Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas

January 26, 2019

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The Husband and I went on an amazing trip this time last year and seeings how yesterday was Robbie Burns Day, I’ve just got to tell you about it. That’s right- January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. Robbie Burns has indeed inspired me to share this recipe for these delicious Scottish Pies, sometimes also called “Scotch Pies” which is perfect for a casual Burns night supper.

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I’m often inspired by our travels to come home and make one of the dishes from the area we visited. Although I have done a few of these blogs in the past, I am woefully behind on them. But I am really going to be doing some backtracking and telling you about our past travels, boring you with our vacation photos, offering a few recommendations on hotels, tours etc. and sharing a recipe or two in the process. So let me get on with it! At the end of January 2018, we set out for the Shetland Islands via Glasgow and with a stopover in Iceland on the way back. The Shetland Islands are a group of islands which lie between the north Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, 104 miles north of Scottish mainland. It is the same latitude as southern Greenland and closer to Norway than Scotland. Now I bet you’re wondering, “Why exactly did you go there in the middle of winter? Wasn’t it cold?” Well, truth be told it wasn’t really much colder than it is in Virginia in the winter, temperatures hovering slightly above freezing. However it was a whole lot more windy and wet. The precipitation did come down as rain vs. snow, but oh my Gawd was it windy! And why January? Because that is when the town of Lerwick, the largest in the Shetlands with a population of about 7,500, holds its annual Up Helly Aa, a viking festival, which we had been itching to go to for years. But before I get into the big event, our first stop was Glasgow.

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Spoiler! Keep tuned for next post about this amazing Viking fire festival!

I had actually visited Glasgow previously. It was the husband’s first visit. Glasgow has been overlooked as a destination for years, losing tourists to the fancier, more posh Edinburgh. And while I think Edinburgh is a gorgeous city, I have always been partial to Glasgow. To me, Glasgow felt much more laid back, friendly and comfortable. In recent years, the city has undergone a revitalization, seeing a large influx of bars, restaurants and shops. The place is absolutely buzzing with excitement. We were lucky enough to have ended up there during the annual Celtic Connections music festival. The husband and I love going out to see live music, so this was right up our alley. We saw the Deslondes, one of our favorite bands which hails from New Orleans,

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in an amazing venue – Òran Mór. Located in Glasgow’s vibrant West End, Oran Mór was formerly the Kelvinside Parish Church, but has now been transformed into a truly unique venue, offering up two bars, a restaurant, a nightclub as well as a live music hall.

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We also saw ever enduring (celebrating 30 years together this year) English folk/punk band The Levellers at Glasgows Old Fruitmarket – another unbelievably cool music venue tucked away in Glasgow’s stylish Merchant City.

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The Fruitmarket, was as the name suggests, originally a market where fresh fruit and vegetables were sold up until the 1970’s. The amazing renovation manages to retain all of the period charm of the original building including all of the ironwork, balconies and beautiful vaulted ceiling.

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Although we didn’t have a lot of time in Glasgow before venturing further north, we were able to visit Glasgow’s stunning cathedral,

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stroll through the Necropolis (Glasgow’s large Victorian cemetery),

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visit the iconic Cloisters of the University of Glasgow,

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explore the extensive Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

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spend a luxurious afternoon at Blythswood Square Spa

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and relax in one or two (or so….) of the local pubs.

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We also did manage to get out of the city for one day. Frank Jones, the owner of Wee Adventours, picked us up in his very luxurious Land Rover and whisked us away from Glasgow out on an action packed day of adventure. We knew that we did not want to get crammed onto a big bus full of tourists to be rushed from stop to stop. We wanted something a bit more personalized and relaxing and that is what we got with Wee Adventours. The lovely Frank was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with, so friendly, funny and charming, it felt as though we had known him for years. Having worked in the tourism industry for some time, he was very knowledgeable about the history, customs and landmarks of Scotland and enthusiastic to share it with us. He spent a little time before the day of the tour finding out what our interests were and then customized an itinerary just for us. We did a small hike around Loch Lomond

img_3232 (3)and visited the town of Sterling. We had a great time at Doune Castle which is not only where Monty Python’s Holy Grail was filmed, it is also Castle Leoch from The Outlander television show and was further used as the set for Winterfell in Game of Thrones pilot.

 

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Last but not least, we visited charming Glengoyne Distillery for a tour and a Whisky & Chocolate tasting. Just an amazing day!

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Already an action packed holiday and we hadn’t even got to the main event! Turns out, much to my delight, the Husband absolutely loved Glasgow and said he couldn’t wait to return. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we really made an excellent choice when we decided to stay at The Dakota Deluxe Hotel. The Dakota was fantastic! They offer free airport transfer during the week, which was so nice. Everyone we met who worked there was so friendly, charming and ready to help in any way they were able. The spacious rooms were decorated tastefully and the beds were very comfortable. The location was perfect, we were able to easily walk to most everything that we wanted to do. We look forward to our next stay, which will definitely be happening!

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Funky rope dog found in the Dakota’s reception.

So this is how we actually found ourselves in Scotland, Glasgow is particular, on Robbie Burn’s birthday. In the past I’ve shared lots of recipes with you that would be great for your own Burns Night celebration. There were these Cranberry Bannocks:

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And these Drop Scones – which might be better for Burns Breakfast – perhaps served around 2 am after a wee too much indulgence in the pubs.

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There was Steak Auld Reekie served over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

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Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade:

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Scotch Egg Pie:

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Cock-a-Leekie soup:

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Which I always serve with this Scottish Harvest Bread, called Struan:

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And who could forget thyme impressive and delectable Scotch Eggs!

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Which I have also done deviled:

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Last year, we did not attend a big, formal Burns Night Supper, but did enjoy a lovely dinner in Fault & Blame – a fantastic, laid back pub located on in Glasgow.

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It was there that was we were served these delicious Scottish Pies with mushy peas and mashed potatoes. Absolute heaven I tell you!

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Now I know I’ve told you how we absolutely love meat pies. This blog is chock full of recipes for them. I’m pleased to say that the Scottish Pie (sometimes called Scotch Pie) is no exception to our pro-pie stance. A Scottish Pie is a small, personal sized double crust meat pie, usually made with mutton or minced lamb. Very popular in Scotland, and actually throughout the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada & Australia, these pies are often found at football matches resulting in the nickname – “football pies”. But these pies are not a modern invention, oh no no no. In the middle ages the Scottish church really had it in for these little treats. They viewed them as decadent luxurious English style food, cautioned their parishioners against the perils of indulging in them and advised them to stay clear. Thank goodness these little delights were able to endure the test of time! The pastry is a hot water crust pastry, the lid of which is placed 1cm or so lower than the edges of the pie. This recessed space is often topped with mashed potatoes, baked beans, brown gravy or even an egg. Very portable and quite tasty served hot or cold, they are the perfect fast food!

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I served my Scottish Pies with mashed potatoes and Mushy Peas. Mushy Peas are a traditional side dish and are pretty much exactly what they sound like – peas which have been cooked until they are mushy. Anyone who is from the American South should be familiar with this vegetable preparation method. There is one difference though. The peas traditionally used for Mushy Peas are marrowfat peas, not the usual pea you would find in an American grocery store. Marrowfat peas are peas which have been allowed to dry naturally in the field rather than be harvested whilst young. The resulting peas are larger and have a much higher starch content than your regular pea. This gives them a smoother, creamier consistency which is desired in properly prepared Mushy Peas. Now, you can use a regular pea to make this dish, but if you’d like to try for a more authentic experience, use marrowfat peas for sure. You can find these type of peas in British specialty shops or simply on Amazon. I have supplied the link below. And do remember that since you are using dried peas, an overnight soak in salted water is required to soften the peas prior to cooking. Don’t forget to put them into soak before you head off to bed the night before!

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I will admit, the hot water crust pastry used to make the pie casing is a bit of a challenge if you’ve never done it. Before you ever get started, you’ve got to go find some lard. I would’ve thought it would have been no problem. I started searching around my local grocery store and when I couldn’t find it, I asked one of the employees, ‘Sorry – could you tell me where the lard is?” The reply I got was “What is lard?”. Hmmmm…..so that is what we’ve come to…folks don’t know what lard is anymore! After a few different stops at a few different stores, I was able to get ahold of some. Lard is absolutely necessary in the hot water crust recipe as it is what makes that crust strong enough to stand up to the filling. Then, I had to actually shape the little pie cases while that pastry was warm. I used some mini cheesecake springform pans ( 4″ diameter pans – not the really really small cheesecake pans) that I had, but you can also shape them over a canning jar, ramekin, or even the bottom of a glass. This method is a bit more tricky as you have to thoroughly grease the item you are using for a mold and then once the pastry has hardened you have to gently tease it off of the mold. I tried each method and the springform pans are much, much easier. I have supplied an Amazon link for them below.

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All that fiddly work was so worth it in the end! These pies were crisp, juicy savory perfection! And I think it was quite appropriate that while writing this post, I was also able to reminisce about our lovely time in Glasgow one year ago. Sure didn’t Robbie Burns write Auld Lange Syne in 1788. He definitely understood the pleasure in remembering the fun times past that we’ve shared with our friends and loved ones. I did intend to have this post on my blog for January 25th. However as Rabbie so knowingly said “The best laid schemes o’ mice an men, gang aft a-gley” (translated “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”). I can definitely say my plans did go a-gley, but here it is, a day late. I will say, you can enjoy Scottish Pies and Mushy Peas year round. And just think you’ll be so prepared for Burns Night next year! So remember to raise a wee dram on January 25th for Scotland’s National Poet on his birthday. And by all means, make yourself some of these indulgent Scottish pies. Don’t worry for your soul, you can repent tomorrow. (PS – Don’t forget to check back soon to see all the action from the second leg of this journey – The Shetland Viking Fire Festival Up Helly Aa!)

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Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas

  • Servings: 4 -8 Pies depending on the diameter
  • Difficulty: moderate - in making the pie casings
  • Print

recipe from: Mother Earth News (for the Hot Water Pastry) 

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:

  • 450 grams (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten and at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (200ml) water
  • 80 grams (3/4 stick) butter
  • 80 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lard

For the Filling:

  • 450 grams (1 lb.) minced lamb (I couldn’t find lamb and used ground beef)
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 -4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 Tablespoon flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. First make the pastry.

Mix the flour, salt, and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle, pour in the egg and toss a liberal covering of flour over the egg.

Place the water, butter, and lard into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. When the liquid boils, pour it on to the flour, mixing with a spatula as you go.

When cool enough to handle, gently knead the pastry until all the egg streaks have gone and it is smooth.

Separate 1/4 of the pastry and set aside to use to make the pie lids. Make sure it remains warm.

Thoroughly grease the jelly jars, ramekins or mini cheesecake springform pans that you will be using to form the pastry cases.

Roll the pastry out to 1/4″ thickness. Measure the diameter of the cases you will be using and add twice the depth to the diameter. This will give you the appropriate size of the circle of pastry you will need to cut to fit your cases. The pastry cases should have sides approximately 2 – 21/2″ tall or can be taller as you prefer. Once you have finished shaping your pie shells, place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that they can firm up.

In the meantime, prepare your filling. Heat a small amount of oil in a large sauté pan until hot. Add the lamb or beef to the pan and fry in the oil over moderate to high heat for 2-3 minutes. If the meat has released a lot of grease, drain off at this point and reserve. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Sautee the minced onion in 1 Tablespoon of the reserved drippings until it is soft. Add the minced garlic and sautée for 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan and mix to combine. Add the thyme leaves, nutmeg, beef broth, & Worcestershire sauce and stir until combined. Simmer for 1 -2 minutes and then add salt and pepper to taste. Finally sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of flour over the meat mixture. Stir to combine and allow it to simmer for a few more minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Remove the pastry cases from the refrigerator. Gently slide them from the jelly jars or ramekins if you are using them. Place your cases onto a parchment lined baking sheet to be filled.

Divide the meat mixture between the pastry cases, pressing it down well.

Roll out the reserved pastry dough to form the lids. The lid should be cut using the diameter of the case as a guide. Paint the edges of the pastry case with a bit of egg wash and them fit the lids on top, crimping the edges with your fingers to seal the pies.

Brush pies with the remaining egg wash. Cut a hole in the lid of each pie to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot or cold as you prefer. If you are serving hot, consider topping the pies with mashed potatoes & gravy with a side of mushy peas!

Mushy Peas

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dried Marrowfat peas
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 200 ml boiling water
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • lemon zest to taste
  • salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Directions:

As I mentioned, these peas need an overnight soak. So the evening prior to which you want to serve them, dissolve two teaspoons of baking soda in boiling water.  Place the dried marrowfat peas in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them so that they are covered by at least 3 inches of water.  Give the peas a stir then leave them to soak for at least 12 hours.
On serving day, drain and rinse the peas. Place them in a large pot with 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low and allow the peas come to a simmer.
Continue to cook for 30 minutes or so until the peas are broken down. Add the butter, lemon juice and zest. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
Serve immediately as the peas will continue to thicken the longer they sit. Should you need to reheat them, adding a bit of water will help.
Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Scottish Pies with Mushy Peas:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Batchelor’s Marrowfat Peas

Wilton 4″ Mini Springform Pans

Links for Planning your vacation in Glasgow, Scotland:

Accommodation:

The Dakota Deluxe Hotel – Luxurious & stylish boutique hotel in a superb location in the city. Absolutely love our stay here!

Tours:

Wee Adventours – Specializes in exclusive personal tour services for small tourist groups. Owner Frank Jones has over 10 year guiding experience and is passionate about his country. For all you Outlander fans, he does an amazing Outlander tour which will take you to many locations around Glasgow & its environs were the popular series has filmed. Frank is available for day tours or multi-day journeys. For a luxury custom experience, give him a call!

Restaurants & Pubs:

Òran Mór – Formerly the Kelvinside Parish Church, this is a truly unique live music venue which also boasts two bars, a restaurant, and a nightclub as well.

Fault & Blame – Sad to report, as of November 29, 2018 Fault & Blame has closed. It was a wonderful venue.

Slouch Bar – Our favorite pub in Glasgow thus far. Fantastic, comfortable pub serving homemade food every night until 2 a.m. Burgers, wings, pizzas as far as the eye can see. And one of the meats on their meat-lover’s pizza is haggis! You can’t pass that up!

Mother India Cafe – Glasgow has been voted Britain’s curry capital many times. So if you visit Glasgow you have to try out one of their many south asian restaurants. Glaswegians definitely like it hot, so if you do as well, you’ll be in good company. We asked several locals where their favorite place for a curry was and Mother India kept coming up. A stalwart for many years, Mother India has several locations in Glasgow. We went to the Cafe located just opposite the Kelvingrove Museum. It did not disappoint! The tapas sized portions were spectacularly spiced and the service impeccable. Definitely a must!

Things to See:

Glasgow Cathedral – A fine example of Scottish gothic architecture, with a breathtaking array of stained glass, this Cathedral is the oldest building in Glasgow

Necropolis – Approximately 50,000 folks are buried in the 37 acres of Glasgow’s Victorian city of the dead. It is located on a hill just adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral.

The Cloisters at the University of Glasgow – The Cloisters, also know as The Undercroft are a group of impressive archways and are an iconic part of the University of Glasgow. They have made appearances in many television shows and movies, such as Outlander. And although Harry Potter movies were not filmed at the University, certainly it was the inspiration for that School of Wizardry. Surrounded by the beautiful castle like architecture and soaring spires, you will feel like you have actually set foot on the campus of a real life Hogwarts!

Kelvingrove Art Museum & Gallery – Free to enter, The Kelvingrove boasts 22 themed galleries. You can find it all here – with over 8,000 items on display there is plenty to explore!

Doune Castle – You probably don’t know it, but you have likely seen Doune Castle many times. This 14th Century castle is featured in Monty Python & The Holy Grail, it was Winterfell, home of the Stark Clan, in Game of Thrones and is also Castle Leoch, home to Colm MacKenzie and his clan, in the Outlander television show. Highly recommend a visit here!

Loch Lomond – Located in The Trossachs National Park this picturesque (The Bonnie Shores o’ Loch Lomond) freshwater lake (or Loch) contains many islands and is surrounded by hill, including Ben Lomond. You will find many hiking and cycling paths there.

Glengoyne Whisky Distillery – Located in Dumgoyne, a short bit north of Glasgow (approx. 40 minute drive), this picture perfect whisky distillery has been in continuous operation since 1833. It is unique in that it produces Highland single malt whisky that is matured in the Lowlands. The Distillery is located on the border with its stills in the Highlands. The whisky is then sent across the road, to the Lowlands, to mature. They offer many fun & informative tours, classes and tastings.

Things to Do:

Blythswood Square Spa – Housed in the luxurious Blythswood Square Hotel, this 10,000 square foot facility boasts a thermal suite, two relaxation pools, nine treatment rooms, lounge and cafe. All right there in Glasgow’s city center.

Celtic Connections Music Festival – Annual music festival held every January in Glasgow since 1994. Features over 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, late night sessions and workshops. Whilst the focus is on Scottish music, you will also find international folk, roots and world music artists.

 

 

 

 


Cranberry Bannocks

January 24, 2017

img_5401I’mmmmmm back! Just like last year, and I think every year before that, I have great intentions of keeping up with this blog. Then…wham! The holidays run me right over and don’t post one word. You’d think I’d figure it out and just sign off to everyone right around Thanksgiving. I’m always back at it by January 25th, which is tomorrow, so I’m right on time. And what is the significance on January 25th? It is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. And I’ve got a great traditional Scottish recipe to share with you, just perfect for the day…Cranberrry Bannocks!img_5389Bannocks, sometimes called griddle scones, are a quick bread which are cooked on top of the stove rather than baked in the oven. They are very similar to scones otherwise. Indeed in Scotland the words “bannock” and “scone” are often used interchangeably. Before the 19th Century bannocks were cooked on a “bannock stane” which was a slab of sandstone which was placed on top of a fire. Traditionally they were made with an oatmeal or barley flour and they could be either savory or sweet. One of the most famous types of bannocks is the Selkirk Bannock with is very similar to a fruitcake, chock full of raisins. They can be found in most supermarkets in the UK. Last year I shared a delicious recipe for Scottish Pancakes, or Drop Scones:IMG_3583

The year before was Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

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The one prior to that was Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade:

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Then there was that fabulous Scotch Egg Pie:

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And I can’t forget that  Cock-a-leekie Soup:

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Which I always serve up with fresh toasted Struan:

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And I don’t want to forget those mouth-wateringly delicious Scotch Eggs:

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which I have also done Deviled.

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So there you have it! That is quite a few Scottish recipes which would be very welcome at any Burn’s Night festivities. This years darling little Cranberry Bannocks would perhaps be best suited for a Burn’s Breakfast. They are soft and tender and delicious warm off the griddle, especially slathered with butter!

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Now I will say, these Bannocks are not sweet on their own and derive all their sweetness from the cranberries or whatever jam you might spread on top. If you prefer a sweeter bread, you might want to add a Tablespoon or two of sugar to the mix. I thought they were just perfect as they were. And I’m sure The Bard himself would approve. He actually mentioned Bannocks in his Epistle to James Tennant of Glenconner.

An’ Lord, remember singing Sannock,

Wi’ hale breeks, saxpence, an’ a bannock!

So tomorrow you should get busy, griddle some bannocks and don’t forget to raise a glass and drink a wee dram or two to Rabbie Burns!

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Cranberry Bannocks

  • Servings: 8 bannocks
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Vagabond Baker

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams dried cranberries, chopped
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for rolling out
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil (vegetable or coconut oil)
  • 150 grams buttermilk

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped cranberries.

Add the oil to the buttermilk and stir.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture  and pour 2/3 of the buttermilk mixture into it. Gently begin to mix together with your hands, adding more buttermilk as needed until you have a soft dough.

Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Give it a couple more kneads, but take care not to overwork the dough or the bannocks will be tough.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Flatten the balls and roll them out into a circle, about 1/2″ tall.

Cut each circle into quarters.

Place an ungreased frying pan over low to medium heat. Once it is hot add one of bannock circles (4 pieces) to the pan. Cook the bannocks for a 5 – 8 minutes on each side. They should rise to double their thickness while cooking.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with lashings of butter, jam and clotted cream if you wish!

Enjoy!

Cranberry Bannocks brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Drop Scones aka Scottish Pancakes

January 24, 2016

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I’mmmmmmm back! Yup…I’ve definitely been missing in action for a while. I believe in my last post back in November I was complaining about our Indian Summer. Ha! What a difference in what we are experiencing now….historic Blizzard conditions in good old Virginia! We are pretty much buried under 2 feet + of snow!

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I probably should make some excuses about my blog neglect at this point. However, I’m sure no one wants to hear them, so I think instead I’ll just focus on the “I’m back” bit and call it a day. So…I’m back with a great recipe for tomorrow, which is Burns Night! Robert Burns once referred to his native country as the “Land o’ Cakes”, so I think these are certainly appropriate for the occasion. (Burns was likely referring to the oatcake, rather than the pancake. Nevertheless…) Here we have Drop Scones which as also known as Scottish Pancakes.

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Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. I have done a few Burns Night recipes in the past. Last year I gave you Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

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As well as Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade:

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The year before was Scotch Egg Pie:

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Another great Scottish dish is Cock-a-leekie Soup:

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Which I always serve up with fresh toasted Struan:

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And not to be forgotten are the traditional Scotch Eggs,

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which I have also done Deviled.

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Whew! That is quite a lot of Scottish delicacies! Now I suppose these Drop Scones aren’t so much for the Burns Supper, but instead for a Burns Breakfast, which I guess could take place either the morning of or the morning after. Goodness knows if you’ve imbibed a bit too much the night before toasting Scotland’s favorite son, a big old pancake breakfast on the morning after would be very welcome indeed. The husband and I enjoyed a big batch of them on the morning of our most recent Snowpocalypse. These Scottish Drop Scones, slathered with butter, clotted cream and The Green Apron’s award-winning Chocolate Raspberry Preserves went a long way towards making us feel all warm and cozy! Oh and the never-ending supply of Mimosas might not have hurt either!

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I would wager that there are a few of you out there saying, “Hey now. Wait just a minute. Those just look like good old pancakes. How are they Scottish? And what is up with “Drop Scones”? Aren’t scones biscuit type things?” So, let me address the pancake issue first. As it turns out, Scottish Pancakes are very similar to American style pancakes. They are maybe a bit thicker and a wee bit smaller, but otherwise the same. Scottish Pancakes are usually treated a bit more like toast or scones though in the sense that they are eaten with clotted cream and jam or butter and jam, rather than with maple syrup as is done in the States. And as for the Drop Scone thing. That is even a bit more confusing. The classic “Scone” is an individual serving cake or quick bread which is lightly sweetened and baked with baking powder as the leavening agent. Scones are often prepared by rolling the dough out into a circle and then cutting it into triangular-shaped wedges for serving. Once rolled, the dough can also be cut with a biscuit cutter into circles and baked individually. These Scottish Pancakes are called Drop Scones because rather than rolling the batter, you simply drop it onto a hot griddle and cooking it that way. Here in the States I often see folks referring to Drop Scones as scones which are not rolled out, but dropped by the spoonful onto baking trays and then baked in the oven. Hence the confusion. And don’t even get me going about the pronunciation of scone, which seems to either rhyme with “stone” or “gone”, depending on who you ask. I’m definitely in with the “stone” camp on that one! Anyhoo…the thing that I’m sure of here is that these Drop Scones or Scottish Pancakes are delicious! I’m sure The Bard would approve. After all he did say that “souple scones” were the “wale of food”, “wale” meaning best and I heartily agree. So don’t forget to raise a glass and drink a wee dram or two to Rabbie Burns tomorrow night.

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Drop Scones aka Scottish Pancakes

  • Servings: 6 - 7 Pancakes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 25 grams caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 25 grams butter, melted
  • 100 ml buttermilk
  • Clotted Cream, Raspberry Preserves, Butter for topping

Directions:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.

In another bowl mix together the butter, eggs and buttermilk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Mix until the ingredients are just combined. The batter will be on the thicker side.

Heat a flat griddle or frying pan. Brush pan with a little oil or melted butter.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the hot griddle. In an attempt to make my pancakes the same size, I used an ice cream scoop, which holds about 3 tablespoons of batter. Leave the pancakes undisturbed until bubbles appear on the top. Flip the pancake over and cook for 1 -2 more minutes until golden brown.

Remove from pan and keep warm. Add additional butter/oil to the griddle and keep on making those cakes.

Serve warm with clotted cream and jam, or butter and maple syrup as you see fit.

Enjoy!

Drop Scones brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Steak “Auld Reekie” over Crispy Tatties & Neeps

January 23, 2015

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So hold on a second here! We’ve still got a couple of days til we get to Burns Night. For all of you folks who missed my last posting (it’s still up so you could just take a peek now…) Sunday January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns, the National Poet of Scotland. On that night folks throughout the world will remember him and celebrate with a Burns Night Supper. I just gave you a great Scottish dessert recipe (Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade…take a look…you know you want to…) and I just couldn’t resist throwing another recipe into the mix this year – Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps. I’m just imagining the big question mark a lot of you must have hovering over your faces right now. Anything “old reekie” doesn’t sound very appetizing huh? And what the heck is “tatties & neeps” right?!!  So let me explain.  Reek is the Scots word for smoke, not for something horribly stinky as you might have imagined. Auld Reekie was the nickname given to Edinburgh back in the day when it was full of smoke from all of the open coal fires burning in the city. Steak Auld Reekie is not then some putrified filet, but it is rather a classic Victorian dish of fried steaks with a cream and smoked cheese sauce. Get it….smoked cheese gives the dish that lovely smoky taste which is reminiscent of smoky old Edinburgh from back in the day. And of course it has a bit of Scotch whisky thrown in for good measure.

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Now Tatties & Neeps are simply Potatoes and Turnips (also known as Swede or Rutabaga). Haggis with Tatties & Neeps are the quintessential dishes served at a traditional Burns Night Supper. The Tatties & Neeps in that case are prepared similar to chunky, roughly mashed potatoes. Since I was not going to be serving Haggis (I actually like it…) but Steak Auld Reekie I decided to do a variation on the traditional Tatties & Neeps. I grated the potatoes and swede, formed them into a panko crusted pancake and fried them to a crispy golden brown. Now I made the pancakes fairly large, 5″ – 6″,  so that I could serve the steaks and sauce on top of them. However, you could make smaller sized patties if you wanted to serve them as a side dish, perhaps with a little dollop of sour cream and Coleman’s mustard.

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I will warn you, the whole process of making the Crispy Tatties & Neeps was messy. It is really challenging to work with those raw pancakes and I also found it difficult to just leave them be once I had gotten them into the frying pan. I wanted to keep poking at them and checking the bottom. Don’t do it! They need 5 minutes undisturbed! Fooling with them simply makes them fall to pieces and you’ll end up with a pan of hash browns, which I guess isn’t really a bad thing at all, but likely not what you’re going for here. Of course it’s always nice to have an escape route should kitchen disaster strike…”Yeah…we’re having Steak Auld Reekie and Tatties & Neeps Hash!” So this Sunday don’t forget Scotland’s favourite son. I’ll leave you with a little snippet of a toast written to Rabbie Burns by Stewart Archibald of Ballater, Scotland:

His name still ranks amongst the best fae the bonnie Scottish shores, His words they still work wonders and open mony doors, So as we gather here the nicht lets toast the Ayrshire man, Fa maks us friens thru troubled times in far flung foreign lands. Pit doon yir fags, get on yir feet and raise yir gless up high, Let’s toast and hope his name lives on, till a’ the seas rin dry.

“RABBIE BURNS”

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Steak Auld Reekie with Crispy Tatties & Neeps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Steak Auld Reekie from:  Rampant Scotland: Traditional Scottish Recipes

Fried Tattie & Neeps inspired by: Epicurious

Steak Auld Reekie

Ingredients:

  • Four 8 oz (250 g) fillets of Aberdeen Angus Steak
  • 4 Tablespoons Scotch Whisky
  • 13 fluid ounces (350g) heavy cream
  • 4 oz. (125 grams) grated smoked cheese
  • 1 oz. (25 g) butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Grill or pan fry the steaks to your preference and keep warm. Pour whisky into a pan (the same one if you are pan frying a sauce pan if you are grilling) and flambé. Add cream and grated cheese and bring to the simmering point. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has been reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the butter. When ready to serve, place steaks on top of Crispy Tatties & Neeps panackes and pour sauce over the steaks.

Crispy Tatties & Neeps

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato, washed and peeled
  • 1 yellow turnip or rutabaga
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko
  • olive oil for frying
  • sour cream and spicy mustard

Directions:

Grate potato and turnip. This can be done by hand or with a food processor. (Lazy me choses the processor every time). In medium bowl combine grated potato and turnip with onions, chives and egg. Mix together.

Heat oil in a skillet. Form tennis ball sized portions of the potato/turnip mixture, using an ice cream scoop and then compact it a bit more with you hands. Transfer potato turnip ball to one hand and with the other grab some of the panko. Place the potato/turnip ball on top of the held panko. With your recently freed hand grab more panko and press down over the top of the potato/turnip ball. Gently place it in frying pan. Push down on ball with a spatula to flatten into a 5″ – 6″ pancake. Now here is what might be the hard part for some of you folks. Don’t touch it for about 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has passed and it is golden brown on bottom, turn pancake over and cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer to ovenproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining portions.

Enjoy!

Steak Auld Reekie with Crispy Tatties & Neeps brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade

January 20, 2015

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O.k. It seems like corks were just popping on New Year’s Eve and BAM...next thing I know we’ve nearly reached the end of January! Indeed the 25th will be happening this Sunday. So what is the significance of January 25th you might ask. Well, throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns, who is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland, was born on that day in 1759. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I have given you some great Scottish recipes in the past in case you might be planning a Burn’s Night Supper of you own. Last year it was Scotch Egg Pie, which is a type of meat pie that has spicy sausage surrounding an inner circle of hard-boiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery flaky pie crust.

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The year before I shared Cock-a-leekie soup

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 which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.

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The year before that it was Deviled Scotch Eggs.

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And I had also previously given you the traditional Scotch Egg recipe. If you don’t know what Scotch Eggs are, believe me it is time that you find out! Basically it is  a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. Good Lord Have Mercy!

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So I have already set the bar pretty high for myself when it comes to Scottish delicacies for your Burn’s Night Supper. Nevertheless, I think I’ve risen to the challenge yet again. This year I’m going to turn my attention from the savory to the sweet. I’ve got a great Scottish dessert I’d like to share with you, Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce. Now I bet that’s got you drooling huh?

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Dundee Cake is a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake which hales from…bet you guessed it already huh? Yup…Dundee. You see, there is a famous marmalade company, Keiller’s, which is located in Dundee and they are credited with developing this recipe in the 19th Century. Actually, there is a chance that although they popularized this cake at that time, the recipe is much older, dating back to the 16th century perhaps. The legend goes that Mary Queen of Scots did not like glace cherries in her cakes. I can’t say I blame her. I think those things are quite suspicious to say the least. So the classic fruit cake recipe was somewhat altered for her and a cake was made without the usual cherries, but with blanched almonds instead.

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Dundee Cake is often served at Christmas time throughout the British Isles, but definitely in Scotland. Indeed, recently the town of Dundee has put in a bid to have Dundee Cake awarded a Protected Geographical Indicator Status from the European Commission. That will prevent anyone who is not from Dundee from selling a cake labeled as Dundee Cake. You know, it is like Champagne. Champagne is only bottled in Champagne France. If it is produced in any other locale, it is not Champagne and needs to be called Sparkling wine. If the Dundee Cake is awarded PGI status, consumers will have 100% guarantee of its authenticity and confidence that they will enjoy all of the unique characteristics that have long been associated with this type of cake traditionally made in Dundee.

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So what is this cake like? Well, it is delicious of course! And don’t even start raising your eyebrows and giving me that “are you kidding me… it is a fruit cake” kind of face. Unlike many fruitcakes you might have encountered in the past that were most likely used as a door stop rather than eaten, this cake is light and buttery with a touch spice and warm citrus notes. Not to mention that it is chock full of juicy, whisky soaked fruit and festooned with circles of almonds.

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Notice I spelled whisky properly here. When referring to Scotch, there is no “e” in whisky. And speaking of whisky, don’t forget that each slice of this moist, rich cake should be served with a generous pour of Hot Whiskey Marmalade Sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum! It will change everything you thought you knew about fruitcakes! I hope I have inspired you to host a Burns Night Supper of your own or at least to raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Sunday.

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Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce

  • Servings: one 8 inch cake
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Epicurious

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky (plus more for soaking fruit)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel (I used mixed candied peel from King Arthur Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • Whole blanched almonds (Can’t find pre-blanched almonds in the store? No problem. See instructions below**.)

For the Hot Whisky Sauce:

  • 2/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons whisky
  • 4 oranges

Freshly whipped cream for serving.

Directions:

For the cake:

The night prior to baking, place the raisins and currants in a bowl. Pour enough whisky over fruit to cover it. Allow fruit to soak overnight. This is an optional step, but I believe that it not only allows the fruit to plump up a bit, but it gives it a wonderful boozy flavour!

Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment paper. You could also use a springform pan or if your 8″ cake round does not have 2″ high sides, line the sides with parchment paper to gain the 2″ height. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spice into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, whisky, and grated orange peel in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in dry ingredients, then all dried fruits and candied peel. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake 1 hour. Remove cake from oven. Brush top with 2 tablespoons marmalade. Arrange almonds around edge, pressing lightly to adhere. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes longer. Cool cake completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.) Turn cake out of pan; peel off parchment. Place upright on plate.

For the Whisky Sauce:

Combine marmalade and whisky in medium saucepan. Cut all peel and white pith from oranges. Working over bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes, releasing orange segments. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice from bowl to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until marmalade melts and sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sauce to serving bowl.

Serve cake with warm sauce, orange segments, and whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

*Don’t have pumpkin pie spice?: Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of mostly cinnamon, with some ginger, allspice and nutmeg added into the mix. This recipe only calls for 1/8 tsp. of the spice. You could just add a dash of the above spices and call it a day.

**How to blanch almonds: Take raw unsalted almonds and drop them in boiling water. Allow them to boil for 60 seconds, but no longer. Remove almonds to a colander and rinse them with cold water. Blot them dry with a paper towel. The skins can easily be removed at this point by simply squeezing the almond between your fingers. Let the almonds dry entirely. Voila! You now have blanched almonds ready to use in this recipe.


Scotch Egg Pie

January 24, 2014

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So I can’t believe it, but apparently it’s the New Year! And quite a few days into it I must admit. Hmmm….I seem to have been a very neglectful blogger. In my defense, I have had quite a bit going on around here recently, you know, the usual Thanksgiving/ Christmas hysteria, but I also had several vacations, a family health scare and a small house fire…I will tell you all about those things a bit later, I promise. But enough excuses. Let me start anew by saying “Happy New Year” to all you folks out there on the “interwebs”. I would go on to tell you some nonsense about how I had made a resolution to blog faithfully every Tuesday and Thursday, but I think we all know that would be quite optimistic, bordering on delusional. Life just has a way of making a mess of those types of declarations, so I think I won’t bother. I’ll just get back into the swing of things with this great recipe for Scotch Egg Pie,  just in time for the upcoming Robert Burns Night celebrations on January 25th!

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Throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I have given you some great Scottish recipes in the past in case you might be planning a Burn’s Night Supper of you own. Last year it was Cock-a-leekie soup

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which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.

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The year before it was Deviled Scotch Eggs.

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And I had also previously given you the traditional Scotch Egg recipe. If you don’t know what Scotch Eggs are, believe me it is time that you find out! Basically it is  a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. Good Lord Have Mercy!

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Now, the Scotch Egg Pie we’re about to discuss was not deep-fried, it was baked. But I just knew from the get-go that it was going to be amazing! I mean how could it not be with the list of ingredients it was sporting…spicy sausage, hard-boiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery flaky pie crust?!! My husband could hardly contain himself when I teased him with a description of the culinary creation which would soon be arriving on his dinner plate! I think I’ve mentioned before that he absolutely loves any sort of meat pie, pasty, empanadas, etc. He also seems to really have an egg thing. He never tires of them, any and every way you fix them. Now this Scotch Egg Pie checked all of the boxes for him. He knew it would be awesome. And I am happy to say it did meet, if not exceed his expectations. Just delicious!

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I found this recipe on BBC Good Food. The original version called for Lincolnshire sausages. Lincolnshire sausages are a type of pork sausage that is associated with the English county of Lincolnshire. These sausages have more sage spice than the usual peppery or thyme flavours you might find in sausages which hale from other locales. Furthermore, they are coarsely ground rather than minced which gives them a much more chunky texture. Well, I couldn’t find any authentic Lincolnshire sausages here in good old Virginia, but believe you me, there was no scarcity of coarsely ground pork sausage around here, so I just made do. And while I was at it, I bought some really hot spicy sausage, because we definitely like a bit of heat! Red pepper flakes, habañero sauce, jalapeños, or Sriracha…bring it on! I did customize the sausage mixture a bit further as well with the addition of some Worcestershire sauce and parmesan cheese. Oh and I used my favourite short crust pastry recipe which creates the most buttery flaky pie crust imaginable. I’m telling you it is the pie crust of your dreams, is really easy to make and has vodka in it! (Always a welcome addition in my opinion). I suppose just grabbing a box of premade pie crust of the supermarket shelf is easier, but if you do have the time, I highly recommend you try this particular recipe. If you are anything like me, this will be your go-to pie crust recipe from that point on!

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Although I served my Scotch Egg Pie with a lovely green salad and a pint or two… for a casual, simple dinner, I’ve been told that Scotch Egg Pie is normally seen as more of a picnic food than sit down dinner entrée. Indeed I can see how it would be fantastic for a picnic in that it is easy to eat with your fingers, though perhaps a bit messy and tastes equally good at room temperature or piping hot from the oven. It would be great for breakfast, brunch or in a packed lunch as well. And I think it would be a well received addition to any Burns Night Supper. I hope I’ve managed to inspire you with these lovely Scottish dishes. If so, whip some of them up and raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Saturday.

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Scotch Egg Pie

recipe adapted from: BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 lbs. sausage
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme, leaves only
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 100 grams panko
  • 1 batch of short crust pastry (recipe below) or 500 grams of store-bought pie pastry
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions:

If you are planning to make your own short crust, remember that it will need to chill 1 hour in the fridge before you plan to roll it out into the pan. You can make the pastry the day before if you are a super-organized, type A planner or if you are pretty laid back and usually just wing-it, start production on this recipe at whatever time a bit earlier than usual would be for you. If you are using store-bought pastry, move on to the next step.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Or, if you don’t have a springform, just use a regular 8″ round cake tin. Criss-cross two long strips of baking parchment in the tin to aid you when you are ready to lift out the pie.

Place 6 of the eggs in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let the eggs stand in pan for 5 minutes, then run cold water into the pan to cool eggs. Peel when cool enough to handle.

Place the sausage in a large mixing bowl. Add the nutmeg, thyme, 75 grams of the panko ( a heaping cup), 1 egg, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan, pepper, salt and mix well. Set aside.

Roll out half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line the baking tin. Scatter the remaining Panko over the base of the pastry.

Pat about one-quarter of the sausage mixture into the bottom of the tin. Arrange the peeled eggs on top, spacing them evenly. Gently pack the remaining sausage mixture around and over the eggs.

Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cover the pie, crimping the edges. Cut a steam hole in the top of the pastry. Beat the remaining egg lightly. Glaze the top of the pastry dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place tin on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour or until the pork registers 160° F.

Remove pie from the oven and lift it from the tin, or remove the sides if using a springform pan. Place the pie back on the cookie sheet and return it to the oven for 10 minutes or so to brown the sides. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

Originally adapted from: Inspired Taste

Ingredients:

(this recipe makes dough for two pie crusts)

  • 2 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
  • 6 tablespoons vodka (chilled)
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water

Directions:

This recipe will make enough dough for two pie crusts. You will need both for this Scotch Egg Pie.

Mix 6 tablespoons of vodka and 2 tablespoons of water. Put in fridge or freezer (don’t forget it) to chill.

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.

Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).

Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water/vodka over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water/vodka and continue to press until dough comes together.

Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).


Cock-a-leekie

January 24, 2013

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Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae let the Lord be thankit.

*The Selkirk Grace *

as delivered by Robert Burns

This Friday, January 25th, is Robert Burns’ birthday. Throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I wanted to give you a nice Scottish recipe in case you were planning on holding such a celebration as well. My first inclination was to make Haggis, that great chieftain o’ the puddin-race, as Burns put it.  But I quickly realized that it would likely be difficult to come across the ingredients. Since I couldn’t even find lard around here, I think sourcing out a sheep’s heart, lungs and stomach would be quite the challenge! So, I decided on Cock-a-leekie soup, a standard starter at many a Burn’s Night Supper. And an easy choice for me because my husband is absolutely mad for anything with a leek in it. (Must be that Welsh blood in him.)

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This soup is very easy to make and delicious to boot! The first time that I made it, I was a bit nervous about adding in the prunes. I thought a fruit would taste quite odd in a chicken soup. But although you see bits of prunes in the mix, you don’t get a sweet, fruit taste when you eat them. They add to the overall flavour of the dish and I think they would definitely be missed if they were omitted. You’ll have to trust me on that. I served my Cock-a-leekie soup up with some toasted Struan bread.

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Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly. Click here for the Struan recipe that I use. If you are looking for some other dishes to serve at your Burns Supper, take a look at my Scotch Eggs, ( a hard boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep fried.)

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Deviled Scotch Eggs (the eggs as described above, but with the yolk part “deviled”.)

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and Chranachan for dessert. (My Chranachan recipe has a more Irish bent, but that is easy to change. Just use a good Scottish Malt Whiskey rather than the Jamesons and skip the Bailey’s drizzle. This dessert is typically served in a tall glass, though I served it in little chocolate cordial glasses topped with raspberries once, which was quite fun.)

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I hope I’ve managed to inspire you with these lovely Scottish dishes. If so, whip some of them up and raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Friday.

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Cock-a-leekie

recipe from: Martha Stewart

yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless chicken thighs (on the bone; 4 pieces)
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless chicken breast halves (on the bone; 3 pieces)
  • Four 14 1/2-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 2 cups white wine or water
  • 2 large celery ribs, halved crosswise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 12 pitted prunes, quartered (2/3 cup packed)
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven on medium-high until hot. Add thighs; cook until browned, turning once, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with breasts.

Add broth, wine, celery, carrot, and garlic to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; scrape any browned bits from pot; return chicken to pot, reduce heat, and simmer, skimming as necessary, for 1 hour. Transfer chicken to a plate; let cool. Transfer vegetables to another plate; reserve.

Add leeks, prunes, and barley to broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick, about 40 minutes more. Once chicken has cooled, shred meat. Finely dice carrot and celery. Stir chicken, carrot, celery, and parsley into soup, heat through, and serve.

Enjoy!

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