Monday, 1 September 2014

Sausage, Potato and Leek Pie

Sausage, leek and potato puff pastry pie

This dish was inspired by leftovers, as so many wonderful dishes often are. The leftovers component was the mini sausages which are Wee Willie Winkies (mini, skinless cocktail sausages) and which I had used in the preparation of an even more obscure experiment, Scrambled Quail Eggs with Sausages. I thoroughly enjoyed both meals but what pleasantly surprised me the most about this one was the wonderful smell that filled the house as the pie was cooking. You could serve this pie with another vegetable such as perhaps broccoli but for me on this occasion, everything I desired was already in the pie.
 
New potatoes ready for boiling

Ingredients (Serves Two)

6 or 7 baby new potatoes
Salt
8 slices (1/4"thick) from fresh leek
12 mini cocktail sausages
1/4 pint chicken stock (approximately)
1/2 pound puff pastry
Flour for dusting/rolling pastry
Beaten egg for glazing pastry

Boiled new potatoes need to be drained and cooled

Directions

The potatoes do need to be cooked by boiling before they are incorporated in the pie, otherwise they will be extremely hard and even inedible. Add them to a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Leek is sliced in to discs

When the potatoes are cool enough, you should find that the skins will virtually rub off by hand. The potatoes should then be halved.

Prepared potatoes and leek for pie

Combine the potato halves, leeks slices and mini sausages in the bottom of a suitable pie dish. This one is 10" by 7" and was the perfect size. Pour in enough cold chicken stock to form a depth of around half an inch.

Sausage, potato and leek pie filling is ready for pastry

Roll out the pastry on a floured board or surface until it is just large enough to comfortably cover the pie dish.

Rolled pastry is laid over pie filling

Crimp the pastry around the edges and trim with a very sharp knife.

Puff pastry is crimped and trimmed

Glaze the pie with beaten egg and cut a couple of steam vents in the centre. Lift the dish on to a baking tray and put it in your oven (preheated to 400F/200C) for about forty minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden.

Sausage, leek and potato pie is glazed and ready for the oven

Take the pie from the oven and allow it to rest for about ten minutes. If you are serving an accompaniment such as broccoli, you could use this resting time to prepare it.

Sausage, leek and potato pie removed from the oven

Cut the pastry in half as shown below and lift one half temporarily over the other.

Cutting in to sausage, leek and potato pie to serve

Use a slotted spoon to plate half the filling and lay the pastry on top to serve. Do the same with the second pie of the half.

Plating up sausage, leek and potato pie filling

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Scottish Venison Burgers

Scottish venison burgers with smoked venison slices and mini potato wedges

Venison is a perfect meat for making burgers. Where prepared and cooked properly, the burgers are sure to be among the most succulent and tender you have ever tasted. This particular recipe or serving suggestion, however, actually came about through a coincidence. I had the day before been gifted some smoked Scottish venison slices by a family member. I used some of them in the preparation of a simple but delicious Smoked Venison and Peach Salad but had a few slices leftover. When I saw these half price Scottish venison burgers on special offer in my supermarket, I knew almost instantly what I was going to do.

Scottish venison burgers

Ingredients (Serves One)

2 quarter pound spiced Scottish venison burgers
5 baby new Ayrshire potatoes (or equivalent)
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 bread rolls
Handful of mixed salad leaves of choice
4 thin slices smoked Scottish venison
2 teaspoons rowan and apple jelly

Washed baby new Ayrshire potatoes

Directions

While burgers are of course more commonly served with fries, I am instead serving these burgers with mini little potato wedges. The first step is to wash (and if necessary, scrub) the potatoes thoroughly but leave the skins on. Cut them in half and add them to a pot of cold, salted water.

Potatoes are halved and ready for boiling

Bring the water to a simmer for about fifteen minutes until the skins are just starting to separate from the potato halves. Drain, allow to steam off for a few minutes then cover and allow to cool completely for a minimum half hour.

Starting to fry venison burgers

Check the instructions on the pack for how to cook your venison burgers. These burgers could be either shallow fried or grilled/broiled. I chose to gently fry them for five minutes on each side over a low to medium heat.

Washing salad leaves in cold water

Wash the salad leaves through a colander in cold water and set aside to drain.

Deep frying potato wedges

Deep fry the cooled potato halves in hot oil for about five minutes or until crisp and golden.

Salad beds on Scottish morning rolls

Cut the rolls open and shake the salad leaves fully dry. Arrange the salad between the two bottom roll halves.

Smoked Scottish venison

Carefully separate the smoked venison slices and lay two on top of each salad bed.

Smoked venison slices are arranged on salad beds

Drain the deep fried potatoes for a minute or so on some kitchen paper on a plate.

Deep fried mini potato wedges are drained

Carefully lift the cooked burgers on to the top of the smoked venison slices.

Venison burgers are laid on smoked venison and salad

We're coming up to the time of year where rowan trees (sometimes called mountain ash) will be heavy with ripe berries. If you've never tried this delicious jelly, you can find the simple recipe linked to in the ingredients list for this post. It goes superbly well with strong flavoured game like venison and also with beef. Add a teaspoon to each burger before closing over the top of the rolls and adding the potatos to the plate.

Rowan and apple jelly is added to vension burgers

Friday, 15 August 2014

Soy and Honey Crispy Breaded Wings

Baked chicken wings coated in soy and honey breadcrumbs

I usually cook chicken wings simply by roasting them in the oven in a little oil or with a sauce of any one of varying types. Occasionally, I deep fry them in hot oil. I don't remember ever cooking them in precisely this way before but I'll definitely be doing so again because they were absolutely delicious! The wings were firstly dipped in a combination of light soy sauce and Scottish heather honey before being breadcrumbed and baked in the oven. They were served on a mixed leaf salad bed with the remaining soy and honey made in to a dipping sauce.

Ingredients

10 to 12 whole chicken wings
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (see below)
4 tablespoons Scottish heather honey (or any good quality honey)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 or 4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves to serve

Stale bread for making breadcrumbs

The idea came about when I had bought some chicken wings for my dinner and remembered about some couple of days old bread which had to be used or discarded. This was a rustic, split tin loaf. There was a piece about two inches thick plus some crusts which I had cut off when making croutons the previous night.

Bread is broken up and added to food processor

Directions

I began by pouring the vegetable oil in to a large roasting tray and putting it in to the oven, preheating both to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.

I then continued by breaking the bread up and putting it in to a food processor for blitzing. You may want to do this in two or three stages to make things easier.

Bread is blitzed to make crumbs

Blitz the bread until crumbed. You will probably need to stop, remove the main jug from the blender and shake it two or three times to get even crumbing. If you do pour the crumbs out and find a few larger pieces remaining, simply re-add them to the blender and blitz again.

Light soy sauce and honey are combined

Pour the honey and soy sauce in to a glass bowl and stir well to combine.

Soy and honey sauce and breadcrumbs

Pour the breadcrumbs in to a large plastic bowl or food container which has a fitable lid (very important). If you don't have such a dish, you could use a couple of large plastic bags (no holes in them), between which you should divide the breadcrumbs.



Bony tips are cut from chicken wings

Chop the tips off the chicken wings. They have no meat in them anyway and are simply going to make the wings more awkward to arrange on your oven tray.

Chicken wings are dipped individually in soy and honey sauce

One at a time, dip the wings in the soy and honey sauce, ensuring each one is evenly coated.

Dipped chicken wings are added to breadcrumbs

Lay the wings as you coat them in sauce in to the container with the breadcrumbs. If you are using plastic bags, you should put five wings in each bag.

Lid is securely fitted to bowl with chicken wings and breadcrumbs

Fit the lid securely on to the container, or alternatively twist the bags closed (one at a time), trapping as much air in the bags as possible. Hold the lid in place (or hold the twisted part of the bag neck) and invert again and again for a minute or so to ensure the wings are all evenly coated in the breadcrumbs.

Breaded chicken wings ready for baking

Take the heated tray from the oven and carefully lay the wings on it in a single layer. Scatter over any remaining breadcrumbs if bare bits of chicken are showing. Bake for thirty minutes, turning carefully with cooking tongs half way through.

Ketchup is added to remaining soy and honey sauce

When the wings have been turned, pour the remaining soy sauce and honey combination in to a small saucepan. Add the ketchup. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently and well with a wooden spoon. Simmer for two or three minutes until a lush and thick dipping sauce is formed.

Remember - The soy and honey has been used to coat raw chicken so it must be heated thoroughly and well in this way before it is used as a dip. Otherwise, the risks of serious food poisoning are very real!

Thick and luscious soy, honey and ketchup sauce

Sit the saucepan aside (covered) to let the sauce cool.

Baked soy and honey breaded wings

When they come out the oven, the chicken wings should be beautiful and golden with the breadcrumbs deliciously crisp.

Breaded wings are rested on a wire rack

Lift the wings one by one with (clean) cooking tongs to a wire rack and allow them to rest for five minutes. This not only helps them crisp up even more, it allows the juices to re-establish themselves in the chicken meat and makes it extra tender.

Wash the salad leaves under running cold water in a colander and shake dry. Pour the dipping sauce in to a ramekin.

Sit the ramekin in the centre of an appropriate serving dish and arrange the salad leaves all around. Sit the chicken wings on the salad to serve.

Soy and honey dip and salad bed for crispy wings

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Lambs Liver and Kidney Stuffed Mushrooms

Lambs liver and kidney stuffed mushrooms with mashed potatoes and swede

I love offal of a great many different types but probably most of all, liver and kidneys. When I bought some lambs liver and kidneys to prepare an alternative full Scottish breakfast recently, I had some leftover and came up with this recipe idea for the following night's dinner.

Preparing lambs liver and kidneys for cooking

Ingredients

2 ounces lambs liver
2 lamb kidneys
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated or finely chopped
Pinch dried sage
Pinch dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
1/2 small Swede turnip/rutabaga, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium floury/starchy potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large breakfast mushrooms, stalks removed
1 tablespoon grated cheddar cheese
Butter
White pepper
Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

Small red onion and garlic clove

Directions

The liver and kidneys should be roughly chopped. Be sure to remove the white fatty tissue from inside the kidneys if this has not already been done by your butcher.

Prepared red onion with seasoning herbs

Pour the vegetable oil in to a non-stick frying pan and gently heat. Add the liver, kidney, onion and garlic. Season with the dried herbs, slat and black pepper. Stir fry over a moderate heat for about three or four minutes.

Frying lambs liver, kidneys and onion

Turn off the heat, cover and allow to cool completely. Half an hour should be plenty of time.

Potatoes and Swede turnip for making mash

Preheat your oven to 350F/170C/Gas Mark 4.

Potatoes and Swede turnip ready for boiling

Put the potato and Swede pieces in to a large pot of cold water and season with salt. Bring the water to a simmer until the pieces are just softened. This will take around twenty minutes.

Large breakfast mushrooms

Use a teaspoon to carefully fill the cups of the mushrooms with the liver and kidney combination.

Cooked and cooled offal is stuffed in to mushrooms

Very lightly oil a baking tray and lay the mushrooms on it. Cook in the oven for fifteen minutes.

Stuffed mushrooms ready for baking

Take the mushrooms from the oven and scatter with the grated cheese. Return to the oven for one more minute, just to melt the cheese.

Grated cheese is scattered on stuffed mushrooms

Drain the potatoes and Swede through a colander at your sink. Let them steam off for a few minutes to get rid of the excess moisture and avoid having soggy mash.

Potatoes and Swede turnip are drained and left to steam

Use a spatula to lift the mushrooms to a wire rack and let them rest and also steam off for two or three minutes.

Stuffed mushrooms are rested on wire rack

Put the potatoes and Swede back in to the empty pot. Add a little bit of butter and season with white pepper. Swirl the pot gently to melt the butter and mash with a hand masher.

Preparing to mash potatoes and Swede turnip

Lay the stuffed mushrooms in opposite corners of a square plate.

Stuffed mushrooms are plated

Spoon the mash around the mushrooms and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Mashed potatoes and turnip is spooned around stuffed mushrooms