Findon, near Aberdeen, is known for the Finnan haddock, which makes the best Cullen Skink. I had a delicious bowl of this soup at The Silver Darling restaurant, overlooking the harbour.
Aberdeen competes with the Lake District and Canada to claim that this is where Sticky Toffee Pudding was invented.
Here are my versions of these comforting warming dishes, perfect for the shortening days as we approach winter.
Cullen Skink soup
500g undyed smoked haddock
Knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, washed, cut into chunks
4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
500ml whole milk
Chives, finely chopped
Put the fish into a pan and cover with cold water. Add a bay leaf and bring gently to the boil. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Melt the butter in another pan on a medium-low heat, adding the onion and the leek. Cover and allow to sweat, without colouring, for about 10 minutes until softened. Season with black pepper.
Stir in the potatoes, then pour in the haddock cooking liquor and bring to a simmer.
Break the haddock into flakes, reserving some for the garnish. Lift out a few potatoes and leeks, also for garnish.
Add the milk and half the haddock to the pan, stir then blend.
Season and serve the soup with a garnish of potato, leek and haddock in each bowl, plus a sprinkling of chives.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
200g whole dates, stoned and roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla 90g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g light muscovado sugar
2 large free-range eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml whole milk (preferably jersey or gold top) 250ml crème fraîche
For the toffee sauce:
225g light muscovado sugar
Good slug of brandy or rum
100g unsalted butter, softened
275ml double cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
Soak the dates in the coffee with the vanilla for 30 minutes, then mash with a fork. Butter a 15x20cm ovenproof dish. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between. Add the maple syrup.Mix the flour with the bicarb and gently fold into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk.Stir in the soaked dates with their liquid. Tip into the prepared dish.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until the pudding is risen and firm and a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.
For the toffee sauce, put the sugar, brandy, butter and half the cream in a medium, heavy-based pan and heat gently. When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat, stir in the maple syrup stirring for 2-3 minutes until the mix is a rich toffee colour. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rest of the cream. Keep warm.
Leave the pudding to cool for 20 minutes, then skewer it all over and pour over half the sauce. Serve with a jug of the sauce and a scoop of crème fraîche.
I’m hosting an Outlander inspired supper club on New Year’s Eve this year which will be bursting with Scottish Hogmanay dishes.