Tuesday 3 January 2012

New year, gingerbread Christmas tree and haggis tacos

New Year's Eve is a quiet evening in for us.  It has been for some years now.  Yet we have our Hogmanay traditions that remind us of E's Scottish upbringing.  I make vegetarian haggis, which in recent years we have enjoyed in a large tray of nachos.  This year Sylvia had her own tray of kiddie nachos - corn chips and cheese and we had some festive punch (which goes very well with champagne).  Then we sit back to relax while we watch the Edinburgh Tattoo on television.  This year, we had the added fun of a Christmas gingerbread tree, thanks to our neighbour Paula.

As I was about to start making haggis, Paula dropped in to invite us to come and make gingerbread with them.  I was already running late and had to push on with dinner.  But we agreed to come over and help while the haggis cooked.  The recipe was a simple one that started with the melting of butter, golden syrup and brown sugar.  It is one of my favourite smells. 

Paula then suggested we use my set of five star biscuit cutters.  I ran back and fetched them.  We helped cut the stars - I was impressed with Paula's way of doing it which I have included in the recipe at the end of the post.  I was even more impressed later on in the evening when she brought us one of the gingerbread Christmas trees that she had made by stacking biscuits with icing between each biscuit and placing a star on top (see photo at top of post).

More amazing still was that this "gingerbread" didn't have any spices in it.  Paula and family follow a diet free of spices.  The heady combination of butter, golden syrup and brown sugar imparted so much of the gingerbread flavour, that I never noticed the lack of spices.  We really enjoyed them.  Paula found that thicker icing made it easier to stick the gingerbread stars together but I liked the first tree she made with the icing dripping down it, making the tree look snowy and festive. 

Now my aim for next Christmas is to make different sized lebkuchen stars and stick them together with chocolate ad finish with a light snow shower of icing sugar and some sparkles.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I continued with experimenting with ways to eat haggis.  My favourite way is in nachos.  Given that I loved the Scotch-Mex fusion, I thought I would try haggis tacos.  I had meant to make a haggis chilli non carne but ran out of time.  Instead I added a generous shake of smoked salt, smoked paprika, ground chillis and cinnamon and quarter to half a spoon of cumin and chilli paste of half a batch of haggis.  Served in taco shells with grated cheese, tomato salsa, guacamole, lettuce and yoghurt, it was excellent.

I went even further the following night when we still had some haggis over.  I added some kidney beans and salsa to the haggis and mixed with rice.  Served with a topping of chopped capsicum, lettuce, grated cheese and yoghurt, it was every bit as good as the following night. 

It is an odd world where Scottish and Mexican cuisines fuse perfectly and gingerbread is great without ginger but you can't argue with it if it works so well.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: On being a vegetarian
This time two years ago: Potluck in Prinny Park
This time three years ago: New Year’s Feasting
This time four years ago: Still life with fruit and fudge (NYE pt 1)

Rebecca's gingerless gingerbread
From Sue Dengate's The Failsafe Cookbook: reducing food chemicals for calm happy families

125g butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
3 cups plain flour (Paula used spelt)
lemon citric icing

Melt butter or margarine with brown sugar and golden syrup.  When slightly cooled, stir in egg and bicarb.  Stir in flour until mixture comes together into a dough.  Knead briefly.  Paula then rolls out to no more than 0.5cm (she says any thicker doesn't work so well) on a piece of baking paper.  She cuts the biscuits using cutters and removes the dough from around the shapes.  The baking paper now just has the shapes to be cooked and can be placed on a baking tray.  Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes.  When cooled ice with lemon citric icing (icing sugar, citric acid and water, or use lemon juice instead of citric acid if food intolerances are not a problem).  Stacking star shapes in a tree shape using icing to sandwich them together is optional.

On the Stereo:
This is easy: it is refreshingly different, quite fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish: 52 first class performances with crystal clear stereo sound: various artists


  1. Love the non ginger gingerbread tree. I keep meaning to attempt one of those. It looks fabulous and so festive with the icing. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends.

    I love the sound of your veggie nachos. So invetive. Happy New Year :)

  2. Absolutely beautiful gingerbread tree! What a great idea. Very interesting haggis nachos, too. I definitely prefer the veggie version. Great substitute for a taco filling.

  3. Why have I never thought of veggie haggis nacho's??? Hubby is strictly the meat haggis but I am sure if I served him veggie haggis nacho's he'd be more than happy to scoff the lot.
    How lovely to have neighbours to pop by and share kitchen antics with too!!! Would never happen in my neck of the woods I am afraid. Lovely gingerbread tree too ;0)

  4. Oh you are so full of splendid ideas. We've a tin of vegetarian haggis in the cupboard and although I'm very sure it won't be nearly as nice as yours, I think I shall do something with it for supper and serve with nacho chips. The non-gingerbread tree looks very impressive and now I'm really looking forward to seeing your version next year.

    I'm sure I've said it already, but Happy New Year :-0

  5. what a wonderful 'fusion' of cuisines!!

  6. What a gorgeous tree - I am keen to try this some time. Sounds like you had fun at your Hogmany celebrations.

  7. i love the non ginger gingerbread tree!

    Happy New year to you Johanna & your family :)

  8. Sounds like a lovely way to spend New Year's to me. :) And that tree is so cute! I've also been meaning to try your haggis since you first posted the recipe--I think I'll do the nacho thing, too.

  9. What a lovely New Year's Eve tradition - just the sort of quiet but meaningful celebrations that appeal to me. I also like the look of that gingerbread tree, although am intrigued by the lack of spice (it's hard to believe it wouldn't be missed!). I will also tuck away that method of cutting out cookie shapes for future use, it sounds very sensible.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Happy New Year! I had a quite family NYE too - just perfect. We ate our weight in cheese rather than gingerbread though :P

  11. You've reminded me how much I like Mexican food nd that I havén't had any in ages....I will not rest til I've eaten tacos and salsa.

  12. Gingerbread without ginger...that sounds crazy...and totally worth trying!

    Your new year's traditions sound like they made for such a fun night!

  13. I think I've been missing something in my life - I think it's the fact that I have never eaten Haggis. As we don't see it on menus here in Oz, I must get myself to Scotland. The nachos looks lovely as does the little tree of stars.

  14. It's lovely that you have a relationship like that with your neighbors! I don't really know mine. And interesting that they follow a spice free diet. Do you know why? :)

  15. Thanks Katie - I am sure you would make a wonderful gingerbread christmas tree - look forward to when you make one

    Thanks Hazel - haggis is great whereever mince works - but esp in tacos and nachos

    Thanks Chele - I got the idea for haggis nachos from the Last Drop pub in the grassmarket - which used to be close to our place - highly recommend you try them there or at home

    Thanks Choclette - how lovely to have a tin of veggie haggis in the cupboard - good luck with serving it - corn chips and haggis goes so well together

    Thanks Lisa - who would have guessed it!

    Thanks Cakelaw - hope you do get around to making one of these trees - they are great

    Thanks Anh - it is lovely

    Thanks Ricki - hope 2012 is your year of the haggis - really it is a great meat substitute

    Thanks Kari - "quiet but meaningful" is exactly the way I would love to describe my new years eve - it is weird that the gingerbread was so good without spices but it made me think about what really makes a good gingerbread and I think it is more than the spices

    Thanks Hannah - you spent new years eve eating cheese? and you know they say you are what you eat - ha ha! seriously I bet they weren't the plastic cheese you get ready sliced - great cheese is a beautiful thing!

    Thanks Liz - I remember how much I love mexican food every now and again - and I spend too much time forgetting it too :-)

    Thanks Joanne - yep seems gingerbread isn't just about the ginger

    Thanks Charlie - it is very easy to make veg haggis at home - but I wouldn't recommend trying the meat variety at home - it just looks like minced meat for all that effort!

    Thanks Lorraine - it is nice to have neighbours to spend time with and drop over to visit - it is quite a while since I have had the pleasure so I appreciate it

  16. Haggis nachos sound like a perfect idea! I really enjoyed your haggis as a pizza topping and must make it again one day.

  17. Those haggis tacos sound so good! Whenever I see a mention of haggis I think about your vegetarian version and how I still need to try it sometime!


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