Start by cooking the polenta. Set the water to boil, and when it starts to bubble, swirl it and pour in the polenta flour in a thin stream, stirring the mixture as you pour to mix it well with the water. As it becomes like the caldera in a volcano, season with salt and pepper, and cook for around 8 minutes.
Pour the polenta into a large dish and let it cool. If you are adding Talegio or Fontina cheese, melt this into the polenta before pouring it out.
Make a white cheese sauce. Melt 50g butter in a pan, and then add the flour.
When the flour is beginning to brown, and the butter is foaming, add the milk, pouring in steadily and mixing to make a smooth white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add the bayleaf, and simmer for 15 minutes, before adding the grated cheese.
Next, slice the mushrooms and fry in butter for 5 minutes. Elizabeth David suggests using white truffles, which are in short supply in South Uist.
Slice the polenta. In the bottom of a buttered lasagne dish or similar, layer 1/3 of the polenta, then 1/3 of the bechamel and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 sauce, 1/2 mushrooms, then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 bechamel, topped with parmesan.
Bake in a hot oven, 180C, for 30 minutes.
This is delicious, and very filling. We had 2 servings each and there is loads left. We had a side dish of steamed kale with pepper.
We were given a marrow, a vegetable that I am not that confident with. We made stuffed marrow rings, and I didn’t get it right, so you’ll need to wait for a more successful version. Just to say that the marrow was not well-cooked. The redeeming feature was this stew, which I made to be the stuffing. We ended up eating it with couscous.
1 green pepper
1 can chopped tomatos
2 tsp cornflour (I mixed marigold stock powder with the cornflour before adding water)
salt and pepper
a good pinch of paprika
a good handful of chopped mint and dill (or 1 tsp each of dried mint and dill)
Prepare all the ingredients. Chop the chicken into small pieces. Chop the onion finely. Core the pepper, remove the seeds and slice. Prepare the mushrooms and slice coarsely.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish, and when it is hot, gently fry the onion and peppers until soft.
Add the chicken and mushroom, and fry for a further 4 minutes or so until the chicken is sealed.
Meanwhile, mix a little stock with the cornflour to make a smooth paste, and then add the paste back to the stock and mix.
Add the tomatoes to the chicken in the pan, and bring to a simmer
Add the stock, paprika, salt and pepper and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the stew starts to thicken.
Cover the casserole and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes max.
Serve with couscous and garnished with chopped herbs, such as parsley and dill.
500g mushrooms (a mixture, could include chanterelles, other wild mushrooms)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
6 eggs, broken into a bowl. Do not beat the eggs.
3 tbsp milk
40g serrano ham, cut into small strips
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Clean the mushrooms and slice them roughly.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, and fry for only a minute, then add the mushrooms. It will look like you have too many mushrooms, but don’t worry, all will be fine. Fry for around 5 minutes or so, stirring, so that the mushrooms are soft.
Add the ham, salt and pepper, cook for another minute, and then transfer the mixture to a bowl.
In the same pan, melt the butter and then add the eggs and mil. Stir the eggs with a fork or wooden spoon so that the eggs break up a bit.
When they begin to set, return the mushrooms to the pan, along with the chopped parsley, and continue to cook until any eggwhite has set.
My brother-in-law, John, served this to us one evening. It was only the second time we met and the soup was one of the many highlights of the evening. The taste recalls the evening around 25 years ago.
1 large white onion
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 pint of stock
1 tsp miso (you can substitute marmite if no miso available)
150ml sour cream
3 tsp lemon juice
Finely chop the onion and fry gently in the oil, with 1/2 tsp salt
Chop the mushrooms and add to the pan
Add the dill, thyme, paprika and cayenne, and cover. Cook slowly for around 7 minutes.
Add the stock and miso and bring to a simmer for three minutes.
Liquidise, and add the sour cream and lemon juice.