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Sunday 29 November 2009

St Andrew's Day Tribute

St Andrew's Day - 30th November 2009

I thought I should make an effort to cook some traditionally Scottish food for St Andrew's Day.
So for lunch we had Scotch Broth, which consisted of about half a head of celery (just because it was in the fridge), carrots, onions and approx 250g of Broth mix (split yellow and green peas, red lentils and pearl barley) soaked in water overnight. Cook the vegetableson a medium heat in a little vegetable oil for about 10 minutes, add about 1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock. Now I cook mine in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes, but it will probably take about 40-50 minutes without one. Add some chopped parsley when the soup is cooked.

I decided that the most Scottish of meals is 'Mince and Tatties'! In my childhood this was staple fare and is much more what people in Scotland would eat rather than haggis which is an occasional meal rather than everyday food. People are very divided by how they like their mince, thick gravy or thin gravy? carrots or not? onions or not?

For those of you unfamiliar with 'mince', it is ground beef, beef which has been through a mincer, usually at the butchers shop. You very simply cook the onion in a little oil, until soft but not brown, then brown the mince in the pan breaking it up as you do so. Add carrots, if liked, and a thickening agent (Bisto or flour) and beef stock. Cook for about 20 minutes at a gentle simmer or until the carrots are cooked.

Tatties are, of course, potatoes and served mashed with milk and butter. I also served boiled carrots with the mince & tatties tonight, but usually I would serve cabbage. As I unwell with a bad cold on Friday and Saturday, my husband did the shopping to a list and I forgot to put the cabbage on the list!

Here is somemore information about St Andrew's Day, unfortunately I don't get this holiday.

What do people do?

The Scottish flag, or Saltire, is flown on public buildings in Scotland on St Andrew's Day. In the rest of the United Kingdom, the British Union Flag is flown. Some people have a day off work in Scotland. In Edinburgh, there is a week of celebrations, concentrating on musical entertainment and traditional ceilidh dancing. A ceilidh is a social event with couples dancing in circles or sets (groups of eight people). In Glasgow city center, a large shindig, or party, with traditional music and a ceilidh are held. In Dumfries, songs are performed in the Burn's night tradition.
There is a lot of folklore associated with St Andrew's Day, particularly around young women, who hope to marry. At midnight, as November 29 becomes November 30, young woman prayed to be shown signs about their future husbands. They peeled an apple in such a way that the peel remained in a single piece and threw this over their shoulders. The shape that the peel formed on the ground indicated the first letter of their future husbands' names. They also dropped molten lead or candle wax into a bucket of water. The shape that it formed indicated the profession of the men they would marry.

Public life

St Andrew's Day is a bank holiday in Scotland on November 30. If November 30 is on a Saturday or Sunday, the bank holiday falls on the following Monday. The amount of disruption to public life varies greatly. Generally schools are closed. Some other organizations and businesses may be closed, but others are likely to be open.
Public transport services may run to their usual or holiday timetables. Those intending on using a particular transport service on St Andrew's Day are encouraged to check ahead on the service's availability. St Andrew's Day is not a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on November 30.


St Andrew was born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was the younger brother of St Peter. Both he and his brother became disciples of Jesus. He is said to have died bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras in Achea in Greece. This shape is now reflected in the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. St Andrew has been recognized as the patron saint of Scotland since at least the ninth century.
The bill to make St Andrew's Day a bank holiday in Scotland was first introduced in 2003. In 2005, it was rejected by the Scottish Parliament on its first reading. The main objections were that the introduction of another bank holiday would have a negative impact on the Scottish economy. After further negotiations, the bill was supported by the First Minister of Scotland. One of the results of these negotiations was that the new law should not give employees an extra holiday, but that a holiday on St Andrew's Day should replace an existing local holiday.
The St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on November 29, 2006. It was given Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II on January 15, 2007. The first St Andrew's Day bank holiday was observed on November 30, 2007. The Scottish government used this as an opportunity to support celebrations of Scottish culture all over the world.
Information from Time and Date

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Sunday 22 November 2009

Sugar and Spice and everything nice...

I love spices and they are very much a part of the winter season bringing warmth to your cooking and baking. So when my DH requested a cake, I thought I would make a Gingerbread. Also it doesn't require any eggs and I only had two left!
The recipe is the Gingerbread Slab from The Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Baking.

Gingerbread Slab
Gingerbread should always be wrapped tightly in greaseproof paper and foil, then stored in an airtight tin for 2 days before eating. This allows the cake to mature and become moist and sticky. We managed to leave it for 1 day and it is moist and sticky, but I am sure will get better as the week goes on!

125g (4oz) black treacle (molasses)
125g (4oz) golden syrup
50g (2oz) butter or margarine
50g (2oz) lard ( I used all butter)
225g (8oz) plain white flour
1.25ml (1/4 level tsp) bicarbonate of soda
5 ml (1 level tsp) mixed spice
5ml (1 level tsp) ground ginger
100g (4oz) dark brown soft sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) milk

1. Grease a deep 18cm (7in) square cake tin. Line with greaseproof paper and then great the paper.
2. Put the treacle, golden syrup, butter and lard into a saucepan and heat gently until melted.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and treacle mixture. Beat well until smooth and of a thick pouring consistency.
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven at 170C (325F) mark 3 for 1-1 1/4 hours or until a fine warmed skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 1 hour then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight tin for 2 days before eating.

I also made some mincemeat for Christmas consumption. I used a great recipe from Uma Wylde's blog . Although I did make some changes to the mixture of dried fruits. I used a 300g bag of Testco Island Mix which has dried apricots and pineapple in it as well as raisins. I used a couple of Pink Lady apples rather than the Bramleys, glace cherries instead of cranberries and chopped pecan nuts instead of flaked almonds. I also substituted Cherry Brandy for the cointreau or grand marnier, just because I already had it for my Christmas cake. I had a little lick of the spoon and I have to say it was absolutely delicious and very, very easy to make.

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Sunday 15 November 2009

Newcastle, Blackfriars Restaurant & Fenwicks

On Friday, I went to Newcastle on Tyne with a couple of friends. We dined at The Blackfriars Restaurant The food was delicious and the service was excellent. My friends preferred not to have their photographs displayed on my blog, but here I am in the restaurant.

Apologies in advance for the rubbish photographs, I didn't want to take my DSLR with me, so took my little Nikon Coolpix L2. I'm only just realising now just what a difference my camera is making to my food photography. We started with a glass of bone-dry Mananilla Sherry from Andalucia.

An so to the Starters: This one is Confit of Cumbrian rabbit stew with Geordie rarebit. We didn't ask, but I assume the Geordie rarebit contains some 'Newky Broon' or Newcastle Brown Ale lol!

I was very impressed with the vegetarian options on the menu, those who follow this blog will know that I like my meat so these had to be really good to tempt me. The flan above is Pumpkin and Rose Petal Tart with Honey Vinaigrette. It was very tasty but I have say, I couldn't taste the rose petals.
This is the Locally foraged mushroom risotto with Parmesan and Tarragon Crisps.
And now to the MAINS! Again I was seduced by the Veggie option and I was not disappointed!
Here is what the menu said: Locally foraged mushroom, Yorkshire Blue & walnut Wellington with sage cream sauce.

Above: Barbary Duck breast, orange caramelised endive and redcurrant jus.
Loin of Scottish Venison, celeriac & truffle mash, wilted spinach and Port sauce. We drank 2006 Matakana Estate Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NewZealand.
Only two of us opted for dessert: above is the Vanilla Rice Pudding with Cherry & Brandy jam and below my option of Sticky Toffee Pudding with Banana Ice-cream and caramel sauce.

My friend were amused by my insistence on taking photographs of the food and were keen that I continued with our breakfast next day! I went for the Full English (above) a bargain at only £3.30 from a little cafe on Mosely Street which was 'established in 1978'. To add to the atmosphere 'Sounds of the Sixties' was playing on Radio 2 in the background lol!
They also offered, beans on toast.
and bacon and egg on toast.

We had a great time in Newcastle, the independent department store Fenwicks is outstanding, we loved the food hall, the beauty section, the cook shop and the designer clothes.

Here are a couple of sneaky pics I took in the food hall:

Mmmm chocolate shoes and handbags!

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Wednesday 11 November 2009

While Shepherds watched...

While Shepherds watched their PIES by night. Remember the Matthew Walker 'The Pudding' Challenge? When I have some roast lamb left over I always like to make a Sherherd's Pie, I wasn't very sure what it would be like with the fruity pudding stuffing, but whizzed the lot in the food processor along with a raw onion. Poured over some gravy and topped with mashed potato. It was pretty tasty, DH really liked it although I think I prefer my Shepherds Pie without a hint of dried fruit sweetness!

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Tuesday 10 November 2009

Spanish Chicken

I made this really easy Spanish Chicken dish on Sunday. I saw it in the BBC Good Food mag, but you can get the recipe HERE You just mix all the ingredients together and stick it in the oven, it was really tasty.
I had these courgettes in the fridge (they were on special offer in Tesco), so I made a courgette risotto and threw in a few cherry tomatoes. The whole thing was delicious.

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Saturday 7 November 2009

The Pudding Challenge!

I do like a challenge, so when I saw this challenge on the UK Food Bloggers Association, I jumped at the chance to create something different with this delicious pudding. I love Christmas Pudding served in the traditional manner so, of course, I had to have a taste before deciding how to use this pudding to create a dish that was worthy of this delicious pud. The kind people at Matthew Walker provided me with a couple of free puddings, why not visit their site to find out more about 'The Pudding'.

Here is the information on the challenge:

The Pudding Challenge
To spice up Christmas, we’re urging all UKFBA food bloggers to use ‘The Pudding’ and create some cracking alternative Christmas fare to get ours, and your readers’, taste buds tingling! The blogger who conjures up the most creative cuisine will win a top of the range camera along with a one-to-one session with a respected home economist, to help make those foodie photos.

and here are my recipes:

Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Matthew Walker 'The Pudding' Stuffing

300g Matthew Walker 'The Pudding'
25g butter
125g onion, peeled and chopped
125g celery, roughly chopped
25g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper
1.4 kg boned shoulder of lamb
2 tbsp oil
350g shallots or button onions peeled
300ml lamb stock
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Melt the butter in a frying pan , add the chopped onion and celery and cook until soft. Crumble 'The Pudding' into the pan and mix with the onion and celery, add the chopped nuts and season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool, then add the egg yolk to bind the stuffing together.

Stuff the bone cavity of the lamb with 'The Pudding' mixture and tie up with string or secure with cocktail sticks. If there is any stuffing left over it can be cooked separately in an ovenproof dish.

Heat the oil in a roasting tin and brown the lamb on all sides. Add the shallots to the tin.
Roast at 180C (375F) for about 1 1/2 hours for pink lamb, 1 3/4 hours for well-done meat.
Transfer the lamb to a warm platter, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place.

Put the shallots, lamb stock and any juices from the lamb in a small pan and puree with a hand blender, add the redcurrant jelly and warm through.
Carve the lamb with 'The Puddding' stuffing with roasted vegetables and the shallot & redcurrant jelly gravy.

Matthew Walker 'The Pudding' Cheesecake

200g Matthew Walker 'The Pudding'
8 digestive biscuits
50g butter, melted
600g cream cheese
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, plus one yolk
142ml creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tbsp of icing sugar

Heat the oven to 160C. Crush the bisucuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin). Mix with the melted butter. Press the crumbs into the base of your tin, I used a square pan which is about 18cm square because it doesn't have a removable base, I lined it with baking parchment. If you use a 20cm springform tin you don't have to line it. Bake the base for 5 minutes and then leave to cool

Beat the cream cheese with the flour, sugar, eggs , the yolk and the creme fraiche or soured cream until light and fluffy. Crumble 'The Pudding' and distribute it evenly across the biscuit crumb base. Pour the cream mixture over the base and 'The Pudding'. Bake for about 30 minutes and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly inthe centre. Leave in the tin to cool.

Remove from the tin, as my tin was square, I served the cheesecake in rectangles, dusting the top with icing sugar.

The expert tasting panel, my husband and my mother-in-law, really enjoyed both of these dishes, but the "Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Matthew Walker 'The Pudding' Stuffing" was definitely voted the top recipe.

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Friday 6 November 2009

Hello Cupcake!

If you haven't visited The Imperfect Housewife, you haven't lived! I love the posts on this blog, they make me laugh and echo many of my own views on life and family. Anyway, there's a giveaway on this bloggie of a cool book called 'Hello Cupcake' along with some cupcake related goodies. Here's to Imperfection - I'm all for it myself.

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Monday 2 November 2009

Home and Freezer Digest - December 1988

I am a recipe hoarder, I admit it! However, this is the only copy I now have of a great little magazine called Home and Freezer Digest. I used to have dozens of copies in their binders. I think I started buying it in about 1981, but eventually I gave them to a charity shop. However this one escaped, probably because it had that great 'Snowman' cake in it, and I found it the other day lurking in one of my folders.
I have to say that I certainly never made this very 'green' popcorn ring - yuk!
And here is a feature on coffee filter machines. I did get a filter machine as a wedding present and we only replaced it last year (27 years of service), but they were still not that common in 1988. One of the best things the US exported to us has to be the coffee house habit, whether Starbucks, Costa or any other name, good coffee is now available everywhere. I realise I'm rambling now, so I'll stop there.