My second piece of good news is that I got a place in the 2014 London Marathon. Delighted! I’ve ran this distance twice before in the Loch Ness Marathon, a great race with beautiful, peaceful route and a fantastic atmosphere amongst the runners. It’s one I’ll most definitely do again (and maybe again after that) but, for now, I am looking forward to next year where I’ll be running a route with far less climbs (man, I hate the Dores hill) and more shouts and cheers from crowds the whole way along. I’ll be fundraising nearer the time for the MS Society and Brain Tumour Research. If you’d like to sponsor me, keep an eye on this space in early spring for details.
Today’s recipe is a loaf. The basic bread recipe is one I’ve published on these pages. The addition of rosemary to the dough and the sprinkle of sea salt on top makes this a real treat of a snack. It needs nothing more than a smearing of good quality butter.
Salted Rosemary Bread
(Makes one big loaf)
300ml warm water
1 tspn dry active yeast
400g strong white flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn chopped fresh rosemary
1 tspn sea salt crystals
- Add the yeast to the warm water and set aside until the yeast foams a little (around 10 mins).
- In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, and rosemary. Add the yeasty water and stir to create a wet dough. Leave for 5 mins.
- Smear a little olive oil onto your work surface and plop the dough out onto it. Knead for a couple of minutes. (You might need to add a tiny bit more flour if the dough is really too sticky to do anything with but don’t add much. I just dip my hands in flour a couple of times if need be.)
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a teatowel. Leave in a warm (not too hot!) place for 30 mins until doubled in sized.
- Knead the dough for a couple of minutes again and place back in the bowl for another 30mins.
- Final stage. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with flour. Place dough onto work surface and pull into a flattish rectangular shape. Roll dough up lengthways and tuck the ends underneath. Place seam side down and cover with the tea towel again. Leave to double in size in the same warm place.
- Meanwhile, heat your oven to 210 oC (or 200 oC if fan assisted). When oven reaches the right temperature place a cake tin of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Leave for 10 mins to let the oven get steamy.
- Brush the risen dough lightly with water then sprinkle with the sea salt. Dust lightly with flour then use a serrated knife to make 3 slits across the top of the loaf. Place in the oven and bake for 40 mins until golden.
- Leave to cool on a rack before eating.
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
- First make the pastry. If you are lucky enough to have a mixer, simply pop everything into the bowl and process briefly until the ingredients come together in a ball. Otherwise, rub the butter into the flour and oatmeal until fine crumbs have formed. Stir in the egg and oil and form a dough. Chill the dough for an hour before rolling and using to line a 28cm flan tin (preferably loose bottomed). Chill again for 15 mins. Line the pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans (I use dried chickpeas). Bake in a 190 oC oven for 20 mins. Remove foil and beans and bake again for 10 mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
- While the pastry is cooling, fry the onions in oil over a medium heat until translucent. Add the potato and continue to fry, stirring frequently, until potatoes are almost tender (approx 15 mins). Set aside.
- Poach the fish in the milk for 5 mins. Remove the fish from the milk and flake, taking care to remove all bones. Mix the fish with the potatoes and onions.
- Add the crème fraîche and egg to the milk. Beat then season with salt and pepper. Stir through the parsley.
- Scatter the potato/fish mix evenly in the pastry case then pour in the liquid.
- Bake in a 190 oC oven for 40 mins.
- Best served warm rather than hot.