Not a member?
Register and login now.

Issue 15 - Scotland's all weather food

Scotland Magazine Issue 15
July 2004


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

Scotland's all weather food

You can't guarantee the weather in Scotland. But as Sue Lawrence reports, that doesn't mean you have to give up on barbecues

It was early June, 1989 and we had taken a short holiday to the island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, with the children who were all quite small. Anticipating downpours and gales, we were well prepared, with kit including wellies, waterproofs and woolly jumpers, all of which is the norm on Scottish holidays.

This one, however, was different. I still look back at those photographs and cannot believe we were not in Bermuda (even better as there was no-one on the beach) – for we had landed on Islay in the midst of a heat wave.

Instead of lugging wind breaks and macs down to the beach, we had to roll up trousers (we hadn’t even brought shorts) and strip down to vests (this is Scotland; vests are never seasonal).

It was absolutely stunning with desolate, white sandy beaches and our only company being the odd cow paddling along the shore to cool off. For once, our beach bonfire was not agony, huddling around a fire to keep warm, having spent hours trying to find dry kindling. This was a dream – and the bonfire sausages, foil-wrapped bananas, Smores and marshmallows on sticks tasted all the better for it.

Fast forward a couple of years and our next Scottish west coast holiday, to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The week started off fine but by day three not only did the July temperature never rise above 10 degrees Centigrade, it also rained. Almost constantly.

Still we battled on, dragging equipment down to the beach because if Brits in general are stoics, Scots are even worse. Once the site was established I assumed the role of arranging ground sheets, travel rugs and picnic hampers under the shelter of a hastily constructed wind break which had taken forever to erect in the blustery wind. While the children were sent off to collect firewood for the all-essential bonfire, I contemplated having a paddle in the sea (it was summer – and we were on the beach after all) but then good sense prevailed and I thought of hot bonfire food instead to heat me up.

Very soon the first cry of “I’m hungry” was heard (any excuse to get out of hunting for kindling) and everyone arrived with their kindling and the fire was set, then lit. And some time later the food was cooked, while we thanked the Lord that today, just for once, it was not wet – though it was cold and windy.

We then huddled around the fire in the shelter of rocks and wind. Yet again, the bonfire sausages tasted wonderful, possibly even better as they were also providing inner warmth, when even our trusty thermals failed us.

Something like a happy medium would be pleasant for Scottish holidays, but I admit, the Lewis experience is more the norm. You can still have fun, however – provided you have efficient radiators back home to dry off wet clothes!

Besides, its all part of the Scottish experience and with scenery as breathtaking as the Hebrides, sunshine is really incidental.

The recipes here are suitable for outdoor bonfires or for barbecues on your patio at home where you can decamp indoors should there be merest hint of rain in the air. Whichever you choose, remember to over cater, for there is nothing more alluring than the smell of smoky food charring nicely over the embers of a fire – whether in a heat wave or in a Force six wind !


900g / 1 lb 15 oz pea pods (or 300g / 10oz frozen petit pois)
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
the juice of 1 large lemon
about 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
paprika or flat parsley, to garnish
wedges of toasted pitta or flat bread, carrot and celery sticks – to serve

1. Pod the peas and cook until just tender (or cook from frozen) then drain, run immediately under the cold tap to arrest cooking. Pat thoroughly dry on kitchen paper.
2. Tip into a food processor with the remaining ingredients and whizz then season to taste, adding more oil or lemon juice if needed.
3. Tip into a bowl and garnish with a dusting of paprika or some flat parsley leaves.


8-12 quality pork or beef sausages
soft wheat tortillas
Dijon mustard
1. Spear the sausages on sticks and cook over the glowing embers of the bonfire until cooked. This can take up to 15 minutes, depending on the heat of the fire. Remember, the sausage can look ready – all nicely charred outside – but still completely raw inside, so cook thoroughly.
2. Meanwhile, spread the tortillas generously with mustard.
3. When the sausages are done, wrap a sausage in the middle, roll up and devour.


I use sturdy rosemary stalks for skewers, to enhance the flavour. Strip off most of the rosemary leaves from your stalks and soak in water for 30 minutes, to prevent burning. But only use rosemary skewers if you have a bush growing in your garden; the stems in supermarket packs are neither long enough nor strong enough. Otherwise use metal skewers.

250g / 9 oz halloumi cheese (or firm feta cheese)
250g / 9 oz closed cap chestnut mushrooms, wiped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
5-6 rosemary skewers or metal skewers

1. Cut the halloumi into large cubes – about 4cm/ 11/2”. Place in a bowl with the whole mushrooms. Mix together the remaining ingredients and marinade for about 1 hour.
2. Then thread onto skewers, starting and ending with a mushroom.
3. Barbecue for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese tinged with a golden colour. Eat with warmed pitta bread.

Claim your free Scotland Magazine trial issue