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
The east west divide
For some time now I have been doing demonstrations at both Fife farmers markets and at Loch Lomond Shores and it is interesting to consider the differences. In effect my job is to chat to the stall holders and get small amounts of produce from them and then cook simple dishes using that produce to give people ideas as to how to use it. Whilst the meats remain constant. Beef lamb chicken etc. I can celebrate the seasons using vegetable and herb accompaniments, and in the summer I can use berry fruits for pudding ideas and in the winter apples pears and plums even though most markets don’t sell these they also go well with game dishes so i use venison more at that time of year.
Loch Lomond shores is limited in what it has in he way of prime products ( meat game etc ) and not helped by the reluctance of some stall holders to see the merit in giving me product. In Fife they are all very happy to do so. So First difference! Fifers understand how promotion works and see the benefit of having their product used in a dish, indeed its very satisfying that at times I can cook a dish using a specific product and that stall holders sells out of it! Luckily for me both markets have good vegetable stalls, I can do a lot with veg and it’s cheap! It is also the way to show the seasons as I mentioned before. Loch Lomond has a very friendly veg man and veg forms the base of all my work there. Otherwise the only enthusiastic suppliers are the wonderful Thomson from Nethergate Larder who gives me great pork and he has just started to experiment with curing his own beef. And then the fish stall, who often have good lesser known fish such as Hake. Look out for those markets on alternate Sundays
In Fife This Saturday Barbara the organiser has given the market a fruit theme which is great so that I can plan in advance what I might cook. There will be summer pudding, fruit tarts a fruit fool and then using fruit in meat dishes such as pork with gooseberries and venison with rowan berries ( yes foraged fruit too!) It’s all happening at Kirkcaldy this Saturday and Fife farmers markets occur on every Saturday First is at St. Andrews the second is Dunfermline the third is at Cupar and the last Kirkcaldy the variety is far better than on Loch Lomond with Ian Spink actually cooking his smokies live! There are wonderful chocolate drinks from Sophie at the Cocoa tree and often two veg stalls including an organic one and all meats from Puddledub buffalo to seriously good venison.
See you there
August is here and the summer is pushing on, It’s been a busy time with cooking classes both here and in people’s homes. and food tours in Fife and Perthshire. I will be in Loch Lomond on Saturday 29th August again, hope to see you there.
One of my favourite foods at this time of year is a proper gigot chop, a lovely piece of meat from the leg with the bone still in the middle helping keep the moisture and flavour in. On a barbecue its great but of course make sure that you buy Scottish lamb. The flavour is much better.
Simply dry the chops well with kitchen paper and rub with some olive oil, ideally if you have time, leave them in some oil with crushed rosemary for about 20 minutes
To cook; season lightly and place on the hot part of the grill and sear on both sides. Then over a reduced, less fierce heat, cook for a few more minutes. Then lastly position upright to cook on the fat side, this cooks the fat thoroughly and allows the meat to rest a bit to make it more tender.
Serve with the salsa below and some colourful salads.
450gms ripe tomatoes, blanched, skinned and seeded
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 shallot finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Zest of a lemon finely chopped
2 tbsp wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Dice the tomato into quarters
2 Combine with the herbs, garlic, shallot and lemon zest.
3 Whisk together the oil and vinegar, combine all ingredients.
Thanks to Caroline Trotter for the photo
Oban was a grey place Thursday morning 7 am but as the day lengthened the sun rose as we moved out of the harbour for the three hour journey to Coll and remained much in evidence for most of my stay.
Seonaid Maclean Bristol was at the pier to collect me and we drove directly to the Bunkhouse which was to be my home and base for the duration . Its perched on a slope over looking the main village next to the community centre An Cridhe, both buildings are evidence of the remarkable determination and imagination of the islanders and their community body Development Coll.
After introductions to George and Jane we set off on a “preforage” forage taking us back to the pier area where we found bog myrtle and rowanberries . We then drove to Grisipol, the Maclean Bristol farm where we met Alex, Seonaid’s husband . The views and position of this place are just stunning and a brief walk to the sea showed us whelks.
Then we set off to Brian Macintyre’s farm, Winner of an island oscar for best breeder! All four of his children have returned to the island to bring up their families he farms and also produces superb vegetables at his farm Arileod. we collected Desiree and Nicola potatoes still in their sandy soil, superb onions, carrots leeks and kale oh and a goose! Wild geese became a bit of a theme for us!
Then on to Lavinia Maclean Bristol’s secluded garden which is fed every year with bags of seaweed It’s a garden designed to “feed two” but we were allowed to share some of the bounty. Pak choi, coriander, parsley, borage and marigold flowers
We also did a short forage for brambles and wild thyme.Then back to the bunkhouse where I was left to sort myself out apart from a short walk to pick nettles when we discovered wild sorrel right next to An Cridhe!
That evening I prepared a pot of soup and started beef pot au feu from Grisipol Brisket. I made a loaf of brown bread with some bog myrtle. And skinned a wild goose. My day began at 03.00 and so I took myself off to an early bed at 10.30 full of the days experiences and glowing from Coll hospitality and enthusiasm.
1.5kg 3lb wholemeal Flour
3tsp dried yeast
750ml 1 ¼ pints warm water
This a very basic wholemeal brown loaf, it is quite solid but full of flavour.
3 tsp chopped Bog myrtle leaves
The ferry didn’t bring my first two class members until 10 20 so I had time to assemble my ingredients and make some
ROESMARY BREAD which is the recipe above with strong white flour and chopped rosemary in place of the bog myrtle , water quantity will vary with different flours.
We were a group of 8 that day which varied over the course and after coffee and island made biscuits and an explanation of what we hoped to achieve over the course we set off for a morning forage Rowan berries brambles and wild sorrel
We returned for lunch of the rosemary bread and
2 large onions
2 medium size potatoes
A thin slice of butter and a tablespoon of
stock to cover
Salt and pepper
4 handfuls of nettle tips, washed
Slice the onions and cook gently in the pan with the butter and oil.
Add the sliced potatoes and cook gently to heat through add enough stock to just cover and a bit more, bring to the boil and simmer til veg is soft. Add the nettle tips and bring back to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes and season. Liquidise and if still a bit stringy strain through a sieve
After lunch we set off for Grisipol farm for a mix of forages the sea shore ones collected whelks and some cockles and seaweed including dulse and carrageen
As well as some wild mint the inlanders were unsuccessful in their hunt for mushrooms On our return to the Bunkhouse we collected some road side meadowsweet
Back at base we gathered round the main cooking area with its double Belfast style sinks and two halogen hobs the space is perfect for our kind of group.
Our evening consisted of producing
POT AU FEU island vegetables carrots leeks shallots Nicola potatoes kale and parsley
I can never understand why this dish is not more popular, I think it is absolutely delicious and you can use relatively inexpensive cuts for this as well. The traditional dish is more complex and uses various cuts of meat as well as pork but I think that provided the meat is good and the vegetables are good then it’s a great party style dish
2 kg piece of beef such as brisket or silverside
2 carrots sliced at an angle
2 leeks sliced at an angle
1 onion studded with 6 cloves
8 shallots peeled
1 head of garlic
thyme, bay or bog myrtle
8 black peppercorns
8 small potatoes we had Nicola
1 cabbage cut into 4 but still held together by the stem we had kale
Other seasonal green vegetables
Place the beef in a large pan and cover with water add the herbs, peppercorns and onion , Simmer gently for a couple of hours.
Cook the veg by adding the long cooking ones first and then the rest, thus potatoes carrots leek and shredded green veg. When all cooked remove meat from pan and place in a large platter or ashet with the vegetables all strewn around mixing colours . Make a roux with 3 oz butter and 3oz plain flour then ladle on the hot stock to form a pourable sauce, season and add lots of chopped fresh parsley, ladle over the meat and veg , serve the remaining stock can be used for soups etc
We used the goose legs and washed and dried them, then made a mix of coarse salt black pepper and chopped bog myrtle . Rub the meat with some mace or allspice then sprinkle the salt mix on the base of a container into which the legs will fit tightly. Place the legs on and coat with the salt mix. Leave covered in a cool place for at least 24 hours s6 is good.
Then wash off the salt and place in a pan with 5 tablespoons of olive oil and five white wine top up with water to cover add some bog myrtle or bay and bring to a simmer then cook in a cool over gas 1 150C for about 4 hours. When the meat should be falling off the bone. Cool and then blitz in a food processor with some soft butter add black pepper and place in a bowl, cover with clarified butter chill till needed.
We also cooked a the TIREE GOOSEBREAST WITH BEETROOT AND ROWAN JELLY
A goosebreast feed up to three?
Two med to large beetroots, boiled BEETROOT book coming soon!
Oil and butter
Dry the goose breast thoroughly and heat a frying pan add oil and season the goose breast, add a knob of butter to the pan and as it melts and fizzes place the breast in the pan colour on one side then turn over to brown the other, reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes turning occasionally, place in a medium oven gas 4 180 C for about 10 minutes, remove and allow to rest on a separate dish while you make the sauce. Add chopped shallots stir in and then the beetroot cut in sticks add some jelly and red wine lastly the cream and season
A weary group gathered round the table with some wine and discussed our excellent first day
Today was deemed wild food day and we set off with high hopes for some shell fish foraging spoots or razor clams were high on the agenda and hoped for other shellfish but it was not to be. However we did have seaweed and lobster and crab
Back to kitchen for our morning MASTERCLASS
GRAVAD MACKEREL WITH BOG MYRTLE
Fillet the fish keeping the bones for stock
Mix three tablespoons coarse salt with one of sugar and add tablespoon of chopped bog myrtle sprinkle a layer on a metal dish place one fillet skin side down sprinkle some more salt over, then place the other fillet tail to head and also sprinkle the remaining salt over, cover with cling film and place a weight ( bag of sugar or flour) chill for a couple of days turning once. To serve scrape off the salt and slice thinly
Cooking crabs and lobster into boiling salted water and return to boil simmer 5 minutes
SORREL CREAM SAUCE
Several handfuls of chopped wild sorrel
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the sorrel, when hot add the cream to create a sauce texture it needs to be pourable, add lemon juice if needed and season.
2 shallots finely chopped
2 tblps white wine vinegar
2 tbsp white wine
splash double cream
place the shallots wine and vinegar in a pan and reduce over a low heat until 1 tbsp remains. Add the cream and then over a gentle heat whisk in the cold cubes of butter but don’t allow the sauce to boil. Keep whisking until the butter is all incorporated. Season and serve.
We made this by mixing the two sauces together with a little cream and poured it over the lobster in the half shell sprinkled over bread crumbs and browned under a grill
CARAGEEN MEADOWSWEET PUDDING
Handful of meadowsweet
100 g approx carragheen rinsed
½ litre milk
heat the milk with the sugar and meadowsweet and leave to infuse
simmer the carragheen with a little water and then leave over a heat for about 20 minutes.
Remove the meadowsweet from the milk and then pour the carragheen into a sieve and squeeze the thick juice into the milk, stir to combine fold in 100 mls double cream. Leave to set
MACKEREL WITH RHUBARB RELISH
The oily flavour of this magnificent fish is foiled superbly by this ubiquitous fruit? vegetable?
4 sticks of rhubarb or gooseberries
50g 2oz brown sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2tsp wholegrain mustard
Trim and cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces wash and shake dry. Place in a pan with a good lid, and sprinkle on the sugar and wholegrain mustard. Stew gently over a low heat with the lid on for about half an hour until the rhubarb is completely soft. Stir to really combine, set aside and keep warm.
Use the grill pan and allow to heat up for at least 5 minutes. Slash the fish 2or 3 times down each side season and brush with olive oil. Place on the grill pan and grill each side for about 4 minutes until cooked the slashes will open up to speed cooking and the skin should brown lightly. Serve either with the relish in ramekins or as a dollop on the side of hot plates.
bay thyme Bog myrtle!
Roughly chop the carcass into pieces and roast them in a hot oven to brown
Place in a pan and cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, skim off any froth and add the chopped vegetables and the herbs.
Cook for 2 hours, strain
1 onion peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
Cut the goose into pieces legs in two and breast in three or four
brown the pieces in a hot pan with a little oil
place in a casserole
brown the vegetables and add to casserole
deglaze the pan with the red wine and pour onto bird
top up with stock or water
bring to a boil and add bay and rosemary, simmer or cook gently in a medium oven until tender – 2 –3 hours
allow to cook and then remove the bones from the legs and cut the breast meat into smaller pieces, reheat and check for seasoning
Cooked delicious Nicola potatoes and beetroot sauce and island courgettes with garlic
In the evening we had a foraging “jam”
Where our new arrival Caroline inspired us all with sea weed she repeated the carrageen pudding recipe which set this time! And fried gut weed in oil with sesame seeds – pronounced delicious- and then a lobster and crab were consumed with various sauces and breads and much white wine, food stories and experiences exchanged group bonding!!
The idea of a whole roast Grisipol lamb was voted out as we expected bad weather however it was a lovely sunny day but the wind may well have not helped our outside fire not to mention the lack of wood on the island!
So instead we roasted the legs separately and we stuffed the forequarter with apples lemons and bog myrtle and roasted them in the An Cridhe ovens also an excellent kitchen . The LOBSTER AND PARTAN BREE came together with help from our three day honeymooners and the group after a morning discussion put together the following island feast