The steak pie became the national New Year’s dinner dish in Scotland because New Year’s Day was not traditionally taken as a holiday, (Western society has only been celebrating New Year for the past 400 years.) Families were too busy to cook and bought big steak pies from their local butcher instead. It was in 1871 that Scotland declared January 1st as a national holiday and then wasn’t until 1971 that Scotland got January 2 as another bank holiday.
Butcher-bought steak pie remains popular today, I suspect partly because most Scots are too hung-over to think about cooking on New Year’s Day. Hogmanay & New Years Day is about more than seeing in the bells with a dram of whisky and the best New Year street party in the world, the traditional celebrations continue well into the next day. In fact, it’s probably partly due to the over indulgence of alcohol that the ritual Ne’erday dinner continues to be such a vital part of New Year for so many Scots. The Traditional Steak Pie is round or oval in shape, which symbolises the end of one year with the seamless beginning of the next.
I do like to make my own steak pie and this recipe dates back to my Grannies and Aunties recipes. They key to a good steak pie is the meat, good quality Scottish Beef is key and it’s important to slow cook until it falls apart. I always make the night before too, this allows the gravy/juices to soak into the meat for an amazing flavour.
500g Braising or Stewing Steak (rump steak is also good)
1 Large Onion, Chopped
1 Carrot, Peeled & Sliced
400ml Beef Stock
1-2 Tbsp Beef Gravy Granules
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Cornflour
1 egg beaten for wash
1 Ready to Roll Puff Pastry
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pan on medium to high heat. Pat dry the meat and coat with the cornflour and season. Brown the meat in the pan, remove with a slotted spoon.
Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pan and add in the onions, cook for a few minutes to soften and brown. Add back to the pan the meat and the carrots along with the beef stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer (very low heat), cover with a lid and slow cook for about 2 hours.
With a slotted spoon carefully remove the meat & vegetables and decant into an oven proof pie dish, with the gravy still in the pan add the gravy granules and mix through on medium heat to thicken up the gravy slightly. (You don’t want it too thick as it will thicken overnight) Pour the gravy over the meat in the oven dish, allow to cool, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, roll your pastry out and using a pastry brush, brush egg wash around the edge of your pie dish, take the pastry and lay over the dish, pressing the edges to seal. Trim any excess pastry. (which you could use for a wee design) Using a knife, make a small hole in the middle to allow the steam to escape. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg wash and bake in a pre heated oven at 200 deg C for about 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked.
I do love shortbread, I think it’s mainly because I grew up with it, we would visit my Gran’s house and get shortbread for a snack but more so every New Year as this is the tradition in Scotland.
Through the ‘Taste of Scotland’ scheme that promotes authentic and innovative Scottish cooking, Scottish cuisine has enjoying a renaissance and now many believe that the best food in Britain is to be found north of the Border. The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.
Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year.
Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”), or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.” However, these days as we see some amazing cookie cutter shapes, they can be cut into whatever you like. As it is the Winter Season here just now, I decided to go for some lovely Snowflake Designs.
From memory when my Gran’s used to make Shortbread, the rule of thumb is always 3,2,1, 3 parts Flour to 2 parts Butter to 1 part sugar. Stick with this and you can’t go wrong.
Makes about 10-12 Shortbreads
115g Plain Flour
55g Rice Flour
55g Sugar (Caster or Icing) – (Extra Sugar to finish)
Pre heat your oven to 150 deg C Fan.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, sift in the flours.
Mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then tip onto a floured surface and work by hand to bring the dough together.
Gently roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness, if using a cutter, cut into your designs and lay onto a greaseproof baking tray. If creating petticoats, press into a round baking tin, or fingers, press into a rectangle baking tin. Now refrigerate for about 20 minutes, this helps the biscuits to stop spreading when being baked. Prick the shortbread with a fork and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and while still hot sprinkle with some sugar to finish. Allow to cool.
I am very lucky to live in a Country with an amazing Food Larder and 1 type of Food that Scotland is known for is it’s Fresh Fish, the Scottish Fishing Industry is currently worth around £316 million to Scotland, unfortunately that number has went down recently due to Covid, but at the height back in 2015 it was worth nearly £437 million. Most of its catch comes in from Aberdeen, then some from central and southern areas. Some of the most popular seafood caught in Scotland are mainly shellfish such as Mussels, Shrimp & Crab but also Salmon, Cod, Haddock & Mackerel.
My local Fishmonger Ryan Black, is from a nearby Town called Kirkcaldy which is in the Fife region, they provide a fantastic service and deliver straight to your door, straight from the shore. There is nothing better than getting the freshest fish delivered the same day. I got some lovely pieces of Cod for dinner.
Having some Pistachios in my cupboard to be used, I decided to try my Pistachio Crust recipe with the Cod and it worked a treat….super delicious, healthy and quick mid week meal.
2 Cod Fillets
20g Scottish Oats
1 Tbsp Mustard Powder or 2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tsp Dried Parsley or small handful of fresh
Line a baking Tray with greaseproof paper and preheat your oven to fan 210 deg C
Using a processor, blitz the pistachios and oats together with the parsley until roughly chopped
If using mustard powder, take 1 tbsp into a bowl and squeeze 1 tbsp lemon juice in and mix into a paste, leave to sit for 10 minutes to allow flavour to develop.
Lay cod onto baking sheet and spoon the mustard over the fish, season with salt and pepper, then place the pistachio crust mix over the top covering the fish, press down to secure. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until opaque.
It’s coming up to the Festive time of year when we start planning our Christmas dinner get together. Roast Potatoes are probably one of the most popular side dishes on the table for most households. We all hope for those crispy skins and fluffy insides for our Roasties but sometimes that just doesn’t happen for whatever reason, so this is my foolproof recipe for the most amazing Crispy Roast Potatoes every time . Great for the festive dinner table but also great throughout the year for the perfect accompaniment to a good Sunday Roast dinner. Enjoy.
1kg Maris Piper Potatoes (these are the best kind)
100g Goose Fat (I used high grade Goose Fat from my local Butchers, S.Collins & Son) (you can also use a good Duck Fat too)
2 Tsp Cornflour
Sea Salt Flakes to taste
Rainbow Peppercorns to taste
First place a Baking Tray in an oven and pre heat to Fan 220 deg C.
Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters (or which ever size you prefer), place into a pan of cold water and season with salt. Bring to the boil and reduce to a medium simmer, covered for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, spoon the Goose Fat onto the hot baking tray (be careful) and put back into the oven to heat the fat up, about 10 minutes until the fat is smoking slightly.
Drain the water from the potatoes, give the pan a good shake to fluff up the potatoes, sprinkle the cornflour in and give it another shake, keeping the lid on let the potatoes sit for about 10-15 minutes so that the steam can air dry the potatoes. (the Drier the crisper they’ll be)
Carefully with a pair of tongs, place the potatoes onto the baking tray ensuring they are coated with the Goose Fat. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the potatoes over and bake for a further 15 minutes, turn again and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until all golden brown and crisp.
Serve immediately with a sprinkling of sea salt & some pepper.
Some people add garlic and herbs like rosemary etc, which is fine, but I love my traditional recipes to be traditional, if you get a good potato there is no need for extra flavouring, the duck fat & salt are simply perfect for a roastie.
In Scotland, before the 19th century, bannocks were cooked on a bannock stane (Scots for stone), a large, flat, rounded piece of sandstone, placed directly onto a fire, used as a cooking surface. Most modern bannocks are cooked in a pan or skillet and made with baking powder as a leavening agent, giving them a light and airy texture. Bannocks were known as flat cakes or bread baked from grains, although if you visit the town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders their Bannocks are more like fruit loaves.
120g of Scottish Oats – I blitz Scottish Porridge Oats into a fine flour.
80g Plain Flour
2 tsps Baking Powder
In a bowl or mixer combine the flour, oats, salt and baking powder
Slowly mix in the Buttermilk, little at a time until the flour has combined, lay on a floured surface and shape the dough to about 1″ thick and about the same circular diameter as your pan. Indent the dough about 0.5 – 1cm in, as if you were cutting a pizza shape.
Heat a little oil in a pan or skillet on medium heat (you don’t want it too hot or it won’t cook through properly), place dough into pan and cook gently for about 15 minutes on 1 side then flip over and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove and place on a bread board, allow to cool for a few minutes then serve.
I usually have this bread with Soup but you could also spread a little butter or Jam and would be just as nice.
Cullen Skink is an authentic Scottish Thick Soup from Cullen, North East Scotland. It’s main ingredients are Smoked Haddock, Potatoes and Onion, which makes a lovely home comforting dish that lasts through the years. It’s one of our most popular dishes in my household, especially in the Autumn/Winter Seasons. Traditionally it is served with bread.
Initially, Cullen Skink referred to a type of broth made with the scrapings of beef from the front legs of cattle, hence ‘Skink’ as this means shin. Hard times in the early 1890s left the Northern people unable to buy this product. By this time, Cullen Harbour (completed in 1819) had become the thriving centre of herring fishing and the village also specialised in the production of smoked haddock. With many families in the local villages having a fishing background, they turned to smoked haddock which was in plentiful supply. By using smoked haddock and various other products all put together, a distinctive delicious soup was made.
Makes 2 large bowls
2 Smoked Haddock Fillets
1 White Onion, Diced
1/2 Leek, sliced, white part only
350g White Potatoes, peeled and diced
100ml Single Cream or Creme Friache
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste
Handful of Chopped Parsley
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion & leeks, cook for a few minutes then add the potatoes and continue to cook for a few minutes.
Add the milk, bay leaf & season. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Gently add the haddock to the pot and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon remove the haddock,from the pan place onto a chopping board and remove the skin, break into chunks, add back to the pan along with the cream and mix through, heat through gently for a few minutes.
Remove the Bay leaf and sprinkle over the parsley then serve into bowls.
I’ve loads of Beetroot growing in my garden just now and perfect season for it too, so decided on a little treat for lunch today. Certainly beats the Ryvita’s….lol.
Beetroot is packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.
Perfect pairing with Beetroot for me is definitely Stornoway Black Pudding & Goats Cheese, just so yummy! I served with some Homegrown Spinach too.
4 large Beetroots – Cooked and Sliced into bite size chunks
60g Goats Cheese
4 Slices of Black pudding
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Mixed Herbs
Handful of Spinach – chopped
Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds to top
Place Beetroot into a bowl, add balsamic vinegar, salt & mixed herbs and mix through.
Cook Black Pudding in a pan on medium to high heat for about 3-4 minutes each side with a little oil. Remove and pat dry, break up into bite size pieces and add to beetroot and mix through.
Chop up the spinach and lay on a plate, top with the beetroot and black pudding then tear the goats cheese over and serve with pumpkin & sunflower seeds.
Pasta is such a staple food in most households and I think one of the easiest fast foods around. It can be made healthier by using the Wholewheat variety. When eaten in moderation, pasta can be part of a healthy diet. Wholewheat pasta may be a better choice for many, as it is lower in calories and carbs but higher in fiber and nutrients. However, in addition to the type of pasta you pick, what you top it with is just as important.
This dish uses Scottish Smoked Haddock, fresh from my favourite fishmongers in Pittenweem, Ryan Black, they deliver straight from the Shore to your door.
It also uses some of my fresh vegetables from my garden….yum!
I used my Steam pot for my Combi Microwave for this recipe, but if you don’t have Steamer just cook your pasta as per packet instructions. In a pan, bring some water to the boil add your vegetables and simmer for 4 minutes until softened. (you could use frozen vegetables or tinned vegetables for this too). Bring a large pan of water to the boil, bring to a simmer and add in your fish, cook for about 10 minutes.
If you have a Steam pot, add the pasta with 300ml water to the base, then your fish and vegetables onto the grid and cook on Pasta Setting for 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your sauce as per above recipe.
Remove fish and place onto a chopping board and remove the skin, break up into bite size pieces.
Drain your pasta and vegetables. Add the vegetables to the pasta then pour over the sauce mixture and mix through, add in the fish, mix and serve.
Mince ‘n’ Tatties (Mince & Potatoes) is a traditional Scottish dish and one that will never go away. Historically it was popular in school canteens because it was easy to make batches and feed lots of children. I grew up with mince ‘n’ tatties, at least once a week we would have this dish, whether it be at home, my grannies house or my Auntie’s it was a household meal that satisfied everyone every time.
There is no wrong or right way to make this, but does need to include minced beef and root vegetables such as onions & carrots. Here is my version and always a winner in my house. The only debate we always have is Brown Sauce or Tomato Sauce? Maybe you’ll make it and let me know…lol!
Best served with a buttered Scottish plain outsider slice too…….oh….this is a must! Or even a Scottish plain mince ‘n’ tattie piece (Sandwich)! Haven’t tried it….go on I dare you….you won’t look back…trust me!
For the Mince
250g Scottish Steak Mince
1 onion – chopped
1 Carrot – chopped
Handful of garden peas (frozen is fine)
200ml Beef Stock
1 tbsp Beef Gravy granules
Salt & Black pepper
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
For the Tatties
400g Potatoes (ones good for mash)
2 tbsp butter
Heat a little oil in a pan on medium heat and brown the onions, then add the mince, season with plenty black pepper and salt to taste and brown.
Add into the pot the carrots, peas and beef stock, mix and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
Next stir through the gravy granules to thicken the sauce, cook for a further 5 minutes. At this stage if using worcestershire sauce, then stir through.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes in slightly salted water until soft, drain and mash with the butter.
Go on, go back to your school days and use an ice cream scoop for yer tatties! In our households as kids and still to this day, we wouldn’t eat it like this…..oh no…..we would mix the tatties with the mince on the plate then cover in sauce….this is where the debate of Brown or Tomato sauce comes in…lol! Sometimes too we would make a piece with scottish plain bread and the mix of M&T’s in the middle…oh yum! You gotta try this. Proper home comfort food.
For a while now I have been trying to perfect my Empire Recipe, and finally I have found a ratio of ingredients and cooking times that work perfectly. (please bare in mind that not all ovens are the same, so you timings may vary slightly). The traditional Scottish way is to decorate with a Jube Jube (they are like big jelly tots), although most people tend to put a cherry on top. To be honest it’s whatever you like, there is no right or wrong. I have even experimented with alternative decorated toppings.