Here are some of the recipes which I use as the chef and patron of The Sisters Restaurants in Glasgow to make simply special dishes. From a very early age I remember being sent out to my granny's garden to pull rhubarb or turn the soil for tatties or pick up any apples. My reward for this hard earned labour was a stick of crisp tart rhubarb with a wee pokey of sugar made from newspaper. I am sure this is where my love of great home cooking using local produce all began. Still rising to the challenges that the wonderful Scottish larder throws at me, I never seem to tire of cooking fantastic produce from a country that so expertly grows, rears or cultivates it. I style my cooking on simple and Scottish and mostly allow the produce to speak, or rather shout, for itself. Believe me it’s not too difficult!
So why not impress your guests with by making some yourself?
I will say it as I usually do! Use excellent quality ingredients as it will make the end result far tastier. As the saying goes great cooking is 90% great shopping, so pick up some great Scottish cheddar.
This versatile pastry can even be used as a pie topping. Pop some pale smoked haddock in a shallow pie dish with a splash of double cream, broccoli and shredded leeks. Cover with pastry and bake for 25-30 minutes to make a fantastic smoked haddock pie with a cheese crust.
The irony is that most of our tomatoes come from Europe - unless they are from the greenhouse. Obviously I proclaim these to be the fruits of my homegrown labour. But actually they are the work of my wonderful green-fingered father-in-law who brought them on from seed. When robust enough they were transported from Moffat to Glasgow to be planted in my greenhouse, where May and Jim would water them weekly.
However, I took it up a notch at the weekend by having the culinary pleasure that is free range Duck eggs. Boy are they the crème de la crème for a Sunday breakfast.
So let’s move from a brilliant breakfast to a luscious lunch or delectable dinner. Woo your guest with this as a starter and you will reach the top of the class!
As this column suggests it’s simple. This could be a supper, with Scottish and seasonal thrown in the pot.
If there is such a thing, then it has to be done properly. With this in mind we are sporting a few lunch specials in the restaurant, including Ramsay's ham, leek and chicken pie served in an old fashioned Ashet pie dish.
The other dish is a burger. Now if you choose to have a burger then make it properly at home and get the kids involved. They love getting their hands messy, well my 2 do anyway!
As a rule I remember always saying no to fruit and protein together. My first memories of eating out and trying lemon chicken still fill me with dread. However, these days I always pair game with fruit on my menu - I've my tune!
I'm currently waiting eagerly for the first Scotch raspberries to toss in with Venison loin in a balsamic salad. It's a recipe worth waiting for and takes just four minutes to prepare. We'll cover that when the first crop is harvested, I promise.
I made this recipe about three or four years ago on tv and, of all the things I’ve made, it must have been one of the most talked about. Did you just crack the eggs right into the pastry? Yes. Did you not cook the pie pastry first? No.
It is a real winner for taste and just as we like it, a simple supper through and through.
Bacon and egg pie
1 tbsp of summer harvest rapeseed oil
8–10 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
9 free-range eggs
I am just not a fan of using mashed potato to bulk them out and if the balance is wrong then you get too much tattie and not enough fish.
I prefer just breadcrumbs. However, in this recipe these are not just ordinary breadcrumbs, they are very light.
If you cannot bear to buy in breadcrumbs then please just your own homemade ones. A word of warning though, the red fish dressing ones will not be very bonnie in this recipe!
And if you prefer , you can make these fish cakes into fingers if you want!
Or maybe you just like the idea of a very quick soup & homemade bread.
However, I would say that, for the best flavour in all your vegetable soups, roast your vegetables first.
This soup can be prepared very quickly and has a great taste.
You can also do exactly the same with some pumpkin, courgette or fennel. Or if onion is all you have then do the same. You will not be disappointed.
Quick Roast Red pepper soup & spicy flat bread
But I guess if you look out the window you will know why!
In Scotland we are prone to having winter style food rather a lot, however this still hits the mark in my home and, yes, it is really snowy outside my window.
Here is my recipe for a comforting sausage casserole. One of the recipes I really wanted to try was a cassoulet, but have no fear, I am sure there will be time for that before May no doubt!
This one can also be done in the slow cooker so you can easily come home to this ready for you at tea time.
Have a great week.
However, if you make the effort to do this on Friday when you come home from work, your Saturday night tea will be so worth it and you will have saved yourself money. Surely that’s a double bonus!
If chicken is not your favourite then why not try this with lamb rump? Another wee option could be with fish. A thicker cut of fish would work best, so try salmon, monkfish or thick cod steak.
Chicken Tikka salad
2 chicken breasts
A teaspoon of Summer Harvest rapeseed oil
However, I did say it would be easy, but like everything there is an element of difficulty. If this recipe stretches your culinary skills then I can give you details on cheating too!
It came about 14 and a half years ago when I ran out of a pudding on the menu at The Sisters in Ashton Lane. Well it was actually named Deirfiuracha (Irish for Sisters pronounced DRE_FOR_GA) in those days and when we moved premises we figured it was hard enough to give customers directions never mind a lesson on how to spell the name of the restaurant!!
I have always said that it is better to try and make something yourself and encourage the family to get involved and help.
This recipe has no salt so it ticks that box too and if you need any tips on making other burgers then send us a wee note and we will try to accommodate whether it’s chicken, venison, beef or even fish.
That line is either Mum or Darling depending on who is asking obviously!
I love store cupboard suppers because, let’s face it, there are times when you go home and there is nothing in the fridge... so having items like red peppers and tinned tomatoes in my cupboards and chorizo, which lasts longer than your normal weekly shop, in the fridge is a must.
Using these items is almost cheating as you can make a tea from them that’s ready really quickly. I tend to buy a 2kg pack of Rosario chorizo then freeze packs of 3-4 sausages.
Lasagne was always such a favourite of mine that, when I was 10, we decided that for the family tea I would be responsible for it and it was the dish that everybody voted for the Friday night!
There I would be with the basic store cupboard ingredients, but occasionally I veered off the traditional route. I was known to bulk out my meat sauce with kidney beans, cannellini beans or whatever would make the 1lb of mince go further, even in those days. Yes, a whole 34 years ago.
I prepare what I suppose you would say is fancy food daily so one of my favourite dinners, especially on a Monday is mince and tatties. However, I don’t like anything else with that: no carrots in the pot nor peas through the mince.
The only time I will add vegetables is if I have leftovers as if I bulk these up with carrots and peas then I can top it with mash and make a cottage pie.
However, as lovely as that sounds, we are back to chilly February but the good news is that the amazing Scottish mussels are actually at their best in the winter so I think it’s our job to keep them company. By adding some of simple ingredients you will end up enjoying a very satisfying meal, even if it is indoors.
I’m always amazed when adults say they have never tried mussels before. It was one of the first things I ordered for my daughter and I’m sure she was one and a half at the time.
Now I know that the wonderful Mattia Camorani of Cucina, Hotel MissoniEdinburgh, insists you never stir risotto and even runs a master class on how not to do so!
However, I have yet to follow Mattia’s rules, I’m more impressed with the way he say’s “Pappardelle!!”
I am all for trying something new and fish is great just now. The fact that this dish will also allow you to eat more of something that the Government actually advises is a double bonus.
So the nearest I can give you to that feeling again is to buy yourself a slow cooker with your Christmas vouchers, that is if you have don’t already have one. Check the cupboard at the side of the sink: it will have a bread maker, liquidiser, blender and ice crusher in there so you may have to move them out of the way to reach the slow cooker.
I was speaking with a lovely lady from Strathaven just before Christmas about this very cupboard. Now she found a Swan double boiler in there and she didn’t even know what it was for!
Deep down we know it's true, but we still tend to forget breakfast until we are absolutely ravenous!
Many of us find ourselves running out the door in the morning with no time to sit down and eat a filling breakfast. The least we might do is grab an overpriced coffee and biscuit at the local coffee shop, garage or drive-thru! However, if you're looking to change your morning routine and make it just a bit healthier, smoothies give you the boost you're looking for.