passionate about good food
From our lovely location in the heart of the Borders, we are absolutely committed to creating menus that are truly seasonal and as local as they can be.
Our imaginative menus feature delicious fresh produce from handpicked local suppliers which genuinely reflect the best ingredients that are available throughout the changing seasons.
Bringing you the real flavours of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Chicken Liver Pate
black currant and chill jelly, Bea's buckwheat oatcakes
from Headshaw Farm, loin, slow cooked shoulder, pea mash, kale, pureed carrots, mint crumb
poached Philiphaugh rhubarb, oat crunch
2 course 20.00
3 course 24.00
Smoked Ham Hock Terrine
tomato chutney, pickled vegetables
cured in Kelso gin, gin and tonic gel, lemon zest
from the Wye valley, poached organic Oakmill hens egg, mull cheddar shavings, truffle oil
Shellfish and Fish Soup
cod, hake, salmon, scallops, shrimps, with a tomato base
from Eyemouth, Melrose blackpudding, leaves and herbs
from Headshaw Farm, loin, slow cooked shoulder, pea mash, pureed carrots, kale, mint crumb
from Ross's boat,herb crust, brown shrimps, Jersey royals, fennel, chared baby gem, samphire, caper and dill butter sauce
from Johnny, saddle, braised shoulder, dauphinoise, parsnip puree, purple sprouting, wild mushrooms
from Eyemouth, Melrose blackbudding, leaves and herbs
fish from Eyemouth, white fish, crab, shrimps, tomato
Chicken Liver Pate
blackcurrant and chilli jelly, Beas buckwheat flour oatcakes
Rogers bresaola, salami from Johnny in Kelso, micro herbs pickles
foraged wild garlic pesto, coriander cress
From the CHARGRILL
from Stobs farm, Hawick. Served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
from Willowford farm, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
28 days matured, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad
Borders venison and juniper, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad
Corn fedChicken breast
stuffed with Melrose blackpudding, hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
from Ross in Eyemouth, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
Mull Cheddar Cheese
Extra Roger’s Soda Bread
Melrose Black Pudding
Chocolate Crumble Tart
Seasons Jersey peanut icecream
Bread and butter pudding
selkirk bannock, jersey cream, organic eggs from Oakwood Mill
Philiphaugh poached rhubarb, oat crumb
Seasons own Ice Cream 1 Scoop
Served with shortbread, Vanilla Pod, Cocoa Nib or Salted Peanut
Seasons own Ice Cream 2 Scoop
Served with shortbread, Vanilla Pod, Cocoa Nib or Salted Peanut
Scottish Cheese Board
Arran brie, blue murder from Tain, Mull cheddar, Bea's buckwheat flour oatcakes, celery, pickled figs
Scottish Cheese Board with Port
Arran brie, blue murder from Tain, Mull cheddar, Bea's buckwheat flour oatcakes, celery, pickled figs
23. Prosecco Ca Bolaini– Italy
fizzy. Elderflower fruit and soft acidity make this wonderfully drinkable.
125ml - £5.95, Bt - £28.00
24. Procecco Ca Bolani Rose – Veneto Italy
Procecco with a dash of Pinot Noir to pink it up a bit. Fully fizzy and fully appealing.
Bt - £28.00
25. Champagne St Thomas Burt NV – France
More fruit, definite berry flavours and a luch creamy mousse.
Bt - £39.00
26. Gosset Brut Excellence NV - France
Full bodied, intense, tinged with crisp citrus, perfect for Drinking with food.
Bt - £49.00
22. Chiartetto Rose 2014 – Piedmont, Italy
Superb, delicate, dry, light, subtle, fruity Rose made from Barbera grapes in the Piedmont hills.
125ml - £3.95, 175ml - £5.50, 500ml - £14.50, Bt - £21.000
11. CaminaTempranillo 2015 – La Mancha, Spain
Medium-bodied red from an area next to Rioja. Jolly and juicy and very friendly.
125ml - £4.00, 175ml - £5.00, 500ml - £13.50, Bt - £18.50
12. Brise De France Merlot 2015– France
from the Languedoc, soft and juicy, great value Merlot,
125ml - £4.25, 175ml - £5.25, 500ml - £13.95, Bt - £19.95
13. Murphys Shiraz 2014 – NSW Aussie
Unoaked, pretty full-bodied Shiraz. Great with our beef and game dishes
Bt - £21.00
14. Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Conviviale 2064 –Italy
Medium-weight from Abruzzo on the Adriatic Coast. Cherry-style fruit. Soft, low tannins, easy-drinker.
Bt - £21.00
15. Le Fou Pinot Noir 2015 - France
A luscious, textural Pinot Noire made without oak. Intense Sweet berry fruit with a savoury twist
Bt - £24.00
16. Primitivo Borgo 2016 – Puglia, South
Deep South Italian (the heel of Italy), made from wizened primitive grapes baked in the sunshine. Really fruity, leathery, raisiny. Soft as velvet.
Bt - £26.00
17. Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 - Bellefontaine, France
An easy drinking meddium bodied dry red with blackcurrant aromas and a dry finish
Bt - £22.00
18. Chateau Mayne Vieil, Fronsac 2012 – Bordeaux
Merlot dominated Claret, lots of dark fruit, medium body
Bt - £35.00
19. Peyss Syrah by Z Mourier 2014 – Rhone
Velvety and smooth
Bt - £35.00
20. Malbec, Los Heroldos 2016 - Mendoza, Argentina
Ripe plumy fruit, leathery notes, big grown up wine. One of Rogers favourites
Bt - £29.00
1. Pe Branco 2015 – Alengejo, Portugal
Gorgeously fruity, rich dry white from the Esporao Estate. Crafted by Aussie Dave Baverstock from local varieties suited to the sunny climate – Antao, Vaz, Perrum and Arinto.
125ml - £4.00, 175ml - £5.00, 500ml - £13.50, Bt - £18.50
2. Brise De France, Sauvignon 2015 – France
Great value, tastes of gooseberries, nettles ,crushed Blackcurrant leaves. Lively, light and refreshing with a delightful zingy character
125ml - £4.25, 175ml - £5.25, 500ml - £14.00, Bt - £19.50
3. Murphys Chardonnay 2015 – NSW Aussie
Unoaked, youthful, vigourous dry white with a minerally tang & plenty of flavour and fruit.
Bt - £20.00
4. Pinot Grigio Ancora 2015 – Piedmont, Italy
Fragrant and dry, green apple and grapefruit, clean, pure finish.
Bt - £21.00
5. Rioja Blanco 2016 - Spain
A dry wine bursting with ample acidity and sweeter fruit flavours of honeydew, melon,lemon curd and honeycomb
Bt - £20.00
6. The Cut Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – New Zealand
The sunny warm climate of Nelson gives the wine a fraction more of a tropical fruit character rather than gooseberry. Boy is it tangy and juicy though.
Bt - £25.-00
7. Picpoul de Pinet 2015 – Languedoc, France
Characterful, fruity alternative to our top quality NZ Sauvigon. The vineyards overlook the azure Mediterranean next to Sete. Picpoul is the grape variety and Pinet is the Sleepy-little-one-horse-village.
Bt - £26.00
8. Handmade Chenin Blanc 2015 – South Africa
Rather good, handpicked grapes from 100year old Vines on a hill just North of Stellenbosch.
Bt - £26.50
9. Vinho Verde - Quinta De Curvos 2014 - Portugal
Classy elegant white - intense with tropical notes
Bt - £26.50
10. Domaine du Pre Semelie – Sancerre 2015 France
Organic , crisp and aromatic
Bt - £35.00
Fernando Classic Amontillado
Dark style with a slightly sweet finish
Fernando Classic Manzanilla
Fino, saltier, tangier and a bit more nutty
Fernando Classic Pedro Ximenez
dried raisins and fig
William Grant – Scotland - recipe includes, juniper, coriander, citrus cucumber and rose petals
distilled in small batches using traditional botanics, juniper etc
North Berwick – artisan pure grain gin
Montrose – highland herbs are blended and patiently distilled to tease out the botanicals
The Crow man gin from Kelso - the first distillery in the Borders om 180 years
Made down the road in Lanton Mill, by Jedburgh, juniper with rowan, rosehips, elderflower, meadowsweet
Prosecco Ca Bolaini Frizzante – Italy
Softly fizzy. Elderflower fruit and soft acidity make this wonderfully drinkable.
Crème de Cassis & Procecco
Crème de Cassis & White wine
Beers / Ciders
Long White Cloud – Tempest Brewing Co
based down the road in Tweedbank, an extra Pale Ale with Citrus Spice and Tropical Fruit Flavour 330ml 5.65%
Pils – Real Lager – Tempest Brewing Co
a crisp light malt with subtle spice and soft fruits 330ml 5.00%
The Pale Armadillo - Tempest Brewing Co
expect waves of zesty citrus rolling over local barley hop amplified for
Weiherstephan – Cloudy Wheat Beer
a hazy golden beer with rich tempting aroma, creamy malt, fruit and spices – one of 300 beers to try before you die! 500ml 5.4%
In the Dark - Tempest Brewing Co
malty and dark with pine, blackberry and spice 330ml 7.2%
Farmhouse - Tempest Brewing Co
Belgian style harvest ale, mellow fruit and earthy yeast character, very refreshing and light 330ml 5.1%
Totally Ridler - Tempest Brewing Co
zesty and light. Packed with fresh blood orange and a twist of grapefruit 330ml 2.0%
Caesar Augustus – Lager/IPA hybrid
brewed in Alloa 500ml 4.1%
Thistly Cross Cider - Dunbar Scotland
hand made by Peter Scott 330ml 6.2%
Alcohol Free 275ml
who we are
With a lifetime spent both working in and owning restaurants and hotels throughout the country, we are experienced restaurateurs who can genuinely be described as total foodies, indeed with our daughters also working in the industry we are a real family of chefs!
We absolutely love what we do and work hard to ensure that Seasons stands for quality every step of the way, from the warmth of the welcome and service, to the imaginative menus and quality of the ingredients.
With Roger preparing and cooking all the food to Bea making sure everything front of house runs like clockwork, we are proud to be hands on owners who run the restaurant in as friendly and personal a way as possible.
We have the ability to deliver a wonderful dining experience where guests can enjoy fabulous food in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
The provenance of our food is of enormous importance to us and we are absolutely committed to delivering menus that are as seasonal and local as they can be.
Seasons menus always feature carefully sourced local produce from hand picked local suppliers meaning that they genuinely reflect what is available throughout the changing seasons. We are passionate about good food and have the ability to provide winning menus which always feature delicious seasonal ingredients. This extends to Roger curing his own meats and making all his own breads, pickles and jams from scratch.
We really are full of local flavour.
World class Border Lamb
In a country where there are more sheep than people, the Scottish Borders can take this statistic to another level – in fact the area has 10 sheep for every person in the Borders!
With figures like these it will come as no surprise that the area is famous for its ‘Border Lamb’, producing some of the finest quality meat in the whole country and indeed the world.
Sheep have been grazing on the Border hills since the 12th century, yielding wool, milk and meat. While sheep in the Highlands were farmed for subsistence, here in the Lowlands, sheep became an industry with the Border Abbeys building up some of the largest sheep farms in Europe. Powered by the waters of the Teviot, Ettrick, Gala, Jed and Tweed, famous Border mills washed, spun and wove the wool and exported it across the world. Sadly, the mills now import softer fleeces from overseas, and local shepherds now rear sheep to sell as breeding stock and meat.
It has to be said though, that the best lamb does seem to thrive in harsh landscapes where life is by no means easy, think of mountain breeds such as Rough Fell, Welsh Mountain and Cumbrian Herdwick. The pure white Cheviot is a native sheep bred and is common in the Southern Upland valleys of Megget, Tweedsmuir, Teviotdale, Ettrick, Yarrow, Liddesdale and Eskdalemuir. Whilst the horned Scottish Blackface is the epitome of the mountain sheep; tough, intelligent and with a keen sense of survival sheltering in stone circle stells and having the resilience for a life on the hill.
The majority of spring lambs are born from March until May and thrive in the summer while their mothers graze on the high pasture. Come late summer, autumn and early winter, the lamb is at its sweetest, perfect for roasting and serving pink, grass or forage fed lamb has a more intense flavour than grain-fed.
A lamb in its second spring and summer (one year plus) becomes a hogg or a hogget and from the third spring onwards, its meat is known as mutton, this stronger tasting meat was once common in Scotland but its popularity has declined and it is now harder to find. Lamb is the most expensive of the three types, and in recent year’s, sheep meat is increasingly only sold as ‘lamb’, stretching the accepted definitions above.
Regardless of this description, lamb is a wonderfully versatile and delicious meat, typical lamb cuts can be found in our butchers shops and farmers markets as follows:
Leg or gigot – Roasted fast and served pink or baked slowly to allow the meat to fall off the bone.
Loin – This is the equivalent cut of lamb to a sirloin of beef. It is an excellent cut for roasting whole with ribs still in and untrimmed fat. The eyes of the loin chops make miniature fillet steaks called noisettes, this is the most delicate cut and perfect just flash fried.
Knuckle or shank – Rich in gelatinous sinew, the knuckle or shank is wonderful with long, slow cooking.
Chump – Where the leg meets the loin, equivalent to a rump of beef, this makes a good little roasting joint on or off the bone.
Rack of lamb – The first eight ribs, beautiful roasted whole or trimmed of fat and backbone and sliced into cutlets.
Flank – The belly or breast, which although fatty, can be rolled up around a dry stuffing to make an economical, slow pot-roast.
Shoulder – Another economical cut for roasting, this has plenty of fat to baste the meat from within.
Neck and Scrag – Neck muscles are constantly working, so the meat is tough and a little sparse. It is tasty though and filleted neck is good meat for stewing.
As you will see, lamb is one of the most versatile meats to cook and enjoy and there are many health benefits to be had from eating it too. Lamb is a staple in Mediterranean diets, believed to be the world’s healthiest diet.
It is a rich source of protein and vitamins A, B3, B6 and B12 and is rich in minerals including iron, zinc, phosphorous and calcium. Although lamb contains saturated fat, this represents just 35 percent of the total amount and the other 65 percent represents monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat which is a healthier type.
We absolutely love lamb and are proud to feature world class ‘Border Lamb‘ on our menus as often as we possibly can. It is local and sustainable, it is good for you, it is versatile and it is totally delicious. What’s not to like.
As you know we are passionate about celebrating the wonderful food and drink from the Scottish Borders and that our menus are always ‘full of local flavour’. So this month we thought it would be fun to take a look at three dishes which actually originated here in the Borders along with recipes if you fancy making them for yourself.
A dish that’s similar to Irish Colcannon and English Bubble and Squeak, Rumbledethumps originated in the Borders and is a delicious accompaniment to any meal. Many people use left overs to make it, however to make it truly delicious, it is always better to make it from fresh.
• 500g potatoes
• 1 turnip
• 75g butter
• 250g Savoy cabbage or Kale
• Salt and Pepper
• 25g cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to around 180 C then mix the mashed potato and turnip into a large bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the cabbage or kale (sliced as thin as you can) and cook until softened, be careful not to burn.
3. Add the cooked cabbage or kale to the potato and turnip and mix thoroughly, adding in the remaining butter as you do so.
4. Place the mashed vegetables in an oven-proof baking tray, sprinkle the cheese on top, cover with a lid or aluminium foil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until heated right through.
5. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown on the top.
This really is delicious comfort food at its best.
The Border Tart
This is a gorgeous sweet tart which originated in the Borders that is made from a simple pastry shell, filled with dried fruits, cherries and nuts, all in a soft mixture of sugar, eggs and ground almonds. The best way to describe it is like the filling in a pecan pie, but with lots of fruit instead of just the nuts. Most of the filling becomes a thick, rich, buttery caramel, while the surface becomes slightly puffed-up and lightly browned, contrasting with the dark inside. It is finished off with a criss-cross of white icing.
• 225 g shortcrust pastry
• 140 g mixed dried fruit
• 50 g butter
• 50 g dark brown sugar
• 25 g walnuts, chopped
• 25 g glace cherries, chopped
• 1 egg, beaten
For the Topping
• 110 g icing sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C, 375°F.
2. Lightly grease a 7 inch Baking tin.
3. Roll out the pastry and line the baking tin.
4. Gently melt the butter and sugar together in a pan.
5. Leave to cool and then add the dried fruit, walnuts and cherries.
6. Stir in the beaten egg.
7. Place the mixture in the pastry-lined baking tin.
8. Cook in oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned.
9. Allow to cool.
10. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice and spread over the tart.
11. Allow to set before serving.
The Selkirk Bannock
The Selkirk Bannock is different to a traditional bannock in that it is a rich and buttery leavened tea bread, very different from the beremeal bannocks that you find in Orkney. The fame of the Selkirk Bannock is often attributed to Queen Victoria, who according to John Hope-Scott, tasted it in 1867 when visiting Abbotsford House.
It is still made in the Borders by many bakeries, most famously by Alex Dalgetty & Sons, who pride themselves on the quality of their Selkirk Bannock. It is the slow fermentation of the dough that gives their bannock its rich flavour and it is quite a sophisticated process. The bannock is started with a ‘sponge dough’ (like a sourdough bread starter) and over the course of approximately twenty hours they add other ingredients such as butter. It then goes through another two fermentation stages prior to baking. Alex Dalgetty (great great Grandfather of the current owner) worked for Robert Douglas in the late nineteenth century in Selkirk, who is said to have invented the Selkirk Bannock and was certainly the first to make it on a commercial scale. At Seasons we use Camerons of Selkirk Bannock, the only baker in the town still producing Selkirk Bannock.
• 7g sachet fast-action yeast
• 1 tsp caster sugar
• 500g strong white flour
• 140g unsalted butter, or half butter, half lard, melted and cooled
• 450g sultanas
• 50g light brown sugar
1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast and caster sugar with 250ml warm water. Let it stand for 10 mins until the mixture becomes frothy. Tip in the flour and 125g of butter and mix to form a smooth, soft dough. Knead for 5 mins, then put the mixture back in the bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and allow the mix to rise, in a warm place, until doubled in size.
2. Knock back the dough by kneading it lightly for 1 min, then add the sultanas and brown sugar, kneading them in well. Grease a deep 23cm round cake tin with the rest of the butter. Shape the dough into a round and place in the tin. Allow the dough to rise for 30 mins or until it has doubled in size.
3. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Brush the Bannock with a little milk to glaze, then bake for 45-50 mins until risen and browned. The bread should sound hollow when removed from the tin and the base is tapped. If the bread colours too quickly, but is not quite cooked, you can cover it with foil and check after 5 mins more. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Slice and serve with butter and a cup of tea!
Melrose Sevens – Saturday 8th April
We hear Melrose Sevens tickets are selling fast. This year we are offering a Melrose 7’s Day Package
Seasons would provide a base and table for the day with unlimited tea and coffee and include, brunch/ lunch, dinner and ticket to the ground. We would meet and greet at Tweedbank Station and transfer to Seasons and back to the station. Guests would also be accompanied for the initial 10 minute walk over the chain bridge to the ground – Cost per person £95.00
We also already have a number of bookings for lunch and dinner over this busy weekend, so advise you to book ahead too.
To make an enquiry or a booking call us on 01896 823817
Just a 10 minute walk from the Greenyards, dining at Seasons on Melrose Sevens Saturday really is a perfect match that’s packed full of local flavour.
Photo Credit Rob Gray
When does Spring officially start?
To most of us the month of March heralds the arrival of Spring but when does Spring officially start? With a name like Seasons, we thought it was the very least that we could do to get our facts straight!
Well the answer to the question depends very much on who you ask. There are actually two different methods used to determine the dates of the seasons and each method provides a different date for the start and indeed the end of spring.
Meteorological seasons are based on the weather and the calendar and this system means that spring officially starts on the 1st of March and ends on the 31st May. Whilst astronomical seasons depend on the Earth’s orbit of the sun, using this system spring starts on the 20th March and doesn’t end until 20th June.
If we were to ask Carol Kirkwood, she would tell us that The Met Office uses the meteorological seasons and that these are based on the annual temperature cycle and the state of the atmosphere. These seasons always co-ordinate with the calendar and they split the year into 4 three month seasons.
Spring – March, April, May
Summer – June, July, August
Autumn – September, October, November
Winter – December, January, February
Hence why by using this system spring starts on the 1st March and runs until 31st May.
However if we were to ask Brian Cox, he would tell us that the astronomical seasons depend on the position of Earth’s orbit in relation to the sun by taking into account the equinoxes. This is when the length of the day is exactly the same as the length of the night and solstices which are the longest and shortest days of the year.
The astronomical calendar determines the seasons by when the Earth’s rotational axis is at a 23.5 degree in relation to its orbit around the sun!
In the astronomical calendar, equinoxes mark the start of spring and autumn and solstices mark the start of summer and winter.
This year the spring equinox falls on the 20th March and the season lasts until the summer solstice on the 20th June.
All four of our seasons are due to the Earth rotating the sun and the way that the Earth rotates means that certain areas of the globe are tilted towards the sun while other parts are tilted away from it. This means that there is a difference in the amount of sunlight that reaches parts of the globe and causes these seasons.
We know that we have gone a little ‘off piste’ with this month’s article and had hoped to provide you with a definitive answer to the dates of our Great British seasons but as you will see it’s a little more complicated than one might have first thought. Nevertheless, we hope that you have enjoyed reading our very ‘seasonal’ blog and look forward to seeing you in the Spring!
Spring is the season when everything starts to lighten up; from the longer, warmer days to the clothes that we wear and certainly the food that we eat!
Spring is the first season of the year and it brings with it a sense of renewal and inspiration – after a long dark winter, it is a season that can truly lift your spirits.
With the daffodils starting to make a welcome appearance in our gardens and baby lambs gambolling in our Border fields, the longer lighter and hopefully warmer days of Spring are just around the corner. And of course, the arrival of spring means that we say a seasonal goodbye to starchy winter vegetables like potatoes and parsnips and warmly welcome the appearance of lighter, greener ingredients such as spring onions, asparagus and broad beans to name just a few.
Our top ten things to get up to this Spring……………..
Spring is the season when we can all enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables as opposed to preserved, pickled and dried foods. Try to make the most of them when they are fresh and in season. As you know it is possible to get just about anything we want whenever we want it but this does come at a cost to the environment and our health. By eating food that is in season you are giving your body what it wants when it needs it.
Spring is a time to get outside and hopefully enjoy the sun, so less time will be spent inside cooking. A time to put your slow cooker away and make the most of fresh spring ingredients and bring out your salad bowls and steamer.
Get your greens
Spring is the time to eat young greens and fast growing plants like salad greens, sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage, spring onions and dark leafy greens like kale and rocket. These truly are wonder foods.
Whether you are a novice or an expert, get planting in the garden. You will be amazed at the results and nothing beats the taste or goodness of homegrown fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs.
Healthy, tasty and easy. We can’t recommend highly enough the benefits of having a little herb garden of your own – just a few pots and a few herbs will make a sensational difference to your meals, salads and even cocktails!
Be a little adventurous and try something new in spring, there is an abundance of wonderful produce and it’s a good time to try something new or to introduce some fresh new recipes.
Get a little lighter
The great thing about those lighter springtime foods is that they can promote weight loss naturally and healthily.
Support your local shop-keepers, green grocers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers, food producers and farmers as much you possibly can this spring and beyond! Fresh locally sourced and made produce that you know where it’s come from just can’t be beaten.
After the long cold days of winter, Spring is a great time for meeting up with friends and enjoying the great outdoors, for socialising and having fun.
Go flat out on Pancake Day
If you love pancakes then this year get your pan ready for Tuesday 28th February.
Of course Pancake Day has been celebrated for hundreds of years when it was more commonly known as Shrove Tuesday. Lent was traditionally a time of fasting and Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” meaning absolved from their sins. A bell would be rung to call people to confession and this came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.
But whatever you call it, the date changes every year because it is determined by when Easter falls, but it is always the day before Ash Wednesday (which is the first day of Lent), and always falls in either February or March.
Traditionally pancakes were a way to use up rich foods like eggs and milk before the 40 day fasting season of Lent began. But although it is known primarily as a Christian tradition, it is believed that Pancake Day might also originate from a pagan holiday, when warm, round pancakes symbolised the sun – as a way of heralding the arrival of spring.
The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year as follows:
Eggs – Creation
Flour – The staff of life
Salt – Wholesomeness
Milk – Purity
Do you know that it is estimated that 52 million eggs are used in Britain each year on Shrove Tuesday! But as well as making and enjoying pancakes, we also love to flip our pancakes in a pan as well as having pancake races. In fact legend has it that this particular tradition was born in the 15th century in Olney in Buckinghamshire when a disorganised woman rushed to church to confess her sins to the priest whilst mid-way through making pancakes! Olney still holds a pancake race every year but competitors must all wear an apron and hat.
In Britain we tend to keep our pancake ingredients quite simple, but in Newfoundland objects with symbolic value are added in to the pancake batter. These items are then used to interpret different messages – for example, a pancake with a ring inside may signify marriage. In France however, it is traditional while flipping a pancake to hold a coin in one hand and to make a wish. The French actually call Pancake Day Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday and this originates from the ancient ritual of parading an ox through Paris to remind people that it was forbidden to eat meat during the Lent period.
On Pancake Day in Scotland the locals like to eat “festy cock”, the word festy is linked to Festern’s E’en, which is the day before Shrove Tuesday, when cock fighting took place. You make the dish by rolling out finely ground oatmeal and folding it into a rough bird shape before baking and eating as a substitute for a cockerel.
When it comes to record breaking pancakes, the largest pancake in the world was made in Rochdale in 1994, weighing in at three tonnes and measuring more than 49 feet long! The largest number of pancake flips in the shortest amount of time is currently 349 flips in two minutes and the largest stack of pancakes ever cooked was made up of 60 pancakes and standing at an impressive 76cm high.
But getting back to something a little more normal and indeed appetising, here is our tried and tested recipe for making pancakes. Traditionally a pancake is a very thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan and should be served immediately. How you like to eat them is of course open to debate; are you old school and like them with lemon juice and sugar, golden syrup and butter or perhaps a little more indulgent with fresh blueberries and whipped cream? You might even enjoy them thicker and stacked North American style with crispy bacon and maple syrup or are you inspired by the French who eat their crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread?
However you like to eat your pancakes be sure to enjoy them this Pancake Day (and any other day that you fancy them for that matter) and please try to save one or two for the cook!
ROGER’S PANCAKE RECIPE
To make approximately 8 pancakes, size up accordingly:
4 oz plain flour
1 large egg
½ pint milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Break in the egg, add a pinch of salt and a splash of the milk.
Whisk the egg, gradually incorporating the flour, to make a smooth cream. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the melted butter.Put all the ingredients in a blender jug with a pinch of salt. Whizz until smooth.Brush a hot pan with oil before adding a ladleful of batter, tipping the pan so the mixture spreads evenly. Pour any excess back into the bowl.
When the pancake is browned on the bottom give the pan a shake to make sure the pancake is loose. If it is sticking, use a spatula to loosen it. When it moves freely you are ready to toss it. The other side will only need a few seconds.
Ever tried Bobotie?
Since we have just come back from our travels around South Africa we thought it would be fun to bring back a little sunshine and share our recipe for the national dish of Bobotie with you.
Of the many dishes common to South Africa, Bobotie is definitely the closest to being the official national dish because it isn’t commonly found in any other country. Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the dish is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy egg based golden topping.
The recipe actually originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian bobotok. This curried mince dish has been an integral part of South African cuisine for centuries and not only does it embrace delicious local flavours but also the exotic flavours that spice traders brought to the Cape on their travels.
Bobotie is probably more accurately a Cape Malay creation and they spice it up even more with cumin, coriander and cloves, a similar dish was known in Europe in the middle ages after the traders had brought back turmeric from the East. When the first Dutch settlers arrived, Holland was largely influenced by Italian cooks and a favourite dish was hashed meat with curried sauce, flavoured with red pepper and sweetened with blanched almonds.
There are many local variations of Bobotie but the mince should always be tender and creamy in texture, which does mean a long, slow cooking time is essential. Early versions included the addition of a little tamarind water but the zesty addition of lemon rind and juice is a more modern adaptation. Of course there are as many different versions of Bobotie recipes, our own version uses minced lamb and fairly mild curry spices along with the addition of essential exotic fruits and nuts.
We hope that you like it as much as we do, especially good if served with Springfontine pinotage 2103 made on a small vineyard just outside Stamford in the overberg region of the western cape.
When is a cheese not a cheese? When its Membrillo
If you have made quince jelly people then why don’t you try your hand at making Membrillo, this is a delicious quince fruit cheese that is really popular in Spain where it is paired with their famous sheep’s milk cheese Manchego. And once you have tried Membrillo with Manchego, you probably won’t go back to making quince jelly again!
Membrillo is described as a fruit cheese but it is actually a solid, sliceable preserve and the quince with its beautiful scent and delicate texture, make the most famous one of all. It is easy to make and can be potted in moulds to turn out, slice and enjoy as the perfect accompaniment to cheese.
As you know we love to make the most of the ingredients that we have to hand and decided to give Membrillo a little twist by making it with a glut of crab apples from our garden instead of the more traditional quince. We are delighted with the result and we have been serving it in Seasons with pickled figs, Bea’s gluten free oatcakes and fabulous Arran Brie, Brenda’s Eildon Blue and crumbly Kelsae Cheese from Scotland!
Our Crab Apple Membrillo Recipe
– Crab apples, barely covered with water.
– Boil to a pulp then pass through a sieve.
– You will be left with a thick crab apple paste.
– Weigh the paste.
– Place the paste and an equal amount of sugar in a pan with a splash of cider vinegar.
– Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer.
– Stir occasionally until really thick and glossy, the colour will change slightly.
– Test the set on a cool plate.
– It should be thick and able to cut with a knife. If not continue to cook down.
– Line a rectangular container with grease proof paper and pour in the thick paste to cool and set.
– Ready to eat when cool but best left in a cool place for a few weeks.
Keeps for months.
If you have a glut of crab apples to use up like we had, we really hope that you enjoy our version of Membrillo but of course you can keep things really authentic by using the same recipe but with quince instead.
Christmas with the Mckie’s
The big day will be here before we know it, so we thought it would be fun to let you know what we will be having for Christmas Dinner at home with the McKie family this year.
Please don’t tell anyone but I must admit that I am not a huge fan of turkey! That’s probably because I have been cooking them for more than a month before Christmas and by the time the 25th December arrives I am very keen to cook something else. So, this year at home we will be having a goose and a ‘three bird roast’ for our family on Christmas Day.
And just in case you are wondering what a Three bird roast is, this is a roast that takes three boned birds that are stuffed inside each other – with the smallest in the middle! There are a range of birds to choose from but we will be using a pheasant, mallard and a partridge stuffed with venison, apricot and brandy sausage meat then wrapped in bacon. Plus, all the usual trimmings, we finely shred the sprouts… I use the tops and add to a pan with bacon lardons and chestnuts, cook quickly then serve.
A bird in the hand!
But since we are talking about the Three Bird Roast, we thought we would take a closer look at its origins as well as some other fascinating variations of it too.
In North America, a Turducken is a roast consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, then stuffed into a deboned turkey, here in the UK we tend to call it a Three bird roast. Gooducken is a traditional English variant which, as the name would imply, replaces the turkey with a goose. A turducken is actually a type of ballotine sometimes called a ‘Royal roast’ and there is even a ‘Five bird roast‘ which uses a goose, a turkey, a chicken, a pheasant, and a pigeon all stuffed with sausage, which was described as a modern revival of the traditional Yorkshire Christmas Pie.
Credit for the creation of the turducken is a little uncertain, although the most common claimant is Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Louisiana whose Cajun owners say they created it when a local man brought his own birds to their shop and asked the brothers to create the medley. But back in the fifties and staying in Louisiana, New Orleans surgeon Dr La Nasa, was locally known for his use of a scalpel in deboning his three birds of choice, sometimes adding pork or veal to the final cavity, Andouille sausage and Foie Gras were also key ingredients in his famous version.
However much further back, in 1807, French gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil (“roast without equal”) which consists of a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler!
But as if that wasn’t enough do look at this extract from the book Passion India: The Story of the Spanish Princess of Kapurthula which features a section that recounts a similar dish in India in the late 1800’s.
“Invited by Maharajah Ganga Singh to the most extraordinary of dinners, in the palace at Bikaner, when Anita asks her host for the recipe of such a succulent dish, he answers her seriously, “Prepare a whole camel, skinned and cleaned, put a goat inside it, and inside the goat a turkey and inside the turkey a chicken. Stuff the chicken with a grouse and inside that put a quail and finally inside that a sparrow. Then season it all well, place the camel in a hole in the ground and roast it.”
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this very seasonal blog and whilst you are probably not going to be serving anything quite this ambitious or exotic, whatever you choose to have for your Christmas Dinner, we hope that you have a wonderful time with your loved ones.
The Self-Preservation Society
Sorry but we just couldn’t resist the Italian Job reference in our title!
Since Autumn is pickling season, this article is actually all about the lovely job of making homemade pickles, chutneys and preserves. This is definitely the right time of year to be making these store cupboard essentials, and as well as being quite delicious and easy to make, they also make the most of a glut of seasonal produce such as courgettes, tomatoes, onions, apples, pears and plums that you might have sitting around.
But you might wonder if it’s worth the bother when you can easily pick up a jar from your local supermarket but once you taste the homemade version you will soon discover that they are miles better than the shop bought variety. As well as packing a punch on the taste front, you know exactly what goes into them and that there are no nasty additives or stabilisers lurking in there!
With the colder weather and the dark nights, this is the ideal time of year to do a bit of preserving of your own. Not only is it really satisfying but it is also really cheap and they will be just right by Christmas, ready to enjoy with cold meats, pâté, cheese or to really liven up sandwiches, pies or leftovers.
Let’s start with Chutney
The Indians have known for centuries that nothing livens up food like a chutney. Their chatni, (fresh herb and spice salsas), inspired colonial chefs to bring back their own version to Britain. Whilst our chutneys are quite different, made using vinegar and sugar to preserve the fruit or vegetables and then aged to mellow the flavours, the principle is the same. But do remember to use wine or cider vinegar rather than malt as its much less harsh and faster to soften.
Making chutney isn’t difficult but you must remember to stir the pan constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning. Unlike jam, which is ready when it reaches a certain temperature or setting point, a chutney’s readiness is much more a matter of your own judgement. Actually the texture is the best indication of being ready, it should have a spooning consistency but do allow for a little bit of thickening as it cools and be careful not to cook it so long that the sugars begin to caramelise.
Taste the chutney after it is cooked to adjust the seasoning, but be prepared to be patient because all chutney needs time for the acidity to soften and the spices to develop in the jar. A really well-made chutney can last a year or more, but typically many can be ready to eat as soon as two weeks after being made.
Pickling is actually closely associated with fermentation, which has the ability to unlock the potential of ingredients in quite extraordinary ways. In fact, many of our favourite foods and drinks rely on this reaction – cheeses, bread, cured meats, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, gherkins, wine, beer, olives are all fermented.
With a little vinegar, salt, sugar and spices, you can elevate your aging vegetables into a savoury snack or zingy ingredient. Vegetables with a tougher skin like cucumbers and peppers do best in the pickling process, but root vegetables like carrots and radishes also work well.
We really hope that this article has inspired you to making some homemade chutney or pickle of your own and to get you started here is one of our own particular favourite recipes!
Rogers Green Tomato Chutney
1 kg green tomatoes chopped
250 g cooking apples, peeled ,cored and grated
500g onions peeled and grated
250g dried figs and apricots chopped
300ml red wine vinegar
10g ground coriander
10g ground cumin
20 g mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, crushed
20g root ginger grated
400g soft brown sugar
Seasoning to taste
– Put all ingredients in a heavy based pan. Bring slowly to the boil.
– Put into sterilised jars and label.
– Keeps for ages, but best to leave for a couple of months to mature.
Ps Be sure to start hoarding jam jars because once you start making your own chutney and pickle, this is something you will want to do it again and again.
We love Christmas Pudding
Of course the clue is in the name but Christmas Pudding is the pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner here in Britain.
The Pudding has its origins in medieval England and is sometimes referred to as ‘plum pudding’, but despite this name, the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word plums as a term for raisins. The recipe brings together what were expensive or luxurious ingredients but essentially a Christmas Pudding is traditionally made of many types of dried fruits held together by egg and suet, moistened with treacle or molasses and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and other sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma. It is very dark in appearance as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes and its long cooking time. The pudding mixture can be moistened with the citrus fruit juice, brandy, rum and even dark beers such as stout or porter. The pudding is then aged for at least a month up to even a year, as the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling.
Traditionally puddings were made on or immediately after the Sunday before Advent, i.e. four to five weeks before Christmas which this year would be the 20th November. The day became known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’ and traditionally everyone in the household, or at least every child, gave the mixture a stir and made a wish while doing so. It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture such as a silver threepence or a sixpence and the person finding the coin in their serving was believed to also find wealth in the coming year.
Many of you will have your own recipe for Christmas Pudding, some of which might have been handed down through your family for generations. But if you don’t have a favourite recipe of your own or if it is something that you have never made, we thought it would be a nice idea to share our Christmas Pudding recipe with you.
Bea’s family Christmas Pudding Recipe
100g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon mixed spice
350 g mixed dried fruit of your choice
100g soft brown sugar
½ lemon grated rind
2 tablespoons brandy
– Line a 2pt pudding basin
– Mix together dried ingredients
– Add eggs, brandy and mix well
– Place mixture in a prepared basin, cover with greaseproof paper and foil
– Steam for 8 hours. Allow to cool then stone in a cool dry place.
– When required steam for 2 hours before serving
Once your Pudding is turned out of its basin, decorated with holly and doused in brandy or rum you can even flame or fire the pudding and bring it to the table ceremoniously as the Victorians would have done to great applause. Charles Dickens described the scene so wonderfully well in A Christmas Carol from 1843:
“Mrs Cratchit left the room alone, too nervous to bear witnesses, to take the pudding up and bring it in… Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper which smells like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs.Cratchit entered, flushed, but smiling proudly with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quarter of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top”.
An apple a day
Don’t worry we aren’t talking about those ubiquitous little fruit named gadgets that most of us now use on a daily basis. Instead we are getting back to basics and talking about the sweet, crunchy and pomaceous fruit that is the apple.
Did you know that more than 2,300 varieties of apples have been bred in Britain alone and if you were to eat an apple a day, it would take you more than six years to eat one of each kind!
Apples actually belong to the Rose family of plants and are joined in that family by a wide range of other popular fruits including apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears and even raspberries.
Of the 2,300 kinds of apples which have been bred in Britain, each type has its own distinct colour, shape, texture and taste, we are delighted that there has been a revival in heritage varieties which means greater availability in greengrocers, farmers’ markets, farm shops and even in some supermarkets. The flavours of these traditional apple varieties vary greatly, from the more fragrant types with a hint of strawberry to the full bodied, nutty and spicy apples that come later in the season.
Know your apples?
1. It takes two pounds of apples to make one nine-inch apple pie.
2. Have you ever wondered why apples float? It’s because 25% of their volume is made up by air.
3. Pomology is the science of apple growing.
4. Apples can range in size from as small as a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
5. Apple trees can live for more than 100 years.
6. Two thirds of the fibre and lots of antioxidants are found in the apple peel.
7. Apples contain high levels of boron, which increases mental alertness.
8. Apple seeds contain a cyanide compound.
9. Apple trees take four to five years to bear their first fruit.
10. It takes roughly 36 apples to make one gallon of cider.
11. Many orchards grow dwarf apple trees because their height makes them easier to maintain and harvest.
12. Malusdomesticaphobia is the fear of apples! And no, we didn’t make that up.
Different types of apples
In basic terms, there are two types of apples: eating apples and cooking apples. Eating apples are sweeter and have the most interesting flavours, this is because their sugars are balanced by an edge of acidity. They also hold their shape during cooking, making them the right choice for a French apple tart or a Tarte Tatin, recipes which were developed in countries without a tradition of cooking apples. Some of the most popular varieties include Granny Smith, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious.
Cooking apples are larger and more acidic but this sourness does mellow during cooking. But interestingly a cooking apple will become more like an eating apple in storage because the acids do lessen over time. Some apples are even classed as dual-purpose, and these varieties are best for cooking when young and for eating when they are older. The most popular British cooking apple is of course the Bramley Apple.
If you are lucky enough to have apple trees in your garden or have the opportunity to pick your own, all you need to do is gently cup the apple in your hand and twist slightly. If the stalk comes away easily from the tree, the apple is ready.
Here are some wonderful Scottish apple varieties with equally wonderful names which you may or may not have heard of.
The James Grieve
A dessert apple with yellow fruit, speckled and striped with orange. This apple is savoury and juicy with a strong acidity.
The Coul Blush
Britain’s most northerly apple, hailing from Coul in Ross-shire. Gold with a faint flush and sweet, with a soft, cream flesh. Makes a good sauce.
The Bloody Ploughman
Cultivated in the Carse of Gowrie around 1880. Deep, dark, blood red eating apple with flesh with pink stains. Named after a ploughman who was caught stealing the apples and shot by a gamekeeper.
The Cambusnethan Pippin
Popular for being an excellent, scab-free dessert apple from either Clydesdale or Stirling. It is tender and juicy with mild acidity.
The Lass O’Gowrie
A sweet, juicy cooker from Perthshire which is favoured for keeping its shape.
And we are pleased to introduce one that is practically on our own doorstep!
The White Melrose
Raised at Melrose Abbey before 1831. This variety is a large, ribbed, green fruit popular in Tweedside orchards in the 19th century and has a sweet and pleasantly sub-acid flavour.
If you do find yourself with a large quantity of apples at this time of year aren’t able to use them all, the good news is that they will store really well for months if they are unblemished. Just wrap each one in dry newspaper and then place them in a single layer in the bottom of a wooden crate or shallow cardboard box. Then place in a cool, dry, dark, airy place and check them regularly and immediately throw out any that have rotted. As a rule, the later that an apple ripens, the longer it will keep.
Well worth a visit
And last but not least, do try and visit the wonderful Apple Orchard at the National Trust’s Priorwood Gardens, next to Melrose Abbey. The orchard cultivates many historic apple varieties, conjuring up connections with the garden’s past, when it may have been used as a kitchen garden by Melrose Abbey monks.
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