While staying in the vegetable garden house, one morning it was suggested that everyone who was staying there have a little family dinner together that evening. Rob had just happened to have brought a haggis down with him last time he drove back from Scotland, so he offered to make that, and I set about doing desert. This is how it went…
1. Apple Crumble
The next step is to make the crumble. I mixed together about 300g of plain flour and 175g brown sugar. It was at this point when things went a little wrong – I rubbed in 200g of unsalted butter (you do this by waiting until the butter is at room temperature, cutting it into small cubes and then rubbing it with the flour mix between your fingers until it has the consistency of bread crumbs), but it was too much butter. I suggest you add around that amount, but do it bit by bit so that it really does resemble the consistency of bread crumbs, rather than big lumps of floury butter (see below). It wasn’t too bad, but the bits, due to their larger size, were harder and, therefore, less wonderfully crumbly.
At this stage you can also add some spices to the apples. I added a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon and nutmeg, but I am sure one can be more adventurous than that. I think a few cloves would have been wonderful (though you must remember to warn people to pick them out when you serve it). Give the apples a bit of a toss so that they are all covered.
The finished product was reasonably good, but seeing as this desert is so terribly easy I was a bit ashamed with the texture of my crumble (though nobody else seemed to mind). It went particularly with the custard, though just some vanilla ice-cream would work as well.
2. Haggis (shield you eyes)
Haggis contains some of the more interesting parts of a sheep (heart, liver, lungs) mixed with spices, maybe onions, and then lovingly stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach, tied at each end, and boiled. So, how do you cook it? Well, you buy it in this form, wrap it in tin foil, put into a pot of boiling water and simmer an average sized haggis for about an hour. Apparently the wrapping in foil is only so the haggis can be caught if the stomach splits open. To quote our Scottish chef, Robert, “otherwise you end up with a pretty horrible lardy, watery sloppy mess which usually has to be thrown away.”
Then you just slice it open, and it appears to do the rest of the work for you. (Sorry about the slide show, but I couldn’t resist.)
No, I did not have any (for, you know, pesco-vegetarian reasons). Yes, it did smell surprisingly good. Here are the others (Luke, Joe, Chloe and Rob), about to enjoy their meal…
3. Easy Custard
It you were to look for a recipe on the internet it would seem as if making custard was a terribly difficult undertaking, but this recipe is quick, minimally labour intensive, and produces a very satisfactory end product.
Break one egg into a pan (add a second egg yolk if you want to be really lush). Add three desert spoons of corn flour, 3 desert spoons of white sugar, a splodge vanilla and half a cup of milk. Beat thoroughly wooden spoon and then whisk. (We had the tiniest whisk I have every seen – literally the length of my ring finger. I wish I had photo evidence of this, just because I have never seen anything so useless.)
You should end up with a thick, smooth paste (about as thick as thick cream). At this stage add three more cups of milk and beat until mixed with the paste. Now put the pan on very low heat and stir with the whisk all the time it is on the heat. When it gets to boiling point (milk starts to bubble), whisk very hard so that there are no lumps. As soon as it starts to thicken, turn the heat off and continue to whisk. (Don’t be lazy about this – no one wants you to make lumpy custard and then to say that you got the recipe from me.)
And now you should have a large pot of delicious custard. If you are experiencing problems, however, here are some things to try: If it doesn’t thicken, mix some cornflour with a splodge of milk, making a thin paste and then whisk that into custard while it is back on the heat. (Don’t mix the cornflour straight into it as you will get horrible lumps of flour in your custard). If it is too thick, while it is warm, beat some more milk into it.
Unfortunately, the kitchen was rather dark so the photos did not come out fantastically well, but they still give you an idea. After dinner we played Trivial Pursuit for many hours until we could bear it no longer, the better team essentially forfeited (in other words, my team lost).