Cooking Tips & Recipes

Corrie Cheyne

25th January marks the birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet, Rabbie (Robert) Burns – writer of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as well as other favourites like ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ and ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’.

All over the globe, people gather to celebrate this date in the form of a ‘Burns Supper’ – an evening of poetry, music, whisky, laughter and of course, great food.

A Burns Supper is an entertaining affair, centred around a main course of Haggis, Neeps (mashed swede) and Tatties (mashed potatoes).

burns supper 01

People sit down to the table and the ‘Selkirk Grace’ is recited:

Some hae meat an’ canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae lat the Lord be thankit.

(Some have meat and cannot eat
Some would like to eat but have none
But we have meat, and we can eat
So let the Lord be thanked)

The haggis is ‘piped in’ by a bagpiper, and cut open to the words of Burns’ famous ‘Address to a Haggis’. In this, he calls the haggis ‘Great Chieftan o’ the puddin’ race!’ – a description with which we’re inclined to agree ! The haggis is dramatically slashed open and served up.

Drams of whisky are raised in toast, and everyone tucks into their meal. After the dessert, one of Burns’ poems or songs is recited, and a tribute speech known as the Immortal Memory is given.

burns supper 02

Another recital, and then the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ is given by one of the male diners. This is usually written by the performer, and tends to revolve around a humorous look at femalekind.

One of the Lassies then replies in ‘The Lassies’ Response’ – again, usually written for the occasion and frequently an affectionate dig at the males of the species. After one further Burns recital, the evening is rounded off with a lively rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, with everyone singing along and crossing hands in the chorus.

Why not invite a few friends round for your own Burns Supper? We’ll get you off to a great start with the haggis and tatties … We’ve even got some amazing Beef Olives stuffed with Haggis, or if you fancy something a little less traditional, give our Speyside Chicken Supremes recipe a go!

Yours aye,

Corrie

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Corrie Cheyne

Earlier this summer, we spoke about how to poach a chicken.

Once it’s cooled, the meat’s so fantastically juicy and succulent that it’s just amazing in salads, where it can play a starring role.

You really can make these up to suit yourself – throw some of your favourite ingredients together and see what happens – but if you need inspiration, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Best served on a sunny day, with a glass of something cold. Enjoy!

Chicken salad with new potatoes

Take the time to shell raw peas for this recipe, and make sure you do add the dressing to the potatoes while they’re still warm – it makes all the difference to this tasty salad. The potatoes make it satisfyingly substantial! If you fancy a bit more of a bite, try adding some finely chopped spring onions.

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  1. •  3 cups poached chicken, chopped
  1. •  2 heads little gem lettuce, in leaves
  1. • 2 cups asparagus, blanched and chopped into 2cm lengths
  1. • 3 cups small new potatoes, boiled in their skins and halved
  1. • 1 cup raw peas, shelled
  1. • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn

Dressing

  1. •  6 tbsp good olive or rapeseed oil
  1. •  5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  1. •  2 tsp lemon zest, finely shredded
  1. •  2 small cloves garlic, crushed
  1. •  3 tsp Dijon mustard
  1. •  Pinch of sugar
  1. •  Salt and pepper to taste

Make the dressing first. Cook the new potatoes and, while still warm, halve them and mix with half the dressing (this allows them to absorb plenty flavour). Mix everything else together and add to the potatoes. Serve immediately, while potatoes are still slightly warm.

Thai Chicken Salad

This salad is full of punchy flavours and textures – serve it with extra lime wedges if you fancy. Play around with the dressing until you’ve got it to your taste – it should have a fantastic mixture of sweet, sour and salty tastes. The best way to mix this dressing is shaking it up in a jar to combine the ingredients, before adding it to the salad. Remember to put the lid on, though, or it could go horribly wrong!

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  1. •  3 cups poached chicken, shredded
  1. •  3 cups raw white cabbage, shredded
  1. •  3 large carrots, grated
  1. •  1 cup peanuts, toasted and chopped
  1. •  1 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  1. •  1 cup spring onions, finely sliced
  1. •  ½ cup radishes, finely sliced

Dressing

  1. •  1 clove garlic, crushed
  1. •  2 tbsp soy sauce
  1. •  3 tbsp rice vinegar
  1. •  Juice of 2 limes
  1. •  3 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  1. •  Pinch of chilli flakes (be careful!)
  1. •  1 tbsp peanut butter
  1. •  1 tbsp sugar, to taste

Chicken and avocado in yogurt, garlic and dill dressing

Make sure all the ingredients are properly chilled before adding this yogurt dressing. The dill gives it a really summery taste that I just love! I recommend making the croutons first, to give them plenty of time to cool down. Then mix the salad ingredients with the dressing, and sprinkle the croutons on top. If you prefer, you can sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top of each dish, too, rather than mixing it though the salad.

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Croutons

  1. •  3 thick slices white bread, cut into 2cm dice
  1. •  3 tbsp olive oil
  1. •  1 clove garlic, crushed

Mix all the crouton ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a baking tray, and bake gently in a medium oven until golden brown. Transfer to kitchen paper to cool.

  1. •  3 cups cold poached chicken, shredded
  1. •  8 rashers of steaky bacon, grilled till crispy, cooled and crumbled
  1. •  3 large, ripe avocados, diced
  1. •  1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. •  3 cups pea shoots
  1. •  4 cups watercress
  1. •  1 head little gem lettuce, leaves separated

Dressing

  1. •  1 cup natural yogurt
  1. •  1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  1. •  2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. •  1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. •  1 garlic clove, crushed
  1. •  Salt and pepper to taste

All recipes serve 6

Yours aye,
Corrie

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Corrie Cheyne

Well, it’s been a long, cold spring, but it looks as if summer may finally be arriving here in Aberdeenshire. It can’t come soon enough for me! There’s one summertime dish that I absolutely love, and that’s poached chicken. Whether it’s served hot in its own light broth, or allowed to cool and served up in a fabulously summery salad, there’s a softness and succulence to the texture that I just can’t get enough of. We’ll look at the broth today, and later we’ll look at how to serve cold poached chicken – summer on a plate!

There are several methods you can use, but I find this one to be nice and simple. You’ll need a good free-range chicken, some summery vegetables and herbs, and a carbohydrate of your choice. I like a chunk of crusty bread to dunk in the broth, but you could equally add some noodles, quinoa or baby new potatoes to the pot while it simmers if you prefer.

poach-chicken-01

Decide whether you want to leave the chicken skin on – it does add some flavour, but I quite like this broth clean and simple so I tend to remove it. Add the whole chicken to a large pot and add enough cold water to come within a few centimetres of the top of the chicken (you want it just covered once the veg has all been added).

poach-chicken-02

Bring to the boil, and turn it down to a bare simmer – a bubble just occasionally breaking the surface kind of simmer, and definitely not a rolling boil, which will make the chicken tough. Cook for another hour or so – a large chicken may take a wee bit longer; just check at the leg joints to see if they’re still too pink, and cook for another while if so. Add your favourite veg and aromatics, throwing them in at points that will have them tender by the end of the hour. A typical pot for me would include:

  1. • A large (this is no place for stinting) bouquet garni of fresh parsley, thyme and bay
  2. • A bulb of garlic, cut across the ‘equator’ (I love garlic – use less if this seems too much)
  3. • A whole onion, peeled and cut across the ‘equator’ (I fish this out before serving)
  4. • A good grind of black pepper (no whole peppercorns – remember, you want to eat this broth
      without straining it!) – add salt to taste at the end of cooking
  5. • Chopped carrots, celery, spring greens, asparagus, spring onions, fresh peas, broad beans
      or courgettes

poach-chicken-03

When the chicken’s cooked to your liking, remove it and strip some of the meat from the bones while you reduce the broth down a little – add the salt now. Shred the chicken into bowls, and ladle the stock and veg over the top. Serve hot, with crusty bread – the chicken is soft and juicy, the veg is fresh and tender, and the whole thing tastes like sunshine!

Yours aye,
Corrie

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