Thai Inspired Noodle Stir Fry

 

I don’t normally cook Asian cuisine at home, but have been known to put on a sushi party every now and then! With allergies to both gluten and soy it is hard finding recipes that don’t include these common ingredients and I can never go out to eat since most places use these ingredients. But recently I have re-discovered Thai and Vietnamese, cuisines that don’t rely on those ingredients but instead fresh flavors like lime, cilantro, mint, fish sauce and rice noodles. I am also a sucker for the crushed peanut garnishes…

(My first homemade Pad Thai)

We have a few decent Thai and Vietnamese places in Vermont, but they are at least an hour away from us. So I started making it at home. We had friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and I tried my hand at making the classic dishes, Pad Thai and Chicken Satay  (based on the recipes that are highlighted). It was a lot of fun to make and both dishes turned out delicious. After working with traditional recipes and wrapping my head around the flavor profile, I have started using these flavors often in my cooking, lately. I think this type of food lends itself well to the summer anyway; couple that with our garden and CSA bursting at the seams with fresh produce and immediately a delicious stir fry seemed like just the thing for dinner one night recently. It has literally been years since I made a stir fry and after this experience making it, I realized why it is such a popular go-to meal!

I had some leftover Pad Thai sauce and peanut sauce from the satay and so I used those in combination as my sauce. Then I scrounged around in my vegetable bin and took out everything that needed using. I knew I had some baby shrimp in the freezer and a plan started coming together. I also made a recent discovery of Miracle Noodle , a Shirataki noodle. Shirataki noodles are made from a white yam and are basically made up of water and fiber. They don’t have much of a taste on their own, but they are a great substitute for white rice noodles or glass noodles and are very light, as they contain no net carbohydrates. I used them for my Pad Thai and they worked great, so I knew they would be lovely with this stir fry.

This was a simple and quick meal to put together. If you don’t have all the vegetables I put in my stir fry, try using what you have on hand. This is what makes preparing a stir fry so fast and easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 whole kohlrabi, cut in thin circles, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ½ leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS minced/grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/grated
  • ¾ cup peanut sauce http://www.shesimmers.com/2009/03/how-to-make-thai-peanut-sauce-my-moms.html
  • 2 16 oz packages of Miracle Noodle
  • A couple hand fulls of spinach
  • 1 cup of pre-cooked baby shrimp
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • sliced leek
  • crushed peanuts
  • cilantro and/or mint

METHOD: Heat coconut oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the kohlrabi and cook until nice and browned. Then add the carrots, leeks, ginger and garlic. Sautee until the carrot softens a bit (you want the end result to still be somewhat crunchy). Add the peanut sauce, add more coconut oil if it is too dry. Then add 2 packages of the noodles, stir constantly. Add the spinach and shrimp and cook until the spinach is wilted. Then remove the skillet from the heat and squeeze the lime juice over everything. Divide evenly between two bowls and garnish with the cucumber, leek, peanuts and cilantro/mint. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Cortido and Kraut (…and a lamb!)

This has been an exciting week on the homestead! We welcomed the first lamb ever to be born on our farm into the world on Tuesday! We named her Thorina, after the Norse God of Thunder. She was born during our first major thunderstorm of the season, which is very auspicious. Just look at this face…

…and here she is less than 48 hours later out on pasture with her mom, Inga.

How amazing she is! Such a strong little girl – loves exploring the farm. To read more about her, check out my homesteading blog, Got Goats? (…and sheep too!).

It has been a while since I wrote about fermented foods – a staple in our house. On a daily basis, we find ourselves enjoying delicious fermented foods made at home such as yogurt, dairy kefir, water kefir, kefir cream (like sour cream) historic raw milk cheeses, quark, ginger carrots, kombucha, lacto fermented pickles, traditional sauerkraut, cortido and various fermented condiments.

Why do we love fermented foods? Well for one they are extremely good for you – a way of getting high quality probiotics into your body without having to take a supplement and whole body health really starts in the gut. Having healthy gut flora keeps the bad bugs at bay and naturally boosts you immune system. Plus they taste extremely delicious and fermenting foods is a traditional food preservation method. To learn more about this method of preservation, please read my post: Lacto Fermentation Questions Answered.

During the summer months we have an abundance of vegetables. In addition to our own ( growing every year) kitchen garden (we are now up to 12 vegetable beds and soon to be adding 4 herb beds) we also join a local CSA. This ensures that we can eat our fill of delicious fresh vegetables all summer long and have enough to preserve a large majority for winter eating . My favorite preserved vegetables are sauerkraut and cortido, a Latin American cabbage and carrot ferment. I love sauerkraut all year long, but cortido feels like summer to me! Cortido is a great condiment to eat on tacos or to serve with your favorite grilled meats.

We should all be well into garden season now, at least in the Northern hemisphere (we are in one of the coldest gardening zones – zone 3, so if we got our tomatoes in the ground, most everyone else already is harvesting veggies!) and so these are some great recipes to keep on hand for when you or your local farmers get a bumper crop of cabbage and carrots! Both are very easy to make and are not time consuming and both are a delicious way to preserve your summer abundance for the leaner winter months while naturally boosting your immune system!

Sauerkraut (from Nourishing Traditions)

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 TBS caraway seeds
1 TBS sea salt
4 TBS whey (or if not available an additional TBS of salt)

METHOD: In a bowl mix cabbage with caraway seeds, salt and whey (If using). Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in a quart sized wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes one quart. It may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age. *I have had some of my jars for over a year and they are still delicious!

Cortido (from Nourishing Traditions)

INGREDIENTS:
1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
1 cup carrots, grated
2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and finely sliced
1 TBS dried oregano
¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBS sea salt
4 TBS whey (or an additional TBS of salt if not available)

METHOD: In a large bowl mix cabbage, carrots onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt and whey (If using). Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in two quart sized wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the vegetables in each jar. The top of the vegetables should be at least one inch below the top of the jars. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes two quarts. It may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age.

Shakshouka: Eggs cooked in fragrant tomato sauce

 

Long time readers of this blog will know how much I love eggs. They are definitely one of my favorite foods and I have written about them often (this blog has almost 100 recipes featuring eggs!). In fact I have often bordered on waxing poetic about them. My one and only youtube video is all about eggs (from hen to pan) and one of my egg recipes was even featured in a cookbook on brain healthy foods, Think Food . So yeah, I am a big fan.

It is hard to say anything negative about eggs these days, especially now that people are hip to the understanding that eggs don’t increase your cholesterol or make you fat, more and more the egg is being praised again for its health benefits. It really is nature’s most perfect food and each day I marvel at the little miracles deposited in our hens’ nesting boxes. Studies are even speculating that those with egg allergies, really aren’t allergic to the eggs but to the soy  in the eggs from the feed chickens are given.

“Eggs are an amazing whole food. They are rich in choline, a key ingredient in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is necessary for the healthy communication between brain cells. Studies have shown that choline intake promotes recovery from learning memory disorders in the aging brain, and may even improve psychic function in those with senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. Egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, yielding additional brain benefits”.ThinkFood, Recipes for Brain Fitness

Now I have already mentioned many times that you should make sure to find a source of good quality, organic, pasture raised eggs (and soy free if you can find them). But it doesn’t hurt to say it again. When it comes to eggs, meat and dairy, organic, pasture raised is a must. These are foods I will never skimp on. It is the way nature intended and this is the only way to ensure you aren’t getting GMOs, added hormones or antibiotics in your food, all things that make naturally good and healthy food, unhealthy. It really is that simple. What the animals we eat, eat, is what we eat. Hence the famous cliché – You Are What You Eat. Well, you really are.

One of my favorite things about eggs is that they are so easy to raise yourself. It is a way of getting cheap, local, sustainable food right in your backyard (or front yard, in our case)! Many towns allow people to keep at least 3 hens, backyard layers are becoming as popular as gardening these days! And this is good – we could all be a little more sustainable and self-sufficient. And if you can’t raise hens yourself, check out localharvest.org to find a local farm near you that does! A great way to support your local economy and find out from the farmer exactly what went into those eggs.

(Shakshouka served with gluten-free sourdough bread)

Now onto the recipe, I learned how to make Shakshouka from my best friend Liz. Shakshouka is an Israeli dish comprised of peppers, onions, garlic and eggs cooked in tomato sauce, spiced with cumin and it is absolutely delicious. In fact the first time we had it, her Israeli husband made it for us, for dinner. There were sweet and hot peppers in it and the flavors just popped! Combine that with perfectly poached eggs on top, breaking and releasing their delicious yolks and it is pretty much heaven on a dish (or in a bowl). They served it with pita and hummus. It was a satisfying and flavorful meal.

Wikipedia says that Shakshouka was introduced to Israeli cuisine by Tunisian Jews and so it is a popular dish in North Africa as well.

I don’t often have access to fresh peppers unless it is the height of summer. So I usually use roasted jarred peppers and a pinch of cayenne or hot smoked paprika to lend some heat to the dish. I use the best canned tomatoes I can find – usually that means home canned tomatoes. I also like Pomi brand tomatoes and Eden Organics (the cans are BPA free) and of course our farm fresh eggs! Sometimes if I have leftover potatoes, I will add them as well.

Add some spice to your morning eggs and get your day going with some delicious Shakshouka!

INGREDIENTS:

A nice glug of olive oil
1 roasted bell pepper (or fresh) cut into thin slices
½ a small onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2- 8 oz cans of diced tomatoes (or one box of Pomi)
Cumin, cayenne (or hot smoked paprika) salt and pepper to taste.
4 large farm fresh organic eggs

METHOD:
Heat a large skillet and add olive oil. Gently sauté peppers, onions and garlic on medium-low heat until tender. Add tomatoes and spices/seasoning and simmer over medium heat until much of the liquid is evaporated and you have a nice spiced sauce (about 10 minutes). Crack eggs over pan, season, place lid over pan and let cook until egg whites are cooked and yolks are still runny.

Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle

 

(Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle)

Normally, when I cook I just take stock of what I have around to concoct something and rarely use recipes. But like any foodie I have a ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks for me are a bit like inspiration, it gives me general ideas, but I find I usually need to augment the recipes – either to make them gluten-free or to our tastes.

That is the story of this buckwheat spätzle, a dish I made some time back in the height of winter. One of my favorite cookbooks is Black Forest Cuisine by Walter Staib the executive chef at the historic and famed City Tavern in Philadelphia. I have always liked German cuisine, but never made it at home. With this cookbook that all changed. The recipes range from simple home cooked meals, to comforting gastropub fare and fancier hotel restaurant fare with more international influences. I got this cookbook as a way to explore another ancestral cuisine, although my ancestors hail from Bavaria, there is a lot of crossover, including spätzle which is considered a classic Bavarian dish.

(Buckwheat Spätzle – in Italian we would call my spätzle, Spätzle-one, or giant spätzle )

The flavors of the Black Forest are homey and delicious, the ingredients, simple and flavorful.  The chef in the introduction talks a lot about traditional German fare, about abundant family gardens, food preservation skills and my favorite story of all – that it is common for German families to take a walk through the woods on the weekend to get to a specific restaurant, pub or café serving some specialty – maybe a confection or cake or perhaps a home-style hearty meal to enjoy. I just love the idea of that. We did something similar in Italy, taking the Via Francigena to San Gimignano and enjoying a lovely meal of gnocchi with truffle sauce and stewed wild boar. One of the best meals of my life. Food tastes so amazing when it is well deserved.

It was this romantic thought that inspired this meal. I imagined myself taking an invigorating walk through the black forest, coming out of the forest, with a scent of something savory cooking in the air and following my nose to a cozy warm gastropub to enjoy a hearty meal.

The veal and white bean stew is entirely of my creation. The buckwheat spätzle is based on the original spätzle recipe in the cookbook.  We had originally made the spätzle to accompany a recipe for kielbasa and lentils from the same cookbook, being its traditional accompaniment.

(Kielbasa and lentils with buckwheat Spätzle )

We used some homemade kielbasa and it was good, but not nearly as outstanding as this combination!

Veal and White Bean Stew:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of cannellini beans, cooked (I use dry beans, soaked overnight in warm water and a TBS of apple cider vinegar and then cooked until tender)

1 lb of veal stew meat browned in 1 TBS butter

2 onions, caramelized (cooked down with red wine vinegar and a little water to prevent burning)

2 cups beef stock – homemade is preferable

1 cup of water

Bay leaf

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 TBS tomato paste

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

Season with salt, pepper and thyme

METHOD: The day before, cook the beans, or you can use canned. You might also want to caramelize the onions, brown the veal and make the spätzle. The day of cooking place all the ingredients in a crock pot, except for the spätzle . Cook on the high setting until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 hours). Then add the spätzle and cook on low for another 5-6 hours until everything is heated through. You could put the spätzle in at the start and just cook on low for 10-12 hours, but it might become a little more mushy.

(Making Spätzle  using the “cutting board method”)

Buckwheat Spätzle

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of buckwheat flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 cup cold water

METHOD:  Combine the flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I don’t have an electric mixer and make the dough using my hands). Mix on medium until combined and slowly pour in the water until the batter is smooth, mix for five minutes more until the dough is elastic.

Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Scrape dough into a potato ricer or colander with large holes and press dough into boiling water. Alternately, place dough on a cutting board and scrape dough into the boiling water. Cook until they are tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes, they will rise to the surface when done. Lift the spätzle out of the water with a large slotted spoon, shake off the water and place in a bowl, mix with some butter or olive oil to prevent sticking together. Spätzle is also very good, reheated by sautéing in butter until golden.

*Note, I used the cutting board method, and as this was my first time making spätzle, they were a bit bigger than what is traditional, but I think they were the perfect size for my slow cooked stew, if they had been smaller, I would not have allowed them to cook with the stew, but stirred them in at the end before serving.

Versatile Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is kitty approved!

I have been posting a lot recently on my Facebook Page about my post workout Pumpkin Smoothies and those posts have created quite a buzz! I am a huge pumpkin freak and I enjoy it all year long – seems like a lot of you are too! I don’t know what I enjoy better, my workouts or these smoothies afterwards- the best of both worlds! This smoothie is great way to get in some extra grain-free carbohydrates, fat and protein post workout.

That said, many times when I post a specific recipe, I get a lot of great comments like: “can I substitute Y ingredient for X ingredient?” or “I wish I could make that, but I don’t consume X ingredient” or “I wish I could make this but I don’t know where to get X ingredient” or simply “I don’t like X ingredient”. You get the gist…so although I will post my awesome pumpkin smoothie with options and add ins, I will also give you ideas for entirely different smoothie recipes. This is mix and match folks! 🙂

This is your smoothie recipe – easy to tailor to your tastes and needs. I give some suggestions, but feel free to improvise. Like chocolate? Add a TBS or two of fair trade cocoa powder (no sugar added). Don’t do sugar? Try stevia, or fruit sweetened smoothies – dried dates are great for this. Want to make it a greenie? Add a handful of spinach or kale. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some of my recent combinations:

raw milk, pumpkin, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little stevia
raw milk, egg, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon and molasses
coconut milk, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple
kefir, soaked almonds, dried dates/figs, frozen berries, vanilla extract

This smoothie recipe is so versatile you can enjoy it for breakfast, a snack, dessert or part of any meal when you need an extra boost.

INGREDIENTS: per smoothie (@ 16 oz)

Base liquid: 1 cup liquid – Kefir, Raw Milk, Coconut Milk are good choices
Thickener: 1 banana – I also like using instead 1/2 avocado
Nuts: 3 TBS almond butter – you can use any other nut butter or a handful of soaked nuts – I usually use almonds – click here to understand about the benefits of soaking nuts
Sweetener: 1 TBS 100% pure maple syrup, honey or molasses or 1/8 – ¼ tsp or one or two dried dates (optional)
Optional add ins: ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 berries, 2 TBS cocoa powder, kale or spinach, dash of cinnamon, 1 shot of espresso or ¼ cup of coffee, 1 TBS coconut oil, raw pastured raised chicken egg (do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store), vanilla extract, powdered ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Ice

METHOD:
Place all the liquids in your blender first. Then add the fruit, butters, oils and nuts and then the cinnamon. Process on medium speed until well mixed, then start adding ice, a handful at a time, gradually, until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. I usually turn up the speed to high during the ice process. Pour and enjoy!

Hunter’s Chicken and Clapshot

Once you become a farmer (and a hunter) certain things you never would have thought of before become hysterical. Like the idea of “Chicken Cacciatore” or Hunter’s Chicken. When chickens become part of your life, you start to imagine how a dish like this ever came to be, as “hunting” for chickens really makes no sense – there are very few wild chickens in the world, and raising animals for meat hardly equates to being a hunter. Historically, the dish seems to have been made with rabbit, which definitely makes more sense but it seems that even in Italy, where the dish originated, chicken is often used. For me it is just another reminder of how detached we are as a society from where our food actually comes from.

Semantics and doom aside, this dish is a definite favorite all over the world. In fact, the recipe I used to make this version of Hunter’s Chicken, is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Scottish Traditional Recipes: A Celebration of the Food and Cooking of Scotland.

A picture of the recipe even graces the front cover of the cookbook! However, this recipe seems to me to be a bit of a cross between the Italian Pollo alla Cacciatora and the French Coq au Vin. Perhaps because the Scottish and French had a very famous historical alliance, it is likely the Scots also learned about the cuisine and culture of the French. Since I was using a Scottish recipe for this dish, I decided to pair it with Clapshot – a mixture of mashed potatoes and golden turnips (or in this case a rutabaga), a classic Scottish side dish. I also used the Italian classic, Chianti wine to prepare the dish.

No matter the origins of this favorite dish, it is perfect hearty fare for the end of winter, or a quick spring cold-snap. The best is that most of you probably have all the ingredients already available in your freezer or pantry! Making this a quick and easy dish to prepare in a snap!

You can prepare it in a Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, or as I did, in my Tagine.

*This is also a good time to remind you, if you are interested in following my homesteading activities, please check out my blog Got Goats (and sheep too)? and the corresponding facebook page!

Hunter’s Chicken (adapted from Scottish Traditional Recipes)

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
Half a chicken (or 4 chicken portions, like whole legs)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup of dry red wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 rosemary sprig finely chopped
4 oz. fresh field mushrooms (or portabellos), thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:
Heat oven to 350 F. Heat the oil and butter in the vessel you will be using to cook the dish. Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes, remove chicken from the pan and drain in paper towels. Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook gently, stirring often for about 3 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and red wine. Add the crushed garlic and chopped rosemary; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Return the chicken to the casserole, turn to coat with the sauce, cover with a tight fitting lid. At this point you can either keep it stove top and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or you can add the mushrooms, season the dish with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 45 minutes. Serve with Clapshot (see recipe below).

Clapshot (adapted from Scottish Traditional Recipes)

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb of potatoes
1 lb of rutabaga (swede)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk or cream
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

METHOD:

Peel potatoes and rutabaga, then cut into evenly small chunks. Place the cut vegetables in a pan and cover with water, add about a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until both vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the vegetables through a colander, return to the pan and allow the vegetables to dry out a bit over low heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Melt butter with the milk in a small pan over low heat. Mash the dry potato and rutabaga mixture, then add the milk mixture. Grate the nutmeg and mix thoroughly, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cooking from the Pantry: Chicken with Artichokes, Garbanzos and Tomatoes

I have a few food goals this year; one is to start creating meals solely from the pantry and freezer. We are fortunate to be well stocked in those areas – for the past two years we have been buying whole or half animals for meat and also started raising a batch of meat chickens every summer and I do a lot of canning, preserving and freezing (as well as storing root vegetables) from our summer garden.

But I am like every other foodie, I love going food shopping and I found that every few weeks, when we would go, I would come home with enough stuff to basically feed us without dipping into the reserves too much. I was cooking the meat, using some core products from the pantry but kind of turning a blind eye to the preserves and such. I guess that is the folly of this modern world, where even those of us who are hyper-aware about where our food comes from, who take extra time and effort to grow food and preserve it and who cares deeply about sustainability still can be dazzled by all the fresh fruits and vegetables at the markets. Humans can be so silly sometimes…

I decided that this pattern of mine had to end.  So I started by pretending that my house was the market, and I started shopping here and realize that we have so much bounty! I also started going through all my many shelves of cookbooks and marking recipes that I would like to try. Then I took the next step, and actually make a document, listing and categorizing the recipes. Then once a week, we look at the list and pick out several things to try – maybe 3 dinners, some breakfast and lunch ideas, a dessert or two, several sides or salads, that kind of thing. Then I put the meals on a dry-erase board and that is our menu board for the week, leaving some days open for spontaneity and of course pizza night (every Friday).

This is a creation I came up with on my own, but I think in the coming months you will see that I am drawing inspiration from many cookbooks of various genres. I am excited about this project as it is keeping me creative and entertained in the kitchen, exploring some new cuisines I haven’t spent much time with lately and learning some new techniques.

This dish is very simple and extremely flavorful. The best part is that everything I needed was at home. The chicken is one we raised and the other items came from the pantry or freezer. Since we live in a rural area, we have found that shopping in bulk (through Amazon Prime, mostly) saves us a lot of time, money and gas, so we stock up on interesting things, like artichoke hearts. I hope you enjoy this recipe, good enough for Sunday night dinner, without much effort.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBS lard (When I am browning meat I like to use lard, so I can get it nice and hot without smoking – and lard from healthy animals can be a healthy part of your diet in moderation – no Crisco! That is not real lard).

4 whole chicken legs

Salt, thyme and basil to taste

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 can of artichoke hearts (we use Native Harvest – their cans are BPA free)

½ a leek, sliced thin

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 jar or can of chick peas (I use dry beans, soak them, partially cook them and then freeze them in canning jars for easy use, but you can use canned if you like)

1 can of diced tomatoes (a small can – I know Eden Organics has BPA free cans available)

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

 METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat a cast iron tagine, cast iron skillet or dutch oven on low for about 5 minutes (this makes it hot but prevents burning) and add the lard. Rub the chicken legs with the herbs and spices. Brown chicken on all sides and drizzle with red wine vinegar. Add the artichoke hearts, leeks, garlic, chick peas, tomatoes and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the lid on and let slow cook for 2 hours. Serve with bread and butter.

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!