My “Address to a (vegetarian) Haggis”, and other food in celebration of Burns Night…

I may not be Scottish but that won’t stop me cooking up a Scottish feast in celebration of Burns Night. Infact, one of the main things I’ve learnt about Burns Night is that it’s celebrated around the World (not just in Scotland) and in fact, Robert Burns appears to be one of the most inspirational and celebrated individuals to have ever graced the face of the Earth!

Inspiring the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Bob Dylan and many many books and movies; such as John Steinbeck’s “of Mice and Men”, and “When Harry Met Sally”, there’s no wonder that people from many nations throw a massive birthday party in his honour!

Living just 37 years, it appeared “Rabbie” lived his life to the full, fathering 12 children through multiple women and filling his life with booze and parties! However, none of that stopped him from gaining a reputation that made his face the first ever feature on a coca cola bottle, have his poems turned into a musical album by Michael Jackson or his book being taken on a 5.7million mile trip 217 times around the Earth.

For those of you (just like me), that before today knew nothing about Robert Burns or the history of Burns night, I feel confident in saying that you will most definitely be aware of, and most likely sang his most famous lyrics… probably whist hugging your friends and family and seeing in the New Year – that of course, is Auld Lang Syne!

Burns Night quite rightfully celebrates the countryman’s contribution to Scottish culture; with delicious traditional food, music, poetry and whisky being a priority, and therefore I wanted to re-create some of those favourite Scottish dishes myself (and I hope I do him and his country proud).

What better way to start a Scottish feast that with some of it’s finest produce, and even though I live many miles away in the South East of England, that doesn’t stop me popping to my local supermarket and picking up a pack of delicious Loch Lomond smoked salmon for this scrummy starter….

Loch Lomond Smoked Salmon with Horseradish and Salmon Cream, Beetroot Puree, Quails Eggs and Truffle Toasts

Serves 4

For the Truffle Toasts

  • 4 slices bread
  • Drizzle truffle oil

For the beetroot puree

  • 75g cooked beetroot
  • Juice ¼ lemon
  • 1 sprig thyme (leaves only)
  • 1 tbsp crème fresh

For the Horseradish and Salmon Cream

  • 75g roasted salmon fillet – I bought this pre-cooked in a 3 for £10 offer, along with the smoked salmon and some prawns (but these can be used on another day, along with the leftover salmon).
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp Scottish heather honey
  • 1 tsp creamed horseradish
  • 2 tbsp crème fresh

To serve

  • 4 slices smoked Loch Lomond salmon
  • 4 small handfuls rocket
  • 8 quail eggs – boiled for 2 minutes and then cooled in cold water before peeling and slicing in half

Pre heat the oven to 160’C

Slice the crusts off your bread and squash the slices flat (cut them into a circle or shape if you feel like being a bit fancy).

Drizzle your oil over a baking tray and rub this over the bread. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and crisp.

While your toasts are cooking, whiz all your ingredients together into a smooth puree, and then do the same with the salmon cream ingredients (make your sure wash your blender in-between if you don’t want everything bright purple!

Set out 4 plates and lay a sheet of smoked salmon onto each.

Place your toast on top with a pinch of rocket and a dollop of the salmon cream.

Dot your beetroot puree around the plate and then finish up with your quail eggs.

 

And now onto the main…

Vegetarian Haggis served with a Neeps and Tatties Cake and Whisky Sauce

And as you can’t have a traditional Scottish supper without the mention of Haggis, I had to attempt it for a main. However, as I decided to cook this rather last minute I didn’t exactly have easy access to a sheep’s stomach, heart and lungs, so instead I decided to go down the vegetarian route, and I’m so glad I did! This is quite possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten! (if you don’t believe me just ask the three meat-mad men who licked their plates clean!!). I even served it with traditional Neeps and Tatties, resisting the urge to add my usual greens to the mash, and topped off the dish with a creamy whisky sauce – all one very happy plate of food (and belly)!!!

For the Haggis

Serves 4

For the Neeps and Tatties

  • 2 large potatoes – peeled and sliced
  • 500g swede – peeled and sliced
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash truffle oil

For the Haggis

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 30g of butter
  • 1 white onion
  • 80g of shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 pinches of nutmeg
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g of tinned green lentils
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 250ml of vegetable stock
  • 50g of porridge oats
  • 300g of tinned borlotti beans, rinsed, roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 tbsp of fresh sage
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 savoy cabbage
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the Whisky Sauce

  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 0/5 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp whisky
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Boil the swede in salted water for 10 minutes and then add potatoes for a further 20 minutes until completely tender. Drain and then return to the pan under a very low heat for a few minutes to dry out.

Take off the heat and squash the veg into a chunky mash with the butter a twist of salt and pepper

Heat oven to 180’C and grease a baking dish with your truffle oil (I found a round cake tin was perfect for this). Fill this with your Neeps and Tatties, squashing it in well and set aside until you are ready to cook your haggis.

Once golden and crisp, remove from the oven, turn out onto a board and cut into wedges.

To make your vegi haggis, heat the butter to a medium- low heat in a large pan and gently fry the onions and garlic. Add the mushroom, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and allspice and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes

Add the carrots, lentils and lemon zest and pour in the stock to cover the ingredients. Cover the pan and simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Blend the oats until you have breadcrumb consistency and then add these to the pan, stirring for 2-3 minutes until it has soaked up most of the liquid.

Add the lemon juice, beans, herbs and season with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly before stirring in the egg yolks.

Carefully breakaway 8 of the cabbage leaves (discarding the outer one and rinse.

Heat a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the leaves for 4 minutes. Remove and instantly plunge into a bowl of ice cold water for 5 minutes. Remove and then set to dry on between two clean tea towels.

Use some scissors to carefully cut off the chunky vein at the bottom of the leave (still keeping your leaves in in tact.)

Lay out a sheet of cling film and then one by one lay a leaf on top, fill with an eighth of the mixture and seal it up into a little parcel. Wrap tight in the cling film and set aside while you repeat the process with the other leaves.

Preheat a large pan of boiling water and gently simmer your parcels (with the lid on) for half an hour. This is also the time to put the Neeps and Tatties in the oven.

For the whisky sauce, simply gently heat all the ingredients together 5 minutes before you are due to serve until just steaming. Transfer to a pre-warmed jug to take to the table (as you are bound to want more!).

Once cooked, remove the leaves from the water and allow to cool slightly. Snip one end of cling film to release each haggis and serve immediately with your Neeps and Tatties and whisky sauce.

And Finally……

Cranachan with Mini Lemon Meringues

And so to pud… and what better way to finish this delicious Scottish dinner with an awesome cranachan! (if you’re Scottish please don’t shout at me for adding the meringues, but I had the egg whites left over from the haggis and just couldn’t resist!) For those looking for a quick, easy truly scrumptious desert that this one is King!

For the Meringues

  • 1 egg white
  • 65g caster sugar
  • zest ½ lemon

To assemble

  • 2 tbsp medium oats
  • 300g fresh raspberries
  • 350ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp Scottish heather honey
  • 2-3 tbsp whisky, to taste

To make the meringues, pre-heat the oven to 75’C

Whisk the egg white until forming stiff peaks.

Add the sugar a spoon at a time, whisking between until you have a lovely shine and peaks.

Fold through the lemon zest and then transfer to a piping bag.

Pipe little peaks onto a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

Once cooked, leave aside until ready to assemble

Spread your oats out on a baking sheet and grill until it smells rich and nutty, keep your eye on it so as not to burn

Whisk the cream until just set, and stir in the honey and whisky. Taste the mix and add more of either if you feel the need.

Stir in the oatmeal and then alternate layers of the cream with raspberries and meringue between 4 glasses and finish with an extra drizzle of honey and enjoy!

 

 

And for those of you who are partial to a bit of poetry, what better way to end my Burns night post than with a poem from the man himself…. About Haggis (if, like me you don’t really understand any of it you can totally google the translation!)!!!

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

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