Burns Night Supper

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!” ( Address to a Haggis, Robert Burns, 1786)

Happy Rabbie Burns day!!!!

Unfortunately our haggis hunting was disappointing as we didn’t get so much as a glimpse of a haggis let along the opportunity to capture one. They are devious sleekit wee beasties and their different size legs enabled them to scamper and scurry quickly up the hills as soon as they heard us approach!!

As a result tonight ( to my husband’s disappointment) we had vegetarian haggis instead.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties…..(in case anyone is unsure Neeps are Turnips and Tatties are Potatoes).

If your haggis hunting is as disappointing as ours, then buy a haggis from your local butcher shop or from your local supermarket. It doesn’t have to be veggie but I don’t particularly like haggis ( eck, my Scottish Nationality may now be questioned!) as it has lamb and beef in it.  As well as lamb and beef, haggis also contains oats, onions and spices too. Veggie haggis also contains oats, onions and spices along with veggies, seeds and pulses.

Prepare as per instructions.  In this case, I wrapped the haggis in tinfoil and placed in a oven dish with 2cm of water. This cooked for 1 hours and 10 minutes in a 180°c oven.

In the meantime make your mashed neeps and tatties. I don’t think I need to go into detail how to do this, other than I keep it simple with a bit of butter in the neeps while mashing them and some butter and milk with the tatties. Although we had one spring onion in the fridge to use up so I chopped and added to the tatties.

Then eat…..

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Hope you all have a great Burns night whether celebrating in Scotland or abroad or attending a formal Burns supper or having one in your own home.

In keeping with tonight’s theme I made and served Cranachan, a traditional Scottish dish.

Psst….Don’t tell anyone but hubbie really enjoyed the veggie haggis! This, after he wouldn’t even admit to anyone that we were having veggie haggis tonight!

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A chunky veg soup to beat the January blues

sam_7884As I’d said in my previous blog post, I’ve been ill, suffering from the “queens cold”, named as such cos apparently her Madge suffered from it first. I’ve been told this was not a cold but not the flu but in between the two. Although, I’m not convinced this is what it was for me as I have a low immune system so it could have just been a cold that I’ve struggled to fight off.

One thing I’m sure about is when you feel rubbish you can not beat a bowl of homemade soup, of any kind. The only requirement for me is that it’s gotta be homemade, gotta be hot and full of chunky pieces of veg or lentils or barley or all of these! I love a spoonful of veg!

To be honest I probably don’t need to put up a recipe for soup, soup is so easy to make  and I’m sure everyone knows how and also has their own favourite recipe but here we go …..the soup that I’m pretty sure helped to cure me!

Ingredients

Mix of one organic leek, one onion, one carrot , 1/2 left over potato , 1/2 head of celeriac and a very non organic broccoli (1/4 of a head). Basically it was a mix of whatever veg I had left over, hence the 1/4 of a head of broccoli and 1/2 a potato along with some veg freshly dug by my lovely hubby. This is the beauty of veg soup, you can use whatever veg you want to or whatever you need to use up, but I always find the more veg the merrier.

The exact measurement of a handful of Barley ( my freakishly small hand so probably about 50 grams!)

Couple of slices of unsmoked Scottish bacon

One chicken stock cube ( or whatever stock cube you have to hand, I’ve used all types) dissolved in about 2 pints of boiling water.

In an ideal world you’ll also have saved and frozen the stock from boiling a ham or a chicken carcass or you’ll have planned ahead bought turkey legs to make a stock from. Although its rarely an ideal world for me, so bacon and stock cubes are a great alternative.

Method

Chop the bacon and fry in a wee bit of oil in a large pan. Once cooked remove from the pan and leave to one side. Do not clean the pan or pour out the bacon fat.

Whilst the bacon is cooking, prepare your veg e.g finely chop onions and leeks and chop the potatoes, celeriac and carrots into cubes.

Add the onions and leeks into the pan, saute for about 10 -15 minutes or until softened. Then add the remaining veg and continue to saute. The longer you leave the veg to saute the better flavour it will have.

Add the stock to the veg and simmer. I simmer on low heat for a long time ( about 1 hour) but carefully watch the soup as you may need to add more water/ stock depending on how thick you like your soup. If you sick ill, as in not able to eat and not able to hold much down I would recommend having fewer veg and having more of a liquid broth/ soup. But I love soup so thick that your spoon stays upright in it and every spoonful is full of lovely veg.

Add salt and pepper.

Cook the barley as per packet instructions, which in this case I had to wash them then boiled them separately before then adding to the soup pan.

I added the broccoli towards the end as it didn’t need much boiling, however the florets did break up ( as you can see in the photo above).

The soup will provide you with much needed sustenance and strength. It’s so comforting just curl up on the sofa under a warm cosy blanket and enjoy.

Oh and don’t forget the bacon, add a sprinkle on top of the soup.

 

First attempt at Roast Chicken!

SAM_6822This was my first ever attempt at cooking a whole chicken! I know, I know its crazy that I’ve got to 32 without cooking a whole chicken but to be honest cooking big pieces of meat has always freaked me out for a couple (or five) reasons

1) I don’t eat a lot of meat, never have and there are some meats I just will not eat such as venison, lamb, some cuts of beef ( I’ll eat mince, but not steak… go figure!).

2) As I don’t eat them, I don’t cook them and so don’t know how

3) I feel uncomfortable cooking big cuts as I’m worried I’ll poison people!

4) I can’t stand the smell of some meat cooking such as Lamb to the point that I can’t even be in the kitchen when hubbie cooks this. He loves lamb! In fact there is not a meat, he dislikes!

5) Touching some raw meat is just icky! Sorry I’m 32 going on 5 in this respect.

However, recently  I have been getting more and more confident in the Kitchen and have even cooked large pieces of pork and ham, which have turned out well. This time I thought I’d cook a whole chicken. I do like chicken and often cook thighs, wings, fillets, legs so a whole chicken was the next logical step.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken with giblets removed- I always buy Scottish meat and carefully read the label for country of origin or check for the Scottish flag, but buy what ever you prefer. I try and buy Scottish meat, butter, milk veg etc as far as possible to support Scottish farmers.

100 grams or so of Softened Butter, 2-3  lemons, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, dried thyme and oregano ( or any other herbs you have), salt and pepper,2 cloves of garlic.

My measurements, aren’t really measurements as I didn’t really measure, but just guessed. Very scientific! Also as this was my first go I just used what I had available in the house and came up with this.

Preheat oven to 220°C

Line a roasting tin with tinfoil ( makes it easier to clean!)

Grate the zest of two lemons. Get the softened butter about 100 grams or so ( should be enough to cover the chicken, but add more if you also want to add butter mix on top and under the skin). Chop the butter into cubes and place in a bowl along with the lemon zest. Add some thyme and oregano ( or whatever dried herbs you have to hand). I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each. Well it was probably more like a heaping 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon! Add some salt and pepper then mix it all together until combined or use a fork to mash as I had to due to the butter not being as soft as it should be.

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Cut the 2 lemons in half and place in microwave for 40 seconds.

Place the chicken into the roasting tin. Then place the lemons halves in the cavity of the chicken, along with the garlic which you should crush with a knife beforehand. Pour any juice that came out of the lemons whilst in the micro into the cavity too.

Rub the butter mixture all over the chicken ( and under the skin if you want, however I didn’t do this see reason 5 above… maybe I’ll get the courage next time!). It helps at this point if the butter is really soft as it will stick to the chicken and make it easier to rub all over.  In my photo below you can see, from the clumbs of butter is wasn’t as soft as it should be! I even ended up placing some of the butter into a micro for 10 seconds.

Place the springs of rosemary into the chicken cavity. I used rosemary from my garden however as we don’t have a huge amount growing at the moment and what we have has been eaten by Rabbits I only used two springs, but you could use more or even chop up a sprig or two and add to the butter mixture before rubbing on chicken.

I had a extra lemon lying about so squeezed half over the top of the chicken then sprinkled some salt and pepper over the top.

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Turn down the oven to 190°C and then place the chicken in the oven. I cooked the chicken for about 1 hour and 35 minutes, until the juices ran clear. I also used a meat thermometer to check too, helping me to avoid reason 3!

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Hamming it up for Easter!

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Apologises for the dodgy and dark photography, which isn’t doing the ham the justice it deserves.

 

Happy Easter!!! The ‘In laws’ were staying this weekend and they kicked off Easter Sunday with a walk around the farm, a very cold, windy, slightly rainy and sleety at time, bracing walk. It swept away the beer and wine from last night by the looks of them when they came back in the door! I, however spent my Sunday morning in bed, then panicked when I remembered that the clocks went forward and it was actually 11am and not 10am. Hence, cooking the Easter dinner in PJ’s. Although my cooking preparation started the day before, so I didn’t have a huge amount to do.

On the Saturday, whilst hubby was player rugger, I was in the kitchen………

Ingredients

2kg British unsmoked boneless gammon joint, 1 organic leek, chopped, 1 organic onion, peeled and chopped, left over celery sticks,chopped, 3 organic carrots, peeled and chopped, one cinnamon stick, broken in half, 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds.

In a large pan ( as you can see my pan was nearly overflowing), place all the vegetables, cinnamon stick, peppercorns ,coriander seeds and the gammon joint, then cover with cold water. Bring water to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer. I simmered for about 20 minutes per 450 kg, so it took about 1 hour and half simmering.  Remove from pan and leave to cool completely before placing in fridge.

I left the stock to cool then poured the stock into freezer bags.  To make it easier, wedge the freezer bag into a large jug then pour the stock into the bag and, before tying the bag, remove excess air by squeezing the top of bag, then tie the bag and place upright in a plastic food container . This will help to freeze it in a easy to store shape and the boxes can be removed later. Then place in freezer to be used the next time you make soup!

On the Sunday about 11:01am ……..

Ingredients

Ham: Cloves

Glaze: 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of dejon mustard, 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple vinegar and 350mls of Dr Pepper

Sides: 3 Organic carrots, peeled and cut into sticks, 2 large and wonky organic parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks, 9 organic potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, 2 teaspoons of corn flour.

Preheat oven to 165 °C. Take the ham out the fridge, score the top of the ham in one direction with a knife and then another direction to form diamonds. Where the lines meet, stick a clove in. Once all “cloved ” up place the ham on the oven tray, then place in oven. In the mean time, make up the glaze. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe, but there are so many variations of glaze, just have a search online for one you would prefer.  Place  the brown sugar, dejon mustard, apple vinegar and 350mls of Dr Pepper into a pan, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cook the ham for 38 minutes ( really random number, but that was just when the glaze was ready!). Take out the oven and then cover the ham with the glaze. Pop back into the oven for another 20 minutes, then take out and cover with glaze. Place back in the oven for 20 minutes and then take out and glaze again. Place back in oven for 10 minutes. To be honest, the last 10 minutes were not required, it was ready after 1 hours and 20 minutes, but I wanted to give it another glaze. So again roughly it was 20 minutes per 450kg, but you may want to follow your own packet or butchers instructions for cooking the ham.

I served the ham with some mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and parsnips but you could serve it with whatever kind of veg you want to.

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‘Cos wonky veg tastes good too!

 

Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of the finished meal, as once hubby carved the ham, we portioned the ham on individual plates and hurried to the table so we could all add our own portions of potatoes and roasted veg ,which were on the table already, and devour the goodness whilst it was all still warm.

We also had glaze left in the saucepan so I added about 2 teaspoons of cornflour to thicken it up, so it could be served as a gravy/ sauce.

There were some leftovers, so about 2kg could probably do 5-6 people comfortably. Hubby will have some awesome pieces ( sandwiches) tomorrow!

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Yummy yummy!

Afters or pudding or dessert or whatever your family call it, was Strawberry Shortcake cake. I’ll put the recipe for this up in a separate blog post.

I’m now away to see whether I can put myself into a chocolate induced coma after consuming my Easter eggs! Yes, I’m a 32 year old who still gets chocolate eggs for Easter! Don’t judge me…

Hope you all had a lovely Easter whatever you were doing!

 

 

Spring Soup- Pea and Mint

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Gloriously green!

 

Soup I normally associate with Winter. Soup is something comforting, something to warm you up after a cold day outside. Pea and Mint soup, however I always associate with Spring. Why? I’m not sure. It could be the vivid green colour that reminds me of the colours of nature that come with Spring or it could be the refreshing mint taste.

Given we had a big bag of Frozen Peas to use up, I decided to make a batch of Pea and Mint Soup for supper for two nights. This recipe will give 4 servings.

Ingredients

4 slices of unsmoked bacon cut into small pieces (I used Scottish unsmoked dry cure bacon from Simon Howie), 1/2 Organic onion ( just because this was requiring to be used up) peeled and chopped, 2 Organic Carrots peeled and chopped, 2 celery stalks chopped, 4 cups of chicken stock, roughly 5 cups of frozen peas, 1 cup of mint chopped, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup of crème fraiche, olive or vegetable oil.

Add a splash of oil to a large pan and put on medium heat. Whilst waiting for the oil to warm up, prepare the vegetables and slice or cut the bacon into small pieces. Once the oil has warmed up add the bacon and fry until cooked and slightly crispy ( or what ever is your preference for bacon). Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

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Leave the bacon juices and oil in the pan and add the chopped onions, saute for a few minutes until the onions turn brown. Add the carrots and celery to the pan and cook until the veg starts to soften. Add the 4 cups of chicken stock to the pan and bring to a boil for about 8-10 minutes.  Add the peas and cook for a further 3 minutes.

 

Take off the heat, add the mint and stir.Then add the mixture to a blender. I had to do this in two batches. Once all the mixture was blended I returned the soup to the pan and added salt and pepper to taste or you could leave this out for it to be added later at the table to individual tastes.  Add 1/2 cup of crème fraiche.to the soup and stir to combine. Then serve.

I served this with French bread, baked camembert cheese, celery sticks and caramelised pecans. The recipe for the caramelised pecans came from the frugalhausfrau which I added paprika to.

I completely forgot, in my haste to devour this soup, to take a photo of it plated up. Will update after tomorrow nights supper!

Friday Night Frights

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Note to hubby on boiler room door so as not to disturb the dough

So hubby went away to watch a rugger match last night ( in fact it could have been two matches?) Anyway this required him to drive to the Wild Wild West ( Glasgow area)  using our one and only vehicle. This left me stranded in the Scottish wilderness, ok it’s not quite the wilderness, but to get to the edge of town I’d have to walk 3 miles. And then 3 miles back. 6 miles walking…. (see i’m real good at maths!) ………erm wasn’t gonna happen.

I didn’t have time to go shopping. I had a lovely meal with an old work colleague which required an hour drive there, 2 1/2 hour lunch and gossip session, then another 1 hour drive back to drop off the car in time for hubby to then use the car.

Fortunately I’d had the thought about supper prior to leaving for lunch ( what?) and upon examining what I had in my cupboards, I decided to make home made pizza.

I used the Pioneer Woman recipe for pizza dough as follows…..

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Add 4 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt to your stand mixer bowl and mix ( I just use a spatula, and not the mixer at the moment). Add 1 teaspoon of yeast to 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Leave for a minute or two, then stir gently. Then put the mixer on low and slowly add 1/3 cup of extra virgin oil to the flour/salt mix. Then add the yeast/water mix to the flour. It should all come together as a ball on the dough hook. Once this happens , add the dough to a bowl that has been drizzled with extra virgin oil, cover with a moist towel and place in warm place.

After whipping some up, I placed it in the boiler cupboard to rise and went on my merry little way rocking out to Lynyrd Skynyrd. How  awesome is driving to Free Bird?

Anyway I seem to have a real problem with dough, the majority of times I have made home made pizza it’s been a disaster. I have been able to make the perfect pizza, ONCE!  So not really sure why I choose to make pizza last night. Ever the optimist I suppose or pure stubbornness to get it right ! Or maybe my craving for Dominos and knowing I wasn’t going to get a Dominos ( when I have a car, its 20 minutes away, without a car its the other end of the Universe!)

Anyway disaster dough…… well the dough tends not to rise. I place it in the warmest place in the house too and it still doesn’t rise and due to this, obviously it can’t be used.

I also thought it was the tub of yeast being open for too long, so I bought individual sachets instead, but nope still didn’t work.

It could be that our house, even with heating on, can be soooo cold at times.  So cold that in winter if you leave the butter out in the kitchen it won’t soften very well, let alone produce enough heat to get the dough to rise. I have placed the bowl on top of radiators before!

However, on this occasion the dough appeared to have risen, not necessarily double in size, but definitely more so than on other occasions!!  Whoop Whoop [victory dance].

I then happily squashed it out onto the pizza tray, added some BBQ sauce and then some grated Mull of Kintyre Scottish Cheese. Pioneer woman states to put it into a 500° F Oven , but my  oven only goes up  to 43o° F. I checked after 8 mins, then put it in for another 4 mins, then another 2 mins. The crust and topping looked cooked however when I cut the pizza open, the crust was still quite doughy inside. So back in the oven for another 4 mins, erm…. still not quite right still, so back in for another 2 mins and then another 2 mins. At this point, though the topping was slightly burnt, but the dough was cooked just right.

*Sigh* Will I ever get this right?? Something goes wrong each time!

I did manage to power though and eat 3 slices, but a very disappointing 3 slices and it ruined my enjoyment of re-watching season 2 of True Blood! Hubby came home at late o’clock and devoured a couple of slices, so it didn’t all go to waste!

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to make my own homemade pizza???? I want to crack the dough making, so I can make other dough related foods like Cinnamon Rolls.

Advice from expect dough makers appreciated!

 

 

 

Scottish Style Meatballs

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Still so hot you can see the steam rising off them. Oh and I bet you’re wondering what the black bits are!

 

My hubbie loves looking in the bargain or reduced section in supermarkets for…. well a bargain mainly cuts of meat or some sort of meat produce. He loves finding pork, lamb and venison, as these are meats that I don’t like, so obviously don’t eat. I think he feels quite extravagant buying full price cuts of meat just for himself, so buying from the bargain section means he gets away with buying a rack of lamb for himself!

Anyway, he bought himself some venison meatballs a few weeks ago and ferreted these away in the freezer. Last night was the night he was going to cook these, however I took it upon myself to cook these for him coming home in from work so he could then go for a wee jog before supper. Also I won’t eat Bambi, but unlike lamb I can at least stand the smell of cooking Bambi.

I fried the Bambi ( sorry venison ) meatballs in some olive oil in a frying pan for about 12 minutes, until golden brown and with no pink on the inside when I opened one up, all the while feeling like I was cheating  using meatballs that I didn’t make myself.

Whilst the meatballs were frying, I decided to make a sauce for the meatballs just using a basic sauce I would normally use for meat for a lasagne or Bolognese.

I chopped a clove of garlic, half an onion ( just because there was half an onion to be used up in the fridge), half a sweet pepper , as well as some left over red pepper ( same reason as the onion) and a couple of spring onions ( Ditto).

In a saucepan I heated up some olive oil, then added the onion and garlic, sautéed for a few minutes then I added the peppers and spring onions. I continued to sauté until peppers slightly more softened then I added a tin of chopped tomatoes ( about 4oog) and a vegetable stock cube ( I like to use the Knorr Vegetable stock pot) and stirred into the mixture until dissolved.

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I think I’ll need to develop my photography skills of taking pics of very hot cooking food. This is the tomato sauce.

 

I wanted a bit of heat to the sauce, so I added some chilli flakes. Now I had intended to use a small amount, a pinch really however instead of taking a pinch out the jar or using my pinch spoon ( yes, I have a small spoon that gives the amount of a pinch that’s kinda sad isn’t it?) I tipped the jar over the pan to sprinkle straight from the jar, yeahhh well it was a bit of a whoops moment when a lot came out of the jar. Total rookie mistake. I would say it was probably slightly over 1/4 teaspoon, maybe not as much as half a teaspoon. I tasted it and immediately my mouth started to burn, I reckoned ( with fingers crossed) that it would be ok for hubbie as he likes spice and I tend to be a wimp. If its hot for me its fine for him…. hopefully.

I also added some basil ( I used dried as this was all I had) about a teaspoon and some salt and pepper. I then simmered this whilst the meatballs continued to fry. Once the meatballs were ready I then added them to the sauce and continued to simmer until the sauce had reduced. This was about a further 10 minutes.

I had no spaghetti, but I had giant pasta shells, rigatoni, macaroni and tagliatelle. After considering and quickly dismissing the idea of stuffing giant pasta shells with meatballs I settled on tagliatelle and cooked as per packet instructions.

I was feeling very efficient as supper was cooked before 4:30pm. Hubbie then came in, decided not to go for a jog. He had prior to this told me I needed to force him (not sure how a 5’1 petite girl can force a 5’10 rugby player) to go jogging twice a week, so I attempted some motivational ( maybe slightly aggressive) encouragement. However, he is very good at “puppy dog” eyes and I quickly gave into his compromise. His compromise was, he had already been jogging this week as well as rugger training and he would start jogging twice a week next week.  Not sure that’s a compromise.

Anyway, he was happy not to have to go jogging and happy his supper was cooked. But to my utter confusion he then starts the grill up and removes black pudding and Square ( Lorne) sausage from the fridge.

Me: ” Erm honey what’re you doing”

Hubbie:”I was going to have square sausage and black pudding along with the meatballs and also leave some for my pieces tomorrow”

To my utter horror and amazement he proceeded to cook the sausage and black pudding, then he chopped some of it up and added them to the meatballs and slightly ( ok maybe a lot) spicy tomato sauce on top of tagliatelle noodles.

Throughout watching this process I couldn’t make up my mind about whether my husband was actually an evil food genius or seriously deranged or both. But one thing was for sure, this could only happen in Scotland and will forever be known in our house as Scottish Style Meatballs.

P.S. In case you’re wondering he thought it was delicious and it wasn’t too spicy after all.

P.P.S. Also Lorne Sausage or Square Sausage is basically ground sausage meat in a square. Sorry I didn’t take any pics of this.

P.P.P.S. Sorry if this post has offended anyone’s food sensibilities, it certainly offended mine!!