Butterscotch Pudding, with Scotch of course!

I have a new favorite flavor of pudding – butterscotch. I will admit that I never liked butterscotch anything for most of my life because most things labeled “butterscotch” just tasted like caramel colored super sweet sugar. Enough to make my teeth hurt just thinking about it. I changed my mind many months ago when I was at a whole foods store (not Whole Foods TM, but a similar kind of store). I saw some store made butterscotch pudding in the cooler and something came over me to try it. It was topped with whipped cream and it was like heaven on a spoon. I paced myself and ended up eating it on three different occasions just to stretch it. It was that good. I started to think about the name and realized that it contains two of my favorite words – butter & scotch. What a revelation!

I also must admit while I am admitting things that this recipe has been waiting to get posted since Thanksgiving, as this was the dessert du jour on that favorite of all days (mine at least).

So once I decided this was going to be dessert, I went on the hunt for a good recipe and found this one by David Lebovitz. According to David: “… You’ll also notice I add a splash of whiskey. One theory is that the name ‘butterscotch’ is a derivation of ‘butter-scorched’. Others say it that it meant ‘scotching’ or cutting, which they did to slabs of buttery, creamy caramels when making candy. Although the name implies it, it doesn’t have to have scotch or whiskey in it, but I find the flavors marry so well that I can’t resist adding a little shot.” Interesting, but I totally don’t care, I want scotch in my butterscotch and so be it! I am glad David agrees. He also says something else I absolutely agree with: “But one decision I refuse to let you make is to be one of those people that wants to press plastic wrap on top of the puddings to avoid that delicious, chewy skin that forms on top. If you don’t like pudding skin, why are you eating pudding in the first place?” Thank you, spoken like a true pudding lover!

Of course there is also butter in the recipe which completes the prerequisites for my butterscotch pudding. The only way I deferred from the recipe is in the sweetener; I used coconut palm sugar instead of the brown sugar and found it to be absolutely lovely. I also topped it with fresh whipped cream and cocoa nibs. Since this recipe contains scotch, it is not technically gluten free. I was happy to find that it didn’t bother me in any way. Must be one of the perks of Scottish genes! But if you are GF, you could skip it and maybe allow the butter to brown before adding the sugar to it, to give it more of a deep flavor.

David Lebovitz’s Butterscotch Pudding (adapted from Ripe For Dessert)

INGREDIENTS:


4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1 cup packed dark brown or cassonade sugar (I used coconut palm)
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD:
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.
Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.
Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.
Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (Gluten-Free!)

 

One of my favorite desserts of all time is Sticky Toffee Pudding. The first time I had it was in Galway, Ireland. But once I developed a taste for it, I had it every chance I could get, which considering where I live, is not very often, and since I had to stop eating gluten, not at all! To my good fortune, this has all recently changed!

For those of you who have not been bewitched by this amazing treat, I’ll give you a run-down of what it actually is. What it is not, is a pudding in the American sense of the word, but a tender, moist cake- a true pudding in the British sense of the word.

Now everyone knows that British/ Scottish/ Irish cuisine does not get its due credit in the world of gastronomy. In fact it is often looked down upon. But there is really no need for it – if you actually have the good fortune to try it first hand, I guarantee you will find much to write home about. The foods of these small northern European islands are quite good, lots of fresh vegetables, wild game, wonderful sausages and unexpectedly – dessert. I fell in love with the desserts when I traveled to Ireland and Scotland- cranachan, treacle pudding, Victoria sponge, custards and of course the queen of them all, Sticky Toffee Pudding (that’s why it is all in Caps, it is that good!).

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a moist, rich cake made with dates (sometimes prunes) and topped with a wonderful toffee sauce. Many times puddings are served with a topping of thin custard, like crème anglaise. I have seen Sticky Toffee Pudding served with both together. There is some mystery to the origins of this special dessert, some say it was developed in the south of England, and others say it was being served and enjoyed in Aberdeenshire, Scotland many years before if became popular in England. I think we should give this one to the Scots. I mean the English have laid claim to much that has belonged to the Scots these many long years, and why quibble over a dessert?

I digress, so for Burns Night I was looking for a festive dessert and I remembered Sticky Toffee Pudding. I started by searching on line for gluten-free recipes. I found a few, but none of them alone felt like it was going to yield a classic. So I forged out on my own. I must say that the one ingredient that makes the recipe is Lyle’s Golden Syrup - cane sugar syrup that has been made the same way for over 125 years (and another Scottish invention!) and a good substitute for evil corn syrup. Once I tasted it, I knew that it was this beautiful amber syrup that really lends the magical element that makes a classic Sticky Toffee Pudding taste.

So if you are gluten-free and want to try a new delicious and simple to prepare dessert, or are already a lover of Sticky Toffee Pudding, you will love this recipe! It was a huge hit at our Burns Supper!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of organic chopped dates
1 ¼ cup water
1TBS pure vanilla extract
2 TBS whiskey
1 cup gluten free flour mix
1 cup almond flour/meal
¼ cup arrowroot
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
¼ cup softened butter
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
¼ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup Lyle’s Golden syrup
¼ cup coconut palm sugar

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 325 F
Simmer chopped dates in water for about 10 minutes. Drain the dates and place into a food processor, add the vanilla and whiskey and pulse a few times, until you have a chunky paste.
In a separate bowl whisk dry ingredients together: GF flour mix, almond flour, salt, and baking soda.
In another small bowl, beat together the butter, yogurt and eggs. Then combine all the dry and wet ingredients together and add ¼ cup of Lyle’s while mixing.

I used a muffin tin to bake my puddings, but you could use ramekins or a large baking dish to make a large pudding (cooking times will vary). I filled my muffin tin to the top with the batter – creating a large muffin sized pudding.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime you can make the toffee sauce. Just heat the heavy cream, sugar and Lyle’s until it boils, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring often.
*Tip: Since I wanted to serve my puddings warm, but make them ahead of time, I made them, and then baked them for 10 minutes. Then I took them out of the oven. When I was ready to serve dessert later that night, I popped them back in the oven for another 10 minutes while I made the sauce!
Serve warm, serves 6.

Burns Night: Haggis

“Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free,
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run,
For brave Caledonia immortal must be,”
~Robert Burns, Caledonia

Last night we celebrated Burns Night , the 25th of January, the birthdate of the famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It is a night when Scots all over the world celebrate his life, poetry and all things Scottish by hosting a traditional Burns Supper – haggis, neeps, tatties, and a whisky toast!
This is a treat I look forward to every year. Living across the pond, in the US, haggis is not readily available, but I have been lucky to find Scottish Gourmet USA an online retailer of not only some of the best haggis in the US, but many other delicious Scottish products as well, like honey, cheese, smoked salmon, teas, etc. If you love Scottish food, I suggest you check them out!

We started the night off with homemade oat cakes, slices of Dubliner and chunks of Bergenost . I figured since I didn’t have any Scottish cheese lying about, I would seek close relatives, so we went with Irish and Norwegian (learn about the relationship between the Vikings and the Scots in regards to cheese here). We washed the first course down with some Thistly Cross Hard Scottish Cider.

Then it was time for the main course, haggis, neeps (mashed rutabaga) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Looks innocent enough, doesn’t it?

Now before you all start in with that “yuck” or “ick” word again, like when I talked about my love for black pudding , let me tell you that haggis is really nothing more than a wonderfully spiced sausage. The haggis by Scottish Gourmet USA, contains lamb, liver, oats and spices, nothing else…and YES, I have had the “real deal” in Scotland, and honestly it tastes very much the same. It has a wonderful creamy texture and the aroma is tantalizing. This is real, hardy, stick to your bones kind of food, for real, hardy people! This is traditional, ancestral food at its best! Burns makes this quite clear in his famous address and I must concur! :

“But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He will make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will crop
Like tops of thistle.
You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland want no watery ware,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But is you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!”
~Robert Burns, Address to a Haggis (standard English translation)

(Me with friends Bob and Suzanne, all enraptured by The Address)

Of course before eating, the haggis must be addressed (to see the whole address performed excellently, I suggest checking out this one performed by Andrew of Scottish Gourmet USA) and then toasted with whisky. This year we toasted with a 15 year Dalwhinnie. It was a good one.

As always it was a wonderful evening full of joking, sharing memories of trips to Scotland, etc, such a great yearly tradition. I suggest to all of you, especially if you are Scottish, love Scotland or just love ‘Ol Rabbie Burns, to join us next year in celebrating his life!

Want to know what to do with Haggis Leftovers? Try Balmoral Chicken.

Next UP: Sticky Toffee Pudding!

Balmoral Chicken the Delicious Answer to Leftover Haggis

It is a rare occasion, at least in most people’s households, to have leftover haggis. Well I found myself in this position recently after a very successful Burns Supper. Lucky for me, I have some awesome Caledonian friends and fellow bloggers that were able to help me out with this culinary quandary. My good friend Cat, who blogs at Kitty Cat’s Litertray explained to me that there are two popular ways to deal with the problem of leftover haggis – Haggis Pizza and Chicken Balmoral.

Now that I am 100% gluten-free and cannot enjoy my perfected sourdough spelt pizza right now, there has been very little pizza eaten in this house. As I mentioned in that post I have yet to find a delicious GF pizza crust…yet. So haggis pizza was clearly out.

Chicken Balmoral is a delicious dish, and really elevates haggis to a more modern culinary preparation. I actually feel very comfortable in saying that if you didn’t know it contained haggis, you would likely think you were eating a sausage stuffed chicken breast. The oats in the haggis are very creamy, and in this dish ads a bit of a “cheese vibe” to the stuffing. It is really a wonderful modern take on haggis, and I am pretty sure I enjoyed this dish when I was in Scotland many years ago as I was eating as much haggis as I could possibly stuff down my gullet.

Should have been a clue back then, of my Scottish lineage…

Chicken Balmoral is essentially chicken breast stuffed with haggis, wrapped in bacon – to keep it all together and drizzled with a whiskey cream sauce. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Yes indeed.

I found several recipes online, but this one, including a very helpful and instructional video is the one I followed.

I was in a bit of a rush when I made this, so I kind of winged the whiskey cream sauce. The only whiskey we have in this house are single malt scotches (I would say I am a bit of a budding connoisseur), so I used one of those, some butter, cream, salt and pepper. It was great, and I particularly enjoyed it the next day with the leftovers of this dinner, because I poured it over the leftover stuffed chicken and the neeps and tatties (aka “clapshot” ) the night before and it had the chance to sink in and saturate everything.

I am really enjoying my exploration into Scottish culture and history through the foods of that beautiful place in the world. I have found a lot of lovely dishes that are unique and tasty. I imagine this theme will continue on for quite a while!

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty!)

Burns Supper


(Jenn and Suzanne at Burns Night)

“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.”
~ Robert Burns

On January 25th, Scots, those of Scottish ancestry and poets all over the world celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns by celebrating Burns Night and hosting a Burns Supper.

I meant to post this yesterday, but since our -30 F weather hit, our connection has been sketchy at best. Now that we are past sub-zero temperatures, it seems to be waking up again! Hope it lasts!

January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish bard and poet. Traditionally on this day those that celebrate their Scottish ancestry prepare a dinner of haggis, a traditional Scottish dish with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), recite An Address To a Haggis , a Burns poem, toast with whiskey (single malt) and spend the evening with family and friends, reciting the poetry of Burns and having a grand old time.

I have always been fascinated with Scottish culture, myth and history. I have studied it quite a bit over the years and have always felt a deep connection to Scotland. When I had the good fortune to visit Scotland several years ago, I kept experiencing déjà vu. Due to my interest in all things Scottish,  I even hosted a fabulous Burns Supper many years ago. I had connections to NYC at the time and was able to procure a traditional haggis and prepared it with all the traditional trimmings.

My dad’s ancestors come from Paisley, near Glasgow. Although that is pretty much all I know about them. His surname is Barr, of Irn-Bru fame, although I don’t think there is any relation.

This year, after finding my birth family I came to learn that I have quite a lot of genetic Scottish ancestry as well. My maternal great-grandparents came to the USA from Glasgow, and through this lineage I am proud part of the Boyd Clan. I also have some Scottish ancestors through my genetic paternal line.

With my new found Scottish heritage, I decided starting this year, I am going to celebrate Burns Night every year, by preparing a traditional Burns Supper. This year, to kick things off, we invited our friend Suzanne, a haggis-phobe to join us for our Burns Supper. I was able to order a haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA . It was shipped frozen, over night. The haggis comes pre-cooked so it just needs to be re-heated, and the vegetables need to be cooked. The ingredients are simple, lamb, oats, beef liver and spices. While I was boiling the tatties and roasting the neeps ( I used rutabaga and turnips mixed) I went about preparing the dessert: Cranachan.

Cranachan is layers of Drambuie infused whipped cream, toasted oats and raspberries. I had some homemade granola which I used in place of the toasted oats. It is a light, yet delicious dessert and so easy to make! I did not get a picture of my cranachan, because we ate it too fast! But this one from BBC Good Food should give you the basic idea, and a delicious recipe to boot. We used raspberries that we picked over the summer and canned. It was delicious.

We started off with oat cakes, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese and a very un-Scottish glass of Malbec.

We presented the haggis, and listened to this roaring raucous version of the address at the table.

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.”

~Robert Burns

Then we toasted with a dram of Glenlivet 12 year and dug into the food. It was delicious – and despite being a haggis-phobe and declaring emphatically many times that she does not like lamb, Suzanne really enjoyed the haggis. I wish her husband Bob had been able to join us (next year!), but he was away on business. But we got pictures to prove it!

We had an absolutely wonderful night talking about all our animals, crazy journeys in life, languages, cultures and many other assorted topics over several hours. We had a wonderful time and I can’t wait to do it again next year!