As the Commonwealth Games kick off in Scotland, I’m taking you on a whirlwind trip there, just like I did last week. Back to my roots, family and loaves of raisin bread, toasted with melted butter in the mornings. Back to oak smoked salmon and mackerel and a great choice of New World wines. There comes a time when France is great but we all need a change now and again, don’t we?
I always see changes when I return to Edinburgh. This time the weather was hot and sunny – the opposite to Paris (although we’re now making up for it!). Even the changing rooms hidden behind wardrobe doors had changed again at White Stuff in George Street – I opted for the Irn Bru rather than the toilette scene, thank you. The trams were finally running in the City and so that was definitely worth the trip: with free Wi-Fi, I don’t think anyone looked outside the windows, though!
Huge change was at the River Forth: the pillars were well set in for the building of the new Forth Bridge connecting Queesferry to the Kingdom of Fife.
Certain things had not changed that much: like South Queensferry. I love this little village where the original film of the 59 Steps was filmed. With stunning views of the Forth Railway Bridge next to the Victorian postbox and quaint crow-step gabled houses, the Seal’s Craig restaurant from my childhood was still there. No it wasn’t! The sign remained but it had turned into a pizzeria. Gosh, all those happy memories of Claude, the waiter, and the chatting Minor bird at the bottom of the stairs.
But new happy memories were made, as Mum steered me towards the Boat House Restaurant, where I’d promised to take her out for her birthday. I have found a new, wonderful address! Precious moments, indeed. With stunning views directly opposite the Forth Railway Bridge, the other gastronomic views were on my entrée-starter-appetiser of Cullen Skink (that’s smoked haddock and potato soup – see my recipe here) followed by a main dish of red mullet – exquisite and great value for money, including the wines (with good options by the glass).
My one upset was that I didn’t manage dessert! On my way out, the lovely waitresses handed me a magazine featuring their Chef, Paul Steward. And in it is his recipe for this lemon thyme tart. He adds caramelised pears to the recipe but, as it’s not yet pear season in France, I’m serving it plain with summer berries.
Lemon Thyme Tart Recipe
Recipe from Chef Paul Steward, The Boat House Restaurant and Bistro, South Queensferry, Edinburgh
For the short crust pastry:
400g plain flour
200g salted butter, cubed
1 vanilla pod
75ml cold water
For the curd:
4 unwaxed lemons (zest & juice) – I used the zest of only 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the cold cubes of butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining. Combine the vanilla, egg, milk and water. Add just enough of the mixture to the flour and butter to bind the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough until it’s just thinner than a pound coin, then place in a buttered tart case and blind bake using grease proof paper and baking beans for 18 minutes at 180°C. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is finished cooking.
Lemon and thyme curd
Place the juice and zest (my lemons were strong so I only used the zest of 2 lemons which was more than enough) of the lemons in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add the butter and sugar. When the butter has melted, add the eggs and gently stir until the curd is thick and coats the back of a spoon (this took me over 10 minutes). Add the fresh thyme and pour into the pastry case.
THE BOAT HOUSE RESTAURANT
22 High Street
Edinburgh EH30 9PP
Tel: 0131-331 5429