For breakfast this morning I indulged myself with a big oul Scottish fry. Square sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toms. I then added small rounds of black pudding, vegetarian haggie, fruit pudding heavily spiced with white pepper and of course a nice wedge of soda bread to soak up the bacon grease left in the pan. On the side of my plate was a famous Morton's roll, available only in Glasgow, unfortunately for you. A large mug of tea and a peaceful swatch at the newspaper completed my morning before I gathered my thoughts about preparing this evenings meal.
We currently have guests staying with us from Ireland, and is the way of most Irish women, they like to outdo each other in the kitchen, so it is a battle of the ladies this very night. Have you never wondered just why the wee Map man fae Limerick is so portly these days? Just ask his gorgeous lady wife. My guests are from the south, while my good lady herself was raised in the north. Game on! Friendly rivalry has begun.
To stir up the pot slightly, I have suggested that they prepare the following.
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 fresh carrots
1 bulb fresh fennel, diced
1 fresh leek, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 glasses of dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 glasses of dry cider
1 pint of fish stock
6 pinches saffron threads
8 red potatoes, quartered
1/2lb Scottish cockles
1lb Irish mussels, cleaned
1lb fresh white fish of your choice, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 large prawns, peeled and de-veined
1lb of squid, cleaned
6 rashers of lean smoked bacon - diced
1 ounce Pernod
1lb ripe toms, seeded and roughly chopped
In a Catholic stock pot, heat the olive oil and the carrots, fennel, leek, celery, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and garlic. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the Protestant wine, tomato paste, fish stock, and saffron. Simmer for 8 minutes. Bless the fish and give thanks to your own God that the mercury has thankfully been washed clean away at the fishmongers slab. Blend for 1 minute with a hand-held blender until smooth. Add the tatties and begin adding the seafood as gently as a Presbyterian ministers wife weeing behind the barn on a winters evening after the annual hayride. Firstly, the cockles (cook for 1 minute) and then the white fish (cook for another minute). Then add the cider, squid and mussels. Fry off the bacon and a handful of scallions to taste, but for the love of all things holy, do allow them to cool before you introduce them into the pot. Add the liqueur and chopped toms. Simmer for 8 minutes. Place in large soup tureen or serve in individual dishes with garlic toast and small rounds of grilled black pudding.
For the sake of the divil himself, do not season with salt as this will be deemed as an insult to your flavour combinations and is punishable by spending the night in the spare room next to your mammy-in-law. And we all know how much scallions upset her digestive system, eh?