I totally forgot to do a writeup of the veggie-haggis!
Rabbie Burns night, this year, was really rough for me for some reason. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the time together with all our friends nearly as much as I was hoping and looking forward to all week, which was a great disappointment. On the other hand, I spent a good chunk of the evening, and even dinner, snuggled far away with Lil’E=MC^2 trying to calm her down from the overstimulation of the party and the busy day she had earlier. She needed the quiet, isolation and snuggles as much as I did. Though to be honest, I probably needed her companionship more than she needed mine that night. I was just so tired, exhausted and feeling crummy that whole weekend — The Hubbs had to wake me up from a nap that afternoon just so we could attend the evening’s festivities. It was so obvious that I wasn’t my normal self that it even warranted a concerned phone call the following morning from D & K to check to see I was okay.
But enough of that, onto the important stuff: Rabbie Burns Dindin. Almost every couple contributed something to the dinner this year, which made it a great night and party.
The evening started off with a tasting of a homemade Scottish drink called Atholl Brose, another new recipe and experiment this year. It’s traditionally made by mixing soaked oatmeal, honey, whisky, and cream. It smelled pretty darned tasty and as I’ve said so many times before: there are times where I wish I could enjoy a social drink with friends. This woud have been without a doubt one of those times. After the samplings had taken place, by those who could, we were discussing how it would actually make for a really great replacement for eggnog at Christmas time and I think J is planning on gifting and serving mason jars of it to friends & family in the future.
A couple of appetizers we had were some Scotch-flavoured cheddar, and this year’s highly anticipated newcomer: deep-fried Haggis Wontons to celebrate the Chinese New Year! I have one thing to say about these: damn they’re tasty ^_^ It sounds like a strange filling for wontons but it was a surprisingly wonderful combination. I’m pretty sure Miss R made the wontons with cold leftover haggis, but I should ask her one day just to make sure, should I ever want to make them myself. The crunchiness of the wrapper was so great with the haggis filling, which was light and fluffy. The surprising part of the wontons was the filling being not over-whelming in flavour compared to eating a mouthful of straight haggis. Thinking about it in hindsight, the deep-fried wontons are probably the easiest way to introduce newcomers to the idea of eating and possibly liking unadulterated haggis.
This year, J & Miss R made the regular haggis from BonTon Meat Market, the much loved & returning favourite of homemade Scotch eggs, the requisite neeps & tatties and a strong Scotch-loaded onion gravy. It still amazes me to this day how much more I enjoy buttery, mashed turnips, compared to potatoes. We contributed the veggie-haggis and to round out the rest of dinner there was red cabbage with balsamic, apples & bacon brought by Empyress & G-ness.
To finish off dinner, for dessert we had whipped shortbread, coffee (with more Atholl Brose, if you wanted, I’m sure), and the Scottish dish Cranachan which is almost identical in its ingredients as the Atholl Brose — honey, oatmeal, lightly sweetened whipped cream, raspberries, and once again, tradionally doused with a healthy pouring of Scotch, to taste, if you so desired. I did the slightly juvenile thing with my dessert by crumbling a shortbread cookie (or two!) into my bowl, turning it into a sort of bastardized, Scottish version of Eton Mess.
The veggie-haggis was pretty large, even for our party, considering we were serving 13 people with all the side dishes. There was probably a good half of the loaf remaining once dinner was over and this was after a surprising number of people had been going back for seconds who aren’t even vegetarians — so by that observation alone, the veggie-haggis was probably a great success! People commented that they liked the flavour, so I don’t even know if I should bother making any changes should I ever need to bring the veggie-haggis to another potluck.
I enjoyed the veggie-haggis, but there was no comparison to it and a real haggis in appearance, smell or taste. If someone was setting themselves up to hoping & thinking that it would taste like the real thing, they would be highly disappointed and most likely not enjoy it for what it was: a tasty loaf… And one that could use a few tweaks:
Kidney beans were a little TOO beany tasting for my tastes — i was originally going to use a can of romano beans and I think I will definitely do so in the future.
I would also use more TVP than the recipe called for mainly because I like the texture and flavour — though there really isn’t that much going on flavour-wise except for what it got reconstituted in.
The barley gave the loaf a fun textural component and I think I’m totally okay with the original quantities called for with the red lentils. Having said that, the lentils gave it a nice smooth texture to lighten the kidney beans, so I have no issues with its quantities either.
The only other criticism I have about the recipe is the use of cumin. Apparently I do not care for the taste of cumin outside of Indian and Mexican food. I found it incredibly overwhelming, so am considering omitting it entirely along with the mushrooms for the sake of The Hubbs’ allergy and I would probably consider adding more vegemite next time around.