Scot Mex! Veggie Haggis Tacos

Fusion food. Maybe not at it’s very pinnacle of sophistication, but a blooming tasty weekend family feast let me tell you my friend.

Vegetarian haggis is delicious. I’ve never tried the traditional meat filled version. Why would I when this one is bursting with peppery flavour and packed with mouth pleasing texture. Mmmm.

When my children were a bit younger, and didn’t have quite as gargantuan appetites, I sometimes had a bit of leftover haggis and I’d try to reinvent these morsels into a crowd pleasing meal the next day. The family favourite was, hands down, veggie haggis spaghetti bolognese…

…until now. I’m always up for a bit of foodie fun so Scot Mex tacos is right up my calejon, that’s Spanish for alley don’t you know. See I’m just full of the fun!

Other than the Scottish twist on this Mexican classic, the chilli itself is pretty standard. Heaps of flavour delivered courtesy of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and just a smidge of oregano. Deepened gloriously by a little cocoa powder.

I serve this with a really simple guacamole, a sweetcorn and black bean salsa, grated cheese and iceberg lettuce. I dont suppose it’s particularly authentic, it just happens to be what we love. Add soured cream if that’s your want.

The one thing I wish I had thought to use for this recipe is a Scotch Bonnet chilli. Not necessarily for the flavour, just the wee nod to Bonny Scotland.

Scot-Mex Veggie Haggis Tacos

Serves 5 – 6

Ingredients

  • 1 vegetarian haggis, cook according to packet instructions
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • A can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to your taste
  • A big handful of chopped coriander
  • A box of tacos (there are usually 12 in a box), cooked according to packet instructions
  • Accompaniments I’ll list at the end as they’re very much optional

Method

  • First cook your haggis. If you have a microwave it will ready in moments. If, like me, you don’t then it will take just over an hour in the oven so bear this in mind in your planning.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and gently fry your onions for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in your garlic, chilli and spices and cook for a minute or so.
  • Pour over the tomatoes, cocoa powder and beans and stir.
  • Simmer this aromatic pot of chilli for about half an hour on a low heat.
  • Once your haggis is perfectly cooked break it up a bit and add to the pot. Simmer a little longer to allow for a bit of Scottish / Mexican mingling.
  • Serve strewn with the chopped coriander and whatever else your heart desires.

My favourite accompaniments:

I wouldn’t consider eating this without a pile of grated cheese (cheddar or lancashire) and a mountain of iceberg lettuce. You can shred the lettuce and add to the tacos but we also like to keep some of the leaves whole and use them as healthier shells to stuff the chilli into.

Guacamole

I just smash up a couple of avocados with a good spritz of lime juice, fresh chilli, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of salt and fresh chopped coriander.

Black Bean & Sweetcorn Salsa

In a bowl mix together a can of black beans and a small can of sweetcorn with lime juice, a glug of olive oil, a pinch each of cumin and coriander, a couple of chopped spring onions, a very small crushed clove of garlic, half a chopped chilli, a handful of chopped coriander and plenty of salt and pepper.

Simple Elderberry Syrup

If you go down to the woods today… you might be lucky enough to find an elder tree dripping with deep dark red elderberries. Sorry to disappoint those with a penchant for picnics and teddy bears. But on the plus side you might not have to venture as far as the woods to find these treasures. There’s a lovely old elder tree right next to my suburban garden. 

If I catch them at them earlier in the year I love to pick the elderflowers and make homemade elderflower cordial.  I’d love to make elderflower champagne but I’m a bit worried about exploding bottles. I need to learn to live a little closer to the edge before I attempt it.

This year I missed out on the elderflowers so I was determined to get my hands on the berries.

Elderberries are absolutely chock a block with antioxidants, which give our immune systems a massive boost. So making a syrup now and digging into it over the autumn and winter months is a great way to help ward off colds and flu.

A word of caution with these berries – you really have to cook them or you might risk an upset tummy.  When raw these little berries are obnoxiously sour so you’d probably want to cook them anyway – nature’s way of keeping us safe. Also make sure you discard the leaves and stalks as these can be toxic.  A little vigilance is totally worth it for the sweet elixir you end up with.

This syrup is made with sugar but you could absolutely make it with honey, which would also cram in yet more healthy delights. I added a couple of slices of fresh ginger and a couple of cloves and the result is that the finished syrup is slightly reminiscent of cola. So when my youngest was under the weather a couple of days ago he slurped down his ‘medicine’ no questions asked. If you prefer, keep it simple and just go with the berries and sweet stuff.

You could use this as a cordial, drizzle over greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, add a dash to a cocktail or simply down a small shot when you feel your body needs a helping immune boosting hand.

Simple Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients

  • 500g elderberries
  • 400g sugar
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Optional flavour enhancers: a couple of slices of ginger and a couple of cloves

Method

  • First and foremost make sure you remove all of the stalks and leaves from the berries as these are toxic. Also discard any green berries.
  • You can gently pull the berries off the stalks or use a fork. I really like the fork method, which also cuts down on the staining of your fingers.
  • Give the berries a wash.
  • Tip them into a pan and cover with water (the water should be about 1cm over the berries). Add your ginger and cloves if you are using them. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • Now strain through a sieve. Pour the liquid back into the pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled you can either bottle this and keep in the fridge or, to make it last even longer, freeze in ice cube trays.

Super smoked salmon and avo open sandwiches

I was in the bakery section of the supermarket yesterday and was feeling drastically underwhelmed by the rows and rows of white loaves with slightly different names: bloomers, farmhouse loaves, white sliced, batard etc etc. These are all very nice but none of them were calling ‘eat me, I’ll be your perfect lunch today’.

I was about to move on when I spotted a brown sourdough loaf shouting ‘take me’. And I did. From there it all slotted into place: lovely fresh brown loaf needs slithers of pink smoked salmon atop a tangy cream cheese.

When I got home I found a perfectly ripe avocado in the fridge (joy!), a bag of fresh dill and some lettuce (freshly picked from my Mother in Law’s garden). Heaven.

The colours in this sandwich are so delicate and attractive they simply have to be served as open sandwiches.

In every bite you have the tang of the sourdough, the cool cream cheese, the salty salmon, the creamy avo, the crisp lettuce and the grassy freshness of the dill. Get this sandwich in your life. Today.

Smoked Salmon & Avo Open Sandwiches

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 slices of brown or white sourdough bread (depending on appetite)
  • Cream cheese (I like full fat)
  • 1 small packet of smoked salmon
  • 1/2 an avocado, peeled and sliced
  • A few sprigs of dill
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon or lime
  • A few lettuce leaves

Method

  • First of all spread your bread generously with cream cheese.
  • Now gently tear up your smoked salmon and scatter over the bread.
  • Arrange the avocado slices next.
  • Scatter over the dill and add a modest grinding of black pepper.
  • Spritz over a little lemon or lime juice and artfully toss in a couple of leaves to complete this beautifully delicious tableau.

Fresh Mixed Currant compote

Years ago we planted fruit bushes in our back garden. Blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. For the first few years the currants and gooseberries were so sour. But kids notoriously love sour treats so it didn’t stop them nibbling on the ripe fruit every time they played in the garden. As a result no fruit ever made its way into the house.

Every year the harvest gets sweeter and more gloriously prolific but as the fruit bushes mature so do the children and picking berries and currants from the bushes seems to be losing its charm.

This year we had huge bowlfuls of currants which we have gobbled up with so many delicious meals: my faves were a red currant salad dressing drizzled over rocket and feta and as a substitute for blueberries scattered over pancakes with a generous pouring of maple syrup.

The remaining currants made their way into this simple compote. This is perfect for breakfast with yoghurt and granola or drizzled over porridge. It would also add a fresh fruity zing poured over pancakes or swirled through creamy vanilla icecream.

The great thing is that this freezes well. So you can make a batch and pop it into the freezer to enjoy over the Autumn and Winter months when warm afternoons picking berries and currants would otherwise be a distant memory.

Mixed Currant Compote

Recipe

Ingredients

  • About 200g redcurrants, blackcurrants or a combo of both
  • 2 – 3 heaped tablespoons of sugar (depending how sweet you like things)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  • Put all of the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil
  • Turn down to a slow simmer and cook for about 4 minutes

Savoury French Toast 2 Ways

I definitely favour a savoury breakfast over a sweet one, especially at the weekend. I think it might stem from my deep and very true love of marmite on toast.

I’ve been enjoying French Toast for years but it was quite recently that I discovered the joy of devouring it in its savoury glory. Why did it take me so long?!

You can rustle up savoury french toast using a single slice of bread with some herbs or spices added to the egg mix and sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese, which will melt perfectly in the heat of the pan.

Or if you’re feeling seriously hungry why not sandwich up a double layer and fill with cheese and your favourite savoury delights. This version is a kind of french toast / cheese toastie hybrid.

For breakfast I tend to use cheddar for both the single and double decker versions. But if I’m going to serve the double decker for lunch I might choose mozzarella for it’s melted stretchy spectacle.

Single Decker French Toast

  • For each person crack one egg into a bowl and whisk with a little salt and pepper.
  • If you want to amp up your brekky add your choice of herbs or spices to the egg before whisking. I like: oregano and chill flakes; or cumin with chopped fresh coriander; or finely chopped chives; or basil, oregano and smoked paprika.
  • Put a frying pan on to heat up and add a small knob of butter. Dip your bread in the eggy mixture and turn over so that each side is soaked.
  • Pop your bread into the pan and cook for a few minutes.
  • Flip over and sprinkle with a little finely grated cheese. Cook the second side for a few minutes until golden brown. The cheese should melt nicely in the heat.
  • Serve immediately with a dash of chilli sauce if you like a little spice.

Double Decker French toast

  • For each person crack an egg into a bowl and whisk with a little salt and pepper. You could add any of the extras I mentioned in the single decker version above.
  • Heat a frying pan and melt a small knob of butter in it.
  • Take one slice of bread and dip one side in the eggy mixture, then pop it in your pan. Then layer on cheese slices, ham (I use vegan ham), spring onions, jalapenos, spinach, basil or chives.
  • Dip a second slice of bread in the eggy mix and place it eggy side up right on top of the slice in the pan. Squash it down a little to seal the sandwich.
  • After a few minutes flip the sandwich over and cook the second side until golden brown and the cheese in the centre is oozing and melted.

The Most Delicious Falafel Wraps

Falafel Wraps

There’s the most fabulous place in Glasgow called ‘Falafel To Go’ which serves, almost exclusively, Falafels. They are absolutely delicious, served in wraps crammed with crumbled falafels, spicy and garlic sauces and a little salad. They are also wonderfully reasonably priced.

During this lockdown I’ve been hankering for this delight so decided to have a go at creating my own version at home. You can use any chilli sauce that you like – we love sriracha. I did make a quick and easy garlic sauce with a few simple ingredients but you could use shop bought or use garlic mayo if you like.

The groans of pleasure around our kitchen table told me these were pretty awesome in their own right, so here’s the recipe for you dear reader. Do try this at home.

Falafel Wraps

Serves 4 – 6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • 4 wraps (I used wholemeal)
  • 2 packets of ready made falafels
  • Spicy sauce of your choice (I like sriracha)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • A couple of handlfuls of spinach or rocket

For the Garlic Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • A pinch of salt

Method

  • Heat the falafels in your oven according to the packet instructions.
  • Meanwhile put a generous amount of chilli sauce, garlic sauce and salad on each wrap.
  • When the falafels are warm take out of the oven and crumble them a bit as you scatter them over each wrap.
  • Fold the wraps and either eat as they are or heat in a dry frying pan or griddle for a minute on each side to add a little crisp texture.