Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hogmanay - New Years Eve in Scotland

Hogmanay - New Years Eve in Scotland
By Elaine Lemm, About.com Guide

What is Hogmanay?
Hogmanay is a Scottish celebration, it is the celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. No-one celebrates the eve quite like the Scots. It is believed the Scots inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings and their celebration of the shortest day but many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950’s, New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh.

Hogmanay Customs:
As midnight strikes the strains of Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burn's version of this traditional Scottish air, can be heard everywhere, followed by a toast to health, wealth and happiness for the coming year and the custom of First Footing.

First Footing:
First-Footing – the visiting of friends and family immediately after midnight sees the Scots rushing from house to house to welcome in the New Year. The First-Foot in the house traditionally is a dark, handsome male carrying a piece of coal, whisky, Scottish shortbread and black bun - a rich dark fruitcake encased in pastry. The visitor in return is given a small glass of whisky.

Customs in the Rest of the UK:
Many of the Scottish customs have infiltrated into the rest of Britain. Though First Footing is less common south of the Scottish border, the singing and toasting - sometimes followed by fireworks - can be heard throughout the British Isles.

The Foods of Hogmanay and New Years Eve:
Food at Hogmanay must include the traditional foods of Scotland.

Shortbread is always eaten at Hogmanay and sometimes served with cheese.

All the First Footing on a cold night means food must be warm and comforting a casserole or a hearty Venison Pie with a side dish of Rumbledethumps and of course Haggis will most certainly make an appearance.

And to Drink....?:
It has to be Whisky in Scotland. Scotch Whisky is world renowned and what better time to drink it than Hogmanay. Nobody knows exactly when the art of distilling was first practised in Scotland but it is believed it was the Ancient Celts who first practiced the art. Uisge Beatha - the water of life - as the Celts call it evolved into Scotch, a drink made only in Scotland, but enjoyed around the world.

The Words to Auld Lang Syne:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

The Translation
Should old acquaintances be forgotten
And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten
and days long ago.
For days long ago, my dear,
For days long ago
We'll drink a cup of kindness yet
For days long ago!

A hearty casserole is ideal for the main course - lamb stew topped with a crust of best Scottish black pudding is perfect food to warm diners up. To line the stomachs further, a dish of Rumbledethumps, made from wholesome potatoes, turnips (called 'swede' south of the Scottish border) and kale is delicious and comforting.

Pudding must be over-the-top as we Scots have such a sweet tooth, so a steamed pudding served with hot butterscotch sauce will end your Hogmanay dinner with panache.


Lamb Stew with Stornoway Black Pudding crust

By Sue Lawrence

Stornoway is my favourite black pudding, with its rich yet non-greasy flavour and good crumbly texture.

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
25g/1oz butter
800g/1lb 12oz lamb shoulder, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 heaped tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bushy sprigs fresh rosemary
150ml/5fl oz red wine
150ml/5fl oz lamb stock
200g/7oz Stornoway black pudding, skin removed, thinly sliced (chill well before slicing)

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil with the butter in an ovenproof casserole until hot.
3. Place the lamb into a large bowl, sprinkle over the seasoned flour and mix well. Tip half of the lamb pieces into the casserole and cook, stirring frequently, until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and repeat with the remaining meat, then remove the second batch of meat to a plate.
4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the casserole and gently fry the onion, leeks and garlic until softened.
5. Return the meat to the casserole along with the rosemary, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for about an hour, stirring once halfway through the cooking time.
6. Remove the casserole from the oven and discard the rosemary sprigs. Increase the oven temperature to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
7. Place the black pudding slices on top of the stew, overlapping slightly. Brush the slices with a little olive oil, then return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the stew is bubbling and the topping is crisp.
8. Serve at once with Rumbledethumps and a green vegetable.


Seven-cup Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 6
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time over 2 hours

By Sue Lawrence

Non-Scots might eat this with some custard or cream, but I would inundate it with custard, cream - and (don't forget that sweet tooth of ours!) a scoop of best-quality ice-cream.

For the pudding (use a regular 300ml/10fl oz coffee mug for the measurements)
1 mug raisins
1 mug sultanas
1 mug self-raising flour
1 mug shredded suet
1 mug fresh breadcrumbs
1 mug light muscovado sugar
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tsp ground mixed spice
1 mug whole milk
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
butter, for greasing
For the butterscotch sauce
75g/2¾oz light muscovado sugar
50g/2oz butter
150ml/5fl oz double cream
few drops vanilla extract
crème fraîche, to serve

1. For the pudding, place the first six mugfuls of ingredients into a bowl with the spices and mix well.
2. Add the milk and beaten egg and mix well.
3. Grease a 1 litre/1¾ pint pudding basin with butter, then pour the pudding mixture into the basin.
4. Cover with baking paper or foil, then place into a steamer set over a pan of simmering water and cook for about 2½ hours, or until cooked through.
5. For the butterscotch sauce, place all the sauce ingredients (not the crème fraîche) into a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for three minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened and smooth.
6. To serve, turn the pudding out onto a serving plate and serve with the butterscotch sauce and crème fraîche.


So there you have a different custom. My Mom would be proud! I'll tip a glass for you, Pop! Cheers! (There's a hot link for some information at the title.)


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