I am currently writing a new book which will augment my little vegetable series. It will be more than twice the size, but still a similar format with the superb photographs taken by my wife,photographer Caroline Trotter, whose great skill is making my quotidian recipes look delicious! This time it will be on Fish. The reasons for this are varied and I will pick up on the theme as the year progresses, but the reason for now is that this is the year of Coasts and Waters from Visit Scotland and I thought that with the fact that more people are cooking than ever before, now is the time to support our fishermen and use fresh fish from British waters. It is a sad fact that the top five fish eaten in the UK are Cod, Haddock, Tuna, Salmon and Prawns, The last quite possibly from pacific waters, tuna is not a native fish and salmon is farmed. Now I have no problem with farmed fish so long as it farmed well, and I am using the rest of this blog to talk about farmed Salmon. A colleague of mine told me about Native Hebridean salmon and they kindly sent me some samples of both the fresh fish and their smoked salmon. Now I know another colleague, well known food commentator Joanna Blythman has something to say about farmed fish but I believe that in the right hands it is acceptable, as much as anything, because getting wild salmon nowadays is almost impossible. Up until now I have only bought Shetland salmon which I believe is farmed sustainably and is good. The Hebridean product also looks very good, it has very little fat and had a firm texture which some fish do not have. I cooked it in various ways, not least as a sort of tartar, which is raw, and this too was superb, if it had been flabby and oily then the mouth feel would not have been satisfactory. In a curry, the flavour still shone through and simply grilled it was not at all oily. I made a gravlax with beetroot and this too worked very well, with a clean fresh taste. The smoked salmon was also very good, firm texture and a delicate smoke flavour which was not overpowering the fish. (smoking after all is simply a method of preserving) The fresh flavour means that lemon juice is not necessary but I like a squeeze on mine. So this month’s recipe is for .. salmon!
Ps the book will only be published if I can find a distributor!
This month’s recipe
SALMON AND SCALLOPS WITH LEEK AND GINGER
It is often hard to get fresh fish at this time of year although we are still in the main season for Haddock and Whiting, of the oily fish, Mackerel should still be available, and Mackerel also goes well with the ingredients in this dish, but I have chosen a safe option of farmed salmon as it’s available year round, but do make sure that it has been sourced from accredited sources such as MSC . The combination of colourful leeks and warmth of fresh ginger helps keep away the winter chills! I use salmon fillets which are cut from a whole side, but do make sure they have been scaled as I like to cook the salmon from the skin side only, it takes a little longer to cook but the skin becomes lovely and crunchy and the flesh is moist, but if there are still scales its horrible!
Scallops are great just now and this dish is really brings out their sweetness.
4 small fillets of salmon
4 King scallops (muscle removed)
2 cm piece of ginger
Cold pressed rapeseed oil and butter
Salt and pepper
1 Heat a heavy based pan and add a touch of oil. Dry the salmon fillets and sprinkle the skin side with a little salt and place skin side down in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the skin has really browned. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until just firm to the touch.
2 Meanwhile cut the leeks into 5 cm lengths and then cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly into thin sticks
3 Peel the ginger and cut into thin slices then cut into thin sticks as above
4 When the salmon has cooked remove from the pan and keep warm.
5 Raise the heat and dry the scallops with kitchen paper and add a touch more oil to the pan and a little butter, sear the scallops on both sides to colour a lovely brown. Set aside and add the leeks and ginger stir to colour lightly and soften, season
Serve the salmon skin side up with the scallop and leek mixture
What a great summer we have had, and even now in November it is still very mild,
FOOD TOURS AND COOKING WORKSHOPS
I have had a busy year developing my food tours and classes, with some wonderful trips across Scotland showing visitors this beautiful country that is Scotland. I have been lucky enough to have worked with some other businesses to provide these trips and cooking workshops and also with “Welcome to Fife” at Fife Council, a small but perfectly formed team that make up the tourism arm of the council, They work tirelessly to help those of us like me to promote this amazing region.
I have made a short video which is available on you tube to promote them please do share.
VEGETABLE COOK BOOKS
As most of my readers will know I have embarked on a project of writing small cook books to promote single vegetables, the idea for these came from the many people who, during my cooking demos and workshops asked for ideas on cooking vegetables as they only had three or four. I always publish them about now in time for the Christmas market, yes unashamed promotion. I suppose I should bring each one out in its season but as the books are available year round and in lots of book shops people can buy them when the vegetable is actually available, My latest one is called Tomato and like the the others has 30 recipes, I was about to add, “for the vegetable” but of course a tomato is a fruit! Suffice to say I have treated it as a vegetable in this book (as we do most of the time!) although there is one sweet dish with green tomatoes. There are now 6 books in the series Beetroot, Kale, Courgette, Carrot, and Cauliflower and I have decided to package them altogether to produce a boxed set which will make a very fine Christmas gift. The pack is sturdy and easy to wipe clean as it will live next to the cooker!
The books are on sale now on my website at Waterstones and at many good shops across Fife, Perthshire and Angus
I will also be selling them and The Hairy Bakers cook book at
Eden court fair Inverness November 16th 17th and 18th
Easterbrook Hall Dumfries November 19th 20th
Strathmiglo fair Saturday November 24th
Scone Palace Christmas fair
St Andrews Farmers market 1st December
Dumfermline Farmers market 8th December
And a book signing at Waterstones St. Andrews late opening November 29th
Use your favourite sausage for this; it doesn’t need to be anything fancy just a good pork sausage. You can also add some spice like cumin or paprika, just after the garlic stage. Only peel the potatoes if the skins are particularly blemished or hard. Most of the nutrients are just under the skin which you lose if you peel it.
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
500g Ayrshire epicures cut in a chunky dice
Hebridean sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 Cook the sausages in the oven and cut into small chunks.
2 Separate the kale from the stalks and chop the stalks quite finely, and shred the leaves.
3 Take a frying pan and add the oil and sweat the onion with the kale stalks for a few minutes. Stir in the diced potatoes, and colour lightly. Add garlic , the salt and the shredded kale, stirring to coat.
4 Lower the heat and add the water and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes.
5 Remove the lid, raise the heat and add the sausages. The water will all evaporate; mix through thoroughly and check seasoning.
These sprouts appear in the spring but you can also use purple sprouting. The name Dragon was given to me by Archie McDiarmid of Luvians Bottle shop who suggested a great wine to go with it- Leitz Dragonstone Riesling; brilliant wine and who could resist Dragon Sprouts with Dragonstone? Indeed!
255g Dragon (kale) sprouts, trimmed
2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1 jar of Chillilicious chilli “shot”
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp honey
1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the chilli shot and allow to cook, stirring for a few minutes.
2 Carefully add the vinegar and immediately throw in the sprouts and garlic. Stir-fry for a few minutes and then add the soy and honey. Check seasoning and serve.
Delicious on its own or with a pork dish.
I really enjoy writing these little veg books because of the research I have to do and the discoveries I make about the vegetables. For instance Kale, my latest book really is the quintessential Scottish vegetable. Church bells in Edinburgh were named after it, as when they chimed at noon it was the signal for working people to go for their midday meal – probably of kale! The mothers of the children in Glasgow and Edinburgh tenements would call out to their bairns “ Come in for your Kale” meaning their meal and of course inevitably it would contain Kail or cabbage of some sort in a hearty broth, You got meat if you were lucky! Kale is the great vegetable which in the middle of January, in a snow drift and all else has failed in the garden it will be sticking up above the white carpet, its green black or red leaves glinting in the watery winter sun. Kale is obviously ubiquitous across Europe as the same plant has so many names; for instance the marketing boys got on the Cavolo Nero bandwagon pretty quick and this lovely almost black leaved kale sells for a premium in London delis Or try Lacianto or even Dinosaur its all the same, simply Black kale!
Since the first book Beetroot the process has simplified, I choose a vegetable usually after much discussion with friends and then in the winter early spring set to on the research and writing. Then comes the photographs and I am so lucky having Caroline as my wife as her food images just bring my simple food alive. People say that the picture makes you want to reach in to the books and pick up a piece of what ever it is. Others say it just makes them want to go straight into the kitchen and have a go. We try to do 4 or 5 in a shoot and Caroline uses only natural light and we are lucky where we are as her studio has large south facing windows and on good days we even go outside! The variety of back drop is important but the main ingredient is her skill at capturing the right angle and composition. It’s a lot of fun!
Whatever your reaction I am just delighted that more people are being a bit more adventurous with their vegetables. The recipes are not designed to be closed but to open up your imaginations to remembered flavours and to experiment. Once you have a technique or two then you can go ahead and experiment, what’s the worst that can happen? You make soup!! The important thing is to understand the seasons buy fresh and locally and get into that kitchen, and share some good food. I don’t really have a favourite but here is a seasonal idea – with pheasant! Here is the recipe!
BRAISED PHEASANT BREAST WITH KALE AND PUY LENTILS
Kale is really good with big flavours and provides colour in what might otherwise be a dull-looking dish.
200g puy lentils
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 pheasant breasts
2 tsp butter
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
2 sticks celery, cut to a small dice
2 medium carrots, cut to a small dice
200g kale roughly chopped
½ tsp Hebridean salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Rinse the lentils in cold water and then place in a pan and cover with water bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
2 Take a liddable pan and set it over a medium heat and add the oil. Dry the pheasant breasts on kitchen paper and brown on both sides, raising the heat as needed; remove and set aside.
3 Lower the heat, add the butter and the chopped onion, sweat gently to colour a little and then stir in the garlic, celery and carrots, add the lentils and water, enough to cover. Place the pheasant on top and cover. Cook gently until the water almost evaporates.
4 Take out the pheasant; stir in the kale to wilt, and cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Serve with the pheasant on top.
It’s very exciting having another book coming out and it has made me think back to when I wrote my first book in 1998!
I was running Scotland’s Larder then, my project to teach Scotland about its own food! We had a restaurant where the menu changed seasonally, we had a shop which celebrated the seasons selling fresh produce, and then an exhibition and demonstration space where we told the story of Scottish food why it’s so good and how we can cook with it. We celebrated the season by having events for the first asparagus and strawberries with such great luminaries as Lady Claire Macdonald and Mr Asparagus himself Sandy Pattullo of Eassie near Glamis. Even Clarissa Dixon Wright came a couple of times.
It was while I was running the Larder that I was approached to write a book on Scottish cooking for Lomond Books, this was to be the first of many. I have a copy in front of me now and am still proud of it. There is a mixture of the traditional such as “Cullen Skink” and “Trout cooked in oatmeal”, but I also created some new ideas using Scottish materials; “Mackerel with rhubarb relish” and “lambs liver with lemon and honey” a recipe I got from my mum.
Over the years since I have written a book for the National Trust For Scotland and then one I did with Carol Wilson called “Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking”. It was lovely doing all the research for these books – choosing ingredients, testing recipes and I still get positive feedback today. In fact I have just had an e mail from a Swede who enjoyed my Gravadlax very much, along with letters and e-mails from America, New Zealand and even Africa with lovely comments. It’s a privilege to give these people pleasure, and connect them with Scottish food.
My most recent books have been on whole animal eating and my belief that if an animal is going to give up its life for us to eat it then we owe it a duty to eat as much as we can! The Whole Hog **for instance has recipes for everything but the squeak! In all my books I am always keen to stress the importance of quality; buy really good meat, organic if possible but otherwise grass fed beef or free range chickens or pigs. If we ate less but better quality then we would all be healthier.
My latest foray into books began in Waterstones book shop a couple of years ago standing in a queue at Christmas and seeing all the “stocking filler” books such as “101 things to do with a dead cat” So I thought I am going to write a book that people will find really useful. So with much encouragement from Waterstones I wrote “Beetroot.” Published in 2013 with around 30 recipes using beetroot each with a superb photograph taken by my wife Caroline, a lovely collaboration. Beetroot was a great success and was reprinted in 2014. This led to the next installment from the vegetable garden; “Courgette” which came out later the same year.
And now this October my next book in the series is called “Kale”. Kale is really an iconic Scottish vegetable and is of course very good for you! I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this one as much as the others. And again the photos are as fresh as the ingredients I used to test the recipes as Caroline was always around ready to capture final offerings. The book will shortly be available from me and of course good bookshops!
The humble courgette, or zucchini, depending where you come from, is such a versatile vegetable. Inspired by Elizabeth David’s recipe for stewing them in butter and mixing the resulting purée with white sauce and rice and browned in the oven from her book An Omelette and a glass of wine and Darina Allens’ simple salad with olive oil and sea salt, I have created a companion to Beetroot my best selling first vegetable book.
In Courgette I have used ideas based around technique and incorporated other ingredients which are also in season at the same time. For when does one need a book with 30 courgette recipes most? When there is a glut in the garden or they are cheap in the shops or make up half your veg box! Within these pages are recipes for all types and colours of courgettes, in cakes, soups, muffins, in salads, roulades, tarts and tians. There are buying and storing tips, and nutritional information.
Each recipe is accompanied by a superb photograph taken by my wife Caroline, who manages to make my simple recipes look wonderful!
So whatever you do with a courgette, eat raw, slice, steam, fry or bake, there are recipes here for every occasion. Please always buy local, support your local greengrocer or farmshop and don’t waste any!
This slim volume has 28 recipes for the wonderful beet including the leaves and stalks. Each with its own colour photograph by Fife-based photographer, Caroline Trotter. There are hints on buying and storage as well as nutritional information. A must for any beetroot lover or gardener with a glut or veg box buyer. Perfect Christmas stocking filler!
Beetroot often gets a bad press, in the days of my youth the only way it was served was pickled in vinegar, and the flavour so strong that no trace remained of the vegetable itself. Today you can buy over cooked vacuum packed beetroot which for me still does not truly do justice to this most delicious vegetable.
In this collection of recipes I have tried to show the range of this remarkable vegetable, combining it with ingredients such as hare and venison through to apples, spices, cheese and smoked fish. Boil, roast, bake and grate, in soups, soufflés, cakes and salads, but above all eat it! Nutritional Therapist Katie Dick has provided some words on its amazing nutritional qualities, and of course my wife Caroline and I have had a lovely time taking the pictures avoiding pink fingers on lenses! So here then is a start for everyone you know who says “Oh I never know what to do with beetroot”. Well, This is the answer.
Name the recipient(s) in the form below. Book with postage in the UK is £6.50, Europe £6.50.
A companion volume to The Whole Hog, this book is much more than just a cookbook. It is a unique blend of historical, geographical and culinary interest, together with clear explanations of how to cook the different cuts of beef and veal and over 100 delicious recipes.
“A helter skelter ride of shameless gluttony” – Scottish Review
“It is an excellent production” – Daily Telegraph
“I put my trotters together and applaud The Whole Hog” – Fergus Henderson
Name the recipient(s) in the form below. Book with postage in the UK is £25.00, Europe £30.00.
Took part BBC Radio Scotland’s phone in programme, Call Kaye on 4 October 2012. Asked to open the discussion on Nigela Lawson’s new book saying that perhaps it should have a health warning! One dish had 2000 calories. My take is simply that these books and TV programmes are pure entertainment. We all know what makes us fat and we all know what we should eat! Buy books that show how you how to cook with lovely fresh seasonal ingredients such as My ‘The Whole Hog’ or Catherine Brown and Sue Lawrence’s books; two excellent Scottish writers. We have a fabulous product in Scotland, treat it simply and eat a little of what you fancy! But COOK!
Written by Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter, this book is much more than a cookbook; it is a celebration of the pig and all its parts – a unique blend of historical, geographical and culinary interest, together with clear explanations of how to cook the different cuts of pork and over 100 delicious recipes from chef Christopher Trotter.
The pig has been domesticated throughout Europe since ancient times and the result is a variety of magnificent meat products with a fascinating history. The Romans introduced the sausage as a nutritious portable food for their marching legion (centuries later Louis XIV and Napoleon were also known to be fans), while Ardennes ham was praised by the ancient Greeks for its flavour and texture.
The idea of being able to cook everything but the squeal of a pig permeates the recipes which are informed by the traditions covered in the main text. Completely international and full of fantastic photographs and an engaging text this book will be a must-have for any pie fan, bacon-sandwich supporter or sausage addict.
Name the recipient(s) in the form below. Book with postage in the UK is £25.00, Europe £30.00.