HillyWillys Homemade Haggis

Well it’s that time of year again when all the Scots around the world get slightly stronger accents, forget the weather and long for home.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Yes it’s Burns night, so to all my compatriots across the globe, Slaintemhath.

Anyway….. The reason for this post is not just a rose coloured reminisce, but to give you all an easy ( and non stomach churning ) haggis recipe should you want to try this wonderful Scottish delicacy.

Traditionally a haggis is made with what is called a sheep’s ‘pluck’. Those of you with tender dispositions should look away now. The ‘pluck’ comprises of the heart, liver, kidney and lungs of the sheep. To make a haggis the pluck is minced up with onions, oatmeal and seasoning then stitched back into sheep’s washed out stomach lining, sewn up and steamed for around 5 hours.

Having once been party a traditional haggis cooking session I can assure you that this is not for the feint of heart or indeed stomach and I will NEVER be doing it again. ( I can still remember the smell vividly after 7 years.)

This recipe is a lot more palatable to the modern-day cook and won’t take half a day to cook either. In my opinion the results are just as delicious and will make enough haggis for around 6 people.

HillyWillys Homemade Haggis

ingredients
250g lambs liver*
250g shredded suet*
350g oatmeal
1 large onion
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to season
500ml vegetable stock

*for a Vegetarian option in place of liver use

*150g of shredded mushrooms
*100g of mashed kidney beans
*250g vegetable suet

No Burns supper is complete without the accompanying bashed tatties and neeps so you will also need

1kg potatoes
2 large yellow turnips
A little Butter and cream to mash.
First gently fry off the liver in a pan with a little oil till brown and firm. Remove from the heat and allow to cool then grate into a large bowl.

Grate cooked liver

Place the oats into a large dry pan and heat,stirring frequently, until toasted, then add to the liver.
Toast oats and cook onion
Finely chop the onion and cook with 50 g of suet for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and begins to turn translucent then add the rest of the suet to the pan and melt. When fully melted pour into the bowl and mix well.
add onion and suet  to the bowl
Add your cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper and 500 ml of vegetable stock and stir the mixture.
grease foil
Now take a large piece of foil and brush generously with oil. Place about half of your mixture in the centre of the foil and shape into a large sausage then bring the sides of the foil to the middle and gently twist the ends (it looks rather like an enormous Christmas cracker at this point) and fold the ends to the middle.

wrap haggis

Now wrap again in foil and place in a large oven proof dish.
Repeat this step for the rest of your mixture.

place in large dish

Pour boiling water into the dish to about half way and place the dish in a hot oven (225 degrees) and cook for an hour and a half. Don’t forget to check the water levels in your dish throughout the cooking time and top up as needed.

After about an hour set your potatoes and turnips ( in seperate pans) to boil.

Once they are boiled mash the potatoes with a little cream and butter, and mash the turnip with just a little butter.
unwrap
Remove the haggis from the oven and take from the dish. Carefully remove the foil and serve up with the bashed tatties and neeps and a little onion gravy.
Haggis Basht tatties and neeps
Of course if you’re doing this properly you will address the haggis before eating with the words of Rabbie Burns himself.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

This is the much abbreviated version, (the full text can be found here), because I just can’t wait to start eating it 🙂

A Bientot and ( for today only ) Scots Wah hae!

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Candy Cane Cut-Out Cookies

It was time for a post festive season clear out of the snack-shelf* and I came across the remnants of the candy canes. A little the worse for wear and held in shape only by their cellophane wrapping.
Most normal people would have just dumped them in the bin, but I’ve never in my life claimed to be normal so it was into the kitchen they came to be used in ….. something…. The something turned out to be cookies, not your ordinary cookies, but cut out cookies of course!

I have a nifty little cutter that cuts holes in the centre of your cookie shape, but if you dont have one all you need is one large ( 4-5 cm) and one small (2-3cm), which will do the job perfectly.

This is a great bake to do with small people it’s a lot of fun with tasty and good looking results. We got a little carried away ( I know, you’re stunned) and decided to colour our dough as well, this is not strictly necessary, but it is really pretty 🙂

If you don’t happen to have any candy canes kicking about in your kitchen then any kind of boiled sweet or hard candy will be fine.

This recipe should yield between 20-30 biscuits
*it started out as small persons snack box, but has gradually grown and taken over a whole pantry shelf. Oops.

Candy Cane Cut-Out Cookies

225g Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
150g Butter
75g Sugar
25g Icing Sugar
1 beaten Egg
5 Candy Canes ( or a handful of boiled sweets )

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cube the butter and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir in then sift the icing sugar and mix well. Mix to a stiff dough with the beaten egg then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed well.

The next step is optional 🙂

Split the dough into 3 roughly equal parts and add a few drops of food colouring to each part and kneed until you get an even colour. ( it’s advisable to wear some gloves at this point unless you want technicolour hands for the rest of the day.

Place the dough into plastic bags and chill for at least 30 minutes.
roll out dough
Roll out your dough to between 1/4 and 1/2 cm thickness, cut your shapes and place onto greaseproof paper (VERY important not to bake them directly on the baking tray /cookie sheet).
place cookies on paper
Take your candy canes or boiled sweets and smash into small pieces, place a small piece of candy into the hole of each cookie.
place sweets in centreNow… you can of course reuse the ‘middle bits’ and re roll, or… you could place them along side and have lots of very cute tiny biscuits too 🙂
Place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees and bake for between 10 and 15 minutes. Take them out as the cookie begins to brown and the candy is a bubbling liquid.
take out of oven
Leave then on the tray for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack as this will allow time for the candy to solidify.
cool on paper first
Once completely cooled store in an airtight container, or just eat them straight away!!

yummy cookies

Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins

Happy New Year!

Yes I know, it’s a little belated but we have all been under the weather here in the last few weeks, fortunately Christmas itself was sickness free, but we’ve been making up for it since…

Now that the veil of flu is lifting from HillyWillys house, it’s long past time to get back into the kitchen.

After the most wonderful Christmas eve meal small person and a sumptuous dinner from Hubby the kitchen has been a relatively HillyWilly free zone. Time to put that right 🙂

But what to cook? After the excess eating of Christmas and new year I thought perhaps I should try something slightly less …. decadent, but still super tasty of course so I have opted to give you some healthy, low fat muffins, I can assure you they are still delicious and as they are lower in fat that means you can eat more of them…… 😉

Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins.

300g flour
1tsp Baking Powder
25g Brown Sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1tsp Cinnamon
1 Orange (zest and flesh)
100g Dried unsweetened Cranberries
100ml Skimmed Milk
100ml Orange Juice
1 Egg
25g Salted Butter ( melted )

About an hour before you are ready to bake soak the cranberries in the orange juice. This will give them a nice plumpness and add a bit of sharpness to the flavour.

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In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Add to this the zest and flesh of your orange and the drained cranberries and stir well.

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In a separate bowl beat the egg and add the milk and orange juice and stir well. Melt the butter and whisk it into the liquid. If you wish to substitute the butter for sunflower oil you can do so, but don’t forget to add a generous pinch of salt.

Add the liquid to the dry bowl and beat until fully combined.

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Divide the mixture into muffin cases ( this amount should make 12) and place in a preheated oven.bake at 200degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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When the muffins come out you can if you wish add a sprinkle of brown sugar to the top, or if you are being really good you can skip this step 🙂

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Allow to cool and enjoy.

A Bientôt.

Flu.

Just a few quick words today. Flu is completely rubbish.
We are playing a family game of pass the virus at the moment. Thankfully it would seem that my turn is coming to an end, but it’s hubbys turn now…. Normal service will be resumed when the sick room is less busy than the kitchen…..

Until then I wish you all health, good food and happiness.

A Bientôt

Chocolate Chestnut Chili Torte

I had this idea a while ago and thought it would be a most excellent dessert for christmas.  I’ve been  Waiting ever since. Amidst all the preparations all I could think about was finally getting to make (and more importantly, eat) my pud, and hope it was as nice as I thought it was going to be.

Well the waiting is over and I can assure you it was most definitely worth the wait 🙂

There are a few flavours in here, but they complement each other wonderfully well.

Chocolate Chestnut Chilli Torte

  Chilli Pastry

200g Flour
100g Butter (diced)
50g Chilli sugar*
1 Egg (beaten)
Icing sugar to roll out pastry and sprinkle.
(* if you don’t have any chilli sugar there is a method here, or you can add 1tsp of chilli flakes and 1/4tsp of chilli powder to regular granulated sugar)
 Chocolate torte

200g Dark Chocolate

100ml Cream

100g Marzipan

50g Chestnut paste

7 whole cooked Chestnuts

Icing sugar to dust

Cut together the butter and flour until there are no large lumps left. I have this nifty little pastry cutter gadget, but a knife works just as well, but a bit slower. Finish by rubbing the flour and butter through your fingers until the mixture looks like sand. Add the sugar and mix well.

Gradually add the beaten egg and bring together with a fork. You only really need a few spoonfuls of the egg s you don’t want your pastry too wet. When it starts to go sticky on your fork use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. If its too dry add a little more egg, if it’s too wet add a little more flour.

Kneed well until smooth and crack free, place in a polythene bag and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling.
roll out pastry to 1/2cm
Once the pastry is chilled roll out to about 1/2cm thick. You will need the pastry to be relatively thick as there is a point with this torte when you will be using your hands and you don’t want it to fall apart when you pick it up.
Press gently into a greased and floured tin and blind bake* for 25 minutes.

*To ‘blind bake’ you need to cover the uncooked pastry with a sheet of baking paper and weight it down with pastry beads or uncooked rice and place in a pre-heated 180degree oven.
cover and blind bake pastry
Take the pastry from the oven when it has started to brown around the edges and allow to cool completely. When it is completely cold remove the beads/rice and paper .
baking rice
Roll out marzipan to about 1/4cm and line the pastry shell.
Spread a generous layer of chestnut puree on top of the marzipan.
The reason for the marzipan, should one be needed, is to stop the chestnut puree soaking into the pastry and making it soggy. And it tastes fantastic.

chestnut paste

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and when it has melted stir in the cream. It takes a few minutes for the cream and chocolate to combine so stir gently until the mixture is smoothe dark and runny.

heat chocolate and cream

Take from the heat and stand for 5 minutes before pouring into the pastry shell.
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Now you have to be patient. Set aside to cool for an hour and when the top of the ganache is set arrange your chestnut pieces gently on top. Now leave the torte to cool completely either in a cool place overnight or in the fridge for a few hours.
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When the torte is solid, you are free to enjoy 🙂

I would recommend serving with a little cream or creme fraiche. The pastry is not overly hot and the chocolate ganache complements the hint of chili without ambushing it completely. But in the wise words of small person “don’t eat the pastry on its own…get me some water”!

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A Bientot.

AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH

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This is the current state of play in HillyWillys Kitchen.

I’ve lost my notebook.

Not just any notebook.

THE notebook.

With my recipes in.

I’m sure it will be found, somewhere. But until I’ve turned the house upside-down you will have to wait….. Only till tomorrow though as I have what will hopefully be a lovely ‘leftover loaf’ cooking as I type.

So if you happen to see my notebook*, give me a shout.

A Bientôt.

*it has a picture on the front of a pig dressed as doctor and he’s handing out plasters. Thanks.

Merry Christmas to one and all

I hope you have a peaceful time with your loved ones, and a joyful celebration.

HillyWillys kitchen will be open again on Boxing day as it’s hubby’s turn to cook dinner tomorrow and I can’t wait 🙂

I’ve been turfed out of the kitchen this evening as our wonderful small person is just cooking what smells like a delicious cannelloni for dinner.

I will have (what shows all signs of being) a delicious recipe to share with you. Chocolate, Chestnut and chili torte. It’s setting now and being sampled tomorrow……

So until then may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Now where’s that cannelloni ?

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A Bientôt.