Posted on www.vanityfair.com (Read original article here.)
The Queen will have to wait a few months before she gets to Balmoral for her summer break, but Her Majesty might well be donning a bit of tartan today to celebrate National Tartan Day. Thursday marks a celebration of Scottish heritage, and, like every morning, Her Majesty, who loves all things Scottish, would have been woken up by the sound of bagpipes. The pipes, which play for 15 minutes, are a royal tradition she grew up with.
Thousands of people around the world are celebrating Scotland and its heritage today, among them is National Tartan Day ambassador, chef Darren McGrady,who cooked for the Queen for 11 years. “I don’t know if the Queen will be marking Tartan Day, but I do know that she loves Scotland. It is the one place she can truly relax,” McGrady told Royal Watch in an exclusive interview to mark the occasion. “When I worked for the royal household, I spent a lot of time in Scotland. The Queen loved to be involved with the annual Thistle Lunch, and she was always very involved with planning the menus. I think she was at her happiest there.”
McGrady is cooking some of the Queen’s favorite recipes in New York today to celebrate the occasion, which is being marked by 11 million people of Scottish heritage in North America. In honor of the day, he has shared two of the Queen’s favorite salmon recipes with Royal Watch.
McGrady said that the Queen loves to eat game and salmon as much as possible while in Scotland. “I remember the Queen Mother and Charles out fishing in the River Dee. They would bring the salmon back to the Palace kitchen where I would prepare it for dinner.”
McGrady also revealed that the Queen also loves to eat berries from her Highland estate, and one of her favorite pastimes is strawberry picking. “The Queen would relax by going strawberry picking and come back with a basket of berries for me to prepare in the kitchen. Her treat was to have them served with a chocolate mousse or chocolate ice cream. She is a chocoholic and loves anything with chocolate in it.”
While Scotland has 17 Michelin-starred restaurants, McGrady said that the Queen always chooses to eat at the Palace when she is in residence. “The orders from the top were to keep the menu fresh and to use as much seasonal produce as possible.”
And, he shared, the one no-no is garlic. “The Queen doesn’t like it, so I never cooked with it.”
Scottish Smoked Salmon and Crabmeat Custards with Horseradish
(Makes 6 small ramekins)
For the custards:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbs chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb sliced Scottish smoked salmon
4 ounces Scottish white crab meat
For the dressing:
2 Tbs horseradish
2 Tbs sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp cider vinegar
1 Tbs chopped chives for garnish
8 oz baby arugula
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Prepare the dressing by mixing all of the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
Melt the butter in the olive oil and sauté the celery and bell pepper until soft. Allow to cool. In a medium bowl beat the eggs and whisk in the milk and cream. Add the chives and season with the salt and pepper.
Line 6 small ramekins with the smoked salmon so that none of the ramekin shows through. Distribute the crab between the 6 ramekins, add the celery and peppers and pour the egg mix on top to fill the ramekins.
Place on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Allow to cool slightly and either serve from in the mold or ease out of the ramekin onto a plate and garnish with the dressing, chives and salad leaves.
Scottish Salmon Glamis
(Makes 6 portions)
Six 8 oz Scottish salmon fillets, center cut
For the Mousse:
12 oz Brill or Halibut center cut
¾ cup heavy cream
1 egg white (save egg yolk for fleurons)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb Cleaned fish bones
2 Stalks celery chopped
1 large Leek, split and washed
1 Onions, chopped
1 small Fresh fennel bulb, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
2 Bay leaves
1 cup Dry white wine
1 quart water
For the sauce:
2 cups fish broth
2 cups Champagne
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
8 oz puff pastry
1 egg yolk
Wash the fish bones well in cold, clean water to remove impurities. In a large stock pot heat all ingredients to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes and strain. Reduce to desired consistency.
Roll out the pastry to ¼ inch thick and cut crescent shapes. Brush with the egg yolk and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Poach the salmon in the fish broth covered in aluminum foil until opaque. Remove to a serving platter and keep warm. Add the Champagne and cream to the poaching liquor and reduce to a syrup. Season with salt and pepper.
Coat the salmon with the sauce, garnish with the pastry fleuron and parsley. Serve with hot rice.