Robert Burns
January 18th, 2015 by Lesley
Robert Burns

Robert Burns








Burns Night is one of those events that has various forms of tradition, although it is thought that only a ‘true’ Scot should hold such an event, this is simply not true and as long as you buy into the principal of the evening, anyone can hold a Burns Supper. Of course there are a number of key elements that should be included in your evening to ensure you enter into the spirit of Burns Night.

  1. Guest List
  2. Menu
  3. Drinks
  4. Poems/Songs
  5. Tartan

Depending on your evening and the number of people attending and the ‘formality’ of it, is it all of fun? It is following the traditions? you will need some additional elements to ensure you carry the evening off.

But don’t be daunted by the list above there are a number of great sources of information on the Web and in books to help you set up your evening.

Guest List

So I will start with the Guest List , how many people are you inviting to your Burns Supper? Are they Scottish? Is it a formal or informal event? Ok, do you need formal invitations? or is it easy to call your friends/family or even send them an email? Just make sure you can cater for the number of people you are hoping will attend. With the software available these days, you can usually set up a template but this is a link to Zazzle that you can order and pay for your invitations, if not then it will give you some great ideas of how/what to do for your own invitations.


Menu I believe is a major element to the success of your evening, of course you need to have Haggis, it is compulsory (of course it is not, but it would be a shame if it doesn’t feature in at least part of your menu). Although not strictly part of a Burns Supper Menu, you may want to include some canapes for your guests, to keep them going while everyone is arriving.

For your starters, there are a few good ideas, they do all seem to revolve around soup, as of course it is usually a cold, winters eve that you will host your Burns Supper.

Traditional soups

For the NON traditional 

Your Main dish, is usually Haggis, there are various suppliers of Haggis, and even today you can buy vegetarian Haggis, seems a bit of a contradiction in terms, but you can suit all your guests.

If your really don’t like the tatties & neeps, they use any mashed veg, it is better with the mashed veg, to ensure you have the buttery, sweet sides that you really do need to go with your Haggis. Some people serve a gravy with the haggis, it is becoming more popular, but of course it is to your taste. Dessert, well that is a great addition to the meal, and the tradition is around Cranachan, and Cloutie Dumpling, this is not a menu to have when you are watching what you are eating, but again it is a meal that typically will take a number of hours and it will need to soak up all that whisky that is served during the meal.

Cheese & Port, well if you have any room left after your meal, you can prepare a cheese plate with the traditional cheese, found in many supermarkets, but again consider the number of guests, if you have a large number, I would miss this element out, and head straight to the Shortbread and coffee.


Of course it is expected that you will have Whisky for your evening, if you have ever had the fortune to attend a formal Burns Supper, the whisky will be free flowing, usually various different brands, again, consider your guests and buy appropriately. There are a number of cocktails that have been developed over the years to meet the demands of others who prefer not to drink whisky all evening.


The list of poems and songs written by Robert Burns is incredible, and again depending on your evening, formal/informal, you can choose as few or many as you feel with be appropriate for your event. There are a few that are expected

  • Selkirk Grace – this is usually said as everyone sits down to start the meal
  • Address to the Haggis
  • Holy Willies Prayer
  • To a Mouse
  • A Red, Red rose
  • Auld Lang Syne

There is various lists with the Classic Burns Poems and Songs, there is also some sites that provide translations, I am not sure that they actually help or hinder the proceedings, but I think they add a bit of fun to the event when you read what he was saying.


Of course you are not suppose to wear Tartan if you are not Scottish, but over the years there has been so many new tartans created, it is possible to find a Tartan that is suitable for all events. Usually for a formal event it will be expected to be ‘black tie’ the fully highland dress should be worn by the Men and the Ladies will have a long dress with a tartan sash. For the informal events, a ‘nod’ to tartan is also acceptable, a tartan tie, waistcoat, sash, hairband, etc.

The tables are usually dressed with Tartan too, again it will depend on the extent of your formality, tartan drapes around your table, with formal table centers, with thistles and roses. To the less formal event with tartan napkins and maybe a tartan table mat. But it is one to think about as your guests will remember this and it will be a great talking point when they arrive.

The main points are to have fun, enjoy the evening and follow as many or few traditions as takes your fancy….. ENJOY



Posted in Burns Supper Tagged with:

Whisky Cocktail
January 13th, 2015 by Lesley

Burns Night is on January 25th and if you are celebrating the night with a traditional meal of Haggis, then there should be whisky somewhere on your table. If you’re a fan then you already know that whisky is as complex, enduring and aromatic as the landscape it hails from, but did you know that it’s an excellent cocktail ingredient?

Whisky cocktails are making a comeback, experience this versatile and sophisticated ingredient with these 5 whisky cocktail recipes.

Old fashioned whisky cocktail with lemon slice

Old fashioned

Rub a piece of orange peel on the inside of a glass. Add a pinch of sugar, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, then 50 ml whisky and 3 ice cubes. Serve garnished with a twist of lemon peel.


Rusty nail whisky cocktail with slice of lemon

Rusty nail

Pour 50 ml whisky and 25 ml  Drambuie over ice. Serve with a twist of lemon peel. This is the classic recipe, but if you prefer a sweet cocktail, add a dash more Drambuie according to your taste.


Whisky sour cocktail in tumbler

Whisky sour**

Put 50 ml whisky, 1 raw egg white, the juice of 1 lemon, a pinch of sugar and a drop of vanilla extract into a cocktail shaker. Shake, add a dash of Angostura bitters, then shake again. Pour over ice and serve.

** The recipe for whisky sour contains raw eggs and is not suitable for people who are unwell or the elderly.

Two glasses of Rob Roy Manhattan whisky cocktail

Rob Roy Manhattan

Pour 50 ml whisky, 25 ml red vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters and 5 ml Grenadine into a shaker. Stir, add ice then strain into a glass. Serve with a cherry and a twist of orange peel.

Blood & Sand Whisky Cocktail

Blood & Sand

Shake 20ml of whisky with 20ml of sweet vermouth, 20ml of cherry liqueur and 20ml of orange juice with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry or strip of orange peel.

If these don’t take your fancy then have a look around on the web, there are various sites with lots of recipes, i’m sure you will find the ‘right’ cocktail.

The site of Wayne Collins the master mixer of cocktails has some fantastic cocktails, so I am sure you will find a few that you will enjoy.


Posted in Burns Supper Tagged with: , ,

January 7th, 2015 by Lesley

This is a wonderful recipe for any cold day, but of course it is a classic dish to be served for Burn Supper or St Andrews Day.

There are various recipes out there for this soup, and the tradition is to serve it with prunes, this does make the soup very sweet so I have a little trick so you can stick to the tradition, but to reduce the sweetness, follow the recipe and you will see how I do this.

1 chicken, about 2Kg, including legs and wings
500g leeks cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ltrs of chicken stock
30g long grained rice
120g cooked, stoned prunes
5g brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme
100g chopped rashers of streaky bacon (or lardons)

Take a large pot and add some vegetable oil and 10g of butter, allow the butter to melt and add the bacon and fry until cooked, then add the chicken and the chicken stock and top up with additional water to ensure you cover with chicken.

Bring to the boil, then turn down to a rolling simmer and remove any scum as it develops on the top of the liquid.

Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, put a lid on and keep checking, adding more water if necessary.

We need to remove the chicken, this is a bit tricky as the meat will be falling off the bones now, so very carefully remove the chicken from the soup and place on a large bowl.  Remove the meat from the bones, keeping the breasts intact. Then cut any large pieces of meat into small pieces and add all the meat back to the soup,  I like to have a lot of chicken in the soup, if you prefer, you can keep the breasts for serving as another dish.

Now this is the trick with the prunes, we need to warm them up as they will reduce the temperature of the soup if you add them cold, so I take some of the soup out into a small pot and add the prunes to this small pot, this serves 2 points, 1) warms the prunes and 2) stops the main soup becoming sweet with the prunes……

Add the rice and the remaining leeks to the main pot of soup and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed (it shouldn’t need much).

To serve, place the soup in the bowl, top with 2/3 prunes and a little chopped parsley.

Serves 6/8 people.

Posted in Burns Supper, Soups Tagged with: , ,