In the second instalment of our guest blog posts, Scotland’s best-loved cookery writer Sue Lawrence shares some tips to help you cook your way through the lockdown.
In these challenging times, I like to get into the kitchen and put on some wonderful music (not more NEWS, please!) – Chopin or Mendelssohn’s piano pieces are my preference – and cook some simple yet tasty dishes.
If you are using up larder ingredients, don’t ignore tins of chickpeas, butter beans or haricot beans: make a simple hummus by whizzing these up (drained) with some tahini, olive oil, cumin and garlic. Serve this with pitta bread to dip. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have some meat in the freezer, serve with quick-fried minced lamb zapped with ras el hanout or Za’atar from the spice cupboard.
If you have loads of onions kicking around, fry these, thinly sliced, in butter until nicely browned (stirring often). Then, sprinkle in a spoonful of flour, stir madly and gradually add about 500 ml hot beef stock and stir till blended. Season, add a splash of red wine vinegar, and serve this simple onion soup either as is or with croutons topped with grated cheese (preferably Mull Cheddar).
If you have some Stornoway Black Pudding in the freezer, make my Black Pudding Cheese Scones from A Taste of Scotland’s Islands (p108) to go with the soup. See the full recipe below!
Finally, if you have a tin of condensed milk, some lemons and oats, turn a few pages on to the divine recipe from the Island of Luing for Lemon Oat Bars (p147) to go with your mid afternoon cuppa.
Stornoway Black Pudding Cheese Scones
This recipe was inspired by Isle of Lewis baker Mairi Ord’s Twitter post of ‘marag’ (Gaelic for black pudding), apple and sage scones. Like me, Mairi favours using Stornoway black pudding. I like the black pudding just with cheese. Eat warm with a dod of butter – with soup or, if you make them very small, as canapés, split and topped with a smear of tapenade and a dice of tomato.
Unless you want the entire dough to look grey, ensure the black pudding is chilled before you dice and then fold in gently so that the small pieces do not break up.
450g plain flour
2 rounded tbsp baking powder
125g butter, cubed
175g grated mature Cheddar (I like Isle of Mull)
200g black pudding, skin removed, diced
2 large free-range eggs
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the cheese, add a pinch of salt and, folding in very gently, the black pudding.
Place the eggs in a measuring jug, stir lightly then add enough milk to make up to 300ml (about 150ml). Stir lightly, then add most of this to the mix (enough to make a softish dough), and gently combine with floured hands. Bring together gently (you do not need to knead, only bring the dough together) and place on a floured surface. Pat out till about 3cm high. Using a fluted cutter, cut out 10 large scones and place on a lightly buttered baking tray.
Brush the tops with any liquid left in the jug (add a splash more milk if necessary) and bake near the top of a preheated oven (220C/425F, gas 8) for about 12 minutes or until golden and well-risen.
Remove to a wire rack and leave until barely warm before splitting and spreading with butter.
Enjoy, and take care!