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Well it has been a few weeks now since I have been in the kitchen, slack I know!!  James, Izzy & I have been in Scotland for the last 10 days where we have enjoyed some R & R and hospitality courtesy of Robert & Laura. It was a very relaxed break and we just tiki-toured around the gorgeous countryside and spent the time between Aberdeen and the seaside town of Nairn. It was great to spend time with R & L and  also James’ cousin Gillian and her family and for Izzy to have the opportunity to spend time with her Scottish rellies.

The Wright's at Loch Ness

The Wright's at Loch Ness

On our final night in Aberdeen I took over Auntie Laura’s kitchen (and boy, did I make a mess – luckily I had a couple of sous chef’s on hand to clear up!). Laura took on the starter and what could be more Scottish than Haggis, Neeps & Tatties with a whisky sauce. Since my first taste of Haggis, quite a few years ago now, I have been a fan. I think the secret is not to think about what it actually is – yum!

Auntie Laura's starter - delicious!!

Auntie Laura's starter - delicious!!

The main course was Roast Beef with various accompaniements. It was sort of successful. James and I decided a while back that this winter is going to bring with it the challenge of mastering the Roast Dinner. There is some work to do. On this occasion I referred to Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch. My first mistake was not taking into account the fan oven and therefore cooking it too quick on the outside and a bit rare on the inside. Gordon’s recipe also calls for a Red Wine gravy and to be honest it was a bit of a palaver and not worth the effort. There was so much liquid it would have been the next night before it reduced to anything particularly gravy like – so we renamed it a red wine jous…..

My big success was the Yorkshire pudding – a first attempt too. Instead of individual ones I made one large one and it turned out fab. Gordon’s recipe below.

Yorkshire Puddings (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – ‘Sunday Lunch’)

Ingredients:-

225g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs, beaten

300ml milk

about 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs and half the milk and beat until smooth. Mix in the remaining milk and leave the batter to rest.

Once beef is cooked and resting increase the oven to 230C. Put 1 tsp oil into each section of a 12 hole tray and put into the oven on the top shelf until very hot (almost smoking).

Whisk batter again. As soon as you take tray from the oven, ladle in the batter to 3/4 fill the tins (it should sizzle) and immediately put back in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins until the Yorkshire puddings are well risen, golden brown and crisp. Don’t open the oven door until the end or they might collapse.

Success!

Success!

Finally the main was served. Really need to work on my timings – thank goodness for Laura’s hostess trolley!

Slàinte mhath (for non-Gaelic speakers 'Cheers')

Slàinte mhath (for non-Gaelic speakers 'Cheers')

It was getting late and we still had dessert to eat. Luckily I had it all prepared earlier and it was easy peasy! Gordon provides a good crumble recipe and it can easily be adapted with whatever fruits are in season. I don’t use the word ‘adapt’ often as I am strict recipe follower!

Strawberry, Peach & Ginger Crumble (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – ‘Sunday Food’)

Ingredients:-

3 ripe peaches

300g strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped

2 Tbsp sugar

Crumble:

50g toasted hazelnuts

70g plain flour

pinch of ground cinnamon

25g cold butter, cut into small pieces

50g demerara sugar

(Strangely the recipe also calls for 2 tbsp caster sugar in the crumble – but no instruction when to add this??)

Heat the oven to 200C. Halve, stone and roughly dice the peaches, then put them into a dry non-stick pan with the strawberries, ginger, sugar and 2 tbsp water. Cook over a high heat for 2 mins until the fruit is slightly softened but not mushy. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool.

For the crumble, lightly crush the hazelnuts in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin. In a large mixing bowl, stir together with the flour and cinnamon. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir through the crushed hazelnuts and demerara sugar.

Spoon the softened fruit into four wide ramekins or individual baking dishes (I used one large bowl but as it was quite deep the fruit spilled over some of the crumble so best wide and not too deep). Top with the crumble mixture, scattering it evenly, and stand the dishes on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 mins until the topping is golden brown and crisp.

Leave the crumble to stand for a few minutes before serving, with cream or creme anglaise (although I prefer vanilla ice cream!).

This could definitely become a family favourite – easy – tick, tasty – tick, easy to experiment with – tick….

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