A Menu for Scottish Or Celtic Celebrations

The Scottish Flag, the St Andrews Cross or Saltire
The Scottish Flag, the St Andrews Cross or Saltire | Source

Saint Andrew's Day, or Any Day!

I enjoy entertaining, but having lived in various places all over the world, I am often hesitant about serving local delicacies. Over the years I've found the ideal thing is to give guests a taste from home, it adds interest to the meal, I feel comfortable with the cooking, and even if the guests are complete strangers, it gives us something to talk about. Although I am from Scotland, my husband is Greek, so our meals are often a hybrid of the two styles of cooking, but for special celebrations, such as St Andrew's Day, only a Scottish menu will do.

Why is St Andrew's Day Special?

I'd like to say I have memories of many St Andrew's day celebrations, spent with friends and family, but I'd be lying. When I was a child in Scotland, St Andrew's Day was hardly celebrated at all, for the simple reason that despite being Scotland's national day, Saint Andrews Day, the 30th of November, was not a holiday. With the advent of the Scottish parliament, the day has now become an official bank holiday, and a 'flag day' in Scotland.

Across the rest of the world, St Andrews day has always been a celebration of Scottish heritage. My father, a chef a hotel/restaurant manager who worked abroad for most of his life, often found himself organizing Scottish celebrations in the most unlikely of places, and my grandfather ( a talented amateur artist) often designed menu covers for Saint Andrew's night dinners. I may not have attended many St Andrew's night dinners, but it has happy associations for me. I have a good idea what the menu should be, and how to cook it.

What to Serve

Don't confuse St Andrew's day with Burns night. While Haggis is traditional at the annual celebration of Scotland's favorite poet, a St Andrew's Day menu should sample some of Scotland's other traditional recipes. While many regard us as a nation of 'fried mars bar eaters' it's worth remembering that Scotland and France had an alliance for many years. There are many aspects of french cooking in traditional Scottish fare, and since Scotland produces some of the finest fish. meat and game in the world, Scottish recipes made with Scottish products, are truly world class.

Here's a suggested Saint Andrew's Night Menu suitable for a domestic Dinner Party.

  • Potted Salmon
  • Collops
  • Cranachan
  • Scottish Cheeses and Oat Cakes
  • A selection of Scottish liqueurs Glayva, Drambuie, Atholl Brose

Potted Salmon

This is easy to make in advance and is served cold. You can be purist and make it from fresh salmon, but to make it easier you can use tinned. The quantities given will serve 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boneless salmon
  • 3 (or more) anchovies, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon, anchovy paste (if anchovies not available)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 pinch mace
  • to taste salt and cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. My grandmother used to pound this together with a mortar and pestle. If she was alive today, I'm sure she would say you get a better taste that way.
  2. I throw all the ingredients in a food processor and give them a quick whiz. Just be sure you don't have much liquid and don't whiz for long!
  3. Press the resulting mush into a dish. I use a small shallow dish, but you might also try ramekins.
  4. Cover with melted butter.
  5. Chill.
  6. Just before serving, remove from the refrigerator and let it warm up a little, then garnish with a rolled anchovy, or if you don't care for them, a half cherry tomato and a sprig of parsley.
  7. Serve with thin french toast (which you can buy ready made) or with oat cakes.

Collops

In the USA, steaks are usually grilled. This recipe is for rump or fillet steak, cut very thin and cooked in the pan. LIke many Scottish recipes it uses butter. If you are afraid of the fat in butter, please don't try this, it really does not taste anything like the real thing if you try using margarine.

You will need::

  • 8 thin (say a quarter of an inch or just over 1/2 a centimetre) slices of rump or fillet steak.
  • 1 tablespoon of the juice of pickled walnuts (don't skip this)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 large sliced onions.

Instructions - You will need one very large or two small pans.

Warm your dinner serving plates before you start.

Melt the butter until it is really hot, then toss in the sliced onions. Let them soften, but before they go brown, push them over and add the steaks.

The steaks will brown quickly - turn them over and let them brown on both sides, the add the pepper and spread the onions throughout the pan and over the meat.

Reduce the heat and cover the pan, cook gently for 8-10 minutes.

Remove the steaks and put them on a warmed plate.

Add the pickle juice and salt to taste, boil fast for no more than one minute.

Pour a spoon of the sauce into each plate, swirl it around and add two collops to each one. Then add another spoon of sauce and garnish (with parsley, a rolled anchovy a half cherry tomato or a sprig of fragrant herb, such as thyme)

Serve with a large dish of mashed potato and wild mushrooms.

Dessert

I like dinner parties where one of the guests volunteers to bring dessert, but there are lots of options if you are looking for a Scottish style dessert. The clyde valley is famous for its soft fruits, so a simple way to end the meal would be with strawberries (or raspberries) and cream, however in Scotland we would usually use double cream for this, and that's something I've failed to find in the USA.

Here's one traditional recipe which is a true flavour of Scotland, but it's not for the faint hearted.

Cranachan can be made with more or less alchohol - it depends on you and your guests!
Cranachan can be made with more or less alchohol - it depends on you and your guests! | Source

Cranachan

1/2 pint (or 1 cup) of cream (or use vanilla ice cream)

2 large tablespoons of oatmeal (toasted)

Flavouring as appropriate (vanilla sugar, rum, whisky or a liquer like Glayva or Drambuie)

Using an electric blended to whip the cream or ice cream. If cream, it should be frothy, but not stiff. Mix in the toasted oatmeal.

Add the sweetener or flavoring. Some like to use vanilla sugar, my grandmother believed that only heather honey was appropriate.

Serve with raspberries or strawberries.

Top with toasted oatmeal.

Serve with fingers of shortbread.

Cheese and Biscuits

At the end of a meal you can relax, and really concentrate on your guests. Cheese and biscuits are an ideal way to end the meal and enjoy the conversation.

If you've planned your meal as a celebration of Scotland, don't be distressed that you can't find scottish cheeses, your first step is to find the right 'biscuit'. Yes, biscuit means something different in the USA, when we say cheese and biscuits in the UK, that translates to cheese and crackers. When you'r serving a meal with a scottish theme, there's only one possible choice, and that's an oat cake.

Serve oatcakes with butter and plenty of cheese. Types of cheddar abound in Scotland, but the islands are famous for their smoked cheeses and especially for rolled soft cheese surrounded with oat meal. You'll also find a number of norse cheese in Scotland, such as Gjetost.

You may want to serve coffee for your guests, but whisky would be more traditional. You might also like to try a Scottish liqueur. Drambuie is world famous, but my personal favorite is called Glayva - made from a number of whiskies, anise, cloves, almonds, heather honey, and citrus fruits. Like Drambuie it is very strong, but gives a genuine flavor of Scotland.

I couldn't help feeling nostalgic as I created this hub. Are there foods that make you feel that way? Add some comments so we can share!

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