Selkirk is a town somewhere in the Scottish Borders. I’m not entirely sure where. I’ve heard it’s lovely but I’ve never been there and I know only two things about it. 1.) It’s the home-town of my friend and the artist who designed my banner, Faye Anderson. She’s an extremely talented artist. Animal lovers, you may want to check out her work here. And 2.) I have this town to thank for my favourite tea loaf.
Selkirk Bannocks are enormous fruit loaves which were traditionally made with leftover bread dough. In Scotland (and possibly the rest of the UK?) we call this type of enriched, sweet bread a “tea loaf”. I’m guessing this is because a slice of this spread with butter or jam or both would typically be eaten with a cup of tea mid-morning or afternoon. It makes a lovely breakfast too though.
I tend to make a smaller loaf than is traditional as there are only two of us in the house. That said, it keeps well for a couple of days and can be eaten toasted for a good few days after that.
450g bread flour
Pinch of salt
1 tspn dried active yeast
30g caster sugar
250ml luke warm milk
75g butter, cut into cubes and softened
1 small egg, beaten
So let’s start with the exciting news. Next year, September to be precise, I am flying out to the United States of America to teach a week long Scottish cooking course! It’s taking place in North Carolina at the John C Campbell Folk School and I’m ridiculously excited about it all.
I reckon this is going to affect the blog in two ways. Firstly, there are going to be a lot of Scottish recipes appearing on these pages in the coming year. This is something that readers have requested in the past but I’ve never really acted on it. With 30-40 recipes to perfect before next September, you can expect a range of traditional Scottish recipes along with some modern favourites and dishes that make the most of Scottish produce. Secondly, I reckon I’ll be blogging more frequently. A demanding job and difficult personal situation has led me to neglect this space in the last few years. I like to think this project is going to revive my blogging efforts and that I’ll be around more often. That’s the plan, anyway!
So let’s start today with Finnan Haddie Tart. Finnan Haddie is cold smoked haddock. It can be poached in milk or grilled or roasted and served as is but most folks associate it with the rich soup, Cullen Skink (recipe here). The following recipe uses the smokey, creamy flavours of Cullen Skink but in the form of a tart rather than a soup. It’s really rather lovely served along side a big salad and some crusty bread.
Finnan Haddie Tart (adapted from Sue Lawrence’s Scots Cooking)
For the oatmeal pastry:
200g plain flour
25g fine oatmeal
125g cold salted butter, cut into chunks
1 tspn olive oil
For the filling:
1 onion, chopped finely
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
350g finnan haddie (smoked haddock) or other smoked white fish, must be undyed
100ml crème fraîche or double cream
Salt and pepper
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
The dark nights are beginning to draw in. I like it.
Also, there’s a rabbit living in our garden. I like that too.
Good grief, it’s lovely here right now. You know, I’ve always preferred the colours of autumn, the signs of spring and the sharpness of winter but this year… Well, this year summer has completely won me over.
Marco’s happy either way and so am I! Off for a run in the snow. Man, I love holidays.
After a very tough, ridiculously busy few months at work, the Easter holidays have finally arrived. To say I’m happy would be the understatement of the year. It so good to have room in my head once again to take in the world. And to think about blogging too. I’ve been away from this space so long, it feels a little odd to be writing a post once again. Shall sort that out in the coming weeks by posting often.
Spent the first four days of the holiday on the west coast with friends. As if celebrating with us, the skies, which had been heavy and slate grey for weeks and weeks, broke out in brilliant blue for the whole weekend. A perfect backdrop to the fantastic time we had indulging in lots of good food and wine and then walking it all off on the hills and shores of Skye and Lochalsh.
Back home now and, really, I feel brand new.
I will be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later…