Cooking Up a Storm… in Lockdown

  05 May '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

It is always a thrill when new books arrive from the printer. The boxes are delivered, the editors hover nervously, you run a knife along the tape… and the smell of fresh ink on paper escapes. Ahhh.

Birlinn team members are home-working at present (in line with government guidance) and as a result we are all missing that sense of arrival as the van draws up outside. But we do know that books are arriving and Hugh, our MD, is there to receive them.

This time it is even more of a treat than usual. The latest books will bring the delightful aromas of cooking and baking right into your kitchen, during lockdown. How perfect is that! New dishes to try at just the right time. You know you want to. You may have to stand in line for key ingredients or order online (or simply discover them on your daily walk) but it will be WELL WORTH IT.

The Scottish Baking Bible by Liz Ashworth and the The Wild Food Bible by Claire Macdonald are both now in stock and ready to post out to you. They are the latest additions to our Food Bibles list, all designed to make the most of local and seasonal produce. Find out more by clicking through here (but not before you take a look at the recipes below!).

As a sneak preview here are three recipes, to try at home, one from each of the new books and then a favourite from Scottish Baking by Sue Lawrence – not in the bible series, this book is on the shelves of keen cooks around the world!

The first is a personal favourite. You don’t find butteries often in Scotland’s Central Belt and you certainly don’t find them south of the Border. Having a recipe to make and take to friends is a real treat.

From The Scottish Baking Bible by Liz Ashworth:

Elgin-style butteries

A ‘buttery’ or ‘Aberdeen rowie’ is a North East speciality which bakers created for fishermen by adding fat and salt to bread dough so that rolls kept well and provided an energy boost. My friend Maureen bakes this Elgin baker’s recipe when she visits her daughter in Canada.

Makes 16 large or 20 smaller butteries

7g (1 packet) dried yeast or 60g (2oz) fresh yeast

1 tablespoon caster sugar

450ml (15 fl oz) warm water

500g (1lb 2oz) strong white flour

Pinch of salt

125g (4.5 oz) butter or margarine

250g (9oz) lard

Rice flour

The night before, mix the yeast and sugar with a little warm water. Set aside. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast has bubbled, add this with the remaining water and mix to a smooth dough. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day, remove the dough from the fridge. Oil three baking trays. Cream the butter and lard together. Turn the dough onto a board dusted with rice flour and knead for 5 minutes. Using your hands gradually press the fat mix into the dough, working it in as you knead until it is evenly blended. Allow to rest for 40 minutes. Cut roughly into 16 pieces. Shape each into a rough circle, place on the baking trays and set aside in a cool place to rise for 45 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan), 400°F, Gas 6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until light golden brown and slightly crispy.

Cool on a wire tray.

Baker’s note: To make a ‘healthier’ buttery reduce the fat by 25% per cent. Substitute 100g oatmeal for 100g flour.

I chose this next recipe to share inspired by my evening walk down the Water of Leith in Edinburgh. As we turn off from a built-up area on the edges of the town and down a path towards the river, the smell from wild garlic hits the senses and transports you to a gentler time. I have never cooked with wild garlic before but i will be tonight!

From The Scottish Wild Food Bible by Claire Macdonald:

Wild garlic and potato soup

Serves 6

3 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and chopped

450g (1lb) potatoes, peeled and chopped

1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken or vegetable stock

2 rounded tablespoons finely chopped wild garlic leaves

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt, about 10 grinds of black pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the chopped onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes until they are transparent, but not changing colour. Stir occasionally. Then add the chopped potatoes to the pan, stir well, and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Now add the stock. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Half cover the pan with its lid, and simmer gently until a chunk of potato squishes againstthe side of the pan with your wooden spoon, about 20–25 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, salt and black pepper and whizz, using a hand-held blender, to a smooth texture. Stir in the chopped wild garlic leaves, taste, and add more salt and/or pepper if you think it is needed.

Reheat to serve.

From Scottish Baking by Sue Lawrence

Flapjacks with Bits and Pieces

Makes 18 – 24

Flapjacks are not traditionally Scottish, but they seem to sit very nicely here, given their oatiness!

These ones are bulging with all sorts of goodies – I have suggested certain seeds, nuts and fruits but you can substitute many other types. Chopped dried apricots, chopped almonds, dried blueberries or cranberries are all good.

You can omit the flour and use all oats (in which case use 400g / 14 oz oats); this gives a slightly chewier texture and is less easy to cut into neat slices, but is perfect for those who prefer to avoid wheat flour.

175g/6 oz butter

3 tbsp golden syrup

150g/ 5.5 oz light muscovado sugar

350g / 12 oz porridge oats

50g / 1.75oz plain flout

0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda

50 g / 1.75 oz raisons, dried blueberries or dried apricots

50g / 1.75 oz desiccated coconut or toasted chopped almonds

25g / 1 oz sunflower seeds

25g / 1 oz pumpkin seeds

Melt the first three ingredients together, then stir in the oats, flour and aa pinch of salt. Stir in the remaining ingredients and tip into a lightly buttered Swiss-roll tin (23 x 33cm / 9 x 13 in), spreading out to level the surface.

Place on a large baking tin (in case of spillage) and place on the middle shelf of a preheated oven (180C/350F/Gas4) until golden brown but still slightly soft – about 18–20 mins – then remove to a wire track. Cut into bars while hot, but only remove from the tin once cold.

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