(Belated) Burns Night: Haggis with neeps, tatties and whisky sauce

Haggis with neeps, tatties and whisky sauce

I’m not Scottish. As far as I’m aware, I don’t have any Scottish heritage. Neither does Owen. However, eating haggis with neeps, tatties and whisky sauce on Burns Night has somehow become a tradition for us since we first moved into our flat over three years ago. Come to think of it, most of the traditions in our home revolve around food and drink – eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, making elderflower cordial in June and, more recently, making parkin for Bonfire Night.

We’d originally planned on having our Burns Night dinner last night, after going to the pub in celebration of January Payday Friday (sweet, sweet January Payday Friday). However, you know how these things go – you’re persuaded to stay for another drink, and then to go out for something to eat instead of going home to cook. So, our Burns Night was tonight instead. And very tasty it was too, eaten while watching the Pixar film Brave, appropriately enough.

Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream with rhubarb compote

Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream with rhubarb compote

My ever-beloved Nigella has often written about her mantra of “I may be extravagant, but never am I wasteful”. This is a sentiment I took to heart when I made this, as while it’s undeniably indulgent, it involved using ingredients which may have gone to waste otherwise.

As is often necessary after the festive season, I became a bit of a self-styled Queen of the Leftovers at the beginning of January, tailoring almost every meal around what was left in the fridge (even more so than usual). Among the leftovers this year was an unopened tub of Cornish clotted cream, which Owen’s mum brought for us – among other gifts – when she came to stay over Christmas. We both love clotted cream (who doesn’t), but knew we were unlikely to use it before it went out of date a few days after New Year. So, I decided to make ice cream, the idea being that I could stash it in the freezer until we could face eating pudding again (bearing in mind we’d only just finished the infamous New Year cheesecake). I went Googling for inspiration, and settled on stem ginger ice cream.

As luck would have it, I also found a lone bag of rhubarb in the reduced fruit and veg section when I went shopping. Rhubarb and ginger are notoriously tasty bedfellows, so I took the opportunity to make a rhubarb compote to go with the ice cream. This was also stashed in the freezer.

I had a 227g tub of clotted cream, which made a large amount of custard. I therefore had to churn the ice cream in two batches as it wouldn’t all fit in my ice cream maker. To make things simpler, the recipe below gives the amounts for one batch of ice cream.

Clotted cream and rhubarb

Stem ginger and clotted cream ice cream

Ingredients

  • 115g clotted cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks (you can freeze the whites for use in something else)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • About 50g stem ginger from a jar, chopped into small pieces (this is equivalent to about three or four balls of stem ginger)
  • 2 or 3 tablespoonsful of stem ginger syrup from the jar

Add the cream and milk to a pan and heat together gently, stirring as you go, until almost boiling but not quite. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Add the sugar, salt and egg yolks to a bowl and beat together until the mixture turns a pale shade of yellow.

Gradually add the heated milk and cream mixture to the bowl, a ladleful at a time, whisking as you go. You want to do this carefully so the eggs don’t scramble with the heat.

Once all the mixture is combined, return it to the pan and heat it gently again until it is of a consistency which coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Put the mixture into a bowl and allow it to chill thoroughly. Once chilled, put it in an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice cream has churned, fold in the stem ginger pieces and syrup. Scrape it into a container and put it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. (It’ll probably need at least a few hours to firm up properly).

Rhubarb compote

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 40g caster sugar
  • A tiny splash of water (and I mean really tiny – the rhubarb will leak a lot of liquid)

Chop the rhubarb into pieces about an inch long and add to a pan along with the sugar and water. Heat on a medium heat, stirring regularly until the rhubarb is soft, but still has some shape. You could add more sugar to taste if you like.

Rhubarb

If freezing, transfer the stewed rhubarb (stewbarb) into a container with a lid and chuck it in the freezer.

Slow cooker osso bucco

Osso bucco

Osso bucco is one of the many things I’ve been meaning to make for ages, and I finally got round to making it after buying some veal shanks (labelled as osso bucco) in the yellow sticker reduced section of Sainsbury’s before Christmas. I stashed them in the freezer (as I do with most of my yellow sticker purchases) and thought I’d cook them this week as part of my quest to empty the freezer.*

I used the ‘Bruno’s osso bucco’ recipe from the Leon Naturally Fast Food book as a guide, but essentially made it in the same way I would instinctively make a casserole. You could dust the meat with flour before browning it, but I added flour later instead (as I normally do). I also forgot to add a stock cube, but it was fine without – and I probably wouldn’t bother next time.

Osso bucco is traditionally served with saffron risotto and gremolata. However, I decided to keep it truly one-pot by chucking in some pearl barley. Not authentic, but tasty nonetheless. I did have the ingredients for gremolata, but completely forgot to make it. Never mind!

*Our usual plan is to use up enough of our frozen food so that when it snows (which it inevitably does), we can put any remaining food in a cool box on the balcony and defrost the freezer. This worked last year, but we’re forecast snow this weekend and we’re nowhere near eating everything in the freezer…

Ingredients

  • 2 rose veal shanks (sometimes sold as osso bucco) or 2 slices of beef shin
  • Olive oil
  • An onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, washed and finely chopped
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • A tablespoonful of flour
  • A generous glug of white wine
  • A tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and cut into small chunks
  • A teaspoonful of dried sage
  • A teaspoonful of dried oregano
  • A sprinkling of pearl barley (equivalent to a couple of tablespoons full)

Osso bucco

Heat up a deep, wide pan and brown the meat on both sides. Remove and set aside. Add a small amount of oil to the pan and fry the onions and celery, adding the sea salt to draw out the moisture and stop them catching. Once the onions start to turn translucent, add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Add the flour and stir in until it’s coated with oil. Turn up the heat and add the wine, stirring everything together.

Turn off the heat and add the chopped tomatoes (I whizzed them first in a food processor because that’s what I do) along with the carrot, herbs and pearl barley.

Put the contents of the pan into a slow cooker and add the meat, making sure it’s submerged. Cook on low for at least 6 hours. The meat should fall away from the bone during cooking so you can easily discard the bones before serving.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, I’d suggest putting this in a low-ish oven for a couple of hours, so that the meat becomes tender and the bone marrow leaches out into the sauce.

Serves 2.

Osso bucco

Happy New Year!

As is always the case over the festive season, I’ve over indulged, food and drink wise, on a scale that could rival King Henry VIII. There have been moments when I’ve felt as though I’m one Malteser away from slipping into a diabetic coma. I’d reached the stage where I was spending most of my time laying on my back on the sofa like a helpless tortoise, whimpering feeble requests for fennel tea and steamed vegetables. I may be exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea. I certainly shouldn’t complain- unlike many unlucky people I know, I’ve managed to survive December without contracting norovirus or a stinking cold.

Now that 2013 has arrived, I can get back to something resembling normality and enjoy a fresh start. While it will be nice to eat some extra healthy food after all the excess, I’d be lying if I said I’d turned over a completely new (lettuce) leaf. As I write this, I can smell the ham that is slow cooking in Coca Cola in my kitchen (the Nigella classic). We also had people over last night to help us welcome in the New Year, and as well as cooking this chilli, I made the chocolate digestive cheesecake from Lorraine Pascale’s Home Cooking Made Easy. Oh. Em. Gee. If a cheesecake-induced coma is a thing that is possible, then I think it nearly happened last night. Not that it wasn’t good- I just should have dished up smaller portions (a word of advice- an eighth per person is TOO MUCH, PEOPLE!) If I made it again, I would consider using a plain digestive base rather than chocolate digestives, as the extra chocolate made it quite tough to cut through. Also, I would probably leave off the melted chocolate topping as I made a bit of a mess of it and, to be honest, the cheesecake is amply rich enough without it.

This is what's left of 'Cheesecake-ageddon'.

This is what’s left of ‘Cheesecake-ageddon’.

Ham in Coca Cola

Ham in Coca Cola – before and after.

Luckily, the weather finally got its act together today after being mostly wet and windy for the last few weeks. So, we made the most of it by enjoying a refreshing walk in the park to assist the recovery from what will henceforth be referred to as ‘Cheesecake-ageddon’.

Anyway, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Here’s to a marvellous 2013.

*Eats a fistful of antacid tablets and reaches for the Berocca*