Robert Burns is Scotland's most well-known and best loved
poet: even south of the Border, most people can quote the odd line of
Burns' poetry : "Wee sleekit, cowrin' tim'rous beastie......" (that's
as far as I can get on that one) and of course there's "Auld lang Syne,"
which everybody thinks they know and nobody actually does.
He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire in south-west Scotland, on January 25th
1759, and Burns' Night is celebrated on or around his birthday. For the
details of his life and works there are many websites already on-line,
so I am not about to go reinventing the wheel : click here
for an excellent starting point.
BURNS NIGHT TRADITIONS
A Burns' Night supper must always begin with Burns' own Selkirk
Grace : "Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But
we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit." The menu usually
consists of cock-a-leekie soup (or Scotch Broth) and haggis with "tatties
and neeps" (also known as clapshot - don't ask me why!), Tipsy Laird (sherry
trifle to you and me) followed by oatcakes and cheese, all washed down
with liberal tots of good Scotch whisky! The haggis is "piped" in - brought
in ceremoniously by the chef accompanied by a piper - and "addressed"
with Burns' own Address
to a Haggis poem before being cut and served. Traditional speeches
and toasts punctuate the meal (...more Scotch...) and Burns' Night suppers
range from the formal to the frankly uproarious excuse for yet more partying,
but they all follow the same basic format.
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SOME TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH RECIPES
1 x 1-1.5 Kg (2-3lb) chicken
1 onion, cut into quarters
400-800g (1-2lb) leeks, cut into inch long (2-3cm) pieces,
white and green parts to be kept separate
Chicken stock from boiling the chicken
1 bay leafand a bunch of parsley
6-12 prunes, soaked overnight
salt and pepper
Put the chicken in a large pot and nearly cover with water, add the herbs
and salt and slowly bring to the boil. Skim, cover and simmer until tender,
for approximately 2 hours. Remove the bird, and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile add the green part of the leeks to the stock and add the prunes
(cut ito quarters) and continue to simmer. Cut the meat from the chicken
into smallish pieces and return them to the soup, with the white part
of the leeks. Simmer for a further 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and
Cock-a-Leekie Soup is better the next day, so if you have time, try and
prepare it in advance and reheat it when needed.
400-800g (1-2 lb potatoes), peeled and cubed
An equal amount of peeled and cubed swede (turnip)
salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes and swede separately until they are soft but not mushy
(test with a fork) and drain them well. Mash together with a knob of butter
and salt and pepper to taste.
Heat some beef dripping in a frying pan until hot - a haze will begin
to appear above the pan: DON'T let it burn. Fry the "bashed tatties and
neeps" until browned on the bottom; turn it by tipping carefully onto
a plate and sliding back into the pan to brown the other side.
You may prefer to form the mixture into small flattened cakes or patties
and frying these, turning them with a fish-slice when done on one side.
Serve with the haggis and a rich gravy.
1 Victoria sponge cake, sliced
300g (3/4lb) raspberry jam
2 tablespoons of brandy or Drambuie 1 wine glass of sherry
egg custard (see below)
300g (3/4lb) raspberries
1 tablespoon caster sugar
250 ml (1/2 pint) double cream
Toasted almonds to decorate
To make the custard:
250 ml (1/2 pint) full-cream milk
150 ml (1/3 pint) double cream
2 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
Place the sponge in the base of a large glass bowl and spread with the
raspberry jam. Mix the sherry and the brandy and sprinkle evenly over
the sponge, allowing it time to soak in. Next add a layer of raspberries.
To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence
until it is pale and creamy. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan
until it just reaches boiling point then stir carefully into the
egg mixture. Once it is well blended, return to the pan and stir continuously
over a low heat until the custard thickens. Pour into a dish and allow
it to cool. When it is quite cool, pour the custard over the layer of
fruit, spreading evenly. Next whip the double cream, add sugar to sweeten
and spoon on top of the (set) custard. Decorate with toasted almonds.
"TABLET" - a type of Scottish fudge,
and easily made in the microwave....*
1 small can Carnation milk
1lb caster sugar
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
Cook on high for 12 mins - stir at 4 mins and 8 mins.
Remove from the microwave oven and add few drops of vanilla extract
Beat hard with a wooden spoon.
Pour into a greased tray, mark into squares and cut when cold.
NB : these timings are for a 600 watt
microwave - adjust timings accordingly for other powers.
CLOOTIE DUMPLING - another microwave recipe*
8oz plain flour,
12oz mixed fruit,
1 cup white or brown sugar,
1 cup water or milk,
1 tablespoon treacle,
1 teaspoon each of mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger and baking powder,
Sift baking powder and flour, beat eggs.
Put sugar, water, margarine, treacle, fruit and spices into a large pot
and bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 2 mins.
Allow to cool, add flour, mix well, add eggs and mix.
Line a microwaveable bowl with cling film and pour the mixture in.
DO NOT COVER THE TOP.
Cook at full power for 10 mins.
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*recipes marked with an asterisk courtesy of The
Best of GuidingUK