Monday, 29 January 2018

Haggis Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread with a Scottish Twist. Traditional or Vegetarian Haggis brings a Celtic connection to this quick and easy bread. No kneading, proving or yeast required in this fuss free bake.

Burns Night is all done and dusted for another year, however in this house Haggis is definitely for life, not just the 25th of January. As it happens I've hardly seen my husband - aka Foodie Loon - in the last week. As a Piper it's his busiest time of the year! Although not always at the same time, or in the same place, we did manage to enjoy plenty of haggis throughout the week in various shapes and forms and I shared My Top 10 Haggis Recipes for Burns Night in a a roundup post. No sooner had I published it than I had another idea. Haggis Bread. I'm not much of a bread maker if truth be told but Soda Bread is so quick and easy to make and it proved to be the perfect vehicle to incorporate haggis. I used traditional Haggis but vegetarian would work equally well - as would black pudding.

Soda Bread is perfect when you want bread in a hurry. There's no requirement for yeast or proving as the raising agent is Bicarbonate of Soda. This combined with buttermilk (or soured milk) creates the rise. No need to knead either. Just a gentle mix and shape which must be done as fast as possible as the bicarbonate of soda starts work as soon at it meets the acid of the buttermilk. The only thing to be aware of with Soda Bread is that it doesn't keep very well. Ideally eat it still warm from the oven or later the same day. After that it really does need to be toasted. However in all its variants it's so delicious when freshly baked that you shouldn't have any problems finishing it all off in one sitting! The method I'm using of baking it in a Pyrex Casserole dish is one gleaned from Nigel Slater. It works really well to keep the bread in shape and distribute the heat evenly. 

Haggis Soda Bread 

200g Haggis (traditional or vegetarian) 
225g Stoneground Orkney Beremeal (or wholemeal flour) 
225g plain flour 
½ tsp salt 
1 tsp caster sugar 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
350ml milk 
1 Tbsp lemon Juice 

Preheat the oven to 220c 
Put a large casserole dish (Pyrex or cast iron) and its lid into the oven. 
Finely chop the Haggis and set a handful aside to sprinkle on the top. 
In a large bowl mix the flours salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda together and add the majority of the chopped haggis.
Add the lemon juice to the milk and mix together before pouring into the bowl with the flour mix. 
Working quickly bring the mixture together as a soft dough shaping it into a shallow round loaf about 4cm thick. 
Remove the hot casserole dish from the oven and sprinkle the inside lightly with flour then lower in the dough. 
Brush the top with milk and sprinkle on the reserved chopped Haggis.
Cover the loaf with the lid and return to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, 
Remove from the oven and leave in the dish for for 5 minutes before turning the Haggis Soda Bread out onto a cooling rack.

If you've been bitten by the soda bread bug, try some of these great recipes from my food blogger friends or get creative and make your own sweet or savoury version. The only limit on flavour combinations is your imagination! 

Now for a final farewell to my Haggis logo. It won't be back now until 30th November for St Andrew's day. Unless I can think of a suitable Scottish occasion to wheel it out for between now and then...

♥ Pin me for later... Irish Soda Bread with a Scottish Twist. Traditional or Vegetarian Haggis brings a Celtic connection to this quick and easy bread. No kneading, proving or yeast required in this fuss free bake.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

My Top 10 Haggis Recipes for Burns Night

Fancy something a wee bit different than the traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for your Burns Supper celebrations? I've got you covered with this selection of 10 recipes including Pancakes, Meatloaf, Burgers, Waffles, Birls, Shepherd's Pie, Soup, Scotch Eggs, Toasties and even Chocolate Haggis!

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 

Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! 

Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 

Painch, tripe, or thairm : 
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace 
As lang's my arm. 

The humble Scotch Egg becomes even more Scottish with the addition of Haggis and a Panko coating makes it affa posh.

Haggis and Cheese go burlin in Puff Pastry for an oh so moreish savoury Scottish snack which is so quick and easy to make with only three ingredients.

The ideal comfort food for Autumn/Winter. A real taste of Còsagach. Topped with 'tartan' mash this Scotch Lamb & Haggis Shepherd's Pie will fair warm the cockles.

Breakfast for Burns made with the contents of a (traditional or vegetarian) Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Ready Meal! 

Even if you don't make the Meatloaf, you've got to give my Whisky Neeps a try to accompany your Haggis and Tatties.

Only three ingredients yet full of flavour. Scotch Beef, Mature Cheddar Cheese and Haggis combine to create a succulent burger that is undoubtedly greater than the sum of it's parts.

Enjoy a Braw Burns Breakfast with these Haggis Waffles. If you fancy adding a Whisky Cream Sauce or a Dram on the side I'm sure The Bard would approve.

An Auld Alliance Toastie! The flavours of Scotland and France combine in a sublime toasted sandwich made with Cheese and Haggis.

Pure dead brilliant! Soup made from with the holy trinity of Scottish ingredients. Serve with a Nessie ladle and a glass of Scotch Whisky. 

Last, but by no means least, one for those who - shock horror - don't like Haggis! A no bake cake version with Chocolate, Shortbread and Whisky.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, 
And dish them out their bill o' fare, 
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware 
That jaups in luggies; 
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer 
Gie her a haggis!

Keep breaking the rules of Burns Supper celebrations with these innovative recipes from some of my blogging colleagues
Supergolden Bakes - Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Pie

♥ Pin me for later... Fancy something a wee bit different than the traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for your Burns Supper celebrations? I've got you covered with this selection of 10 recipes including Pancakes, Meatloaf, Burgers, Waffles, Birls, Shepherd's Pie, Soup, Scotch Eggs, Toasties and even Chocolate Haggis!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience at Rusacks St Andrews

Post in collaboration with Macdonald Rusacks Hotel St Andrews

Blend your very own Gin with the Eden Mill Blendworks Experience at Macdonald Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews. A fun, informative and highly interactive experience that will be thoroughly enjoyed by any gin lover. Located within the historic 4 star Rusacks Hotel with views of the 18th green of the world famous Old Course and West Sands Beach.

It's always nice to have something in the diary to look forward to after Christmas as once all the hustle and bustle of the festive season has passed, the start of a new year can seem rather dreary in comparison. Last January I headed with my friend Kirsteen to Ballintaggart Farm where we enjoyed an idyllic overnight stay and participated in their Seasonal Suppers Class. It was the perfect start to the year and a fantastic opportunity to share good food, drink and friendship. So when I was asked by Macdonald Hotels if I'd be up for trying out their D,B&B with Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience in January 2018, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a repeat of a girly night away. The fact it was to be in St Andrews, one of my favourite Scottish towns, was an added bonus. 

The plan was to make a leisurely train journey from Stonehaven to Leuchars, however five weeks of Sunday engineering works had closed the line so we instead opted to drive rather than rely on the vagrancies of a replacement bus service. Rusacks Hotel is situated in the most perfect location right on the 18th hole of the iconic Old Course. Their Dinner, Bed & Breakfast package inclusive of a Gin Blending Experience at Eden Mill Blendworks is priced from £164.50 per person per night (depending on date and choice of room). 

We were shown to our room - The Bobby Jones Suite - which can only be described as stunning. It had surely the best views in the whole of St Andrews. We could actually have spent our whole time sat in the bay window watching the golfers play the 18th hole and imagining ourselves running on the West Sands in true Chariots of Fire style. Even the loo had a view although alas I didn't manage to indulge in the long luxurious bubbles that the gorgeous bath was just crying out to be filled with.

Bubbles of another kind were indulged in however as Champagne and Chocolate Coated Strawberries were delivered to our room to welcome us to Rusacks. The level of customer service received from all the staff in the hotel throughout our stay was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble for them, service was most definitely with a smile and their food, drink and general St Andrews knowledge was obvious. Despite the lure of our fantastic room with a view, we headed out for a couple of hours and enjoyed some retail therapy in town and lunch at Mitchell's Deli. The hotel is only a five minute walk from the town centre so perfectly placed for exploring all that St Andrews has to offer.

The Blendworks experience runs at 4pm for 2½ hrs from Tuesday to Saturday. It's located in a Gin Classroom below the hotel's R Bar. It is basically the most amazing looking science laboratory ever! The maximum group size catered for is 12 and you really do feel like you get your own personalised experience. Our hosts were Jasper, Sasha and Charlie who welcomed us with a G&T. This was the Scottish Rugby Gin which was blended by Scotland players who choose the gin's flavours and qualities, including a magical little botanical called milk thistle, known for its restorative medical properties. With drinks in hand (the first of three provided as part of the experience) Jasper led us through the murky history of gin from an ancient remedy to Jenever, the roller coaster of distilling in London, Gin Lane, Mother's Ruin, bootlegging and cocktails in the States, and the current booming craft gin revolution. 

Now for the fun part. Blending our own gin! We started, as all gins must start, with a base of juniper. To that we tasted four variants of base botanicals and chose our favourite. Floral, Spice, Citrus and Sweet. I opted for Spice which was a combination of coriander seed, angelica root, liquorish root, black cardamom, black pepper and ginger root. To this we then had the opportunity to add up to five additional flavour profiles - the hero botanicals. There were so many to choose from but after a good old sniffing session I plumped for Lapsang Souchong, Lime Leaf and Elderberry. With my ingredients list chosen Jasper helped me to work out the quantities of each to use and at last I got to use the chemistry set to make up a 40ml test measure of my very own blended gin. To ensure I was happy with my product it was made into a perfect serve with Ice, Tonic, Ginger Beer, Ginger Bitters and a garnish of rosemary and lime. Delish!

At this point I also had to come up with a name for my Gin Blend. There really was only one that I could go for 'Quines'. Now for the full on production process. 640ml of gin to fill 600ml of bottles. How would that work? This time we got to use the huge measuring cillinders followed by the funnels to fill our bottles. 'O' Grade Chemistry at school was never this much fun! The leftover 40ml made our final drink, a classic Martini. I opted to have mine dirty. Further choices to be made with the bottle corks and seals before sticking on our personalised labels and attempting to ensure they weren't too squint. Our creations were then gift packaged along with two 'Blendworks' glasses before we were each presented with a certificate to commemorate the gin blending experience. We'd actually overran a wee bit on timings and the whole experience took close to 3 hours but what an amazing way to spend an afternoon! If you are a fan of Gin I can't recommend it enough. Informative, highly interactive and most of all fun. There was great banter with everyone in the group and were were all absolutely delighted with our final product.

By this point we were running a wee bit tight for our 7.30pm dinner reservation, so popped in past the restaurant to let them know we'd be closer to 8pm. The package comes with Dinner in One Under Gastro Pub or £25 allowance towards Rocca Bar & Grill. We'd opted to dine at Rocca, one of only 25 restaurants in Scotland to achieve 3 AA Rosettes. We enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst perusing the menu before ordering up starters of crab tortellini and poached chicken and mains of mushroom risotto and ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce. All were absolutely delicious as was the accompanying bottle of Pino Grigio. Again the staff were excellent. Attentive and knowledgeable but not intrusive. To finish we both opted for Cheese and Port before heading through to R Bar for coffee and some Sax from a wonderful young instrumentalist. At this point we met up with another couple on the same Blendworks package who were celebrating a birthday so the four of us wiled away the rest of the evening over Gin and Cocktails.

A wonderful sleep was had in the most comfy beds ever and the sun shone over a crisp Sunday morning view of the West Sands. No golf allowed on the sabath but plenty of folk taking the opportunity to walk the Old Course. A full Scottish Breakfast completed our package and blew away any cobwebs from the night before. We squeezed out every last minute until our 11am checkout time before bidding a fond farewell to our room with a view. The Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience at Rusacks St Andrews was most definately the perfect tonic. A truly memorable experience with the best party bag to take home ever.

♥ Pin me for later...

Disclosure: We blended Gin, stayed, and dined as guests of Macdonald Rusacks Hotel St Andrews. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
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Monday, 15 January 2018

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes

Post in collaboration with McIntosh of Strathmore

A delicious Scottish breakfast treat, these Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes are the ideal way to kick off your Burns Supper celebrations. But they are far too good to save just for breakfast or just for Burns Night. Haggis is for life - not just the 25th of January.

Once Hogmanay is past and the New Year begins, here in Scotland and in many places around the world, the countdown begins to possibly the most Scottish of Celebrations. Burns Night. The 25th of January makes Dry January impossible! How could you possibly toast The Bard without a dram?! To accompany that dram you also of course need the holy trinity of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Whilst Rabbie had plenty to say about the dish in one of his most famous poems "Address to a Haggis" it's been been give a rewrite by Scottish ready meal manufacturers McIntosh of Strathmore with their own version... 

Nae need tae cut up wi' ready slight 
When we've done a'things fir ye just right 
Aye, a dish tae tak yer fancy an' appeal, 
This, oor Burns Supper ready meal 

You can find McIntosh of Strathmore Haggis Neeps and Tatties ready meals all year round in the chiller cabinets of Scottish supermarkets, however in the lead up to Burns Night 2018 they'll be resplendent in limited edition promotional 'Poetry In A Pack' branding. In addition to the single serving "Wee Burns Supper" packs in both traditional and vegetarian variants, there's also a large pack which is perfect for sharing. All the meals can be cooked in either a conventional oven or microwaved and will let you enjoy Burns without the hassle of peeling, chopping, mashing and boiling! There's really no excuse not to celebrate with your very own Burns Supper whether as as individual or family and everyone can be kept happy with the equally delicious vegetarian option. 

Celebrate Burns with McIntosh and you'll have pretty much everything you need for a traditional Burns Supper in minutes! Just add whisky and you're all set. If you fancy doing something a wee bit different with your ready meal how about my Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes? I reckon they would make the perfect breakfast come 25th January but perhaps hold off on the whisky at such an early hour (although I did serve mine with a whisky cream sauce...!) You could even make blini sized ones and top them with Scottish Smoked Salmon for Burns Supper Canapes. No matter how you celebrate be sure to share your snaps on social media using the #BurnsWithMcIntosh hashtag and checkout the selection of Quick Burns Facts to impress or quiz your guests. 

Haggis Neeps and Tatties 'Pancakes' 
Makes 8 

1 x 340g Haggis Neeps & Tatties Ready Meal (traditional or vegetarian) 
50g Plain Flour 
1 Free Range Egg, beaten 
Splash of Scottish Rapeseed Oil 

Tip the contents of your ready meal into a bowl and combine it all together with a fork or potato masher. 
Add the flour and beaten egg and mix thoroughly. 
Divide the mixture into eight 'pancakes' 
Shallow fry four at a time in a splash of Scottish Rapessed Oil. 
They'll need approximately 5-8 minutes on each side to ensure they are warmed through with a crispy golden exterior.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thanket!

♥ Pin me for later... A delicious Scottish breakfast treat these Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Pancakes are the ideal way to kick off your Burns Supper celebrations. But they are far too good to save just for breakfast or just for Burns Night. Haggis is for life - not just the 25th of January.

Linking up to CookBlogShare and Recipe of the Week

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Wee Sleekit Cheese and Haggis Birls

Only three ingredients in this tasty treat which is perfect for Burns Night, St Andrew's Day or Hogmanay. Haggis and Cheese go burlin in Puff Pastry for an oh so moreish savoury Scottish snack which is so quick and easy to make.

Wee Sleekit Cheese and Haggis Birls

So we all know that I'm savoury over sweet, cheese not choc, crisps not sweets. You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties, ideally positioned next to the Cheese Straws! They really are the perennial party food favourite but could they actually be improved upon? Over the years I've eaten and made them with various cheese, herbs, spices and even incorporated a slice of parma ham. However with January being the month of all things Burns, I got to thinking about Haggis. Cheese and Haggis are a match made in heaven (take my Auld Alliance Comté Cheese and Haggis Toastie as an example par excellence) so could I combine them in an epic Haggis Cheese Straw? Only one way to find out!

I shared the making of my Haggis, Cheese and Puff Pastry straws on Instagram stories and Twitter and was delighted to see that so many people were as excited by them as a work in progress as I was. I was kind of surprised quite how many straws the quantities I used actually made. Perhaps enough to feed the 5000 or go into competition with Greggs (I'm currently considering Quines as a brand name...) I did think that perhaps I should scale down the recipe before sharing here however I've left it as is as you really can't have too many of these tasty twists.

The name was another issue. I set out to create Haggis Cheese Straws however folks seemed to be referring to them as Haggis and Cheese Twists. But was there perhaps an even better name for them? Chaggis Straws was rejected but then bingo with a combination of effort on twitter from @KeepCalmAndFannyOn @MichJBarclay and myself we came up with Wee Sleekit Cheese and Haggis Birls. 

birl (burl) Dialect, chiefly Scot. ~v. 1. to spin around, to revolve rapidly.
~adv. birlin’ (“Ah tell ye, efter a’ that dancin’ ma heid’s fair birlin’“).

Robert Burns - Wee,sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie (To A Mouse)

English - Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast.

Call them what you will - I'm calling them a huge success! Far too good to keep just for Burns night I suggest you birl them out for all occasions but they are clearly essential fodder for 25th Jan, 30th Nov and 31st Dec when we are all feeling at our most Scottish. I'll leave it up to you as to whether you accompany with Whisky or Irn Bru.

Wee Sleekit Cheese and Haggis Birls

Wee Sleekit Cheese and Haggis Birls

450g Haggis (traditional or vegetarian)
200g Scottish Cheddar Cheese, grated 
2 x 375g sheets of Ready Rolled Puff Pastry 

Preheat your oven to 200c
Remove the haggis from its skin and roughly chop into small pieces.
Unroll one sheet of the puff pastry, keeping it on its greaseproof backing for ease of handling
Sprinkle the chopped Haggis and grated Cheese over the top of the puff pastry sheet making sure you go right to the edges.
Unroll the second sheet of pastry and carefully place on top.
Push down on the layers gently with your hands before using a rolling pin to press all the layers together. 
Don't be too vigorous with the rolling pin, you can roll out to increase the size by 2-3 cm on each side but what you are really wanting to do it secure the layers.
Use a pizza wheel (or knife) to cut the Cheese/Haggis/Pastry in half horizontally and then cut vertical strips 2-3 cm wide.
Carefully remove each straw and give it a couple of twist before placing on a prepared baking tray. They will puff up a wee bit so give them room to do so.
Bake for approx 20 mins until golden brown and bubbling.
Ideally serve when they are still warm.

♥ Pin me for later... Only three ingredients in this tasty treat which is perfect for Burns Night, St Andrew's Day or Hogmanay. Haggis (traditional or vegetarian) and Cheese go burlin in Puff Pastry for an oh so moreish savoury Scottish snack.