It’s pastry season, says Carina Contini of the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, but it’s up to you whether your filling is savoury or sweet
September is a special month. It’s harvest time and, at the Scottish Cafe, we are celebrating Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight with gatherings, supplier days and a fabulous menu that matches the regions of Scotland with a dish and a local whisky.
Our natural larder is abundant at this time of year. The shellfish season is in full swing, the game season has kicked off in style, the weather is still decent for all our visitors and our garden is blooming with the most beautiful greens.
The cabbages, kales and chard are all thriving, but we won’t be touching these for a few more months. However, our Musselburgh leeks are looking perfect.
This incredibly hardy, heritage variety was first cultivated in 1834 by James Hardcastle, in the East Coast town that they’re named after. This vegetable’s origins are in the lily family, and they are well suited to our soil.
They can be picked young, when they are sweet and tender, or harvested all the way through to the early spring, while they mature in flavour and intensity.
September also brought some great news for Scotland from Slow Food – an organisation, founded in Italy 27 years ago, that supports biodiversity around the world. Its wonderful Forgotten Food programme, the Ark of Taste, champions small scale quality products and traditions that celebrate artisan skills and cultures. Their aim is to help raise awareness of products and producers that have a story that links people and food.
Thanks to our local campaign Musselburgh leeks have now been included on this worldwide list of over 1,225 products.
Well done Musselburgh and congratulations to our hardy leeks.
1kg (pre-washed weight) of leeks (with coarse green leaves removed, chopped into 1cm slices, washed and drained)
100g unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh marjoram (leaves only, chopped)
50ml double cream
salt and white pepper
500g block all butter puff pastry
1 organic free-range egg
1 small fennel bulb
10 small tomatoes
1 small cucumber, skin removed and de-seeded
a large handful of fresh mint leaves
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 unwaxed lime
For the filling
4 large Bramley apples
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp caster sugar
50g golden sultanas
¼ tsp ground ginger
For the pastry
250g self-raising flour
a pinch salt
125g chilled unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 free-range egg yolk
2 tbsp ice cold water
MUSSELBURGH LEEK PIE
This pie showcases our heritage leeks perfectly. Pre-made puff pastry is my ultimate cheat’s ingredient and here it does the job brilliantly.
1 Gently fry the leeks in the butter until they are soft, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
2 Add the marjoram and cream and cook until the mixture thickens.
3 Check seasoning.
4 Remove from heat and cool.
5 Roll the pastry on to a large flat surface. You will need two dinner plate-size circles of pastry for the pie.
6 Lightly oil a large baking tray and place one circle of pastry on to the tray.
7 Spoon the leek mixture on top of the pastry, leaving about a half inch around the edges.
8 Brush this edge with an egg wash.
9 Place the other pastry circle on top of the mixture.
10 Using a fork press the edges of the pastry together all the way round to seal the pastry together.
11 Score and place one or two sharp knife holes on top to allow the steam to escape and stop the pie from bursting.
12 Brush with the egg wash and bake in a hot oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes until golden. Enjoy hot or cold.
This salad is quick, easy, fresh and gives a lovely contrasting crunch to the soft, flaky, juicy pie.
1 Choose the widest shaver on your grater and coarsely grate the fennel on to a large serving platter.
2 Cut the tomatoes into quarters and scatter over the fennel.
4 Thinly slice the cucumbers and add to the salad.
5 Scatter the chilli and mint leaves over the top, then season with salt.
6 Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lime juice.
Another pie, but I couldn’t resist – it’s my all time favourite comfort pudding. The pastry is made with self-raising flour and it’s soft and crumbly.
1 Peel, core and slice the apples roughly to the same size.
2 Place the apples, water and sugar in a pot and heat over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the apples have broken down to a soft but slightly chunky purée. Use a wooden spoon to move the apples to stop them discolouring.
3 Add the sultanas and ginger and check the sweetness. Add a little more sugar if required.
4 Allow to cool.
For the pastry
1 Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2 Coarsely grate the butter into the bowl.
3 Using your fingertips rub the butter and flour together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
4 Add the caster sugar and mix through.
5 Add the egg yolk and bind with the water until the mixture forms a ball.
6 Transfer to a floured surface and gently knead.
7 Chill in the fridge for about half an hour.
8 Choose a 20cm Pyrex plate and brush with butter, then cut the pastry in half and roll out to the same size as the plate.
9 Line the bottom of the plate with the pastry, place the apple mixture on top and gently spread out.
10 Roll the remaining pastry and carefully cover the apple mixture, cut the excess pastry off the edges of the plate and brush with an egg wash.
11 Bake at 190C/Gas Mark 5 for 20 to 25 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar.
12 Serve hot or cold with a generous spoonful of thick cream.