I BELIEVE the best family moments are formed around a good meal – whether it’s a special visit to a favourite restaurant or a home-cooked dinner. I’ll be opting for the latter this Mother’s Day, when I’ll be enjoying a roast with my parents, Betty and Gordon.
My mother is a fantastic cook and a major influence on what I do. My parents grew everything they could in the garden, it was like something from The Good Life; from the age of five I was scrubbing potatoes or climbing trees for apples. Within half an hour of being picked, the food was on the table. On family camping holidays in France my mother introduced me to mussels and langoustines – simplicity and freshness were the two main components in every meal, rather than fancy recipes.
This approach really shaped my understanding of food, and mirrors what we do in Rogano; sourcing the freshest local food we can and letting the quality speak for itself.
I love my mum’s soup and return every Sunday for a bowl, but this week I’ll let her put her feet up and make a meal that pays homage to everything she’s taught me about food. Sadly my parents’ vegetable patch in the garden is mostly gone, but there are still some potatoes and rhubarb, which incorporate nicely into favourite Rogano dishes.
My recipes make for a great meal for the family this Mother’s Day. They’re special enough for an occasion, but with a hearty, homely feel.
CULLEN SKINK Serves 4
When I was growing up a giant pot of Cullen skink was one of my mum’s specialities that we always looked forward to, and this is her recipe. With all the haddock, potatoes and leek ingredients it can be a hearty meal in itself. Serve with a fresh crusty loaf for dunking.
½ medium onion, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, finely diced and washed
green part 1 leek, finely shredded and washed
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
salt and pepper
2 pale smoked haddock cut into 1cm cubes
1 litre milk
50g curly parsley, finely chopped
1 In a thick-based pot melt the butter and sweat the onion, celery, leek and potato without colouring them.
2 Season the mixture with salt and pepper and add the haddock and milk.
3 Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10-12 minutes to cook the potatoes.
4 Check seasoning and add the parsley to finish.
BRAISED BALSAMIC LAMB SHANKS AND CREAMED POTATO Serves 4
With the balsamic vinegar and white borlotti bean ingredients, this is an Italian-style recipe that is ideal for a big family roast. I always head down to the farmers’ markets at Glasgow’s Queen’s Park or Clarkston on a Saturday to buy lamb.
4 lamb shanks
4 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
½ turnip, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced
3 sticks celery, finely diced
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
275ml balsamic vinegar
1 sprig of rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
1 litre reduced beef stock
1 x 300g tin borlotti beans
creamed mashed potatoes
1 Dust the lamb shanks with the seasoned flour. Add the olive oil to a hot shallow pan and sear the lamb until browned.
2 Put all of the vegetables into a heavy-based roasting tray. Add the tomatoes, the tomato purée and half of the balsamic vinegar.
3 Sit the lamb shanks upright on the vegetables and cover them with tin foil.
4 Put the tray into a preheated oven at 140C/Gas Mark 1 and braise slowly for 3 hours until the meat is tender.
5 Remove the lamb shanks and keep warm.
6 Put the tray onto the stove on a high heat.
7 Add the rest of the balsamic vinegar, herbs and beef stock. Bring to the boil and season. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
8 Reduce the sauce until thickened then add the drained borlotti beans.
9 Serve with creamed mashed potato.
RHUBARB AND VANILLA TART Serves 4
100g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 tbsp beaten whole egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
170g plain flour
1 vanilla pod
80ml double cream
3 egg yolks
200g fresh rhubarb
vanilla ice cream (for topping)
1 To make the pastry, place the unsalted butter, 45g of caster sugar, the whole egg and vanilla extract into a large bowl and mix well with an electric mixer, or by hand, until it becomes slightly pale in colour.
2 Sieve 135g of the flour and add slowly to the butter mixture until it comes together. Do not over handle once the pastry has come together.
3 Roll into a sausage shape and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
4 Once rested, roll out the pastry thinly and line 4 individual (9cm) tartlet tins. Use baking beans in the cases to prevent the pastry rising.
5 Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Once cool remove from the pastry cases.
6 To make the pastry cream, split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds. Add to the milk and double cream, then place the mixture in a pan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and 70g of the sugar till light, fluffy and pale in colour, before adding 35g of flour to the mix. Pour the boiling milk and cream mixture over the top and whisk.
7 Return to the heat and stir constantly till the mixture becomes extremely thick, then turn down the heat slightly and continue to heat for 2 minutes, still stirring constantly to cook out the flour.
8 Pour into a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to cool.
9 Wash and peel the rhubarb and cut it into 3cm pieces, then zest the orange, adding it to the rhubarb.
10 Add the remaining 85g of sugar and place the rhubarb into an ovenproof dish. Cover with tin foil and bake in a moderate oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft but still holding its shape. Once cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool.
11 Spoon the pastry cream into the tart cases and spread out, then place rhubarb pieces on top. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the centre of the tart and serve.