… Twa Bubblyjocks (and the trimmings)
As someone who works for the Scottish Writers’ Centre, I don’t think it would come to a shock to anyone to find out I love books. In fact, if you are reading this post, I imagine you quite like books as well, so I am in good company. However, the sort of book I love the most, more than a pamphlet of poetry or a serialised sci-fi, is a cookery book. In fact, my cookery book collection has expanded so much since my first purchase (a Nigella Lawson classic), they now have their own bookcase in the kitchen. I have books dedicated to spices, authentic Mexican cooking (a lot more insects than I first expected), and two Jewish cookery books from a time where I was searching for the perfect matzah ball soup recipe. The cookbooks I hunt for the most, however, are those inspired by Scotland. I long to find out how to make the perfect haggis, or a clootie dumplin that can rival that of the one my aunt makes (since I have yet to weasel the recipe from her). So far I have two, detailed below, and while this post is meant to entertain you it is also a call to arms. If you have your own favourite Scottish cookbooks, for the love of stovies share them in the comments! And since this post needs to be festive in some way, rather than inspired by my hunger, we will be looking at the most Christmassy recipes I could think of… Roast turkey, and its perfect partner, stuffing.
The Glasgow Cookery Book: Centenary Edition
The Glasgow Cookery Book, is by all accounts, a classic. Originally created as a text book, it is so full of recipes and handy tips it could still be used as one today for any beginning cook. In fact, I got my copy last year from the University of Glasgow’s John Smith bookshop, where I can only imagine it was placed in the hopes students might stop eating takeaways and cook a little more (I did both). Cooking from the book, you feel safe in the knowledge that thousands of people have cooked the same recipe you have for over 100 years, so if they can handle it so can you. Their roast turkey recipe is just as classic as the book itself, although it could be said a little simple. There are no images in the book, no deliciously faked meals for you to salivate over, but the fact that it suggests accompanying recipes such as homemade bread sauce and cranberry sauce, more than makes up for that. And while their stuffing recipes are not the stuffings of my childhood (because only Paxo holds that place in my heart), the delightful notion that I might choose between sausage and chestnut, instead of the obvious answer of both, is enough to persuade me to break out the roasting tin. If this is perhaps your first time cooking a Christmas dinner, there would be no finer place to start than page 147.
The Scottish Food Bible
While searching Amazon for this book for the link above, I suddenly realised this is part of a series by Birlinn. I am mainly pointing this out so that if any of my friends or family are reading this blog post please buy me the other five books for Christmas. Going back to the matter at hand. A daintily pocket sized book, The Scottish Food Bible contains 40 recipes of Scottish inspiration rather than source. With an entire chapter of the tiny book dedicated to cheese, I knew the book was meant to be in my collection, and the recipes that I have tried have not proved me wrong. Claire MacDonald’s recipe for “turkey with lemon and onion oatmeal stuffing” gives no instructions on how to prepare the turkey itself, so you may want to use it in connection to the previous book or have a quick search online. In a different book I would hold this against the writer, furious that they would tease me with the mention of a turkey but not follow through. However, having made this stuffing for myself (in its own bowl rather than with a fowl) I can let bygones be bygones. The heartiness of the oatmeal, combined with the bright citrus, is an apology which I readily accept. You could forget the parsnips on Christmas day, and as long as this stuffing was on the table I wouldn’t even complain that much. Page 61-62; you’ll thank me later.
Words by Andrew Smith.