Simple but dreamy
Is there anything more delightful and comforting than Cullen skink followed by apple pie?
I’ m glued to Channel 4’ s SAS Who
Dares Wins. Who would ever have thought that daredevil and endurance feats on the television would do it for me? My husband, Victor, has become hooked as well.
It’s not just for the muscles and the looks, it’s the power of the challenges that leave me in complete awe.
The closest thing I’ve ever got to uncomfortable is no central heating in our family home in Cockenzie and Izal toilet paper when I was growing up. Other than that life has been very kind. Fitness is key for the contestants on the programme, but it’s mental as well as physical agility that they have.
I know I’ll never scale the Devil’s Throat but my job as a restaurateur is to motivate and coach our team. Creating delicious food and a lovely experience with attentive service comes from our team’s energy. With a 100- strong team of boys and girls, I’m very aware of how this influences our business and can create an equally positive or negative outcome.
I used to think being shouty and bossy was my role, but trusting my team to do the job they love is not only liberating for them but also for me.
The Scottish Cafe’s classic Cullen skink
This recipe has been on the menu at The Scottish Cafe and now at Cannonball. With fabulous fresh fish from Belhaven Smokehouse we really can’t make it any better.
500g Belhaven Smokehouse undyed smoked haddock, skin off
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 leek, washed and cut into chunks 2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
200ml whole milk
300ml double cream olive oil, pea shoots or crispy leeks, optional, to garnish
1 Melt the butter in a pan on a medium- low heat, and add the onion and half of the chopped and washed leek ( try to use the darker part of the leek for this as it is tougher). Cover and allow to sweat, without colouring, for about 10 minutes until softened.
2 Add half the sliced raw potatoes and sweat this again.
3 Add half the smoked haddock ( try and keep the centre showcase pieces of the fish for the garnish).
4 Add the milk and gently simmer
( do not boil) until the potatoes are soft and the vegetables are cooked through.
5 Blend this soup base in a jug blender to get the smoothest consistency. Strain and check the soup for seasoning – season with sea salt and white pepper.
6 Dice the remaining potatoes into 1.5 inch cubes. Cook these in boiling salted water until they are soft and set aside.
7 Dice the remainder of the white of the leeks, blanch and refresh. Make sure it is cooked through and add to the mixture when heating the Cullen Skink through.
8 Dice the centre part of the smoked haddock and set aside.
9 To serve, add the cream to the pan and add the soup base, warm through.
10 Add in the cooked diced potatoes, cooked leeks and diced raw haddock.
11 Bring to a very gentle simmer ( trying not to break up the chunks of fish and potatoes) until the haddock is cooked through. Taste and check seasoning again.
12 Garnish with some olive oil and pea shoots or crispy leeks.
Poppy seed rolls
Here’s a recipe that’s easy to try at home.
500g Doves Farm Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting 1 heaped tsp fine table salt
2 tsp dried yeast
300ml hand- hot water
1 tsp clear honey
20ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 egg, beaten poppy seeds, for sprinkling
1 Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Add the water, honey and olive oil. Mix well in a mixer with an electric dough hook or by hand.
2 Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth.
3 Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a cosy spot in the kitchen or larder for about 40 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
4 Once it has risen, turn onto a floured surface, knock the dough back and shape it lightly into a ball. Cut this into 16 equal- sized pieces. Knead them in your hands or roll with your palm onto the work surface until each ball is a smooth, uniform shape. This will ensure that they rise evenly.
5 Place the balls on an oiled baking sheet with enough space between to allow them to double in size. Cover with clingfilm and leave in your cosy spot for about 30 minutes, until well risen.
6 Preheat the oven to 230C/ Gas Mark 8. Remove the clingfilm and lightly brush the balls with the egg wash. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake in the preheated oven for 10- 12 minutes until golden and risen.
Apple and sultana pie
Classics are always the best. I love apple pie and custard. If I was ever caught dreaming of food it would be an apple pie for sure.
Serves four to six
250g self- raising flour, plus extra for dusting pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled and a further 25g unsalted butter, melted, for greasing
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice- cold water
7 small or 4 large Bramley apples 100g caster sugar ( plus a further 1 tbsp for the pastry, and extra for sprinkling)
1 tbsp water
¼ pinch of cinnamon
50g sultanas egg wash made from 1 egg ( beaten) chilled pouring cream, to serve
First make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and coarsely grate the chilled butter on top. Dip the butter into the flour to stop it sticking, then rub it into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the tablespoon of caster sugar and mix through, then add the egg yolk and bind with the ice cold water until the mixture forms a ball. Place on a floured surface and knead gently. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling. Peel and core the apples and slice them to roughly the same size. Place in a pan over a low heat with the water and 100g of sugar and cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples have collapsed into a soft but slightly chunky purée. Keep them moving in the pan with a wooden spoon to stop them discolouring. Remove from the heat, add the sultanas and cinnamon and adjust the flavouring, adding a little more sugar if required. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4 and brush a 20cm ovenproof glass pie dish with melted butter.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Cut it in half. On a floured surface, roll it out to the size of the pie dish. Line the bottom of the dish with the pastry. Spoon the apple mixture on top and gently spread it over. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to carefully cover the apple mixture. Cut away the excess pastry from the edges and brush with the egg wash. Make one slit in the top to let the air escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20- 25 minutes until golden, then remove and sprinkle with sugar. Serve hot or cold with a generous spoonful of chilled pouring cream.
Apple and sultana pie, main; poppy seed rolls, below