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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Struan – Celtic Harvest Bread

July 18, 2011

Struan, a soft, enriched multigrain loaf, is my all-time favourite bread, hands down! The bread likely originated in Scotland and was a once-a-year harvest bread which contained all of the grains and seeds which were available from the harvest. Don’t get me wrong, I really love Irish Brown Bread and Irish Soda Bread. But Struan is just so versatile. It’s great for sandwiches and unbelievably awesome when toasted. Up until recently, I had never baked it myself. Believe me, I had found a reliable source for the precious loaves. Lucky for us, Atwater’s, which does a fabulous rendition of Struan, has a stand at the Falls Church Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. I would venture down there every 6 weeks or so and buy 4-5 loaves at a time. It freezes fantastically well! Of course this meant that our freezer was largely occupied by stacks of bread, but hey…we loved this bread so much that limited freezer space seemed a small price to pay. Then I got the crazy idea that I would just go ahead and try to bake it myself. I have actually always been a bit apprehensive of baking any kind of yeast bread. Quick breads were no problem, but the whole yeast thing seemed rather mysterious and somewhat scary to me. Peter Reinhart, whose pizza dough recipe is in high rotation in our house, has a recipe for Struan in his Artisan Breads Every Day book. This book is fantastic! It’s chock full of great recipes and explains the technique, in simple language, that you need to master in order to produce these world-class breads. If you are at all interested in bread baking, it really is a must. I have not managed to work my way through the book entirely, but he hasn’t disappointed us yet! So my desire to taste freshly baked Struan bread, right out of the oven, trumped my irrational fear of yeast breads and I gave his Struan recipe a go. Once I actually got into it, I found it really wasn’t very difficult to do at all. It did take a bit of time what with the planning ahead stuff and rising time, but I felt so completely self-satisfied and proud when my gorgeous, home-baked Struan bread came out of the oven.

Not to mention, it was truly delicious! Slightly different from our Atwater’s standard in that it was not as dense, definitely lighter, but still had great texture. I was very pleased with the whole experience and am already planning to bake my next couple loaves. Actually, truth be told, I need to go ahead and bake more as we’ve already managed to devour the first two! 🙂 I think Atwater’s is going to miss me!

Struan

Makes 2 Loaves or many rolls

Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups (22.5 oz/638 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (1.5 oz/42.5 g) coarse cornmeal (polenta grind)
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz/28 g) rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons (0.75 oz/21 g) wheat bran or oat bran
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/56.5 g) cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/56.5 g) brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (0.66 oz./19 g) salt, or 3 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (0.66 oz/19 g) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz/28.5 g) honey or agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz/340 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35° C)
  • 1/2 cup(4 oz/113 g) lukewarm buttermilk, yogurt, or any other milk (about 95°F or 35° C)
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Do Ahead

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for  2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Once again, mix on the slowest speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes more. The dough should be very tacky or slightly sticky. *

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, then dust the top fo the dough with flour. Lightly knead the dough for 2-3 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will still be soft and sticky but should hold together to for a soft, supple ball. With oiled hands, reach under on end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto itself. Do this from the back-end and then from each side. Flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this entire process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.

Place dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight for up to 5 days.

On Baking Day

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Shape the cold dough into one or more sandwich loaves using 28 oz of dough for 4 1/2 x 8 inch loaf pans and 36 oz. for 5×9 loaf pans. (After making this bread many times, I generally take all of the dough from one batch and shape it into one sandwich loaf which I bake in a 5×9″ pan. I used to divide the dough and make two loaves, but I prefer the fuller loaf that I get by just using the one pan.) The dough can also be shaped into any size freestanding loaf you desire; or into rolls using 2 oz of dough per roll.

For sandwich loaves, proof the dough in greased loaf pans.

Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds (if you wish) then mist with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise a room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome at least 1 inch above the rim.

About 15 minutes prior to baking preheat the oven to 350° F (177°C).

Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan. The total baking time is 45-60 minutes for loaves and only 20 – 25 minutes for rolls. The bread is done when it has a rich golden color, the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the internal temperature is able 185°F (85°C)

Cool for at least 20 minutes for rolls and 1 hour for large loaves before slicing or serving.

*Sticky dough means the dough will stick to a dry finger when you poke it. Tacky dough behaves more like a post-it not, sticking to your finger but peeling off easily. With very tacky dough it means a little bit of dough may stick to your finger, but most of it peels off easily.


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