O tha, is e oidhche na h-Alba a th ’ann
Okay, so I used google translate so this could be wrong (heaven forbid) but apparently the above translates to Oh yes, it’s Scottish night. As an aside, I know the “Alba” part is correct as I accidentally signed up to the Visit Scotland weekly newsletter and had to google the word “Alba” which is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.
Anyways, if you’re interested it all goes back to what was loosely known as the Kingdom of Alba in the first and second centuries. Of course, I could go on, but I’m sure you’re not particularly interested. Let’s just say that the theme of “Scotland” was drawn out of the Decision Bowl and go with that.
I have to say that I did a little happy dance when this one came out. There is, after all, much more to Scottish cuisine than haggis and deep-fried Mars Bars. Speaking of which, I have actually cooked haggis a couple of times for Grant. He’s Scottish- born, you see, and actually likes the stuff. He’s even been known to order it willingly off a menu.
The pics below were taken at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Scotland. We were there checking in on what they’d done with the money I’d invested in their product over the years (ahem). We stayed for lunch and the menu was a celebration of the taste of Scotland. As an aside, the ladies bathroom needed to be seen to be believed – it had this massive lounge area complete with a roaring open fire.
Anyways, Grant says that I haven’t given haggis a chance and I usually counter with some rude comments about how the national flower is a noxious weed, the national dish is offal encased in a sheep’s stomach, and the national drink was invented to chase away the taste of the national dish and to promote enjoyment of the national instrument ie bagpipes.
Of course, I jest…mostly…I happen to love everything about Scotland…except haggis. But if I have haggis to thank for the invention of whisky (my theory, not a true story) well, how can I complain? Plus, there truly is nothing like the purple of a thistle.
As I was saying, I have hunted down and cooked haggis, the crafty wee buggers, before. Once I prepared them the traditional way with mashed tatties (potatoes) and neeps (swedes), and once I turned it into a shepherd’s pie of sorts with the tatties and neeps as the topping. That was, however, in the early days of our relationship…need I say more? The things you do when you’re newly in love, right?
In any case, I was excited about our Scottish night. Scotland has some fabulous salmon, langoustine (which we can’t get here) and scallops. Then there are raspberries, Drambuie, oatcakes, potato scones, and Irn Bru – the single best hangover cure ever (although I don’t believe that’s ever been proven by actual scientific research)…
So, what was on our Scottish inspired menu?
First up, I made some oatcakes, from scratch, that were surprisingly good. Hubby reckons he wants these instead of the bought ones in future.
We served them with some fresh local goat’s cheese, fresh Noosa Red tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Although we were tempted by salmon and potato cakes, main course was salmon and a lemony buttery linguine. This one comes from Nick Nairn’s “100 Salmon Recipes” and is super simple. All you do is preheat your oven to 200C and pop 50g butter, the finely grated rind and juice of a lemon, and a few grinds of salt and pepper into a roasting tin. Put the tin in the oven for a few minutes until the butter has melted.
While that’s happening, put your pasta water on to boil and pin-bone 4 skinless salmon fillets – about 175g each. Place the fillets in the lemony butter and turn them over to make sure both sides have had a turn in the butter and, leaving them skinned side down, put the tin back in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until cooked through. If you press it and it’s wobbly, it’s under-cooked; if it’s solid, it’s over-cooked.
Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet.
When the salmon is cooked take it out of the tray and let it rest on a plate while you finish off the linguine. Drain the pasta (keeping aside a ½ cup of cooking water) and toss it through the lemony salmony butter in the bottom of the roasting tin until every strand of pasta has been coated. Add a little of the reserved cooking water in need.
Divide the pasta among 4 plates, adding some chopped parsley to each and top with the salmon. Drizzle over any leftover pan juices, including the knobbly pieces of lemon zest. Done.
The obvious choice for dessert was Cranachan – with its layers of cream, oats and raspberries. Instead, I chose Drambuie Creams with Raspberries. I’ve made this one before and aside from some faffing about with gelatine, this is one of those super easy desserts that looks impressive when served – and these had exactly the right little wobble about them. The raspberries are done with orange zest and some juice which gives them a lovely almost lurid sheen.
The recipe is from Nick Nairn’s “Island Harvest”. I’ll blog it separately for you too.