By Helen Cross

In the spotlight with...Ailsa Corbishley, aka Mrs Macamoon

Macarons are one of my all time favourite guilty pleasures. Light but decadent and each mouthful takes me back to one of my favourite cities, Paris. 
However you don’t have to go over the Channel to taste these delicious treats. Ailsa Corbishley is busy crafting the perfect macaron from her home in Peebleshire. This month we find out a little more about Mrs Macamoon herself.

1. In three words sum up Macamoon?
Deliciously delectable delights

2. Where did the inspiration come from to start the business and have you always worked in the food industry?
The inspiration for Macamoon and starting a business making macarons and other confections grew from a passion for eating sweets and deserts. I have always been a ‘foodie’ with an incredible appetite for sweet treats and after I saw macarons for sale in a patisserie a few years ago, I decided I needed to bake and eat macarons. 
I have no formal training as a pastry chef but I have always baked since I was a little girl helping my mum in the kitchen. I trained as a nurse and then a midwife before having my three daughters and starting Macamoon. 
The business began when I decided to attend a wedding fair in 2015 with samples and a huge tower of macarons to showcase the macaron and what Macamoon can offer. 
I was very surprised to take quite a number of orders and the business has gone from strength to strength and recently I have won two national awards at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, including Product of the Year.

3. Where does the magic take place and where are the macarons and marshmallows created?
The business is run from my farmhouse kitchen just outside Peebles. I am lucky to have beautiful views to enjoy while baking. 
The Borders is bursting with other great producers and I always try and source as many of my ingredients as locally as I can. 
I am trying to create a very Scottish macaron – French fare with Scottish flair.

4. Who do you supply and for what occasions?
I supply macarons and marshmallows for weddings and functions, and also to hotels and farm shops. 
I am also planning to develop a home delivery service so that people can enjoy my macarons without having to drive here to get them.
5. Have you ever had any VIP orders?
I sold some macarons to Prue Leith, the chef, last year when I had a macaron stand at the Borders Book Festival, which was a bit nerve racking. I was also nervous when the judges taste tested my macarons at the Excellence Awards.

6. Can you tell me more of the unusual flavour combinations you like to create?
I don’t really create unusual flavours for the sake of being different, I like to create delicious combinations that taste really good. 
I am proud of the Scottish selection, which won the product of the year, which was a combination of Scottish inspired macarons using Scottish ingredients and flavours associated with Scotland. 
There was a Hebridean sea salted caramel, Tunnocks Teacake, Cranachan, Tablet, and Peebles-shire heather honey and whisky liqueur macaron flavours. Customers seem to really enjoy boozy macarons and so I make a lot of gin infused macarons at the moment using Scottish fruit gins.

7. What are your future plans? 
I am planning to expand my business and ship macarons and other confections across Scotland and the UK as a whole. I would like to continue to develop new confectionary ideas and make people happy through food.

8. Dead or alive which six people would you like to enjoy dinner with and what would be on the menu?
I would invite people I admire. I would invite Tom Kerridge the chef, to talk about food, Dolly Parton because I love her music and her sparkling personality; Gary Barlow because he’s handsome and I have always been a huge Take That fan. 
I would ask my brother and sister because they like to laugh until they can’t breathe just like I do, and finally I would ask Peter Kay because that guy is the funniest man alive! 
I would usually opt for three courses of pudding but to make my guests happy I will opt for the usual two savoury and one pudding. I love scallops and so some Scottish scallops in butter to start, rack of Border lamb with a redcurrant jus for main course, and chocolate fondant pudding for desert. Of course, we would end the evening with macarons and tea.

RECIPE: Roast grouse with squash, red onion and thyme

This month Neil Forbes from Edinburgh’s award winning Cafe St Honoré serves up a recipe for the perfect autumnal feast, which almost makes it seem okay to be turning our backs on the summer months as we look forward to more filling and warming dishes in the months ahead.

The ingredients…
2 whole oven-ready young grouse
½ a medium-sized butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and seeds retained for a later day
2 red onions, peeled and roughly cut
1 small handful spinach leaves
4 large sprigs of thyme
½ bulb of garlic, cloves smashed
100mls cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1 handful heritage potatoes, washed and parboiled
1 tablespoon duck fat
Good salt and pepper
50g butter

The method…
Firstly, remove the legs from the crown of grouse. Next, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the legs with some salt and pepper. Once they are browned, place them in a warm oven (180°C) to cook for 45 to 50 minutes. They take a bit longer than the breasts to cook due to the sinews.
Next, dice the squash into 1-inch chunks and place in a roasting tin with the red onion pieces, half the thyme and half the garlic. Drizzle with half the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast alongside the legs for 4o to 50 minutes until soft and browned.
Roast the grouse crowns on the bone. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and get it quite hot. Then fry the crowns with some salt and pepper before adding the potatoes and the remaining garlic and thyme, and the duck fat.
Ensure you turn the potatoes and the grouse all the time whilst colouring on the hob. Once browned, add the butter and place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. No more. Grouse should always be quite rare and never over cooked. Remove from the oven and allow them to rest before removing the breasts from the carcasses.
Remove the squash and onion from the oven and add the spinach to the roasting tin, allowing it to wilt in the residual heat. Add the potatoes, the sweet garlic cloves and the thyme, mix and place into the centre of warmed plates.
To serve, either slice the grouse breasts into smaller pieces or place a whole one on each plate. Place the leg on top and trickle each dish with the pan juices. Serve immediately.

Kitchen cupboard essentials

Originally retailing seafood, organic meat and organic lamb, all boasting Hebridean provenance, to consumers across the UK from their online shop, The Hebridean Food Company is expanding. 
In 2015, the company began the development of a range of 12 soups and four sauces, which launched in January of this year. In the same month the company secured its first nationwide supermarket listing of Mussel Chowder with Aldi. 
Confident in the product, Aldi have agreed to a further two national listings. In addition, contracts for the soups have been secured with Selfridges, Whole Foods Market, Earthy food markets, House of Bruar and The Cress Company wholesale.

Gather is perhaps one of the most beautiful cookbooks you could get your hands on this year. It’s the first book from River Cottage chef Gill Meller and celebrates his unique style of simple cooking with seasonal ingredients. There are 120 recipes within the book inspired by the landscape in which he lives and works and you will want to try each and every recipe. I for one can’t wait to try the apple rye and cider cake or the damsons with sage and Camembert. (Published by Quadrille, on September 22, 2016, £25).