Pan-Seared Pork with Tarragon and Mustardy Onions

Pork with Tarragon and Mustardy Onions

The first time I made this dish was an evening last fall when I walked into the butcher’s and said, “I just need something easy for dinner tonight.”

Before moving to Scotland, my butcher shop was the gargantuan counter at Whole Foods Market. Being only 5’2″, I was always eye level with the top of the counter, so speaking to the butcher was like talking to a gleaming piece of metal.

In contrast, the butcher shop here is the same size as my kitchen, and speaking to the butcher is like talking to an old friend.

That day last fall he responded with, “Why not pork fillets?”, rhyming with millet and said with a straight face.

I came to pork late, growing up in a Jewish household where the only pork we ate was bacon and ham sandwiches, and these we only ate outside the house.

Pork fillet for dinner? “What would I do with it?”, emphasis on do, sounding like dew and Moooo!

“Just sear it,” he said, “and it’ll be ready in minutes.”

I brought the pork fillets home and cracked open my trusty Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Alice knows how to cook everything and she never leads me astray, even in Scotland.

I flipped through a few pages and decided to pan-sear the pork and finish it with a quick sauce of water, Dijon mustard and butter. First, I’d chop some fresh tarragon and press it into the seasoned fillets.

Tarragon is a beguiling herb, slightly floral and reminiscent of licorice. It does wonders for plain scrambled eggs and I thought it would brighten up the pork. Also, I didn’t have any sage, which is a classic pairing with pork, so I’d have to make the tarragon work.

The resulting dish was delicious and I made it many times before searching for a variation.

By this time it was mid-January and I had an embarrassing number of onions and apples in my veggie box every week. I came across a recipe from Dinner: A Love Story, that promised to use them up. It called for frying up some sliced onion and apple, adding pork chops, then finishing with a quick sauce of mustard, apple cider vinegar and water.

I tried the recipe a few times – and loved the tangy bite of the vinegar with the sweetness of the caramelized onions – but I had trouble getting it just right. For one thing, it calls for finishing the pork with the sauce in a covered saute pan, but mine isn’t big enough for three or four pork chops. When I cooked them in an uncovered pan, the pork dried out and became tough.

Finally I decided to separate the meat from the sauce and just combine them on the plate. In essence, I use the Alice Waters recipe to cook the pork with the tarragon, and the Dinner: A Love Story recipe to prepare a sauce. The result is always successful: moist, sweet, and tangy with a delicious aftertaste of mustard, vinegar and onions.

This recipe will work equally well with boneless pork chops, pork loin steaks or the fillets described above.

4 pork fillets (boneless)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1. Season the pork fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Mince the tarragon and press it into one side of each fillet. You can do this up to an hour before cooking the pork, and leave it to rest at cool room temperature.
2. Slice the onion thinly. Heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Allow the onion to cook, mostly undisturbed for 5 – 6 minutes. The onion should be just starting to go golden when you start the pork.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add the pork, herb-coated-side down. Cook for about 4 minutes, until starting to brown nicely. Flip the pork and continue cooking for another 4 – 6 minutes, until the internal temperature is 145°F.
4. Once you flip the pork, pour the water into the pan with the onions. Scrape up any browned bits on the surface of the pan, then add the the mustard and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The water should reduce slightly to create a nice sauce.
5. Place a pork fillet on each plate, ladling the saucy onions over the top. Slice and enjoy.

Here are some more pork recipes for you to try:


Top 5 Winter Dinners

Snow Drawing

Up here in Scotland we’re in the middle of what one friend calls “the tunnel”. Back in November I bumped into him on the street in St. Andrews. He said, “We’ve entered the tunnel. We won’t come out until February.”

Northern living is challenging at this time of year. The mornings are dark – pitch dark, bump-into-walls-while-making-coffee dark.

The afternoons are even darker. Light seeps into the sky around 8:45 and starts to drain out again by 3:30.

I’ve never been so acutely aware of the winter solstice. We actually count the days we achieved since December 21st.

The good news is we still get out for walks on the sunny days – and Scotland is just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer.

Winter Walks - East Lomond

The bad news is the darkness makes me crave carbs. I remember one afternoon saying to Rob, “All I want to do is lie around and eat cookies.”

Instead, I turn on my Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device, fill up my hot water bottle (I think I’d tuck it into my girdle if I wore one), stoke the fire and brew another cup of Artisan Roast coffee.

Hot meals are essential at this time of year. Breakfasts are often frittatas filled with leftover vegs from the night before. Dinners are soups, stews, braises, ribs, and roasts of all kinds. Here are my family’s top 5 winter meals – all of which make excellent leftover lunches the following day.

Moroccan Beef Stew

Moroccan Beef Stew

Studded with slivers of dried apricots and chunks of succulent beef, this stew is a cinch to make and warms you up fast.

Asian-Spiced Braised Beef Short Ribs

Asian-Spiced Braised Short Ribs

These ribs, inspired by the awesome Jean Georges Vongerichten, never fail to delight. They’re easy to make, taste better the second day, and please a crowd. Shown here with braised swiss chard.

Adobo Chicken

Adobo Chicken

Since moving to Scotland, I’ve had to tweak this chicken dish. For one thing, my butcher doesn’t stock drumsticks. In fact, chicken is the hardest protein to come by here. When he does have it, it’s either a whole bird (most economical) or boneless breasts (exorbitant and not as flavorful). I like making homemade chicken stock, especially in winter, so I opt for the whole bird.

I butcher the chicken into eight pieces before browning it in olive oil and butter, about 5 minutes of cooking. I finish the cooking in a hot oven (450°F), about 10 – 15 minutes more. Once cooked, I remove the chicken to a platter and add sherry vinegar and water to the hot pan. Once the liquid is reduced by half, I add a tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper. The sauce emulsifies (though still liquid as opposed to syrup), and I add the chicken back for a quick coating.

You can really use any vinegar you like here. The benefit is that you can change up the flavor slightly, and it also comes together more quickly than the original Adobo Chicken, which requires marinating time. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by this innovation.

Fennel-Dusted Pork Spare Ribs

Fennel-Dusted Pork Ribs

These ribs from Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment were our Christmas Eve dinner this year. Our butcher started circulating flyers at the beginning of December, which you were meant to take away, fill out, and return by the 12th. The front page described all the festive fayre you could order from them: hampers, stuffing, meat pies, and of course, your holiday turkey or goose or roast or ham.

I took my flyer, but neglected to get it in by the 12th. (I’m used to Whole Foods Market, which is likely open til 11:00 on Christmas Eve, stocked with every imaginable cut of meat in abundance. Of course, their freezer space is larger than the entire butcher shop and post office next door combined.) When I did go in with the flyer, I hadn’t checked anything off. The problem is that I’m still getting used to British cuts of meat – they’re different, they really are, even though the cow is the same!

So I went in and asked if he could get me some baby back ribs. I thought, why not do something simple for Christmas Eve? Ribs are tasty, and they’re fun. You get to eat with your fingers, and who doesn’t like that?

I served the ribs with this celery, apple and fennel slaw straight out of Bon Appetit. It was an amazing dinner. Festive, but so easy to prepare.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Pancetta and Fried Onions

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is a winner. The sweetness of butternut squash, the saltiness of pancetta, the crunch of fried onions, and the velvety texture of homemade chicken stock. It doesn’t get much better than this on a winter night.

Here are some more meals t0 get you through January:

Venison Stew with Juniper, Parsnips and Figs

Keracher's Window

One of my favorite places to shop in St Andrews is Keracher’s Fish and Game. A family run business, it’s been around since 1925. Their coldwater and shellfish is the super fresh, coming straight from the waters around Scotland. They offer a range of frozen fish and shellfish, smoked haddock and salmon, deli items such as pickled anchovies, herring and sardines, and all the accoutrements to round out your meal.

The thing that interested me most however, on a recent visit, was the diced venison shoulder. I’d never cooked with venison – or any other game – but I was eager to try. Scotland’s small butchers and purveyors offer an incredible variety of  local game: duck, quail, partridge, pheasant and, of course, venison.

Keracher's Boards

I came home with my two pounds of venison shoulder and immediately started scouring my cookbooks for a suitable recipe. Never disappointing, Michael Psilakis’ How to Roast a Lamb contains a recipe for venison stew with parsnips, fresh figs and juniper berries.

Venison Stew with Juniper, Parsnips and Figs

Juniper berries, the small seed cones of the juniper tree, are responsible for the distinctive flavor of your summertime gin-and-tonic. They’re enormously popular in Northern European and Scandinavian cuisines, especially when paired with wild game. Available in every supermarket in Scotland, they’re an inexpensive addition to a recipe, imparting a piney, tingly sensation, and what one writer calls a “sharp, clear flavor”. At this rate, I may even incorporate them into my Thanksgiving meal – stay tuned!

The recipe below deviates slightly from the original, based on what I had in my pantry or was able to easily acquire. I used olive oil instead of canola; dried figs instead of fresh; shallots in place of cipolline onions; and omitted the cinnamon sticks and garlic puree altogether. I have no doubt Psilakis’ version packs more flavor, but the result was delicious. The venison was tender and mild-tasting, its flavor accentuated by the juniper berries, cloves and red wine.

This stew stands on its own, but to serve a crowd, add some mashed or lemony-roasted potatoes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds diced venison shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 shallots
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 bay leaves
6 juniper berries
4 whole cloves
6 cups water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
8 dried figs
2 small parsnips

1. Place the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the venison meat liberally with salt and pepper, and sear on all sides, about 3 – 5 minutes. (Do this in batches to avoid crowding the meat. As the meat is seared, remove it to a plate to add back later.)
2. Once all the meat is seared, return it all to the same pot and add the shallots, peeled and quartered. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato paste. Give it a good stir, then add the red wine and vinegar. Cook at a boil until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the figs and parsnips. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a brisk simmer and cook, partially covered, 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, quarter the figs, and peel and slice the parsnips. Add these to the pot and continue to cook for another 30 – 50 minutes, until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Here are a few more venison recipes for you to try:

Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs

There’s frost on the ground in the mornings and a big fire stoked in our wood stove. The nights are drawing in and when it’s clear there are more stars visible than I thought possible. Scotland in October is beautiful.

At the butcher, mutton has arrived, specifically from the famed Scottish Black Faced sheep. You know these guys, the ones with horns that curl like cinnamon buns on either side of their adorable black faces? These herds live in the most unspoiled countryside in Britain, feeding on heather, wild grasses, berries and the clear waters of the burns.

Burns? That’d be rivers to you and me.

The point is, these sheep live a fantastic life, which contributes to their flavor on your plate.

Lamb is plentiful in Scotland, and it’s more affordable than beef. My go-to lamb recipe is a boneless shoulder roast from David Tannis’ book A Platter of Figs. It’s simple, cooks (relatively) quickly, and always tastes great. It’s a tried and true standby.

But when I want something with a little more pizzazz, I make these meatballs inspired by Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. These are wonderful for a weeknight dinner alongside a big Greek salad, and they make terrific party food, since there’s no cutlery needed. Serve with hummus or cucumber tzatziki for a tasty treat.

To make these gluten-free, I use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend in place of the bread crumbs in the original recipe. You could also substitute rice flour, in the same amount.

The original recipe calls for preserved lemons, which are a cinch to make, but they need to pickle for at least two weeks in the fridge before you can use them. If you haven’t got any on hand, buy these jarred preserved lemons, or substitute the grated zest of one lemon.

If you’re lucky enough to have any left, simply reheat the meatballs in a warm oven for 10 – 15 minutes. They’re just as delicious on the second day.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon yellow onion
1 garlic clove
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 zucchini
1 tablespoon pickled lemons
8 ounces ground lamb
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh mint

1. Mince the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, salt and pepper, and cook until everything is soft, about 4 – 5 minutes.
2. Finely dice the zucchini (there should be a little more than 1/4 cup) and add to the pan. Cook until the zucchini is tender, about 3 – 4 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Rinse and chop the pickled lemons, and add them to the pan. Scrape everything into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Once cool, add the lamb, egg yolk, flour and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands.
5. Preheat the oven to 450°. Using damp hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until the meatballs are slightly browned on the outside. Serve hot or at room temperature with hummus or tzatziki as a garnish.

Here are a few more meatball recipes for you to try:

Chicken Satay Salad

Chicken Satay Salad

We all have comfort foods we crave again and again. Maybe it’s your mother’s roast chicken, or noodle soup, or freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm and gooey from the oven.

I could go on, but I’ll cut to the chase here.

One of my top comfort foods is chicken salad. I like it classic, with mayo and celery, or shredded into a Cobb salad. I’ll eat it with a garlicky tahini dressing. I daydream about trying exotic chicken salads, like this one with curry and mango.

And I love it combined with another fave comfort food: peanut butter, as in this Satay salad.

Neither bone-in chicken breasts nor chunky peanut butter are as readily available in Scotland as they are in the US. You can get either one, but you may have to go to several stores and be prepared to pay top dollar. Err, I mean, top pound.

But, luckily for me, chicken breasts and peanut butter can both be had, and had them I did in a delicious crunchy salad.

The dressing here is almost a direct lift from an old Barefoot Contessa recipe. I changed the oil to a healthier extra-virgin olive oil, omitted the sesame seeds and opted for chunky over creamy peanut butter.

I changed the veggies based on what I had on hand – here with julienned carrots, slivered red onions and chopped Little Gem (Romaine) lettuce. Feel free to substitute depending on what’s in your fridge: sliced bell peppers, snap peas, fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts all come time mind.

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 carrots
1 head Little Gem lettuce
1/4 red onion

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tamari
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1/4 cup all-natural chunky peanut butter
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 160°. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Crush the garlic clove and mince the ginger. Whisk these with all the remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
3. Grate or julienne the carrots; trim the lettuce into 1-inch pieces; and thinly slice the red onion. Place all the veggies into a large salad bowl.
4. As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Shred the meat into bite size pieces (I find fingers are best, but you can use two forks). Keep the bones if you’re planning to make stock, or discard them.
5. Add the chicken to the veggies and toss to coat with the dressing. Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve. The dressed salad will keep for a few days in the fridge, and any extra dressing will keep for a week, tightly covered.

Here are a few of my other favorite comfort foods for you to try:

Chestnut Flour Cake with Almonds and Orange

Chestnut and Almond Cake

Back in May, just before we moved to Scotland, Saveur ran an article that featured a Corsican chestnut cake. The article talked about how chestnuts are the prize crop of Corsica, the mountainous Mediterranean island that claims to be the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Columbus.

David McAninch, the article’s author, was more interested in gastronomy than history, entitling his article Pleasure Island. Corsican flavors run towards a plethora of local ingredients: wild game stews, pungent soft cheeses, fish soups, and fragrant herbs. Desserts almost always call into service the citrus and chestnuts that grow in abundance on the tiny island.

Torta Pisticcina, or chestnut flour cake, is naturally gluten-free and has only a handful of ingredients. As soon as I saw the recipe, I wanted to try it. But where to get chestnut flour in North Carolina?

Fast forward two months to Scotland, and one Friday afternoon when Rob comes home with a bag of chestnut flour, a gift from a co-worker who’s just returned from two weeks in Corsica. I immediately remembered the article from Saveur and dashed out to buy an orange and some almonds.

The cake came together in a snap – no mixer required, which I like – and filled the house with a nutty sweet aroma. I sent it to work with Rob, where they stop for coffee and cake every day mid-morning (really!). He came home with reports that people devoured it, the only comment being that it needed a few minutes more in the oven since the center was a little too soft.

If you get your hands on chestnut flour, try the original recipe. Serve it with strong black coffee in the morning or afternoon. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are some more chestnut flour recipes for you to try:

Scotch Whiskey Pork Stew

Scotch Whiskey Pork Stew

It’s true, when we decided to move north, we headed straight for cooler and damper weather. I’ve worn my down jacket and huddled up with my hot water bottle this summer, but all hope is not lost.

Cooler weather is a great excuse to make all kinds of delicious soups and stews. And with an abundance of local beef, lamb and pork, inspiration is easy to come by.

The stew above was sparked by an amazing-sounding recipe in the meaty cookbook, Primal Cuts. “Bourbon-Braised Pulled-Pork Sandwiches” comes from Morgan Maki of Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. I figured if he could braise pork in Bourbon, then there’s no reason I couldn’t stew it in Scotch.

In Maki’s braise, the pork is strained from the vegetables at the end of cooking and dried cherries are added for sweetness. The meat is then piled high on sandwiches – which I don’t generally eat, being gluten-free. I decided to leave the veggies in the stew and serve a rhubarb-strawberry compote on the side.

The result was a great salty-sweet combo, with enough heat to warm your bones on a winter day (or a summer day, depending on where you live!).

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons red chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 yellow onions
1 leek
2 carrots
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup Scotch whiskey
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups chicken stock

1. Trim the pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with the fennel seeds and chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and let cure overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat and brown the pork well on all sides. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; brown the meat in batches if necessary.
4. While the meat is browning, coarsely chop the onion and carrots. Slice the white part of the leek, and mince the garlic.
5. When the meat is done, remove it to a plate and add the veggies to the pan. Cook over medium high heat until they are softened and just starting to brown, about 8 – 10 minutes.
6. Pour in the Scotch and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Turn up the heat and boil the Scotch until it is almost all evaporated.
7. Place the pork back in the pan and add the herbs, honey and stock. Bring the stew up to a simmer, cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven for 2 – 3 hours. Check periodically that the stew is barely simmering – it should cook slowly in the oven.
8. The stew is done when you can pierce a chunk of pork and twist the meat apart with a fork. Serve in bowls with a fruity compote or braised greens alongside.

Here are some stews to keep you warm (or get you pumped for Fall):


Postcard from Scotland: Perth

Riverfront in Perth

This past weekend we spent a day in Perth, a small city on the Northern shore of the Tay River. We went for a wonderful walk along a sculpture trail, past abstract metal shapes and one impressive sundial, and clumps of lavender in bloom – a sight I never expected to see in Scotland.

Lavender in Perth

When we got hungry, as we inevitably do, we stopped and picked up picnic goodies. The Bean Shop offers dozens of kinds of loose teas and coffee beans from all over the tropical world, roasted in house. Walking in to the tiny shop, we were offered a fresh cup of espresso to sip while we pondered which beans to bring home. Ultimately, we chose a Swiss Water Decaf Blend, an Espresso Blend and a Colombia Excelso. Never able to pass up dark chocolate, we also bought two exquisitely wrapped bars from Coco Chocolate, a tony organic chocolatier based in Edinburgh. The Bean Shop also sells a beautiful selection of teapots, espresso mugs and coffee cups.

Needing something substantial to go with our espresso, we headed down the street to Provender Brown, a gourmet delicatessen stocking all kinds of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, marinated vegetables, crackers and more (you can see their stocked shelves behind Stella in the photo below). We chose a Beaufort from France, two kinds of salami, marinated anchovies from Spain, and olives. We happily ate outdoors, basking in the fleeting sun.

Stella in Perth

After lunch, we visited St John’s Kirk, the medieval church where John Knox stirred the pot of the Reformation in 1559, followed by a stroll through the city centre.

We were ready to call it a day, but if we were going to spend more time in Perth, I’d have a meal at Dean’s @ Let’s Eat and take in a show at the Perth Concert Hall.

Stay tuned for more stories of our explorations around our new home, and, of course, tasty recipes.

Souvlaki Lamb Burgers

Souvlaki Lamb Burger

We’re quickly learning that the lamb in Scotland is as fresh and more affordable than the local beef. It’s equally tasty, too, being a little gamey and very tender.

Ground lamb here is called lamb mince and, thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Meat Book for a little inspiration, it makes delicious burgers. The lamb is marinated for about an hour in lemon, garlic and herbs, hence the souvlaki in the title.

If you eat dairy, these would be wonderful with some homemade tzatziki. We had them with a local red onion confit from Knowehead Products that has a nice acidic kick from red wine vinegar.

The burgers here are shown with sweet potato fries, but roasted broccoli and bacon or roasted spiced cauliflower would be just as good. Round it out with a fresh green salad and you have an easy weeknight meal.

1 pound ground lamb
1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place the lamb in a medium bowl. Add the zest and juice of 1/2 the lemon. Mince the garlic, crush the herbs, and add them to the bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil and mix everything well with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before proceeding.
2. Form the lamb mixture into patties. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill them (outdoors is best) over medium heat, about 4 – 5 minutes per side. Lamb will become dry if overcooked so try not to take them beyond 140°. Serve with fries or veggies of your choice.

Here are a few more burger recipes for you to try:

The View From 57 Degrees North

It’s been weeks since I posted here and during the intervening time we’ve moved from 36°N to 57°N, from Durham, North Carolina to Newport-on-Tay, Scotland.

The View from Our Bedroom Window

The view from our bedroom window out over St Fort Estate


The view from up here is astonishing. As Rob says, “Don’t you just feel like you have to pinch yourself and check if this is real?”.

I do. I most certainly do.

Or, as the Scots say, Oh, aye.

Our Closest Neighbors

Some of our closest neighbors are the suckling herd of Lincoln Red Heritage cows…


The Scots say lots of interesting things, actually. Like when we bought the car, the salesman said, I’ll just show you under the bonnet. He took out a key and opened up the hood, which was sweet, but I still had no idea what I was looking at.

Lincoln Reds

…that includes Punch, the bull, and Missy, one of the moms


Or when I wanted a straight-up steak, nothing fancy, the butcher at Balgove Larder (an upscale shop on the estate where Wills lived when he first came to St Andrews) said, Can’t go wrong with the rump. The rump? Oh, aye.

There’s a beautiful sing-song way the Scots have a speaking. Without fail they open a conversation with Hiya! and finish it with Bye-eee! Even the cashier at Tesco’s (read: Target) or the attendant at the petrol (read: gas) station.

Our Cottage

A view of our cottage, on left


They also take their time talking with you. They don’t rush. If you ask them something, they’ll do their earnest best to answer, perhaps finishing, in an apologetic way, I must dash. Bye-eee!

When it comes to food, there’s been lots to learn and investigate, lots of trial and error. In the coming weeks and months, I plan to show you what we’re cooking and eating. For now, we’ll still getting to know ingredients (like the berries that are so prevalent in Fife, the delicious free range eggs, cold water fish and grass-fed beef). When it comes to cooking, we’re relying on familiar recipes like grilled steak in a red wine vinegar marinade:

Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak

and grilled chicken (served with a salsa verde due to the lack of kumquats at 57°N):

Kumquat Cherry Grilled Chicken

and salt-broiled mackerel (not Spanish mackerel, but it cooks up the same):

Salt Broiled Spanish Mackerel

We’ve also been snacking on roasted cashews and hunting for almond butter and flax seeds to make almond butter power bars.

Stay tuned for some new recipes, interviews and reviews from the local food scene, and more fabulous pictures of bonny Scotland. Coming soon, I promise.