Procrastibaking and the tail of the Ox!

Making sure we don’t settle into the daily Edinburgh grind, we ensure that we put aside time to play tourist. I would say both of our highlight so far has been the Britannia – Queen Elizabeth’s decommissioned super yacht. I think it was our combined interests of Shan’s Navy background, my work hosting on boats and having dabbled with the Queen and the rest of her relos – we were in our element! You get to explore every nook and cranny of the boat from the Queen’s surprisingly understated suite, the officers mess, hidden alcoholic supplies to even the hotel-sized laundry room. I was most impressed with the formal dining room, which was even available for event hire. I think Shan was most pleased to see there was even an operating theatre on board! We finished the tour on the upper deck, which had a floor-to-ceiling glass dining room and enjoyed a cheeky beverage whilst taking in the views of the bay.

Another recent outing was when Shan finished early one sunny afternoon. We both agreed it was the perfect afternoon to scale Arthur’s seat to catch the sunset. Arthur’s seat was once an active volcano. Today it is a decent hike to a spectacular 360 degree vantage point overlooking the city of Edinburgh. If you remove the double-decker buses and cars, you could can just imagine how it looked in the 1800’s .

The sun was set for the day and it was turning cold very quickly, we were ready to head home and tuck into our Oxtail stew, that had been cooking away since the morning. The first time I cooked Oxtail, many years ago, I made the mistake of not trimming the fat and only slow cooking it for a few hours – the result was greasy and tough. I had no intention of cooking it again! Now after many further years of cooking experience, I gave my next traditional Scottish recipe of Oxtail stew a go. Now the recipe asks for a whole Oxtail and you cut it up into pieces! I can only assume that’s how the butchers sold in back in the 70’s. Thankfully the butchers sell the tail from the base right to the tiny tip in a bundle strung together with string.
Again I was worried there was not going to be enough flavour with such simple ingredients:
1 oxtail
2 onions
2 carrots
25g of dripping (I used the trimmed fat of the tail)
25g of flour
750ml of beef stock
Salt and pepper
The method reads:
Wash tail well and dry it. Cut into joints and trim off any excess fat. Dip in flour. Melt fat in saucepan and fry meat till brown. Lift out meat and lightly fry sliced carrots and onions. Put meat back into the saucepan, add seasoning and stock. Simmer for 3 hours. Or you could go the slow cooker option and have it going for the whole day.

I was wrong regarding the lack of flavour….This has been my favourite recipe so far! The Oxtail was falling off the bone, the sauce was sweet from the carrots and onion, and, just by removing the lid an hour before serving, it had thickened perfectly. We accompanied the stew with mashed neeps and sautéed red cabbage. If you are considering trying any of my blog recipes at home – this one is a must!

When we are not sight-seeing, it’s back to studies for me and when it’s time for a break, I bake, or what is otherwise known by Shan’s fellow med students: I procrastibake! I made Oaties. They are a cross between an Anzac biscuit and an intense treacle slice. Here is the recipe:
100g of flour
2 tsps of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
100g of rolled oats
50g sugar
75g treacle
50g of butter
Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt, then add rolled oats. Put sugar, treacle and butter into a saucepan and heat until just melted. Mix this into the flour until all ingredients are combined. Press into a 7 inch greased tin and bake for 20 mins at 180 degrees. Sprinkle with course oatmeal and cut into wedges before the slice cools.

Teamed with a cuppa, it’s a study break delight!

The formal dining room on the Britannia
The formal dining room on the Britannia
The stunning view from Arthur's seat
The stunning view from Arthur’s seat
Circa 1970's slow cooker - still kicking on!
Circa 1970’s slow cooker – still kicking on!
The outstanding Oxtail
The outstanding Oxtail
Having an Oatie break
Having an Oatie break
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