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Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Wee Pinch Of Sugar

The recent development of the Nutritionally balanced Pizza by ‘Eat Balanced certainly caught the attention of the media and for some it will mean they can enjoy what was previously a high fat, salt and sugar food as a healthy meal option. It’s been the result of 2 years work for businessman Donnie MacLean and Professor Mike Lean of Glasgow University and I’m sure it will be a godsend for those who rely on convenience food or even myself who occasionally has to allow the boys that quick fix for tea.

Pizza, however is also one of those foods that is easy and great fun to make and whether or not my homemade effort is perfectly balanced nutritonally, it is still a healthier option than most shop bought or carry out versions. It’s also a great way to get the family, especially younger kids interested in cooking as they can…

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My latest blog post

A Wee Pinch Of Sugar

As Scottish Food Fortnight draws to an end for another year, my final blog to celebrate the event will be a wee sweet treat. Tablet or Helensburgh Toffee as my mother calls it, is a delightful fudge like  sugary treat and although similar in appearance to fudge, the texture is different to both fudge and toffee!

Over the years she has made it for church sales, coffee mornings, family dinners, gifts and wedding favours. When I was young I remember it being cut into bars and wrapped in grease proof  paper but these days it has more elaborate packaging such as cellophane bags tied with ribbon or boxed with the tissue to match the theme colours of a wedding. This weekend she has taken it south and we will enjoy it as the favours at a family wedding in Yorkshire….where mother will take great delight in sharing her recipe.

When…

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A Wee Sweet Treat …the end of Scottish Food Fortnight

As Scottish Food Fortnight draws to an end for another year, my final blog to celebrate the event will be a wee sweet treat. Tablet or Helensburgh Toffee as my mother calls it, is a delightful fudge like  sugary treat and although similar in appearance to fudge, the texture is different to both fudge and toffee!

Over the years she has made it for church sales, coffee mornings, family dinners, gifts and wedding favours. When I was young I remember it being cut into bars and wrapped in grease proof  paper but these days it has more elaborate packaging such as cellophane bags tied with ribbon or boxed with the tissue to match the theme colours of a wedding. This weekend she has taken it south and we will enjoy it as the favours at a family wedding in Yorkshire….where mother will take great delight in sharing her recipe.

When I was taught to make tablet, my mothers recipe was a knob of butter, a cup of milk, a bag of sugar and a tin of condensed milk. As with many old recipes she never really measured ingredients but this recipe contains the measurements for the quantities she uses.

Recipe                                                                                          

1kg bag of sugar

397g tin of condensed milk

50g butter

275 ml milk

Add the milk and butter  to a large heavy based saucepan, allow to melt over a medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Try not to dissolve the sugar to quickly as it can affect the finished texture of the tablet.

Bring to the boil,  add the condensed milk and continue stirring, slowly bringing back to the boil. Stirring continuously cook for approximately 20 minutes until the mixture darkens.

Remove from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and feels sandy against the side of the pot.

Pour into a well buttered tin 11″ x 7″ Swiss roll tin to set. After about 10 minutes mark the tablet either into squares or bars for easier cutting once it has set.

Salmon Fishcakes

As we reach the end of Scottish Food Fortnight it would be remiss of me to let the  occasion pass without mentioning the king of Scottish fish, the salmon. It  has to be one of my favourite fishes and I love to cook it in a variety of different ways.

However,  my boys prefer fish battered with chips and it was a challenge to get them to eat Salmon. Fish cakes seemed the answer and to start with I kept them simple, just adding parsley, potatoes and seasoning. Having discovered that they actually liked them and with their love of spicy food I changed the ingredients, adding ginger, chilli and coriander and was secretly pleased with myself for getting them to eat at least one oily fish.

What type of Salmon? Wild or farmed it ‘s entirely your preference. I use both depending on what’s available,  I do prefer wild, my father enjoyed fishing so  I was brought up with a fishing rod in my hand, and salmon and trout were regularly part of our diet. However, nowadays there’s lots of good Scottish farmed salmon around and if using farmed I try to get organic but mostly it depends on where I buy and what’s available on the day. Very often if I’ve acquired a whole fish I freeze the leftover cooked fish and use that for fish cakes along with leftover mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

1lb Cooked salmon

1/2 lb potatoes, mashed without butter.

1Tbsp ginger, finely chopped

1 large Red chilli, finely chopped

3 spring onions finely,chopped

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

Rapeseed oil.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the chilli and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the spring onion and continue cooking for another minute. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the salmon, potatoes, coriander and ketchup in a large bowl, then add the chilli, ginger and spring onion mixture, season and Mix well with your hands and then form the mixture in small rounds. This quantity will make approximately 12 fishcakes and will serve 4-5 people.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat for around 4 minutes on each side until golden.

I usually serve these with sweet chilli sauce .

A Wee Pinch Of Sugar

Monday night is usually leftover night in our house but this week we have no leftovers, apart from enough chicken for a lunchtime sandwich.

My mother always made Shepherds Pie with the leftovers from Sundays roast and in particular leftover roast lamb , it was  minced,  added to cooked carrot, onion and gravy, which to me that is the best way to make it. However, in the absence of leftovers,  I’m using some minced lamb I bought at Saturdays farmers market  from www.atasteofgalloway.co.uk. remembering of course it’s the second week of Scottish Food fortnight and I have pledged to cook with as much local Scottish produce as possible.

Shepherds Pie is real tasty comfort food and I’ve been making this recipe for 30 years.When the boys were small they loved it with baked beans but as they’ve got older I serve it with whatever vegetables are available.

Ingredients.

Filling

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Monday night is usually leftover night in our house but this week we have no leftovers, apart from enough chicken for a lunchtime sandwich.

My mother always made Shepherds Pie with the leftovers from Sundays roast and in particular leftover roast lamb , it was  minced,  added to cooked carrot, onion and gravy, which to me that is the best way to make it. However, in the absence of leftovers,  I’m using some minced lamb I bought at Saturdays farmers market  from www.atasteofgalloway.co.uk. remembering of course it’s the second week of Scottish Food fortnight and I have pledged to cook with as much local Scottish produce as possible.

Shepherds Pie is real tasty comfort food and I’ve been making this recipe for 30 years.When the boys were small they loved it with baked beans but as they’ve got older I serve it with whatever vegetables are available.

Ingredients.

Filling

1kg Minced Lamb

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

100 ml Tomato ketchup

1 tsp Mustard

2 beef stock cubes.

Optional

225 g of sliced mushrooms

2 Tbsp Worcester Sauce

4 slices of Stornoway black pudding, chopped small and dry fried.

Topping

900g Potatoes or

650g Potatoes & 250g sweet potatoes

4 Tbsp Fresh breadcrumbs.

Heat a large deep sauté pan and add the minced lamb, and using a wood spatula mix to brown and break up the mince. Once the mince has browned I like to drain the mince to remove excess fat, returning and meat juices to the mince.

Add the onion to the pan, and cook for 1- 2 minutes, add the carrot and continue cooking for approx 5 minutes. Return the minced lamb to the pan, add the tomato ketchup and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the mustard, crumble in the stock cubes and add approximately 350ml – 500 ml water.

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Cover and cook for 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken.

Meanwhile prepare the potato topping, cook the potatoes until tender,drain and mash with the creme fraiche or natural yoghurt.

Spoon the filling into a 2 litre  casserole, if using black pudding, spread over the the filling, top with the potatoes and use the back of a fork to smooth over. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, place in the oven and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until piping hot and the toping is golden.

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Shepherds Pie is a good one pot meal in itself although I always serve with additional veg.

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A Wee Pinch Of Sugar

 

Scottish  Food  fortnight is in full swing with a great programme of events and  lots of well known chefs demonstrating their dishes to lovers of Scottish food. My contribution has been a commitment to using as much Scottish and local produce in our family meals, something I always try to do but for this fortnight I’m making an extra special effort and will try as much as possible to cook dishes which reflect the great produce that Scotland is known for. I’m in no way a ‘chef’ type cook, I like to cook a good variety of wholesome and healthy meals for my family so I hope you enjoy my recipes.

Stovies is a dish that just sings out ‘comfort food; warm and comforting, filling and tasty. Over the years I’ve had many different types of Stovies and once when I was in Fife a lady told me that…

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