Standing outside is not for me – even on Bonfire Night

Who likes Bonfire Night? Not me.
Why would anyone want to stand in a freezing cold field, watching a giant fire but not being able to get close enough to acquire any actual heat from it , write rude words with a sparkler and watch a few half-hearted squibs go off?
This year I’m reforming my cynical ways and getting, quite literally into the spirit of it. Two of these recipes feature spirits from the Arbikie Distillery. The smoky quality of the Small Batch Premium Chilli Vodka adds an ostentatious kick to my Shin of Beef Chilli and the AK Gin’s honey and cardamom notes make for a warming Apple and Gin Punch. Baked potatoes seem to be a Bonfire Night staple but I’ve ‘adulted’ mine with a Tartiflette version. I’ll be serving these on the 5th thinking about all the frozen tootsies of those mad enough to venture out.
Tartiflette baked potatoes

Tartiflette Baked Potatoes (serves 4)

4 small baking potatoes
150g lardons, fried until crispy
100g Reblochon, sliced
1 chopped and lightly fried onion
150ml double cream
1 crushed clove garlic
Salt and pepper to season
Bake the potatoes at 190°C for 45 mins, or until soft inside, then cut in half and scoop out the floury potato filling. Lightly break up the potato with a fork and mix with all the other ingredients. Fill the potatoes with the mixture and bake at 200oC for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the cream bubbling.
A kick in the shin of beef chilli to heat you up on Bonfire Night or indeed any winter’s evening

A kick in the Shin of Beef Chilli (serves 4)

1.3 kg shin of beef or stewing beef cut into generous chunks
3 red onions, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
3 whole dried chillies, ground with 3 cloves garlic
½ tube tomato puree
1/3 bottle red wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500 g carton tomato passata
500ml beef stock
1 tin red kidney beans
2 red peppers, diced and lightly roasted
50 ml Arbikie Chilli Vodka
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the beef in a heavy oven proof casserole dish, remove and set aside. Cook the onion over a low heat until soft and add the spices and garlic. Cook over a low heat for a minute. Add the tomato puree and cook gently to remove the bitterness then add the beef to the pot and then the wine. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the passata, tinned tomatoes and beef stock. Cover and cook in a low oven (150°C) for 4 and a half hours then add the kidney beans and peppers. Season to taste. Add the vodka and serve with rice and a chunky guacamole.
AK’s gin by Arbikie packs a fine punch

Gin and Apple Punch (serves 4)

800ml good quality cloudy Apple juice
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of one lemon
200ml Arbikie AK’s Gin
Warm the Apple and lemon juice on the stove with the cardamom and cinnamon. Add the gin off the heat and serve with finely sliced apple.
Gin and Apple Punch