passionate about good food
From our lovely location in the heart of the Borders, we are absolutely committed to creating menus that are truly seasonal and as local as they can be.
Our imaginative menus feature delicious fresh produce from handpicked local suppliers which genuinely reflect the best ingredients that are available throughout the changing seasons.
Bringing you the real flavours of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Smoked Ham Hock Terrine
tomato chutney, pickled vegetables
from Headshaw farm, rack, parsley white pudding crumb, shepherds pie, carrots pureed and crisped
Seasons Jersey peanut icecream
2 course 20.00
3 course 24.00
Smoked Ham Hock Terrine
tomato chutney, pickled vegetables
baby gem,tarragon emulsion, coriander cress
pickled, roasted, puree, blue murder cheese, walnuts, radicchio
from Headshaw Farm, rack. parsley white pudding crumb, shepherds pie, carrots purred and crisped
scallops, shrimps, from Ross, linguini, fennel and seaweed sauce
from Johnny, braised shoulder, loin, dauphinoise, kale, roast beetroot, wild mushrooms
chocolate crumble tart, Seasons Jersey cream peanut icecream
fish from Eyemouth, white fish, crab, shrimps, tomato
Chicken Liver Pate
blackcurrant and chilli jelly, Beas buckwheat flour oatcakes
Mull cheddar, coriander cress, beef from Willowford farm
Twice Baked Cheese Souffle
Mull cheddar sauce, leaves and herbs
From the CHARGRILL
from Stobs farm, Hawick. Served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
from Willowford farm, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
28 days matured, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad
Borders venison and juniper, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad
Corn fedChicken breast
stuffed with Melrose blackpudding, hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
from Ross in Eyemouth, served with hand cut red rooster chips, salad, choice of mayo
Mull Cheddar Cheese
Extra Roger’s Soda Bread
Melrose Black Pudding
bruelled top, raspberry jam
Bread and butter pudding
selkirk bannock, jersey cream, organic eggs from Oakwood Mill
pomegranate, shortbread crumb
Seasons own Ice Cream 1 Scoop
Served with shortbread, Vanilla Pod, Cocoa Nib or Salted Peanut
Seasons own Ice Cream 2 Scoop
Served with shortbread, Vanilla Pod, Cocoa Nib or Salted Peanut
Scottish Cheese Board
Arran brie, blue murder from Tain, Mull cheddar, Bea's buckwheat flour oatcakes, celery, pickled figs
Scottish Cheese Board with Port
Arran brie, blue murder from Tain, Mull cheddar, Bea's buckwheat flour oatcakes, celery, pickled figs
23. Prosecco Ca Bolaini Frizzante – Italy
Softly fizzy. Elderflower fruit and soft acidity make this wonderfully drinkable.
125ml - £3.95, Bt - £19.95
24. Procecco Ca Bolani Rose – Veneto Italy
Procecco with a dash of Pinot Noir to pink it up a bit. Fully fizzy and fully appealing.
Bt - £24.50
25. Champagne St Thomas Burt NV – France
More fruit, definite berry flavours and a luch creamy mousse.
125ml - £5.50, Bt - £37.00
26. Gosset Brut Excellence NV - France
Full bodied, intense, tinged with crisp citrus, perfect for Drinking with food.
Bt - £49.00
22. Chiartetto Rose 2014 – Piedmont, Italy
Superb, delicate, dry, light, subtle, fruity Rose made from Barbera grapes in the Piedmont hills.
125ml - £3.50, 175ml - £4.95, 500ml - £13.50, Bt - £18.90
11. CaminaTempranillo 2014 – La Mancha, Spain
Medium-bodied red from an area next to Rioja. Jolly and juicy and very friendly.
125ml - £3.25, 175ml - £4.50, 500ml - £12.50, Bt - £16.95
12. Brise De France Merlot 2014 – France
from the Languedoc, soft and juicy, great value Merlot,
125ml - £3.50, 175ml - £4.75, 500ml - £13.00, Bt - £17.95
13. Murphys Shiraz 2013 – NSW Aussie
Unoaked, pretty full-bodied Shiraz. Great with our beef and game dishes
Bt - £18.90
14. Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Conviviale 2014 –Italy
Medium-weight from Abruzzo on the Adriatic Coast. Cherry-style fruit. Soft, low tannins, easy-drinker.
Bt - £19.50
15. Le Fou Pinot Noir 2014 - France
A luscious, textural Pinot Noire made without oak. Intense Sweet berry fruit with a savoury twist
Bt - £22.00
16. Primitivo Borgo 2012 – Puglia, South
Deep South Italian (the heel of Italy), made from wizened primitive grapes baked in the sunshine. Really fruity, leathery, raisiny. Soft as velvet.
Bt - £24.00
17. Forge Mill Pinotage 2012 – South Africa
From the Riebeck Valley, Red berry flavours offer optimum juicy fruit with ripe rounded tannins.
Bt - £24.00
18. Chateau Mayne Vieil, Fronsac 2010 – Bordeaux
Merlot dominated Claret, lots of dark fruit, medium body
Bt - £27.00
19. Peyss Syrah by Z Mourier 2012 – Rhone
Velvety and smooth
Bt - £29.00
20. Cahors Chateau Pineraie 2011 – France
Malbec, south west France, Ripe plumy fruit, leathery notes, big grown up wine. One of Rogers favourites
Bt - £32.00
1. Pe Branco 2015 – Alengejo, Portugal
Gorgeously fruity, rich dry white from the Esporao Estate. Crafted by Aussie Dave Baverstock from local varieties suited to the sunny climate – Antao, Vaz, Perrum and Arinto.
125ml - £3.25, 175ml - £4.50, 500ml - £12.50, Bt - £16.95
2. Brise De France, Sauvignon 2014 – France
Great value, tastes of gooseberries, nettles ,crushed Blackcurrant leaves. Lively, light and refreshing with a delightful zingy character
125ml - £3.50, 175ml - £4.75, 500ml - £13.00, Bt - £17.95
3. Murphys Chardonnay 2014 – NSW Aussie
Unoaked, youthful, vigourous dry white with a minerally tang & plenty of flavour and fruit.
Bt - £18.90
4. Pinot Grigio Ancora 2014 – Piedmont, Italy
Fragrant and dry, green apple and grapefruit, clean, pure finish.
Bt - £19.50
5. Campuget Viognier/Grenache Blanc 2014 –Nimes
Unoaked, youthful, full-flavoured with a minerally- aromatic smack.
Bt - £20.90
6. The Cut Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – New Zealand
The sunny warm climate of Nelson gives the wine a fraction more of a tropical fruit character rather than gooseberry. Boy is it tangy and juicy though.
Bt - £22.90
7. Picpoul de Pinet 2014 – Languedoc, France
Characterful, fruity alternative to our top quality NZ Sauvigon. The vineyards overlook the azure Mediterranean next to Sete. Picpoul is the grape variety and Pinet is the Sleepy-little-one-horse-village.
Bt - £23.50
8. Handmade Chenin Blanc 2015 – South Africa
Rather good, handpicked grapes from 100year old Vines on a hill just North of Stellenbosch.
Bt - £24.50
9. McWilliams Sunstone Verdelho – 2014 – Australia
Capturing the warmth of the Australian sun this wine delivers fresh lively flavours of melon and tropical fruit
Bt - £25.00
10. La Clochette – Sancerre 2013 - France
From the eastern part of the Loire. Crisp and aromatic
Bt - £35.00
Fernando Classic Amontillado
Dark style with a slightly sweet finish
Fernando Classic Manzanilla
Fino, saltier, tangier and a bit more nutty
Fernando Classic Pedro Ximenez
dried raisins and fig
William Grant – Scotland - recipe includes, juniper, coriander, citrus cucumber and rose petals
distilled in small batches using traditional botanics, juniper etc
North Berwick – artisan pure grain gin
Montrose – highland herbs are blended and patiently distilled to tease out the botanicals
Prosecco Ca Bolaini Frizzante – Italy
Softly fizzy. Elderflower fruit and soft acidity make this wonderfully drinkable.
Crème de Cassis & Procecco
Crème de Cassis & White wine
Beers / Ciders
Long White Cloud – Tempest Brewing Co
based down the road in Tweedbank, an extra Pale Ale with Citrus Spice and Tropical Fruit Flavour 330ml 5.65%
Pils – Real Lager – Tempest Brewing Co
a crisp light malt with subtle spice and soft fruits 330ml 5.00%
The Pale Armadillo - Tempest Brewing Co
expect waves of zesty citrus rolling over local barley hop amplified for
Weiherstephan – Cloudy Wheat Beer
a hazy golden beer with rich tempting aroma, creamy malt, fruit and spices – one of 300 beers to try before you die! 500ml 5.4%
In the Dark - Tempest Brewing Co
malty and dark with pine, blackberry and spice 330ml 7.2%
Farmhouse - Tempest Brewing Co
Belgian style harvest ale, mellow fruit and earthy yeast character, very refreshing and light 330ml 5.1%
Totally Ridler - Tempest Brewing Co
zesty and light. Packed with fresh blood orange and a twist of grapefruit 330ml 2.0%
Caesar Augustus – Lager/IPA hybrid
brewed in Alloa 500ml 4.1%
Thistly Cross Cider - Dunbar Scotland
hand made by Peter Scott 330ml 6.2%
Alcohol Free 275ml
who we are
With a lifetime spent both working in and owning restaurants and hotels throughout the country, we are experienced restaurateurs who can genuinely be described as total foodies, indeed with our daughters also working in the industry we are a real family of chefs!
We absolutely love what we do and work hard to ensure that Seasons stands for quality every step of the way, from the warmth of the welcome and service, to the imaginative menus and quality of the ingredients.
With Roger preparing and cooking all the food to Bea making sure everything front of house runs like clockwork, we are proud to be hands on owners who run the restaurant in as friendly and personal a way as possible.
We have the ability to deliver a wonderful dining experience where guests can enjoy fabulous food in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
The provenance of our food is of enormous importance to us and we are absolutely committed to delivering menus that are as seasonal and local as they can be.
Seasons menus always feature carefully sourced local produce from hand picked local suppliers meaning that they genuinely reflect what is available throughout the changing seasons. We are passionate about good food and have the ability to provide winning menus which always feature delicious seasonal ingredients. This extends to Roger curing his own meats and making all his own breads, pickles and jams from scratch.
We really are full of local flavour.
Go flat out on Pancake Day
If you love pancakes then this year get your pan ready for Tuesday 28th February.
Of course Pancake Day has been celebrated for hundreds of years when it was more commonly known as Shrove Tuesday. Lent was traditionally a time of fasting and Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” meaning absolved from their sins. A bell would be rung to call people to confession and this came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.
But whatever you call it, the date changes every year because it is determined by when Easter falls, but it is always the day before Ash Wednesday (which is the first day of Lent), and always falls in either February or March.
Traditionally pancakes were a way to use up rich foods like eggs and milk before the 40 day fasting season of Lent began. But although it is known primarily as a Christian tradition, it is believed that Pancake Day might also originate from a pagan holiday, when warm, round pancakes symbolised the sun – as a way of heralding the arrival of spring.
The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year as follows:
Eggs – Creation
Flour – The staff of life
Salt – Wholesomeness
Milk – Purity
Do you know that it is estimated that 52 million eggs are used in Britain each year on Shrove Tuesday! But as well as making and enjoying pancakes, we also love to flip our pancakes in a pan as well as having pancake races. In fact legend has it that this particular tradition was born in the 15th century in Olney in Buckinghamshire when a disorganised woman rushed to church to confess her sins to the priest whilst mid-way through making pancakes! Olney still holds a pancake race every year but competitors must all wear an apron and hat.
In Britain we tend to keep our pancake ingredients quite simple, but in Newfoundland objects with symbolic value are added in to the pancake batter. These items are then used to interpret different messages – for example, a pancake with a ring inside may signify marriage. In France however, it is traditional while flipping a pancake to hold a coin in one hand and to make a wish. The French actually call Pancake Day Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday and this originates from the ancient ritual of parading an ox through Paris to remind people that it was forbidden to eat meat during the Lent period.
On Pancake Day in Scotland the locals like to eat “festy cock”, the word festy is linked to Festern’s E’en, which is the day before Shrove Tuesday, when cock fighting took place. You make the dish by rolling out finely ground oatmeal and folding it into a rough bird shape before baking and eating as a substitute for a cockerel.
When it comes to record breaking pancakes, the largest pancake in the world was made in Rochdale in 1994, weighing in at three tonnes and measuring more than 49 feet long! The largest number of pancake flips in the shortest amount of time is currently 349 flips in two minutes and the largest stack of pancakes ever cooked was made up of 60 pancakes and standing at an impressive 76cm high.
But getting back to something a little more normal and indeed appetising, here is our tried and tested recipe for making pancakes. Traditionally a pancake is a very thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan and should be served immediately. How you like to eat them is of course open to debate; are you old school and like them with lemon juice and sugar, golden syrup and butter or perhaps a little more indulgent with fresh blueberries and whipped cream? You might even enjoy them thicker and stacked North American style with crispy bacon and maple syrup or are you inspired by the French who eat their crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread?
However you like to eat your pancakes be sure to enjoy them this Pancake Day (and any other day that you fancy them for that matter) and please try to save one or two for the cook!
ROGER’S PANCAKE RECIPE
To make approximately 8 pancakes, size up accordingly:
4 oz plain flour
1 large egg
½ pint milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Break in the egg, add a pinch of salt and a splash of the milk.
Whisk the egg, gradually incorporating the flour, to make a smooth cream. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the melted butter.Put all the ingredients in a blender jug with a pinch of salt. Whizz until smooth.Brush a hot pan with oil before adding a ladleful of batter, tipping the pan so the mixture spreads evenly. Pour any excess back into the bowl.
When the pancake is browned on the bottom give the pan a shake to make sure the pancake is loose. If it is sticking, use a spatula to loosen it. When it moves freely you are ready to toss it. The other side will only need a few seconds.
Ever tried Bobotie?
Since we have just come back from our travels around South Africa we thought it would be fun to bring back a little sunshine and share our recipe for the national dish of Bobotie with you.
Of the many dishes common to South Africa, Bobotie is definitely the closest to being the official national dish because it isn’t commonly found in any other country. Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the dish is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy egg based golden topping.
The recipe actually originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian bobotok. This curried mince dish has been an integral part of South African cuisine for centuries and not only does it embrace delicious local flavours but also the exotic flavours that spice traders brought to the Cape on their travels.
Bobotie is probably more accurately a Cape Malay creation and they spice it up even more with cumin, coriander and cloves, a similar dish was known in Europe in the middle ages after the traders had brought back turmeric from the East. When the first Dutch settlers arrived, Holland was largely influenced by Italian cooks and a favourite dish was hashed meat with curried sauce, flavoured with red pepper and sweetened with blanched almonds.
There are many local variations of Bobotie but the mince should always be tender and creamy in texture, which does mean a long, slow cooking time is essential. Early versions included the addition of a little tamarind water but the zesty addition of lemon rind and juice is a more modern adaptation. Of course there are as many different versions of Bobotie recipes, our own version uses minced lamb and fairly mild curry spices along with the addition of essential exotic fruits and nuts.
We hope that you like it as much as we do, especially good if served with Springfontine pinotage 2103 made on a small vineyard just outside Stamford in the overberg region of the western cape.
When is a cheese not a cheese? When its Membrillo
If you have made quince jelly people then why don’t you try your hand at making Membrillo, this is a delicious quince fruit cheese that is really popular in Spain where it is paired with their famous sheep’s milk cheese Manchego. And once you have tried Membrillo with Manchego, you probably won’t go back to making quince jelly again!
Membrillo is described as a fruit cheese but it is actually a solid, sliceable preserve and the quince with its beautiful scent and delicate texture, make the most famous one of all. It is easy to make and can be potted in moulds to turn out, slice and enjoy as the perfect accompaniment to cheese.
As you know we love to make the most of the ingredients that we have to hand and decided to give Membrillo a little twist by making it with a glut of crab apples from our garden instead of the more traditional quince. We are delighted with the result and we have been serving it in Seasons with pickled figs, Bea’s gluten free oatcakes and fabulous Arran Brie, Brenda’s Eildon Blue and crumbly Kelsae Cheese from Scotland!
Our Crab Apple Membrillo Recipe
– Crab apples, barely covered with water.
– Boil to a pulp then pass through a sieve.
– You will be left with a thick crab apple paste.
– Weigh the paste.
– Place the paste and an equal amount of sugar in a pan with a splash of cider vinegar.
– Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer.
– Stir occasionally until really thick and glossy, the colour will change slightly.
– Test the set on a cool plate.
– It should be thick and able to cut with a knife. If not continue to cook down.
– Line a rectangular container with grease proof paper and pour in the thick paste to cool and set.
– Ready to eat when cool but best left in a cool place for a few weeks.
Keeps for months.
If you have a glut of crab apples to use up like we had, we really hope that you enjoy our version of Membrillo but of course you can keep things really authentic by using the same recipe but with quince instead.
Christmas with the Mckie’s
The big day will be here before we know it, so we thought it would be fun to let you know what we will be having for Christmas Dinner at home with the McKie family this year.
Please don’t tell anyone but I must admit that I am not a huge fan of turkey! That’s probably because I have been cooking them for more than a month before Christmas and by the time the 25th December arrives I am very keen to cook something else. So, this year at home we will be having a goose and a ‘three bird roast’ for our family on Christmas Day.
And just in case you are wondering what a Three bird roast is, this is a roast that takes three boned birds that are stuffed inside each other – with the smallest in the middle! There are a range of birds to choose from but we will be using a pheasant, mallard and a partridge stuffed with venison, apricot and brandy sausage meat then wrapped in bacon. Plus, all the usual trimmings, we finely shred the sprouts… I use the tops and add to a pan with bacon lardons and chestnuts, cook quickly then serve.
A bird in the hand!
But since we are talking about the Three Bird Roast, we thought we would take a closer look at its origins as well as some other fascinating variations of it too.
In North America, a Turducken is a roast consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, then stuffed into a deboned turkey, here in the UK we tend to call it a Three bird roast. Gooducken is a traditional English variant which, as the name would imply, replaces the turkey with a goose. A turducken is actually a type of ballotine sometimes called a ‘Royal roast’ and there is even a ‘Five bird roast‘ which uses a goose, a turkey, a chicken, a pheasant, and a pigeon all stuffed with sausage, which was described as a modern revival of the traditional Yorkshire Christmas Pie.
Credit for the creation of the turducken is a little uncertain, although the most common claimant is Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Louisiana whose Cajun owners say they created it when a local man brought his own birds to their shop and asked the brothers to create the medley. But back in the fifties and staying in Louisiana, New Orleans surgeon Dr La Nasa, was locally known for his use of a scalpel in deboning his three birds of choice, sometimes adding pork or veal to the final cavity, Andouille sausage and Foie Gras were also key ingredients in his famous version.
However much further back, in 1807, French gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil (“roast without equal”) which consists of a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler!
But as if that wasn’t enough do look at this extract from the book Passion India: The Story of the Spanish Princess of Kapurthula which features a section that recounts a similar dish in India in the late 1800’s.
“Invited by Maharajah Ganga Singh to the most extraordinary of dinners, in the palace at Bikaner, when Anita asks her host for the recipe of such a succulent dish, he answers her seriously, “Prepare a whole camel, skinned and cleaned, put a goat inside it, and inside the goat a turkey and inside the turkey a chicken. Stuff the chicken with a grouse and inside that put a quail and finally inside that a sparrow. Then season it all well, place the camel in a hole in the ground and roast it.”
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this very seasonal blog and whilst you are probably not going to be serving anything quite this ambitious or exotic, whatever you choose to have for your Christmas Dinner, we hope that you have a wonderful time with your loved ones.
The Self-Preservation Society
Sorry but we just couldn’t resist the Italian Job reference in our title!
Since Autumn is pickling season, this article is actually all about the lovely job of making homemade pickles, chutneys and preserves. This is definitely the right time of year to be making these store cupboard essentials, and as well as being quite delicious and easy to make, they also make the most of a glut of seasonal produce such as courgettes, tomatoes, onions, apples, pears and plums that you might have sitting around.
But you might wonder if it’s worth the bother when you can easily pick up a jar from your local supermarket but once you taste the homemade version you will soon discover that they are miles better than the shop bought variety. As well as packing a punch on the taste front, you know exactly what goes into them and that there are no nasty additives or stabilisers lurking in there!
With the colder weather and the dark nights, this is the ideal time of year to do a bit of preserving of your own. Not only is it really satisfying but it is also really cheap and they will be just right by Christmas, ready to enjoy with cold meats, pâté, cheese or to really liven up sandwiches, pies or leftovers.
Let’s start with Chutney
The Indians have known for centuries that nothing livens up food like a chutney. Their chatni, (fresh herb and spice salsas), inspired colonial chefs to bring back their own version to Britain. Whilst our chutneys are quite different, made using vinegar and sugar to preserve the fruit or vegetables and then aged to mellow the flavours, the principle is the same. But do remember to use wine or cider vinegar rather than malt as its much less harsh and faster to soften.
Making chutney isn’t difficult but you must remember to stir the pan constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning. Unlike jam, which is ready when it reaches a certain temperature or setting point, a chutney’s readiness is much more a matter of your own judgement. Actually the texture is the best indication of being ready, it should have a spooning consistency but do allow for a little bit of thickening as it cools and be careful not to cook it so long that the sugars begin to caramelise.
Taste the chutney after it is cooked to adjust the seasoning, but be prepared to be patient because all chutney needs time for the acidity to soften and the spices to develop in the jar. A really well-made chutney can last a year or more, but typically many can be ready to eat as soon as two weeks after being made.
Pickling is actually closely associated with fermentation, which has the ability to unlock the potential of ingredients in quite extraordinary ways. In fact, many of our favourite foods and drinks rely on this reaction – cheeses, bread, cured meats, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, gherkins, wine, beer, olives are all fermented.
With a little vinegar, salt, sugar and spices, you can elevate your aging vegetables into a savoury snack or zingy ingredient. Vegetables with a tougher skin like cucumbers and peppers do best in the pickling process, but root vegetables like carrots and radishes also work well.
We really hope that this article has inspired you to making some homemade chutney or pickle of your own and to get you started here is one of our own particular favourite recipes!
Rogers Green Tomato Chutney
1 kg green tomatoes chopped
250 g cooking apples, peeled ,cored and grated
500g onions peeled and grated
250g dried figs and apricots chopped
300ml red wine vinegar
10g ground coriander
10g ground cumin
20 g mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, crushed
20g root ginger grated
400g soft brown sugar
Seasoning to taste
– Put all ingredients in a heavy based pan. Bring slowly to the boil.
– Put into sterilised jars and label.
– Keeps for ages, but best to leave for a couple of months to mature.
Ps Be sure to start hoarding jam jars because once you start making your own chutney and pickle, this is something you will want to do it again and again.
We love Christmas Pudding
Of course the clue is in the name but Christmas Pudding is the pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner here in Britain.
The Pudding has its origins in medieval England and is sometimes referred to as ‘plum pudding’, but despite this name, the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word plums as a term for raisins. The recipe brings together what were expensive or luxurious ingredients but essentially a Christmas Pudding is traditionally made of many types of dried fruits held together by egg and suet, moistened with treacle or molasses and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and other sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma. It is very dark in appearance as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes and its long cooking time. The pudding mixture can be moistened with the citrus fruit juice, brandy, rum and even dark beers such as stout or porter. The pudding is then aged for at least a month up to even a year, as the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling.
Traditionally puddings were made on or immediately after the Sunday before Advent, i.e. four to five weeks before Christmas which this year would be the 20th November. The day became known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’ and traditionally everyone in the household, or at least every child, gave the mixture a stir and made a wish while doing so. It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture such as a silver threepence or a sixpence and the person finding the coin in their serving was believed to also find wealth in the coming year.
Many of you will have your own recipe for Christmas Pudding, some of which might have been handed down through your family for generations. But if you don’t have a favourite recipe of your own or if it is something that you have never made, we thought it would be a nice idea to share our Christmas Pudding recipe with you.
Bea’s family Christmas Pudding Recipe
100g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon mixed spice
350 g mixed dried fruit of your choice
100g soft brown sugar
½ lemon grated rind
2 tablespoons brandy
– Line a 2pt pudding basin
– Mix together dried ingredients
– Add eggs, brandy and mix well
– Place mixture in a prepared basin, cover with greaseproof paper and foil
– Steam for 8 hours. Allow to cool then stone in a cool dry place.
– When required steam for 2 hours before serving
Once your Pudding is turned out of its basin, decorated with holly and doused in brandy or rum you can even flame or fire the pudding and bring it to the table ceremoniously as the Victorians would have done to great applause. Charles Dickens described the scene so wonderfully well in A Christmas Carol from 1843:
“Mrs Cratchit left the room alone, too nervous to bear witnesses, to take the pudding up and bring it in… Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper which smells like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs.Cratchit entered, flushed, but smiling proudly with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quarter of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top”.
An apple a day
Don’t worry we aren’t talking about those ubiquitous little fruit named gadgets that most of us now use on a daily basis. Instead we are getting back to basics and talking about the sweet, crunchy and pomaceous fruit that is the apple.
Did you know that more than 2,300 varieties of apples have been bred in Britain alone and if you were to eat an apple a day, it would take you more than six years to eat one of each kind!
Apples actually belong to the Rose family of plants and are joined in that family by a wide range of other popular fruits including apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears and even raspberries.
Of the 2,300 kinds of apples which have been bred in Britain, each type has its own distinct colour, shape, texture and taste, we are delighted that there has been a revival in heritage varieties which means greater availability in greengrocers, farmers’ markets, farm shops and even in some supermarkets. The flavours of these traditional apple varieties vary greatly, from the more fragrant types with a hint of strawberry to the full bodied, nutty and spicy apples that come later in the season.
Know your apples?
1. It takes two pounds of apples to make one nine-inch apple pie.
2. Have you ever wondered why apples float? It’s because 25% of their volume is made up by air.
3. Pomology is the science of apple growing.
4. Apples can range in size from as small as a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
5. Apple trees can live for more than 100 years.
6. Two thirds of the fibre and lots of antioxidants are found in the apple peel.
7. Apples contain high levels of boron, which increases mental alertness.
8. Apple seeds contain a cyanide compound.
9. Apple trees take four to five years to bear their first fruit.
10. It takes roughly 36 apples to make one gallon of cider.
11. Many orchards grow dwarf apple trees because their height makes them easier to maintain and harvest.
12. Malusdomesticaphobia is the fear of apples! And no, we didn’t make that up.
Different types of apples
In basic terms, there are two types of apples: eating apples and cooking apples. Eating apples are sweeter and have the most interesting flavours, this is because their sugars are balanced by an edge of acidity. They also hold their shape during cooking, making them the right choice for a French apple tart or a Tarte Tatin, recipes which were developed in countries without a tradition of cooking apples. Some of the most popular varieties include Granny Smith, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious.
Cooking apples are larger and more acidic but this sourness does mellow during cooking. But interestingly a cooking apple will become more like an eating apple in storage because the acids do lessen over time. Some apples are even classed as dual-purpose, and these varieties are best for cooking when young and for eating when they are older. The most popular British cooking apple is of course the Bramley Apple.
If you are lucky enough to have apple trees in your garden or have the opportunity to pick your own, all you need to do is gently cup the apple in your hand and twist slightly. If the stalk comes away easily from the tree, the apple is ready.
Here are some wonderful Scottish apple varieties with equally wonderful names which you may or may not have heard of.
The James Grieve
A dessert apple with yellow fruit, speckled and striped with orange. This apple is savoury and juicy with a strong acidity.
The Coul Blush
Britain’s most northerly apple, hailing from Coul in Ross-shire. Gold with a faint flush and sweet, with a soft, cream flesh. Makes a good sauce.
The Bloody Ploughman
Cultivated in the Carse of Gowrie around 1880. Deep, dark, blood red eating apple with flesh with pink stains. Named after a ploughman who was caught stealing the apples and shot by a gamekeeper.
The Cambusnethan Pippin
Popular for being an excellent, scab-free dessert apple from either Clydesdale or Stirling. It is tender and juicy with mild acidity.
The Lass O’Gowrie
A sweet, juicy cooker from Perthshire which is favoured for keeping its shape.
And we are pleased to introduce one that is practically on our own doorstep!
The White Melrose
Raised at Melrose Abbey before 1831. This variety is a large, ribbed, green fruit popular in Tweedside orchards in the 19th century and has a sweet and pleasantly sub-acid flavour.
If you do find yourself with a large quantity of apples at this time of year aren’t able to use them all, the good news is that they will store really well for months if they are unblemished. Just wrap each one in dry newspaper and then place them in a single layer in the bottom of a wooden crate or shallow cardboard box. Then place in a cool, dry, dark, airy place and check them regularly and immediately throw out any that have rotted. As a rule, the later that an apple ripens, the longer it will keep.
Well worth a visit
And last but not least, do try and visit the wonderful Apple Orchard at the National Trust’s Priorwood Gardens, next to Melrose Abbey. The orchard cultivates many historic apple varieties, conjuring up connections with the garden’s past, when it may have been used as a kitchen garden by Melrose Abbey monks.
In this article Roger introduces us to some of his food heroes from the Borders and Scotland.
I love using local ingredients sourced from local folk in the Borders as well as from trusted suppliers in other parts of Scotland. I firmly believe that this absolute provenance translates into greater depth of flavour, meaning truly seasonal local food which always delivers on the plate. Here are some of my own food heroes which always have a starring role on the menus here at Seasons.
Stichill Jerseys, near Kelso
We source cheese and cream for our ice cream come from Brenda at Stichill Jerseys near Kelso. Brenda Leddy of Stichill Jerseys has been producing butter, cream and cheese for over 30 years, and her cheese, made using traditional methods and unpasteurised milk has been featured in Jenny Linford’s book ‘Great British Cheeses’. Stichill claims to be the only maker of clotted cream in Scotland. Their milk comes from their own herd of Jersey cows.
Hebridean Sea Salt, Isle of Lewis
We use Hebridean Sea Salt, sugar, red wine and herbs to cure highland venison to create bresaola.
Stunning Loch Erisort, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, is home to Scotland’s first sea salt company and one of the most unspoilt coastlines in the world. Their sea salt is hand harvested using the simplest of recipes; crystal clear Hebridean sea water, heat and time – creating pure white crunchy sea salt flakes that melt in the mouth.
Burnside Farm Foods, near Kelso
Johnny Rutherford from Burnside supplies our roe deer salami and all of our game. As one of Scotland’s leading Game Specialists, Burnside supply direct from their own farm on the Rutherford Estate on the banks of the Tweed near Kelso. Owner Johnny Rutherford took the sense of family tradition and heritage and combined it with a passion for food when he created Burnside Farm Foods on one of the estate farms.
Philiphaugh Estate Walled Gardens, Selkirk
This wonderful restored Victorian working garden supplies much of our fruit, grapes and vegetables.
There are several glass houses, in summer these are filled with tomatoes, grapes, courgettes, cucumbers and figs. There is an orchard growing a wide variety of apples which are available from September each year. Strawberries and raspberries in season and a whole host of root and salad crops and vegetables – lettuces, beans, peas, broccoli, potatoes, leeks, courgettes, carrots and cabbages – in fact most seasonal vegetables and fruits.
Martin Baird Butchers, Melrose
We work closely with Martin Baird to source lamb, beef and pork from farms near Melrose and are members of the Scotch Beef Club. I also use Martin’s black pudding and cured bacon.
Martin Baird comes from a family who have farmed near Kelso for generations and because of this he totally understands the conditions required to produce high quality beef, lamb and pork. The business also prides itself on supplying locally sourced meat products which are prepared on the premises using traditional and time honoured methods to bring to you quite simply the best the Borders has to offer. Renowned for their commitment to local farmers, Martin and his team supply their customers with meat that is full of quality and flavour.
Ross Dougal Fish Merchants, Eyemouth
Ross supplies fish and shellfish from Eyemouth which are caught by day boats and delivered to us daily. I love to dry cure their salmon with herbs, finishing with a spray of Edinburgh Gin.
Ross Dougal Fish Merchants are widely recognised as Eyemouth’s premier fish merchants. They supply all types of fish, seafood and shellfish on a daily basis, they also specialise in smoked fish which is smoked in their own smoke house using traditional smoking methods dating back hundreds of years.
The Borders countryside and our own Kitchen Garden
We pick wild garlic and will use elderflowers to flavour panacotta and herbs and flowers from our kitchen garden when they appear during the year. Val sources our wild foraged mushrooms.
Vegetables are pickled in our own spiced cider vinegar and chutneys and jams are made in the summer and autumn with seasonal fruits and berries. I also pickle nasturtium seeds which go really well with Ross’s fish.
Cocoa Mountain, Durness
Paul from Cocoa Mountain up in Durness supplies our chocolate, we are using Cuban and Venezuelan at the moment.
Freshness, quality and innovation are words used to describe this very special chocolate and truffles, all made using the highest quality chocolate, premium ingredients and natural flavourings. Their guiding principal is to avoid the use of artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives and every chocolate is made by hand and is gluten free.
Oakwood Farm, near Selkirk
All of our eggs are organic and free range supplied by organic food producer DG Henry from their farm at Oakwood Mill just outside Selkirk.
Roast Mallard with apples and sloe gin
If you found Wild Duck a bit fishy try Mallard. It rarely strays from its pond eating mainly the farmers grain. It’s lazier lifestyle means you get a little fat to keep it juicy and because you know what they have eaten they are truly flavourful.
We will have Mallard on the menu in October. Sourced locally from Johnny at Burnside Farm Foods. Val, our forager from Gattonside picks sloes from hedgerows which we steep in Edinburgh gin.
ROAST MALLARD WITH APPLES AND SLOE GIN
Bunch of thyme
Butter approx. 50g
10 juniper berries, sea salt and peppercorns crushed glass of sloe gin sea salt and pepper
4 small apples skin scored around the middle Stock
Set the oven to 220c
Cut the unpeeled onion into chunks and place with the thyme in the Mallards with a knob of the butter. Spread the remaining butter over the bird and season with the crushed juniper mixture.
Place the apples and mallards in a roasting tin
Roast for 15 mins
Adjust the oven to 180c and roast for a further 15 to 20 mins. I like mine pink.
Remove the Mallard and apples from the tray and set aside. Collecting any juices
Put the roasting tray on a moderate heat. Add sloe gin and equal amount of stock, reduce to thicken, check seasoning and any juices from the resting birds. Strain into a jug.
Take the meat off the Mallard and place on a warm plate with the apple. Serve with the gravy.
I love Mallard with warmed soused red cabbage and indulgent creamy mash.
SOUSED RED CABBAGE
1/2 head of red cabbage core removed thinly sliced
4 tbsp sea salt, I use Hebridean
1/2 tsp black peppercorn
2 bay leaves, I have some from Moira Peters garden
Sprig of rosemary – from our herb box
500ml cider vinegar
400 g Demerara sugar
Red onion thinly sliced
Mix the cabbage and salt in a bowl. Leave for an hour stirring occasionally
Put all the remaining ingredients and 50 ml of water into a pan. Bring to the boil. And then set aside to cool. When cool strain through a sieve.
Put the cabbage in a collinder and rinse well. Transfer to a tea towel (not your best as it will stain) and squeeze dry.
Place the cabbage in jars, pour over the liquid. Best left for a least a couple of hours. Will keep for a month or two.
You shall have a fishy on a little dishy………..
We absolutely love fish and seafood and are passionate about including it on our menus at Seasons as much as we can.
The most exciting thing about cooking and eating fish and seafood is using it when it’s in abundance and in season. This is not only better for ensuring healthy fish stocks it is also a much cheaper time to buy it too!
As well as being totally delicious, fish and seafood are low in calories, high in protein and very rich in vitamins, minerals and natural oils. In fact oil-rich fish such as herring and mackerel are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on cholesterol as well as being a great source of vitamins A and D. Fish really is the healthy option.
Scotland’s rivers, lochs and coastal waters are home to some of the freshest shellfish, wild salmon and herring in the world and Scottish Farmed Salmon is protected by the EU’s special designation. It is rich in Omega 3 and has been produced to the highest standards of welfare and environmental care. Mussels are commercially cultivated by the rope method in deep Scottish lochs, rather than gathered from the seashore. This means that shop bought mussels are much fresher and need little cleaning. Of course it is important to discard any mussels which remain closed after cooking, if you find a ‘beard’ between the shells, this should be removed with a sharp tug.
Whenever you buy fish or seafood you should of course always look for the freshest kind available, here are some top tips to help you:
• The fish should never actually smell ‘fishy’.
• Whole fresh fish should have eyes that are bright and its skin should have a moist firm appearance.
• The flesh should be firm to touch.
• Fish should have no brown spots.
• Smoked fish should look glossy and have a fresh smoky aroma.
• Shellfish, such as lobster and crab, should either be purchased alive or frozen.
• Shellfish should have shells that are tightly closed and without any gaps or cracks.
• Lobsters and crabs should feel heavy for their size.
From Fish and Chips to Lobster Bisque, there really is a fish dish for every occasion and taste, there are recipes for cold winter nights, light summer lunches and everything else in between.
When the weather is cold we love to feature comforting winter warmers such as delicious fish pies, stews and soups. During the warmer weather lighter dishes such as Lobster, Scallops or plump white fish with seasonal vegetables such as Lemon Sole with Jersey Royals or Halibut with wild sorrel, brown shrimp and seaweed dressing are hard to beat.
Fish has to be one of the most versatile and healthy of all ingredients and it can be baked, grilled, fried, poached, steamed, pickled, smoked or even cured Scandinavian style like Gravadlax!
Fish is delicious, nutritious, affordable, quick and easy to cook and the range of fish and seafood dishes is endless, so make sure that you try to have a fishy on a dishy a couple of times a week if you can!
This month Roger takes a look at one of his most favourite seasons.
With summer nearly over for another year, there’s still plenty to look forward to as we slip into early autumn. As we enjoy this lovely time of year in between summer and autumn and say goodbye to the last of the summer berries and salad crops, it’s time to look forward to a beautiful new season that is packed with flavour and choice.
And my word, Autumn certainly doesn’t disappoint on the food front, just take a look at the wonderful ingredients that are at their most plentiful and best during September. There is an absolute abundance of wonderful British produce to look forward to and the autumn harvest is complemented beautifully with the delicious game, fish and meat that are right in season too.
September is best for…
Aubergines, Beetroot, Broccoli, Chard, Cob nuts, Courgettes, Cucumber, Runner Beans, Spinach, Peppers, Apples, Blackberries, Damsons, Greengages, Kale, Loganberries, Plums, Cox’s Apples, Pears, Mallard Duck, Lemon Sole, Dover Sole, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Parsnips, Venison, Wild Mushrooms, Duck, Butternut squash, Clams, Chestnuts, Wood Pigeon, partridge, Brown Trout, Cod, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Plaice, Salmon, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Turbot, Crab and Rabbit.
Much as we all love Summer, I must confess that as a self-confessed foodie, I think that Autumn is probably one of the most exciting times of year in the kitchen. This is the season that is simply overflowing with ripe apples, juicy pears, plums, blackberries and damsons, crinkly kale, gorgeous game and fabulous fish to name but a few.
Interestingly if we take a look at the literal definition of Harvest meaning ‘The amount of crops that are gathered; the amount of a natural product gathered in a single season’ this also defines exactly what it is that we stand for here are Seasons so we thought we would take a closer look at the origins of the word and what it means in Britain.
A harvest festival is an annual celebration that takes place around the time of the main harvest of a region or country. Given the differences in climate and produce around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times of the year in different countries, featuring foods that come to maturity around the time of the festival. In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumn equinox (the 22nd or 23rd September). The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in celebrations known as a Harvest Festival or a Harvest Thanksgiving.
We are sure that you will agree, September is a time when we should all be thankful for the wonderful British produce that we are lucky enough to gather, cook and enjoy each autumn.
How can we feel sad about the summer gone when there are so many delicious foods to make the most of – and with the weather taking a turn for the better, it’s not time for winter stews and woolly jumpers just yet!
I suppose the clue is in our name but Bea and I really do love our changing Seasons!
In a previous life, Bea and I were proud to own a venison business ‘Wild Venison’ near Fort William, therefore it will come as no surprise to you that we are keen to use this wonderful, delicious and healthy meat whenever we can here at Seasons.
And as loyal supporters of good quality Scottish venison, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the facts about this superb product along with tips about how to cook and prepare it.
Venison is the name given to any of the species of deer which are sold as meat here in the UK. This lean, red meat is low in fat and full of flavour and has become increasingly popular and widely available. Deer can be categorised as wild deer, park deer or farmed deer and the most common varieties used for food in Britain are red deer (mainly from the Scottish Highlands), the fallow and the roe (the smallest and considered the best by many cooks).
The venison that we use is always from deer that can roam freely on the hills (see details of our own suppliers below) rather than being farmed, resulting in meat that is superior in quality and taste. Good quality venison like this is tender, tasty and close textured, which means it’s easy to produce really good results using simple recipes.
Meat from deer has been important in the human diet since prehistoric times. In fact, the term venison which comes from the Latin venari, meaning to hunt, originally referred to meat from any wild animal. For centuries, deer parks which were owned by European aristocrats were used as a source of sport and top quality food, however this concentration of valuable meat with access restricted to the wealthy elite has long been a source of conflict between poacher and gamekeeper.
Deer are ruminant animals and are characterised by having antlers, rather than horns, and small, unspecialised stomachs. Instead of grazing on vast quantities of grass, deer like to select easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fruit, fungi and lichens.
THE HEALTHY CHOICE
Venison is now recognised as being one of the most nutritious of all red meats and is remarkably low in fat. In fact, it has higher iron levels than any other red meat, containing Omega 3 fats and less fat than a skinned breast of chicken. Venison is not marbled in the same way as beef and lamb and as such has less than 2% fat, making it an excellent source of healthy protein.
Venison is also an excellent source of iron, delivering more than any other domestic meat and much more than vegetables. It is also high in Vitamins B6 and B12, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and niacin as well as being a good source of zinc. As important as being lower in fat and saturated fat than other red meats, venison is higher in polyunsaturated fats, this is largely because deer are feed on grass and vegetation rather than high energy cereals. It may also be because they have not been artificially bred for centuries to produce fat, venison is the meat that our ancestors ate and it could be argued that it is the meat that humans are designed to eat.
Always go for wild venison over farmed. The strength of flavour and fat content in venison can vary quite a bit between sources so you should try to buy from a trusted supplier who will be able to tell you what to expect as well as give you good cooking tips.
Cook venison as you would beef. However, it is best to compensate for the lower fat content by using moist cooking methods or by marinating before cooking.
Good quality steaks and tenderloin can be pan fried but do avoid overcooking. Serving with a sauce is recommended and really good partnering flavours for venison include juniper, gin, red wine, port, rosemary and redcurrant.
We are proud to source all of our venison from award winning Burnside Farm Foods near Kelso.
As one of Scotland’s leading Game Specialists, Burnside Farm Foods supply direct from their own farm on the Rutherford Estate on the banks of the Tweed near Kelso. This family run estate has a long history dating back to the 12th Century with Rutherford being one of the oldest Border names. Owner Johnny Rutherford took the sense of family tradition and heritage and combined it with a passion for food when he created Burnside Farm Foods on one of the estate farms.
Johnny has been supplying top quality venison to Scotland’s leading chefs for the last 20 years.
We hope that this short article has inspired you to cook, eat and enjoy more venison, this truly is one of Scotland’s greatest natural products and its healthy eating qualities are quite unsurpassed.
And to finish off here are a couple of quotes from Samuel Pepys Diaries, where he speaks highly of venison dishes on a number of occasions in a very compelling way!
‘At the Clerk’s chamber I met with Simons and Luellin, and went with them to Mr. Mount’s chamber at the Cock Pit, where we had some rare pot venison, and ale to abundance till almost twelve at night, and after a song round we went home.’
‘Mr. Moore and I and several others being invited to-day by Mr. Goodman, a friend of his, we dined at the Bullhead upon the best venison pasty that ever I eat of in my life, and with one dish more, it was the best dinner I ever was at.’
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