Sunday, 12 August 2018

Smoked Scottish Mackerel and Nectarine Summer Salad

Home smoked Scottish mackerel and nectarine salad

Mackerel is a delicious and extremely nutritious fish, readily available to catch in Scottish inshore waters in the summer months. It is unfortunately scorned by a great many pleasure anglers, often seen as being nothing more than a fresh bait opportunity for catching other species. If you do catch some mackerel or have access to some which have been some freshly caught, there are a great many easy ways in which you can cook it up and serve it on a plate to delight your taste buds and those of your family. It may not seem obvious but a great accompaniment to particularly smoked mackerel is sweet fresh fruit such as peaches or nectarines. This simple salad has deliberately very few ingredients to allow the flavour of the smoked mackerel to shine through.

Freshly smoked mackerel

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 freshly smoked whole mackerel
1 nectarine
4 or 5 lettuce leaves
Salt and pepper
Bread and butter to serve (optional)

Mackerel are ready to come out of the smoker


I should point out here that home smoked mackerel is very different from the smoked mackerel purchased in vacuum packs in supermarkets. The commercial product is very often artificially dyed that bright orange colour and does not have nearly the same flavour levels as the fresh option. If the pack mackerel is all you have access to, this recipe idea will still work but it really is more than worth the effort to get hold of some of the fresh stuff or try smoking mackerel at home yourself.

Slicing flesh from a nectarine

Wash the lettuce leaves and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Roll them together like a fat cigar and shred. Add to a large mixing bowl. Wash and dry the nectarine and slice the flesh off the stone. Roughly chop and add to the bowl with the lettuce.

Peeling skin from a smoked mackerel

The skin on mackerel is so thin that it is nigh on impossible to remove it when the fish is fresh and raw. Following the hot smoking process, however, the skin toughens up and can fairly easily be peeled free when the mackerel is cool.

Plucking skin from a smoked mackerel

Pluck the flesh from the cooled, skinned mackerel is small bite-sized chunks, being careful to remove any bones. It should come away from the skeleton very easily, with most of the bones other than at the head end staying attached to the main body.

Combining smoked mackerel and nectarine salad ingredients

Add the mackerel chunks to the bowl with the other salad ingredients. Season with just a little salt (the mackerel will have been preseasoned prior to being smoked) and some black pepper. Carefully stir fold to combine with a large spoon before arranging in a deep serving plate and serving with some bread and butter.

Plated smoked mackerel and nectarine salad

Friday, 10 August 2018

Sausage, Fried Potatoes and Spicy Beans

Sliced sausage on hot and spicy beans with fried potatoes and yellow tomatoes

Sausages, chips and beans is a very popular combination throughout the United Kingdom and is probably a popular stereotype among foreigners of typically unimaginative and boring British food. The one principal difference in Scotland compared to the rest of the country is simply that the sausages will usually be of the sliced or Lorne variety as opposed to the more widely popular bangers. It is, however, incredibly easy to vary this age old dish so as to make it almost unrecognisable without any extra effort or even that many extra ingredients. This is just one example of the ways in which this is possible and this creation takes account above all of the modern day love of spices and spicy food in this country.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 medium sized baking potato
1 sliced (Lorne) sausage
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
8 ounce (small) can baked beans in tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 small green chilli
3 small yellow (or red) tomatoes on the vine
Sausage and potato slices are put on to fry


Pour the vegetable oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Wash (but don't peel) and dry the potato. Trim off and discard each end and slice to a thickness of just less than a quarter of an inch (1/2 a centimetre). Season the potato slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the sliced sausage in the centre of the pan and arrange the potato slices around it. Turn the potato slices every three to four minutes and fry the sausage for five minutes each side.

Spices are added to beans before they are gently heated

Pour the beans in to a small saucepan. Add the turmeric, a generous pinch of black pepper and the finely sliced green chilli. Put the saucepan on to a low to medium heat just before the sausage is ready and stir every minute or so with a wooden spoon.

Yellow tomatoes are added to pan with part fried potatoes

When the sausage is ready, the potato slices will still need a further few minutes. Lift the sausage from the pan to a heated plate and cover with tinfoil to keep it warm. Gently sit the tomatoes (still on the vine) in the space in the pan vacated by the sausage, give the potatoes a final turn and cook for three to four final minutes.

Fried potatoes are plated around spicy beans

Arrange the potato slices in a circle around the edge of a deep serving plate and spoon the beans in to the centre.

Fried sausage is plated on top of spicy beans

Lift the sausage on to the beans and sit the tomatoes on top to serve.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Spicy Mince and Beans with Roasted Tattie Wedges

Chilli spiced mince and baked beans in tomato sauce with roast potato wedges

Mince and tatties (ground beef and potatoes) is a Scottish and wider British classic dish but it is fair to say that it is not usually the most imaginative of creations. Mince (sometimes with onion and/or carrot) in gravy with boiled chunks of potato or mashed potatoes, sometimes accompanied by the likes of baked beans in tomato sauce. While this twist on the dish is by no means complex or difficult to prepare, it does introduce some very different flavours and textures away from the traditional and hopefully also looks that little bit more attractive on the serving plate.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 medium to large baking potatoes
1/2 pound (225g) minced beef
1 teaspoon medium strength curry powder
Salt and black pepper
1/2 white onion
1 large garlic clove
1 red chilli
14 ounce (400g) can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
Vegetable oil for roasting potatoes
8 ounce (225g) can baked beans in tomato sauce
Malt vinegar
Mince is seasoned in saucepan


Wash the potatoes but don't peel them. Cut them in half along their lengths and cut each half in to three or four wedges. Put the wedges in to a large pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer for ten minutes only.

Put the mince in to a large pot and season with the curry powder, salt and pepper. Put the pot on to a low heat and start to break the mince up with a wooden spoon. As the heat starts to release the fat from the mince and prevent it burning, increase the level of the heat slightly and keep stirring until the mince is evenly browned and sealed. This should only take two or three minutes.

Onion, garlic and chilli are added to browned mince

Finely slice the onion half, dice the peeled garlic clove and after cutting the top away from the chilli, slice it in to discs. Add them to the pan with the mince and saute for a further couple of minutes just to soften the onion strands.

Canned tomatoe are added to spicy mince
Pour the canned tomatoes in to the pot next and stir to fully combine. Turn the heat up under the pan until the liquid begins to simmer.

Spicy mince is brought to a gentle simmer

When the spicy mince is simmering, cover the pot and adjust the heat to achieve as gentle a simmer as possible for forty-five minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally.

Tattie wedges are parboiled prior to being roasted

Drain the potato wedges through a colander at your sink and allow them to steam off for five minutes or so. When you can see no more steam coming from the potatoes, lay them in a single layer in a plastic dish and refrigerate for half an hour.

Pour a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a deep roasting tray (just enough to comfortably cover the base of the tray) and put it in your cold oven before putting your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

When the oven and tray are heated, add the wedges to the tray and carefully turn them around in the hot oil with cooking tongs. Lay them each finally on one cut side and put the tray in to the oven for twenty minutes, turning on to their other cut sides half way through cooking.

Baked beans in tomato sauce are added to spicy mince

When the potato wedges have been turned and are back in to the oven, pour the beans in to the spicy mince, stir well and bring back to a simmer. Continue to simmer - uncovered this time - until the wedges are ready.

Drain the wedges on a large plate covered with kitchen paper and season with salt and malt vinegar. Divide the wedges equally between two serving plates before spooning on the spicy mince and beans.

Hopefully this simple idea shows that mince and tatties - just like almost any other dish imaginable - need never be boring or repetitive and that there are plenty new recipes online or even in your own imagination which will allow you to both impress your family and take the combination to whole new levels of tastiness and enjoyment.

Spicy mince and beans is brought to a simmer to heat beans through

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Spicy Beef and Tomato Forfar Bridies

Chillies and tomato provide a tasty twist to Forfar bridies

Forfar bridies originated in the town of Forfar on the east coast of Scotland in the nineteenth century. They are traditionally made from shortcrust pastry and filled with minced (ground) beef steak and sometimes onion. As is often the case in modern times and particularly outside Forfar, the bridies in this recipe are made with puff or flaky pastry. The filling has also been adapted to include, as well as beef steak and onion, tomato and spicy chillies.

Minced Scotch beef

Ingredients (Makes 2 Large Bridies)

1/2 pound (225g) minced Scotch beef steak
Salt and pepper
1 medium to large tomato
2 small chillies
1/4 medium white onion
1/2 pound (225g) puff pastry
Flour for rolling pastry
1 egg
Vegetable oil for greasing baking tray or sheet

Tomato, chillies and onion


The puff pastry needs removing from the fridge about fifteen to twenty minutes before use for ease of rolling. This should therefore be done before you start preparing the filling for the bridies.

Diced vegetables in beef

Put the beef in to a large mixing bowl. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp with a teaspoon. Top the chillies but removing the seeds is optional. Finely dice the tomato, chillies and onion and add to the bowl with the beef, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Spicy beef bridie filling

The easiest way to combine the filling ingredients is with your hands. Take your time and ensure everything is well and truly combined.

Cutting pastry discs for bridies

Lightly flour a clean dry working surface and your rolling pin. Cut the pastry block in half and roll the first half out in to a square just large enough and no more that you can use a nine inch (23.5cm) dinner plate as a template to cut from it a circle.

Filling is arranged on pastry

Take half the filling combination and arrange it on half the pastry circle as shown, being sure to leave a border of around one inch (2.5cm) at the edge. Try to make the filling thickest near the centre and slightly less thick as it approaches the edge.

Pastry is folded over filling

Break the egg in to a small bowl or cup and beat with a fork to combine. Use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the pastry border before folding the empty half of the pastry over the filling that the edges meet.

Pastry is carefully crimped around the edge

Carefully crimp the pastry all the way around the edge with your fingers, ensuring the package is sealed. Repeat the whole process from the stage of rolling out the pastry to form the second bridie. Leave them to let the worked pastry rest while your oven preheats to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Glazed bridies are ready for the oven

When the oven is heated, lightly oil a baking tray and lay the bridies on it before glazing all over with more beaten egg, being particularly attentive to the crimped folds. Don't forget to cut a steam vent in the top of each bridie before placing the tray in the oven for thirty to thrity-five minutes.

Bridies are taken from the oven and rested on a wire rack

When the bridies come out of the oven, lift them carefully with a spatula on to a wire rack and allow the to rest for fifteen minutes before serving.

Spicy beef and tomato Forfar bridie

Monday, 15 January 2018

Spicy, Cheesy Lorne Sausages, Chunky Chips and Beans

Cheesy sliced sausages with peppers, chunky skin on chips and kidney beans

Sausages, chips and beans is a creation widely served throughout the UK and is perhaps particularly popular with children. It is also a stereotypical view overseas of what British people tend to eat on a regular basis. This dish is a twist on the mundane and uses Scottish Lorne/sliced sausages instead of links as well as spiced red kidney beans instead of baked beans in tomato sauce.

Small to medium potatoes are used for making the chips for this dish

Ingredients (Serves 1)

4 medium sized new potatoes
2 Lorne sausages
Vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 small red onion
6 slices Scottish cheddar cheese (or as required)
1 large garlic clove
Small can of red kidney beans in water
1 teaspoon freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)
Black pepper

Chips are cut chunky and skins are left on potatoes


Wash the potatoes very thoroughly. Cut them firstly in half long ways then cut each half in to two or three chunky chips. Put the chips in to a pot of cold water and season with salt. Bring the water to a simmer for six or seven minutes only. Drain the chips through a colander at your sink and leave them for five minutes in the colander to steam off before laying them in a plastic dish in a single layer and refrigerating for half an hour.

Once fried chips

Take the chips from the fridge and deep fry in medium hot oil for three or four minutes until they are just starting to colour. Drain on kitchen paper for a few minutes then return to the (dried) dish and the fridge for a further half hour.

Lorne or sliced sausages are added to frying pan

The cooking time for the sausages will depend on their thickness. These ones took around four minutes each side. Start by pouring a little oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bringing it up to a medium heat before adding the sausages.

Pepper strips and onion are added to pan with part cooked sausages

When the sausages are on, slice and de-seed the bell pepper and slice the peeled onion quarter. When the sausages are turned, add both to the pan, tossing occasionally and carefully with a spatula.

Cheese is laid on part cooked sausages

Lay the cheese slices on top of the sausages and season with a little paprika and black pepper. Start the chips frying for a second time in hot oil until crisp and golden.

Garlic is briefly sauteed in vegetable oil

Pour a little oil in to a saucepan, put it on to a medium heat and add the peeled and finely diced garlic clove. Stir around for a minute or so to soften.

Red kidney beans and coriander are added to sauteed garlic

Drain the red kidney beans and rinse under running cold water before adding to the pan with the coriander, some salt and pepper. Saute gently for two or three minutes.

Chips are seasoned with salt and paprika and left to drain on kitchen paper

Remove the chips to a plate covered with kitchen paper and season with salt and paprika. Lift the cheesy sausages on to your serving plate and arrange the peppers and onion on top before plating the chips and beans alongside.

Cheesy sausages are plated and topped with peppers and onion

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Smoked Scottish Pollack Salad with Ayrshire New Potatoes

Hot smoked pollack salad with new potatoes

Pollack is a member of the cod family, very similar in taste to its more illustrious cousin. It is considered a more sustainable alternative to cod. This particular pollack was rod and line caught from a boat on Loch Fyne on the West Coast of Scotland.

Hot smoked pollack fillet

Pollack can be cooked in many different ways, including shallow or deep fried, baked or even grilled. Cod recipes can even be made to read as pollack recipes. In this instance, though, the fillets were brined and hot smoked to create something just that little bit different from the norm and not too unlike the fabulous Arbroath Smokies (which could easily be substituted for the pollack to create a very similar dish). They were then left to cool before being incorporated in this recipe.

Homegrown tomatoes

Ingredients per Person

Ayrshire new potatoes, quantity as desired
1 large lettuce leaf
2 slices from half a peeled red onion
2 cherry tomatoes
1 yellow banana leg tomato
Splash of Scottish rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
4 ounces or as desired of smoked pollack flakes
Bit of butter
1/2 teaspoon dried mint

Prepared salad vegetables


Wash the potatoes and if they are a little bit on the large side cut them in half before adding them to the cooking pot. Pour in plenty of cold water and season with salt. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water begins to boil then reduce the heat and simmer for around twenty-five minutes or until the potatoes are just softened.

While the potatoes are cooking, wash the salad ingredients and gently pat dry with kitchen paper. Roll and shred the lettuce leaf and add to a large bowl along with the onion slices separated in to strands. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and cut the banana leg tomato in to chunks before also adding to the bowl. Drizzle with the rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Carefully stir fold to combine.

Pollack flakes are added to prepared salad

The flesh should be plucked from the cooled smoked pollack fillet in large flakes before being added to the combined salad in the bowl.

Pollack salad is ready to serve

Give the salad a further careful stir fold to evenly distribute the pollack flesh.

Butter and mint are added to potatoes

Drain the potatoes through a colander and allow them to steam off for a few minutes before returning them to the empty pot. Add some butter, some dried mint and gently swirl the pot for a minute or two to melt the butter and evenly coat all the potatoes. Plate the potatoes alongside the salad for service.