March 22, 2013
Just about every culture I can think of has some type of flat bread or product indigenous to the need for a dough type product intended to enrobe foods, provide nourishment and most of all be easy to hold. This idea is thousands of years old and has evolved with the times into meeting the necessity of staying relevant with changing generations that crave traditional foods but with trendy combinations and presentations.
The tattie scone should be no different, I would think, but it is. It has played a very important part of being identified with the Scottish breakfast and while working in tandem with the traditional Scottish slice sausage, the tattie scone has helped identify the Scottish breakfast from any other breakfast in the British Isles. It is as Scottish as the Scotch Egg yet suffers from a similar fate in the assumption that it is only good if served before 10 AM.
I saw this an an opportunity to expand upon the traditions of the tattie scone and help re-shape a future of this delicacy to reach the other day part opportunities that loom beyond breakfast. I let my imagination run wild. My first order of business was to change it’s shape. In an effort to do what I could with the scone I found it most restricting using the pre-packaged form of sliced triangular shaped portions to not work so well in its current form with the exception of cutting those pieces into smaller triangles and serving with sliced smoked Scottish salmon, cucumber cream, a slice of boiled egg and a dollop of caviar on top. Sort of taking the place of a classical blini if you will.
I proceeded to make my own and from there I was impressed by the versatility of the tattie scone. I first made a large circle, thinner than store bought, and fried it off. Instead of cutting into triangular sections I left it whole. I then steamed it to make it pliable. Filled it with slow roasted pulled beef, carrot shreds and onion. Rolled it up similar to a large spring roll or burrito. It turned out great. I took the trimmings from the dough and after rolling paper thin, fried them up and since the sandwich I made reminded me of a burrito, I made a sort of nacho platter out of the fried trimmings with crumbled sliced sausage, green onions, diced tomatoes and crumbled Shropshire Blue cheese. Wow, it worked perfectly. I kept traditional Scottish flavours and shaped them into a modern presentation that I would hope more restaurants in Scotland would serve to their guests. Now I only need to think of what to call it!
As I went on, it seemed as though the ideas just started flowing. Some things worked while others not so well like making a meat pie with the scone dough. Well, I thought it was a good idea at the time. At the end of the day my point was made though. Our food from Scotland is delicious and with a little ingenuity we can expand upon what we have and share it with the world. That is the whole idea of Modern Scottish Cuisine….. to share it with the world.
March 11, 2013
Since writing my memoirs I am surprised at the support I have received from the many readers whom have let me know how much they appreciated my story. As you may know, it is not easy putting yourself out there in an effort to entertain as well as inspire the reader and at the same time open yourself up to criticism. I guess I have also learned this as a chef also. I work hard at creating a dish, analyze and often times overanalyze the preparation, envision the artistic view of the dish and demonstrate my years of practice by putting it out there for criticism or scrutiny.
The same holds true with my publication of GINGER. I put off the project for a number of years for the simple reason that I wouldn’t think anybody would be interested. I have my wife to thank for giving me the encouragement to finally get it done and to share my story with whomever would be interested in it. The same goes for a lot of food innovations I have developed through the years. Sometimes I just like to keep certain dishes to myself when other times I look very much foreword to sharing with whomever is willing to try it. I take the praises with humility as well as take the criticisms with seriousness and sometimes a grain of salt.
It had taken me several years to not take the criticism personally. I would sometimes take it as a blow to my very sensitive feelings and rebut the criticism with often time insult or dismissal. I am glad to have matured from these feelings and believe that maybe there was more to postponing writing my memoirs. Maybe I just wouldn’t have been ready for any kind of praise or criticism. Being it so very personal, I truly believe now that I wasn’t ready.
I never studied to be a writer. Although I have writers that I admired through the years, I never thought of someday actually writing anything more than a menu and possibly some recipes for people to enjoy. I now opened myself up to be criticized for not only my abilities as a chef, a vocation that I have trained earnestly for years, but my abilities as a writer. A vocation that I had never studied nor ever wanted to study to do professionally. I have always just wanted to work with food.
I am extremely grateful to those whom have contacted me and let me know how much you have enjoyed my book. I am truly touched by those who have said that it inspires you. I am also appreciative to all of you who recommended Ginger to others. That is truly one of the greatest compliments I could have ever hoped for. It ranks right up there with Mark Sutherland of Dunrobin Publishing liking the story so much that he took a chance on a first time, no name author and published his work for all the world to read because he not only liked the story but saw the potential that others would like it too.
That being said, when I got my shipment of promotional books from my publisher I worked on a list of potential reviewers whom I thought would enjoy the book as well as help get the word out. As I was going through the mailing list Christina, my wife, let’s me know that President Clinton would have to be on the list. She was right. He would have to be on the list.
After sending it to him, I have to admit, I thought I would never hear back from him about GINGER. I made every excuse I could think of to not worry about whether he read it or not but deep down inside I wanted not only him to read it but I wanted everybody to read it. Not for any personal gain but rather because I wasn’t afraid of criticism anymore and that is a great feeling.
My story. The story of a boy, who was born and raised in Scotland, and who moved to the United States at age 10. The product
of an immigrant family where a new life, divorce, alcoholism, poverty and desire drive this boy to become an award winning chef overcoming a situation where all the odds are against him.
From the streets of New Jersey to being hand picked to cook at the White House for the President of the United States.
Ginger is not by any means a sad story. To the contrary, it is about passion for a career that would separate the man from the boy. From shy and insecure to a driven, fanatical perfectionist trying to learn from the past and wish it was different—only to come to terms with what really matters and the things that cannot be changed.
Ginger is a boy who never gave up. A boy that never accepted life’s trials and misgivings as an excuse to give in and accept
uncontrollable conditions that shape one’s life for the worse. His will is not hereditary but is instead contrary to his father’s will.
You might think that when people move to another country, life would be easier upon acclimation. In reflection, nothing could be further from the truth. For Ginger’s family, this move was not easy. His social class would be transformed from what he perceived as normal, happy and content to abnormal, unhappy and discontent.
Life, as you may know, is only easy if you are living somebody else’s and never your own. If someone else has planned it for you and paid your way through the tolls of adversity then yes, life is easy.
This homesick boy learns to adjust and start a new life. Unfortunately, not a better life but rather one that challenges him to be a better person in the end and not to be fooled by not being good
enough to do what makes him happy.
He’s a boy who wants to be a chef and he does just that. He doesn’t settle for an easy occupation, as a result of a hard life, but rather one that takes hard work, dedication and the ability to please people and wanting nothing in return. It’s an occupation that is never glamorous. It is hot, uncomfortable, and stressful and drives the sane to be insane.
Ginger becomes an artist in a craft that relishes taking in the castaways of normal society and exploiting them for their mere self gratification and addictions, only to pay them with the pains of hardship. But it is love and love is blind.
This is not a cookbook; this is a cook’s book. This is my book.
February 7, 2013
As we draw close to a day on fancy where chocolates, flowers and the ever important dinner are soon upon us, I consider the dinner to be the ever important part. Part of that is of course me being a chef but also part of that is the sheer joy of sharing food with the one you love.
As I work to put Scottish cuisine on the radar of global food trends, I have found Scottish food to be more delicious than I first imagined possible in part due to the wholesome natural flavours of home. Scotland is delicious!
Pan Seared Scottish Salmon with Leek Sauce:
2 Center Cut Skinless, Boneless Salmon Filets, lightly seasoned with Salt and Pepper
1 TBSP Oil
For The Sauce:
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Slices Rasher Bacon, cut into julienne strips
1 Leek, white only rinsed and cut into julienne matchstick length
1/2 Cup Prunes, sliced into julienne strips
4 Oyster Mushrooms, sliced into julienne strips
4 Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced into julienne strips
1 Cup Heavy Cream
In a sautee pan, heat the oil then sear each side of the salmon filets under medium heat. Once crisp remove from heat and place in oven (350 F/ 175 C) for 12 minutes or until firm. Meanwhile, melt butter in separate pan, toss in the bacon and sautee till lightly crispy. Then add the leeks and saute until leeks become tender. Around 4 – 5 minutes over medium heat. Once leeks are tender then add the prunes and mushroom. Give it a good stir and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add the heavy cream and reduce till thickened. Around 5 – 7 minutes.
Remove salmon from oven and place in center of plate. With tongs, pile the leek and mushroom mix on top of salmon equally. Then pour the sauce from pan over mixture till fully coated.
January 22, 2013
As we soon approach a day
sacred to the Scottish culture and
celebrated globally as Burns
Night, we are reminded of the
affection Scotland’s Bairn had
with the ever mysterious national
dish of Scotland. This dish has
captured the curiosity of many a
diner around the world.
Celebrated in a ritual of drama
and passion as presenters rehearse
and memorize the lines to
perfection never to miss the cue of
stabbing the pudding in a most
unsurgically rapid manner in an
effort to spew the juices in an
attempt to soak the front row
patrons reminiscent of a Galagher
As famous as this delectable
treat is in the world, one has to
wonder why it is not so common
all the other days of the year.
In my opinion, sorry, I
should say from my position since
I am writing this from America,
Haggis is thought of only as a dish
for the brave. Could this be where
Scotland the Brave comes from?
From eating Haggis?
Most common Americans
can only speculate to what is in
Haggis and snarl at the thought of
partaking in a heaping mound of
organ meat and oats but never
attempting to have a taste. Those
who do will agree, “What’s all the
fuss about?” It is delicious!
So in my quest to rid the
Haggis of the undeserved
stereotypes here in America, I
offer you this to try.
Your very own BIG MAC
made with Haggis patties the way
I’m sure the brothers from Clan
MacDonald would be proud of
and you could even chase it down
with an anticipated swally of
single malt scotch but I personally
prefer a chilled glass of IRN BRU
to really get the taste buds doing a
David Macfarlane is a
chef from Scotland
whom has embarked
on his own adventure
to share Scottish
cuisine with the world.
David’s initiative is to
get every household
to embrace Scottish
cuisine with his
“Scotland is Delicious”
campaign and eat a
dish one day a week.
MODERN SCOTTISH CUISINE
1 chilled haggis, skin removed and cut into quarter inch slices
2 Tbsp Wondra flour
Dredge 2 slices of haggis in the wondra flour and pan sear on each side for 4
minutes on medium heat seasoning with salt and pepper and turning ever so
gently. Keep warm after searing in 200 degree oven while you prepare to build the
1 sesame seed bun cut into thirds
1/2 cup of iceberg lettuce cut chiffonade (long thin strips)
1 slice american cheese
2 tsp diced onion
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/8 tsp paprika
4 diced pickled onions
Mix all ingredients for sauce in a bowl until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust
seasonings to your liking. I like to add a little of the pickled onion juice for a more
robust acidic sauce.
Spread liberally on the bun to your desired amount. Place lettuce and cheese
down then add the haggis. Enjoy!