Book Week Scotland 2017 is taking place from Monday 27 November – Sunday 3 December. This year’s theme is Nourish and to celebrate our book week I’ve asked some of my favourite Scottish authors to provide me with a recipe that they feel is the perfect accompaniment to either their own book or a book of their choice.
Book Week Scotland is a week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.
During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.
Book Week Scotland is brought to you by The Scottish Book Trust
Today I’m joined by the fabulous Michael J Malone and Douglas Skelton
Michael J Malone
Kenny O’Neill is one of my favourite “Bad Guys” in Michael’s Ray McBain series (Blood Tears; A Taste For Malice and Bad Samaritan). He might be one of Glasgow’s top villains but when it comes to lifestyle and food he is an all-round clean living type of guy!
Michael shared Kenny’s menu for the day with me.
He kicks off with Blueberry and Honey Bircher in the morning:
2 cups natural bircher muesli
1 1/4 cups apple juice
3/4 cup Tamar Valley Greek Style Yoghurt
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
Step 1: Place muesli and apple juice in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Step 2: Stir yoghurt and apple into muesli mixture. Divide between bowls. Top with blueberries. Drizzle with honey. Serve.
He then heads to the gym for a workout and follows this with a protein shake.
For lunch and dinner he will have Chicken Breasts and Broccoli:
- 3boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 3cups broccoli (fresh chopped)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place water in the steamer pot (enough to boil for 30 or more minutes) and place over medium heat.
- wash and chop the broccoli, and/or cauliflower and place in the steamer basket.
- Slice chicken breasts into halves or thirds and place over the vegetables.
- Salt and pepper the basket contents to taste.
- When the water is boiling, add the basket and cover tightly with a lid.
- After 5 minutes or so of steaming, separate the chicken pieces gently with a fork and continue steaming.
- Steam until all is done (about 165 for the chicken and 190 to 200F for the broccoli). This is usually about 12 to 15 minutes if the chicken is divided.
But of course he is a “bad guy” and so he will have a cheat night on a Saturday and this is usually a massive plate of mince and tatties followed by Chocolate Fudge Cake
500g of good quality Scotch Beef mince (I prefer steak but use lean if you wish)
1 small onion, finely chopped (diced is best)
A half tablespoon of flour
250ml of good beef stock
500g of potatoes (Rooster, Desiree or King Edward), peeled and cut into even sized chunks
25g of butter (optional)
1 Put the potato chunks in a large pot, then pour boiling water over them. Add half a teaspoon of salt, put on a lid and simmer gently until they are absolutely tender – they will take 20-25 minutes. The way to tell whether they are ready is to pierce them with a skewer in the thickest part: the potato should not be hard in the centre. If they are slightly underdone you do get lumps.
2 Warm a heavy based pan and tip in diced onion and mince. Use a fork lightly at this stage to break up all of the mince.
3 Add the flour and stir until all the flour is absorbed. This also helps if the mince is fatty.
4 Pour over the hot beef stock and turn down heat to a light simmer for 15-20mins
5 When the potatoes are cooked, drain them. Cover them with a clean tea cloth to absorb some of the steam for about 2/3 min.
6 Mash the potatoes. I prefer to use a potato ricer for mash as it’s perfect and saves the strain of a masher.
7 Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. I prefer white pepper added carefully as opposed to seeing chunks of black pepper through a lovely white mash.
8 Taste the mince at this stage. If it needs some oomph then a dash of Worcester sauce might just lift it a bit. The gravy at this stage should just be thick and no more. We want lots of mince in a nice tasty gravy: too much gravy and a few bits of mince just won’t do. In fact, I remember my Grannie giving the boys a slice of bread to mop up or to have a piece of mince on which, to this day, still horrifies me. Whichever way you like your tatties, boiled or mashed, it has to be really nice tasty mince so make the effort for excellent quality Scotch beef mince.
9 Serve mash on the bottom and mince over the top in nice big warm bowls so any excess gravy gets soaked into the mash.
Kenny doesn’t make his own fudge cake, he nips down to his favourite deli and buys himself a slice of the best fudge cake they have and I’d suggest you follow his plan, life’s too short to mess around washing up cake tins!
I reckon Kenny O’Neill should give me a call as I’d love to find out more about this #CleanLiving malarky!
Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.
He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.
BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.
Michael’s books are available to purchase from:
He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1
Douglas tells me that he shares the same approach to food as the Sutherland Brothers in the Dominic Queste series and like them perhaps he likes to think of himself as the next Hairy Biker! Here’s Douglas’ take on gourmet food and coffee…God don’t start him on the coffee!
Hands up – I’m no cook.
I can rustle up something if I have to, generally, fried, generally, something unhealthy, although now that I can steam cook vegetables in the microwave I can add something green to the mix.
But I’m no gourmet and I think there’s far too much attention paid to food these days.
And don’t start me on this obsession with coffee.
No, let me start,,,,
Getting a simple white coffee nowadays is all but impossible.
‘Is that a Latte?’
‘No, it’s a white coffee.’
‘Is that an Americano?’
‘No, it’s a white coffee.’
‘It’s a coffee. With milk.’
‘Ah, so it IS an Americano, with milk on the side.’
(Sigh) ‘Okay, fine.’
‘Is that hot or cold milk…?’
(Stifles a scream)
I mean, whatever happened to a spoonful of Nescafe (other brands are available), a dollop of the white stuff and hot water? Oh, and sugar of course, with a right good stir.
I’m a pretty plain eater. Put a plate of chips and egg down in front of me and I’m happy.
It’s something I share with Dominic Queste, and Davie McCall before him. Like me, they prefer their food without fancy names and not in the habit of looking back at you from the plate.
Not so the Sutherland Brothers, Queste’s pals, who fancy themselves as rivals to the Hairy Bikers. When they’re not helping him out with some case or other, or doing a bad guy a damage, they can be found at their large range in their Glasgow flat, concocting some exotic dish or another. Queste generally plumps for beans on toast, when he can.
They’ve attempted two dishes in the books, both featuring seafood, one with prawns and one with octopus. Queste steered away from both at a steady rate of knots. For the latter dish, he said he didn’t like the idea of his food giving him the finger.
(Incidentally, the table they use in their flat was bought at auction, the first book tells you. It’s said it was once owned by a Glasgow gangster who wound up dead in his own home. That gangster was Joe the Tailor, from the Davie McCall series. Not many people know that, as Michael Caine never actually said.)
Don’t get me wrong, I like my tucker. I like seafood (as in, if I see food, I eat it). I simply prefer it deep fried, covered in vinegar and served in yesterday’s newspaper. Perhaps too much, as my paunch will testify. But if I was offered anything like those dishes I’d get the dry heaves. And perhaps not so dry…
For many people, a treat is going to a fancy restaurant and ordering something they wouldn’t or couldn’t make at home.
You know what a treat is for me?
Yup, sitting in the car having been at the drive-through, tucking into a Big Mac or a Chicken Royale. Unlike Joe Pesci, I’ve never been screwed at the drive-through. Literally or figuratively.
We’re not fussy eaters, Queste, Davie and I. None of us have any allergies. We just like it plain and simple, like your mammy used to make.
If there’s a third Dominic Queste thriller, God knows what the Sutherland boys will cook up. One thing’s for certain – Dom won’t go anywhere near it with a ten-foot spoon.
But now you’ll have to excuse me. It’s lunchtime and I’ve got two burgers waiting to be grilled.
Steakburgers, of course.
I do have standards…
Plain and Simple Steak Burger
- 1 small onion peeled and diced
- 500g good-quality steak mince
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 burger buns
- All or any of the following to serve: sliced tomato, beetroot, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, handful iceberg lettuce, rocket, watercress
- Tip the mince into a bowl with the onion and egg, then mix.
- Divide the mixture into four. Lightly wet your hands. Carefully roll the mixture into balls, each about the size of a tennis ball.
- Set in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze down to flatten into patties about 3cm thick. Make sure all the burgers are the same thickness so that they will cook evenly. Put on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 mins.
- Heat the barbecue to medium hot (there will be white ash over the red-hot coals – about 40 mins after lighting). Lightly brush 1 side of each burger with oil.
Hope you have mine on, well done please with plenty mustard!
Douglas Skelton has published 11 books on true crime and history. He has been a bank clerk, tax officer, shelf stacker, meat porter, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), reporter, investigator and editor.
His first thriller BLOOD CITY was published by Luath Press in 2013.
The gritty thriller was the first in a quartet set on the tough streets of Glasgow from 1980 onwards. It was followed by CROW BAIT, DEVIL’S KNOCK and finally OPEN WOUNDS, which was longlisted for the first McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year.
The first Dominic Queste thriller, THE DEAD DON’T BOOGIE, is now available from Contraband. The second, TAG – YOU’RE DEAD was published in April 2017.
Author Web Page:
Douglas’ books can be purchased from:
#NomNomNom I’m currently waiting for my dinner invite pinging into my mailbox guys! #JustSayin