The horse meat scandal reveals more about our food system each day, and we’ve heard it’s going to get far worse. Today it was announced that chicken and pork products may also be contaminated according to the “Food” “Standards” “Agency”, and Tesco have admitted that their Every Day Value Spaghetti Bolognese contains up to 100% horsemeat (see here).

But there is an easy alternative to feeding the system of untraceable, unreliable, poor quality meat that degrades us all: eat local food and know where it comes from and what you’re eating. So today we’re launching a guaranteed Horse-Free Recipe Book, full of affordable, healthy meals. At Easter we’ll publish a recipe book packed with crowd sourced alternatives to contaminated food.

Your suggestions are welcome for this project. Here’s the criteria: a savoury main course dish, can be meat or non meat (if meat it should be a cheaper cut or an innovative use of meat), should be affordable (should be able to feed 4 people for about £5 or less), must be seasonal. The hashtag will be #horsefree

To kick us off here’s these lovely chunky pasties.

Beetroot Pasties
(by Karen Small)


250g/9oz/2 cups wholemeal flour
250g/9oz/2 cups self-raising flour
pinch of salt
175g/ 6oz butter, room temp
40 ml/ 1 ½ oz/ 1/3 cup water
1 egg, beaten for finishing pastry, or milk

BEETROOT PASTRYPut the flour, butter & salt in a bowl & rub together till you get breadcrumbs. Add enough water to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for an hour.

Warm the oil in the pan & add the onions, allow to soften before adding all the other cubed vegetables, salt & pepper. Let this mellow on a low heat, lid on, stirring regularly. After about 10 minutes, add the greens & return to heat for another 5 minutes. You want the veggies to still have some ‘bite’ for when they go in the oven. Allow to cool a bit before assembling.


Splash olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Any mixture of the following root veg, peeled & diced into the same size (small, about 1cm):
carrots, parsnip, potato, turnip or whatever else you have/ like
Salt & pepper
Green leafy veg like kale or spinach, shredded

Using a rolling pin & floured surface roll a golf ball of pastry out to a circle. If you like things neat you can then use an upturned saucer as stencil to get a perfect circle. You want the pastry to be about 1 cm thick. Put 2 spoonfuls of filling in the middle of the circle and wet the edges of the circle with water. Bring the edges up to meet each other, and press together to make a fluted sort of edge. Keep going till you have used everything up.

Place the pastries on a baking tray dusted with flour, and brush with the beaten egg or milk. Heat oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Eat them hot or save them for the next day…

Alternative Filling: I had some pastry left over so used some cold, boiled beetroot, chopped and sprinkled with cumin seeds as an alternative – and it was very nice.

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Braised Pheasant with Root Vegetable and Winter Chanterelles

(sent to us by Mark Williams of

30g Butter
•6 Thick rashers of fatty bacon, cut into squares
•Salt and pepper
•2 Pheasants, jointed into 4 breasts and 4 legs. Ideally, skin still on, but not essential (plucking can be messy!)
•10 Cloves of garlic, peeled
•2 Medium onions
•Root vegetables cut into 1cm squares. Use whatever you like, roughly equivalent to 1 parsnip, 2 carrots, 1 small piece of neep.
•2 Tablespoons of mushroom ketchup – hard core foragers will have made this from ink-cap mushrooms early in the autumn, but Watkins does the job just fine.
•2 Tablespoons of anchovy essence – from Mr Watkins again.
•100ml White wine
•250ml Game stock, ideally from the pheasant carcasses but chicken stock will do fine
•8 Sprigs of thyme – or 20 if you are using wild thyme
•200g Winter chanterelles, cleaned (leave them whole if you can, though you may have to split them to clean out the funnel section OR use 50g dried cep (often sold as porcini in any decent deli) or other dried mushrooms, reconstituted in boiling water for 20 mins (add the soaking liquor to your stock). Cultivated mushrooms would also work.
•A good handful of wood sorrel for garnishing (optional)

Preheat oven to 140 C/275 F/Gas mark 4.Heat the butter over a moderately high heat in a large cast-iron pot and add the bacon pieces. When they have sizzled a while and exuded plenty of tasty fat, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Generously season the pheasant pieces with salt and pepper then pop them in the fatty pan a couple at a time until browned and starting to crust up. Set aside. Next put the garlic in the pan and scrape it around until it starts to pick up some colour. Add the onions and when they start to colour turn the heat down a little and pop in the diced vegetables. Put the lid on and leave them to sweat and soften for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the mushroom ketchup, anchovy essence and red wine and give the pan a good stir for minute or two, scraping up all the goodies from the base.  Put the pheasant and bacon back in the pan along with the thyme and mushrooms and enough of the stock to just about cover the contents. A disc of greaseproof paper (cartouche) trimmed to fit snugly over the pheasant as well as a lid will help keep things ultra-moist. Put in the oven to braise for 1 – 11/4 hours. Season to taste then serve strewn with wood sorrel – its citric sharpness will cut across the sweet unctuousness of the stew.
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leeks Scotch Broth
(sent to us by Sascha Grierson of Organic Farm)
Scotch Broth is one of our National culinary classics, akin to Hungarian Goulash. It’s simple, and uses the very best of Scottish produce: mutton or lamb, seasonal veg and barley. Its necessarily eaten in a shallow bowl with a spoon, and just liquid enough to dunk a chunk of crusty bread into. In my mind it should be thick & chunky, with big bits of veg in it, close to a stew. We do some mutton for customers – just ask us. The best thing about Scotch broth is you make the stock and the soup all in one go. One pot cooking at its best.Serves 6Cost: Approx. £1 per portion
1 lamb shank
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 leek
1 stick celery (optional)
1/4 turnip
100g Pearl Barley or broth mix (the stuff in the tartan bag)
Salt and pepper
Rough chop the veg, put all the ingredients into a pot, cover with water, bring to the boil. leave to simmer for 3-4 hours. Alternatively cook in a slow cooker overnight or all day. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Remove the lamb bone or shank bone and the lamb onto a plate, shred the lamb and return it to the pot.Serve with crusty bread and butter
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Chilli Beef Kofta Kebabs with a Chunky Salsa Salad(sent to us by Nick Nairn of Nick Nairn Cook School)These Middle-Eastern inspired kofta kebabs use minced beef to make a beefy ‘sausage on a stick’ crammed full of spicy flavours. The best mince will always come from your butcher. Ask where the meat is from, and for the best mince, ask for a good piece of meat to be minced specially (shoulder is fine – and inexpensive).Serves 4For the kebabs

500g Best Scottish Beef Steak Mince
200g breadcrumbs
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
Tsp chilli powder
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp parsley, chopped
juice ½ lemon
zest 1 lemon
tbsp ketchup
kebab skewer

For the salsa salad

½ cucumber, peeled and de-seeded and chopped into medium-sized chunks
½ red onion, finely sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Handful of fresh coriander and mint

If using bamboo skewers, soak them first so they don’t burn. Metal skewers work well if you have them.

Ahead of time, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, chillies, chilli powder, onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, zest and ketchup in a large bowl until well combined. Form the meaty mixture into sausage shapes and slide onto the skewers. These can be prepared a couple of hours ahead and left ready on a tray in the fridge.

For the salad, mix the veg together then make a dressing with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle over at the last minute. Lastly toss in the herbs.

Place the kebabs carefully under a hot grill or on the barbecue and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning several times.

Serve with the chunky salsa salad.

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Beremeal Bannock, Organic Spinach, Free-range Poached Egg

(sent to us by Neil Forbes, Cafe St Honoré)

Beremeal, spinach, egg - Cafe St Honore 3

Beremeal Bannock, Organic Spinach, Free-range Poached Egg, from Neil Forbes, Cafe St Honoré

Serves 4

65g plain flour
90g beremeal
½ tsp cream of tartare
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Milk to bind
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
4 handfuls of organic spinach
4 large free-range eggs
50g unsalted butter


In a mixer, or by hand, combine the flour, beremeal, cream of tartare, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Then add enough milk to make into a dough. Shape into a 1 inch thick cake and sear on a skillet or frying pan using no fat. Turn and colour on the other side, slide onto a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes in a moderate oven. Remove and cut into 4 pieces.

In a thick-bottomed pot, melt the butter and wilt the spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer some water and poach the eggs for 4 minutes. Place the spinach onto the bannock, place the egg on top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Scotch Beef Stew & Dumplings

(sent to us by The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant by Suzanne O’Connor from Slow Food Chefs Alliance)

This dish is a fantastic winter/ autumn warmer – the dumplings can be made ahead and then popped on top of the stew when warming up ….

This is a great opportunity to use Great quality Scottish traceable beef but not spending a fortune by using the cheaper cuts of beef

Serves 4 – 6

800g shin of beef or beef shoulder ( any tougher and cheaper cut of beef that your local butcher can recommend )
2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Rapeseed oil or olive oil
2 onions diced
300ml beef stock
300ml Scottish beer or red wine
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunky slices
2 small turnips or Celeriac , peeled and cut into chunks

For the dumplings:

100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g suet
Small bunch thyme  finely chopped or dried thyme


1. Trim the beef of its outer sinew and cut into large chunks. Toss with the seasoned flour to coat. Heat a heavy-bottomed casserole or pan on a medium flame and add a knob of rapeseed oil or olive oil .

Brown the meat in batches, adding more oil if necessary – be careful not to put too much in at the one time as it will go soggy instead of the brown colour you are looking for . – then transfer to a bowl. Scrape the bottom of the pan regularly to prevent any flour  from burning.

2. Once all the meat is browned, cook the onions until soft and slightly browned.

Add them to the beef and then pour in a little stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add the beef and onions, tomato paste and  the rest of the stock and the beer/wine if you want, season, and add the herbs. Bring to the boil, then partially cover, turn down the heat, and simmer gently for two hours.

3. Add the carrots and turnips or celeriac or whatever root veg you might have and simmer for about another hour, until the meat is tender enough to cut with a spoon.

4. Meanwhile, make the dumplings by sifting the flour into a bowl and adding the rest of the ingredients and just enough cold water to bring it together into a dough. Roll it into 6 dumplings and add these to the stew. Partially cover and simmer for 25 minutes, then check the seasoning of the gravy, and serve with kale, Broccoli or whatever you have there !.


  • Admin
    The Fife Diet February 23, 2013 at 12:27

    Thanks Catherine – love it! Keep the coming! Details of the book structure and launch soon!

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