Rob Roy-A Delicious Whisky Cocktail

Hi guys! I hope you have had a great weekend. I have been nursing a crappy ear infection. But alas, it’s been a good excuse to catch some extra z’s, lay around the house in my bathrobe, binge some television, and sip a little whisk(e)y. Always look on the sunny side of life, my friends!

In keeping with said whisk(e)y, today, we are going to make a whisky cocktail called a Rob Roy. Mr. C and I happen to LOVE Manhattans, as we have been on quite the bourbon kick lately (thus the reason I included the ‘e’ in the spelling of whiskey). Our newfound appreciation for bourbon began last fall when we visited Lexington, Kentucky, and toured three different distilleries.

Named after the 17th-century Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor, a Rob Roy is essentially a Manhattan. But instead of bourbon – or if you’re a purist, rye whiskey – it is made with a blended Scotch (whisky without the ‘e’). We initially wanted to make today’s recipe with Dimple Pinch, a smooth, non-peaty blend that is perfectly suited for mixed drinks. Unfortunately, Mr. C couldn’t find any, and the liquor store he went to was thin on blends. So instead, he decided to try one we have never had. It’s called Monkey Shoulder. Great name, right? It describes itself as “blended in small batches of three fine Speyside single malts, then married to achieve a smoother, richer taste.”

A bottle of Monkey Shoulder.

Robert Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) was a marauder in the Highlands of Scotland. After falling out with the Duke of Montrose, Roy ran a racket, whereby he earned a living stealing cattle and then extorting money from farmers to ‘protect’ them from thieves. His name was made even more famous by writer Walter Scott when he published his novel “Rob Roy” in 1817.

Decorative monkeys on a bottle of Monkey Shoulder blended whisky.

Based on its description, I think Monkey Shoulder sounds promising. Let’s see if the taste is as inventive as that fun name!

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Dinner at Dalhousie Castle-A Perfect Night Out

Hi, friends, I have missed you! I’ve been on a little blogging break, and now I feel refreshed and ready to get back into the groove. I think it’s important to do that every once in a while. Do you feel that way too?

Reader, today I would like to take you to Dalhousie Castle, a 13th/15th century castle that sits about eight miles to the southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland, near the town of Bonnyrigg.

Front of Dalhousie Castle.

Mr. C and I had the pleasure of visiting Dalhousie in the spring of 2014. While we did not spend the night in this beautiful castle hotel/spa, we did dine in The Dungeon Restaurant.  What a marvelous experience!

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Cock-A-Leekie Soup-A Recipe for Burns Night

Every year on January 25, Scots (and those who have plaid hearts), come together to celebrate the life and literary works of Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night is a night for making merry. Though celebrations vary among its participants, generally it’s a night to gather with family and friends to eat traditional Scottish fare, to be entertained by all things Burns, and of course, to drink whisky! At more formal occasions, the evening commences with the joining of hands as everyone sings ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Mr. C and I celebrate our own version of Burns Night, but to celebrate this event IN Scotland is one of my bucket list dreams.

The traditional fare on Burns Night is usually some sort of soup (such as cock-a-leekie), haggis, neeps, tatties, and something sweet (like cranachan or clootie dumpling). Today, I would like to share with you my recipe for cock-a-leekie soup. I know it sounds funny, but it’s just chicken soup with leeks. The addition of allspice really takes the taste up a notch. Enjoy it on Burns Night or any other occasion. It’s utterly delicious!

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe-Perfect for Christmas

Hello again, friends. It’s recipe day! Since I haven’t done any holiday baking thus far, today I’m going to do just that. I’ll be trying my hand at Sticky Toffee Pudding, a recipe by my blogging friend and fellow lover of Scotland, Cristine Eastin.

To we Americans, Sticky Toffee Pudding is not a pudding as we know it.  It is actually a date cake topped with a delicious toffee sauce.

Cristine is a sweet and talented author who has published two works of fiction as well as a book of Scottish recipes – A Wee Scottish Cookbook (all available on Amazon).  It was in her cookbook that I found the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding.  As Cristine points out, this dessert is a relatively new concoction.  And although its origination may have been in England, the Scots have embraced it as a holiday tradition as well.

Click on any of the links above, and you’ll be redirected to Cristine’s beautiful blog.  I hope you’ll check it out!

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Scotch Eggs Recipe

Last week I mentioned that I would be making Scotch eggs. I am still going to make them today, but I discovered this past week that they are not actually Scottish! Who knew?

In fact, according to Encyclopedia Britannica,“Scotch egg[s], [are] a traditional British dish consisting of a shelled hard-boiled egg that is wrapped in sausage, covered in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried or baked until crispy. It is a popular pub and picnic dish and is commonly served cold in Britain. The Scotch egg has competing origin stories. Fortnum & Mason, a London department store known for its food products, maintains that it created Scotch eggs in 1738 for wealthy travelers on carriage rides. Another theory asserts that the dish evolved from northern India’s nargisi kofta (an egg covered in minced meat and served with curry), which returning soldiers and others introduced to England. A third story claims that it was invented by Scottish farmers as an inexpensive dish.”

If that is not confusing enough, I then read somewhere else that they may have been a North African invention, brought to England by way of France. And still, another site stated that their origin is rooted in the coastal Yorkshire town of Whitby. So your guess is as good as mine, reader!

For this endeavor, I chose to use a recipe by Jamie Oliver as my guide. His recipe is for eight servings; however, I decided to half this since that is a little much for just me and Mr. C. I made a few modifications to the wording of the recipe, but otherwise, it is essentially the same as Mr. Oliver’s. Oh, and here is a shoutout to my sweet Mr. C, who helped a great deal with these last night. And who persevered even when the first batch nearly burned and I got mad at him. He’s a keeper.

Ready? Alright, then let’s start cooking our British-but-not-Scottish dish!

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Ardross Farm Shop – Elie, Scotland

To piggy-back on my recent post about Elie, Scotland, I want to mention a terrific farm shop located about a mile outside of the village, right off of A917. It is called Ardross Farm Shop. It is so terrific, in fact, that Mr. C and I deliberately made the hour and ten-minute journey from Edinburgh to shop there three times!

Ardross Farm Shop building exterior.

When Mr. C and I travel, our normal routine is to eat the majority of lunches out, as we often spend our days driving and exploring. We prefer to cook breakfasts and dinners in, however. Having our own kitchen is just one of the many reasons we like to choose rental homes over hotels.

We enjoy dining at home when we travel for a few reasons:

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Afternoon Tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC

I had the most delightful experience last week. My dad and his lovely wife were in town for a visit, so I took them to afternoon tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC.

Exterior of the O'Henry Hotel.

I first fell in love with the ritual of afternoon tea in Scotland. To clarify, when I say ‘tea’ I’m not just talking about the beverage and a cookie. Oh, no no no. A proper full/afternoon tea should include a bottomless pot of hot tea, finger sandwiches, and other small savory bites, a variety of little sweet treats, and of course, savory and/or plain scones with clotted cream and jam or curd. In the U.K., afternoon tea is enjoyed post-lunch but pre-dinner. Personally, I prefer just to make it my lunch.

Ever since that first Scottish tea, I have been on the lookout for a similar experience here at home. To be honest, I haven’t really found it. Until the O’Henry. Wow! Everything about it hit the mark, from the beautiful and sophisticated setting to the gorgeous mix-and-match china, to the delicious and thoughtfully prepared tiered tray of food. I felt as if I were at Greywalls Hotel or Prestonfield House or any other fine establishment in Scotland.

See for yourself!

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Whisk(e)y…With an ‘E’

Hi, friends.  I’m giddy you stopped by!  I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely weekend.

As promised a couple of weeks ago, I have a special guest blogger here today.  Technically this was supposed to happen last weekend, but unfortunately, my guest was in a car accident that totaled his beautiful convertible. Ugh!  No worries, though, because aside from a few cuts and a little soreness, he’s feeling A-OK.  And that’s a very good thing because I happen to be in love with this guy!

Readers, today I’m turning things over to my sweet husband, Mr. C, who is going to share with you a little bit about the whisk(e)y education we received on our recent anniversary getaway.  Enjoy.

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Whisky Ball Recipe

Last week I mentioned that I had a special guest blogger lined up for this week, but due to unforeseen circumstances (tell you about it later), I had to mix things up a bit. So…we are going to cook today instead!

If you stopped by last week, then you know that Mr. C and I recently took a trip to Lexington, Kentucky, to celebrate our anniversary. During our visit, we toured three different bourbon distilleries (Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve). Each of the tours concluded with a tasting, and they gave us a bourbon ball made with whiskey from that particular distillery. All were delicious, but Mr. C and I both agreed that the bourbon balls at Buffalo Trace were AH-MAZING. I did a little poking around on the internet when we got back and found a recipe that is supposed to be very similar to the candies invented in 1938 by Ruth Booe, the founder of Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory in Frankfort, KY. That is the candy company that today makes the bourbon balls for purchase at Buffalo Trace. Perfect!

Because I write a blog about Scotland and not about Kentucky, I decided to give these a try using Scotch rather than bourbon (whisky with a “y” as opposed to whiskey with an “ey”). Mr. C suggested that I use BenRiach 10-year-old (a Speyside Scotch), which I discovered was an excellent choice given that it is aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, lending it the perfect sweet flavor.

Who’s ready to cook?  Let’s give it a go!

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Whisky Meets Tequila-A Transatlantic Romance

This morning while Mr. C was at the liquor store buying tequila to make margaritas tonight, he stumbled upon a newly stocked item – Don Julio Tequila-Reposado, Double Cask.

Whisky and tequila meet in the box of Don Julio Reposado Limited Edition.

Did you catch what the box says? “Finished in casks used in the making of Buchanan’s blended Scotch whisky.” Whisky meets tequila. Holy cow! “What’s that,” you ask? Why yes, of course, he bought a bottle, silly!

If you are familiar with the Don Julio brand, you know that their tequilas are top-shelf. Definitely not the stuff of college drinking games. No. Don Julio tequilas are like a fine wine or a premium Scotch. They are meant for sipping (emphasis on sipping), savoring, and appreciating all of their excellent qualities. In fact, Don Julio tequilas are so exceptional that you can enjoy them neat. No mixer required.

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