It’s a crazy world. Our 2009 German calendar that I bought for $12 is being sold for $85 on Amazon. A poll has found that Australians buy more and then waste more food at Christmas than during the rest of the year. And the Scots celebrate Hogmanay with a sheep’s stomach full of offal. They call it haggis. Even meat-lovers cringe at the idea. Fortunately there is a vegetarian alternative that is much better. And I have finally found a great way to serve it. Would you believe, haggis nachos!
E and I have been eating home made vegetarian haggis on New Year’s Eve for the past 6 or 7 years but this year I finally found inspiration in serving it. For those who are unaccustomed to eating haggis, it tastes a bit like minced meat and the vegetarian haggis is a great substitute for minced meat for those like me who dislike TVP and other veggie mince.
In the past I have found that serving haggis with mashed neeps (turnip or sweet or rutabaga) and tatties (potatoes) as unsatisfactory as serving meat and three veg. After some searching I have hit gold. Haggis nachos was just the beginning. With the leftovers, I made haggis neeps and tatties pasties and then haggis neeps and tatties crepe stack. So I present to you three ways to serve haggis. New Year’s Eve has passed but you might like to keep these ideas in mind for Burns Night on 25 January.
New Year’s Eve was a hot day and the idea of putting on the oven was repugnant so I cooked these in the microwave. I made a few changes to my usual recipe so I have written what I have done below.
This year the house seems even more disorganized than usual. No matter how much cleaning I do I just can’t get on top of it. Sylvia does love to spread her toys, our CDs and any papers she can get her hand on, over the floor.
Usually I set a festive table for New Year’s Eve but this year with E being poorly and Sylvia keeping me busy, I didn’t have the energy to set the table. We just ate on the couch. Haggis nachos are excellent for a casual meal on a hot night. They could even be gluten free if you had gf oats and yeast extract (and I am not sure about whisky)It is ages since I have made nachos. I love them but need them to be substantial enough for a meal. I often add a chilli non carne or vegetables. I think these were among the best nachos I have ever made. E is already asking me to make them again. Though it was no surprise that he loved them, given that he hadn’t eaten all day.
The inspiration for the nachos came from my favourite pub in Edinburgh, the Last Drop. I shared nachos there with friends, Yarrow and Mindy, on our trip there in November. Mindy was horrified at the fusion of cuisines but I loved it. In fact, I wonder if next time I might try some Mexican seasoning in the haggis such as smoky chipotle chillis, cumin and oregano. (Sorry Mindy.)
I based my salsa on the pico de gallo one I made a couple of years back. Unfortunately for the guacamole I had the perfect avocado, bought that day – what are the odds – but I overdid the lemon juice and then overdid the salt so it wasn’t my finest guac. Reminder to self: go slowly with seasoning. However, the haggis was underseasoned and in the final mix, it all tasted fine.
When I had a quick look at the internet to see how others had done nachos I found that salsa was often served after the nachos were cooked. But I preferred it in the mix when I cooked the nachos and found it melded with the haggis and cheese pleasingly. Quite a few did their nachos under the grill (broiler) but once I had mine together the pile was too large and reluctantly I turned on the oven. I had a bit of a problem with my timing to get them warmed right through. Next time I might do them longer or even spread them thinner in a bigger tray to help them cook quicker.
There is nothing like the delight of pulling at hot corn chips which are crisp at the corner and soggy with haggis and salsa which are held together in a clump with melty cheese and topped with cooling guacamole and yoghurt (or sour cream if that is your preferene). In an ideal world I would just put the hot tray of nachos in the middle of the table to dig into but Sylvia chose the moment when I was serving to wake up and it all became too impractical. So I used tongs to scoop some into a small bowl and spooned some guac and yoghurt over them. So so so good! Even more delicious with some raspberry punch.
It seems like a good place to end the post here but I must tell you how I used the leftovers. My next inspiration came from MangoCheeks. One of my favourite places for lunch in Edinburgh is the baked potato shop at the top of Cockburn Street. They do a great haggis on baked potato. I was tempted to go in on our recent trip but the palaver of getting the stroller into the small space was too much and we gave it a miss. Imagine my jealousy to see that MangoCheeks on the same weekend had gone there and got vegetarian haggis samosas. I wanted one.
I am intimidated by the idea of making samosa but I can easily knock up a pastie. You may have noticed that my non-traditional use of haggis on New Year’s Eve went as far as omitting neeps and tatties. Here was my opportunity to make amends. I boiled some very well seasoned neeps and tatties and made them into a pasty with the haggis.
I used the hot water pastry I had made previously. It worked even better this time than my first try. I decided against using an egg to glaze it because it just seems a waste of an egg and used soy milk instead. I also worked out how to make them look more professional. Delicious with tomato sauce.
My final reincarnation of the haggis was in a crepe stack. This was inspired by my recent pumpkin and ricotta crepe stack. It was my first success with crepes and left me wanting to try more, especially savoury versions. This stack wasn’t as successful. I made a cheese sauce to help it stick together but I think the fillings were too chunky and it didn’t really hold together when I served it. While it didn’t look great once cut into pieces, it tasted good and even my mum enjoyed a little taste.
I am going to try more savoury crepe stacks. It wasn’t a bad first attempt but I hope they will improve. I think a thinner sauce would be good. I love the way the blog seems to develop organically with meals morphing and inspiring me with new ideas and leftovers.
Once all the haggis was finished, I asked E which dish he enjoyed the most. He emphatically chose the haggis nachos. I agreed. They were superb but all these meals were great. Many pubs will do haggis in Edinburgh but I find it quite dull with mashed neeps and tatties. I hope these ideas will help do away with the sorry reputation of the haggis. The vegetarian version will upset the purists but it is really so good you must try it.
adapted from recipe I posted in January 2008
2/3 cup (65g) rolled oats
2/3 cup (65g) oatmeal (I chopped up some rolled oats)
generous 1/2 cup (65g) mixed nuts, finely chopped (I used almonds, pecans, pine nuts)
1 small carrot
1 small onion
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 x 400g can white cannelini beans (a generous 1/2 cup), drained
1/2 tsp promite or other yeast extract
2 tbsp whisky (or more)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Melt half the margarine and cook oats, oatmeal and nuts for about 3 minutes over medium heat in a large frypan. Transfer to a large bowl
Finely chop carrot, onion, mushroom, and beans. It is easiest to use a food processor so the mixture is very fine but I just used my chef’s knife, a chopping board and a good dollop of patience. Melt remaining margarine in the frypan and fry the vegetables and beans for about 2 minutes.
Return oats and nut mixture to the frypan with the vegetable mixture. Mix in the remaining ingredients and cook another 5 minutes.
NOTE: I had a visitor at this point and forgot the dried herbs and pepper and this was a little under seasoned but that was fine in the below dishes. But if you are not using in those dishes, you might want to check seasoning and also if it moist enough as the recipe suggests some extra melted margarine or veg stock if it is a little dry.
Place in a 13 x 22cm silicone loaf pan (ungreased). Press down and smooth with the back of a spoon. Cook 5 minutes in the microwave on high. Cool in the pan. It can be kept in the fridge for at least 3 days and reheated in the microwave.
serves 2 as a hearty main or more people as a snack
Half a serve of above vegetarian haggis, crumbled
200g packet of salted corn chips
250g cheese, grated
yoghurt to serve
1 avocado, mashed with a fork
2-3 tbsp lemon juice (I used ½ lemon which was too much)
pinch salt (I used too much)
small garlic clove, finely chopped
few drops Tabasco
3 tomatoes, diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
juice of half a lime
1 garlic clove
Firstly, make the guacamole but mixing all ingredients together – start with just a little lemon juice and salt and add more according to taste – and make the salsa by mixing the ingredients together.
Now take a large oven proof tray. (Mine is about a 25cm round ceramic dish) Layer ⅓ corn chips, ½ haggis, ⅓ salsa, ⅓ cheese. Repeat layering and then finish with corn chips, salsa and cheese.
Heat in oven at 180 C for about 20-40 minutes. I only did 15 minutes and it was not enough to heat through but it depends on your oven. Serve with guacamole and yoghurt.
Haggis Neeps and Tatties Pasties
pastry from recipe I posted in September 2008
Hot water pastry:
150ml hot water
1½ cups plain white flour
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp salt
soy milk, for glazing pastry
(This will make twice what you need for the pasties)
1/2 serve of above vegetarian haggis, crumbled
330g turnip (aka swede), peeled and diced
430g potato, diced
To make filling, boil potatoes and turnip in well salted water until soft. I cooked them together but I think the potatoes took about 20 minutes and the neeps took about another 20 minutes before they went soft, so you could cook them separately. Mix with haggis.
To make pastry, pour hot water over margarine in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in flours and salt. It will be stiff and a little crumbly but once you use your hands to press it together it should come together into a smooth ball.
Cut ball into four pieces. I found that the outside hardened a little on remaining pieces while I used first piece but they still rolled out fine. Use a rolling pin to roll pastry out to a circle of about 20cm diameter (about ½ cm thick).
Place two to three dessertspoons of filling towards the bottom of the circle, leaving about 1cm pastry around the edge. Use your fingers to press the filling into a neat half circle.
Use a brush or your fingers to moisten the edges of the circle with water or soy milk. Turn over the pastry to cover the filling and use your fingers to press together to seal the filling in. Now if you want your pasties to look good, I found that it was best to moisten the edge again and fold it over once more and use two index fingers to press together quite firmly to make indents along the edge. Brush with soy milk. Make a few slits with a knife to let steam out while baking.
Bake at 200 C for 10 minutes and then at 180 C for 30 minutes. (Or if you get confused like me, at 180 C for 10 minutes and then 200 for about 20 minutes.) The pasties are ready when they are golden brown.
Haggis Neeps and Tatties Crepe Stack
from post in December 2009
1 cup plain flour
1 cup milk
30g margarine, melted
extra margarine for frying
about half the haggis neeps and tatties filling from above pasties
1 dessertspoon margarine
1 dessertspoon wholemeal plain flour
about 1 cup soy milk
about 100g grated cheese, or to taste
To make the white sauce, melt margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in flour and mix over low heat for a minute or two. Gradually whisk in milk to make a smooth thin sauce. Bring to the boil so it thickens slightly. Stir in cheese until melted. This will make the sauce thicker so you might need a bit extra milk if it is too thick.
To make crepes: Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl. Place flour in a large bowl and gradually whisk in egg and mix mixture. Add butter. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes. Fry quarter cups of batter in buttered frypan over medium heat for about 30 second each side till just golden brown. Stack cooked crepes on plate under foil to keep warm.
To assemble, place a pancake on a serving plate, spread thinly with a spoonful of warm cheese sauce. Top with a spoonful or two of warm haggis filling. Repeat until you have used final pancake. Top with remaining cheese sauce and haggis. I would have liked thinner cheese sauce that might have trickled down the side but it wasn’t to be. Serve in wedges.
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