Scottish fare isn’t for the faint of heart

Published 12:00am Saturday, January 21, 2012

Through the years we have gone to several Burns dinners and enjoyed them overall. On our trip to Scotland last summer, we visited Ayshire for the first time. Bobby Burns, the poet of Scotland, was born there on Jan. 25, 1759. We bought a book –The Ultimate Burns Supper Book. As it is billed this “practical (but irreverent) guide to Scotland’s greatest celebration,” it gave us the idea to host our own Burns Dinner. We love all things Scottish, and a Burns Dinner to celebrate the bard should be fun.

The evening will begin with a Scotch, of course! We brought back several kinds from the distilleries we visited last summer. Our favorites are the smoky ones from the islands.

The usual grace said is the Selkirk Grace (said by Burns himself at the table of the Earl of Selkirk, July 1793):

Some hae meat and canna eat

And some wad eat that want it

But we hae meat and we can eat

An sae the Lord be thankit.

The appetizer will be smoked salmon on potato cakes.

 

Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Serves 4

1 lb. floury potatoes, peeled and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 oz. butter

1 oz. plain flour

¼ pint double cream (use heavy whipping cream if your cannot find the double cream)

2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

5 tbsp. crème fraîche (can use sour cream)

1 tbsp. horseradish sauce

8 oz. smoked salmon, slices

Salad leaves, to serve

Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain thoroughly, then mash until free of lumps. Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk, together with the butter. Beat until smooth and creamy. Slowly beat in the flour and cream, them season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Beat the crème fraîche (sour cream) and horseradish sauce together in a small bowl, cover with cling-film and reserve.

Heat a lightly oiled, heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Place a few spoonfuls of the potato mixture in the hot pan and cook for four to five minutes until cooked and golden, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove from the pan, drain on absorbent kitchen paper towels and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Arrange the pancakes on individual serving plates. Place the smoked salmon on the pancakes and spoon over a little of the horseradish sauce. Serve with salad and the remaining horseradish sauce and garnish with lemon slices and chives.

 

Now is the time for the “address to a Haggis.”

My husband will be in his kilt and will bring in the Haggis, which I will purchase, but not make, but since we have no piper, a tape of some bagpipes will have to suffice. My husband will do an abbreviated version of the address:

Ye Pow’rs wha gie us a’ that’s gude…And on our board, the king of food, A glorious Haggis!

To make this course more palatable, I plan to serve it on an oatcake. I am going to try and make my own oatcakes. I have read that the secret is coarse oatmeal. Guess I will have to go to a good food store to fine this! You can buy these in gourmet food stores. They are served all over Scotland and especially at breakfast.

 

Oatcakes

Makes about 35-40

1 ½ cups self-rising flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 2/3 cups (coarse Scotch oats)

1 ¼ sticks butter

3 oz. water and milk mixed together

Sift the flour, soda and salt into a bowl and stir in the oatmeal. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, then stir in the milk and water mixture. Sift some extra flour onto a table or work surface, and roll out the dough. Cut into rounds about 2 inches in diameter, and carefully lift them on a baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven, 350 degrees until golden pale brown, for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. When the oatcakes are cold, store them in an airtight container.

To freshen up oatcakes that have been kept for several days, heat them on a baking sheet in a moderate oven for five minutes. They taste slightly toasted and delicious.

A Shepherd’s pie with lamb, topped with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) mashed with cream, of course, will be the main course. The final course will be sticky toffee pudding…and perhaps some Scottish cheeses (if I can find them), coffee and maybe, a Scottish liqueur.

Somewhere in the finishing of the meal, we will toast the queen, the president (or a toast to his replacement in 2012 depending on your politics.) Traditionally there is a speech known as “The Immortal Memory” which I think we shall skip. We can do the “the toast to the lassies” and “the toast to the laddies.”

We will end with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

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