Thursday, January 26, 2006

Celebrating Burns’ Night: Gie her a haggis!

This is my nod to the Scottish national poet Robert Burns, whose 237th birth anniversary was celebrated yesterday all over Scotland and elsewhere in the world. Traditionally copious amounts of haggis, neeps and tatties, as well as whisky, are consumed to celebrate the Bard's life. However, as I was planning to eat in solitude last night (failed miserably, but that's only good:), I was thinking of something a lot lighter and easier to eat. Something that you can eat while watching yet another episode of Desperate Housewives, for instance..

I made potato shortcrust canapés filled with haggis and topped with a rich shallot and whisky gravy. Although it lacks the neeps/turnip element (not my fault, read the note at the bottom), it does combine the haggis, tatties/potatoes and whisky.

I used the same potato shortcrust pastry that I had prepared for my first (and thus far last) Paper Chef entry. The haggis was a mini sized one from MacSween of Edinburgh, of course. And for the gravy I slowly fried some finely chopped shallots, made into a thick gravy, and added a very generous splash of my favourite whisky at the end.

The rest was easy – pop the hot shortcrust cases onto a plate, stuff each with a spoonful of steaming haggis (I bake mine in the oven usually) and top with a tiny dollop of onion whisky gravy.

As it turned out, I didn't eat these on my own after all. I mentioned mini haggis tarts to a friend on the phone, and within minutes she was over at my place with another friend. And we finished them well in advance of Desperate Housewives... The potato cases were perfectly crunchy and worked well with the crumbly-soft haggis and slightly sticky boozy whisky glaze. We all liked these, despite of having had dinner just before...

I wish I could tell you that some of the canapés are with potato shortcrust cases and some with turnip shortcrust cases. Unfortunately, my local Tesco had forgotten that there may be some Scots who fancy eating turnips that night together with their potatoes and haggis. So they had forgotten to order extra. To top this, they had also run out of haggis by 7pm!!! Whoever is ordering the stock for that particular branch, should be fired! Thank god for Peckham's, who had ordered extra haggis, so I could go ahead with my plan after all...


Anna said...

OMG, I never thought I'd like to taste haggis, but your version looks very appealing, like a delectable canape!

Laura said...

i must drool all over your blog now.

funny I forgot about Burn's b-day when I was posting about my own craving the day before.

unfortunately, haggis is hard to come by in the States and it seems I must wait until the local Highland Games to get any.

Should the opportunity arise, though, I'm snagging this idea! Thanks!


Pille said...

Anna - it's definitely worth a try! I've cooked haggis for most of my Estonian (and other) friends who have visited me, and pretty much everyone (if not all) have liked it!

Laura - I was wondering that there was no mention of the Bard:) And feel free to snag the idea - I'm proud of it and happy to share:)

keiko said...

Pille, I think you are good enough to be Scottish :) Looks great!

Pille said...

Keiko - thanks:) I have developed a taste for haggis, but that's maybe because Estonian black pudding is very similar in consistency, if not taste.
I will definitely use this haggis serving idea in the future as well, I was very pleased with it.

Laura said...

Hi Pille

if your seriously upto posting a haggis treat I would be giddy and have to repay the favor many-fold! (if not, then no worries, either)

I wouln't even know what tinned varieties are worthwhile having no access to them and I LOVE sending packages.

I can be reached at if you'd like. :)


Ulle Koolmar said...

Hello Pille,
I am an Estonian in America. Have
been here since 1949.
One of the things I miss is KAMA.
I have become a vegetarian/vegan in
the last three years, so figure Kama would be a great addition to
my nourishment.
Do you know any mail order sources
or a "proportion" recipe which I could try ? I truly enjoy your blog.
Thank you,
Ulle Koolmar

Pille said...

Ulle - you're not the first American Estonian asking me to ship some kama:) Happy to do that - please drop me an e-mail at nami.nami (at)
I've also got a recipe for kama that I can send you.