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Escargots de Barra

Tartine d’escargots de Barra a l’ail et persil


The day I went to Barra and everything changed.

Why would I buy farmed snails from France or Indonesia (where most of them come from) when I can source them directly from Scottish islands? Buying from Barra supports the island's economy and my restaurant customers love the idea of eating Scottish snails. It's a talking point.

So, anyone for a Barra snail tartine?

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Serves 6

  • 1kg fresh Barra snails – starved for three days

  • 1 or 2 handfuls of coarse sea salt

  • 3 litres of vegetable bouillon

  • 20cl beef demi-glace or brown stock

  • 2 carrots – finely diced

  • 2 small onions – finely diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

  • 1 bouquet garni

  • 2 soup spoons of chopped parsley

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 baguette – sliced

  • Sprinkle of fresh chives/parsley or a mixture of both

  • Coarse sea salt and pepper


1. Sprinkle the snails with the coarse salt and leave for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and wash them under cold running water until clean.

2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. When boiling, plunge your snails in for five minutes, remove them and immediately place them in icy water.

3. Drain, separate the shells from the snail meat using a toothpick and cut off the guts. Give them another wash.

4. Bring the vegetable bouillon to the boil, add in the snails, bring back to the boil and simmer for about two hours or until soft. Cool them down in the bouillon.

5. In a sauté pan, add butter and slowly sweat the diced onion for 10 minutes then add in the diced carrot. Sweat for another 10 minutes. Add your snails and sweat all together for five minutes, stirring all the time on a low heat.

6. Add in the beef stock, reduce then add in the chopped garlic and the parsley. Finish off the sauce with a knob of butter, taste and season, taste again and season again if needed. Pour into a dish and serve to your guests with slices of baguettes.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine. Bon appétit!

As published on Scotsman, 5 May 2015

Spring Cooking Time

Beef cheeks Marengo


With spring taking its time to appear, I imagine we could all do with a hearty, belly-warming dish to put a smile on our faces.

If I’m planning a slow-cooked dish, beef cheeks instantly spring to my mind. Taken from the cows’ cheek muscle, it’s a very tough cut of meat, however, the good news is, this makes it relatively cheap to buy. The beauty of this beef is that if you leave it bubbling away in the slow cooker, or on the side of the stove, to cook for hours and hours, it turns into tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

It’s amazing what memories are conjured up from the simple smell of a dish, and for me, this takes me all the way back to my childhood. We were well fed, that’s for sure!

To me, learning about where your meat is from is an essential part of the buying process. I want to ensure the animal has been treated well, had quality of life, and that the supplier is reputable. So, when buying your beef, make sure you ask your butcher to tell you its provenance story.

This dish went down a treat with my family and friends when I cooked it last week back home in France. I love getting all my loved ones around one table; talking, eating and drinking. There really is nothing better. Slow cooked dishes like this come into their own for occasions like that as they don’t need much preparation on the day. After all, there is nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen and missing all of the good times that are happening at the dinner table.



Serves 4

  • 4 beef/ox cheeks
  • 50cl beef bouillon
  • 40cl beef demi glace or brown stock
  • 25cl white wine
  • 2 carrots (diced)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot (diced)
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 4 tbsp. plain flour
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Vegetable oil or duck fat
  • Sprinkle of fresh chives/parsley or a mixture of both
  • 2 tomatoes (peeled and diced)
  • Coarse sea salt and pepper


1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, plunge your tomatoes in for 20 seconds, remove them and immediately place them in icy water. Peel them, chop them up and remove all of the pips. Peel and prepare all of your vegetables.

2. Preheat your oven to 180°C.

3. Clean the beef cheeks by getting rid of any excess fat and trim them whilst leaving them whole. Season the cheeks with salt and roll them in flour whilst tapping any excess flour off.

4. Heat the oil or duck fat in a large cast iron pan or thick-bottomed pot. When it’s smoking hot, brown the meat evenly until golden, then add the onions, shallots and carrots and sweat them gently for 15 minutes.

5. Pour out any excess fat and deglaze the pot by pouring in the white wine, the beef bouillon and stock. Bring to the boil.

6. Once boiling, add in the bouquet garni, garlic, diced tomatoes and season again with salt and pepper. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 ½ - 3 hours until the meat is tender or when a knife goes into the meat quite easily.

7. Take the pot out of the oven and leave it to rest for 20 minutes. Take the meat out and put it aside. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve pressing all the vegetables to extract all of their juices. Pour the sauce back into the pot to reduce until it thickens. Taste and season then put your meat back into the pot and reheat everything together.

8. Finally, add a knob of butter and stir your sauce until the butter has melted, taste again, sprinkle chopped parsley over it and serve.

One point to remember when you’re cooking this dish is to always do what you feel is right. If I feel that I need to add a bit more of this or a bit less of that then I will - follow your heart and you’ll be surprised with what you’re capable of. That is what cooking is all about, after all, using your feelings and sharing good times with your friends and family.

Bon appétit!

As published on Herald Scotland, 10 April 2018

Get Cooking Some Good, Hearty Food

Duck neck pie served with lamb’s lettuce


For this great dish, I am serving precious lamb’s lettuce from my garden. It was put in the ground last October and has survived the winter. That's one of the things I love about Scotland. There will be plenty of other lettuce or salad varieties available in your local market, but try to avoid supermarkets if you have fresh, local produce available nearby.

Remember that cooking is about sharing and having fun testing, tasting, trying and mainly entertaining. Whether it is your kids and family or friends, do not hesitate to add ingredients or change this recipe as you wish.



Serves 4/6

For cooking the neck

  • 1kg fresh duck neck (special thanks to Gartmorn farm for supplying)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Stock (veal, beef or duck)
  • I bouquet garni

For the mash and vegetables

  • 1 large swede
  • 1 large celeriac
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 100g butter
  • 2tbsp of crème Fraiche

For the dressing

  • 500g lamb’s lettuce or other leaves
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp walnut oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


1. Preheat an oven to 180°C. Peel and wash all vegetables.

2. Sear the skinned duck neck in a roasting tray. Add the onions and carrots and sauté, stirring often until all is a golden colour.

3. When the neck is caramelised and light brown, add the stock and bouquet garni. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven at 180°C. Cook for an hour, or until the meat is falling apart. Leave to cool down.

4. While your duck is cooking, peel the swede, carrot, celeriac and potatoes.

5. Once peeled, cut slices of about 2cm wide of celeriac, carrot and swede.

6. Cut the slices into 3 or 4 shapes of your choice for each vegetable, except the potatoes.

7. Cook the shaped vegetables in salted boiling water until soft, and place in ice-cold water to stop them cooking. Drain and reserve. By now you have carrot, swede and celeriac shape vegetables.

8. Cut the potatoes into big chunks. Put them in a large pot and cover with water. Add two pinches of sea salt, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer until all is cooked. Drain well and set aside.

9. When the duck is cool, shred the meat from the bones, keeping an eye out for very small bones; set the meat aside.

10. Pass the stock through a sieve and add to the meat.

11. Peel, slice and sweat a carrot and an onion for 10 minutes on a medium heat. When soft, add the meat, season well, add the stock and stir. Taste and season again if needed.

12. Butter a dish or a pot that you will use for cooking and serve the pie, and place the meat at the bottom.

13. Finish your mash by crushing the cooked vegetables, add 100g butter and a large spoon of crème Fraiche, stir and taste. Season well and taste again.

14. Put the mash on top of your duck meat and level well using a spatula. Push your shaped vegetables into the mash, add a few cubes of butter and place in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 20 to 30 minutes.

15. Whisk your oils with the vinegar, add in the lettuce, stir it and serve with the piping hot pie when ready. Enjoy with friends.

With spring around the corner, get cooking some good, hearty food.

*Although this recipe was featured on their January special, is a dish you can cook at any time of the year.

As published on Sunday Herald Life, 21 Jan 2018