Welcome to my blog all about the things I love to grow and cook. You'll find a collection of seasonal gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-friendly recipe posts, as well as a round up of my gardening throughout the year. I wish you good reading, happy cooking and perfect planting!
Great name for a recipe eh? What’s more, I haven’t made it up. This is a Scottish classic, and I’ve chosen to post it now for 2 reasons. It’s been very cold here this week and this is fabulous comfort food, and also with the festive season nearly upon us, it is an excellent recipe for using up leftovers. It uses 2 of my favourite vegetables, potatoes and kale (or cabbage).
I love kale. So much flavour and texture, I think it out-strips cabbage and other greens in every way. Up until a couple of years ago, Cavelo Nero, Italian black kale, was my favourite variety, but then along came mini kale and my mind was changed. Very quick to cook, simple to prepare, with a milder, slightly sweet and nutty flavour, it looks very pretty too. The small leaves are also excellent raw in winter salads.
So on with the recipe. Traditionally, this is a very simple combination of leftover cooked potatoes and cabbage fried with onion and then grilled with cheese on top. What’s not to like? The name, by the way, is believed to come from the combination of the “thumping” sound associated with mashing potato and the mixing together of the ingredients (a “rumble”). Here’s my version.
Serves: 3 to 4 as a side dish
150g mini kale, kale, cabbage or other greens (if you have leftovers, you’re halfway there with the recipe already)
500g cooked potatoes (I had some boiled small potatoes with skins on to use up)
25g butter or dairy-free margarine
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 leek, trimmed and shredded (or use thinly sliced onion if you prefer)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g grated Scottish Cheddar or dairy-free/vegan grated cheese
If you are starting from scratch, prepare the greens and cook them in lightly salted water for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Drain well.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them to crush slightly.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter with the oil and gently fry the leek for 3-4 minutes until softened (if you’re using onion, cook it gently for longer, until tender).
Stir in the potatoes and greens, and stir fry the vegetables gently together for 5-6 minutes until thoroughly heated. Season well and transfer to a heatproof dish.
Preheat the grill to medium/hot. Sprinkle the vegetables with grated cheese and grill for about 5 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.
I’ve had a busy few days with my work, and subsequently only had time for one quick baking session this week. I turned to an old favourite of mine, shortbread. Easy to make and lovely to eat, and open to so many variations. This time, I had a break with tradition and made a super rich seeded version and replaced some of the fat with tahini.
I often replace a portion of the flour in cakes and bakes with ground almonds, and, if I don’t have enough ready-ground, I blitz up my own in a coffee grinder. If you use the non-blanched almonds, you’ll find the ground meal gives a more earthy to your bakes.
These tasty shortbreads have a soft, crumbly texture, and a rich, nutty flavour; they are delicious with a cup of coffee and keep well for a few days in an airtight tin. I find them impossible to resist. I’m away to eat the last one after I finish typing this!
150g gluten-free plain flour (such as Dove’s Farm)
65g icing sugar
75g ground almonds
25g toasted sesame seeds
85g tahini (sesame seed paste)
50g very soft dairy-free margarine (or butter if you eat it)
1 tbsp. each of chia seeds, toasted sesame seeds and Demerara sugar, mixed, for the topping
Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the ground almonds and toasted sesame seeds.
Mix the tahini and margarine together until well blended, then stir into the dry ingredients until well mixed.
Bring the ingredients together using your hands, then turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to form a smooth dough. Divide into 18 portions and form each into a ball.
Arrange on the baking tray, press down lightly to make chunky rounds and sprinkle lightly with the sugary seed mix. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven), gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Bake the shortbreads for about 25 minutes until lightly brown and crisp. Leave to cool on the tray.
Over the past year or so, I have been trying to include as many different seeds in my diet as I am able. Seeds are crammed full of protein, minerals and fibre, and unusually for such a worthy food, I find them utterly delicious and a pleasure to eat.
I have been making flapjack since my school days; it’s a real family favourite. Over the years I’ve adapted the recipe to include flavours and ingredients that take my fancy, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been packing this much-loved bake with tiny seeds.
In order to benefit from as many of the nutrients in seeds as possible, it is important to make sure you chew them thoroughly. A bake like flapjack is a perfect recipe to make this happen naturally because the oats help increase the chewy texture. If you pre-grind seeds that have a more slippery texture in the mouth, like linseed and flax, you’ll help yourself to more nutrition with ease. I pop a handful in an electric coffee grinder and blitz them for a short while before I put them in the mix.
Sesame seeds are a real gold mine of nutrients and a valuable source of calcium for anyone on a dairy-free diet. I love their intense nutty flavour which I enhance by toasting them lightly in a dry, hot frying pan before adding them to a recipe. Keep an eye on them and keep them moving around the pan, as they brown very quickly once they reach a certain temperature.
My flapjack recipe makes a large quantity, perfect for batch baking, but you can easily educe the quantity by half and press into an 18cm square tin instead.
175g mixed small seeds such as chia seeds, linseeds, flax seeds and toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven, gas 4). Grease and line a 20 x 30cm oblong cake tin. Put the margarine, sugar, syrup and nut butter in a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until melted.
Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and seeds until well mixed. Press evenly into the prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes until lightly golden all over.
Whilst the bake is hot, gently score the top into 24 squares and then leave to cool in the tin. Once cold, cut through the squares completely and remove from the tin. Store in a air-tight container for up to a week. Flapjack freezes well too!
The best things in life are often the simplest. These wise words certainly apply to my recipe this week. There aren’t many dishes more straightforward than a tattie scone. Just 3 ingredients, plus some oil to cook them in, and that’s it.
The tattie (potato) scone is synonymous with Scotland. Just about every self-respecting baker makes his or her own, and no supermarket bakery aisle is complete without them. The scones are a good way of using up leftover boiled potato which is mashed and bound with wheat flour, but gluten-free works fine. Tattie scones are usually quite thin, but I make mine a bit thicker (about 1cm) as I find the mixture easier to work with. Eat them warm as part of a savoury meal (often served as part of a hearty breakfast) or as a snack spread with butter and jam. The scones make a great alternative to bread as an accompaniment to a soup or stew as they are perfect for mopping up gravy or a sauce.
I dug up the last of my home-grown potatoes this week, and decided that there was no better way to enjoy them, than by making up a batch of my own scones. I’ve been growing the same main crop variety (Pink Fir Apple) for a few years now, and haven’t found any other to rival it in texture or flavour. The potatoes are pink-skinned and can be very knobbly indeed. The flesh is creamy-yellow in colour, sometimes flecked or ringed with pink, and when cooked, it becomes dry and floury in texture. The flavour is slightly sweet and earthy. Pink Fir Apples potatoes are perfect for crushed or mashed potato. and also roast well. They can be cooked and eaten peeled or unpeeled.
Here’s my recipe.
400g main crop potatoes
1 tsp salt
40g gluten-free self-raising flour blend (such as Dove’s Farm)
Vegetable oil for frying
Peel the potatoes thinly, cut into small pieces, and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and add half the salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes or until completely tender. Drain well through a colander or strainer, and leave to air-dry for 10 minutes.
Return the potatoes to the saucepan and mash finely with a potato masher. If you have a ricer, use this to achieve a super-smooth texture.
While the mash is still fairly hot, add the remaining salt and sift the flour on top. Gently work the ingredients together to make a pliable dough.
Turn the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and roll to form a round about 18cm diameter – roll to 20cm for slightly thinner scones. Cut into 6 triangular wedges.
Brush a large frying pan or flat griddle pan generously with oil and heat until hot. Cook the scones for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Drain and serve warm. You can reheat the scones successfully, by either popping them in the frying pan again or under the grill to lightly toast them.
Raspberries love the Scottish climate (lots of rain!). The plump, juicy berries carry on ripening even on the most dreary of summer days. I have been picking my raspberries since the end of last month. Sadly, it looks like the end is nearly nigh; the supply is dwindling, but there are still enough to bag up for the freezer for later in the year, and then I will leave the rest for the blackbirds!
The bushes in the garden are now in their twelfth year, and have given me a good harvest every season. However, I think this autumn, it will be the time to plant some new canes. The variety I chose to grow is Glen Ample; selected for the large-sized fruit, and as the label said at the time, “perfect for cooking and jam-making”. And, they have certainly proven to be.
If you’ve never made jam before, raspberry jam is the easiest to make. It practically sets as soon as the fruit and sugar boils. Frozen raspberries work equally as well for jam-making; whilst other fruit loses pectin (the natural setting agent found in many fruits) after freezing, I have found little difference in setting jam made with the frozen berries.
I have 3 methods for making my raspberry jam, depending on how much fruit I have picked, and how much time is available. The first method, is the traditional saucepan method, great if you have a large amount of fruit and a bit of time. This method works well with frozen berries – just let them thaw out in the saucepan you’re going to use to cook them in so that none of the juices are wasted.
Traditional raspberry jam – use equal amounts of prepared fresh (or frozen) raspberries to granulated sugar. The yield is approximately the same as the weight of the 2 ingredients combined, so 500g raspberries and 500g sugar should give you 1kg of jam.
Heat the fruit by itself in a clean, large saucepan, stirring, until it steams and starts to break down. Mash it a little with a wooden spoon, reduce the heat and stir in the sugar. Heat, gently, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved, then raise the heat, bring the jam to a rapid boil, and stop stirring. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jam settle for about 5 minutes. Stir, and then transfer to clean, sterilised jars whilst still very hot. Seal immediately. Cool and label. In a cool, dark, dry cupboard, this jam will keep unopened for up to 12 months. Store in the fridge once opened, and eat within a month.
Microwave raspberry jam – super-speedy; hassle free; the perfect jam method for smaller amounts of fresh berries (I haven’t tried this with frozen berries but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work). Use finer, caster sugar for this jam as it heats and dissolves more quickly. The jam has a good set, and I find the colour is brighter than the traditional method; the flavour is much the same. My microwave is 900W so you may need to adjust timings accordingly.
Wash and pat dry 250g prepared fresh raspberries and mash with a fork in a large, perfectly clean microwave-proof bowl ( the mixture needs room to boil in the microwave, so choose a good size to prevent the mixture boiling over).
Put 250g caster sugar in a microwave-proof bowl and cook on Medium for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. The temperature of the sugar should be around 80°C (I use a food probe to check). Carefully pour the sugar over the mashed raspberries and stir well – the mixture will be very sloppy at this stage.
Put back in the microwave, and cook on High for 3 minutes to reach boiling point, then boil for 2 minutes. The jam is now ready to put in jars and seal as above. The jam has the same keeping qualities as with the traditionally made jam above.
My third method for making jam is probably the most delicious and it involves no cooking of the raspberries at all. You do need to select the perfect, unblemished, fresh specimens for best results, and wash the berries well before using. Use caster sugar for speedier heating and dissolving.
This fresh jam has a much softer texture than the other 2. You need to store it in the fridge – I find it keeps well for 4 to 6 weeks. It also freezes so you can keep it for longer and then take out small portions as and when you fancy. If you haven’t got a microwave, you can heat the sugar in a saucepan – just keep the heat very low and keep stirring the sugar so that it doesn’t melt or burn.
Fresh (uncooked) raspberry jam – wash and pat dry 250g prepared, unblemished, very fresh raspberries and mash with a fork in a large, perfectly clean, heat-proof bowl. Sit the bowl on a clean tea-towel.
Put 250g caster sugar in a microwave-proof bowl and cook on Medium for 15 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. The temperature of the sugar should be around 120°C (I use a food probe to check). Carefully pour the hot sugar over the mashed raspberries and stir well – it will hiss and steam. Cover loosely and leave to cool completely, then spoon into clean, sterilised jars or containers. Seal and label, and store in the fridge or freezer.
Every now and then I try very hard to cut back on the amount of sugar I eat. I find it challenging to find something to stave off the cravings. and I usually turn to seeds to do the job. This week, I started my latest “health-kick” and I found that I had built up quite a collection of different seed varieties from the last time. Many of the seeds are in half-opened bags stored in the fridge and are now coming up to the “best before” date; it seemed the perfect time for a healthy, and very much savoury, baking session. Bursting with nutrition and flavour, and with super crunchy textures, seeds are one of the best foods to snack on without feeling too guilty.
You can use any seeds in this recipe, but a mixture of different sizes works the best. Introduce your own flavourings if you like; I kept mine plain and simple this time, but black pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, chilli, thyme and rosemary are good flavours to try if you like to experiment. I use the thicker milled, porridge (or Scottish Porage) oats, the finer milled varieties seem to go a bit mushy and give a less crisp texture to the final bake. There is a small amount of gram (chickpea) flour added to the mix to help bind the ingredients together but the recipe works fine with other gluten-free blends if you prefer.
These crunchies are very easy to make and will keep for a week or so in an airtight container. Enjoy them broken into large shards as a crispbread, or crumble them on to soups or salads for extra nutty flavour. Here’s what to do…….
Makes at least 10 big pieces
90g thick or coarse milled oats
175g assorted seeds – I used chia, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds
25g gram (chickpea) flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp soft dark brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Approx. 100ml warm water
Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan oven, gas mark 5) Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Put the oats and seeds in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Gradually pour and stir in approx. 100ml warm water to make a clumpy mixture. Leave aside to soak for 15 minutes, then squeeze the ingredients together with your hands to make a ball. Add a little more water if the mixture is still a bit dry.
Put the mix on to the prepared baking tray and flatten with your hands. Place another sheet of parchment on top and roll using a rolling pin to make a rectangle approx. 36 x 25cm minimum. Remove the top layer of parchment.
4. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Place a sheet of parchment on the surface of the bake, lay another baking tray on top and carefully flip the mixture over. Peel away the top parchment and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until crisp and lightly golden all over. Cool for 10 minutes then slide on to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cold, transfer to a board and either snap into pieces with your fingers, or break into shards using the tip of a knife.
As an alternative way to bake, you can divide the dough into 10 or 12 portions, flatten each one separately, and roll into thin rounds. Bake in the same way for about 5 minutes less cooking time. The crunchies are delicious with all kinds of savoury spreads, but I prefer mine with crunchy wholenut peanut butter.
January 25th is a Scottish celebration day, commemorating the birth of Scotland’s National poet, Robert Burns. Not wanting to offend my non meat-eating friends, I thought better of posting anything about the traditional savoury supper served on this day, and instead turned my thoughts to something I devised a few years ago, the Chocolate haggis. Much more appealing to all, I think, and perhaps, a wee bit more fun.
My recipe is simply a twist on the classic biscuit or refrigerator cake. You can add any combination of biscuit, fruit and nuts that you fancy. I use Scottish heather honey for the sweetness and flavour, but golden syrup or maple syrup will work just as well for my vegan friends. If you eat butter, you can use this instead of coconut oil. It’s a very versatile mix. Adding a wee tot of whisky is for the celebration; it’s fine without, so I’ll leave that up to you! By the way, I love marzipan, but if it’s not for you, you can achieve a similar effect by using an ivory coloured fondant icing.
Makes 1 haggis – 12 generous slices
125g free from plain chocolate
75g coconut oil (or butter)
2 tbsp golden or maple syrup (or heather honey)
150g free from plain granola or coarse oatcakes, crushed
150g free from shortbread or plain biscuits, crushed
2 tbsp whisky (optional)
Icing sugar to dust
250g natural marzipan
1. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and add the coconut oil and syrup. Sit the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water until melted. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes.
2. Mix the granola, shortbread and currants into the melted chocolate and stir in the whisky, if using. Leave in a cool place for about 45 minutes to firm up, but not set completely.
3. Line the work top with a large, double-thickness, square of cling film and pile the chocolate mixture into the centre. Mound it up it to form a fat oval shape about 12cm long. Wrap the cling film round the mix tightly and twist the ends to seal, making a fat sausage shape. Chill for at least 2 hours until very firm.
4. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar. Roll out the marzipan to a rectangle approx. 18 x 28cm, and neaten the edges. Unwrap the chocolate haggis and place in the centre of the marzipan. Fold the marzipan over the top to cover the chocolate haggis completely, and then pinch at either end to make the distinct haggis shape. Tie the ends with twine if liked.
5. Cover loosely with cling film and leave at room temperature for about an hour before slicing to serve, accompanied with a wee dram or two. Slàinte!
I’m starting my brand new blog with a post about one of my favourite bakes of all time. I learnt how to make shortbread at school and I have been making it ever since. My teacher taught us to remember the quantities of ingredients as “2, 4, 6” back in the day when pounds and ounces were the only unit of choice. Nowadays I do the conversion subconsciously each time I make a batch.
Since moving to Scotland, the motherland of this well known bake, I have acquired a number of traditional shortbread moulds which help transform something that looks a wee bit on the plain side into a real show-stopper. The one in the middle of the picture above was recently given to me by a friend. It’s a real beauty and the mould I used to make the shortbread in the image below.
So, to the recipe. If you don’t have a mould, press the dough into an 18cm square tin. You can also roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm and stamp with cookie cutters (picture below) – this quantity of dough will make 12 x 6cm rounds. I’ve also added some steps for making 8cm rounds if you have a smaller shortbread mould. I used this mould to make the shortbread on my 2019 Burns Night post.
Makes: 1 x 15 x 20cm slab; 12 x 6cm rounds or 6 x 8cm rounds
50g caster sugar + a little extra for dusting
60g white vegetable fat or coconut oil, softened
40g dairy-free spread (For non-vegan, replace the quantity of fats above with 100g good quality lightly salted butter, softened, if you eat it, and omit the salt)
¼ tsp salt
175g gluten free plain flour blend (such as Dove’s Farm) + a little extra for dusting (for a non-gluten-free version use white spelt or plain wheat flour)
Put the sugar in a bowl with the fat and spread and mix together until soft and creamy. Add the flour and gradually work the ingredients together until well blended, then bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough.
Lightly dust a 15 x 20cm shortbread mould with extra flour and press the mixture into the mould, making sure it is packed snugly into the corners. I usually start to gently peel the dough back from the mould edges before turning it over onto a lined baking tray and giving it a bit of a thump to remove it from the mould.
Prick the top with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have a mould, form into a 15 x 20cm rectangle. Neaten all round, then press the edges and prick the top with a fork. Prick and chill as above.
If you have an 8.5cm shortbread mould, divide the dough into 5. Lightly brush the mould with flour and press a piece of dough on top until it reaches just beyond the edge of the mould – the dough should be ¾cm thick when pressed out .
Carefully peel the dough from the mould, and neaten the round using a 8cm plain cutter. Place on a lined tray. Repeat the dusting, pressing and trimming using the other pieces of dough, then gather up all the trimmings to make your 6th round. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan oven, gas mark 4). Bake the shortbread slab for about 35 minutes until lightly golden all over (smaller cookie shapes like the 6cm shortbread buttons below will take about 20 – 25 minutes, and the 8cm rounds between 25 – 30 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes, then dust lightly with extra sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Break the large slab into small (or big) pieces to serve. Shortbread keeps well if you can leave it alone long enough – over a week in an airtight container or tin.