Celebrating the birthday of Scotland's national poet, Burns Night on 25th January is the culmination of Scotland's Winter Festivals (including St Andrew's Day and Hogmanay) and with so much going on, Scotland is definitely the place to be.
Scotland will come alive for Burns Night with a number of music, storytelling and Burns Festivals but this is a particularly good time of year for food lovers with Scotland's national poet toasted and celebrated in a surprising number of ways. Traditional Burns suppers with haggis, neeps and tatties and plenty of whisky and music are on offer across Scotland at places like the Deeside Activity Park (Aberdeenshire), The Balmoral Hotel (Edinburgh), Greywalls (East Lothian), The Selkirk Arms (Dumfries and Galloway) and at The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (Ayrshire). One Edinburgh bakery is even making a special batch of cupcakes to celebrate the big day. Cuckoo's Bakery (Edinburgh) has created a vanilla sponge filled with whisky custard, topped with whisky buttercream icing and featuring an edible scroll with Burns' poetry. Whisky lovers will also find a warm welcome at Burns themed events like the Scotch whisky training school at the Scotch Whisky Experience (Edinburgh) and special tours at the Famous Grouse Experience (Perthshire).
As if this weren't enough, popular food writer and cook, Sue Lawrence has provided some top tips for Burns Suppers this year from her new cook book, Eating In. Published by Hachette Scotland and priced at £25.00, Eating In is full of easy to follow recipes that make eating at home relaxed and informal, with a particular emphasis on cooking from local ingredients. Here, she recommends two refreshing recipes for Burns Night for a simple family meal or entertaining at home
Hot Smoked Salmon Tart with Rocket and Crème Fraîche
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
300g / 10½ oz hot-smoked salmon, flaked
50g / 1¾ oz rocket, roughly chopped
3 large free-range eggs
The zest of 1 lemon
200ml / 7 fl oz crème fraîche
For the pastry:
200g / 7 oz plain flour, sifted
125g / 4½ oz unsalted butter, diced
1 large free-range egg, beaten
This can be made in advance and frozen, or you can freeze the uncooked pastry case then bake it fresh on the day.
To make the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt. Process briefly then, with the machine running, add the egg.
Finally, bring the dough together with your hands, cover with clingfilm and chill for half an hour or so.
Roll out to fit a 25cm/10 in tart tin, prick all over and chill well again - preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 5.
Fill the pastry-lined tart tin with foil and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until just cooked.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the Parmesan over the base while it is still hot, and then leave to cool.
Scatter the salmon over the base and then top with the rocket, pressing down a little. Stir the eggs, lemon zest and crème fraîche together, seasoning with salt and pepper, and then pour slowly over the salmon and rocket.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until set and tinged with golden brown. Serve warm or cold with salad.
Hummus with Haggis and Pine Nuts
1 × 400g can chick peas, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
The juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons tahini paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
Some extra virgin olive oil
½ haggis (meat or vegetarian)
50g / 1¾ oz pine nuts
Pomegranate seeds, optional
Place the first six ingredients in a food prochttp://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=3003888645468433795#editor/target=post;postID=5508386102032073309essor and process briefly before adding about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Process again until it is a thickish purée, and then loosen the mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of warm water. Season to taste and tip into a shallow bowl.
Heat the haggis until piping hot (I do this in the microwave by cutting it open and scooping the
contents into a microwave bowl, covering it with clingfilm and cooking for few minutes, stirring
Dry-fry the pine nuts in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes, shaking constantly, until toasted. Spoon the hot haggis over the top of the hummus, scatter over the toasted pine nuts (and pomegranate seeds, if using them) and serve with warm flat bread or toasted pittas.
Recipes and images taken from Eating In by Sue Lawrence (published by Hachette Scotland, price: £25.00). Images by Alan Donaldson.
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