Thursday, 26 March 2015

Savoury Vegetable Cheesecake from Shetland - and a book review

My dad's family originally came from Scotland.  The family myth is that our great-great grandfather Jock came over under somewhat suspicious circumstances, escaping from who knows what? - a pregnant girlfriend, a bit of break and enter, maybe a touch of murder - it is a mystery probably never to be solved.  Mr Pickings and I have spent some time in Scotland, and absolutely loved it.  It is so beautiful, and its history and architecture (and accents) touch my heart.  We won't speak too much about the food; needless to say I am sure it is much better these days.  We were amazed by the signs in corner stores for Iced Drinks! as though it were something really special.  The fridges were tiny and only held a few cans; perhaps the electricity was hugely expensive?  And we never did get around to trying fried Mars Bars which were readily available at the local takeaway stores.
We spent a wonderful few nights on the Isle of Skye; never have I seen such deeply black skies with not a light to be seen anywhere.  We walked about a hundred metres away from the Hostel, and had to turn back as it was pitch-black. We did a bit of walking over the Scottish moors and hillsides, up to our ankles in mud, while the gentle rain kept us soaked all day.  We struggled up Ben-Y-Vrackie, a mountain near Pitlochry in our boots and wet weather gear, while ladies in their 70s blithely strolled on by, wishing us good day.  We felt like wimps!

File:Ben Vrackie (worldofjan).jpg
(image Wikimedia Commons Author Jan Zeschky "world of Jan")   

I subscribed a while ago to the Facebook page of the Shetland Times.  It is full of interesting news about the mackerel quota, the crimes committed on Shetland (not many it seems), and the recent up-Helly-Aa festivities celebrating their Viking past.  I get a smile every day from this page.  I loved the recent story about a chap who was arrested for lurking outside a house where he had no business to be.  I love it that he wasn't arrested for attempted burglary, or any such crime, it was just that he had no reason to be there!  There was also a story about one of the fellows who was staying on a large boat they have in the harbour, being exiled from Shetland.  Apparently there is nowhere for these workers to live, so they grabbed an old cruise ship or some such so that 500 blokes had a bed. Unfortunately, one of them got a bit drunk and disorderly so was ordered off the island, never to return.  Mmm maybe a practice to emulate?!
Some months ago, I came upon mention of a wonderfully interesting cookbook called Shetland Food And Cooking by Marian Armitage.  I had been reading the blog elizabethskitchendiary - "possibly Britain's most northerly food blogger"; she is resident on Shetland so I bet this is true:).  Her Instagram page had a photo of this book and I was determined to get hold of it.  I tried through AmazonUK to no avail as they didn't post this to Australia, so I went to the source - The Shetland Times who are the publishers.  Within a couple of weeks, I had it in my hot little hand even though it was over the New Year break.  I was impressed with their speed:)  It is a delightful book, full of fascinating recipes like rhubarb hooch, and sassermaet clatch, something like shepherd's pie apparently.  There are all sorts of recipes, including dishes like ceviche and lasagne, herrings, curry, breads, desserts, you name it!  I love the way it is a hodge-podge, with sweets coming before and after meat recipes, and then back to more sweets or breads or fish.  It is a real roller-coaster ride!
I am planning to make some more of these recipes but for now, I have made this one - Savoury Veg Cheesecake, an interesting idea and "quite surprising" says Mr Pickings.  I hope he meant in a good way; I think he did:)


250g diced and roasted vegetables - I used pumpkin and carrot
75g. butter
120g. oatcakes
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds - (just noticed the recipe says 2 tsp-oops!  it was nice with the extra but use less if you fancy)
50g. vintage cheddar/tasty cheese - grated
400g. ricotta
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs cornflour
1 tbs chopped fresh herbs - recipe says tarragon but I used parsley and dried oregano
black pepper to taste
salt to taste


Chop the veggies into smallish dice and toss in 1 tbs oil and season to taste
Roast for about 20 mins in a 220C oven till tender
Allow to cool
Turn the oven down to 160C
Throw the oatcakes into a processor and blitz till you have fine crumbs
Melt the butter and mix in the oatcake crumbs, sesame seeds, some black pepper and salt
Take off the heat and stir in the grated cheese
Press into a lightly buttered 20cm. spring-form pan
Place in the fridge to chill
Grab a large bowl and add the ricotta, eggs, cornflour, herbs, pepper and salt
Whisk till smooth
Spoon half the mix onto the base, then spread the veggies evenly over it
Spoon the rest of the cheese mix over the top
Bake for about 45 mins - you want it to be a bit wobbly in the middle as it will firm up in the tin
Leave to cool in the tin
Serve with salad in summer or steamed veggies in winter
Serves at least 4

roast the diced veg for about 20 mins at 220C  

toast the sesame seeds and blitz the oatcakes   

grate the tasty cheese 

mix in the cheese with the butter, oatcake crumbs, sesame seeds and seasoning  

push into the lightly buttered spring form pan and refrigerate   

whisk the wet ingredients together till smooth   

all smooth!

dot the veg evenly over half the cheese mixture  

spoon on the rest of the cheese mixture over the veg.  

ready for the oven - about 45 mins at 160C    



Remember to make sure the oven is on 160C when baking the cheesecake!  The recipe calls for Shetland butter and oatcakes but alas I could only find Bath oatcakes.  I am sure they are equally delicious.  Personally, I think this dish would be improved with some protein; a bit of roasted, diced chicken or salmon tossed through it before baking but I leave that up to you, readers.

Mackay tartan (Wikimedia Commons T. Steifer 2006) 


  1. Ock wee lassie. It sounds wonderful.

    1. It is wonderful and perfect for your vegetarian sensibilities­čśâ

  2. Very cool to learn about another countries food, my husband's family is Scottish also. This looks good, how very adventurous of you to try it. I do love cheesecake but I associate mine with dessert.

    1. hi nikki
      i have been dying to try out a savoury cheesecake so this was timely. it is quite delicious if a tiny bit bland for my tastes.:)

  3. I love this idea!!

    I too fell in love with Scotland the first time I visited. We drove from Glasgow to Inverness and I was convinced we needed to move there. My grandmother was a Scottish Ross but I don't think that makes me very Scottish. :)

    1. I think that makes you very Scottish maureen­čśâ. It's a wonderful place.

  4. Mmmm - delicious Sherry - love this sort of dish.

    1. Thanks rachel. It was different and not bad to eat:)

  5. This is a most interesting cheesecake, I've never had a savory cheesecake before. I'm intrigued, great recipe!


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