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If British recipes are, undeservedly, the joke of European cuisine, then Scottish cookery bears the brunt of British culinary jokes with tales of deep-fried pizzas and chocolate bars. The reality, of course, is very different and the Eastern port cities of Scotland have a long association with France and have been influenced by French cuisine for many centuries.
In contrast, the Highlands of Scotland offer simpler but more traditional fare. The cookery of a poor populace, eking out a living. Here I present two dishes. One a traditional ‘peasant’ dish and the other a rich traditional cake.
350g dried lentils or split peas
1.4kg ham or beef bone
80g diced celery
1 small onion, diced
160g carrots, diced
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
Wash the lentils or peas in plenty of water then leave to soak over night in a big bowl. The following day, drain the lentils and add to a large pan along with the bones and 1.5l water. Bring to a boil reduce to a simmer then cover and cook for 2 hours.
Add the celery and carrots and continue cooking until the pulses are tender (about 40 minutes). Skim any fat from the surface of the soup and discard. Remove the bones at this point, allow to cool then chop any meat from them and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp oil or butter to a pan and use to fry the onions for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top and mix to incorporate into the oil. Season with salt and pepper then remove a ladleful of stock from the soup and gradually add to the onion mix and stir to combine. Continue cooking in the pan until thickened then tip into the soup mixture and stir to combine. Cook the soup until thickened then serve.
Ecclefechan Butter Tart
2 eggs, beaten
180g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
240g mixed dried fruit
60g chopped walnuts
enough shortcrust pastry for a 22cm pie plate
120g melted butter
Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured surface and cut with a 6cm pastry cutter. Use these to line lightly-greased jam tart (patty tins).
Meanwhile mix together the sugar, butter and beaten eggs. When well combined, add the vinegar and then the mixed fruit and nuts. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the prepared pastry shells then place in an oven pre-heated to 190°C and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and set.
Of course, two recipes cannot give you the complete flavour of the foods of an entire country. But I hope you see some measure of the diversity of Scottish cuisine and that you now want toexplore further the nature of Scottish recipes.