Saturday, 30 August 2008

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred

I've seen this list popping up all over the the place... so decided you could have this whilst I work on Scottish Scran 4. (Which implies I am in the middle of working on it not, which isn't entirely correct. Although at least I have now decided what I'm going to make for it!)

It's been a busy week!

Anyway Andrew over at Very Good Taste has put together a list of the foods he thinks every good omnivore should try at least once. The deal is, you go through it and highlight what you've tried, what you haven't, and what you never would!

I have 68% - which I am gutted about! I consider myself fairly adventurous - and am determine to improve my score. The only thing I wouldn't eat is fugu. I mean why bother? YOU MIGHT DIE!!!

Mind you - one of the things on my haven't tried list is PJ&J sandwich - and I've been meaning to rectify that for a while now. I know it was some time ago - but do you remember I wrote a post about saving the world by eating PB&J? Every time you choose to eat a plant-based sarnie instead of meat you do actually make a difference! Not that i'm likely to give up meat - but it has made me think more about the envirnmental impact of my food choices.

But anyway, back to the list!

Here’s what to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (though I don't know why!)
4. Steak tartare (Once...)
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (When I was working in Warsaw!)
10. Baba ghanoush (Love aubergine, not so sure about this)
11. Calamari (yum yum YUM!)
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (Though I have been meaning to!!)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses (would love to try!)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I once got really ill on berry wine... :-S)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or Head Cheese (Head cheese? HEAD CHEESE? Well, I suppose I'd try it...)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda (mmmm - sounds fab!)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl
33. Salted Lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (I might try. Maybe.)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu (things that might kill me? Yeah, probably not...)
47. Chicken tikka masala (Us Scots invented it, dontcha know!)
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear (Just the juice!)
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin (I have no idea what this is!)
64. Currywurst (tried this last year - yummy!)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs (Only once, but I loved them!)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (durrrrr... ;)
69. Fried plantain (but I'm allergic :( )
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (yes, and just the memory makes me feel sick...)
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill (Maybe, I suppose... but only if it was a deer or something - wouldn't scrape up a rabbit ;)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu (I wish!)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab (want, want, want)
93. Rose Harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole Poblano
96. Bagel and Lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Thursday, 28 August 2008

RFJ: Double-Dipped Ginger & Orange Oaty Bites

I won, I won, I won! :D

And this morning I got my apron in the post! No pics of me in it as yet (and definitely not in the Greek style!) but I'll see what I can rustle up over the weekend!

The Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly event hosted by Jenn the Leftover Queen. Last month the selected ingredients were Sesame, Seafood and Cilantro - and my submission was voted top - an incredible honour.

As well as the prize of an apron, I was allowed to select the three ingredients to be used for the following month's event. I chose whole grains, ginger and citrus.

Check out all the submissions here - and if you have a food blog, be sure to vote next week!

And here is my submission!

Double-Dipped Ginger & Orange Oat Cookies

  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 225g butter
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75g crystalised ginger, chopped
  • 100g plain chocolate
Heat your oven to 175c.

Prepare the Cookies...
Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger and chopped crystalised ginger.

In a pan, melt the butter with the honey, orange zest and juice. Once completely melted, add the bicarbonate of soda, stir to mix in, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix well - the mixture should be crumbly, but hold form when squeezed.

I wanted to make small bites rather than huge cookies, so I rolled these into small balls about an inch an a half across. I put them on a lightly greased baking sheet and pressed to flatten slightly. Make sure you leave room for them to spread!

Bake the Cookies...
Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes - do not allow to colour too much!

Take them out of the oven and allow to cool before attempting to move them.

Dip the Cookies...
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in whatever manner you see fit. (Not by chucking it in a pan over direct heat. Trust me - this never works!)

Once the cookies are cooled, dip their bases into the chocolate. Drip off the excess and put onto a flat surface. Put into the fridge until set.

I wasn't happy by the amount of chocolate that clung to my cookies - so I repeated this step - hence double-dipped!

Serve with a good strong coffee. Not for children!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Nice n' Spicy, Easy Peasy, Leftovers Curry!

I was looking for a space in my bulging freezer the other day when I found a container of dark roast turkey meat - left over from Christmas!!

I had been planning on getting a take out curry that night - but figured with the meat cooked, I could knock one up in the time it would take to deliver. With the added bonus that I could make it exactly how I wanted it and keep it as healthy as possible!

It turned out really really good. The addition of tamarind and fenugreek added a special edge to the other spices. And because the meat was already roasted, it soaked up the gravy and took on a lot of flavour. Best of all - it was ready in 20 minutes!

So here we have it, my nice n' spicy, super-speedy, easy-peasy leftover curry!

Leftover Roast Dinner Curry

Ok, so maybe not the prettiest picture in the world - but it tasted goooooood. And isn't that the important thing?? ;)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies, roughly torn up
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1" piece ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste, mixed with 300 ml water
  • left over roast turkey or chicken
  • ghee or oil to fry
  • salt to taste
Heat ghee in a heavy-based saucepan

Add all the seeds and the dried chillies and fry for a minute or two until they smell really good! Add the onion, garlic, ginger and fry for another couple of minutes.

Chuck in the other spices, tomatoes, tamarind water and salt and mix well. Put in the meat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts to reduce too much, cover until ready (or add more water ;)

Serve with rice and a smile!

Not only is this an original recipe - but it's an original recipe conceived in about 3 minutes! So I reckon it fits the bill for Lore's Original Recipes event!

Check out the last round up, great stuff Lore!

Culinarty Original Recipe Roundup

Friday, 22 August 2008

More noodley goodness: Orange & Ginger Soba Noodles

I found this recipe a while back, on my first visit to the beautiful vegetarian Indian food blog, Saffron Trail. And despite never having tasted it, I got a real craving for it a couple of days ago!

It's basically a noodle dish with a nice bit of steamed veg... and a gorgeous orangey, gingery, peanut butter dressing! Yum. I mixed the dressing up, and I could have probably eaten the lot of it with a spoon! (Peanut butter soup!!) I think this dressing would go amazingly well as a dipping sauce for chicken too.

While the original recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, I only had crunchy at home. While I probably will try it with smooth when I get a chance, I really liked the extra texture that the crunchy peanut butter added.

This is a great dish, quick and relatively healthy. I made up a batch in the evening and had it for dinner, then took the leftovers to work the next day. You must do this!!! It was even better on day 2!

Anyway, happy Friday everyone! Long weekend for me due to a public holiday... to celebrate I'm heading up to Notting Hill Carnival! Cross your fingers for some sun!

Orange & Ginger Soba Noodles

Serves 4...
  • 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 250g soba noodles
  • 6 Runner beans, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, ribboned
Prepare the Dressing...
Whisk together all the ingredients except the noodles and veg - taste and adjust seasoning or acidity - I added a dash more orange juice and another dash of soy. Set aside.

Prepare the Noodles...
Cook noodles according to packet - probably 5/6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Prepare the Veg...
We want these to be super lightly steamed - the crunch of the carrot ribbons go so well with the silky noodles! So maybe 3 minutes for the beans, and just a couple of minutes for the carrots.

Chuck it All Together!
If you want to eat this warm, heat the noodles by pouring boiling water over them. Mix together the veg and noodles; give the dressing a last whisk, then pour it over the top.

Mix through so that all the noodles are coated in the dressing.

If you fancy a faff, decorate with some raw carrot ribbons and orange segments. Or not!

Either way, tuck in, slurp it up, and wonder why you've never tasted gingery orange peanut butter before... Enjoy!

Another Friday trio!

This week I'm going to send this over to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast for Presto Pasta Night! Though I think I'm early - at time of writing the last round up hadn't even been posted!

Its near the end of the month, so a cheap dinner is even more appreciated than usual. And that's why I'm going to send this to Frugal Fridays! Even taking into account that I used posh organic soba... this would feed 4 for about £4 - or ~ $8!

And finally, this is my second submission to Ruth's Bookmarked Recipes event. Check out the round up on Monday!

Presto Pasta Nights Frugal Fridays

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Scottish Scran 3 - Trout in Oatmeal

Well, I promised you a trooty affair for the third instalment of Scottish Scran... and here it is... Trout in Oatmeal!

Trout always reminds me of my childhood in Alloa. My poppy (grandad!) used to go out fly fishing for trout down to the River Devon; many a morning I'd come down the stairs bleary-eyed to be started awake by the sight of two or three specimen waiting in the sink to be cleaned. (And on a couple of occasions, a bunny that he had managed to do a trade for if he'd got a good haul that day!)

Now, I look back and wish I had that sort of produce available to me now... but at the time I wasn't a huge trout fan - only really loving it in fish pie. I think maybe it was just a bit too strongly flavoured for my young palette - definitely not the case now.

Though I have cooked with trout many times since then - this was the first time I'd tried my hand at this very simple, but very tasty Scottish dish. Trout fillets are coated in oatmeal before being fried until crunchy, then served with parsley lemon butter.

I decided to dish it it with a spring onion potato cake, some lightly steamed, fine sliced runner beans, and a couple of oven roasted tomatoes.

And, just for a little something a little different, here's an old children's song, originally written in the 1950s by Sandy Thomas Ross in a book called Bairnsangs (i.e. Children's Songs!)

The Auld Troot

The auld broon troot lay unner a stane,
Unner a stane lay he,
An he thocht o' the wund,
An he thocht o' the rain,
An the troot that he uist tae be.

A'm a gey auld troot, said he tae hissel,
A gey auld troot, said he,
An there's mony a queer-like
Tale A cuid tell
O' the things that hae happened tae me.

They wee-hafflin trooties are aa verra smart,
They're aa verra smert, said he,
They ken aa the rules
O' the gemm aff by hairt,
An they're no aften catched, A'll agree.

They're thinkin A'm auld an they're thinkin A'm duin,
They're thinkin A'm duin, said he,
They're thinkin A'm no
Worth the flirt o' a fin
Or the blink o' a bonnie black ee.

But A'm safe an A'm smug in ma bonnie wee neuk,
A'm safe an A'm snug, said he,
A'm the big fush that
Nae fusher can heuk,
An A'll aye be that - till A dee!

I'll leave you to decipher that amongst yourselves... ah'll gie ye a heidstart, auld's old!

Trout in Oatmeal

  • 2 large trout fillets
  • 1 cup of fine ground oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • The zest and juice of half a lemon
  • A good grind of black pepper
  • nut oil to fry
Prepare the Butter...
MIx together the butter, parsley lemon zest/juice and black pepper together until smooth. Place on a sheet of clingfilm and wrap tightly, before putting it back in the fridge to firm up.

Prepare the Trout...
Mix together the salt and the oatmeal. Cut each fillet of trout in two, then dip into the milk. Let the excess milk drain off, then dip into the oatmeal mixture - being sure to coat thoroughly. Place in the fridge while you prepare the sides!

Cook the Trout...
Heat a decent amount of oil in a shallow frying pan. Get it nice and hot - we want to get a good crunch going for the oatmeal - without overcooking the fish!

Carefully lay the trout into the oil, and allow to cook for a couple of minutes, until the oatmeal is nice and golden. Carefully turn and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side.

Place the trout on a warm plate with the rosti and veg. Take the parsley butter out the fridge and cut into slice with a shape knife. Place the butter on the trout - and enjoy!

I managed to find a pic of pretty much exactly where my poppy took me fishing once. I didn't catch any trout... I don't think being a 9 year old mad child was conducive to the peace and quiet required... I wasn't asked back! But it was such a beautiful day and a beautiful place.

Scottish Word of the Day!

Greet - cry, also greeting - crying

When ma wee sister saw th' deid bunnie*, she started greetin' til ma mither said she didnae huv tae eat it! But whit she didnae ken wis that the chicken pie she et that night, may no huv been chicken efter a'!

* Oh, and here's another random Scottish fact for you - did you know that the word bunny comes from the old Scottish word 'bun', meaning rabbit??

Monday, 18 August 2008

Hot Pork and Shrimp Glass Noodles

This dish is based on one I had at a work BBQ a few weeks ago. Made by a lovely Thai woman and served cold as a salad, it was my favourite food of the day! I have tried to recreate it here - but I think I am still missing something... if I see her again, I'll be sure to get a full recipe!

Don't get me wrong, it was still really tasty... it just wasn't exactly the same. And I can't figure out quite what I need to change... But I'm sure I'll have fun trying to work it out!

Advance notice - I'll be getting Scottish Scran 3 out to you any day now... I'll give you a clue... it's a trooty affair!

Hot Pork and Shrimp Glass Noodles

Prepare the Dressing...
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp maggi sauce (or dark soy if you can't get maggi!)
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1" ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well to combine. Set aside in the fridge until the other ingredients are ready... but make sure you whisk again before using!

And the Rest...!
  • 300g bean vermicelli
  • 150g raw shrimp, peeled, cleaned and butterflied
  • 300g ground pork
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1" ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 small handful peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 3 spring onions (scallions!), finely shredded
  • Handful cilantro, roughly chopped
Prepare the Noodles...
Boil some water on the stove. Cook the noodles in the water for 4 minutes, or according to the packet - do not overcook or they will fall to pieces later!

Once cooked, run them under cold water to stop them cooking any more and set aside.

Prepare the Base...
Heat a little oil in the bottom of your wok until it is very hot. Crumble in the pork, then stir fry for three to four minutes. Keep it moving!

Add in the ginger, garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce and dried chilli.

Once the pork is cooked add in the shrimp and continue to stir fry until the shrimp are cooked.

Take the dressing out of the fridge and give it a wee taste. Does it need anything (a touch more chilli, sugar or salt perhaps? Or maybe it's perfect as it is!)

Place the noodles in a big bowl and pour over half of the dressing (you did remember to give it another stir right?) Use chopsticks (or a pasta server!) to give it a good mix.

Chuck the peanuts, cilantro, scallions, pork mix and the rest of the dressing on top and combine well.

Mmmmm... gotta love that porky noodle goodness!!!

Sending this over to Kitchenetta of Got No Milk who is hosting this week's Presto Pasta Night!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Orzo with Chicken, Chorizo and Aubergine

This is yet another spur of the moment dinner, inspired purely by what I had left in the fridge - namely a pack of chicken thighs and an aubergine. I had to be out the door within the hour too - so it had to be ready in half an hour... and it was!

After the slight confusion from Tuesday's use of the word courgette (zucchini!), I think it may well be wise to explain up front that an aubergine is none other than the North American eggplant. What I didn't know, is that brinjal also means aubergine in India and South African English! (I always assumed it was an Indian ingredient that I couldn't get here!!)

Want more? Well, aubergine and brinjal have etymological similarities, both deriving from Arabic/Sanskrit. (The Sanskrit vatin-ganah begat the Persian badin-gan and badin-gan begat the Arabic al-badinjan and al-badinjan begat the Catalan albergínia and albergínia begat the French aubergine... which us Brits basically stole for our own!)

The North American/Australasian use of eggplant started in the 18th century - when some fruits* were white or yellow, and resembled goose or hen eggs!

Language lesson over for the day - let the recipe begin!

Orzo with Chicken, Chorizo and Aubergine

Makes loads!!
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in and with skin
  • 1 aubergine (eggplant!)
  • 100g chorizo, chopped into smallish chunks
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 250g orzo
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • cayenne pepper for seasoning chicken
  • 250ml water or chicken stock
  • oil to fry
  • salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Meat...
Heat oil in a hot pan. I used olive oil, tempered with some ground nut to reduce the smoke point. Throw in the chorizo and fry for a minute or two. Keeping it moving so it doesn't burn. Ideally we want some crispy edges... and for some of the tasty spicy oil to be released. Remove the chorizo from the pan and turn up the heat to very hot

Cut off any excess fat or skin from the chicken, leaving enough on protect the meat when searing. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.

When the oil is hot, carefully lay in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Allow to sear for 2/3 minutes - the skin should be nicely crisped and browned, but not burnt. Remove to a plate and reduce the heat to medium.

Prepare the Pasta...
In a saucepan, mix the orzo with the tomatoes, garlic, paprika and seasoning. Top up with the chicken stock or water and bring to the boil. Place the chicken thighs into the pan skin-side up, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes - or until the chicken is cooked through.

Prepare the Aubergine...
Meanwhile, cut the aubergine into 1" chunks and add them to the frying pan that the chicken/chorizo was cooked in. Fry until browned, but don't overcook!

When the pasta/chicken is ready, mix in the aubergine and serve. Preferably with a large glass of red!

Oh - I seem to have a three in one foodie event situation again!

As it cost about £3.70 (just over $7 ?) for the whole thing, I'm going to make this my second submission to Frugal Fridays! And if it's not quite as healthy as last week's entry - I still don't think it's doing too bad!!

Although almost all of my recipes are my own, I've singled this one this week to send to Lore at Culinarty for her Original Recipes event... It was just so yummy, I felt it had to be shared!

It's the first time I'd cooked with orzo - and I'm definitely going to be stocking up. I'm sending it to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, who is hosting Presto Pasta Night this week!

Culinarty Original Recipe RoundupPresto Pasta Nights

Frugal Fridays

* oh yeah, did I mention they are fruits not vegetables?!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Spicy Trout... Waste Not, Want More!

The wine was poured, the curry was almost ready and the rice resting, when I spotted a pack of trout fillets in my fridge. I had bought them for the bargain price of £1 earlier that day - but had totally forgotten them!

After initially cursing myself at the waste - I decided to give myself 10 minutes to turn them into something to go with dinner. (After all, they had to be used that day and couldn't be frozen - I'd be as well trying!)

I remembered I had a courgette* left in the bottom of the fridge from the week before... would it be a pile of mush in the bottom of the veggie bag? Huzzah, it was as green and crisp as the day I bought it.

So... I chopped the trout into bite sized pieces, then tossed them in a mix of garam masala and chilli powder - rubbing it in a bit for maximum flavour. I put them to one side while the courgette was effectively (if not neatly) chopped into similarly sized chunks.

I heated a wee bit of ghee (or it may have been olive oil) in a heavy frying pan and threw in the courgette along with a good pinch of fenugreek leaves. After frying for a couple of minutes, a dollop of ginger/garlic paste followed it in (see I knew there was a reason I kept a jar of that stuff!)

Another minute passed then the trout went in. I fried them all together until the trout was just about cooked, then seasoned with salt and squeezed over the juice of half a lemon.

And y'know something - it was absolutely delicious! I think with a wee dod of yogurt, and this will be on my mid-week menu for some time to come!

Spicy Trout with Lemony Courgette

Less than 10 minutes from finding the trout - howzzat?!?

(edit) * courgette = zucchini! What? I am British, y'know ;)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

That Cookbook Thing II: Rapee Morvandelle

It's time for another round of the Cookbook Review II! It's an event dedicated to exploring recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The event by initiated by Mike of Mel's Diner, joined by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast, Sara of I Like to Cook, Breadchick Marye, Deborah of What's in My Kitchen?, Mary of Cooking for Five, Elle of New England Kitchen, Shaun of Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow - and, of course, me!

Last time we recreated Julia Child's Sauce au Cari - a light creamy curry sauce - this time our mission was to make a Rapee Morvandelle - a gratin of potato, onions and ham.

As my mum was on her way down to visit with a vegetarian friend, I decided to substitute mushrooms for the ham - throwing in a bit of porcini too to make sure it had the depth of flavour. I made up the mushroom mix the night before, then put it all together when I got home from work.

When the weary travellers finally got in after 10 hours of travelling (flooded rail tracks in Scotland...) it was just about ready to come out the oven. A crisp green salad and some corn on the cob made this a perfect summer dish.

Rapee Morvandelle
(avec Porcini et les Champignons sans Jambon!)

Ok, so I have quite a few little variations on Julia's recipe - not least the substitution of mushrooms for ham. However, most of these were to do with proportions... Maybe my potatoes were large... or my eggs small - but I had to add an extra egg to give it all a good binding. And a touch more cream. (Though it ended up being a touch more milk - I accidentally knocked the tub of cream all over my cooker... doh!)

The original recipe called for half a clove of garlic. Half. Hmmm... I'm sure it's because modern tastebuds are so desensitised... but this just wasn't going to be enough for me (Plus, what kind of garlic? My local shop sells 4 kinds - of varying strengths and sizes!!) So I used 2, and it was by no means overpowering!

I used two types of cheeses - half gruyere and half emmental... ummmm.... I think next time I might grate some over the top as well. It didn't need it, but I hardly ever treat myself to creamy cheesey dinners, so I want to make the most of it! (I like Ruth's idea of sprinkling some paprika over the top too!)

I used fresh tarragon when preparing the mushrooms, and fresh flat-leaf parsley in the egg mix.

To grate the potatoes quickyl and easily (and stop them going grey!) I peeled them all first, then grated them in my food processor. A quick rinse of water before squeezing them in a tea towel and straight into the egg mix!

  • 100g grated cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 tbsp single cream
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • small handful porcini, soaked in hot water for half an hour (reserve the water!)
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (i.e. much more that the original recipe!)
Preheat oven to 375f

Prepare the Mushrooms...
In a heavy based skillet, heat a knob of butter with a tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Now finely chop the porcini and add to the onions, cooking out for another couple of minutes before adding the chestnut mushies.

Now, when the chestnut mushrooms are almost cooked, they will start to release their juices. At this point, add half the garlic, seasoning and a couple of tablespoons of the porcini soaking liqueur.

Cook until the liquid is absorbed and set to one side.

Prepare the Egg Mixture...
Beat the eggs with the cream until smooth. Add the rest of the garlic, salt and pepper and beat again.

Gently fold in the mushroom mix, along with the cheese and parsley.

This is when you should grate your tatties - any earlier any you'll end up with a greytin... boom boom? Ok, so I'm not funny...

Mix the potato into the egg mix - this is where I had to add the extra egg as the potato was still too dry.

Heat a knob of butter in the skillet. Once it is foaming, add the potato mix - spread to the edges.

Dot the top of the gratin with some more butter and put into the over for 30-40 minutes.

Take out, slice and enjoy!

I really enjoyed this cheesy, creamy goodness! And it went down well with my guests too. I'd like to try it with ham - although the mushrooms were really good with it.

I have just under half of it left in the fridge... I haven't tried it yet - but I'm guessing it's going to be delicious cold when I get home after cocktails with my mum tonight!!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Scottish Scran 2 - Finnan Haddie

For my second edition of Scottish Scran, I present you to a dish which I most commonly associate with breakfast - even though here I am serving it as a supper.

A finnan haddie is a type of smoked haddock which originated in the town of Findon (also known as Finnan) near Aberdeen. Lightly salted and cold-smoked over peat, it replaced the older style spelding - a dry, salted unsmoked haddock that had been common until the advent of the railways made this lighter curing possible.

Beware of any smoked haddock that comes in an unearthly shade of yellow... or occasionally even orange! Smoked haddock has a naturally off-white colour - the bright coloured stuff has been artificially coloured - and may even have artificial smoke flavour injected into it rather than the real thing. Nasty!

I expect a couple of smoked haddock dishes to come up in my exploration - not least of the Arbroath Smokie...

But for now, I'll show you my favourite way to eat a finnan haddie - simply poached in milk, served with a lightly poached egg. As I ate it for supper here, I put it on a bed of lightly steamed asparagus (wilted spinach works a treat too), but for breakfast just add a slice of toast (or a couple of oatcakes!) and you're done!

Finnan Haddie wi' a Poached Egg

  • 150g smoked haddock per person
  • 1 lightly poached egg per person. Or make it two!
  • 6/7 spears asparagus per person, trimmed and lightly steamed
  • Enough milk to cover the fish in a saucepan
  • 6/7 black peppercorns (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • butter (optional)
  • salt to taste
Prepare the Haddie...
Select a saucepan big enough to take all the fish and fill it a third up with milk. Add in the peppercorns and bay leaves (if using) and bring the milk to the boil.

Remove the skin and bones from the smoked haddock and place into the milk.

Bring the milk back to the boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.

Arrange the asparagus on the plate, and place chucks of the poached haddock on it. If you fancy, dot the haddock with some butter and add a grind of black pepper. Top with a poached egg.

If you fancy it, make a white sauce from the haddock poaching milk and pour a bit over the egg. I love this, but seldom bother making the extra dishes ;) An extra egg with a gorgeous oozy yolk is all the sauce I need!

Scottish Word of the Day!

Today, to mark the fact my mum is coming down to stay with me for a week I am going to give you three words in one... and they all mean mum!

mither - mah mither hus a lot tae answer fur!
maw - ah huv a lot o' tidyin' tae do afore ma maw gets in
mammie - ah cannae wait tae see ma mammie!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Hot Lemon Asparagus Bucatini with a Scottish Twist!

Have you ever tried bucatini? (At least I think it's bucatini - it could well be maccheroncelli or perciatelli. If anyone knows the difference - check out below and let me know what you think!) It's a long hollow pasta, kind of a cross between spaghetti and macaroni, and it's perfect for eating with smooth sauces.

I picked up a packet of bucatini a few weeks ago, and set about making up a smooth sauce. This is from my backlog - when I constantly had a fridge full of asparagus and had just made my Scottish sausage.

Because I invented this all by myself, I'm sending it over to Lore at Culinarty for her Original Recipes event...

And because it's pastalicious I'm sending it to Michelle at the Greedy Gourmet, who is hosting Presto Pasta Night this week...

And (yes, another one!) because this is cheap as chips (or as close as!) it is going to be my first submission for Frugal Fridays - the whole thing will feed a family of four for less than $10! And it's super healthy!

Hot Lemon Asparagus Bucatini with Crunchy Sausage Topping!

Serves 4 messy people...
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 12 thick spears of asparagus
  • 1 onion
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • The zest of one lemon
  • 150g Scottish sausage meat (or substitute with another sausage meat. If you have to.)
  • A couple of tbsps of fresh oregano leaves
  • A little olive oil to fry
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • bucatini to serve
Prepare the veg...
Trim the woody ends from the asparagus, and cut most of the spear into chunks - reserving the tips.
Chop up the onions and garlic - make 'em as chunky as you like - we're going to blitz it in the end anyway!
Chop up the tomatoes, skin, seeds and all.

Make the sauce...
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onions and garlic, then fry for a few minutes until softening. Throw in the tomatoes (along with any juice), the lemon zest, hot sauce and the tomato puree. Add the sugar and some salt - you can always add more salt later to taste, but it is better to add it as early as possible.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes - the tomatoes should release enough liquid to make the sauce, but if not, top up with water or stock.

Make the Crunchy Sausage Topping...
Meanwhile, break up the sausage meat into lumps and place into a medium, hot pan. You shouldn't need any oil as the sausage will release plenty. Fry for 5-6 minutes, keeping the sausage moving, breaking it up as it cooks. Once cooked, turn up the heat to high and fry for a minute or two without moving it to give a crunchy edge to the meat.

Finish the sauce...
After the 15 minutes is up, put in most of the oregano and the bits of asparagus stem - reserving the tips. Cook for another couple of minutes, then remove from the heat.

Put the sauce into a liquidiser or use a hand blender to blitz it to a smooth sauce.

Return to the heat, add the asparagus tips and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Put it all together!
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, then add to the pot of sauce. Mix well, so that the sauce sooks* into the pasta. Place into a bowl, top with the crunchy sausage pieces and the remaining oregano.

This was the hardest bit - this is seriously messy pasta to eat! It was on the floor, face, sofa and cat by the time I was done. Worth it though!!

* Although not really a Scottish Scran post - the addition of the square sausage definitely warranted disclosure of another Scottish word!

Sook (v) - to suck
The best way tae eat this is tae sook it a' up an no worry aboot the mess yer makin'

Alternate use:
Sook (n) - a suck up/ brown-nose/ teacher's pet!
See her? She's a wee sook so'n she is!

Culinarty Original Recipe RoundupPresto Pasta Nights

Frugal Fridays