BURNS NIGHT

robert burns/shirley spear

This year I won’t be doing  my Burns Night thing. The thought of cooking haggis on crutches just doesn’t appeal.

On the 25th January, anniversary of Scotland’s national bard, I’m heaving the dreaded knee op – not the full bifter plastic joint, I hasten to add, just a vacuum out, scrub and polish which, hopefully, we have me lepping about again soon.

Still, doubtess some of ye (especially those Irish who’ve taken to the wearing of kilts at weddings)  may want each  to celebrate the life and work of the bold Rab.

Here, courtesy of top Scottish chef, Shirley Spear, are recipes for the perfect Burns Supper including a mussel brose to start and her famous hot marmalade pudding to accompany the traditional haggis main course. Shirley is an ambassador for Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink which is being celebrated until the end of May 2011. She is also a cook book author and owner of the award winning restaurant  The Three Chimneys, on the beautiful Isle of Skye. .

Mussel Brose

Stage One. Cooking the mussels.

Ingredients:

1kg mussels, washed and de-bearded. Discard any that are cracked or open

50 grams butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon chopped parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

200mls dry white wine

100mls water

Melt the butter in a large pan. You will need a good lid to fit the pan. Soften the onion and garlic in the hot butter. Stir in the parsley and add some freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the wine and water and bring to the boil. Add all the mussels, lower the heat, cover with close-fitting lid and leave to steam until mussels have opened. (If you want to serve mussels traditionally, cook them to this stage and serve them in warm bowls with the cooking liquor poured over them. Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley and chives when serving.) Remove the mussels using a slotted spoon and leave on a large dish to cool. Strain the cooking liquor through a fine sieve and reserve. Rinse out saucepan.

Stage Two. Making the brose.

Ingredients:

500 grams potatoes, weighed when peeled and diced. Choose a floury variety that is good for mash.

200 grams onion, weighed when peeled and chopped quite small.

50 grams slightly salted butter.

2 rounded tablespoons medium oatmeal.

Approximately 250mls fresh milk plus 150mls double cream.

Freshly ground salt, black pepper, chopped chives and parsley, to finish.

Melt the butter until hot and foamy. Add onions and cook until soft. Add potatoes and stir together with the onion. Allow to cook gently for a few minutes. Pour in the strained mussel liquor. Bring to boil and then simmer with the lid on for at least 20-30 minutes. Add oatmeal, stir and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the cooled mussels from their shells and reserve in a bowl. Retain a few whole for garnish. When brose is cooked, add fresh milk and liquidise. Stir in shelled mussels and the double cream. Reheat and season to taste. Be careful, as salt may not be necessary. Adjust the thickness of the brose at this stage. You may need to add a little more cream or a dash of white wine and water. Finish with freshly chopped chives and parsley stirred through the brose. Serve hot in warmed bowls with whole mussels placed on top for garnish.

Haggis, Bashed Neeps & Tatties

Haggis can be bought from good butcher’s shops and in many supermarkets. Vegetarian versions are also available so no-one needs to miss out. The haggis is already cooked and just needs some careful re-heating until it is piping hot.

Method: Bring a pan of water to the boil. Place the haggis in the pan and turn the heat down immediately. The water should only simmer, not boil as this may burst the case…resulting in a culinary disaster and a ‘murdert haggis’. Some haggis come in a ‘cook-in bag’ to avoid this problem – otherwise wrapping it in foil would help to protect the contents. The length of time it should be gently poached depends on the size of your haggis. As a guide, a 1kg haggis takes around 75 minutes.

For the ‘Neeps’ peel and quarter the turnip and boil for 25 minutes or until soft. Drain and mash with a little butter. Add a teaspoon of caster sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tatties Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain and mash with a little butter and milk to get a smooth, creamy consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Shirley’s Famous Hot Marmalade Pudding

Ingredients:

150gms fine brown breadcrumbs

120gms soft brown sugar

25gms self-raising wholemeal flour (white self-raising would do)

120gms fresh butter, plus extra for greasing the bowl

8 tablespoons well-flavoured, coarse-cut marmalade (homemade is always the best)

3 large eggs

1 rounded teaspoon bicarbonate of soda plus  1 tablespoon water to mix

Butter a 3-pint pudding basin well. Place the breadcrumbs, flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter together with the marmalade, in a saucepan over a gently heat. Pour the melted ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Whisk the eggs until frothy and beat gently into the mixture until blended together well. Last of all, dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tablespoonful of cold water. Stir this into the pudding mixture, which will increase in volume as it absorbs the bicarbonate of soda. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin. Cover it with close-fitting lid, or alternatively, make a lid with circles of buttered greaseproof paper and foil, pleated together across the centre and tied securely around the rim of the basin. Place the pudding basin in a saucepan of boiling water. The water should reach halfway up the side of the basin. Cover the pan with a close-fitting lid and simmer the pudding for 2 hours. The water will need topping-up throughout the cooking period. Turn out on to a serving dish, slice and serve hot, with fresh cream, ice cream, or – as is done at Three Chimneys – with Drambuie Custard.

Drambuie Custard

This is a proper egg custard flavoured with Drambuie liqueur. It is served warm, poured around the pudding. Alternatively flavours could be added, such as vanilla, ginger, or crushed cardamom, if you prefer. A tablespoonful of fresh ground coffee can be added, which is delicious with hot or cold chocolate desserts.

Ingredients:

275mls fresh milk

275mls fresh double cream

6 egg yolks

100gms caster sugar

2 tablespoons Drambuie liqueur

Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar until pale, slightly thick and creamy. Gently warm the milk and cream until it is just beginning to bubble. Pour the milk and cream on to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk together. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Bring to the boil very slowly, stirring all the time. As soon as it begins to thicken, or coats the back of the wooden spoon, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or jug for serving. Stir in the Drambuie, or flavouring of your choice. Serve immediately. Alternatively, cool the custard quickly in a bowl sitting on ice and refrigerate when cold, until required. The custard can be used cold for assembling a trifle, serving with frozen or chilled desserts, or reheated carefully for serving with a hot pudding.

For holiday information on Scotland go to   http://www.visitscotland.com/whiteinvite

Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink is being celebrated until May 2011 and is the first step on the road to Homecoming 2014 and a legacy of last year’s Homecoming celebrations. · The Three Chimneys restaurant and adjoining 5 star accommodation is located on the Isle of Skye www.threechimneys.co.uk

Shirley’s recipe book ‘Three Chimneys, Recipes and Reflections form the Isle of Skye’s World-famous Restaurant’, is published by Birlinn Ltd. Price 16.99

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