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.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Scottish Ostrich and Root Vegetables Stew

Scottish ostrich and various root vegetables stew

The idea of ostrich being included in an authentic Scottish recipe would have been entirely laughable just a few short years ago. The reason this has changed is not only due to the everyday capacity for deep freezing, modern vacuum packing techniques for food items and faster transport, it is due to ostriches actually being farmed right here in Scotland before their home reared meat is sold on to food production companies or directly to consumers at places such as farmers' markets. This recipe simply features ostrich instead of the beef in what would otherwise be a very authentic Scottish stew.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

3/4 pound (325g) diced ostrich meat
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
1/2 medium sized white onion
2 medium carrots
1 medium parsnip
1/2 medium sized Swede turnip (rutabaga)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 pint (568ml) fresh beef stock

Sliced onion is added to browned ostrich meat


Pour the vegetable oil in to a large saucepan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the diced ostrich meat and saute for a couple of minutes, just until all the pieces are evenly sealed. Peel the onion and half down through the centre before laying one half flat and slicing moderately thinly across the way. The other onion half will easily keep in the fridge for a couple of days. The onion slices should be added to the pot and stirred for a couple of minutes just until they start to soften and glisten.

Carrots, turnip and parsnip

The lean ostrich meat will require long, slow cooking in comparison to beef so it is important to chop the vegetables large enough that they will hold their shape. The parsnip and Swede should be peeled but the carrots (provided the skin is not too damaged) can simply be washed, topped and tailed.

Vegetables and seasonings are added to ostrich and onion

Put the chopped vegetables in to the pot and season well with salt, pepper and the dried thyme.

Stew is brought to a gentle simmer

Pour the beef stock in to the saucepan and give everything a thorough stir. Bring the stock to a boil, cover and simmer as gently as possible for two hours or until the ostrich meat is tender. Stir occasionally and monitor the liquid level, adding a little boiling water if necessary to prevent drying out.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Summer Fruit Vodka Jellies

Selection of summer fruit vodka jellies

Vodka has in many ways become the spirit of choice in Scotland in modern times, particularly perhaps among the younger generations. It is therefore entirely appropriate to consider different ways in which vodka may be served in unusual and tasty ways. While vodka fruit jellies are very popular, it's maybe not quite so common that they be made with fresh fruit which can be bought from any supermarket at this time of year. The fruits included on this page are merely suggestions and a wide variety of alternatives would work equally well, especially those which can be sourced fresh locally.

Selection of fresh summer fruits


Small tub fresh blueberries
Small tub fresh raspberries
1 medium sized ripe pear
Large wedge of fresh lemon
16 fluid ounces vodka
4 fluid ounces sugar syrup*

*You can buy sugar syrup but it is incredibly easy to make at home and I've shown how a little bit further down the page

Diced pear flesh is soaked in cold lemon water


Peel and core the pear. Finely dice and add immediately to a bowl of cold water with the lemon wedge. This prevents it from oxidising and turning brown.

Blueberries are rinsed under cold running water

Wash the blueberries and the raspberries separately in a colander under running cold water. Drain well.

Sugar is measured out for making sugar syrup

If you are making sugar syrup from scratch, all you do is begin by measuring out equal quantities by volume of sugar and water. For the amount required in this recipe, I used a small drinking glass of each.

Sugar and water are the only ingredients in sugar syrup

Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remember, you will then have to measure out precisely four fluid ounces and not simply use the whole amount you have prepared. Measuring out both liquids accurately is essential if the gelatine is to set to the right consistency.

Leaf gelatine

Gelatine is also available in powdered form but I think leaf gelatine produces far better results. Follow the instructions on the pack to determine how many leaves you need and how it should be incorporated in to the liquid. In this instance, I had to begin by soaking four leaves of gelatine in cold water for two or three minutes until it is just softened.

Gelatine leaves are soaked in cold water

While the gelatine is soaking, you can add the fruit to the ramekins. This set is unusual in that it is comprised of seven ramekins but you can use as many or as few as you wish, simply adjusting the ingredient quantities accordingly.

Fruits are ready for vodka jelly solution

Drain the pear pieces and three-quarters fill two of the ramekins. I lightly crushed the berries before using them to similarly fill two ramekins in each instance but this is not essential. In the case of the seventh ramekin, I combined a little of each of the three fruits.

Gelatine leaves are melted in warmed vodka and sugar syrup

Measure out the vodka and sugar syrup in to a pot and heat until bubbles only just start to form around the edges. Turn off the heat. It's imperative not to heat any further or you will boil off the alcohol. It's also important that the liquid is not too hot when the gelatine is added or it will affect the setting qualities.

Lift the gelatine leaves from the steeping water and squeeze out as much moisture as you can in your fisted hand. Add to the warm liquid and stir until fully dissolved. Add to a jug and carefully fill each ramekin to the brim. Cover and leave to cool and partly set. Lift gently to the fridge and leave for a minimum couple of hours before serving chilled.

Sweet serving suggestions for vodka jelies

You can serve these fruit jellies any way you wish but what I did here was take a couple of very popular Scottish sweet treats and serve them in small portions with the jellies.

Millionaire shortbread and macaroon bar platter

Simply cut small pieces of millionaire shortbread and Macaroon bar and lay them out on a serving plate.

Raspberry vodka jelly served with macaroon and millionaire shortbread

Serve a fruit jelly with a piece each of the shortbread and macaroon.

Tucking in to raspberry vodka jelly

If you want a healthier option, you could try mix and matching the fruits. In this instance, I served a blueberry vodka jelly with a couple of pear wedges.

Blueberry vodka jelly is served with fresh bear

Try spooning small amounts of the jelly on to the pear for a deliciously refreshing, fruity treat.

Blueberry vodka jelly on pear segment