It’s all a matter of taste: part II

In my previous post I said that one of my pictures had been commended in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition but I was not allowed to publish it until it appeared on the competition web site on the 24th of April, well the 24th has come and gone and in fact it is now the 24th of May so it’s high time I posted “the Picture”
The photo was taken at the Scotland Street School Museum in Glasgow and was submitted in the “An Apple a Day” category and is therefore called:

An Apple for Teacher

KG130122008Web1The other pictures which I submitted are shown below.

Arbroath Smokies

Arbroath SmokiesThis picture was taken last August in Edinburgh at the “Foodies Festival” where Iain Spink was doing a brisk trade in selling freshly smoked Arbroath Smokies. The fish, locally caught haddock, are filleted, dry salted and tied in pairs over a wooden baton before being smoked in a half whiskey barrel covered with hessian. After 30 to 40 minutes the fish are ready to eat, warm, smoky, moist and sweet – truly mouth-watering experience.

Partick Fishwife

Partick Fish Wife I have been visiting the biweekly Farmers Market at Partick in Glasgow’s West End for many years and for all that time Macmillan’s have been there come rain or shine but always with a smile and the best of Scottish seafood.

Voluptuous Red Peppers

Voluputous Red PeppersFood is not just a matter of taste it engages all the senses, smell, touch, even occasionally sound and of course always  sight! These bright rounded peppers look good in their own right but also hint at all the other things that they can contribute to from crisp salads to roasted and stuffed peppers.

Man Cooks Breakfast!

Man Cooks Breakfast!This picture is really just a bit of fun but there is also some truth in it as anyone who has seen me at work in the kitchen will attest with every pot, pan and utensil being used and every surface covered with the fallout from my cooking!

The Voluptuous Red Peppers shot is my personal favourite picture and when it was posted on Flickr it had an amazing 6800+ views, most of which occurred on just one day! However, different audiences react in very different ways to the same image. Clearly it’s all a matter of taste, if you have the time I would love to hear which picture you like best!

It’s all a matter of taste

Last year Pink Lady, the apple brand, launched an annual international food photography competition with the winner not only being awarded the prestigious title of Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year but also walking away with a cool £5000 in prize money. With such an incentive it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that entries in its second year have increased by 70% with some 5500 images submitted. As the competition becomes better known around the world this number will no doubt continue to grow, after all 5500 images is small beer compared to the 49000 entries submitted to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Anyway 5 of the entries to the Pink Lady competition were from me. Sadly 4 of them failed to get even an honourable mention but one was “commended” and it will appear in the competition’s on-line gallery on the 24th of April until then I can’t even tell you the title of the work let alone let you see it! However, here are my remaining entries at least two of which I think were far better than the picture that ended up being selected. I would love to hear what you think:

Arbroath Smokies

Arbroath Smokies

This picture was taken last August in Edinburgh at the “Foodies Festival” where Iain Spink was doing a brisk trade in selling freshly smoked Arbroath Smokies. The fish, locally caught haddock, are filleted, dry salted and tied in pairs over a wooden baton before being smoked in a half whisky barrel covered with hessian. After 30 to 40 minutes the fish are ready to eat, warm, smoky, moist and sweet – truly mouth-watering experience.

Partick Fishwife

Partick Fish Wife

I have been visiting the biweekly Farmers Market at Partick in Glasgow’s West End for many years and for all that time Macmillan’s have been there come rain or shine but always with a smile and the best of Scottish seafood.

Voluptuous Red Peppers

Voluputous Red Peppers

Food is not just a matter of taste it engages all the senses, smell, touch, even occasionally sound and of course always  sight! These bright rounded peppers look good in their own right but also hint at all the other things that they can contribute to from crisp salads to roasted and stuffed peppers.

Man Cooks Breakfast!

Man Cooks Breakfast!

This picture is really just a bit of fun but there is also some truth in it as anyone who has seen me at work in the kitchen will attest with every pot, pan and utensil being used and every surface covered with the fallout from my cooking!

Commended

Image 5

Sorry but I can’t show you this image or even tell you it’s title until it is published on the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the 2013 on-line gallery on the 24th of April!

I posted the Voluptuous Red Peppers picture on Flickr a week ago and  since then it has had an amazing 6800+ views, most of which occurred on just one day! This picture has been a personal favourite ever since I first took it but it is often difficult as a photographer to be really objective about your own work, there are just too many associations with the image to allow a really unbiased view. But even different audiences will react in very different ways to the same image. Clearly it’s all a matter of taste, if you have the time I would love to hear which picture you like best, just use the voting form below and of course any comments are very welcome!

Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant Closed!

Before I start a nationwide panic I should say that I am referring to The Loch Fyne Oysters at Cairndow and not the nationwide chain of Loch Fyne Oyster Bars!

After days of snow, ice rain and wind Saturday dawned bright and clear and from my kitchen window I could see Ben Lomond capped with snow in the distance. The highlands were calling!

Ben Lomond and the mountains beyond

The roads were dry and the driving was easy as I headed north across the ErskineBridge and on through Dumbarton to the shores of Loch Lomond. From there it was on up to Tarbet and across to Arrochar and onwards along the A83 towards Rest and Be Thankful, though as I approached the climb up to Rest and Be Thankful there was a sanity check with a car lying upside down beside the road, a victim of a patch of ice which had formed where water had being draining across the road and frozen. Driving more carefully I made my way towards the summit, working my way through the road works which seem to be a permanent feature of this road where landslips regularly close this vital link to the west and north of Highland Scotland. At the summit I turned off along the B828 heading for Lochgoilhead and then turning off before reaching Lochgoilhead and heading along the B839 for the Dunoon road before rejoining the A83 for Cairndow and Inverary. Apart from giving a quieter and more scenic route to Loch Fyne my real purpose was to prospect for some new locations for taking photos along the streams and in the oak woods that are so much a feature of this route and while I found some good sites they will have to wait another month or two as the winter sun is still too low to reach into the deep valley bottoms to make photography really worth while. However, while I wasn’t to get any new pictures I was at least assured some oysters once I reached the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. However, as I approached the shop the normally busy car park was almost deserted and the restaurant was clearly empty! Heading into the shop the reason soon became apparent the restaurant was indeed closed while the shop was preparing to close on Sunday in preparation for a two month long refit. The plan is that they will reopen in time for Easter. Luckily I had got there just in time and they still had oysters though I am at a loss as to know what I am going to do for the next two months!

Shop, Smokery and Restaurant, Cairndow has it all.

Clearly I will be counting the days not only for my regular supply to be re-established (mail order is still a possibility for the whole Loch Fyne range but at this stage at least ordering half a dozen oysters by mail order would seem a little decadent even for me!). It is also going to be very interesting to se how the remodelling works out. It has always seemed to me that both the shop and the restaurant fail to make the full use of their potential and while there is no doubt the demand for a full formal restaurant (the place is always busy) I think that there is an opportunity for a brasserie style restaurant offering a wide range of small dishes (just as Harvey Nichols does at their Forth Floor restaurant in Edinburgh) backed up by an extended range of products, especially seafood, in the shop. Anyway we will just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile I carried my oysters home and had a very special brunch of oysters au naturale together with a dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon accompanied by a few slices of Ciabatta and a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Loch Fyne Oysters naturally!

Loch Fyne Oysters naturally!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms & salad

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms & salad

Scallops are one of my all time favourite things to eat, or at least they are when they are cooked well and until recently that has been a rather hit and miss affair when it came  to my own cooking; all too often they ended up being boiled and not seared, which is something that should never be done to these wonderful delicacies. However, I have always taken comfort in that even professional chefs can sometimes also fail in cooking them, I especially remember some rather mean sized scallops being served to us in Rye but it was not so much their small size that we took issue with but the fact that they had been seriously overcooked on both sides giving a whole new meaning to the word seared, perhaps burnt would have been a better description! On another occasion we went to one of the restaurants on the edge of London’s Borough Market and while the scallops were perfectly cooked they were stone cold. On the first occasion we crunched our way through the scallops rationalising that as it was only one of a number of starter dishes that we had ordered it simply wasn’t worth the fuss and the inevitable delay if we complained. On the latter occasion we did complain only to be told that the dish was cold because we were sitting at the entrance to the restaurant and it was cold there! However, we persisted with our complaint and eventually we were grudgingly presented with a fresh serving on red-hot plates – all of which shows that professional cooks are fallible too but it does seriously beg the question how can dishes which are so obviously wrong ever be let out of the kitchen? I would love to hear about your experiences when you complain about a dish in a restaurant. And of course for all the “bad” dishes there have been many good ones and occasionally some really excellent ones: such as the small plates of scallops that you can buy as a take away from one of the fish stalls in Borough Market or here in Glasgow where Crabshakk serves bowls of sizzling scallops which are so fabulous that I have problems in ever ordering anything else when I visit the restaurant!

So what is the secret to cooking scallops? Well it’s two-fold, the scallops need to be fresh and as dry as possible and the pan needs to be really hot before you add the oil immediately followed by the scallops and they only take a couple of minutes to cook on each side. There are many ways to cook and enjoy scallops but as is so often the case with seafood the simpler it is the better it tastes and this dish is simplicity itself.

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms with a green leaf salad and a side dish of french fries

Total time 20 minutes, serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 large king scallops with coral (there is an increasing tendency to sell scallops without their coral which I think is a great shame given the contrast in colour, taste and texture that they give) On this occasion I used vacuum packed scallops from MacMillan’s at the Partick Farmer’s Market which have the advantage of having a longer shelf life, up to one week (though I always use them within 2 days), compared to lose fresh scallops.
  • 6 to 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • green leaf salad (in this case a ready-made Florette “Duo” Lambs Lettuce & Ruby Chard)
  • oven french fries (McCain Crispy French Fries)
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing
  • olive oil
  • dark soya sauce
  • salt (Maldon)
  • freshly ground pepper (try grinding some pepper corns in a pestle and mortar for a real pungent blast of pepper. Don’t over grind or you will end up with dust and a totally different taste experience!)

Chestnut mushrooms ready to  sauté

Method.

  1. Switch on the oven and turn it up to 190 degrees Centigrade and place a shallow sided baking / roasting tray in the oven and leave to warm up
  2. Meanwhile  rinse the scallops under cold running water, cut off the hard piece of muscle that you will find on one edge of the scallop and discard. If the scallops are especially large you may want to cut them in half but don’t try to cut the coral in half, leave it attached to one of the two discs that you have just created and pat the scallops dry with kitchen towel and leave to one side.
  3. Place the salad in a colander and rinse under the cold tap (I know that the salad is supposed to be ready to eat straight from the pack but old habits die-hard!) shake off any remaining water and set to one side.
  4. Prepare the mushrooms, cutting off the end of the stalk and brushing off any dirt from the cap, then slice using a sharp knife and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Once the oven has got to temperature remove the baking tray from oven and tip the fries into the tray ensuring that they are evenly distributed over the tray and place in the oven.
  6. Place a frying pan on the hob over a medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and once the pan is a hot tip in the sliced mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms moving them around the pan with a wooden spatula, ensuring that they are cooked on both sides. If required add more olive oil but don’t over do it we are not trying to deep fat fry them!
  7. While the mushrooms ar cooking place another non stick frying pan on the hob over a high heat and take the opportunity to give the fries a shake.
  8. Once the mushrooms are nearly cooked add a dash of dark soya sauce and work the mushrooms around the pan to make sure that they are all uniformly coated with soya sauce which will not only give them a lovely brown colour but will also give them an extra rich, meaty taste.Sautéed chestnut mushrooms
  9. Once the pan for the scallops is hot add a glug of olive oil (not too much!) to the pan followed by the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Shiggle the pan occasionally to ensure that the scallops don’t stick (I have yet to find a pan which is truly non-stick!). Once the scallops have been cooking for a couple of minutes they will be nicely browned on the lower side and they should be turned over, seasoned and cooked for a further 2 minutes (you may need to turn the heat down during the course of the cooking to make sure that the scallops are browned and not burnt!KG121209017aWeb1
  10. As the scallops finish cooking place the salad on the plates, drizzle with the oil and vinegar dressing and add the mushrooms and finally the scallops while placing the fries in a bowl as a side dish.

Serve and enjoy!

KG121209023bWeb1

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Puffer Bar and Restaurant: Congratulations!

There can be little more disheartening than set off full of anticipation, driven for 3 hours, crossed the Bridge Over the Atlantic and then all the way across Seil Island to catch the ferry over to Easdale Island to be met by the following notice:

Image

As I had travelled west the Puffer Bar and Restaurant staff had headed east to the Scotland Food and Drink Awards dinner in Dunblane where they were the well deserved winner of the Food Tourism award; just the latest in a series of awards for this remarkable bar and restaurant.

Of course the moral of this story is phone ahead and make a reservation!

However, having come so far I decided to still go over to this amazing island with its giant, now flooded slate quarries, some of which are up to 300 foot deep and its rows of neat white quarriers cottages. The island is so small that it takes less than an hour to walk all the way round it but there is so much to see and explore en route that it can easily take much longer; either way if you arrive at around lunch time you are there for at least an hour as the ferryman stops for his lunch at 10 to 1. I vividly remember my first visit to the island and walking up the slip way to be met by a higgledy pigledy collection of wheel barrows and hand carts, one of the even had the insignia of the Royal Mail on its side – which was the give away, in a community where there are no cars this is how things are taken from the ferry to the cottages! On this visit however I was shocked to see that a quad bike has now made it over to the island this could be the beginning of the end?!

Image

Seil Island Transport Systems – wheel barrows and in the middle distance the ferry from Easdale.

After a couple of enjoyable hours on the island it was back to the ferry and the long and hungry drive back to Glasgow, though I did stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in Cairndow to buy half a dozen oysters for dinner – which was definitely on – I was cooking! However, I will be back out to the Puffer Bar and Restaurant, after having made a reservation of course – it is just too good to risk missing it twice in one year!

Copyright

All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Oysters au naturale

 I tend to find that people either love them or loath them but for me oysters are an all time favourite and a perfect late brunch accompanied by a dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon juice together with some slices of fresh bread (butter optional) and of course a glass or two of crisp white wine; a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is ideal or for a really special occasion a dry champagne! I suspect that oysters are more frequently eaten in restaurants than at home and there are certainly many great seafood bars and restaurants in Britain including Riddle & Finns in Brighton Randall & Aubin in Soho or for somewhere really special try the J Sheekey Oyster Bar in Covent Garden  and off course there are the Loch Fyne Restaurants which are now found widely throughout the UK. Alternatively if you are flying there are always the Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bars which provide a tranquil oasis combined with a touch of luxury before you board your budget airline flight!  In all of these place oysters perform a star role but they are so easy they should be not only for restaurants after all there is no cooking!

Oysters all too frequently have a bad reputation being associated with food poisoning but if you get them from a reputable supplier who has a high turn over and a reputation for quality and freshness the risks are no greater than for any other uncooked food. In Spain, Portugal and France finding top quality oysters is easy with even the large supermarkets such as Auchan having superb fish counters but in the UK you are best finding a specialist fish monger. The Pacific Rock Oyster is the most widely available oyster in the UK but it is possible to find the native oyster especially in the south of the UK; though I must confess that I actually prefer the rock oyster but my all time favourite are the French Fines de Claire. Whatever sort of oyster you end up getting you are always faced with one seeming “insurmountable problem” i.e. how to open them! There are countless tools and even chain mail gloves that you can buy to protect yourself during the process but the chances are that you already posses the best possible tool; namely a small screwdriver!

OYSTERS AU NATURALE

Prep time 15 minutes Cook time n/a Total time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 Oysters per person
  • 1 Lemon cut into large wedges
  • Tabasco sauce (McIlhenny Co.)
  • Bread – a French stick or Ciabatta loaf is ideal.
  • Salted butter
  • Crushed ice (optional)

 Method

  1. Oysters are best eaten the day they are bought but they can be kept for up to 24 hours in the fridge. As with mussels if any of the oysters are not tightly closed when you come to use them they should be discarded.
  2. Rinse the oysters under the cold tap and use a stiff brush to remove any loose pieces of shell, grit, etc then place in a colander to drain.
  3. To open the oysters place each oyster in turn on a wooden chopping board with the flat side facing uppermost. Holding the oyster firmly in one hand work the point of the screwdriver into the hinge at the pointed and of the shell and then lever the shell open. Once the shell has opened a little hold it open with your forefinger and thumb and slide the blade of a small sharp knife between the two shells so as to cut the abductor muscle that holds the two shells together.
  4. Remove the flat top shell and place on a serving plate (see photos), this will help stop the lower shells containing the oysters and the liquor from tipping over. Alternatively use crushed ice to form a bed upon which to arrange the oysters.
  5. Then use the tip of the knife to remove any broken flakes of shell which have fallen into the lower shell containing the oyster and arrange on the serving plate.
  6. Add a couple of lemon wedges to the plate, serve with Tabasco sauce, freshly cut bread and butter together with a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Share and enjoy!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.