Thursday, September 25, 2014

Haggis Neeps and Tatties with Whiskey Sauce

     I experienced my first Haggis, Neeps (yellow turnips), and Tatties (mashed potatoes) in Scotland on the first day at The Greyfriars Bobby's Bar in Edinburgh.  It was wonderful.  And the frosting on the cake was the whiskey sauce.  It completely dispelled all the nasty rumors that I had heard over the years.  It reminded me of a kind of peppery hash.  They used a pin head oatmeal that is toasted before adding to the mixture which had a rice-like texture.  The dish was described as mutton, oatmeal, and mixed spices.  Further research divulged that many butchers make their own special recipes.  Haggis is typically made from the offal of sheep.  That is not awful, it is offal.  The most widely used description of haggis I heard is the lamb's minced lungs, kidneys, heart, and sometimes liver mixed with oatmeal, spices, and suet or fat, and then cooked in a sheep's stomach.  A local lady told me that MacSween's was the best.  Many pubs and restaurants used this brand.  People either love it or hate this national dish.  One gentleman in a restaurant heard me talking to a young waiter, and he said some people think it is too spicy.  That is why not everyone is fond of it.  I did not think it was too spicy at all.  It had a pleasant warmth that was not overpowering.  Combined with the neeps and tatties, it made a wonderful comfort food.  Pubs usually included a whiskey sauce to go with your haggis which peeked my interest, because it was fabulous.  I asked a lady who was doing a whisky tasting at the Edinburgh Castle if she made whisky sauce.  She said yes, and basically it is a gravy with adding in whiskey at the end.  Some recipes call for mustard.   Some recipes start with whiskey, setting it aflame to burn off the alcohol, and adding the rest of the ingredients.  I don't like this method, - I am afraid of burning myself or my house down in the process. I like the -add a wee bit at the end method and let it bubble.  One thing about Scotland was that their whiskey is an art form.  One restaurant offered 450 different kinds and was happy to pair them up with the food you ordered.

Another thing about Scotland is that virtually every place you go has a story behind it.  The Greyfriars Bobby has its name taken after a dog named Bobby, who was owned by policeman, John Grey.  He used to eat lunch there, and when he died they buried him in the Greyfriars Kirkyard (also steeped in history, Kirk means Church) behind the bar.  Bobby used to keep watch by sleeping on his grave every night for 14 years.  When he passed, he was buried with his master.

To my delight, I found MacSween haggis at Romanes and Paterson.  Too bad I could not bring it home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time to Rejuvenate in the Scottish Highlands

Bagpiper in the Highlands

A Highland Loch

Portree, Isle of Skye

Mirror Image on the Isle of Skye

Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye

     If you haven't guessed by the bagpiper, I went to Scotland for the first time.  One can not go to the Highlands and come away unaffected.  It was like another planet for a while where the land was lost in time unchanged in centuries, yet spoke of the history and people who tried to survive there for thousands of years.  The still fjord-like lakes and round mountains covered in lush green and heather, the peat bogs, and rocks all tell their tales.  Structures of ancient people still say , "We were here."  I came back with more energy after exploring these hills, and not as worried about the usual stuff.  I learned a lot about how difficult it was to live here years ago when the average life span was 25-45.  Stepping away is wonderful and I feel I took a wee bit of Scotland home.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Taste of Northern Virginia Golf Tournament and Tasting Reception

Golf in the morning and food and wine tasting in the afternoon!
Benefits the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
To Register

     This is my second year volunteering with these folks.  It is a lot of fun and hard work.  There is much to be done to spread awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, but it is imperative that every woman know what to look for.

     Come out, play some golf, wear your teal.  If you don't golf, no problem, come to the reception with tastings from great chefs and wineries!  See who we have lined up, including Chris Klyler from The Next Food Network Star and Cut Throat Kitchen, Chef Jeff Eng from Chopped and Rachel Ray's $40 a Day, and award winning founder and pit master of Dyvine Barbecue in Motion, Chef Derrick Wood!  Chefs  Also on board is Loudoun County's original winery Willow Croft Winery, Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery, and Winding Road Cellars! Wineries

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Salmon Halibut Fish Bake With Onion Garlic Crouton Topping

     I like fish.  I like cheese.  I like fish and cheese.  In Norwegian it goes like this.  Jeg liker fisk.  Jeg liker ost.  Jeg liker fisk og ost.  Sorry, it has been awhile since I practiced my Norwegian, and I couldn't resist.  This is a fun dish, because the most definitely Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese is nicely melted over the fish and there are crunchy oniony garlicy croutons on top.  It is also quite quick and easy to prepare.  In the summer it is nice to have a fast main course.  I served it with a cucumber, carrot, pineapple, and prune salad tossed with a mustard vinaigrette and a simple boiled potato.

Salmon Halibut Fish Bake With Onion Garlic Crouton Topping

(Serves 4)

2 12-oz. fillets of Salmon
2 12-oz. Fillets of Halibut
1/4 c. Plain Goat Yogurt
Salt and Pepper
10 oz. Jarlsberg Cheese grated
3 c. roughly torn pieces of Whole Wheat Bread
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 T. Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the fish fillets in a 7 x 11 inch baking pan.  Spoon the yogurt on top of the fish and lightly salt and pepper them.  Distribute the cheese over the top evenly.  In a bowl, toss together the bread, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.  Add the olive oil, and toss until the bread is coated.  It may seem as if you have not added enough oil, but refrain from adding more.  Just continue to toss gently and you will find it coats just fine.  Distribute the bread over the fish and bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish fillets read 145 degrees Fahrenheit halfway into the thickest part.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hunter Porter Stew

     This is one of the richest stews I have ever made.  It's ingredients remain distinctive and flavor a rich Porter broth.  The kielbasa gives it a spiciness, the cabbage and prunes a sweetness, and the mushrooms, especially the chanterelles, an earthiness that makes me think of the woods.  This dish is definitely company worthy!

Hunter Porter Stew

(Serves 6)

8 oz. Bacon cut into 1inch pieces
1 Yellow Onion cut into bite sized pieces
1 head Garlic peeled and roughly chopped
3 Beef Soup Bones
1 head fresh Green Cabbage sliced thinly
12 oz. fully cooked Kielbasa or other robust sausage cut into bite size chunks
3  cooked Hamburgers cut into 1inch chunks
25 oz. Sour Kraut drained from natural brine liquid
8 oz. King Oyster Mushrooms roughly chopped
6 oz. Button Mushrooms roughly chopped
1/2 oz. Dried Chanterelle Mushrooms (soaked 1/2 hour in warm water, drained and rinsed)
2 Bay Leaves
2 tsp. Peppercorns (crushed)
1 tsp. Salt
12 oz. Porter
6 oz. Prunes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry the bacon in a 9.5 quart Dutch oven on the stove top on medium heat until brown.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.  Add the onion, garlic, and soup bones.  Fry till onions are soft.  Add the cabbage and sauté till softened and the volume is decreased.  Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the prunes, and bring to a simmer.  There is very little liquid in this stew.  The vegetables will add more as it cooks and the broth will be tremendously flavorful.  Cover and braise in the oven for one hour.  Add the prunes, cover, and braise for another 30 minutes.  Serve with a whole grain bread.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Strawberry Yogurt Cream

     This is a refreshing summer recipe to make with crushed strawberries, plain goat yogurt, and the ever so slightly decadent, sour cream.  I add gelatin, and pour it into parfait glasses for a pretty presentation.

Strawberry Yogurt Cream

(Serves 6)

2 Packages Plain Gelatin
1 c. Boiling Water
1 3/4 c. Fresh Strawberries mashed with a potato masher
3 T. Sugar
3/4 c. Sour Cream
1/2 c. Plain Goat Yogurt

Place the gelatin in a 2 cup measuring cup.  Add the boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Mix the strawberries and sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in the gelatin and water mixture.  Stir in the sour cream and yogurt until incorporated.  You may add more sugar at this point if you like.  Make sure you stir it until it is dissolved.  Pour into 6 parfait glasses and refrigerate for 2 1/2 hours until set.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Whole Wheat Flatbread With Soaked Grains

      I love to rip off pieces of flatbread  for munching on.  It can be used for dipping in olive oil or your favorite dips and pesto.  This is an easy bread to make, because it does not rise.  I use both whole wheat and bread flour for a whole grain delicious flavor.

Whole Wheat Flatbread With Soaked Grains

(Makes 2 (8x10-inch) Flatbreads)

1 1/2 c. Warm Water less 2 T.
2 T. Plain Goat Yogurt or Plain Cow Yogurt
3 T. Olive Oil
3 tsp. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 1/4 c. Bread Flour
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
Kosher Salt for sprinkling the top

     Place all ingredients into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.  Mix at the lowest speed until the ingredients are almost fully incorporated.  Set the speed to the setting your mixer uses to knead the dough, and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Remove bowl from mixer and shape the dough into a ball, lightly oil with olive oil, and place back into the bowl.  Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for 7 hours or overnight.  Take the bowl out, and bring to room temperature in a warm place (about 2 hours).  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Split the dough into two balls.  Place on two greased cookie sheets, and roll out into 2 (8x10-inch) ovals with a small hand roller directly onto the sheet.  Sprinkle with a little flour if too sticky. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the bottom is golden brown.  Let cool, and serve at room temperature by ripping off chunks of the bread.  Eat as is or dip into olive oil or your favorite dip.