Politicians and their plates: Elaine Smith makes spaghetti bolognese
Describe your favourite plate of food to cook.
I like to cook spaghetti bolognese. I make it with pork mince as I don’t eat beef and serve it with garlic bread (gluten free for me) and salad. I’m not a great cook, but I do find it therapeutic when I have the time. In the winter I make loads of potato and leek soup.
Why is it so special?
It’s quick, nutritious, tasty and the family like it. Lots of garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh herbs go into it with a bit of lazy chilli and an oregano oil spray. My secret ingredient is Worcester sauce, which I think gives a lift to many dishes including soups. However, when cooking for veggie friends I discovered it had anchovies in it, so has to be missed out of dishes for vegetarians.
Who have you shared this plate of food with and what was the occasion?
Usually my husband, Vann, and I have it on a Monday (unless he has made his speciality, chilli) and we sometimes share it with my son, Vann jnr, and his fiancée, Charlie. My mum, Moira, and Vann’s mum, Rita, also like it, but if they can’t sit down with us to eat it they get a carry-out. I also use the sauce as a basis for lasagne, which I often make for visiting friends and relatives – again, as it can be made in advance and is quick and tasty.
More generally, what’s your most memorable meal and why?
Before I was put off beef by food poisoning, I used to love steak. There was an amazing Italian restaurant in Muirhead called the Campagnola and, as a teenager, I used to share chateaubriand with my late father-in-law, Bill. The Campagnola has changed its name now, but those meals remind me of happy times and people who are no longer with us.
Have you ever had any culinary disasters?
Sadly, I’m not really an ambitious enough cook to have disasters. I do recall that on one occasion, when I was breastfeeding my son, I managed to forget about putting on potatoes to boil – they were cremated and a good pot destroyed. Last week I forgot to put garlic in my bolognese. More generally I avoid duck as I can’t get it right at all.
What would be your last meal of choice?
Interesting question as we were discussing this very thing recently with our friend Duncan McColl just before heading to Mondo’s restaurant in Coatbridge. Duncan’s choice was broccoli and stilton soup followed by beef stroganoff and a sticky toffee pudding to finish. Unbelievably, all of these choices were available in Mondo that night, so a happy Duncan ordered them. However, as the sweets arrived he asked his wife, Penny, to swap and he took her ice cream. It had suddenly dawned on him that finishing off in full his last meal of choice might be tempting fate!
My own choice would be prawn marie rose with smoked salmon and avocado, sea trout with new potatoes and asparagus followed by apple pie with custard, but given Duncan’s example I won’t be picking them all together on any menu!
What’s your comfort food?
Mashed potatoes with baked beans and a glass of cold milk.
Is there any plate of food that you would never eat?
Tripe. My mum let me try it when I was very young and on bad days I can still taste the horror of it.
What is your favourite thing on the Scottish Parliament menu?
I love the soups, and with two on offer every day there is usually one I can choose. A close second is the crepes with Nutella – too tempting when trying to lose weight though!