Category: Food

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Our 450th edition of Shetland Life magazine is out on Friday 6th April 2018 and we are delighted to give everyone the opportunity to see our latest design and new content by giving it away FREE.

We’ve chosen to showcase Shetland in our main feature with a photography special and fantastic photos from around the islands. 50 top tips from well know local photographers are also included to help you take your best photos ever. 

An interactive music page, delicious recipes, film reviews, health and wellness, competitions, updated puzzle page and fast paced article sections are just some of our new items.

Choose Shetland Life monthly magazine to keep you up to date with everything we know you love about Shetland and its community life – we’d love you to join our growing readership.

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Winning recipe

Thank you to the winner of the 2017 Shetland Cooking Challenge, Susan Msalila, for kindly sharing her winning recipes with us.

Check out November’s Shetland Life to read Susan’s account of winning the competition (she also shares a recipe for beetroot and crab samosas).

Here’s a recipe which makes the most of delicious Shetland lamb.

Lamb and orange khoresh (Diane Henry)


3 oranges
40 g butter
2 tsp caster sugar
olive oil
675 g lamb from the leg, cut into 2 cm cubes
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
275 ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
275 ml lamb stock or water
salt and pepper
3 carrots
good handful of mint leaves, torn
2 tsp orange flower water (optional)
25 g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish


1 Remove peel (no pith) from the oranges with a vegetable peeler, and cut into fine strips about the size of a match. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cook for 2 mins, then strain. Heat half the butter in a small pan and add the orange rind. Stir, then add the sugar and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the sugar has melted and the rind has lightly caramelized. Set aside.

2 Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the lamb cubes over fairly high heat, so that they get a good browning on the outside. You should do this in batches to ensure that they get properly coloured. Remove and set the lamb aside.

3 Add another 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan with the rest of the butter. Fry the onion until soft and translucent. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for another minute. Add the juices, stock and water, and the lamb, with any juices that have run out of it. Season, and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until tender.

4 Peel the carrots and cut them into batons about 6 cm long. Remove the white pith from the oranges then, cutting close to the membrane, remove each segment. Add the carrots and caramelized orange peel (reserving a little for garnishing) to the lamb once it is tender. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 10 min, adding the orange segments in the last few min with half of the mint.

5 Stir the orange flower water, if using, into the khoresh and serve, scattered with the remaining mint and orange peel and the pistachios


200 g couscous
250 ml stock
25g butter
25 g dried apricots
25g dried cranberries
Selection of fresh vegetables, cut into small pieces – I used courgette, rainbow chard leaves and stalks

Chop the apricots into cranberry-sized pieces, and soak together with the cranberries in enough orange juice to cover them.  If you have time, leave them for several hours to plump up, if you haven’t then give them a short blast in the microwave to hurry them up.

Put the stock in a pan and bring to the boil.  Add the butter and the couscous, cover and turn off the heat.  After about 10 minutes stir with a fork to break up any clumps, and add the vegetables, apricots and cranberries (drained of excess orange juice).  Check the seasoning, add salt if required.  Leave another 10 minutes, on a very low heat for part of the time if it seems to have cooled too much.  Serve with the lamb.


This really needs to be made ahead of time, although if you only start it when you start cooking the lamb it will have thickened up somewhat.

Put 500g of natural yoghurt (Greek style is best) in a cloth lined sieve (something like a j-cloth, or muslin square).  Pull up the corners of the cloth so the yoghurt is enclosed, tie the top, and hang it from a cupboard door handle or other convenient place where it can drip into a bowl for a couple of hours.  Once it is thick enough – you are looking to get about 200ml of liquid dripped out – take it out of the cloth, mix in some salt and 1 – 2 mashed garlic cloves, to taste.  The flavours will develop as it stands, so better to start under seasoned and adjust.  Serve really cold.  This will keep in the fridge for days, and is great as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on all sorts of things.

Roast Tomatoes

If you can’t get the sweet soy sauce, you could substitute with ordinary soy sauce mixed with brown sugar.


400 g of tomatoes, either halved, quartered, or cut into 6 depending on how big they are.  You want to end up with something about bite size.
2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce (also called Kecap Manis)
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste


Put the tomatoes cut side up in a shallow casserole dish, in a single layer.  Sprinkle on the other ingredients.  Cook at 180 C for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the sauce has amalgamated and thickened up a little.  Serve at room temperature.

Taste of Shetland

After last month’s hugely successful Taste of Shetland event, we have not one but two mouth-wateringly good food articles written by local chefs.

Akshay Borges writes about the motivation behind his pop-up seafood venture. He also shares a recipe for fresh plaice with cabbage slaw (pictured).

In another article, last year’s Shetland Food Festival winner Christopher Percival reports back on his prize: a fine dining experience at Leith restaurant.

Baking with Marian Armitage

This month, as part of our special Bairns’ Takeover issue, Marian Armitage visited Sandwick School to teach Ella, Gracie, Willum and Kaden how to bake. They have shared the recipe for the delicious flatbreads they made below:

500g Strong Flour
7g Easy Bake Yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons of caster sugar (We didn’t add)
1 tablespoon of soft butter 300ml/1/2 a pint of hand–warm water

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl. Using your fingertips rub in the butter until only fine crumbs are left. Mix in the water with a cutlery knife.

Tip onto a lightly flour dusted surface, and knead for 10 minutes (or use the dough hook attachment on your mixer).

Lightly grease the mixing bowl with some oil. Put the dough back in, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until double in size (about 1 hour depending on how warm your kitchen is).

Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 5 times to get the air out. Mould into a smooth oval and lift into a lightly oiled 900g/2lb loaf tin.

Cover the dough again with a clean tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in the size again. Preheat the oven to 200C : 180C fan : gas mark 6.

Lift the tin onto the middle oven shelf and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you can lift the bread loaf from the tin and when you tap the base it sounds hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

All photographs by Leanne Macleod

Foodie of the month

Local artisan foodie David Polson of Thule Ventus produces air dried salt fish, continuing a long lasting Shetland culinary tradition.

This month David has kindly shared some delicious (and healthy) fish recipes. Find them in March’s Shetland Life, rustle up and tuck in….

Beer Brewing for beginners


Neil Riddell reports on the pleasure to be found in brewing your own beer with like-minded friends Kris Drever, Tim Matthew, Rory Tallack and Adam Guest.

When I was growing up the words “home brew” conjured up images of an unpleasantly acrid liquid or those amiable folkie guys who sang about trows.

But these things change. The craft beer movement has really gathered pace, with dozens of brilliant little breweries springing up all over the country in the past five years or so, and in most major cities you’ll find specialist outlets selling top-notch kits for those who want to have a go at making their own.

Last year a group of us – Rory Tallack, Kris Drever, Tim Matthew and myself – decided to give it a try, and the Amateur Fiddlers’ Association was born.

We’d all recently become dads for the first time and, while our days of late-night partying aren’t altogether finished, they’ve certainly become fewer. This was a way for everyone to get together socially at a time of the day more conducive to a lifestyle revolving around small children, to play some tunes and, eventually, sample our own wares and indulge in our shared love of beer.

After a bit of research, we invested in the necessary kit for extract brewing. The main things required were: a boiler to make the brew; a chiller to cool it down; and a large bucket in which the fermentation takes place prior to bottling. Various other implements and measuring devices were included to aid the process.

Being a scientific novice, I would direct those seeking a detailed technical explanation of said process towards a good brew-it-yourself book or one of the many how-to online videos.

On a bright, breezy Sunday afternoon in late April we gathered in Selivoe on the west side, where Tim lives with his wife Floortje and their (then one-month-old) beautiful baby daughter Tove.

Essentially, the basic method involves steeping some grains, boiling the liquid for an hour and adding different hops at different times, cooling it down and “pitching” some yeast.

Soon we had a plastic bucket full of pale brown liquid bubbling away while Shetland fiddle tunes rang out from the steam-filled porch. The brewing process resulted in a pleasing malty odour pervading the rest of the house for several hours – well, Floortje says days – afterwards.

By the afternoon’s end, the bucket was bound for a cupboard (it’s important to get the storage temperature right) to start a fortnight-long fermentation, while Tim’s beloved collie Belle lapped up the discarded malty juice with panache.

Midway through May it was back to Selivoe to prime (add sugar to) and bottle the mysterious liquid, followed by more days waiting for the finished product. Most brews are drinkable in a week or so, though carbonation can take a while to complete and the taste tends to improve over time.

No one really knew what to expect, but you can imagine our delight when – after weeks of suspense – the first batch, an American pale ale, turned out to be not just quaffable but downright delicious.

Each brew tends to yield around 22-23 litres of beer, enough for around a dozen bottles apiece costing a mere 40p per bottle.

We were so pleased with our debut brew AFAAPA (Amateur Fiddlers’ Association American Pale Ale, to give its full title) that it created a tension between the desire to drink it all down and the urge to dish out sample bottles to beer-loving pals.
AFAAPA even received an on-stage endorsement from The Unthanks when they played Mareel earlier this year.

Both Kris and Tim have extensive touring commitments with the weird and wonderful LAU, while there have been a whole bunch of baby birthday parties to attend, so beer-making get-togethers have been fairly ad-hoc this summer.

But we have managed to turn out four batches to date. Number two, Slippery Hammer, was a personal favourite – a highly refreshing German-style wheat beer.

It derived its name from the problems encountered in bottling. The capping device that came with our kit wasn’t really up to the job, so Tim improvised and created his own, vastly superior version. We’re fortunate to have one of the world’s more practical-minded people among our number.

The third brew, an amber/summer ale called Welcome Guest, was the first to feature the metaphorical fingerprints of our new fifth member – Yorkshireman and Shetland Times scribe Adam Guest, back from a short stint in Aberdeen.

Next up we’re planning to experiment with mashing our own grain and making a Belgian-style saison (a light, fruity ale). Other ideas include a Christmas ale and revisiting some of the earlier brews with a view to perfecting the taste. Who knows, we might even try selling it someday.

We’d all thoroughly recommend giving brewing your own a try. It’s a rewarding hobby socially, educationally and creatively, and once all is said and done you get to drink some really tasty beer for a budget price.

Get glowing!

July’s Shetland Life is all about health and fitness. Here’s raw food chef Heather Moncrieff with some top tips on how to look and feel your best −not just this month, but all year round!


A delicious cheesecake made from raw ingredients

Be Balanced

Need something between meals? Go for a snack – one that includes protein, fat, and carbohydrate. I like green apple wedges with nut butter. Alternatively, spread some pumpkin seed nut butter on a slice of one of the wonderful range of raw breads which are available at Scoop. The fat and protein in the nut butter curbs my hunger and also prevents my blood sugar from dipping or spiking too much.

Get steaming

I steam my veg if I feel like something warm, as this is one of the best cooking methods for maximizing taste and colour, while retaining the maximum amount of nutrients in vegetables (and fish if you are not vegan).  Vegetables have so much flavour: simply by steaming them and finishing off with some fresh herbs, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, you can produce a healthy, satisfying and delicious dish.

Discover coconut oil

Coconut oil is a true superfood. It contains fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties. It can also prevent obesity and improve digestion. Best of all, it only takes 3 minutes to make your own, which will have none of the sugars or additives found in store bought goods.

Find out more about fermented foods

These are chock-full of “probiotics” or good bacteria. Having a healthy gut is a major factor in maintaining optimal health, as a robust immune system is your top defence system against all disease. There are lots of fermented food options out there. Kefir is a fermented milk product which tastes like a drinkable yogurt. It’s available from Scoop. Other more common fermented foods are Sauerkraut, Pickles and Miso.  They are delicious and brilliant sources of protein for any diet, especially a vegan one.

Try a colonic session

Colonics can help improve your body’s overall health and wellness, and may even reduce your risks for colon cancer.  If you wish to feel the health benefits having a colonic can bring you then please phone me at the clinic on 01595 482848, email me at hmm@shetland or contact me on my Facebook page at Shetland Colonics.

The Ultimate Reestit Mutton Pie

Reestit Mutton Pie 1 660

This is the time of year when many Shetlanders turn to a good plateful of taatie soup and reestit mutton. With Christmas and the New Year behind us and Up-Helly-A’ to come, as well as just for folk coming “in about da nicht” for a tune or a good sheeks, what could be more welcoming or warming?

This month I am also writing about pastry. For some of you who do not have the time or patience or “coodna be buddered wi aa da kerry-on” then please go straight to the shops and buy a block of puff pastry. I think that all-butter pastry has a far superior flavour but I have had difficulty in finding it locally – so do “sharg” at the management if you can’t find it.

Reestit Mutton Pie 2 660

I was first taught to make flaky pastry at the “Institute” with Lorna Ward in the early 70s. She was a stickler for organisation and a formidable teacher and I have never forgotten the processes, proportions or rules.

It is flakier than rough puff but not quite as complicated and tricky as puff pastry. The combination of butter and lard after much experimentation gives an excellent balance of flavour and a lovely flaky crumb. Vegetarians can substitute white vegetable fat for lard. You need to allow several hours as the pastry should rest in the fridge for a good half an hour at least twice during the process. However, this can be fitted in with other tasks – so if the wadder is foul then get organised and have a go. It is a most satisfying set of procedures and the results are delicious. You will not be disappointed.

Back to the reestit mutton. In the weeks before Christmas the first stages of our “national dish” begin. The mutton to be reestit will be a fine hog – maybe 18 months or a bit older certainly after their “hard teeth” are through (they replace the “lambing” teeth.) Most of the sheep sold as lamb are the younger, usually peerie animals with sweet and delicious tender meat.

These hogs have an altogether different bone structure, they are bigger, heavier and the flesh has a stronger flavour with a creamier white fat. The animals are cut into manageable sized pieces – tees (legs) shoulders and muckle pieces of the ribs and belly. (The fine peerie rib-bones are best eaten by being picked over in the privacy of the kitchen with fingers only, fat running down the chin, plate of taatie soup and a fine warm bannock at the side and not in a hall in your best Up-Helly-A’ “froak”!)

The mutton lies in a brine pickle (strong enough for a taatie to float) for two to three weeks. One Shetlander I spoke with, from the Wast Side explained that before being put into the pickle, “coorse saat” is rubbed into the meat which helps the uptake of pickle into the meat. They also use the “floating egg” method to check the level of saat. When the egg lifts with the air pocket uppermost then the saat concentration is just right. If the egg tilts on its side then the pickle is “ower saat” and needs adjusting.

Next, the meat is hung up to dry, which takes about four weeks. The tradition of hanging the meat above the peat fire has now mostly gone – but it would be such a great thing to revive and at least one local butcher has given it some consideration. Could there be a market for “premium peat-smoked traditional reestit mutton”?

Once you have your piece of reestit mutton which is almost always on the bone – it needs to be covered in cold water and brought to the boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for a good half an hour or so. It is important to taste the water and if it is ‘ower saat’ pour off some or all of the water and replace with fresh water. Many folk do this the day before making soup so that the fat which rises to the top can be allowed to “sturken” and easily lifted off.

The taatie soup then, is made by adding sliced onions and medium sized cut up pieces of taatie, neep and carrot to the mutton in the pot. Add water to cover the meat and vegetables by about two inches. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

After a good hour the meat and vegetables will be done. The meat can be lifted out and cut into small pieces to eat with the soup.

It is likely that the pot will take several re-heatings as folk come and go over an evening’s celebrations. Health and safety?!

REESTIT MUTTON PIES are made by Shetland butchers and I know that Anderson Butchers’ ones are very popular for a quick and substantial bite. They use reestit mutton from lambs reared in Kergord by Brian Anderson. The pies have shortcrust pastry underneath and a puff pastry lid they contain lamb as well as reestit mutton, together with taaties, onions, neeps and carrots.

Flaky Pastry

This recipe for flaky pastry makes a large batch which can be halved and frozen for another time – or make a tray of lovely sausage rolls

  1. 400g plain flour
  2. 150g butter – at room temperature
  3. 150g lard (white vegetable fat for vegetarians) at room temperature
  4. 150-175ml cold water
  5. A good pinch of salt
  6. Lemon juice – a good squeeze (The lemon juice helps the gluten to stretch which gives good flaky layers)
  • Firstly mix the two fats on a plate and divide into four portions.
  • Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in one quarter of the fat until it is incorporated evenly.
  • Add the water and lemon juice and mix with a palette knife carefully until an elastic but not sticky dough is formed. This will need a little judgement so don’t add all the water at first. Knead very lightly.
  • Roll out to make a large rectangle with good square corners. Use a little flour as necessary.
  • Cover the top two-thirds of the pastry with the second quarter of fat – evenly in small dots.
  • Fold into three by bringing the lower third (with no fat) up and the top third down.
  • You can now see how the pastry will become beautifully layered.
  • Press the pastry firmly with the rolling pin both at the edges and across the length. This will help to distribute air.
  • Give the pastry a quarter turn clockwise. Chill for at least half an hour.
  • Roll out, then repeat twice more so that all the fat is used up.
  • Do a final extra roll-and-fold – refrigerate again – then it is ready to use.

Reestit Mutton Pie

This pie is a little lighter with cut up reestit mutton, diced carrots, neeps and taaties, some onions and a pastry lid only. For four to six people – depending on hunger levels.

  1. 350g carrots – cleaned and diced
  2. 350g neep – peeled and diced
  3. 150g taatie – peeled and diced
  4. Two large onions roughly chopped
  5. Freshly ground black pepper
  6. A small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  7. 250g cooked reestit mutton cut into pieces
  • Prepare the filling by cooking the vegetables in some reestit mutton stock and add a good handful of chopped parsley with the meat according to the size of your dish.
  • If you can, use a pie dish with a lip – a china pie dish is good and the traditional Falcon enamel dishes are still available and are excellent.
  • Light the oven to 220°C – good and hot.
  • Roll out half the above quantity of pastry and use the pie dish to mark out and cut the lid to the correct size.
  • From the trimmings, cut a half – inch wide strip, moisten the lip dish with water and lay this round the dish. Make some pastry leaves or other decoration with the rest of the scraps – they are too good to waste.
  • Add the vegetables and mutton and use enough brö to keep the filling moist.
  • Carefully lift on the lid and use water to press it firmly on to the prepared edge.
  • Flake up the edges using a sharp knife and make an attractive fluted edge with your thumb.
  • Add the pastry decorations and make a hole in the middle to help steam escape.
  • Beat a small egg and brush all over the top – but not the fluted sides as you want them to rise.
  • Place near the top on the oven on a baking sheet and give it a good 20 minutes to get the top of the pastry a good golden brown.
  • Reduce the heat to 150° and give it a further 45-55 minutes. Lay a sheet of baking paper on top if it is browning too much.
  • Enjoy this fine pie with some lightly cooked Shetland Kale or another green vegetable.

For vegetarians, (no lard in the pastry) Use the same combination of vegetables and add a bayleaf and half milk/water for the brö. Then add cubes of any good crumbly white cheese – Artisan Shetland Cheese is usually available in Scoop Wholefoods and would be very suitable. Cook as above right.