieces out of the mix, if bitesize blocks are more your thing.
  • The rocky road will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for around 4-5 days after being made.
  • Use pre-made salted caramel sauce for the filling and topping if you are unsure about making the caramel from scratch.