Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Scottish Supper Club

Apologies for the non food orientated tangent of the last post, but to avoid any upsets here is my foodie post to reset the balance.

So, walking holiday over, feet momentarily rested it was off to my sisters temporary home in Glasgow to cook up a feast for friends. 

Goat's cheese and black pudding salad

Monkfish and prawn stew
with potatoes and green veg


I was very excited to be able to go to MaCallum's fishmongers in Glasgow, just off the Argyle Rd. to get the fish sorted. Now, I don't know if any of you experience this, but you know when you're in a shop and you don't really know what you want and it's a specialist shop and they're really knowledgeable about their produce and then you start to feel very stupid for not knowing anything about what's going on? Well, that happened. I knew I wanted monkfish. I had no idea how much, or how expensive it was, or how it came. And this was a real old school fishmongers with crates of fish everywhere. I just panicked. So five minutes later I was already out of the shop with forty pounds worth of fish. How the hell did that happen? Anyway, that'll be another of those pesky life lessons. Don't panic in fish shops. Here's a run down of what happened:

Me: I want some Monkfish.
Fishmonger: Oh, you mean the most expensive fish in the shop? 
Me: yes please. 
Fishmonger: Do you want way more than you need? 
Me: yes please. 
Fishmonger: And how about some of these really expensive langoustines to go with that? 
Me: yes please. 

Of course, had I slowed down and thought about it, I could have got half monkfish and bulked it out with a cheaper white fish, then a couple of prawns for a bit of drama on the top of the dish.  Oh, well, lesson learned. Worst thing was I didn't even get to enjoy the shop I was in and out of there so fast. 

The black pudding came all the way from Fort William at the end of the west highland way and I'm sorry to say the rest of the ingredients came from  Sainsbury's, but my feet were very tired.

The fish stew went something like this and it was delicious. The idea came from a Richard Corrigan recipe that I saw on the telly. I would definitely recommend it as something a little special if you want to splash out.

  • Sweat off leeks and shallots in a large deep frying pan (preferably with a lid) with butter. Season.
  • Then add your chunks of fish. I put them all in together but if I were doing it again and with varying types of fish I would add them at different times according to how long each fish needs to cook. ie. monkfish first, smaller less meaty fish after, then prawns at the end.
  • Add about a half bottle of white wine, enough that it comes about half way up the fish so it's going to steam a bit when you put the lid on.
  • Throw in some herbs, I used dill and parsley, put the lid on and leave to cook. Time will vary depending on what fish you use.
  • You can check the sauce at the end for seasoning. I served it in the pan at the table as it looks pretty impressive. 
  • If you wanted a slightly richer sauce you could take the fish out, keeping it hot,  add some cream and butter and reduce it down before re-adding the fish to the sauce before serving.  

As for the Cranachan, again in hindsight (I've been using that a lot lately) this probably wasn't the best desert for me to make having never eaten it in my life and not even being very sure of what it was. But I'd seen it in nearly every restaurant/pub I'd eaten in for the last week and I was curious. I found a recipe in a book, (in a bookshop, I didn't even buy it...awful) and thought I'd give it a try. The Scots at the table deemed it different but a success. My sister claimed it reminded her too much of porridge and made her gag. You can always count on honesty from a sibling. As for me, I wasn't much pushed about it but I think if you like Eton Mess and oats you'll like this as it's basically Eton Mess with oats instead of meringue and a bit of whiskey thrown in for good measure. Here's a recipe that I found similar to the one I used. I made a fresh raspberry coulis instead of using jam. The other recipe I found specified pinhead oats, which I couldn't get but I think would work better.

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