Clare Winskill, Owner of Coruisk House Hotel, on Food on Skye
This month’s guest blogger is Clare Winskill, joint owner, with Iain Roden, of Coruisk House, restaurant with rooms, on Skye.
How did I get to know her? On a tour of Scotland a friend of mine and I found ourselves following a long, single-track road hugging some of Scotland’s most glorious coast line. We arrived to a really warm welcome, and we took Coruisk House’s two only rooms, which gave us pretty much the run of the place, and a cosy sitting room to work in (Iain lit the fire).
There were many individual touches in the bedrooms (see photo below; I browsed happily through all five of the books left on my bedside before sinking into a contented sleep, while my friend assiduously studied the local information left in her room).
Bathed and refreshed, down in the restaurant we found Clare to be very knowledgeable on wine, on bread, while I also spotted an interesting selection of gin (some local) on the drinks table. The menu was interesting and creative. All around it was a very special place to stay.
Below Clare gives us a summary of food on Skye together with a recipe for chanterelle soup:
The Isle of Skye has the most amazing natural larder. Coruisk House, the Restaurant with Rooms, in Elgol on the Strathaird peninsula in the south of the island, serves dishes using Skye’s fantastic local ingredients.
Langoustines, lobsters and squat lobsters are sweet and fill creel caught and landed nightly at Elgol harbour, with its spectacular view over Loch Scavaig to the Cuillin ridge.
Mussels are rope grown on Sleat’s Loch Eishort and the best and ‘fattest’ hand-dived scallops are collected and nurtured by David Oakes of Sconser Scallops.
Wild venison is stalked in the hills near Edinbane by David Urquhart of Skye Game.
Rachael and Keith Jackson farm the land around the Macleods Tables, a ‘herculean’ task for just two people and the meat they produce is top quality, succulent and full of flavour whether it is their Soay lamb and mutton or their ‘iron age pork’ (a variety that features 80% wild boar). Many of the dishes at Coruisk House feature the amazing edible leaves and perfect edible flowers of Bridget Hagman of Glendale salads and the luscious aromas of the herbs of Roger Whiddon at Isle of Skye Produce.
The recipe below uses Skye chanterelles, a particular delicacy of the island. The chanterelle soup below has become a real favourite of restaurant guests at Coruisk House where it is served with my bread made with Isle of Skye Brewery Black ale.
November is the time for using up the last of our wild chanterelle mushrooms. They start appearing in July and the last flushes come in late October. Our picker finds them at his regular locations up and down the length of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge, locations which he keeps very close to his chest! The buttery nuttiness of the chanterelle is like no other mushroom and the last of the autumn batches makes for the simplest but most fabulous winter soup.
Recipe for Coruisk House Chanterelle Soup
Makes 4-6 depending on portion size
- 2-3 echalion shallots, roughly chopped. (onions will do, but these shallots are sweeter)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Olive or vegetable oil
- unsalted butter
- approx 300g Chanterelle mushrooms
- Glass dry white wine
- Small glass dry vermouth
- approx 50 ml double cream
- approx 1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock if preferred)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- approx 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- approx 50 ml truffle oil
- Fresh thyme
1. On a gentle heat, sweat the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, avoiding them getting browned.
2. Meanwhile on a medium-high heat, in a separate pan, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil and a generous knob of butter, turning them to brown lightly on all sides.If needs be this can be done in batches.It will only take a few moments, as the objective is not to cook the mushrooms through (which takes little time anyway) but just to brown their outsides in the frying butter.
3. Add the white wine to the shallot pan; allow to heat up and add the browned chanterelles.
4 After a minute or two, once the white wine is bubbling and has started to reduce add approx 850 ml of the chicken stock and heat steadily to a simmer.
5. After around 10 minutes, the pan can come off the heat and is ready to blend either with a stick blender or conventional blender. Remember you may need to allow the mixture to cool before blending to avoid an explosion of lumpy chanterelle soup over both you and your kitchen walls.
6. Pass the resulting mixture through a sieve. This should result in an extra thick base soup which can happily be frozen or chilled at this stage for later use. If it is too thin, return to the pan a reduce for a few more minutes.
7. For service, begin gently to warm the mixture; add the dry vermouth first as the vermouth taste needs a few moments to mingle and the alcohol to heat out; then add the dash of cream and lastly add the chicken stock as appropriate to loosen the mixture to a lovely thick soup consistency. Season to taste with a decent pinch of salt and when it reaches a simmer the soup is ready to serve.
8. For an optional dressing add the optional ingredients together – truffle oil, extra virgin olive oil (to dilute the truffle oil as a little truffle goes a long way in this dish) and fresh thyme leaves; and simply swirl a dessert spoonful on top of the soup. And the most important thing is, when swirling, be creative – think Picasso or Jackson Pollock….
For a recipe for a chanterelles salad, follow this link.
For an interview with Lora Strizic, Hotel Director of The Pig on the Beach, follow this link.