I have written before about How To Have A Burn's Night Supper, but in previous years we have attended Burn's Night events hosted by someone else. This year, we hosted our own dinner at home (last night, although Burn's birthday is actually this Tuesday the 25th) and invited our good friends John, Julia and Devin to join us. These friends, like my family, share a Scottish heritage, and arrived wearing traditional tartan and kilt finery. It was fabulous. I didn't wear my tartan skirt, because I had kitchen duties that could get messy.
Here was our menu:
Neeps and Tatties
Glenmorangie Scotch (10 year)
I was a little nervous about how I was going to pull off this menu in terms of timing, but these are the tricks I used to make it easy: First, I made the Cock-a-leekie soup early in the day in the crock pot. It was done well before our guests arrived. For the salmon, I made a court bouillon (a poaching liquid featuring water, white wine, onions, herbs and spices) and cooked the fish in an electric pan that also kept it warm. I baked the shortbread and made the cranachan earlier in the day. When it came time for dinner, all that remained was to cook and mash the potatoes and turnips, and heat the peas and haggis.
Initially I was resistant to serve haggis from a can. I wanted to preserve my authentic food cred and it rankled me to take a short cut. But the fact is, haggis is made with tripe, lamb liver, lungs, heart etc. and I just didn't have it in me to track down the ingredients and make it happen. So I found an acceptable alternative in a can. It was strictly a heat and serve item, created for more common taste buds. Yes, everybody tried the haggis! The verdict? Not bad! Not bad at all.
Then we drank a wee dram of Scotch and I mangled my way through a reading of Burn's Address to a Haggis. The scotch helped.
How much is a dram, I hear you ask? A dram is an eighth of an ounce. So technically we had a tiny bit more than a dram. But you get the point.
A highlight of the meal for me (other than the hilarity at the table with our friends) was the very traditional Scottish dessert called Cranachan. It was so simple and delicious to make. Here's how:
Whip a cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form
Add a tablespoon of Scotch whiskey
Add a tablespoon or more of heather honey, mix again, and taste until it has the desired sweetness
In a dry pan, Toast about a quarter cup of pin head oats until fragrant.
After the oats cool, gently fold them and mix thoroughly into the whipped cream.
In a serving bowl, dollop the whipped cream mixture in layers with fresh raspberries.
Serve with a generous piece of fresh shortbread.
The moral of the story is-- don't be afraid to have your own Burn's Night Supper at home. You can do it. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of love for all things Scottish! That's me.