Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Scottish People Don't Eat Other Scottish People. . .

. . .and get this, they actually have cookbooks. With recipes. Of food.
Maybe it's the shitty weather or the lack of fresh produce in my fridge, but since last week, my brain-off mode consisted of me reminiscing about the lovely days I spent in the British Isles as a beautiful young woman (unaware of how bitchy I could be, oh the bliss) with a good set of bosoms, a trusty red raincoat and camera, and a fantastic travel companion, Annie. If I were a lesbian, well, you know. . .
But I am not, so . . .

My deep-seeded nostalgia for the British Isles compelled me to take out my scrapbook and there, I found my stash of traditional Scottish recipes, with London Tube ticket stubs marking all my favorite dishes. Traditional in this context properly translates to "exotic" for me, because these dish concepts are totally foreign to me. I did not grow up using potatoes and leeks and sheep guts for sustenance. Whiskey is another story.

Here is a recipe for Corned Beef Souffle and Cock-a-Leekie Soup. These can also be found online at

I'm warning you now, I only make these for the special meat-and-whiskey lovers in my life. These are not recipes for the unadventurous or the faint at heart. These are die-hard. I chose them because they're fun to prepare with a friend and inexpensive to make.


ps- I think I've been inspired to post some photos of my travels through Scotland. This photo was taken by a fellow traveler in the Isle of Skye (my kitty is named after the island).

Photo courtesy of

Corned Beef "Souffle"
Combining corned beef and eggs creates a nourishing, low-cost dish. The quantities below are sufficient for two people

6oz lean corned beef
Small can of tomatoes, drained
1 large onion, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons tomato juice
Pinch of mixed herbs
Slice the corned beef and layer onions and tomatoes, sprinkled with tomato juice and herbs as you go. End with tomatoes. Pour the beaten eggs over the top and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with a salad.

"Auld Reekie" Cock-a-Leekie Soup
The "Auld Reekie" does not refer to the soup being "smokey" but to the origins of the recipe in Edinburgh which used to be called Auld Reekie in the days of coal fires. Cock-a-Leekie soup makes a regular appearance in Scottish kitchens but this variation has a special ingredient - Scotch whisky! It will, as the say, "stick to your ribs".

A medium boiling chicken (giblets removed)
3 slices of streaky bacon
1lb shin of beef
2 lb leeks
1 large onion
5 fluid ounces Scotch whiskey
4 pints water
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
Salt and pepper
8 pre-soaked prunes (optional but traditional!)

Mix the whiskey, tarragon and sugar in the water. Chop up the bacon and place the chicken, bacon and beef in a large bowl and pour over the whiskey marinade. Leave to soak overnight. Place the chicken etc in a large soup pot. Chop up the leeks (reserve one) and onion and add to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for two hors, removing any scum as required. Remove the chicken from the pot, remove skin and bones. Chop the meat into small pieces and return to the pot. Cut up the shin of beef, if required. Add the prunes and the last chopped leek and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. It will serve up to eight people.

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