Tag Archives: Burns night

Tipsy Laird trifle TV and Rachel’s organic dairy

It’s been an exciting few weeks, almost like having a bit of Christmas all over again, which is just what a girl needs in the grim dull month of January. First my new kitchen equipment arrived; brand new cooker, ice cream maker and grill which heralded a big kitchen clean up and overhaul…the big spring clean came early. Then I received an invite to attend auditions for ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish, which after some consideration I attended on Saturday (with some trepidation I might add! Sure I’d like my cooking to be a success, but I’m certainly not a TV wannabe, so I’m not too sure how I will feel If I’m picked to go on the show) . I also received several consecutive listings on various blogs as one of the top five supper clubs in the UK (outside of London)…so, where usually January leaves me feeling sluggish and blue, I am actually feeling the opposite!

One other exciting first for me as a food blogger was an approach from a company PR department. Reviewing products is something that food bloggers get asked to do from time to time and due to my focus on local produce, the PR agents for Rachel’s organic dairy in Aberystwyth contacted me to ask if I would like to try some of their products and perhaps review them on the blog. Well I love Rachel’s stuff and so, overjoyed at the prospect of receiving some yummy goodies to use in my recipes I agreed.

A very generous selection of Rachel’s organics produce

Rachel’s were the first ever certified organic dairy in the UK and they now produce a range of goods including butter, yogurt, cream, crème fraiche, milk and desserts which are available in most supermarkets across the UK.  There are surprisingly few organic dairies in Wales and Rachel’s are one of perhaps three that supply North Wales (plus they have the best choice of yogurt by far, my personal favourite being the low-fat vanilla which is divine simply used to top off a big bowl of porridge in the morning with some chopped banana on top!)

When our parcel of goodies arrived the kids couldn’t contain their excitement, we opened the box wide-eyed and brimming with eager anticipation to find a huge choice of produce so I have to say thank you to Rachel’s, for the very generous parcel, we have had much fun coming up with ideas for luscious puddings.

The first things I used were the butter and cream went into the dishes I cooked for Britain’s Best Dish, one of which was my slant  on Tipsy Laird, a Scottish sherry trifle and a perfect Burns Night alternative to Crannachan. It’s the pudding I made for my own Burns Night supper last year and I have since modified and tinkered with it to perfection!

Tipsy Laird

For my Tipsy Laird (serving 4 to 5) you need….

6 tablespoons Glayva liqueur, the juice and zest of one to two oranges, home-made trifle sponge (about 5) for which you need 30g Rachel’s organic unsalted butter, 60g plain flour, pinch sea salt, 2 medium eggs, 60g caster sugar, about 400g fresh raspberries, loganberries or tayberries,  1 pint home-made custard…. 500ml full cream milk, a vanilla pod, 5 egg yolks, 5 tablespoons caster sugar (or you can use a carton of fresh), 400ml Rachel’s organic double cream, a tub of mascarpone cheese, toasted flaked almonds and medium oatmeal, fresh honey and some orange zest to top.

First make the trifle sponges:

Prepare a swiss roll tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degree C. Melt butter in a small pan and set aside to cool. Sift the flour and salt into a small bowl. Put the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl that will sit snugly inside a saucepan then half fill the saucepan with boiling water and sit the bowl on top. Whisk the eggs with an electric hand whisk until pale thick and creamy and mousse like.

Sift in the flour and fold into the egg mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Turn into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch. While that’s cooking very lightly whip the cream and combine with the mascarpone, set aside in the fridge until needed. Prepare, wash raspberries, wash oranges and using an orange zester pare the zest from the one or two oranges being used and put into a bowl all but a few strands for decoration later. Squeeze the oranges and add the juice to the bowl. Mix in the Glayva liqueur and leave aside.

Remove the sponges from the oven and leave aside to cool completely. In the meantime make the custard. Pour milk into a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod down the centre with a sharp knife and add to the pan. Bring the milk slowly to the boil. Once it reaches almost boiling point, remove from the heat and allow to stand so the vanilla can infuse into the milk.

Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale in colour then add the milk and stir. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the black seeds from inside into the custard. Pour the custard into a clean pan and put over a low heat stirring constantly until it thickens a bit. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug and refrigerate until needed.

Once cool cut the sponges into small blocks and soak them in the liqueur mix then put in the base of 4 dessert / trifle glasses with flat bottoms or a trifle bowl. Spoon over a good layer of raspberries, then top with the custard. Finish off with the whipped cream mixture. Lay out a good handful of slivered almonds and medium oatmeal on some foil and toast lightly under the grill until golden. Cool for a few minutes then sprinkle over the top of each trifle. Finish with a drizzle of runny honey and some of the reserved orange zest.

Enjoy on Tuesday whether you are Scottish or not and look out for more Rachel’s recipes which will follow shortly.


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Laughter, tears, whisky and exploding Haggis

Burns night table setting

Please someone remind me NEVER to plan another supper club when I have raging PMT. Tell me kindly and from a safe distance to check the calendar and rearrange the date!

The new kitchen

Having said this I don’t think my guests suspected that I was a raging mess of hormones, only my long-suffering helpers in the kitchen. I’m sure from the point of view of the diners, that the night was a beautiful, calm occasion, which after the main course went out and most of the stressful bit was over, I enjoyed immensely and was dead excited as it was the first supper club since the new kitchen was installed.

Hobz and me preparing veg

Another downside of the PMT was that I became a clumsy, vague, moody cow. I drop things, break things, make a mess of stuff and for some reason my cooking always goes up the chute too. Things invariably take twice as long to prepare and what is normally the simplest of things becomes a complete mission. It all goes completely wrong and I end up getting stressed and rapidly descend into panic mode.

My weekend of horror started on Sunday when I thought I would prepare the Tipsy Laird (really just a glorified trifle made with home-made sponge soaked in whisky and orange juice rather than the usual sherry, home-made custard, raspberries, grated white chocolate, lashings of cream and topped with toasted almonds and oatmeal), bake the bread and prepare the stocks and base for the soups….sounds simple right? How wrong you would be….the only thing that went right was the making of the vanilla sponge for the base of the Tipsy Laird.

On Sunday I faffed around the kitchen, distracted and moody, whilst an array of visitors sat around the kitchen table nattering and drinking tea. I soaked my sponge in whisky and fresh squeezed orange juice, lined the bowls and got on with custard making trying to converse with my friends. With eight egg yolks in the recipe I was almost squeezing the eggs out of the poor chickens (I used the whites to make meringues for the kids for tea so they wouldn’t eat the trifle)…the teen floated around saying “what can I eat?” No, not that I replied…or that…before she sulked off saying “I can’t bloody well eat anything in this house”!!

In my dazed state I must have stopped stirring that bloody custard for 2 minutes: when I turned back it was on its way to becoming scrambled egg!!!!….Molly, one of the kitchen table tea drinkers ran back to her house swearing she knew a remedy…the other half was packed off to Tesco’s for emergency custard (the chickens weren’t going to lay enough eggs to cover another attempt) and I fumed and panicked in equal measure. To compound the problem I couldn’t get on the internet in my house. It hadn’t worked since the teen was on the computer at the weekend….One of the great mysteries of life is how teenagers manage to hex technology so successfully and then swan off claiming it worked perfectly when they left it….

Ten minutes later Molly phoned. She said that if I stirred in two tablespoons of double cream and then whisked like fuck, it should be ok. I was sceptical, my custard looked beyond redemption, but I gave it a try. To my joy it worked, the custard was saved, I tried to phone the other half to call of the custard chase but too late, he returned with three pints of Tesco finest custard. Having turned my attention to bread making I put all the ingredients in the bread machine and low and behold, it wouldn’t work. No amount of pushing buttons, switching on and off and even a gentle shake would get it to work. Eventually the other half got it going, I’ve no idea how…it is a running joke in the house that he can fix anything with a Hoover and a screw driver, but I’m not convinced that would work with the bread machine.

So then I turned my attention to soup making, surely boiling a chicken with some leeks and picking Arbroath Smokies apart would be simpler. Well, the chicken bit was ok, but the Smokies proved to be hell. In fact I’m not keen to see another smoky as long as I live. They are the boniest fish ever and I had to make sure all the skin and bones were removed from a dozen of them…even if they were delicious www.llandudnosmokery.co.uk/home.php?/home

Arbroath smokies

Not only was the soup time-consuming to prepare but it must also have been the most expensive soup I’ve ever made, but I have to say the result was fantastic!! It took me at least two hours to pick over them. By the end of Sunday I was totally frazzled. I went to bed hoping Monday would be less stressful.

Thankfully I had the house to myself all day, no kids to distract, no other work to do except prepare for the evening. The furniture had been moved round on Sunday night, my Dad would be there later to help as well as Hobz (the waitress) who was coming in after school. All good….and yes everything proceeded according to plan, smoothly even…. Tipsy Laird ready, bread made (although the machine did give up the ghost again on Monday when I tried a second loaf and no coaxing in the world would make it start again), Cullen Skink made and Cock-a-leekie finished.

Apart from Dad’s train being late and having to hang around at the station waiting for him, we were still on target. Hobz arrived and all was good, vegetables peeled and ready to cook (had to blag a few saucepans because we ran out what with all the soups, vegetables and different Haggis to cook and heat)…until the Haggis went in the pot.

I’d had the real McCoy sent down from McLays a master butcher in Glasgow (www.shop.scottishhaggis.co.uk) along with a couple of their vegetarian Haggis. It was enormous and looked fantastic. The instructions told me to preheat a large pan of water but not to boil it, I followed the instructions…popped in the Haggis and two minutes later the skin came apart. The Haggis had exploded in the pan….”NOOOOO” I shouted…Hobz came in and said “what’s happened?”….the Haggis…I pointed at the pan….its exploded!! We both stared into the pot, Oh fuck…we both said together as we watched the skin shrink further….we finally shook ourselves out of our dumbstruck stance and found spatulas etc…we lifted it out of the pan before it disintegrated further and wrapped it in foil and put it in the oven in the hope that it would cook it slowly and we would still be able to serve it on the side….then, in a state of panic I drove off to Tesco to hunt out a Haggis fit for addressing…..5 miles it is to my nearest supermarket!! I got there to be told that they didn’t sell Haggis….further panic stricken I went off to Morrison’s where I’d seen Haggis on sale….I screeched into the car park…ran into the shop to find a few left on the shelf…I got a couple and managed to get home again before 6.30!!…

Dad, Rosie B and me

By this time the teen and other half were home, they got changed and joined in the preparation. Both looked exhausted and completely unprepared….. Having had a quick change myself I set about setting out the remaining bits for our guests arrival….the whisky, salmon and bread was set out and the only thing that I anticipated would be on the late side was the main course…. Once 7.30 arrived and our first guests were knocking on the door we were pretty much ready to go and all I had to do was stress about the tatties, neeps and Haggis cooking…. We had eight guests in total (one cancellation on the night due to sickness) and everyone was seated on one large table, the perfect arrangement so it transpired. Colin, who arrived in kilt, sporran and even with his own ceremonial dagger to stab the Haggis, led a toast following my hosts welcome and got proceedings under way. I think at this point we had three bottles of whisky on the table and my Dad had already had a few to begin with!!

Smoked salmon, home made brown bread and 12-year-old single malt

The salmon and bread were passed round and the girls went off to find out who wanted cock-a-leekie and who wanted Cullen skink…. In the kitchen all was not exactly calm, but under control….. The conversation flowed as did the whisky and wine….I explained to everyone the saga of the Haggis and our Scottish guests, who were obviously Burns night veterans, stated in a matter of fact way “Oh yes, that happens all the time”….I slumped in my chair. If I’d known that I’d have not got so stressed about it!!

Cock-a-leekie soup with Julienne of prunes and buttered leeks

Cullen skink

Once the starters and salmon were cleared away and following a brief false start sorting out the music we played the piped music that we’d been given (we do have a local bagpiper in the village and we had tried to get hold of him to book him but without luck, he wouldn’t have been able to play in the house but we hoped he might be able to play in the street and piss the neighbours off!!!!). We welcomed in the Haggis….obviously the Morrison’s ones didn’t look half as impressive as the original ill-fated one, but at least they were intact. Colin then addressed the Haggis, reading from an obviously well-thumbed copy of Burns poetry. The Haggis was served with tatties and neeps mashed with plenty of butter and a drop of cream….the one from Glasgow was noticeably richer and tastier than the Morrison’s ones…and the vegetarian Haggis was delicious….it reminded me almost of a particularly good stuffing or maybe a nut-roast.

Addressing the Haggis

Stabbing the Haggis

The entertainment continued after the main course with a moving rendition of “My luve is like a red red rose” sung by my Dad who is a folk / sea shanty singer singer and actor (www.hogeyemen.com/id7.html). At this point the last two days of stress and anxiety, high emotion and PMT got the better of me. The main course served I let go and cried my eyes out in the corner much to the bemusement of the dinner guests….of course my Dad was more than happy to have such a dramatic response to his moving song. What was also beautiful was the way Rosie, Hobz and the little un all sat huddled on the stairs looking through the banisters at the entertainment below, this made me even more emotional and I cried even more.  Unfortunately i didn’t get a picture of them as they had the camera to video Dad…but i can’t seem to upload it here so i will try the Facebook site.

It's hard to make Haggis look really appetising...so best to just serve it as it comes...this was a combination of the authentic and the Morrisons one

As usual I forgot to take photos of crucial parts of the supper...this is the remains of the second bowl of Tipsy Laird!

I then attempted to compose myself and make a toast to the immortal memory of Burns, which I certainly bumbled over. Mike then read Robert Burns by William McGonagall, a tribute to the poet and Sonia finished off with Kate O’Shanters tale traditionally read at Burns suppers in response to Tam O’Shanter and following a toast to the lassies…which in our case was brief since we didn’t feel that we really fitted the bill as ‘lassies’ and all the men felt they were too long in the tooth to be toasting ‘lassies’ anyway.

We followed the entertainment with some Tipsy Laird, coffee and cheese and bannocks for whoever still had room.

The supper club girls Rosie B and Hobz

The night was great fun, but probably not the best idea on a school night. We were all shattered the next day, the other half had already had a dreadful day at work and he had to come home to this, so his head wasn’t really in it and Rosie skipped out on her homework. One of the homework’s was English so I wrote a letter apologising for her not completing the assignment, but ensuring the school that if she had waitressd at a very literary night and had probably learnt a lot about Robert Burns. The teacher responded by letting her off the homework…which Rosie thought was as good a result as the supper club was!

Denise x

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My luve is like a red, red rose….

Since I will be hosting a Burns night supper next Monday I thought I should do a bit of research on the great poet. Of course, I’d read his poetry but didn’t really know that much about him (apart from the fact that he dedicated a poem to a Haggis, liked whisky and carousing with the lassies!!)

 So after a bit of google searching this is what I discovered. Robbie Burns was born in 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire. A small village and suburb of Ayr on the Doonpoor village, to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun. He was the eldest of seven children and he spent much of his youth working his father’s farm. His father had plans for him though and despite the families poverty he employed a tutor to teach both Robbie and his younger brother Gilbert. The boys were consequently very well read, another thing Robbie’s father encouraged.

At the age of 15 Robert was still the principal worker on the family farm and around this time he started to write in an attempt to find “some kind of counterpoise for his circumstances.” It was then that he penned his first poem, “My Handsome Nell”, an ode to some of the other pastimes which he enjoyed, namely scotch and women. When Robert’s father died in 1784, he and his brother took over the farm. Robert however was far more ethereal, interested predominantly in the romantic nature of poetry and conducting numerous dalliances with women, rather than hard graft on the farm. The latter resulted in several illegitimate children, including twins to the woman who would become his wife, Jean Armour. He also planned to escape to the safer, sunnier climes of the West Indies.

As he broke with farming he saw his first collection of poems “Poems- Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – Kilmarnock Edition” based on a broken love affair, published to wide acclaim. It was this and his pride at being a parent which eventually kept him in Scotland. He moved around the country a bit but eventually settled in Edinburgh, where he mixed with other artists and writers who were in awe of the man they called the “Ploughman Poet.” He swiftly gained celebrity status and was lauded by the literati. As his status rose Jean Armour’s father finally allowed her to marry him. Despite his celebrity he did not reap financial rewards so he took a job as an exciseman to supplement his income. As he worked at collecting taxes he continued to write, contributing songs to James Johnston’s “Scot’s Musical Museum” and George Thomson’s “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs.” More than 400 of Burns’ songs are still in existence. In the latter years of his life Robbie Burns wrote what are considered his greatest poetic masterpieces, such as The Lea Rig, Tam O’Shanter and a Red, Red Rose.

At 37 he died of heart disease which had been exacerbated by the hard manual work he undertook when he was young. He died on the same day his wife Jean gave birth to his last son, Maxwell. On the day he was buried more than 10,000 people came to watch and pay their respects. He would undoubtedly be immensely proud of his popularity now and the fact that Scots everywhere celebrate the anniversary of his birth with a Burns night supper which has become a quintessential part of Scottish life. It is a night where his life and great works are celebrated. Now I’m not a Scot so would probably not get invited to Burns night suppers on a normal day, but I love Burns poetry so it is a great opportunity for me to enjoy such an event in my home!

There is already a buzz of excitement among supper guests who have booked in. Several of my friends got in there quick and have been emailing and popping round to read me their poems all week. I was surprised how many wanted to perform. Entertainment is usually in the form of a Burns song or a rousing rendition of a Burns poem. This is usually followed by an oration on the life and work of Burns and is followed by a toast to his immortal memory. Thence follows the second entertainment and a toast to the lassies, a reply from the lassies and lastly a thank you and rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

I intend to keep to that format as much as possible. At some point it might all go ‘tits up’ but we will, as usual, be the masters of winging it! The food will be less ‘gourmet’ and more about traditional, well-cooked, hearty Scottish fare. It will be organic as much as possible and from local sources and suppliers. The Haggis is an exception (it’s coming from Scotland) and raspberries obviously are not in season, but a Scottish meal wouldn’t be complete without some raspberries thrown in!

The menu for the night will include

Locally Smoked salmon (from the Llandudno smokery www.thesmokery.co.uk/home.php?/home ) home-made brown bread and Scotch whisky on arrival

Cullen Skink (an Arbroath Smokie based soup, again Smokies are from the Llandudno Smokery)

Haggis (coming from Glasgow http://www.shop.scottishhaggis.co.uk/Category/53-haggis.aspx ) with bashit neeps an’ champit tatties (veggie Haggis will also be available)

Leeks in cheese sauce

Typsy Laird

Cheese with bannocks, tea and coffee and more whisky

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

Remember and sing with us on the 25th

Denise xx

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Happy New Year and looking forward to the future

Next dates for the supper club will be

Burns night supper on Thursday 28th January….poetry, Haggis (vege and non-vege) and lots of whiskey. If you would like to book contact soon as there is already lots of interest…if you’d like to read some poetry let me know

Reprise of Burns night on Saturday 30th same as above

‘Anti’ Valentines day lunch Sunday 14th February….not really ‘anti but for all of you that are single. If you would like to meet new people and enjoy a down to earth family Sunday lunch without having to hold hands over the table come join us!!!

Date still to be confirmed for the Indian banquet (with guest cooks from Joginders supper club in London)…but let me know if you are interested as i’m taking bookings already

More to be announced later

Denise xxx

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Is thinking ahead….

There will be lots of new and exciting things happening at the supper club in the new year…we will be starting student nights, ad hoc cookery courses, hosting a vege Thali night and a Burns night supper….until then we have some spaces left for pre Christmas dinner on 12th December and there are still spaces on Saturday, damn this horrendous weather xx

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