Community Cookery Classes in Aberdeen

Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have noticed that I've been posting Fishy Dishes every Tuesday since the end of October. The reason for this is that I'm a tutor at the Silver (Haired) Darlings Fish Cookery class for over 65's at the S.T.A.R. Community flat in Seaton. This project has been funded by the Aberdeen Change Fund with the aim of providing engagement opportunities, boosting confidence and independence and developing budgeting and cookery skills. 

The STAR Community Flat is run by the charitable organisation Seaton Taking Action for Regeneration and provides a one-stop shop for local residents, agencies, community groups and organisations working in the area. 

Why Silver (Haired) Darlings? Silver Darlings are the Scottish nickname for herring. Participants in the class are age 65+

We work to a £10 a week budget in a very basic kitchen with a rather temperamental cooker. But there is a lot of enthusiasm and a great deal of fun. Here's a wee taster of some of our fishy going on's so far. 
1 Pint Full Fat Milk
750ml Vegetable Stock
2 large fillets Smoked Haddock
4 Potatoes diced
25g Butter
1 Onion
1 Leek
1 Tablespoon Chopped ParsleyDouble Cream (optional) 
Salt & Pepper 

Heat the Milk and half the Vegetable Stock in a shallow pan. Add the smoked Haddock and poach for 10 minutes until lightly cooked.
Slice and wash the leek thoroughly.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Peel and Dice the Potatoes.
Wash and chop the parsley.
In a large Soup Pan melt the butter and add the onion and leeks and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Add the Potato and the remaining Vegetable Stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the potato is soft.
Add the liquid form the poached Haddock to the soup but not the fish.
Flake the smoked haddock with a fork.
Gently mash/blend the soup to desired consistency.
Add flaked fish, chopped parsley, double cream and seasoning.
Heat through and serve. 
Cream Cracker Haddock Goujons
4 Haddock Fillets
125g Cream Crackers
Zest of a Lemon
Clove of Garlic
Small Bunch of Parsley
Seasoned Flour (Plain Flour with Salt & Pepper)
Beaten Egg
Oil to fry

Cut haddock into strips and set aside
Blitz together cream crackers, lemon zest, garlic and parsley in a food processor (or bash with a rolling pin)
Prepare three bowls of seasoned flour, beaten egg and cracker mix.
Dip each piece of fish in the flour, then the egg, then the crackers.
Fry in oil until lightly browned.
Smoked Haddock Bake created to celebrate St Andrews Day by Adam Newth, Young Scottish Chef of the Year for About Scotland
Cauliflower Cheese Soup, Melba Toast and Smoked Mackerel pâté 
Retro Smoked Haddock & Parsley Flan. Recipe from a Woman & Home magazine leaflet from late 70's early 80's.
Stuffed Haddock in a Cheese Sauce
Stuffing made from breadcrumbs, onion, bacon, parsley, Parmesan cheese and tomatoes. 
Smoked Fish & Sweetcorn Chowder and Oatcakes
I've had a great time over the past three months at the STAR Flat and I'm sure that will continue over the 2 year duration of the project. The ladies (no men so far) who attend the classes have been very open to trying new ingredients, learning new skills and sharing their knowledge and life experience with me. It's been fantastic to see their confidence in cookery growing and I was especially touched to be told that I'd inspired someone to start cooking for themselves more often rather than relying on "ping" meals. She proudly showed me photos on her phone of a dish she'd made. This was from someone who told me the first week that she came that she couldn't cook.

I'm actively seeking more cookery tutoring and demonstrating jobs in Aberdeen and surrounds so please do mention my name or drop me an email if your school, community group or organisation might be interested in using my services. Further information on what I can offer is available on my Educating & Demonstrating page

Meal Planning Monday 27th January 2014

Monday, 27 January 2014
Last week was all about the haggis. Do catch up on my Burns blogs if you missed them. Countdown to Burns Night and #InspiredByBurns. A couple of amendments to last weeks meal plan due to last minute changes of plans. and a couple of dishes bumped to this week. On Wednesday night Foodie Loon was out for an impromptu Curry and girl was on a playdate so boy made sushi for us both. He was rightly proud of his efforts.
The Lemon Sole Meuniere didn't go quite to plan as no capers to be found in the fridge.  Still tasted good. Nigella's Pea & Pancetta Pasta Risotto is unbelievably quick and so tasty. Give Orzo a go in a risotto, you won't be dissapointed. Lamb and Apricot Pilaf was great. I sometimes forget how much I love lamb steak. Sunday nights tea was takeway Fish & Chips, perfect for any fragile feelings after Burns Night.
Our Burns Night soiree on Saturday night was great fun. I'll let the pictures tell the story. A braw time indeed was had.
Scottish Drinks Cabinet
Table set with a Touch of Tartan
Haggis Crisps, Oatcakes with Cheese, Smoked Salmon & Venison Pate
Scottish Wine
Cullen Skink
Haggis Oatcakes
Boy in full flow Addressing the Haggis
Clootie Dumpling made by Heather
Cranachan Cream
Only three days of meal planning this week. We are at a Burns Supper on Thursday night and then I'm heading to Kingussie for the Food on Film Festival. Foodie Loon and the kids will have to fend for themselves.
Smoked Haddock & Parsley Flan
Choc Chip Chilli & Cornbread Crust
Zesty Chicken Pasta

Enjoy your week!

Haggis Tattie Scones and Haggis Oatcakes

Friday, 24 January 2014
I was delighted to be asked by the 2014 Food & Drink Campaign to participate in a Burns Night Blogger Challenge. An intriguing and beautifully wrapped parcel arrived and when opened revealed a nest with a hibernating haggis and an invitation to be #InspiredByBurns. Rousing the beastie from its slumber was much easier than heading to the hillsides to hunt one down. They are sneaky wee creatures which have evolved over time to have two long and two short legs which enable them to thrive on the steep Scottish hillsides. You have to be very cunning to capture one in the wild.

I was somewhat worried as to the health of my haggis as there were no air holes punched in the box to enable it to breathe (in the manner of Blue Peter hibernating tortoise Freda) however a medical examination revealed that all was well and it was time to Ready, Steady, Invent.

For my #InspiredByBurns creations I opted to take a twist on the traditional Scottish favourites of Tatties Scones, Oatcakes and Neeps and sex them up with Haggis and Whisky. I hope Rabbie would approve.
175g Riced or Mashed Potato
100g Haggis
50g Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

Warm the haggis to soften and mix it well into the potato.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and thoroughly combine. 
Liberally flour your surface and roll out gently to form two circles about 1/4" thick. 
Cut the circles into quarters.
Heat a gridle or heavy frying pan. 
Smear on some butter with kitchen roll. 
Once hot cook scones for about 3-4mins on each side until golden brown.
What an amazing smell when they were cooking and even better when it came to the taste test. Plates were cleared and requests of "Please Sir, Can I have some more?". They caused much excitement on Facebook and Twitter. Do let me know if you give them a try. Next up, the oatcakes.
1 Cup Oatmeal
100g Haggis
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
Boiling Water

Mix the oatmeal, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Warm the haggis to soften and add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Gradually add boiling water and mix to a soft consistency. Turn on to a worksurface or board sprinkled with oatmeal and divide into two. Form each half into a round and roll as thin as possible without cracking. Cut into eight and bake on a griddle over a low heat until the edges start to curl up. 
I'm not 100% happy with how these turned out. The are a wee bit/soft chewy in comparison to the traditional oatcakes I made for the first time last week. Perhaps less haggis in the mix would help. I'm going to serve them alongside Cullen Skink on Burns Night and will keep my fingers crossed that they will crisp up with a blast in a hot oven prior to serving.
Haggis and tatties utilised so just the Neep and Whisky to go. The traditional accompaniment for Haggis of course chappit neeps but I would highly recommend you give my whisky neeps a try. I'm not a whisky fan but I do love these. Buttery, sugary, sticky and sweet. You will never go back to mashed neeps once you have tried them. 
700g neep (swede) peeled and cubed
50g butter
4 Tbsp demerara sugar
2 Tbsp Whisky

Place cubed neep in a pan with the butter, sugar, whisky and enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil and cook uncovered over a high heat until the water has evaporated to leave a buttery glaze. This will take around 30 minutes.
Season, serve and enjoy.
I hope you have been #InspiredByBurns to do something different with your Haggis, Neeps, Tatties and Whisky on 25th January this year but do remember. Haggis is for life - not just for Burns Night.

Traditional Scottish Oatcakes

Thursday, 23 January 2014
The theme for our first Pinnies and Petticoats Aberdeen Cake Club of 2014 was Back to Basics. I immediately knew what I wanted to tackle. Oatcakes. I've never made them before but they are about as basic as you get in terms of Scottish Cookery. I asked my Mum to scour her College, WRI and Young Farmers Cookbooks for recipes. She duly obliged and in the end I opted for a combination of methods predominantly based on a recipe from the Aberdeen Cook Book. Foodie Mum studied at the Robert Gordon's Technical College School of Domestic Science in Aberdeen. She did the Demonstrators course and the recipe came from the 8th edition of the book which dates from 1959. 

Traditional Scottish Oatcakes
The Aberdeen Cook Book recipe said to rub in the dripping. I tried this for the first batch but then switched to melting it which was easier. Also went with boiling water rather than tepid after the first batch. It's a bit of trial and error as to how much water to add but I found it easier to start with a sticky mix as when you roll it out it dries up very quickly. All the recipes said to finish them off by toasting in front of the fire. Alas I failed on this. I guess the modern equivalent might be placing them under the grill but I didn't feel they needed any additional cooking.
Scottish Oatcakes
1 Cup Oatmeal
2 Teaspoons Melted Dripping
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
Boiling Water

Mix the oatmeal, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Pour in the melted dripping and stir to mix. Gradually add boiling water and mix to a soft consistency. Turn on to a worksurface or board sprinkled with oatmeal. Form a round and roll as thin as possible without cracking. Cut into eight and bake on a griddle over a low heat until the edges curl up. 
The remit for the Back to Basics theme was "no fancy decorations, sugar flowers or expensive, hard-to-get ingredients. We're looking for bakes that you can make with things you keep in your cupboard - whether it's a traditional family bake, a leftovers recipe, or just a staple that gets baked time and time again."  We had a fantastic range of bakes within the theme with many different interpretations.
Treacle Parkin, Recipe c 1835
Peanut Butter, Banana and Dark Chocolate Cookies with Caramelised Bacon
WWII Carrot Cookies
Cheese Straws
Chocolate Krispie Cakes
WWII Sponge Cake
Be-Ro Book Shortbread
Chocolate & Chilli Brownies & Cranberry Rock Cakes
Tangerine Cake
Cookie Bars
Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Raspberry Blondies
Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Cookies
White Bread
Cherry Tomato Hearts
The next Bake Club meet takes place on Wednesday 5th February 2014 and the theme is Valentines. Last year I made Cheese Oatcake Crackers and Cherry Tomato Hearts. No idea what I'll make this time round. Off to check out my blog post from last year for inspiration. New bakers are always welcome. Like the Pinnies and Petticoats Facebook Page for all the details. Maybe see you there?

Countdown to Burns Night

Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Piping in the Guests & Welcome

Hello, good evening and welcome to my virtual Burns Night. I've got a lot of prestigious guests and auld acquaintances to introduce so please come in, make yourself at home and enjoy the skirl of the pipes. 
Lets say grace before we begin
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it, 
But we hae meat and we can eat, 
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
Piping in the Haggis
Bet you thought I was kidding about the pipes? Alas that's not the case in this house. Foodie Loon is a piper with Newtonhill Pipe Band, boy is learning the snare drum and girl the chanter.  I wear the earplugs. Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper Crisps from Mackie's are already a hit in this household. Yup the folk that make Ice Cream also make crisps. According to girl, and with apologies to Charlie and Lola, they are "my favourite and my best". Spicy, peppery and very moreish.
Mackie's Haggis Crisps and Bagpipes
The Address to the Haggis
I'm a big fan of Macsween Haggis so was very intrigued to see their latest limited edition offerings. Venison Haggis and Three Bird Haggis (Grouse, Duck and Pheasant). I was equally keen to try out their Microwave in 60 seconds packs. These were so convenient. Remove the outer cardboard wrapper, pop the pack in the microwave (no need to pierce) for one minute. The plastic covering puffs up, you peel it back and serve. Perfect solution for haggis for one.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll make it whissle; 
An legs an arms, an heads will sned, 
Like taps o thrissle.

Toast to the Haggis 
Confession time. I'm not actually a fan of Whisky. I have been told that I've just not found the right one for me yet. Admittedly I've not been trying too hard. So to toast the Haggis we have Gran Stead's Ginger Co. Fiery Ginger. I'm informed it works equally well as a mixer with Whisky but I've been having it straight or on the rocks. Boy is it fiery. Certainly packs a punch and cuts through the richness of Haggis. Slàinte Mhòr!

The Meal
Time for the main event. Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Girl stuck to the traditional Macsweens whilst we sampled the limited editions. The Venison was the ultimate winner. Perfectly encapsulating "warm-reekin rich!". Perhaps it was the inclusion of Port and Juniper which swung it for me. Three Bird was also very special but the quince and lavender made it a wee bit too floral for my taste. Get these indulgent versions while you can and keep an eye out for more limited editions from Macsweens throughout the year. 
Tam O' Shanter
Oh Tam had'st thou but been sae wise to stick to taking Whisky only in your Marmalade rather than getting fou and unco happy. Mackays have been making Marmalade for over 70 years still by the traditional method using copper pans. From the dark thick cut Vintage Dundee to the original Dundee Orange. Our luck was really in the day that a Spanish Ship full of Seville Oranges took refuge from a storm in Dundee Harbour. Even sulky sullen Kate would surely approve of a liberal spreading of whisky infused oranges to "toast" the Bard first thing in the morning.
The Immortal Memory
How would Rabbie have us remember him in these modern times? I reckon he would very much approve of his inclusion in the Gillian Kyle local hero's range. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Andy Murray, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander Graham Bell. A romantic red mug bearing his legacy as "Poet and Heartbreaker". But whatever would he make of a Haggis Buttery? For the uninitiated a Buttery/Rowie/Roll is a bakery product specific to the North East corner of Scotland. Like a squashed dense croissant. Lard, Salt and Flour being the traditional main ingredients. Add Haggis to the mix and you have something truly special from craft bakers J.G. Ross
Holy Willie's Prayer 
A Haggis pie would surely be the answer to Holy Willie's prayers. Especially if accompanied with Maw Broon's Kitchen Broon Sauce and a Mug of Tea. The pie from J.J.Ross contains the ubiquitous Haggis topped with bashed neeps and chappit tatties. Fit Fine. Maw Broon's Broon Sauce is braw. Prepared in small batches with the very best ingredients from Glebe Street.
Toast to the Lassies
What better way to toast the ladies than with a Cranachan Cupcake from J.G. Ross. Fruity, sweet, pink perfection with a toasted oat topping. Washed down with a cuppa in a Gillian Kyle Mug. Alas the lassie doth prefer carnations to red red roses. Rabbie should have picked up a bunch at the petrol station forecourt.

Toast to the Laddies
How to respond to a Cranachan Cupcake? With inuendo and smut of course. Maw Broon is a saucy lady but I think she missed a trick. She's called her Brown Sauce Broon but surely her Tomato Ketchup should have been Red Sauce? Red or Broon its all good and a wee bit spicy. But what would Rabbie have made of a foot long Haggis Roll? J.G. Ross again aiming to please with 12 inches.
A Red, Red, Rose
Helen Dean must have thought that the Huntly Pipe Band played sweet melodies in tune as the Dean's empire sprung from her baking melt in the mouth shortbread at home as a fundraiser for them.
O my Luve's like a red, red rose, 
That's newly sprung in June: 
O my Luve's like the melodie, 
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
Their latest product line are Shortbread Thins. Lemon, Vanilla, All Butter and Earl Grey Tea. The perfect way to round off the evening. Crispy, crumbly, buttery and oh so Scottish.

Vote of Thanks

Thanks to Macsween's Haggis, J.G. Ross, Gillian Kyle, Mackie's Crisps, Maw Broon's Kitchen, Dean's, Mackays and Gran Stead's Ginger Co. for providing the above products. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own.

Auld Lang Syne
Time to join hands say a fond farewell in the time honoured tradition. But my adventures in Burns are not yet over for 2014. An intriguing parcel has arrived from the 2014 Food & Drink Campaign. Contained within was a nest with a hibernating haggis and an invitation to be #InspiredByBurns

Suggestions on my Facebook page as to how to rouse it from its slumber have included - treat it like a lobster, shoogle it, tempt it out with Malt Whisky, play the pipes, sing to it and address it. 
I have plans for this wee beastie. Ready, Steady, Invent!
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