Clapshot

Clapshot is a traditional Scottish dish, made with mashed neeps and tatties. One of those winter comfort dishes, where it’s almost impossible to overdo the butter and pepper.

Clapshot is, technically, really easy to make, just boil some neeps¹ and tatties², mash with loads of butter and pepper, stir through some chopped chives and away you go. It’s just as easy to get it wrong though, too much turnip can overpower the potato and if the turnip is too wet, it can make the whole lot too sloppy. Like most things, it’s all about finding the balance.

I simmered the potatoes with a bay leaf, some fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and a few halved garlic cloves, similarly, I simmered the turnip in milk, with a bay leaf and some green peppercorns. This was to try and get some extra flavour into what can be two pretty bland vegetables. One thing though, just make sure you simmer the turnip for long enough, especially if you’re going to try and force it though a ricer, as it wouldn’t quite all go through mine; I should probably have used the mouli, rather than the ricer.

Neeps and tatties ready to cook.

I think a ratio of around 3:2, potato to turnip, is probably around where you want to aim. Anymore and it can become a bit too skewed in favour of the turnip, in my opinion. Similarly, about two thirds to three quarters of a 25g bunch of chives is about right, as they can be quite potent when raw. One thing is for sure though, don’t skimp on either the butter, or the ground pepper.

Then crack open some oatcakes, but chunky ones rather than the poor excuses I used here, sit back and stuff your face.

¹ turnip, at least what the Scots call a turnip, sold as swede down South.
² potatoes, preferably floury ones like King Edward.

Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips

Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips

I’ve had Maria Elia’s The Modern Vegetarian for a while, but for one reason or another, I’ve not got round to cooking many of the recipes. I was home alone one Saturday night, so decided to whip up a batch of the Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips with a pot of homemade mayonnaise.

Every time I’ve used express, fast cook type polenta, I’ve been disappointed and this time was no exception. It just tastes watery and had that slightly grainy but flabby and almost rubbery texture about it. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m cooking it properly, but I’ve cooked it to the instructions a number of times now, for a number of different recipes, so either that’s the way it’s supposed to be, or I’m just shite at cooking it. I think I’ll try cooking it for longer than the stated five minutes next time and see if that makes a difference.

The recipe calls for chopping the squash into small dice and adding them to the pan, before adding the polenta, i.e. the squash dice and polenta cook together. But small is relative, how small is small…? I diced mine up to what I thought was relatively small, but I think if I was doing it again, I’d either grate the squash, or roast it and mash it up first. The reason I’d do this, is that mostly, each mouthful was just rubbery, slightly grainy polenta, without much flavour. then you’d get some rosemary and squash and it totally transformed the experience.

Also, it looks to me like the chips in the photo that accompanies the recipe, have a slight orange hue. Indicating to me, that the squash is better distributed in those chips than in mine. I could be totally wrong though, but next time, I think I’ll try grating the squash into the polenta and seeing what difference that makes. I’ll also make them slightly smaller, as they were just a little on the big side, which I don’t think helped matters.

Finally a quick word about the mayonnaise. I made mine using bog standard rapeseed oil, not the fancy cold pressed stuff. Don’t. Just don’t. The resulting mayonnaise was horrible, you could just tell from the taste that it was made with cheap oil. I ended up ditching the mayonnaise in favour of some of my homemade Haw ketchup, a much, much nicer match.

Chocolate Truffles

I bought Maria Elia’s The Modern Vegetarian last year and if I’m being honest, I’ve not used it enough, not nearly enough. I’ve made a few things out of it though, including a couple of the batches of the chocolate truffles, using differing flavour combinations. The first one I tried, was the rosemary and sea salt combination, which I made as a Christmas present for my wife. They didn’t go down well…

I thought they are OK, which is just as well, as I ended up having to eat the lot! To be fair, they were quite strong, with the rosemary imparting quite a powerful taste. I’m not overly surprised that they polarised opinion in the house because of that. To make amends, I made my wife another batch of truffles, this time, using the pomegranate and mint flavour combination, mainly as I had some mint stalks left over and we have a bottle of pomegranate molasses in the house. These went down a lot better, although they still didn’t get finished.

This time it was the flavour of the pomegranate molasses that didn’t go down as well as it should have. It’s got quite a sharp sweet sour tang thing going on, and maybe I put it a bit too much in, I liked them though, even if they were a bit on the soft side. I think the next batch will use the cardamom and orange flavour combination, hopefully it’ll be third time lucky…