Sunday, February 25, 2007

Borderline Cookery

Last night I was dreaming about making shortbread. Thought perhaps this was pointing me in the direction of other regional fare, so decided to cross the border and offer a few Scottish dishes. Valerie, you may be interested in the Potato Scones, especially the variation (see below) as neither use a raising agent.
There are many wonderful Scottish recipes but I have chosen those which fit in with the ingredients bought for my Challenge.

On my bookshelf I have a book covering saints days and recipes associated with each. This helped no end when writing 'Have a Goode Year', for I could work my way through the year with timely dishes which fortunately always seemed to turn out inexpensive. As I mentioned in the book, you can get away with serving Aunt Maud a dish that cost only pennies, once you tell her you sought out the traditional dish of the day to make especially for her. The older you get the more you respect tradition. And thrift. The Scots will appreciate that sentiment.

Potato Scones: makes about 12 'farls;
half a pound of boiled, mashed with 3 tblsp. melted butter or bacon fat
plain flour and good pinch of salt
To the potatoes and butter, work in as much plain flour as they will take without becoming too dry (roughly 2 -3 oz). Roll out on a floured board to 1/4" thickness then cut into 3 large circles and each circle into a 'farl' (quarter). Prick all over and cook on a very lightly greased medium hot girdle or heavy frying pan, turning once.
These are served with butter, honey or syrup and often rolled up and eaten hot as they are made.
Potato with Cheese Scones: makes about 12
Using the above recipe add 4 oz grated cheese and 2 beaten eggs. Form mixture into little round patties, dip into breadcrumbs and fry in shallow oil until golden on both sides.
Tip: To make perfect mashed potatoes, the spuds need to be very dry, so cook the potatoes in their jackets (the microwave is the speediest way). When cooked, cut and remove potato flesh from skins. Then mash. You will notice the difference.

Cock-A-Leekie: a cross between a soup and a stew.
Traditionally made with a whole boiling fowl, it can also be made using just the carcase, winglets and drumsticks of any chicken. If using the latter this recipe will serve four.
four chicken joints cut in half (or what you have)
3 rashers bacon, chopped
6 large leeks, chopped plus one extra
4 oz prunes
bunch of parsley, thyme with a bay leaf
veal or marrow bones , chopped (optional)
water to cover
Put everything except the prunes and the extra leek into a large saucepan. Cover and simmer for 1 - 2 hours until the chicken is cooked (use the higher time if a boiling fowl). If necessary top up with water, but do not dilute too much. Strain and remove the flesh from the chicken. Return some or all of this to the pan with the saved liquid, add the prunes and the remaining chopped leek and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve.

Ham and Haddie:
1 smoked haddock
2 large sliced smoked ham
2 tblsp. butter
water and black pepper
The easiest way to poach the fish is to put it into a frying pan, skin side down, cover with boiling water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove fish, peel off skin and take away any bones. Pour away the water (you don't need to wash the pan), then melt the butter in the pan, lay in the ham slices, heat through turning once, then place the fish on top. Season with pepper, cover and simmer for 2 -3 minutes. Traditionally served with a poached egg on top.
Tip: (A restaurant/hotel would do them this way). Poach eggs the day before, removefrom the boiling water and place in a bowl of iced water then keep in the fridge. To serve, reheat each egg in very hot water for one minute.

Cullen Skink: serves four
approx 2 lb smoked haddock
1 large onion, sliced
pint and a half of milk
2 tblsp. butter
approx 8 oz mashed potato
salt and pepper
Poach the haddock (see above recipe). Remove the skin, but keep the fish in the pan. Add the onions, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Take out fish and remove any bones. Traditionally the bones are replaced in the pan and then simmer for a further half an hour.
Strain. Put the stock, milk and the flaked fish into a saucepan, bring to the simmer then add enough mashed potato to make it a creamy consistency of the thickness you prefer. Dot with butter, season to taste and serve immediately. It doesn't matter if the butter hasn't melted. Serve with melba type toast.

Caledonian Cream: serve 4 - 6 (F)
1 lb (2 tubs) cottage cheese
2 tblsp. orange marmalade (pref. thick cut)
2 tblsp. caster sugar
2 tblsp. malt whisky
1 tblsp. lemon juice
Beat everything together, put into a dish and freeze. Easy as that.

This recipe was taken to a meeting of beekeepers, where every dish I demonstrated included honey as an ingredient. Being fairly generous with the whisky I have to say it was the favouite. Just as well I made a lot as every man there insisted on having more than one helping.
2 heaped tblsp. oatmeal, toasted lightly*
10 fl.oz whipping cream
sugar (or honey)
whisky (or rum)
fresh raspberries (optional)
Whip the cream with a little whisky and sugar until thick, but do not overbeat. Fold in to the toasted oats. Serve in tall glasses and top with raspberries.
*Although oatmeal is traditional, I nearly always use quick porridge oats which have been given a quick blitz in the food processor. Take care when toasting (either in a dry pan on the hob, or under the grill, or even on a baking tray in the oven) as they burn easily, keep stirring until they have turned golden. Worth doing a batch and storing in an airtight jar for later use.

The costings for this week have been minimal. Beloved has gained 5 lbs since we began, my fault for serving huge portions, so yesterday was minimal food - bananas on toast sort of thing. My financial outgoings for the week are downstairs but less than £2 even allowing for the bread, so something good is coming out of it. All details are being kept and in two weeks will come the end of the Challenge and the final auditing. It can't come soon enough!