The 25th of January is a rarely celebrated date in the British calendar, unless you are Scottish of course! Robert Burns was a widely celebrated poet from Scotland during the 1700’s, and celebrating his birthday has been a regular occurrence ever since. The most common way this is celebrated is through Burns Suppers, a gathering of people around food.
Of course when we think of Scotland suddenly foods such as haggis and whiskey come to mind, but there are many other types of food used for celebration such as neeps and tatties, cranachan and Dundee cake. These may all sound strange or unusual to us non Scottish folks but these are well known within Scotland and burns night is a fantastic excuse to try something new, with barely any added cost as well!
Neeps and tatties
This side dish is more commonly known as swede and potatoes and works perfectly with its traditional accompaniment of haggis. However if you’re not quite brave enough to try haggis just yet it will work just as well with roasted chicken, beef or perhaps sausages. This recipe costs roughly 31p per serving, serving 8 at a time.
- 8 large baking potatoes, peel left on and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
- 6 tbsp olive oil or sunflower
- 1 swede peeled and roughly chopped
- 50g butter, plus extra for serving
1. Preheat the oven to fan oven 200C or gas 7. Put the potatoes into a large pan of lightly salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes, put them back into the pan and place it back on the heat for a couple of minutes to dry out.
2. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large roasting tin and heat it in the oven until very hot. Then stir the potatoes into the hot oil and return to the oven to roast, turning occasionally, for 55 minutes or golden brown and cooked through.
3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, cook the swede in boiling salted water for 50-55 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and add to the roasted potatoes. Roughly mash everything together, keeping quite chunky, then leave to cool, cover and keep in a cool place.
4. To serve, preheat the oven to fan 180C or gas 6. Uncover the potatoes and swede, dot with the butter and put in the oven to reheat for 25-30 minutes, stirring now and again until piping hot. Serve with lots of butter.
This recipe is a traditional dessert to go alongside your Scottish meal. I have included biscuits in this recipe as a replacement for the oatmeal, a slight change on the original for personal preference. This recipe costs roughly £2 per serving, and the recipe serves 4 people. A way of making this cheaper is through using seasonal fruit or excluding the whiskey from the recipe.
- 2 tbsp of crushed digestive biscuits
- 300g raspberries
- a little caster sugar, to taste
- 350ml double cream
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2-3 tbsp whisky, to taste
1. Make a raspberry purée by crushing half the fruit and sieving; sweeten this to taste with a little caster sugar. Then whisk the double cream until just firm, and stir in the honey and whisky, trying not to over-whip the cream as it will become grainy.
2. Stir in the biscuit and whisk lightly until the mixture is firm, alternate layers of the cream with the remaining whole raspberries and purée in 4 serving dishes. Allow to chill slightly before eating.
This fruit cake is another possible pudding for your Scottish meal, a lovely accompaniment to many different meals. This cost roughly 41p per serving, the recipe serves 16.
- 100g blanched almonds
- 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 180g light muscovado sugar
- zest 1 large orange
- 3 tbsp apricot jam or marmalade
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tbsp milk
- 500g mixed dried fruits
- 100g whole glacé cherries
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tsp caster sugar
1. Put the almonds into a small bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover. Leave for 5 mins then drain in a sieve and leave to dry.
2. Preheat the oven to 150C fan or gas 5 and line a deep loose-based 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
3. Put the butter in a large bowl and beat well until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the orange zest and apricot jam.
4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, stir in a little flour.
5. Add the remaining flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds and mix well. Then mix in the milk and then add the dried fruit and cherries and mix gently together.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread level using the back of a spoon. Arrange the whole almonds close together in neat circles on the top of the cake. Bake in the oven for 45 mins.
7. Lower the oven temperature to 130C fan or gas 2 and cook for a further 60 - 80 minutes. Check the cake after 50 minutes by inserting a wooden or metal skewer into the cake. When it’s done it should have just a few crumbs attached. Check regularly so not to overcook the cake.
8. When cooked, remove the cake briefly from the oven, put the milk and sugar for the glaze into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Brush over the top of the cake and return the cake to the oven for 2-3 mins. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin.
Using all these recipes is a simple and easy way to get your friends together and celebrate something you may not usually celebrate, or use them to impress your Scottish university flatmates. Whatever you choose to do, they will be sure to be a winner, have a wonderful Burns Night.