Sim­ple but dreamy

Is there any­thing more de­light­ful and com­fort­ing than Cullen skink fol­lowed by ap­ple pie?

The Scotsman - - FOOD - Cari­na­con­tini @ con­tinib­ites

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.

Serves six

500g Bel­haven Smoke­house undyed smoked had­dock, skin off

75g but­ter

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.

Makes 16

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

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