What’s the USP? Father and son team explore life on a remote Scottish island ‘with food, drink and community at its heart’ through the medium of recipes, pictures and personal memoir and anecdote.
Who are the authors? You’ll probably know James Morton in his guise as Great British Bake off finalist. He is also the author of an extremely good book about brewing called Brew. He is also a doctor. His father Tom is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.
What does it look like? There are very few landscapes as dramatic as those found on the Scottish islands and Shetland (as Morton points out in his introduction, ‘It’s not, never has been and never is ‘The Shetlands’), the northern most point of the UK, is no exception. Photographer Andy Sewell captures it in all its rugged glory, as well as taking some charming portraits of the locals. The food looks as hearty and elemental as you might expect.
Is it good bedtime reading? In addition to the dozens of recipes, there are plenty of articles about life on the island, its food and feasts. Recipe introductions are extended and detailed and there is plenty of text given over to techniques such as cold smoking and pickling.
Will I have trouble finding ingredients? You might need to go online or to a health food shop to track down pinhead oatmeal, a butcher or online retailer for hare, mutton and, erm, piglets’s testicles, and a good fishmonger to get fresh seaweed, whelks, large scallops and live crabs. Additionally, unless you live there, Shetland black tatties and Shetland trout might be tricky to get hold of (but the recipe suggests fresh farmed salmon as an alternative).
What’s the faff factor? There is a fair amount of what you might call cooking ‘projects’ such as pickling and jam making, and you might consider building your own cold smoking chamber (although all you need is sturdy cardboard box and a few other bits and bobs from the DIY store) and curing and smoking your own Golden Syrup Bacon a faff, but recipes such as poached salmon or a simply roasted hare are quite straightforward.
How often will I cook from the book? This more an occasional book than everyday, for when you want to get stuck into a day’s cooking or want something a bit different and rustic.
Killer recipes? Fresh mackerel pate; oven bannocks; The apple pie, Jaffa cakes.
What will I love? It’s a great read, both father and son can really write and the whole thing is done with great good humour.
What won’t I like? Some of the recipes may seem recherché and you may not cook as often from this book as others in your collection.
Should I buy it? This is one for the serious foodie or Scottish food fanatic.
Suitable for: Beginners and confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Three stars
Buy this book
Shetland: Cooking on the Edge of the World