A Perthshire Hilltop Picnic (Recipes Included)

So far this weekend Scotland’s been graced by beautiful spring weather with temperatures reaching 20 degrees in some parts.

Mum and dad are still here until tomorrow so I took a day off essay writing (final undergrad essay ever to be handed in on Monday!) and joined them for a day in the Killin and Loch Tay area about an hour’s drive north-west of Stirling.

As dad turned the ripe old age of 60 in January and I still owed him a present, I’d prepared a special picnic lunch with all kinds of goodies that we feasted on halfway up Ben Lawers. Latvian potato pancakes were on the menu topped off with some soured cream and local smoked salmon. Here’s how to make them if you like the sound of it:

Ingredients (to make about a dozen) : 3 grated baking potatoes; A handful of flour; Single cream/crème fraiche or egg; A pinch of salt

Method: Mix the grated potatoes with a handful of flour and about 2 heaped tablespoons of cream or an egg until it’s a starchy and gloopy mass. Add salt to taste. Pick up enough to make a little patty and squeeze out most of the moisture, forming a “pancake” in your palms. Fry the pancake at a medium heat until it’s golden brown. Voila! Top off with a dollop of soured cream and smoked salmon. (Thanks to my great aunt for teaching me the recipe!)

beetroot dipI also tried a new recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website. The beetroot, horseradish and crème fraiche dip is spicy perfection and such a gorgeous deep pink colour too! With some cruditès on the side, it would be a great addition to any spring or summer outdoor gathering.

Dessert was an experiment really, that ended in success. I bought some sweet shortcrust pastry and pears and used the leftover crème fraiche to make a pear tart. I just put the dough in a cake tin, sliced the pear, spread it all over, sprinkled it with cinnamon and doused it in a crème fraiche, egg and brown sugar mixture. 40 mins in the oven and it was done. It wasn’t overly sweet and would be great with some ice cream or custard too.

Perthshire walkWe didn’t go up the mountain just to eat though…A short drive further we found Glen Lyon, Scotland’s “longest, loveliest and loneliest” as they say. Lots of sights to see there and lots of nature trails to wonder along. We chose an 11mile long one, but only managed a couple… Dad took a hilarious tumble along the way and hit his funny bone sending me and mum into fits of laughter (ho ho ho). It turned out to be a brilliant location for the epically Scottish activity of deer and elk spotting as we saw about 5 in total. Lots of colourful pheasants around too as it appears to be mating season. And cute baby lambs all over the place!

Stopped off for an afternoon pint at an Aberfeldy local and drove on back towards Callander passing through Ewan McGregor’s hometown of Crieff that is beautiful but disappointing if you don’t see him 🙂

If the weather stays like this, there’s potential for lots of trips and picnics up north. Luckily the end of April and May are generally dry and sunny with mild spring sunshine. The uni campus gradually turns into barbeque central too regardless of end of semester deadlines and exams…

(And now back to essay writing – blogging is so much more fun!)

– Miss Red


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