Saturday, 21 May 2016

BBQ Inspiration – National Barbeque Week 2016

Readers, after enjoying a few days of fabulous weather last week and over the weekend, I’m finally starting to think summer dining.
I’m also helping to support National BBQ Week coming up on 30th May to 5th June this year.  Many thanks to Ocean Loans for getting me involved in this year’s campaign.  The brief was really open to interpretation (as longs it sticks to the bbq theme) and I could do what I wanted to promote all things BBQ!

So, I’ve decided to go for a couple of easy to create dishes which could be made in the kitchen and finished off on the bbq.  The star here is the mini chicken kebabs… super easy to make with ingredients you possibly already have in the fridge or cupboard.  I’ve also suggested a couple of side dishes that are inspired by summer, the Med, Spanish flavours and hot days.  All of this can be prepared indoors first (great if you’ve only got enough space on your bbq for a couple of bangers) and if you really want the authentic taste – cook your chicken on the hob and finish it off for a couple of minutes over the bbq.

Happy Summer everyone*

*disclaimer, it’s CHUCKING DOWN with rain as I write this in Glasgow.  Fear that we’ve had our summer already…

Marinated Chicken Kebabs

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to your liking)
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chopped fresh/frozen coriander
Juice of ½ lime


  1. Prepare your marinade in a bowl by mixing the oil, spices and lime juice.  Chop chicken and add to the marinade. Make sure it is evenly coated.  Set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Super organised? You can make this 24h before and leave to infuse in the fridge in a tub.
    Make the marinade

    Add the chicken
  2. Next, fry the chicken over the hob on a medium high heat until cooked through.  Being careful once cooked, thread 4 pieces of chicken onto each skewer.   Transfer to the bbq and grill for a couple of minutes each side to get that authentic smoky flavour. (Or if you find it’s raining as per the usual British BBQ, feel free to eat straight away).
    marinated chicken kebabs

Chorizo Sweet Potatoes

chorizo sweet potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 small sweet potatoes
¼ chorizo sausage
1 garlic clove (quartered)
Olive oil for cooking


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into small cubes.  Toss in olive oil and add the garlic clove.  
  3. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Cut chorizo sausage into small cubes. 
  5. Remove the sweet potato from oven, add the chorizo and stir to coat with the oils.  Return to oven.
  6. Roast for a further 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

 Spanish Roasted Veggies

spanish roasted veggies

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 red onions
12 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove (quartered)
Olive Oil for cooking


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Chop and de-seed the peppers.  Peel and cut the onions into wedges.
  3. Add to an oven proof dish along with the cherry tomatoes and quartered garlic clove.
  4. Toss with olive oil and cook in the oven for around 30 minutes – stirring halfway through to ensure vegetables don’t burn.
  5. Serve as a side dish along with the chorizo sweet potatoes and the mini chicken kebabs.

national bbq week 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Restaurant Review: Lunch at Chez Roux at Cromlix Hotel, near Dunblane

Readers, it’s been a few weeks since I last did a restaurant review.  Yesterday we went to The Cromlix, known locally as “Andy Murray’s hotel” and quite frankly, if it’s good enough for him… then it’s good enough for me.

We drove through from Glasgow and from the moment we arrived, the service was first class. We were greeted by a member of staff in the carpark, who took us into the bar, ensured we were seated and our coats and jackets were stowed away.  We had time for a round of drinks before the main event…. A 3 course lunch at Chez Roux.

On arrival, I was super excited to see the open kitchen and pass, where head chef Darin Campbell, formerly of One Devonshire Gardens, was hard at work with his team.  Chez Roux is housed in an airy open conservatory overlooking the hotels croquet lawn and tennis courts.  It’s light, spacious and has minimalist d├ęcor to appeal to all ages.  Chez Roux is overseen by the legendary Albert Roux and if we weren’t mistaken, there was a gentleman who looked INCREDIBLY similar to him sitting in the corner talking to staff today…

Mr What Claire Baked and I went with my mum and dad, who’d kindly taken us along for an early birthday treat.  Staff had taken care to remember this from the booking and asked on arrival who’s birthday we were celebrating and if we’d travelled far today… turns out it’s a great halfway point between my hometown near Dundee and our Glasgow home.

Our drinks were taken to the table and we were presented with some canapes to enjoy whilst we waited, along with a basket of fresh bread.  Cleverly, the staff take your food order whilst you’re enjoying your drinks at the bar, so by the time you’re seated, starters follow soon after.   I went for the gurnard salad with foraged greens to start, whilst my parents went for gazpacho and Mr What Claire Baked got stuck into a pigs head croquette.  All were beautifully presented.
My starter
Soon after, the main event arrived.  I had food envy across the table – mum went for cod, whilst the rest of us chose the Ayrshire pork belly, served with seasonal veg and dauphinoise potatoes.  Each was finished with a red wine jus, served hot at the table by the exceptional waiting staff. Clean plates all round and everyone remarked that portion sizes were perfect- the three course option left everyone feeling fulfilled but not rolling out the restaurant!
Amazing pork belly with red wine jus

I’m a huge fan of desserts, but often I’ll order and be left disappointed when something mass made appears before me.  Not here.  3 out of 4 of us went for the strawberry and mint panna cotta, served with mini meringues and fresh mint leaves.  Mr WhatClaireBaked isn’t the biggest dessert lover so was delighted to see a cheeseboard included with the 3 course lunch menu – so often, it’s only available with a supplement.  The knowledgeable waitress took him through the 8 cheeses on offer from the trolley and served him at the table with his choice.  
Fantastic last course in an amazing lunch

The panna cottas passed the wobble test and it was fantastic to watch the team of chefs plating up on the pass in front of us.  If something wasn’t right, they started over.  

We finished off with coffee and were brought some petit fours to finish.  Hats off to the person who made the macarons – as my readers know, they are my baking nemesis!
Petit Fours to finish

At £28.50 per head Chez Roux offered exceptional value for money for a fine dining restaurant.  We were in for over two and a half hours and at no point did we feel rushed out the door.   The atmosphere was relaxed, staff were very professional, knowledgeable and genuinely seemed interested in their jobs.  For those of you who don’t know Cromlix closed in early 2012 after a period of financial difficulty and was refurbished and reopened several years later after a purchase from none other than local boy Andy Murray. (His brother married there in 2010 don’tcha know…)

So, the verdict… we thoroughly enjoyed out visit.  The food was superb and the three course lunch was fantastic value for money.  Staff were so helpful and made us feel very welcome.  The setting was stunning, the restaurant was airy, bright and clean. Thankfully the rain stayed off during our visit, so we could enjoy the views across the grounds.  We’ll definitely be back.    Thanks also to the staff for this lovely finishing touch...