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Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Feast of St Andrews Day and a Smoked Haddock Bake

5 fish collage

On 30th Nov, Scots around the world will come together to celebrate St Andrews day. As well as paying tribute  to the nation’s patron saint, folk will also celebrate our wonderful culture with  traditonal Scottish food. It’s a great occasion for being sociable and for sharing food,  especially from our naturally rich Scots larder. With it’s abundance of fresh food, beef, lamb, venison, game and fish from our doorstep larder will all be a part of the celebrations.

As part of the  wider celebrations taking place throughout Scotland, the Scottish Government have launched an initiative to encourage  people  to enjoy a ‘St Andrews Night In’ and celebrate the day with a homemade fish dish. Earlier this month Young Scottish  Seafood Chef of the Year, helped launch the event, and has created  a recipe for  an easy to make ‘Smoked Haddock Bake’.

Adam’s recipe includes, sustainably sourced North Sea haddock, potatoes, spring onions and peas, complete with a delicious cheesy breadcrumb topping.  Quick and easy to make this dish will appeal to all the family and is the perfect way to celebrate the occasion with some of the fantastic fish that Scotland has to offer.

In addition to being Young Scottish Seafood Chef of the Year, Adam was also named Young Scottish Chef of the year. Commenting on his recipe, Adam said, “When it comes to creating hearty Scottish cuisine, I am always spoilt for choice with the wealth of quality produce here in Scotland that I have access to all year round.

“Coming from Arbroath, I’ve always loved seafood, and to create the St Andrew’s Day fish dish, I chose smoked North sea haddock, to take a twist on the traditional fish pie – warm, comforting and homely- perfect fare for the winter evenings.

Adam's delicious smoked haddock bake

Adam’s delicious smoked haddock bake

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 Fillets of Scottish smoked haddock

2 potatoes (peeled and chopped into a small dice)

4 spring onions (finely sliced)

25g fresh or frozen peas

25g broad beans (popped out of their skins)

2 tbsp chopped parsley

200g low fat creme fraiche

25g grated Parmesan cheese

30g of breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Par boil the diced potato in salted water, until it has softened slightly but not completely cooked. Then drain off and leave to cool.

Add the haddock fillets, onions, peas, broad beans, creme fraiche and nutmeg. Mix everything together in a big bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Spoon the mix into a ramekin, leaving a small gap at the top. Mix the Parmesan and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle across the top to cover.

Cook in the preheated oven for 20 mins and serve.

The Gillon boys gave this dish top marks, it was their kind of wholesome comfort food and for me, being a ‘one dish dinner,  was a real winner.

A family feast for St Andrew's day

A family feast for St Andrew’s day

St Andrew’s day see’s the start of Scotland’s winter  festivals, Hogmanayfollowed closely in January by Burns night.  These celebrations will bring families and friends together to share, not only their love of Scotland, but of sharing and eating, good food. The smoked haddock dish is a wonderful tasting dish  that will be perfect  to serve at any of these celebrations. 

 

 

Celebrating St Andrew’s Day

You’ll find this recipe and other fish recipes devised by  Adam’s  at http://www.scotland.org/fish.

For more information about celebrating St Andrews day and ‘St Andrews night in’ see,  http://www.scotland.org/nightin   If fish isn’t a family favourite, there’s also a host of other recipes created by Andrew and leading Scottish chef, Andrew Fairlie. 

Artwork My thanks to artist Alice Strange for allowing me to use the fish artwork for this post. You can view more of her prints at http://www.alicestrange.com

Thank you to Smarts Pr http://www.smarts.co.uk for information/picture and to  chef Adam Newth for creating such a wonderful recipe.

For further information on Scottish seafood, visit http://www.seafoodscotland.org

‘Savouring Sensory Science’

It was all in the name of  science, possibly medical science and some might have even said for medicinal purposes.

‘Savouring Sensory Science’ was one of the many events taking place at this year’s Dundee Science Festival.  Organised by Ewan Henderson, founder of ‘Scotch Broth Events’, it explored the science of taste though an innovative way of pairing whisky with food.

The fascinating multi sensory journey promised ‘ marrying malts and molecules‘ and ‘drams with dramatic pairings’.

'Marrying malts' and drams with dramatic pairings

The event and the food pairings brought together a number of good quality Scottish and local food producers to be matched with whiskys from  local distillers. ‘Glencadam‘ from Angus Dundee Distillers, and ‘Cutty Sark’ from nearby Perth.

The food  included ingredients from Mackays, the Dundee based marmalade producer, Arbroath Smokies from Iain R Spinks , local herb specialistsScotherbs‘ and Perthshire based rapeseed oil producer, ‘Summer Harvest Oils’. There was fresh produce from nearby Frasers fruit and vegetables  and from further afield, Arran Cheese and smoked mussels from Kintyre Smokehouse

A warm welcome by Ewan

A warm welcome by Ewan

Drinks were poured and the experimental journey began with the first port of call to an old sea fairing friend, ‘Cutty Sark’. The ‘Spirit of Adventure’ meeting Dundee‘City of Discovery’ in a ‘Dundee Maltijo’ cocktail, served with a degree of sophistication in a Mackays  marmalade jar.

A rich and exotic start, the cocktail was a mix of  Cutty Sark ‘Storm’, Mackays marmalade, ginger and hints of vanilla from a dried vanilla husk. The husk perhaps a reminder of  distant sea travels.

The 'spirit of adventure' meets the 'spirit of discovery'

The ‘spirit of adventure’ meets the ‘spirit of discovery’

The ‘Dundee Maltijo’ was paired with an elegant Arbroath Smokie mousse cone, finished with an unusual topping of popping candy. The Smokie flavoured mousse, matched perfectly with the sweetness and rich flavour of the cocktail,  Cutty Sark ‘Storm’, adding great depth of delicious flavour.  On the palate, ‘Storm’ promised, sweet, ripe stone fruit, peaches and cream – layers of complexity and attractive velvet texture.  As a novice whisky drinker and completely new to pairing food with whisky, it was a perfect start to the event, and very different to any previous experiences of wine and food pairings.

Ewan spoke at length about the science of taste and invited the audience to test their taste buds using  a ‘super taster’ test strip to determine whether or not they fell into the ‘super taster’ category.

Being a super taster relates to the quantity of of taste buds on the tongue and has been correlated with the intensity at which individuals taste most things.  For the super taster, salt will be saltier, sweet is sweeter and like wise with bitter, much more intense.

A second small experiment with a jelly bean,  helped the audience to understand why 70% of taste is through our nose. It felt quite strange, pinching your nose and sucking a jelly bean, but it proved the point.

There was an interesting discussion around some of the myths surrounding whisky, and of course we were quickly debunking some of those, particularly, ‘It’s not as complex as wine’ and ‘It is not food friendly’.

Before moving on to taste the selection of malts, Ewan talked about the effect of wood on the flavour of the whisky, describing the different finishes and the perfect parings with certain foods.

The journey continues with a selection of 'Glencadam' malts

The journey continues with a selection of ‘Glencadam’ malts

This was the point where I  began to understand and appreciate the different finishes and the marrying of food with whisky.  For those who wanted to alter the tasting experience, there was the option to add cold green tea or water to the whisky. A strange combination possibly, but did you know, that adding green tea to whisky is the favourite way to drink scotch in china. Showing the spirit of a true Scot, I opted to drink mine neat.

Food pairings, perfectly matched.

Food pairings, perfectly matched.

First pairing was a 10 year old Glencadam malt, accompanied by a ‘Smoking Jacket‘, a smoked mussel tapenade crostini. This was a real winner on flavour and despite being a novice, I enjoyed trying different ways to experience  the changes in flavour. A mouthful of whisky and the smokiness of the  tapenade together, yes I could see and taste how they were a good match. Drinking the whisky alone and then having a mouthful of the tapenade, well that gave a different taste and a much nicer flavour.

I was learning quickly.

The next pairing, was  ‘Sugar and Spice’, ‘ Irn Bru’ pulled pork with an ‘Irn Bru’ syrup on toasted soda bread,  and  a 12 year old Glencadam Portwood finish. This whisky is described a the rather refined malt with a beautiful round, true flavour’.  On the nose it has an elegant balance and port sweetness’.  Not a description I would apply to the other national drink. Again, the whisky was nice when drank separately from the food. Tasting the ‘Irn Bru’ pulled pork without the whisky, I felt it was rather too sweet.

However, eating and drinking both together completely changed the flavour of the pork and I could see how this dram and it’s dramatic pairing complemented each other perfectly.

The Glencadam 15 year old malt was next. On the palate it promised juicy cut grass freshness with a mouthwatering malty signature. Restrained sweetness caressed by soft oak’.

It was accompanied by a delicious warm  ‘Alba Aranci’ ball. Haggis with coconut, rice, cheese and nutmeg. If there was a marriage made in heaven at the event, then this was it for me. The whisky was very different and much lighter than any I had previously tasted and  combined with the sweet and savoury flavour of the food, it really was sensational.

The final whisky was a Glencadam Olrosso finish, described as ‘The rather enriched malt, with a beautifully sophisticated, rich flavour’.  On the palate it promised ‘Floral and spicy with a sophisticated mix of vanilla and sherry sweetness’. This was paired with ‘Panache Ganache’, a dark chocolate and blue cheese ganache tart, topped with rosewater caviar.  For me this was quite a strong flavoured whisky, but it was matched perfectly with an equally strong food.  It married well with the bitterness of the chocolate ganache and the two together produced a delightful mellow flavour.

Flavour Tripping

The final part of the event was described as ‘Flavour Tripping’. It sounded strange and to be honest  to start with it did seem a bit strange. Reminding myself, I was on a scientific journey, I happily popped the fruit tablet to take my palate, as Ewan described, on a journey to somewhere it’s never been before.

Once the tablet had dissolved, it was on to the final taster plate, which unlike the nights previous food offerings, looked a little unappetising.

Taste tripping

Lemon, lime,grapefruit, salt and vinegar crisps, Guinness and gooseberry wine. Not really an appealing plateful, but it was offering a taste journey like no other. Ewan went on to explain how experiments like this have influences in the food industry. What happened next was quite remarkable.

Biting into the lemon was a pleasant and sweet experience. No bitterness, no screwed up faces, just not what I expected. It was the same result with the lime and the grapefruit. Working my way through the plate, delivered similar results, the salt and vinegar crisps had no vinegar taste, just a nice mellow flavour. The gooseberry wine bordered on being a dessert wine and surprisingly the Guinness had completely lost it’s depth of flavour. What should have been sour, was tasting sweet. This was the effect of the ‘Miracle Fruit’ tablet. Sweetness without the added sugar. It’s easy to see where this will fit with the food industry, constantly under fire for the levels of sugar in food.

The event also included a ‘hi tec’ element, using the new ‘Showmappr’  app, an exciting way to share connections at shows and events. A mystery malt was poured and the audience were invited to scan the qr codes on display to record their choice.

Food and drink brings people together. It’s a way of sharing and being sociable. ‘Savouring Sensory Science’ did all of those.  Tastes in food were discussed, favourite drinks were chatted about and we ended where we started. One for the road and a night cap of another ‘Dundee Maltijo’ cocktail. Cheers, from a night of spirit and adventure.

Further Information 

Find out more.

The science of taste and food and drink events –  http://www.scotchbrothevents  Follow on   Twitter@aNipandTuckin  & FacebookScotch Broth Events

 www.dundeesciencefestival.org   Follow on Twitter @DundeeSciFest & on Facebook Dundee Science Festival

http://www.cutty-sark.com  Follow on Twitter @cuttysarkblend

http://www.glencadamwhisky.com   Follow on Twitter @GlencadamWhisky & Facebook Glencadam Single Malt  Whisky

Scottish Wild Venison Charcuterie from the Great Glen

Ask most people about charcuterie and the long established old favourites are usually mentioned. Parma ham, Serrano, salami, chorizo and bresaola. Traditionally these products were made with pork and produced in countries like Italy, Spain or Germany, a way of preserving meat and ensuring a longer shelf life.

Scotland, however has it’s own brand of charcuterie made from sustainably sourced wild venison and over the past few years, charcuterie products made by Great Glen Game have become a favourite with food lovers and chefs throughout the country.

Great Glen Game.....Charcuterie with a difference

Great Glen Game…..Charcuterie with a difference

Established in 2003 and based  at the Great Glen in the Scottish highlands, owners Jan Jacob and Anja Baak set about producing quality venison charcuterie products. Using  only Scottish wild venison, sourced from estates and small landowners in their local area,  the company now boasts  a number of award winning products in it’s range.

2013 has been a particularly successful year for the company with their Green Pepper Venison Salami, firstly gaining 3 stars at the Great Taste Awards, followed by greater recognition when it went on to be judged  ‘Charcuterie product of the Year’ at the annual Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner.  

Award winning venison charcuterie

Award winning venison charcuterie

 Great Taste Awards are just that, all about the taste of the products and  the green pepper salami is a well deserved winner of the award. The Judges commented,” Very appetising aroma and a fine, soft moist texture. The balance of pepper is just right. It is powerful but not over-powering” 

The Great Glen Game charcuterie range includes, chorizo and chilli chorizo, pepperoni, salami and bresaola.  Sold throughout the UK in stores including Fortum and Masons,and  Wholefoods, the charcuterie is recognised as a brand  that wins on taste and quality. 

The salami and the bresaola are ideal on a sharing platter  and with many chefs supporting British and local produce, it can be found on the menu in restaurants throughout the country.

Delicious vension starters.

Delicious venison starters.

Venison charcuterie, with it’s wonderful gamey flavour is very lean, and ticks the boxes for being low in calories and cholesterol. I  regularly include it when  making venison casseroles, and the chorizo makes a delicious addition to pasta dishes. The flavour also work well with scallops and prawns and is ideal in paella or risottos.

The pepperoni and salami are favourites of mine for adding to homemade pizza and will also make impressive canapés, where normally Parma ham and other charcuterie is recommended.

Look around any supermarket these days  and the freezer and chilled sections are now laden are with christmas canapés and party food. Whilst much of it will be seen as convenient at such a busy time of year, it can be over packaged and overpriced. Whilst there’s no denying the  convenience factor, last year I decided against buying any of these foods, opting instead to use a range of venison charcuterie  to make simple canapes.  

Along with some other ingredients, I made some very quick canapes and starters when needed and to be honest  they were tastier  and more interesting than some of mass produced party foods available.

Many people admit that their food shopping habits change in the run up to Christmas and end up spending unnecessary amounts of money on the so called party foods.  I will put my hand up and say that in the past, yes, I have been a guilty participant. My excuse was that some  unexpected  visitors would turn up.  Being a preserved meat, the charcuterie has a long use by date, which makes it ideal at the festive season and means it’s less likely to end up being wasted.

Some of my canapés included, 

Simple venison charcuterie canapes

Simple venison charcuterie canapes

Oatcakes or blinis spread with Dunlop Dairy cream cheese with black pepper and oatmeal, topped with a slice of salami or bresaola. Garnish with fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley and maybe a small piece of gherkin.

Crostini spread with either a cream cheese or a mild Galloway Chilli Jam and topped with finely chopped venison chorizo and fresh herbs.

A bite sized piece of Barwheys  Dairy cheddar wrapped with rocket, green pepper salami and secured with a cocktail stick.

Chorizo in red wine. Cut the chorizo into 1/2 in thick chunks.  Finely chop a shallot and sauté for about 1 min. Add the chorizo, cook for 1 minute, add 100 ml wine and cook for about 5 mins. This can be made earlier and then served warm, sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley.

These are all very simple but flavoursome canapés. Adapt to suit your own taste and experiment with ingredients such as different herbs, cheeses, baby plum tomatoes, olives, and flavoured mayonnaise.

If food is on your Christmas gift list, Great Glen Game charcuterie will be a real quality ingredient to include in a gift basket or hamper. Mixed with ingredients such as chutneys, flavoured oils, crackers and wine, it will make a fantastic gift.

For information and a full list of Stockists see http://www.greatglengame.co.uk     E:info@greatglengame.co.uk   Twitter @greatglengame 

Facebook greatglengame

Photography.

 Thanks to Paul Johnson at http://www.coppermango.com   Twitter @coppermango  for permission to use the main photograph in the collage of starters.

Also thanks to Anja and Jan Jacob at Great Glen Game for wonderful products to review and for use of some of their photographs.

 

Pasta and Sausage Ragout

It’s British Sausage Week and butchers and supermarkets have sausages to suit every taste. Although the week is really designed to help retailers and butchers to promote their products and boost sales, the sausage is a favourite for family meals. In the past year we managed to consume 119,114 tonnes of them and sausages  are now a regular mealtime purchase for 87% of British households.

A favourite meal with my family is this Pasta and Sausage Ragout. It’s a quick, easy  dish to make and with such a great variety of different sausages available the flavours can be changed to suit your own taste.

I find the recipe works well with a good quality pork sausage as the addition of paprika, fennel seeds and oregano enhances the flavours of the tomato sauce and the finished dish.

Although it is a good one pot meal, I usually serve this with a green salad and crusty whole meal bread.

Sausage and Pasta Ragout

8 Pork sausages

1 tablespoon of rapeseed or olive oil

I onion, chopped

1 red pepper & 1 green pepper, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped or crushed

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

400g can of chopped tomatoes

250 ml chicken stock

I teaspoon brown sugar

Seasoning.

2oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

350g tortiglioni or fusilli pasta.

Grill the sausages until cooked.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, add the onions and cook until soft.

Add the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes, followed by the garlic, fennel seeds, paprika, oregano and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and is slightly reduced.

Slice the sausages into bite size pieces, add to the sauce and continue cooking for 5 -10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack.

Add the pasta to the sausage ragout, mix well and transfer to a large oven proof dish.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and brown under a hot grill.