Thursday, 28 February 2008

Potato Scones

Thursday 7.50am

Sunday morning, I’m up and dressed and gazing into the fridge wondering about breakfast. Nicola is still in bed reading because she is bunged up with a cold, tight chested and coughing and feeling miserable and tired because she hasn’t slept very well. To be honest there is not a lot in the fridge at the moment, but there on the middle shelf are a couple of big baked potatoes left over from last night. There are a lot of things you can do with left over potatoes but my favourite, the most homely and comforting, are potato scones. Call them scones or cakes these are another traditional recipe from . . . . well, everywhere that eats potatoes. Usually made with boiled potatoes, I like them made with baked potatoes for the flavour. And, like an unexpected visit from an old friend who is always welcome and fits in with anybody, these scones will go with anything, from soup to curry but especially butter, bacon or cheese

- Scoop out the insides of the potatoes and mash them by hand or in a food processor

- Add in salt, pepper and enough flour to make a soft but not dry dough

- Roll out thinly say a quarter of an inch and either make the proper big circles cut into triangles or use a pastry cutter

- Some people fry them but I always grill mine until speckled golden brown on both sides and puffed up a bit. A dry frying pan would also work, like the traditional ‘girdle’ or hot plate and thinking back when I was little one of our cookers had a flat hot plate on it beside the rings for just this sort of thing.

Eating them is easy, I poke through the leathery tops with a knife and put butter on the warm surface to melt. After taking a plateful to Nicola I sit outside with mine and remember the past – all the places I have lived, what I was doing and how I felt at the time.

Annette Hope also has a lovely description of potato scones in her book A Caledonian Feast

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Morning stars

Tuesday 9pm

I get up before anybody else in the morning. Just now it is very dark and quite difficult to gather together the energy even to get out of bed, especially if I have to go to work that day. Sometimes it is only the nagging of the hungry cats that gets me moving. The last six months have been a difficult time for Nicola and myself but are finally improving. If we can only hold it together then I know it will all come right – our love for each other is certainly strong enough, but I feel talked out at the moment and really just want to go somewhere quiet and sit and not think and not talk. Sometimes the time for talking has passed and action is required, but that is not going to happen here and it frustrates me and that upsets the people around me. Anyway once I finally stagger into the kitchen and peer through my sore eyes outside at the coming dawn I see a beautiful encouraging sight. Two stars, one bright and white the other dull red. I think they might be planets – Venus and Mars.

I don’t know what it is about celestial things but I find them so calming and optimistic, there is more to life than my problems and so much to be grateful for, a new dawn for me I think.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Tomato and black olive soup

Friday 1pm

Picked a huge bowl full of cherry tomatoes earlier, and there are still lots ripening up so I have no guilt about making half of them into a simple tomato soup.

- Half an onion and a clove of garlic are gently fried in some oil and butter till soft.

- Meanwhile peel and chop a couple of small potatoes for thickening and add them to the pan.

-Then the tomatoes – about three pounds in this case, along with a basil leaf or two.

- Stir and mix everything then add some stock, vegetable or in this case some chicken stock from the fridge that Nicola had made. I added a pint but the soup was a bit thin cos of the amount of liquid from the tomatoes and had to be boiled down a bit until it thickened up so next time I’ll only add half a pint I think.

- Anyway simmer now until the tomatoes and potatoes are cooked and soft about twenty minutes.

- Now the skin and seeds need to be removed which I do by putting a metal sieve over a big jug, pouring in the soup and pushing it through firmly with a wooden spoon.

- Wash the pan and put the soup back in to warm through, season and voila – tomato soup.

And that is how we ate it Nicola and I, sitting outside - a nice simple soup.

But all the way through the cooking I kept thinking it was a bit one dimensional, a though kept popping into my head - black olives. So today (Sunday) I finally got a jar.

- Draining a handful of olives I chopped and squashed them into a paste, then stirred a small desertspoonfull into the rest of the soup and warmed it through.

Delicious and quite pretty – the reddish orange colour speckled through with aubergine flecks. It will be my lunch tomorrow at work.

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