Thursday, 27 October 2016
Mrs Fitz's Scotch broth (The Outlander) - #ReadCookEat
I binged-watched the first series of The Outlander just recently on Amazon, and started reading the first novel in the series amidst watching. I'm still half-way through with the book. Now, I love historical fiction, and I do enjoy time-travelling as a genre, but I am very much in two minds about both the fiction and the TV series. The historical background is fascinating, and once you "accepted" the time-travelling fluke, the plot becomes quite dramatic and almost epic. As a storyteller, Diana Gabaldon is skilled undoubtedly.
On the other hand, it is way too graphic for me. I'm not a prude when it comes to erotica, but this novel has a strange fascination with violence.
And there's too much sex. Once two main characters get married, they are at it like rabbits, non-stop, to the point of marital rape.
The last two episodes of the TV series were so violent and graphic, I kept fast-forwarding the action. The disturbing prison rape scenes went for ages. It was totally unnecessary to drag it for two episodes.
I think I'll be skipping the pages once I get there in the novel.
The Outlander series of books have zillions of fans and got raving reviews, but I do feel I'm not in the cheerleaders' camp. I'll try to finish the first novel, but it is verra long indeed.
Reading books, especially historical fiction, I always look for food mentions, and there was quite a lot of meals described, from very simple breakfast to feasts. Here are a few foodie quotes:
"I had no appetite for the parritch that Mrs FitzGibbons brought next for my breakfast, but pretended to eat in order to gain some time for thought."
"I found my appetite rather lacking... I really didn't care for herring, when all was said and done. The bannocks were freshly baked, though, and served with honey."
The bannocks with honey sounded especially appealing, and I think I will try to cook them one day. Parritch was less tempting.
"...the hall, now restored to its normal identity as a refectory. Enormous cauldrons of porridge were dispensed, together with bannocks baked on the hearth and spread with honey..."
"An even louder shout greeted the tubs of ale and whisky that now appeared on trestles, accompanied by platters of steaming bannocks and smoked beef."
Broth is mentioned quite a few times.
"Ah, lass! The aye be things for me to do! I'll send a bit o'broth up for ye. Do ye call oot if ye need anything else"
"He was right; food did help. We ate broth and bread in companionable silencce, sharing the growing comfort of warmth and fullness"
And so broth it was, I decided to cook a rich version, as might have possibly appeared in Castle Leoch, cooked by the mother hen aka Mrs Fitz.
100g dried soup and broth mix (pearl barley, yellow split peas, green split peas, marrowfat peas and red lentils)
1 lamb shank, about 400g
2 litres of water
2 stalks of celery
1 turnip, about 250g
4 baby leeks
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 sweet onion
5 big leaves of Savoy cabbage
Soak 100g of dried broth mix in cold water overnight, the next day rinse them well under the running water.
Put the lamb shank in a deep pot (or pan, if you're cooking on the hob) and add at least 2 litres of water. Add the broth mix to the lamb.
Put the pot in the oven preheated to 180C, cook for an hour. Chop the celery and add to the pot together with finely sliced white bits of leeks.
Heat up 2tbsp of oil in a medium sized frying pan, and cook finely chopped sweet onion and peeled and sliced carrots for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown. Add to the broth.
Peel and cube a medium sized turnip and add to the pot.
Cook the broth for another hour or so, add the sliced green part of leeks and cabbage in the last half an hour. You might need to add more water to the pot, so that it looks like a thick soup.
Remove the lamb shank from the pot, discard the bone and shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the broth. Serve hot, with a nice chunk of bread.
This meal is probably best suited for a slow cooker, but as I don't have one, I cooked it in the oven.
I used a pack of soup and broth mix in this recipe, but if you have separate packs of pearl barley and peas, mix your own version.
If you don't fancy meat, there is a vegetarian broth recipe as cooked by Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen - visit her post How to make Scotch broth like a Scot.