HebCelt cooks up recipe book to mark food festival

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The 20th anniversary Hebridean Celtic Festival, which starts today (Wednesday, 15 July), is providing music fans with food for thought by creating its own cook book to celebrate the islands’ food and drink riches.

Leading artists, sponsors, local chefs and members of the HebCelt team have supplied their favourite recipes inspired by Hebridean produce for the online resource.

Among the recipes contributed is a fish pie from festival director Caroline Maclennan; A Moroccan style dish using Lewis lamb, from singer Alyth McCormack; steamed salmon, from Éamonn Coyne, banjo player with the Treacherous Orchestra; and a salmon ‘surprise’, featuring Stornoway black pudding, from one of the festival sponsors, the Scottish Salmon Company.

Others include haddock and prawn fishcakes, from the chef at an Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway; crabcakes, made by Maggie Mackenzie, of Café Roo in Knock, Lewis; and a beef and Hebridean ale pie, from Niall Kirkpatrick, chief cook on the CalMac ferry the MV Loch Seaforth.

The online cook book is available on the HebCelt website – www.hebceltfest.com and followers are being encouraged to contribute their own favourite dishes featuring local produce.

Caroline Maclennan said: “The cook book is a fun way for people to share their favourite recipes, but it is also a serious project to promote the wonderful produce we have on our doorstep.

“We hope people will send their own recipes so we can build up a resource of locally-inspired dishes.”

The award-winning festival, which is being held from 15-18 July, is creating the book as part of Blasad dhen Fhèis -Taste the Festival – being held at HebCelt to raise awareness of the rich array of food and drink available in the islands.

Blasad dhen Fhèis is being held as part of the Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015, delivered by VisitScotland. It is also supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and a range of community groups.

Alan Mackenzie, VisitScotland’s Outer Hebrides Island Manager, said: “I’ve been lucky to live in the Outer Hebrides my whole life. I may be biased, but I can think of no better place to enjoy Scotland’s outstanding natural larder.

“The unique landscapes and varied weather in the Outer Hebrides form the perfect environment for a range of delicious ingredients. For me, there is nothing better than settling down of an evening to enjoy a fantastic seafood platter followed by a bowlful of cranachan. Yum!”

Also as part of the food festival, 28 local producers, suppliers and outlets have created a Food Trail to showcase local food and drink champions the length and breadth of the Hebrides, from the Butt of Lewis to the island of Barra.

Taste the Festival will also feature a series of pop-up cookery demonstrations during HebCelt. The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) is supplying fish for the demos as part of their support for HebCelt.

Craig Anderson, managing director of SSC, said: “Salmon is Scotland’s number one food export and as part of the national Year of Food and Drink we’re proud to support the festival in its 20th anniversary.

“Through the sponsorship of this year’s cookery demonstrations we’re working with local chefs to showcase our salmon as fresh, healthy, and easy to cook.”

The food shows will be held in four locations, including a finale within the main festival arena. They will feature renowned local chefs including Alasdair Macleod and Maggie MacKenzie, both of whom have appeared on numerous Gaelic TV food shows.

The pop-up demos will be held at the Buth an Rubha & Cafe Roo, a newly-established community shop and café based in Knock in the Point district of Lewis; at the Horshader Growing Project in Shawbost on the west-side of Lewis, which is now in its second year of full production; a farmers’ market run by the Lewis & Harris Horticultural Producers in Stornoway; and the festival arena in the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway.

Angela Macleod, development manager for Horshader Community Development, said: “We are delighted to be part of this important initiative. Our partnership with HebCelt will allow us to access an audience of many thousands to spread the message.”