Scottish fare graces the table tonight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 25, 2014

This year I am doing a Bobby Burns dinner in honor of the great poet of Scotland. His birthday is today, Sat., Jan. 25, and this is a Saturday night this year so I only though it appropriate to have a party on this evening. I did this party two years ago and it was much fun, but I am changing my menu this year. I have several different single malt scotches to choose from since we were in Scotland last August. I also bought some more haggis. Now some people would like to skip this course!

A good soup will warm the belly.

A good soup will warm the belly.

The first supper was held in memoriam at Ayrshire at the end of the 18th century on July 21, the anniversary of Burns’ death. It was first held on his birthday in 1802, and the poet is now celebrated on or near his birthday by Scots and others celebrating their heritage and the poet all over the world.

The menu is something like this: a first course of Cullen Skink (the name is enough to turn one off), but it is a cream based soup with smoked haddock. A second course of haggis served with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) since this will make the haggis taste better. The main course is salmon served in parchment paper with some slices of precooked potatoes and a topping of asparagus, snow peas and some spices. A nice trifle is for dessert. A cheese course will be the last to be served with oatcakes. I made my own oatcakes two years ago but have some I brought back from the last trip.

The meal begins with the Selkirk Grace. This was known in the 17th century as the Galloway or the Covenanters Grace. It was said by Burns himself at the table of the Earl of Selkirk in July 1793 and has since been referred to as the Selkirk Grace:

“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.”

Below are recipes for the soup and salmon course.

Recipes taken from the cookbook called “Scottish Cookery.”



Serves 4

1 oz. unsalted butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 fresh bay leaf

1 oz. plain flour

12 oz. new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small pieces

1 pint semi-skimmed milk

½ pint water

12 oz. undyed smoked haddock fillet, skinned (could not find so I will use smoked whitefish)

3 oz. sweet corn kernels

2 oz. garden peas

Freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

2-3 Tbsp. single cream

2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

Crusty bread to serve

Melt the butter in a large heavy based sauce pan, add the onion and sauté for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaf and stir, then sprinkle on the flour and cook over a low heat for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes.

Take off the heat and gradually stir in the milk and water. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, discard any pin bones from the fish and cut into small pieces. Add to the pan together with the sweet corn and peas. Cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables and fish are cooked.

Add pepper and nutmeg to taste, then stir in the cream and heat gently for one to two minutes, or until piping hot. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with crusty bread.

After the soup will be the haggis with the ‘Address to the Haggis’

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face

“Great chieftain o’the pudding-race!


“Is there that o’re his French ragout


“Looks down wi’ sneering scornfu’ view

“On sic a dinner?”




Serves 4

1 lb. baby new potatoes

4 salmon steaks

1 carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips

6 oz. asparagus spears, trimmed

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 oz. unsalted butter

4 large fresh parsley sprigs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees about 10 minutes before required. Parboil the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for five to eight minutes until they are barely tender. Drain and reserve.

Cut out four pieces of baking parchment, measuring eight inches square, and place on the work surface. Arrange the parboiled potatoes on top. Wipe the salmon steaks and place on top of the potatoes.

Place the carrot strips in a bowl with the asparagus spears, sugar snaps and grated lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss lightly together.

Divide the vegetables evenly between the salmon. Dot the top of each parcel with butter and a parsley sprig.

To wrap a parcel, lift up two opposite sides of the paper and fold the edges together. Twist the paper at the other two ends to seal the parcel well. Repeat with the remaining parcels.

Place the parcels on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Place an unopened parcel on each plate and open just before eating.

After dinner toasts are made to the Queen and/or the President, and then a toast to the Lassies followed by a toast to the laddies.