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Geordie folk adventurers Rachel Unthank & The Winterset were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize last year, and count members of Radiohead, Portishead, Ewan MacGreggor, Ben Folds, Nick Hornby and Robert Wyatt amongst their admirers. The food was cooked by the band's record producer, manager and Rachel's husband, Adrian McNally. He was flanked by sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, who sang sea and fishing songs while the pot bubbled away. "I never thought my debut performance with Rachel and Becky would be as a cook!" said Adrian, who joins the band on stage as pianist in the Autumn, when they release a new album and do a 40 date UK tour under the abbreviated name, The Unthanks.
Posh Cullen Skink with a Northumbrian twist
I thought I'd invented this myself, when I essentially added fish to a leek and potato soup, spruced up with white wine and plenty of butter and herbs. I served it up to some friends, one of who said "oh, you mean Cullen Skink". Cullen Skink is a Scottish dish from the North East town of Cullen in Moray. Skink is often taken to mean 'soup' in Scots, but it's actually derived from the Middle Dutch word 'schenke', meaning shin or hough. A Scottish soup made from a shin or hough of beef came to be known as a Skink.
I've given my own version of Cullen Skink a Northumbrian twist by using the celebrated smoked Craster kipper, almost in the same way you might use bacon with seafood in order to give it a tasty, salty kick. You can order smoked Craster kippers on line from a number of outlets.
- Saute the shallots and leeks in a small amount of the butter for a few minutes.
- Add the stock cubes and sugar and allow a small amount of caramelisation for a few minutes
- Add the sliced potatoes and mix together for a minute
- Add the boiling water, wine, juice from the lemon and fish sauce. Gently simmer for 12-15 minutes, occasionally squashing the potato with a masher to encourage it to break up. The aim is for some of the potato to break down and thicken the consistency of the soup, and for some of it to stay in small bits, so that you get a soup that is thicker than broth, but that doesn't have that horrible pureed consistency of blended soups. It's soup, not baby food! If there isn't enough liquid to cover the potato, add some of the milk.
- When the potato is all but soft and cooked cooked enough to eat, add the milk and cream, bring back to the boil, then add the fish (apart from the kipper), simmer for a couple of minutes, add the parsley, chives and butter, and season.
Serve using the kipper almost like croutons, garnish with a little more parsley and black pepper.
“Adrian McNally”- A guy who must have been in his 80's came up to me afterwards and said he'd been coming to Taste the World for 10 years, and that my soup was the best food he had tasted here, so that's good enough for me!
“Taste the World compere Roger de Wolf”- It was an absolutely ideal "Taste The World" session, with crackling humour, hauntingly wonderful singing, loads of audience participation and questions, and of course delicious food