Hogmanay

For the last few years I’ve posted a collage of photos on Hogmanay representing the preceding year.  I see no reason to break that tradition this year. :)

(Bigger versions of the photos can be seen here)

Hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Eve!

P.S.  Just to make the year that wee bit better, one of my favourite bloggers, Amanda, has re-emerged on the scene.  Go check out her blog here.  Beautiful recipes.

P.S. Off to a ceilidh tonight to ring in the New Year.  Bruce MacGregor’s playing.  Excellent.  If I stop dancing for a moment, I’ll take some photos.

Christmas Pavlova

It’s the 28th of December and I am a walking, talking post-Christmas cliché.  My fridge is stuffed with leftover turkey and trimmings, my recycling box clinks with wine, beer and Bailey’s bottles and my calendar is defaced with all the exercise classes I am trying to squeeze into the next couple of weeks.  There is some serious atoning to be done.

The main culprit this year wasn’t the  usual savoury snacks nor the roast potatoes nor the pigs in blankets.  No, no – it was the pile of creamy, puffy goodness above.   For someone who claims not to have a sweet tooth, I sure did eat an awful lot of it.  And would, if I’m completely honest, continue to do so if there was even a crumb left.  :)

Christmas Pavlova (adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion)

(serves 8)

4 large egg whites (room temperature)

Pinch of salt

250g castor sugar

2 tsp cornflour

1 tsp vinegar (anything white)

1/2 tspn vanilla extract

200 ml double cream

100ml Greek yogurt

Seeds of one large pomegranate

Big handful of pistachio nuts, deshelled and skins rubbed (mostly) off

  • Pre-heat over to 180C.
  • Using an electric whisk, beat egg whites and pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
  • A little at a time, beat in the sugar until mixture is glossy and stiff.
  • Sprinkle cornflour, vinegar and vanilla over the mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold in lightly.
  • Blob mixture onto a baking paper covered tray in a large circle.  I like to make the middle bit flat-ish and the sides high, dragging a tooth pick in an upward motion over the blobs to make little whispy peak.
  • Place in oven and reduce heat to 150 oC.  Bake for 15 mins before turning heat down to 110 oC.  Cook for another 45 mins.  Turn oven off but leave door shut.  Let pavlova cool completely in oven (overnight is good).
  • Store in a cool dry place until ready to serve.
  • Whip double cream until just thick.  Fold in the Greek yogurt (thank you, Sophie).  Blob onto the top of pavlova then sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and pistachios.
  • Serve immediately.

Tattie Scones

A Scottish recipe for a change.   Don’t do many of these at all but Helen’s post on potato cakes got me thinking about the local version and I realised I’d never  tried making them.  Turns out they are ridiculously easy (unlike crumpets which I just cannot master!).

In case you are unfamiliar with them, tattie (potato) scones take pride of place in a cooked breakfast up here.  A bit like big, flat, browned gnocchi, they’re perfect stodge for mopping up yolks and brown sauce.  Just what one wants on yet another snowy December morning.

Tattie Scones

(for 2)

150g cold mashed potato

1 tspn soft butter

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

  • Mash the butter into the potatoes then sift in the flour and salt.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough like consistency is achieved.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface until 5mm thick.  Cut into whatever shape you please.  Triangles are traditional.  I like to use my heart-shaped cookie cutter whenever possible.
  • Rub a non-stick pan with a little oil and heat to medium-hot.  Cook the scones on either side for a minute each until dark golden brown in places.  Eat with eggs or black pudding or sausages or tomatoes or beans or all of the above. :)

Tomato & Aubergine Pasta Bake

This is one of our standard winter week-night dinners.  Warming, hearty and cheesy.

Tomato & Aubergine Pasta Bake

(serves 4)

2 medium aubergine, cut into 2 cm chunks

Salt

Olive oil

1 tblspn dried oregano

2 onions, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

2 tins of tomatoes

Handful of basil leaves, torn up

350g macaroni

1 large mozzarella ball, grated

Handful of Parmesan cheese

  • Place the aubergine chunks in a colander and sprinkle with salt.  Leave for 30 mins then squeeze in a tea-towel to remove excess moisture.  This stage is optional but I think it makes for tastier, crisper aubergine.
  • Heat the oven to 200 oC.  Spread the aubergine out on a couple of baking trays and toss with a little olive oil, some pepper and the oregano.  Roast for 20 mins or so until aubergine is golden and crisp.
  • Meanwhile, make a tomato sauce by sautéing the onion in a little olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Stir in the tomatoes.  Cook over a medium-low heat for 30 mins  until slightly thickened.  Stir in the basil leaves.
  • Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water.  Drain.
  • Stir the tomato sauce and the aubergine through the pasta.  Spoon half of the pasta into a oven dish then add half the mozzarella cheese.  Spoon the rest of the pasta on top of the first layer and top with the remaining mozzarella and all of the Parmesan.
  • Can be cooked straight away at 200 oC for 15 mins or chilled and heated up the next day in 180 oC oven for 40 mins.  Either way the cheese should be golden and the sauce should be bubbling around the edges.

Can’t Stop Eating

Lucy’s post inspired me to make this for lunch recently.

Toasted seeded bread and mixed greens (sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic then mixed with a little Balsalmic vinegar) topped with a poached egg.

Ate this on three different occasions last week.