Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scottish Chili ? Oh Aye

This was going to be my first blog, until I realised it had to be the Burns Supper last week

So Chili...not very Scottish I hear you say, well yes, true.

It is in fact, quite Texan, the home of the Chili Cook Off, where you can sample some of the best Texan Chili ever

So why Chili ?

Well, a Scottish friend of mine named Kim gave me this Chili recipe while we worked together in Scotland years ago, see its Scottish!!!!!

This Chili comes by many names

Kim's Chili (because it was Kim's recipe)
Microwave Chili (because you microwave the whole thing)
Scottish Chili (because I think of it as my Scottish Chili)
Woodrow's Chili (because that's where Kim and I worked when I got this recipe, many of us Woodrow's girls have a copy)

What I love about this recipe is you fling all the ingredients together and microwave it, yes microwave it, for 1 hour.

Do you know what you can do with that hour?

Well this time Sir Scoffs-A-Lot fancied a bounce on his trampoline that Santa brought him, so we got in a bit of fresh air and exercise while the chili cooked, love that.

Or you can sit with your feet up with a nice cup of tea, another favo(u)rite of mine

So you will need

1lb Steak Mince (Ground Beef)
Medium Onion, chopped
Green or Red Bell Pepper, chopped
14oz Can Diced Tomatoes with Herbs
14oz Can Kidney Beans
3 Heaped Tablespoons Tomato Puree
3 tsp Chili Powder
0.5 tsp Cumin
0.5 tsp Salt
0.5 tsp Garlic or 1 Garlic Clove crushed
4floz (100ml) cold water

Steak Mince/Ground Beef

Pepper and Onion
Chili Powder, Cumin Powder, Crush Garlic Clove, Salt
Kidney Beans, Tomatoes, Tomato Paste

optional extras
0.5 tsp Paprika
couple dashes Chili Sauce (Hot Sauce)
Tabasco and Paprika

Mix Mince (ground beef), chopped onion and chopped pepper thoroughly, cook in microwave on high for 8 minutes until beef is brown

Beef, Onion and Red Pepper

Drain excess fat

Chili ingredients added

Then add all other ingredients, mix well and cook in microwave at medium for 1 hour (I only cook for 45 minutes in USA as microwaves are more powerful)

Through out the years I have adapted the recipe, I always use the optional extras and I now use more Chili powder than the recipe states and I sometimes add in a fresh jalapeno or 2 for some extra kick

Doesn't this look super yummy?


Serve with Rice or we usually serve it with a garden salad and crusty bread

Thanks Kim, for the amazing recipe that has been used in this household since 1993, yikes I'm showing my age.

After a brief discussion on Facebook amongst friends about this Chili recipe, Maggie, an ex-Woodrow's girl said she didn't have the recipe

So this one is for you Mags


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scottish recipes -Scottish Lorne Sausage

Here is one of my favo(u)rites.... The great and delicious Lorne Sausage

Scottish Lorne Sausage

Whether you call it Lorne Sausage, Square Sausage, Sliced Sausage

Scottish Lorne Square Sausage

One thing for sure is it is enjoyed by many people in Scotland as part of a great Fry Up (a Scottish/British cooked Breakfast), great for mopping up egg yolk and the likes

Do you see it hiding under the egg?

Scottish Cooked Breakfast
It is loved in Scotland on a buttered roll with a squirt of Brown Sauce or HP Sauce on there too. My personal favo(u)rite

Scottish Square Sausage Roll and Irn Bru

In Scotland you can just nip into the corner shop, supermarket, local cafe or local butcher and there it is, all pink and square, waiting to be bought.  I love the stuff

So here in Texas there is no Lorne Sausage, I went a couple of years without the delicious piece of square meat

That is until

My lovely Scottish Expat friend Irene gave me a recipe

Its from her butcher friend, and this stuff is amazing

If you are lucky enough to be in Scotland just nip out and buy some

But if you are like me and living overseas ....here it is

You will need

A loaf dish, glass is better, so you can see the air pockets
3lb minced beef (ground beef) Don't use lean beef as it will be too dry, you need the fat
3 cups homemade grated bread crumbs
3 teaspoons salt
2.5 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix it all together in a bowl .... be prepared to get your knuckles in there and knead

Scottish Square Sausage Mix

Put the mixture in the glass loaf dish

Check for air pockets and get rid of them by pushing and squishing the meat
Ready in the Glass Loaf Dish

Cover with greaseproof paper or cling film

Put the loaf tin in the freezer for about 1.5 hours

Just enough to make it hard without being completely frozen solid

Take it out of freezer and turn it out of the loaf tin

Slice it

And there it is (I made 12 slices)

Ready to fry or grill (broil for my USA readers)

You can store it in the fridge for a couple of days until its ready to be cooked 

Or store in freezer in freezer bags 2 at a time until read to enjoy

Doesn't it look yummy?
Scottish Lorne Sausage

Now, if you don't like the taste, try making it again but change the mix of condiments until it suits your pallet, after all, nae twa butchers in Scotland hiv the same recipe...right?

Irene, the friend who gave me this brilliant recipe,  is one of those ladies that help shape how a place is, she was one of the first people I met when I came to Texas.

I was new and navigating my way around a strange place. Mr Tartan Tastes told me a "woman called Irene is picking you up tomorrow to show you around", so she turned up her silver sports car, all tanned, tall, glamorous and from the west coast, and she whizzed me away to the Galleria in Houston.

I loved it, we had a beautiful lunch outside in November and talked about life and how we came to be living in Texas.

Over the coming months and years she introduced me to other great expats living here and a circle of great friends emerged. She took me to get my social security number and help with all kinds of things including the day she let me use her car to take my Texas driving test. I passed. Mr Tartan Tastes had no idea, I surprise him that night, "Look, I took my driving test and passed today", all thanks to Irene. Irene and I are still friends and still get together for a good old blether when we can

And so its all thanks to Irene, that when I feel like it, I can indulge in some tasty Lorne sausage here in Texas


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Heaven in a Grocery Store

Now I love food, I love all foods (except scrambled eggs) and when I go to other places in the world I will try almost anything, within reason, but there is nothing like a wee piece of home grown (or home manufactured) foods

So, just to give you an idea of life as a Scottish expat living in Texas, I decided to go to my local Supermarket and snap a photo of the goodies from home we can get our hands on

(I proceeded to tell Mr Tartan Tastes of my plans, in case he got a call from the police saying his crazy fool of a wife was snapping photos in a supermarket - I'm not sure we are allowed to do this, but I have done it before, so thought OK, I can do it again. I have a fantastic photo from a couple of years back of Sir Scoffs-A-Lot and I by the bananas - he loves them)

So, here it is folks, this is what I and other expats around the world are up against.

So its our little section of convenience in the International Foods section

In some countries there are no British items to get your hands on, nightmare indeed, I feel for you

While all you lucky Scots are swanning around your Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's picking up all the foods you have grown up with and more, I am so jealous

I have this little section in my local Texas Kroger

Its not much, we make do,

want Heinz Beans?  they are there,

want HP Sauce? its there,

want diluting juice? its there, its pricey, but its there.

British Chocolate, oh yeah, its there, only a few choices but still, I am happy

Now don't get me wrong, we all live in the age of the Internet and I have my go-to places when I want a bigger choice, but for quick convenience this is it.

When I first arrived in Texas in 2003, I walked into a store and for the first time in ages I clamped my eyes on some bottles of Irn Bru on the bottom shelf, I ran up, swept the whole lot into my shopping cart, OK, OK, trolley, and emptied the shelf like a crazy person. I then proceeded to feel super guilty and so I put ONE bottle back in case someone else fancied a wee bottle. Well I got there first, right?

It may not be a whole Supermarket of stuff

But its my Little Piece of Heaven in a Grocery Store


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Well, here it is, my first ever Blog.

Tomorrow is January 25th, the day our famous Scottish Bard himself was born. Who am I talking about?

Robert Burns of course. Scotland's nationally loved poet.

Robert Burns

So it seems only fitting that my first blog is all about the much loved dinner being enjoyed by Scots all around the world on this day to celebrate Burns Night.

The Burns Supper.

you will need....

2lb/1kg Haggis
2.5lb/1.25kg Potatoes
1.5lb/750g Turnips 

serves 4

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties


The great mystery around the world, completely infamous. What is it exactly?

Perhaps its best if you don't ask.

It is indeed easier to purchase your Haggis from a supermarket, than to prepare it yourself, boiling the sheep's stomach and lights (lungs, heart, liver) mixed with oatmeal, onion, spices and seasoning, as I can only imagine its not too easy to purchase a sheep's stomach these days, emmm yeah!

Hello, you still there?


I do have a Haggis recipe at hand, complete with the pre-mentioned stomach but I will save that for another day.

Us Scots do have a laugh about Haggis, claiming that it is in fact a wild animal running around the Highlands, having two short legs and two long legs, making it tricky to catch...... tee hee !!!

So I am a modern Scottish lass and I get my Haggis by modern means, okay since you ask, my sister smuggled it in her suitcase for me (ooops! sorry to rat on you Sis),  its in a Can.

Tinned Haggis

I tried to get a Haggis more fitting for this blog from a local British Market but I left it too late and my order isn't here...so canned Haggis it is

This can above, holds the most yummy, spicy, oaty, sausage type meat ever, its really is a Scottish delicacy.

Next comes the Tatties (pealed, boiled then mashed potatoes with added milk and butter until preferred taste and consistency is correct)


And of course the Neeps


Neeps (turnips) are a family of the swede, a white or yellow peppery tasting hard vegetable with purple blemished skin. In USA I use Rutabagas if Turnips are unavailable.

Prepared the same way as the Tatties, peeled, mashed but with less butter (no milk) and heaps of ground pepper ... You have to be careful about the liquid in turnips, they can be soggy once mashed, so less butter to keep them drier.

I was talking to my dad in Scotland yesterday and he said no Burns Supper is complete without a smooth dram of Malt Whiskey, I am sure Mr Tartan Tastes would agree.

Malt Whiskey


Happy Burns Night my Scottish Pals and Scottish at heart Pals



To order Haggis UK  www.macsween.co.uk
To order Haggis USA www.goodwoods.com

To A Haggis, Robert Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o' the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm,
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm
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