In print September 2018
If you know me you’ll know I say it as it is! No fluff just straight to the point.
It’s the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight until 16th September, so we should be celebrating all that’s great about our abundant larder.But I’m struggling to celebrate with such sad news surrounding an industry that I love.
Yes whisky, gin, beer, salmon and shortbread exports are beating the records year on year but closer to home the small artisans are struggling.
Some of our smallest suppliers have gone out of business. These include our dear friend Graham Stoddard of Cuddybridge Apple Juice, a taste Our Best accredited and multi-award winning Scotland Food & Drinks apple juice producer closed his business this June.Increased costs and consumers not willing to pay the price for a quality hand made product has made this business unsustainable.
If you’ve been following the Errington Cheese story you’ll have read that they have laid off two more staff and in short, are on their knees. Another multi award winning artisan producer that is struggling but this time due to massive injustice and bureaucratic cover up.
As an independent Scottish restaurateur and as a Scottish consumer, I try wherever possible to support our local artisan suppliers and other independent, family run businesses.
Our reputation as a land of food and drink that now brings visitors from all over the world has been built on the hard work and passion of many of these very small very hard working family business.
If we’re not careful not only will we lose them, we’ll hurt the whole industry.
Macaroni cheese with Phantassie Farm candied tomatoes, Isle of Mull cheddar and buttered crumb crust
Macaroni cheese has got to be a favourite for most people. Adding a vegetable suchas tomatoes really lightens this dish and makes it extra-tasty and a little healthier.
Handful of small tomatoes roasted to release their juices
500g macaroni or any short pasta
80g unsalted butter
80g plain flour
salt and freshly ground whitepepper
½ tsp English mustard powder
600ml full-fat milk
4 tbsp double cream
350g Isle of Mull cheddar,finely grated
Optional pea shoots for decoration
1. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain welland set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. To make the sauce, melt thebutter in a pan over a low heat, then add the flour. Cook for about3 minutes, stirring continuously until the mixture starts to bubble. Add1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and the mustard powder. Slowly add the milk andbeat with a metal whisk to prevent lumps forming.
3. When the sauce startsto thicken, add the cream and 250g cheddar. Check the seasoning.
4. Add the cauliflower and macaroni. The mixture will be wet but themacaroni will absorb the sauce as it cooks. Transfer to an ovenproof dishand sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for20 minutes until bubbling and golden.
cream of celery & lanark blue soup
This is a soup we make in winter but we need to be buying Lanark Blue as much as we can so they are there next winter to supply us.
150g unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
2 heads of celery, leaves reserved
3 large floury potatoes
1 tsp celery salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 litre chicken stock (see below), hot
125g Lanark Blue, crumbled, plus extra for garnish
125ml double cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
for the chicken stock (makes approx. 1 litre)
10 chicken thighs or drumsticks
generous pinch of salt
2 litres cold water
1 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1 celery stick, halved
- Chicken stock can be very fatty so I recommend making it a day in advance. Thoroughly wash the chicken pieces and put them in a 2 litre stockpot. Cover with the cold water, add the salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and skim off the scum that comes to the surface. It will take 5-10 minutes of skimming and simmering until the broth clears. Taste. You may need to add a little more salt.
- Add the celery and parsley and half-cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for 1½ hours. Strain into a jug, leave to cool and refrigerate overnight. When the stock solidifies, the fat will rise to the surface. Remove the fat with a spoon.
- Melt the butter and oil in a large pan, add the onions and leeks and sauté until translucent. Add the celery and cook until soft. Take your time. The longer you can cook this without browning, the tastier the soup will be.
- Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes. Season the other vegetables with the celery salt, then add the hot stock and potato. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced slightly.
- Add the celery leaves and cook for 5 minutes more until these are soft. Add the Lanark Blue and stir to melt through, then add pepper to taste.
- Remove from the heat and leave until cool. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. In small batches, sieve the blended soup into a clean pan using a sieve or a mouli. It’s important to put a lot of elbow grease into sieving the final stalks as these will help to thicken the soup.
- Put the pan over a medium heat and when the soup is hot, add the cream and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve piping hot sprinkled with a little celery salt and a little extra Lanark Blue crumbled on top.
apple and sultana pie
When we started our kitchen garden it was lovely Mr Apple that advised and supplied us with 46 of our apples trees. Choosing heritage varieties like James Geieves and white Melrose (check this please) – who would have thought Mr Apple would be the extinct supply we’d need to save for the Ark!
7 small or 4 large Bramley apples
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp caster sugar, plus extrafor sprinkling
small handful of sultanas
¼ pinch of cinnamon
25g unsalted butter, melted,for greasing
egg wash made from 1 egg, beaten
pouring cream, chilled, to serve
for the pastry
250g self-raising flour, plus extrafor dusting
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice-cold water
- First make the pastry.Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and coarsely grate the butter on top. Dip the butter into the flour to stop it sticking, then rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix through, then add the egg yolk and bind with the water until the mixture forms a ball. Place on a floured surface and knead gently. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the apple filling. Peel and core the apples and slice them to roughly the same size.
- Place in a pan over a low heat with the water and sugar and cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples have collapsed into a soft but slightly chunky purée.
- Keep the apples moving in the pan with a wooden spoon to stop them discolouring.
- Remove from the heat, add the sultanas and cinnamon and adjust the flavouring, adding a little more sugar if required. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and brush a 20cm ovenproof glass pie dish with melted butter.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Cut the pastry in half. On a floured surface, roll out half to the same size as the pie dish.
- Line the bottom of the dish with the pastry. Spoon the apple mixture on top and gently spread it over.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and use to carefully cover the apple mixture. Cut away the excess pastry from the edges and brush with the egg wash. Make one slit in the top to let the air escape.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden, then remove and sprinkle with sugar.
- Serve hot or cold with a generous spoonful of chilled pouring cream.