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Issue 47 - Taste Ye Back

Scotland Magazine Issue 47
October 2009

 

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Taste Ye Back

With some of Scotland's best loved celebrities contributing recipes, we dive into Sue's new book.

The idea behind my latest book Taste Ye Back started when I was researching some of my earlier Scottish cookery books and speaking to family, friends and Scottish food producers about the food they ate as children. I began to wonder if, by speaking to many Scots of all ages and from all over Scotland, their tales would make an interesting book. When I decided to tie-in with the charity CHAS, it also made sense to interview celebrity Scots about their childhood food memories as these would have broad appeal. The book has indeed become a quasi social history.

A look at my mother’s old recipe books started me thinking about my own childhood food. With just one glance at these smudgy pages I was transported back to my childhood and recalled not only the taste and sight of the recipe (usually sweet!) but also the provenance. And that was the wonderful thing about asking people about their food memories: at interviews, I encountered sadness, deep nostalgia, even tears on recalling something a mum or granny used to make. I have also witnessed laughter, disdain and passion. But most of all I have seen an enthusiasm about the food my interviewees ate as children. On the whole, it was home-cooked, fresh and seasonal and so how could that not evoke a delicious nostalgia. I ended up wondering, however, why most Scots were so obsessed with such idiosyncratic things as dipping raw rhubarb in white sugar and achieving the perfect skin on a cloutie dumpling!

My hope is that once my readers try some of these dishes and read the accompanying tales, they too can recall their own childhood food memories and so forge that link to the past that Proust wrote about, but instead of madeleines, it would be mince, broth or shortbread.

We have three signed copies of Sue’s new book to give away. Simply answer this question: What is the name of Ian Rankin’s famous detective?

Answers to Taste Ye Back competition, Scotland Magazine, St Faith’s House, Mountergate, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11PY. UK Competition closes January 5th 2010.

ANDREW MARR, BROADCASTER (born 1959) “I am ashamed to say my first memory of eating anything was a Milky Bar!”, Andrew Marr chuckles.

But he also recalls eating oatcakes from an early age ; he was allowed one spread with marmalade, but only after eating two pieces of toast !

Food was very important in the Marr family and Andrew’s mum learned a lot about cooking from a lady in the village, Mrs Scott, traditional recipes such as marmalade, jam and scones. They stayed in Longforgan, in the Carse of Gowrie between Dundee and Perth . And since this is one of the best berry areas in the country, Andrew also recalls “going to the berries” as a child to earn money.

Just as I used to do, he would strap his luggie (bucket) to his waist then pick all along the length of the dreel (row) of tall raspberry canes before finally getting them weighed at the end. Andrew said he earned a lot of money picking berries (I did not, as I ate most of mine!). Even now he remembers the fabulous smell of jam pervading the entire house when his mum was doing a big boiling of raspberry jam in the kitchen.

He also remembers Butteries from his childhood and lots of fish, bought from the fish van. He was always a huge fan of Arbroath Smokies. He also told me about going fishing in the lochs of the West Highlands and catching brown trout. These would be coated in oatmeal and fried in butter, sometimes served with bacon. His mum was also great at stews and casseroles and made excellent raised game or pork pies.

Nowadays he loves to cook dishes such as casseroles, fish pie and kedgeree, from his childhood. “But I’d say most cooking I do now has more spice and also is a lot lighter! My Scottishness is evident very much in my addiction to salty butter, anything with oats (porridge in winter, muesli in summer) and I am a devoted whisky man!” ANDREW MARR’S AUNT SHEILA’S STICKY GINGERBREAD “Profoundly corrupt and sybaritic people will whack a dod of salty butter onto slices of this gingerbread.

1. Heat the first three ingredients in a pan until liquid.

2. Meanwhile sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a big bowl.

3. Beat in the eggs. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the warm milk and add this to the mixture.

4. Mix everything together and put into one or two lined loaf tins.

5. It takes around an hour in a 180-degree C oven - less for fan ovens, obviously, but the only way to reckon it is ready is by the smell!

It should sink, with an air of gentle resignation, in the centre, producing a moist effect which is entirely delectable.” * SL : my oven only needs 50 minutes to bake* MAKES ONE LOAF: 225g / 8oz butter 225g / 8oz soft dark brown sugar 280g / 10 oz black treacle 280g / 10oz plain flour 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 large eggs 1 tsp Bicarb of Soda half breakfast cup milk, warmed JOHN BARROWMAN, ACTOR AND MUSICAL PERFORMER (born 1967) “Oh, I have lots of early food memories”, says John Barrowman about his Glasgow childhood. “The Barrowmans love their food, especially desserts. I remember a family wedding where everyone, including the bridal party, was already seated to be served dinner and we were still checking out the dessert buffet. You’ve got to plan your main course around the dessert options. Everyone knows that.

“When we lived in Scotland, I have memories of eating at friends’ and family members’ houses pretty regularly, and on Sundays we’d eat a formal lunch at my Gran Barrowman’s house. We were usually joined by my cousins and so the food memories are mixed up with memories of playing with them. When we moved to the States, my mum, dad and I and some good friends, who had three girls around my age, would have ‘Dallas Nights’ on Friday nights.

We’d all go out to the Moose Lodge for dinner, usually a cod or perch fish fry, and then we’d come back to our house to eat sweets and watch the TV show, ‘Dallas’. That was heaven!” And as for cooking Scottish dishes, Johns niece, Clare, and he have assisted his mum in making Clootie(sic) Dumpling, a staple for the family’s Christmas dinner. “My mum puts healthy amounts of whisky and brandy in her recipe. I think Clare and I both still need some practice. This is a family food tradition I don’t want to lose. There’s nothing better after a delicious Christmas dinner than a thick slice of Clootie dumpling swimming in condensed milk or covered in fresh cream.

After my mum has wrapped the mixture in the Cloot and before she immerses it in the pot of boiling water, everyone in the kitchen has to ‘slap the dumpling’s bum’ so it develops a good thick skin.

Works every time.” MARION BARROWMAN’S BANANA AND HONEY BREAD 1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.

2. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and raisins.

3. Beat in the eggs. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the warm milk and add this to the mixture.

4. Mash the bananas in a separate bowl.

Whisk together the honey and eggs then add to the dry ingredients, combining well.

5. Pour into a buttered, base-lined loaf tin ( 900g / 2 lb) and bake for 80 – 90 minutes, covering loosely with foil for the last half hour. Cook until a skewer comes out clean.

6. Cool in the tin for five minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

MAKES ONE LOAF: 225g / 8 oz plain flour 1 tsp baking powder 115g / 4 oz butter, diced 85g / 3 oz light brown sugar 200g / 7 oz raisins 3 medium-sized ripe bananas 2 tbsp clear/runny honey 2 eggs IAN RANKIN, NOVELIST(born 1960) Apart from fond memories of Farleys rusks in hot milk, some of Ian Rankin’s earliest food memories are of his mum’s Yorkshire Pudding; she was from Bradford so knew how to make the pudding the traditional way. For, as Ian recalls, there was a routine to the meals: “Friday was fish, Saturday gammon steaks (with pineapple rings!), Sunday a roast and that was after the Sunday morning fry-up of bacon, sausage and egg, which was after the routine Sunday morning dose of Syrup of Figs!.” And he told me that Cardenden in Fife where he lived till he was 18 had lots of vans – butchers, fruit & veg, bakers – all delivering to the doors and so his mum, like everyone else, made fresh food every day.

Soups were very big in his home, perhaps vegetable soup or chicken with rice. And his mum also made the most wonderful jam tart: a home-made thin pastry crust filled with home-made jam (usually raspberry) and a pastry lattice on top. This, served with custard, is one of Ian’s favourite childhood puddings, along with oven-baked rice pudding.” Ian can remember New Year time at Cardenden with everyone out “scrubbing their front steps and tidying the house on Hogmanay.” He also remembers the tables groaning with black bun, battenburg cakes, shortbread – and the hot dish always Stovies, made with dripping, to soak up the alcohol. Although some Stovies have the addition of corned beef, Ian’s family’s only had proper beef stirred in. Fray Bentos tinned corned beef was, however, a real treat, sliced very thickly. Another tinned treat he adored was Heinz Treacle Sponge, heated up then served with custard.

IAN RANKIN’S VEGETABLE SOUP 1. Chop and fry an onion in sunflower oil , adding some garlic paste if you like.

2. Dice the other vegetables (leek, potato, carrot, cabbage, turnip) and stir well .

3. Cook gently then chuck in enough boiling water to cover and some Knorr liquid stock ( I like vegetable stock) and some dried mixed herbs. I do not add any salt.

4. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, then, if this is for my sons Jack and Kit, I blend it so that the elder son Jack doesn’t know he is eating vegetables or otherwise, I like it chunky. My wife Miranda and I eat it with good wholemeal bread, the boys with white bread to dunk.

SERVES 4 1 onion 1 leek 1 potato 1 carrot 1 turnip 1/2 cabbage Knorr liquid stock dried mixed herbs KIRSTY WARK, BROADCASTER (born 1955) Because her mother’s family were the first commercial tomato growers on the Clyde, Kirsty Wark recalls halcyon days as a little girl, being surrounded by tomato plants.

She vividly remembers being with her mother and aunt during the one day a year that was devoted to bottling. She came to understand the concept of “home-made” very early on.

Her mother always had a pot of soup on the go and now Kirsty invariably does the same.

She sees cooking as very much a family thing – her son and husband cook, her daughter bakes and Kirsty does both.

Even now she will make beef tea if someone is unwell as that was the invalid food as she grew up: beef tied tightly in a pot with wax paper and string, boiled, strained then supped in bed.

But as for day to day meals, she said: “There was always a routine for meals when I was a child: a roast on Sundays then perhaps cauliflower cheese one night then liver or haddock (smoked or fresh) on other nights of the week. And as a treat, a Green’s crème caramel!” But there was very little that was not home-made and Kirsty’s mother’s cake tins were always full.

Favourites included tea bread (the loaf mixture soaked in tea overnight) and shortbread (her mother’s was the best, with just a touch of cornflour to add a melt-in-the-mouth texture).

Kirsty now bakes – and often rustles up pancakes in less than 15 minutes.

KIRSTY’S TOMATO SAUCE Kirsty likes this delicious sauce served with pasta 1. Liberally sprinkle the tomatoes with sea salt & black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Roast in a medium oven ( 180C / 350F / Gas4) for half an hour.

3. Finely chop the garlic, white part of the leeks and red onion. Sauté in some olive oil and a teaspoon of sugar.

4. Then puree all together and serve with pasta.

SERVES 4 900g / 2lbs halved and deseeded tomatoes (skin left on) olive oil 3 cloves of garlic, peeled 2 leeks 1 red onion, peeled 1 tsp sugar