Sustainability has become a huge buzz word in recent years and for very good reasons. My dictionary’s definition is ‘to maintain or keep, to support, endure, bear the weight of for a long period’.
These words reflect all that I have believed in as a chef – day in, day out – for years.
Thinking back, I’ve been buying, storing, cooking and recycling this way for nearly three decades. So last year when we picked up the national award for our work in the community from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, it was incredibly meaningful for me.
It’s great to see so many chefs and cooks starting to pay attention to these issues. As the first Scottish member of the SRA, I take it very seriously and as an ambassador for all things Scottish, I feel proud spreading the message of sustainability. Our restaurant also holds 3-star champion status and nothing makes me happier than when I see the young members of my team recycling, understanding food waste, composting, purchasing food from small-scale producers and simply turning off the lights at the end of the day.
All those good habits that apply in the restaurant also apply to us in our own homes. They reduce waste, save money, and help protect our world.
And our planet is looking lovely right now, as October is a cracking month. There’s still a warmth to the sun, but a refreshing chill too. That feeling of the autumn sun on my face as I pick the last of the summer crops fills me with delight. After months of growing with sunshine and rain, things are at their sweetest and there’s no better example of this than the humble (and sustainable) apple – a fruit we all know so well. These recipes should inspire you to do more than just munch one on the go.
SHETLAND BLUESHELL MUSSELS, CUDDYBRIDGE APPLE JUICE, ARRAN MUSTARD AND CREAM
The Shetland Blueshell mussel is hardy, fat and sweet due to the fast-flowing pure waters around our northern isles. This sustainable shellfish is nature’s fast food – and so tasty. I’ve created a sauce for it that’s simply sublime.
2.5kg Shetland blue mussels
1 shallot, finely chopped
170ml apple juice – I use Cuddybridge
1 tbsp Arran mustard
200ml double cream
a small handful of curly parsley, roughly chopped
fresh black pepper
1 Remove the beards and any barnacles from the mussels and give them a good rinse under cold water.
2 Heat a large pot on a high heat on the stove until almost smoking, then add the mussels and shallots.
3 Cover quickly with a lid.
4 Next add the apple juice followed by the mustard and cream – stirring continuously.
5 Once all the mussels have opened and the sauce is boiling, add the parsley and a few grinds of pepper.
6 Serve with crusty bread.
PORK CHOPS, PINK FIR APPLE POTATOES, BRAMLEY APPLE AND THISTLY CROSS CIDER SAUCE
I love a pork chop with a decent amount of fat that turns crispy and sweet when cooked. Breeds like Tamworth or Berkshire are my favourites. Serve it simply, with pink fir apple potatoes, (a potato variety, not an apple) and an apple sauce made from Bramleys with a splash of Thistly Cross cider.
4 large, fatty pork chops – on or off the bone
1 kg pink fir apple potatoes, scrubbed and washed
1 large, or 2 smaller, Bramley apples
1 bottle of Thistly Cross cider
150g unsalted butter
200ml chicken stock
enough tenderstem broccoli for 4 people
a squirt of rapeseed oil
sea salt and fresh black pepper
1 Put the washed and scrubbed potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Don’t salt just yet. Bring to the boil and simmer until just soft – about half an hour.
2 Drain the tatties and return them to the pot. Season and add 100g of butter and keep warm.
3 Peel, core and roughly dice the apple and put it in a small pot with 25g of the butter and a small splash of cider. Allow to cook, crushing with a fork until soft – about 20 minutes on a low heat.
4 Heat a frying pan until almost smoking and add the rapeseed oil, season the chops and add to the pan. Leave on high heat and press down with a fish slice - if they spring up, don’t be tempted to play with them in the pan! Leave until they’re golden on one side, turn over, add the remaining butter and baste and season again. Finish under a hot grill. Then remove the chops from the pan to rest whilst you make the sauce.
5 To make the sauce, add half of the cider to the hot juices in the frying pan and return it to the stovetop - drink the remaining cider! Deglaze the pan by rubbing any brown bits into the cider. Reduce, add the stock and reduce again until your desired thickness.
6 Lightly crush the potatoes and assemble on plates with the chops. Top the chops with the apple and spoon over the sauce. Serve with some steaming-hot tenderstem broccoli.
TARTE TATIN WITH VANILLA ICE-CREAM
Pudding-lovers and Francophiles adore tarte tatin. But beware what variety of apple you choose. A Bramley or a cooking apple will turn to mush, but a Granny Smith will stay firm and retain a juicy tartness. Serve it with a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream. This is classic, simple and sustainable cookery at its finest.
4 apples – Granny Smith, Cox’s or Pink Lady
200g unsalted butter
200g unrefined caster sugar
500g puff pastry - shop-bought is okay, but try making your own
4 scoops of vanilla ice-cream
1 In a thick-bottomed pan, caramelise the sugar until golden brown - then add the butter, stirring all the time until everything is incorporated. Pour this caramel into four blini pans.
2 Next, peel, core and quarter the apples, placing them peeled-side down into the caramel – 4 pieces per pan.
3 Bake in the oven at 180C/Gas Mark ? for 15-20 minutes until the apples are just cooked.
4 Meanwhile, roll out the pastry to half a centimetre thick and cut out 4 circles a little larger than the widest circumference of the blini pan. Place each round of pastry on top of the now cooked apple in the pans, and tuck in down around the inside.
5 Turn up the oven to 200C/Gas Mark ?, and return the pans to cook the pastry. Once cooked, flip the tart upside-down in the pan with a palette knife and serve with lashings of vanilla ice-cream.