LoColl feasting and foraging

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

2tsp salt

This a very basic wholemeal brown loaf, it is quite solid but full of flavour.

3 tsp chopped Bog myrtle leaves

How to cook

  1. Put the flour in a large bowl with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other
  2. Warm the water to blood temp and sir in about half mixing with a large spoon
  3. Start to knead by hand and add more water as needed and the bog myrtle.Knead until the texture is smooth and even and the dough is just coming off your fingers.
  4. Form into a couple of loaves or one large plaited one . place on an oiled baking sheet
  5. Put in a warm place covered  with a cloth to rise. The loaf should double in size.
  6. Bake in a hot even gas 7 200c until brown about 20 minutes.

Friday 6 September 2013

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


Sunflower oil


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.





This used


A goosebreast feed up to three?


Two med to large beetroots, boiled  BEETROOT book coming soon!


Oil and butter


Rowan jelly



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






Saturday 7th


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






Coarse salt


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






Several handfuls of chopped wild sorrel




Double cream


Lemon juice


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


200g butter


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





Handful of meadowsweet


100 g approx carragheen rinsed


½ litre milk


50g sugar



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






The oily flavour of this magnificent fish is foiled superbly by this ubiquitous fruit? vegetable?



4 mackerel


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.









Game Carcass


1 onion




stick celery


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


carrot chopped


2 sticks celery chopped


red wine


rowan jelly





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






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