Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011: A Foodie Odyssey part 8, Scotland: Cock-a-Leekie Soup & Highland Toffee

Ahhhhhh Scotland.  One of my favorite places on Earth and a post I was looking forward to.  Now most people associate golf with Scotland, I think Haggis and Fish & Chips.  I think Chef Ramsay and rain.  It is not well known for its food that is for sure.

Scotland is rich in history and the architecture of cities like Glasgow show it.  The food was often lacking in spices due to the expense in the 1600's-1700's.  But that did not mean it was tasteless.  They used a little more fat than most.  Although it is the worst part to eat it really packs all the flavor, so that is what they used.  Vegetables where also a big draw, such as turnips and leeks.

I chose to do a soup for a couple reasons.  The first was that it is a classic dish, which is what I wanted.  The second reason is that it required no spices.  And the third was the name!  Cock-A-Leekie Soup!  Sounds like a needed trip to the clinic after a wild weekend!  But it is a Chicken and Leek soup, and a very good one at that!  I felt it showed just the side of Scottish cooking I was looking for.

Here is What You'll Need:

2 pounds of chicken thighs skin on bone in
5 cups of water
1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of barley
1\2 can of chicken broth
3 1/2 leeks sliced
1 stalk celery sliced
1/2 sprig of fresh thyme chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Get a large pot and add the water, chicken, barley and onion.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce head and simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the water and remove the skin and bones.  Chop into bite size pieces and replace into the water.
 Add the leeks, parsley, thyme, celery, chicken broth, salt and pepper and simmer for another 30 minutes.  When the veggies are tender you are done.  It may not take quite 30 minutes!

That was a very simple recipe.  It dose take some time to cook but you can move on to other chores while it is cooking.  The prep is easy and fast.  The flavor was outstanding!  All the fresh veggies, the chicken, and a little salt and pepper go a long way in the flavor department.  This would be a great spring soup.  The freshness of the vegetables really comes out and it's simple straight forward flavor is relaxing, letting you enjoy the taste without all the over complicated layers of spice.  It just seemed like it was too simple to be so good!

 And Highland Toffee!...


I also chose to do a dessert!  Highland Toffee.  It is a nice chocolate topped oatmeal bar.  Not to sweet if you can believe it.  It was an easy one to prepare and was a big hit at work.  I made a double batch and took it in to work to get some outside opinion, not to mention everyone has been asking me when I was bringing in some goodies! 

Here is What You'll Need:

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped nuts (this is optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Stir together the oats and oil in a mixing bowl.  Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and corn syrup and mix well.  Grease or butter a 9 or 8 inch square pan generously and add the oat mixture.  Place in oven and bake for about 12 minutes.  When done baking set aside and let cool. 

When the oats are cool remove and cut into four large squares.  Melt down the chocolate according to the packaging directions and top your oat bars.  Sprinkle the nuts on top while chocolate is still warm.  When the chocolate is set and can be handled cut your bars into as many pieces as you like!

 The Toffee was good and not very sweet!  It was fast to prepare, about 45 minutes or so.  I'm sure they are not healthy but it is not to glutinous either.  I did use light syrup and sugar! 

I had fun preparing these dishes, and I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much.  This trip to Scotland was fun for me, got to eat my new favorite veggie, the leek.  Made a new dessert and that dose not happen often.  Estonia is next to be featured in 2011: A Foodie Odyssey!  I have a recipe that should prove interesting!  Don't forget to vote for the next country to be featured at the top of this page!

Love Food, Live Life!

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