Brunch: History

Ayrshire Bacon

In the early 1900s, Scotland’s oldest bacon cure travelled around the dairying area of Ayrshire in a horse-drawn cart. It was sliced and sold from a fold-down counter at the back of the cart. The evidence is in a historic picture of the Ramsay family’s tradition of curing Ayrshire bacon going back four generations.

Stornoway Black Pudding (marag dubh)

When a 19th century self-sufficient crofting community in the Highlands and Islands killed an animal they shared the task of making sure no part of the animal was wasted. Joints were put into the salt. Bones used for broth. Blood for making the marag dubh: the special treat.

About Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a food writer, author, teacher and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scot.). Noted for her food columns in The Herald (Glasgow) for over two decades, she was also a presenter, with Derek Cooper, of Scotland’s Larder. She can be visited at

Fine Dining: History

Scottish Oysters on Ice

In the 18th century, plentiful supplies of Scottish native oysters were eaten in taverns and subterranean Oyster Cellars in Edinburgh where all classes joined in the fun of an Oyster Ploy: heads back, mouths open. In the season, thousands of oysters in barrels were trundled up the High Street on horse-drawn carts.

About Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a food writer, author, teacher and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scot.). Noted for her food columns in The Herald (Glasgow) for over two decades, she was also a presenter, with Derek Cooper, of Scotland’s Larder. She can be visited at


Fine Dining Recipe by Dan Ashmore: Jasmine Poached Salmon

Daniel Ashmore, Head Chef, The Pompadour by Galvin

Jasmine Poached Salmon with Pickled Endives and Orange Dressing

Serves 4


  • 4 50g portions of Scottish Salmon, skin off
  • 100g Isle of Skye sea salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 2l water
  • 10 green tea and jasmine tea bags (sourced from Scottish supplier)
  • 20ml Scottish rapeseed oil
  • 2l orange juice
  • 100ml Scottish rapeseed oil
  • 50g sugar
  • 75ml white wine vinegar
  • 400ml orange Juice
  • 4 endives
  • Garnish (optional) of nasturtium leaves, hairy bitter cress and viola flowers
  • Salt



Make a brine 100g salt, 100g of sugar and 2l of water in a pot and bring to the boil. When boiling, add the tea bags, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, place each piece of salmon in the cold brine for 4 hours. Remove from the brine and place in a poaching bag with 20ml rapeseed oil and poach for 12 minutes at 50 degrees Celsius.

Make an orange dressing by passing 2 litres of orange juice through a sieve into a pan then reducing it to approximately 100mls. Be very careful not to burn it. Once cooled, add 100ml rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt.

To make the pickled endives, mix 75ml vinegar with 50g of sugar and 400ml of orange juice in a pan and bring to a boil. Cut each endive in half lengthways. Add the endives to the pan and remove from the heat. Leave to cool.

To serve, cut the endives to your desired size, and lay on the plate. Place the poached salmon on top and dress lightly with the orange dressing. Add the garnishes if you’ve chosen to use them and enjoy with a glass of chardonnay.


BBQ: History

Aberdeen Angus Rib Eye Steak

This world famous Scottish beef breed has its origins in the dedication of its early breeders. Hugh Watson (1780-1865) from Keillor in Angus is regarded as having ‘fixed’ the breed. He sold stock to William McCombie (1805-1880) of Tillyfour, in Aberdeenshire, who continued breeding.  The Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society was set up in 1879.

About Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a food writer, author, teacher and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scot.). Noted for her food columns in The Herald (Glasgow) for over two decades, she was also a presenter, with Derek Cooper, of Scotland’s Larder. She can be visited at

BBQ Recipe by Chris Rowley: Barbeque Bavette

Chris Rowley, Chef/Founder, Ballintaggart Farm

Barbeque Bavette (skirt or flank steak), Balnaguard chanterelles and garden leaves with garden herb salsa verde

Serves 4

You will need

  • 800g bavette
  • 250g chanterelles, ideally foraged
  • 200g garden leaves, four large handfuls
  • 60ml Summer Harvest rapeseed oil
  • 50g butter
  • 5 young springs rosemary
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Isle of Skye Seasalt
  • Black pepper


For the salsa verde

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 anchovies, rinsed if packed in salt
  • Leaves from about 30g flat-leaf parsley (about 20g leaves)
  • Leaves from about 30g basil (about 20g leaves)
  • Leaves from about 30g wild mint (about 20g leaves)
  • 75g green pitted olives, thinkkly sliced
  • 2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 120-150ml Summer Harvest rapeseed oil


What to do

Ask your butcher for bavette (sometimes better known as skirt or flank steak). This is a very fatty cut but full of flavour. Order 200g per person as you will need to trim off some of the most fatty bits. Marinade in Summer Harvest Rapeseed oil, rosemary, three cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and black pepper for at least four hours, up to 24 hours.

Next, make the garden herb salsa verde. Roughly chop herbs and combine with sliced olives, sliced anchovies and capers, pour over vinegar and oil and combine. Taste and add more of the vinegar if you like, plus seasoning if necessary. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Light the barbeque and leave until the charcoal is amber. Pat the meat dry with blue roll, season generously with Isle of Skye sea salt and place directly on the barbeque grill. Bavette lends itself to quick cooking. Three minutes either side. Rest for up to ten minutes, somewhere warm, If you are without access to a barbeque, a hot pan will suffice. Slice the meat thinly across the grain and place in the centre of the serving plate.

Scotland’s woodlands are alive with chanterelles from late July until late August. If you are confident enough to forage for them, you will need around 100g per person or buy from a reputable supplier. Dry clean the mushrooms using a mushroom or pastry brush. Quarter larger mushrooms. Heat a frying pan to medium heat with two cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a knob of butter. Heat butter and garlic until foaming, sautée mushrooms for two to three minutes and season generously. Arrange around steak on serving plate.

Cut some peppery garden leaves from your raised beds (if you have – we love mizuna, rocket and young kale) or buy and add, gently scattered, to the plate. Dress the plate with salsa verde.

Visit Stranraer Oyster Festival as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

Nestled under the sparkling waters of Loch Ryan in south west Scotland is one of the rarest and most precious oyster beds in the world - Scotland’s last wild, native oyster fishery.  Once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK, the native oyster, Ostrea edulis, was fished to near extinction in previous centuries which makes the native oysters, sustainably harvested from Loch Ryan, particularly sought after.

This weekend Loch Ryan oysters are the focal point of Scotland’s first major oyster festival, taking place just a stone’s throw from the oyster bed itself, and it’s a unique opportunity to try these delicacies in their home town.  Native oysters are flatter and rounder than their farmed cousins, and their slow rate of growth can give them an intense and complex flavour.

Oysters from different native oyster beds have different flavour profiles, and Loch Ryan natives are considered to have a firm texture with a plump, almost crisp, bite to them.  They are salty and nutty, with a pure flavour of the sea.  Oysters have been prized from this bed for millennia, and legend has it that Julius Caesar once wrote that Loch Ryan oysters are the best in the world.

The Loch Ryan oyster bed is a managed wild fishery and the rights to harvest oysters here dates back to 1701, when King William III granted a Royal Charter of the oyster bed to the Wallace family. The family live on the shores of the Loch, and the oyster bed has been in the care of their family ever since.

Visitors to the first Stranraer Oyster Festival taking place form 15th – 17th September will have the opportunity to sample and learn about Loch Ryan oysters direct from the Wallace family and from the team who manage the beds.  While oysters are the focus, the festival seeks to celebrate the wider local food and drink heritage of the town of Stranraer, with a strong focus on local seafood.

The festival programme is packed with cookery demonstrations, classes and tasting sessions, including a giant seafood paella which will showcase locally caught shellfish from around south west Scotland to introduce local people and visitors to the diverse seafood of the south west.  Oyster boat, The Vital Spark, will even be letting children experience ‘Extreme Pond Dipping’ or Loch Ryan dipping as they bring ashore a dredge from the loch floor for children to sort through oysters, starfish and lots more!

Stranraer Development Trust, who are organising the festival, have also partnered with Seafood Scotland to launch the Scottish Shucking Championships.  Set to be hotly contested by some of the best seafood chefs in the country, the winner will go on to represent Scotland at the World Oyster Opening Championship held in Galway later this month.

By putting their local oysters centre stage, the community of Stranraer is shining a spotlight on the rich local larder of their host region.  Visitors to the Stranraer Oyster Festival are in for a treat, with a 50-stall strong local produce market including craft gins and ales, smoked salmon, artisan cheese and deliciously sweet treats.

Romano Petrucci, Chairman of Stranraer Development Trust, the organisation behind the festival, said:

“We wanted to create a festival that would create a late summer tourism highlight to attract visitors to Stranraer.  Food tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the UK, and Stranraer’s heritage means the town is perfectly placed to capitalise on that growing interest in themed food festivals.  By organising a festival that showcases the stunning beauty of Loch Ryan, the unique seafood that resides within the Loch and the warmth of the people of Stranraer we are looking forward to showing off our beautiful town to the world.

“Oysters might be considered a luxury food, but oyster festivals are not elitist.  Oyster festivals take the oyster as a focal point and then create a celebration of local food, local culture and the local community around it.  That’s what we’ve done with this new festival, and for visitors who don’t want to try a Loch Ryan Oyster, we’ll have plenty of oyster ice creams available for people to indulge in a seaside favourite!”

Throw in the passionate support of oyster fan Hardeep Singh Kohli, live music, performances and fireworks and it looks like Stranraer has come up with a recipe for food tourism success.

With thanks to Andy Smith Photography

Street Food Recipe by Graeme Pallister: Arbroath Smokie Taco

Graeme Pallister, Chef Patron, 63 Tay Street, Perth

Arbroath Smokie taco, horseradish & flame roast beetroot salad

Serves 2

  • 1 Arbroath Smokie, skin removed, flesh picked and bones removed
  • 1 heaped teaspoon horseradish sauce
  • ¼ of lemon
  • 1 dessert spoon double cream
  • 1 large plum tomato sliced
  • ½ red onion sliced
  • 5 matchsticks of green apple
  • 1 little gem lettuce
  • 1 golden beetroot
  • 1 red beetroot
  • 1 shallot sliced into rings
  • Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 large fajita flat breads trimmed by 1” circumference
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Caster sugar


Oven preheated 160 degrees Celsius

Place the sliced shallot rings in a bowl with a pinch of caster sugar and salt and add the red wine vinegar, allow to pickle for at least an hour.  Warm the Smokie in the oven for several minutes before preparing.   Rub each side of the fajita with olive oil, place the fajita across the oven shelf bars support the base with 2 metal bars of the shelf and allow the sides to fall down equally on each side to make a taco shape, bake till lightly golden.  Remove from the oven and hold in shape till it cools, it may want to close up too much otherwise.

Place a fork in each beetroot and carefully toast as you would a marshmallow over an open gas flame on your hob, you can use a blowtorch if you don’t have gas.  Allow the beetroot to char thoroughly, season each with salt and pepper and wrap lightly in tin foil before baking for 30 minutes in the oven.  Allow to cool and slice into wedges or rings, I like to leave the skin on but feel free to peel with your fingers before slicing.   Coat the beetroot in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the balsamic and season to taste.   Place the sliced tomato and onion together in a bowl and lightly dress with salt and pepper.  Combine the horseradish and cream in a little dish and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Gently fold in the large flakes of smokie.  Season to taste.

To build the taco, place the sliced tomato mix in the bottom, gently top with the smokie and then the apple sticks.  Serve with beetroot, pickled shallot rings and a few pieces of little gem lettuce, then take a picture, post it on social media and make your friends envy you!  Enjoy.

Street Food: History

Arbroath Smokie hot off the barrel from Iain Spink

It’s likely that this cure was brought here by the Vikings in the 900s. There is not only evidence of Viking artifacts found here, but also Spink is a Viking name. Viking settlers in Poland in the 900s were hot-smoking fish in holes in the ground, and then later in barrels in the 1400s.

About Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a food writer, author, teacher and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scot.). Noted for her food columns in The Herald (Glasgow) for over two decades, she was also a presenter, with Derek Cooper, of Scotland’s Larder. She can be visited at

Family Meal Recipe by Craig Wood: Corn-fed Chicken Ballotine with Black Pudding & Skirlie


  • 2 corn-fed chicken supremes
  • 50g pinhead oatmeal
  • 10g butter
  • ½ shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50g black pudding or boudin noir
  • seasoning



  1. Remove the fillet from each of the chicken breasts and place in a food processor along with the black pudding and blitz to a mousse.
  2. Sauté the shallot and garlic in the butter until soft, add the oatmeal and cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, taste and season.
  3. Allow the oatmeal mix to cool and combine with the chicken mousse and mix well.
  4. Bat out the chicken until it is approximately twice the size (5mm thick).
  5. Spoon the mixture onto each of the chicken breasts and roll up into a sausage shape. Tie each end to secure and poach in hot water for around 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the clingfilm and crisp the skin in a hot sauté pan.
  7. Slice and serve with some wilted kale tossed in butter, salt & pepper.

Craig Wood is the Chef and Patron of The Wee Restaurant

a shopping trolley

Family Meal: History

Skirlie, Roast Chicken and Potatoes

For the frugal Scot, a pot of potatoes (chicken for a treat) and a frying pan of skirlie made with oatmeal, onions, meat dripping or chopped suet might be your dinner. It gets its name from the frying noise, as in the skirl of the bagpipes. It was first known as ‘skirl-in-the-pan’.

About Catherine Brown

Catherine Brown is a food writer, author, teacher and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scot.). Noted for her food columns in The Herald (Glasgow) for over two decades, she was also a presenter, with Derek Cooper, of Scotland’s Larder. She can be visited at