Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Notes for a future post…

I am thinking about a post called “Things I Dislike about the US” although a better title might be “Why I don’t like the Western Hemisphere”. So far all I have is:

cire aromatisée au fromage

Not really fair, but it gets down to the crux of the matter, which is my centre of gravity is Europe. Always has been. But a part of that continent lies in the Western Hemisphere.

Anyway, lots of things that are OK in the US, but I would much rather be in Europe. Maybe because the nations are smaller (the size of US States). I’m still working on it, but cire aromatisée au fromage pretty much sums it up.

A visit to the brasserie

OK, a defintion for some of you:

In France, Flanders, and the Francophone world, a brasserie (pronounced [bʁas.ʁi]) is a type of French restaurant with a relaxed setting, which serves single dishes and other meals. The word brasserie is also French for “brewery” and, by extension, “the brewing business”. A brasserie can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linen—unlike a bistro which may have none of these.

Technically, a bistro is the original fast food. The story is that Russian soldiers would scream “Быстро” wanting the service quickly after Napoleon’s defeat in the east led to their occupying Paris. Not sure how true that story is, but “bistro” is indeed “fast” or “quickly” in Russian.

Oh, and a cafe is where you get coffee and maybe an alcoholic drink. They generally serve not much more than a “Snack” menu, if they serve food at all: platters of cheese and/or charcuterie, maybe a couple of sandwiches like the famous croque monsieur and madame and some meal-sized salads complete with ham, cheese and vegetables. Cafés are also often home of Tabacs, selling cigarettes and lotto tickets, and tend to be the meeting point of older French gentlemen at midday. That’s what was in Amélie (or Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain).

There are a at least a couple of brasseries within walking distance of me. Not to mention one dedicated boulangerie, which specialises in bread. Pâtisserie, on the other hand, refers to pastries and where they are sold. Law restricts its use to bakeries who employ licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chefs) in France and Belgium. Viennoiserie is the ‘bridge’ between pâtisserie and bread. These goods are typically made with white flour and active yeast cultures, which cause the dough to rise quickly and achieve the perfect flakiness. Many are made using an enriched puff pastry. Think the gooey, flakey pastries and you have Viennoiserie.

The brasserie I went to is the Rolls Royce of the lot in that it has a boulangerie-patisserie: as opposed to the patisserie nearby. That meant I was able to have bouche de noël a little late in the season. A galette des rois would have been more fun, but those you have to order: unless you want the cheapo store jobs. and

The bouche was nice and fresh. I may order one for next years réveillon, but we still have some left over in the freezer.

They were playing jazz. I thought I should be reading Le Monde, and could have been if I had my portable with me (left at home). Then, it hit me that the New York Herald-Tribune would have been more appropriate. Oh, and you can buy those T-shirts at redbubble.

BTW, I had to show ID and my vaccination certificate to get in.

One gripe I have with the US is that this kind of baked goods are hard to find. The US has a real problem with baguettes, but that’s another post.

Love-Hate about the US-Europe

I have a long post simmering where I get into some of the things I don’t like about the US. Some apply to Europe as well, but that’s easy since Europe is basically a bunch of countries which have banded together because they finally figured out trying to kill each other made no sense. Although, there are a few people who still think it does. Part of this is due to watching (wasting a couple of hours) the first two episodes of something called “Tribes of Europe”. Europe has survived serious destruction without ending up like that series.

Portrait de la contesse Fouler de Relingue

Anyway, it sort of comes down to four things: food, culture, distance, caring for cities and countryside, and transport. We could get into the Oxford comma as well, but that is francophony-anglophony. The French will eat Grandma, but prefer their lovers….

I’m not sure I should make “head” jokes, but I am very certain some of my ancestors made it through the Terror. They were able to enjoy the bals des victimes, but they exited stage right when it came to Les Mis. I’m posting the cleaned up version of coiffure à la Titus which was popular post-terror. My race memory clicked on the painting by Guérin in the Louvre.

I don’t relate to US history and always thought that the Civil War monuments commemorated the Franco-Prussian War, which was the Civil War for me. My relations fought on both sides. A direct result was that my great-great-grandfather shipped his son off to the States to avoid Bismarck’s Army. It also set off a chain reaction of events which would lead to my being born in the US. The Second World War led to my father coming to the States.

The thing is that I can get the things I like in Europe in the States/North America, and some of the things I hate about the States exist in Europe. Although, it’s hard to get something vaguely like Europe’s history in North America. People in the US prefer the myth and have done a great job of wrecking the real history, but that is changing. Just not fast enough for my taste.

Still, I would prefer Europe to the States even if there were TGVs, the cities ended at defined boundaries, and there were really cool small towns out there that had restaurants that served exciting local food. As opposed to restaurants that are exciting because everyone is carrying guns–that’s not they type of excitement I mean. I left out more obvous old settlements. Places like Cahokia and Cahawba don’t do it for me since they were ethnically cleansed from history.

I didn’t get the Hudson Valley School of Painting and the concept behind it until I spent a lot of time on the ground (can’t make a good pun of “sur-le-champ”). But no matter what the appearance is, natural resources are limited. While the Americas have been populated for millenia, the cultures that populated them have been ethnically cleansed. Or are seen as a quaint. This quotation about the “First Thanksgiving” gets to the point:

One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time. And having history start with the English is a way of dismissing all that. The second is that the arrival of the Mayflower is some kind of first-contact episode. It’s not. Wampanoags had a century of contact with Europeans–it was bloody and it involved slave raiding by Europeans. At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture.

Most poignantly, using a shared dinner as a symbol for colonialism really has it backward. No question about it, Wampanoag leader Ousamequin reached out to the English at Plymouth and wanted an alliance with them. But it’s not because he was innately friendly. It’s because his people have been decimated by an epidemic disease, and Ousamequin sees the English as an opportunity to fend off his tribal rebels. That’s not the stuff of Thanksgiving pageants. The Thanksgiving myth doesn’t address the deterioration of this relationship culminating in one of the most horrific colonial Indian wars on record, King Philip’s War, and also doesn’t address Wampanoag survival and adaptation over the centuries, which is why they’re still here, despite the odds.

I found that while looking for this clip. I saw it when I went to the Smithsonian Museum of the Native American the day my application for European residency came through. The speaker is Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche).

Unfortunately, the westward expansion of the English Colonies meant ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans.

Anyway, Paul, my family is supposed to have been there for that First Thanksgiving, but it’s a lot more difficult for a European to move back than most people realise. And changing North America for the better is tough with monied interests blocking the way.


Ok, I have a thing for copper cookware, which I can blame on an ex-girlfriend.  Copper cookware is the ultimate.  The stuff is made to last (although older copper cookware requires retinning, which is worth the money).

“Copper pots are the most satisfactory of all to cook in, as they hold and spread the heat well and their tin lining does not discolor food….. To get the full benefit of cooking in copper, the metal must be 1/8 inch thick, and the handle should be of heavy iron.”

Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1961

The turbotière is the  most exclusive and sought after item in the copper cookware aficionado’s wish list.  ‘It is a venial extravagance to acquire a turbotiere, as I did even before I owned a frying pan’. — Alan Davidson, North Atlantic Seafood.  I think some cooks own the things even if they will never use one.


Turbotière front and centre of props at Hampton Court Kitchen.

I got the bug after watching “Duchess of Duke Street” where Louisa cooks her big meal using one. The suckers are BIG (as are turbots, who can grow up to a metre).  Turbot is the king of fish: Roman Emperors, Popes and the wealthy (makes sense since Lousia was cooking for the Prince of Wales) have all waxed lyrical on these mighty beasts.

They are expensive as heck new (around 2000 in most currencies).  But they can be found used for much less, but they aren’t cheap.  Turbot’s being a delicacy for the affluent is probably why turbotières are (1) coveted and (2) not cheap.  Although, a whole turbot isn’t that dear, around 60 in most currencies: making it less expensive than lobster.

They are also pretty big.  Someone pointed out he couldn’t get his in his oven (but one can use them on the stove).

Of course, the money needed to buy one makes sense if one owns a restaurant (or cooks a lot of seafood for wealthy people).  Again, these seem to be more status than utilitarian.

and one can dream.

Belgian Waffles (Brussels and Liege)

Most people are familiarWaffles with the Liege Waffle if they are familiar with something called a Belgian waffle.  The Liege waffle is the one that most people think of when they think of these since they are pretty much the most common.  I know that I have to admit that the Liege waffle is the one that I think of off the top of my head.  They are sold on street corners, and I did a post on them not too long ago.

There are actually a few different types of Belgian waffles with the Liege Waffle being the most common.  These are what are most often sold by street vendors such as Belgaufra.  The next most common one is the Brussels Waffle, but they are pretty much only found in Belgium, which is too bad.  Also, most of the Belgian Waffle recipes out there are for Liege Waffles, not Brussels Waffles.

Like Liege Waffles, Brussels waffles are also made with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter, traditionally an ale yeast. Occasionally both types of leavening are used together. They result is that Brussels waffles are lighter, crisper and have larger pockets compared to other types of Belgian waffle. Unlike Liège Waffles, Brussels waffles have a rectangular shape and deeper holes. Brussels waffles are usually dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Both types of waffles might be topped with whipped cream (“Chantilly”), fruit, or chocolate spread.

Most waffle irons sold make Liege Waffles.  Finding a Brussels Waffle Iron is (1) Expensive and (2) hard to do outside Belgium.  In my opinion, that is why the Brussels waffle is not as common as the Liege Waffle–although both are pretty good.  But, good luck coming up with  Brussels Waffle outside of Belgium!

BTW, most of what is called a Belgian Waffle in the US is nothing like a real Belgian Waffle. First off, these are made with yeast and much lighter than what is mostly passed off as a Belgian Waffle in the US.  Also, the Liege Waffle has pearl sugar.  In short, they are weak attempts at a real Belgian waffle.

Anyway, I will repost the links to the Waffle Recipes.

See also:

Promenade Frites/frietjes

I was curious as to whether what are called “Boardwalk Fries” in some parts of the US are the same thing as the Belgian Frite.  They are indeed.

What makes a frite (or Boardwalk Fry) a Frite is that they are cooked twice.  First, at a low temperature and then at a higher temperature.  This is how Ruth Van Waerebeek, the author of Everybody Eats Well in Belgium describes the process:

There is no fancy skill involved in making these crispy fries, but there is a trick. The potatoes are fried twice. The first time cooks them through and makes them tender. The second time, which can be done hours later just before serving, turns them golden brown and deliciously crisp.

Ms. Van Waerebeek also suggest that one use older potatoes for frites since young potatoes have not had enough time to develop sufficient starch.

Although, there are some differences in how they are served which makes a difference between Boardwalk Fries and Belgian Frites.  The Maryland version can have Old Bay and Apple Cider vinegar (not malt vinegar a la mode Anglais).  Also, Belgian frites are served with mayonnaise with some restaurants spicing up the mayonnaise with curry.

I do have to admit that having my suspicion confirmed that Boardwalk fries were prepared the same way that Belgian Frites were makes me think that Moules and Frites should also make it to the US Boardwalks.  Dat zou heel mooi zijn!

See also:

Léon de Bruxelles (Chez Léon)

chez-leonsOne thing I really like is a good pot of Mussels and Chips (mosselen en frieten, moules-frites, mosselen-friet), which was one of the two things I really liked about Belgian food.  The beer is pretty good as well, but I really like moules-frites.  I got hooked at the original Léon de Bruxelles,  Chez Léon, at Rue De Bouchers/Beenhouwersstraat 18 in Brussels when I lived there.  I knew that the restaurant had spread to France since that was where we ended up eating most of the time.

I’ll be honest, the place is a bit like a Belgian McDonalds serving up moules-frites in a sit down setting with a quality and price that is pretty predictable.  I’ve had loads of better moules-frites in places like Belgo, but it was nice to see a familiar face in Paris: especially since the Parisians can be nearly as bad as New Yorkers for not making you feel very welcome.  Parisians are definitely food snobs with an inflated reputation and opinion of themselves (Lyon has a better culinary reputation).

Unlike McDonalds, Léon is a family business:

Léon Vanlancker set up his original business, a five-table restaurant called A la Ville d’Anvers in 1867. In 1893, he moved a few meters from there to 18 rue des Bouchers and opened fr:Chez Léon.  Real growth started from 1958 when Brussels became known as the capital of mussels and French fries. Since then, the Vanlancker business has continued to expand. Today, it extends to nine buildings and more than one thousand meals are served every day. The Vanlacker family opened the first Léon restaurant in Paris at Place de la République.  There are 67 Léon de Bruxelles restaurants across France.Hulot

Anyway, there were more Léon’s restaurants in Paris than there were in all of Belgium when I was there at the turn of the millennium.  Not that moules-frites aren’t French, but they are pretty much a Belgian dish.  The Irish who call mussels “famine food” somehow never put mussels and chips together for some odd reason. Although, I know that Denis Blais and Andre Plisnier will happily point out that Frites are Belgian (and gave me points on how to properly cook them).

Where this is going is that the Léon de Bruxelles headquarters appears to be in Lille, France!  Not only that, they opened a store in London in the Covent Garden area a couple of years back (that’s sort of close to Belgo Centraal).  I am also having a desire for some Léon’s moules-frites, even though I live close to a really good moules-frites restaurant! Actually, there is a recent Zagat article that mentions 8 places to get them near me and  I’ve been to most of them!

Seriously, there is this part of me that wishes that people in the US would discover moules-frites.  I know that “boardwalk fries” are something that people eat in the US, but I am not sure if there are many places to get moules-frites.  Then again, I haven’t been to the place I would like to see them, Dewey Beach, in a long while.  I’d also like to see a hotel like the one in M. Hulot’s Holiday, but I understand that one is now a five star hotel (Hotel De La Plage in Saint Nazaire, France) and you will pay a fortune for the room he stayed in.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Anyway, I no longer need to imagine I am on the Belgian coast.



EU ban on refillable olive oil bottles and dipping bowls

This has to be a joke–right?  Except it’s not April Fools.

From next year olive oil “presented at a restaurant table” must be in pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.

The use of classic, refillable glass jugs or glazed terracotta dipping bowls and the choice of a restaurateur to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business will be outlawed.

Sam Clark, the food writer, chef and proprietor of the award winning Moro restaurant in London, told The Daily Telegraph that the ban would stop him serving his customers specially selected Spanish olive oil in dipping bowls with bread when they are seated at their table.

The reason for this is supposedly food fraud, but this seems a bit absurd after the horsemeat scandal.

Saint Andrew’s Day is on its way!

The radio is telling me that it is  Friday week until St. Andrew’s Day.  I’ve been planning for a while, but it looks as if the menu is going to be the same as last year:

Salad:Lanark Blue and Walnut Salad

Soup: Cullen Skink

Main Course:

* the Medley of Roasted Roots
* Venison Medallions in Cumberland Sauce,

* Orkney Fudge Cheesecake

The English Breakfast

OK, Williams-Sonoma came out with a “recipe” for an English Breakfast in one of their catalogues last year, which is now on their website:

This hearty breakfast is the vestige of the traditional morning meals that were served in grand English country houses during the Edwardian era. Here, the main course fry-up features bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes paired with buttered toast. Accompany with a pot of freshly brewed tea.


  • 8 oz. small button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 15 to 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 slices sweet batard, cut diagonally, each about 4 inches long and 1 inch thick
  • Unsalted butter as needed
  • 8 eggs
  • 12 bacon slices, cooked, drained and kept warm
  • 12 pork breakfast sausage links, cooked, drained and kept warm
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, stir together the mushrooms, the 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms in a single layer on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Set the cherry tomatoes, stem end up, on the opposite side of the sheet. Lightly drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes just start to burst, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a plate. Continue roasting the mushrooms until golden and tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to the plate.

Lightly toast the bread and spread with butter. Warm a griddle over medium heat and generously brush with olive oil. Working in batches, break the eggs onto the griddle and fry until the whites are set and the edges of the yolks just begin to set, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place 1 slice toast on each of 4 plates and top each with 2 fried eggs. Place the bacon and sausage on the plates. Stir together the mushrooms and tomatoes and spoon on top of the eggs. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

It’s pretty good, but I’ve made my own tweaks to it.

First off, I hate tomatoes, but would cook them if someone really, really, really insisted on them.

Next, Substitute a mix of forest mushrooms for those boring old button jobbies: By forest mushrooms I mean chanterelles, porcini, maitake, black trumpet mushrooms, oysters mushrooms, etcetera. Have fun and come up with a mix to your own taste! Somewhat of a Gallic twist to this grande petite dejuner!

Also, make it heart smart by substituting turkey for pork. I can come up with some really nice turkey sage sausages (can’t call them Cumberland though!). The pork can be saved for very special occassions. Amusingly, Williams-Sonoma sells English style bacon (of course, this recipe is to boost sales of that stuff!).

Add coffee and orange juice.

Any really nice bread from a bakery will also go well with this.

Parsley? Forget it!

Irish oatmeal is also a pretty good addition to this as well. Get the McCann’s steel cut stuff in the tin and cook it in a mini-crock pot for about 4 hours (overnight). The proper mix is 1/3 cup to 2 cups water.

“Cumberland” Sauce

O.K., The name “Cumberland” has some pretty bad connotations in the Highlands, but…

This is a variation on the Cumberland Sauce from Delia Smith

•    1 jar red currant jelly (rougly 340 /12 0z.
•    1  chopped shallot
•     zest from 1 orange
•    zest from 1 lemon
•    1 tablespoon grated ginger
•    1 teaspoon English mustard
•    1/2 cup port wine  or  Scotch whisky
•   1/2  orange juice
•    Juice from the lemon
•    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Place all the ingredients, except the citrus zest into a saucepan and simmer.  Sort of do what Chef John Mitzewich does, but use my ingredients.

Trust me, it’s easier than writing it down!

Also, I am going to put it on the venison warm rather than let it cool, the way Chef John suggests.

I’m hoping this should be pretty tasty on Haggis. Edinburgh Preserves made something called Gardener’s Sauce for Haggis.  I reckon that is a varient of Cumberland Sauce from reading the ingredients.  I’ve used Cumberland Sauce as a substitute, which is how this recipe came about.

Oh, yeah don’t use daddy’s vintage port, claret, or expensive single malt for this recipe–buy the cheap stuff.

Cumberland Sausages

I just found out that Cumberland Sausages have gained Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which is something that European Union law uses to protect the names of regional foods. There are three distinct regimes of geographical indications according to the law: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). The law which is enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded internationally via bilateral agreements between the EU and non-EU countries was designed to ensure that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed in commerce identified by that name. This law came into force in 1992 with the purpose of the protecting the reputation of regional foods, promoting rural and agricultural activity, helping producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, and eliminating the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour. These laws protect the names of wines, cheeses, hams, sausages, seafood, olives, beers, Balsamic vinegar and even regional breads, fruits, raw meats and vegetables.

So, Arbroath Smokies need to be made in Arbroath Scotland. For example, Roquefort cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France, where it is infected with the spores of a fungus (Penicillium roqueforti) that grows in these caves. In the case of the Cumberland sausage they now need to be made in what was the county of Cumberland, England, now part of Cumbria with lots of pepper and sage. They are traditionally very long (up to 50 cm), and sold rolled in a flat, circular coil but within western Cumbria they are more often served in long curved lengths.

The Protected Geographical Indication system is similar to Appellation systems throughout the world, such as the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) used in France, the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) used in Italy, the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) used in Portugal, and the Denominación de Origen (DO) system used in Spain. In many cases, the EU PDO/PGI system works parallel with the system used in the specified country, and in some cases is subordinated to the appellation system that was already instituted, particularly with wine, for example, and in France (in particular) with cheese, for example Maroilles (as most others) has both PDO (AOP in French) and AOC classifications, but generally only the AOC classification will be shown.

Of course, this gums up the business of people who made cumberland sausages outside of the region (likewise Arbroath smokies anywhere other than Arbroath!). So, people who were selling things called cumberland sausages that were made outside of Cumberland now have to change what they call the things.

I have a couple of opinions on whether this is a good idea or not. First off, it is nice to know that you are getting the “real deal” for some of these products. On the other hand, if you live somewhere these things aren’t available due to import restrictions (as in the case of cumberland sausages), it is a royal pain in the arse. Those people are stuck with cheap substitutes for these products.

Of course, Protected Geographical Indication isn’t the only thing that can keep consumers from buying products. For example, the manufacturer could not distribute to a location (say Jordan’s Cereals, Lord Rayleigh’s Farms yoghurt, Baxter’s Soups–OK, Lord Rayleigh’s Farms doesn’t appear to produce yoghurt anymore, but…). Those poor souls are left with a desire for these products with no hope of buying them.

I forgot to add that Cornish Pasties can only be made in Cornwall, which has me wondering about those shops called something like “The Original Cornish Pasty Shoppe” in London. Do they need to go out of business or change their names? And it’s such a bugger to get to Cornwall, especially in the Summertime. I realise it’s across the Tamar, but I’m too lazy to make it to Dartmoor most times!

Deep-fried Mars bar

No shit! I do have to admit to thinking this was a joke when I first heard about it.  It is an ordinary Mars bar normally fried in a type of batter commonly used for fish and chips. It originated at chip shops in Scotland as a novelty item, but was never mainstream. Since various mass media have reported on the practice since the mid 1990s, in part as a commentary on urban Scotland’s notoriously unhealthy diet, the popularity of the dish has spread.

Rumour is that it was invented in the Haven Chip Bar in Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, in 1995. The first recorded mention of the food was in the Aberdeen Evening Express following a tip off phone call to their journalist Alastair Dalton that a chip shop in Stonehaven had been deep frying Mars Bars for local kids.

Here’s the recipe if you are perverse enough to want to try this. I have the “luck” of having a chip shop that makes this nearby if I ever have the urge (that was the “inspiration” for this post).

* 1 Mars bars or 1 Milky Way bar
* 1 cup plain flour
* 1/2 cup cornflour
* 1 pinch baking soda
* milk or beer
* oil (for deep frying)

1. Chill the chocolate bar by keeping it in the fridge, but don’t freeze it.
2. Mix the flours and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) together.
3. Add milk (traditional) or beer (which gives a lighter result) until you get a batter with the consistency of thin cream.
4. Heat the oil until a small piece of bread will brown in a few seconds, but don’t allow to smoke.
5. Remove wrapper from chilled chocolate bar.
6. Coat completely in batter.
7. Carefully lower into hot oil and fry until golden brown.
8. Serve, with ice cream or french fries, if you’re so inclined

One restaurant that serves this calls it a “A serious indulgence! For health and safety reasons, we can’t give you seconds of this.”

I can’t imagine wanting seconds of it.

But, it would be an interesting St. Andrew’s Day after!

And you thought Haggis was disgusting!

Posted 10/11/2011 by lacithedog in Deep-fried Mars bar, food, scotland

Haggis Crisps?

OK, so I am getting ready for a Saint Andrew’s Day feast, as well as doing some forward planning for Burns’ Night and came up with Mackies Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper Crisps. These could be a wild nibble for Burns’ Night!

Yes, I’ve got them!

Lanark Blue and Walnut Salad

So far the St.Andrew’s Day menu is:




* Lanark Blue and Walnut Salad



Main Course

* the Medley of Roasted Roots
* Venison Medallions in Cumberland Sauce,

* Orkney Fudge Cheesecake

Of course, one could argue about the propriety of using something called “Cumberland Sauce” in a Saint Andrew’s Day Menu–so, that is a tentative option! suggests raspberry vinegar in this recipe.  The recipe is something that would be preferable to have had made for one before going forth and trying it (and I loath tomatoes!).

Anyway, here is the recipe for Lanark Blue and Walnut Salad:

Lanark Blue is a Scottish blue cheese that is made from ewe’s milk on a farm near Biggar, south of Edinburgh. Lanark Blue is based on the Fench cheese Roquefort but its tangy and creamy texture belongs only to itself. Here we will take a look at how to make a Lanark Blue and Walnut salad.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

* Mixed salad leaves
* 4 fresh figs
* 115g of Lanark Blue cheese, cut into small chunks
* 75g walnut halves
* 45ml walnut oil
* The juice of 1 lemon
* salt
* black pepper


1. Mix the walnut oil, juice of a lemon, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Whisk well until the mixture starts to ‘thicken’ and becomes emulsified.
2. Take the mixed salad leaves and wash and dry them thoroughly. Tear the leaves gently into managable bite size pieces. Place the leaves into a bowl and toss in together with the dressing.
3. Transfer the mixed leaves and dressing into four different serving plates, making sure that there is a good enough balance of colour and texture of mixed leaves in each plate.
4. Cut the figs into quarters and add 4 to each individual plate.
5. Take the Lanark Blue cheese and sprinkle the chunks over each plate.
6. Sprinkle the walnuts over each plate also, making sure to ‘break’ them up roughly with your fingers whilst sprinkling them.

If you are not sure of which lettuce is best for mixed salad leaves, you could take the issue out of your own hands and buy a pre-mixed bag of lettuce from your local supermarket. If you insist on purchasing the salad leaves individually may I suggest looking for dark green salad leaves, including rocket, and red salad leaves and, to add interest and a bite, some kind of crunchy leaves, such as ‘Little Gem’. It does, of course, come down to the individuals choice so it is worth trying different types to get the taste/texture that you prefer.

If you are not a fan of figs then it is easy enough to make this without them. As an alternative though, rather than doing without anything, why not try nectarines or peaches instead of figs. Simply, wash and cut the nectarines or peaches in half. Make sure to discard the stone. Cut each half into three or four chunks and serve on the salad. If the skin of the nectarine or peach appears to be too tough, simply remove it.

The soup course is still up for grabs with crab soup looking as if it will be what I’ll have over cullen skink and some other choices from Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter’s Scottish Traditional Recipes.

Nibbles?  Scottish salmon is always on.  There is a packet of smoked salmon nibbles which may be the easier option, but I can get Arbroath smokies.  I think it depends on who I’m having over to join me for this.