A Hogmanay Celebration

There is nothing like exploring a country through it’s food, culture and traditions.

Last year, I ventured into Italy with  dishes to celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes with family and friends. This year, given my obsession with the Starz Television Series, “Outlander” inspired by the novels written by Diana  Gabaldon, I decided to take a tour of  Scottish foods that celebrate Hogmanay.

So, I know you are asking, “What is Hogmanay?”……..

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations begin with a massive torchlight parade.  Photo Credit: Jeff Mitchell/ Getty Images

 

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. And no one celebrates the eve quite like the Scots. The origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but it is believed that the Scots inherited the tradition from Norse and Gaelic observances and celebration of the shortest day of the year. However, many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned by the Protestant Reformation in Scotland at the end of the 17th century and not celebrated  until 400 years later in 1958, New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. And what is a party without a great Scotch Whisky…..

Hogmanay food includes all the traditional foods of Scotland, so expect to find warm hearty dishes as befits this time of year. There are many  customs and traditions surrounding the evening which include  gift giving and the centuries-old custom of First Footing, the greeting of first guest of the New Year into one’s home.

 

Cocktails

It has to be Whisky in Scotland. Scotch Whisky is world renowned and what better time to drink it than Hogmanay. Nobody knows exactly when the art of distilling was first practiced in Scotland but it is believed it was the Ancient Celts who first practiced the art. Uisge Beatha – the water of life – as the Celts call it evolved into Scotch, a drink made only in Scotland, but enjoyed around the world.

Check out About’s Guide to Cocktails Colleen Graham has great info on Whisky and if you don’t like it neat, some great Whisky Recipes.

You can also find an interesting array of festive beverages at Outlander Kitchen, where Highland Coffee made with whisky and Cherry Bounce can add a spark of mirth to your cups.

Slàinte mhath!

 

 

Appetizers/Starters

Keeping the dishes light and simple, a green salad, brie and red onion tartlets and a rich leek soup with bacon croutons are served.

 

 

 

Main Dishes

Savory classics such as a hearty, substantial fare like Venison Pie with a side dish of either Rumbledethumps or delicious classic Tatties and Neeps. Salmon coulibiac also makes a decadent showpiece dish for your guest to enjoy.  Braised beef cheek with roast Orkney fillet, champ mash, carrots and a wild mushroom sauce is also an excellent choice for a main course.

Sides

Roasted artichokes and broccoli can be a gluten-free option that goes well with beef. Although green beans and pickled baby bell peppers are not a traditional Scottish dish, it offers a nice counterbalance to the proteins being served.

Rumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. Similar to Irish colcannon, it is either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself.Cooked leftovers from a roast meal can be used. However, to make fresh rumbledethumps one needs to lightly sauté the shredded onion and cabbage in butter until the onion is translucent and the cabbage wilted, then add some potatoes mashed with butter, salt and pepper; after thoroughly mixing the ingredients, they are placed into an oven proof dish, and cheddar  cheese placed on top, if desired. This is then baked until golden brown on top.

 

 

 

Desserts

For the sweet-toothed Shortbread is always eaten at  Hogmanay and sometimes served with cheese and there will most certainly be Scottish Cranachan – toasted  oatmeal, Scottish raspberries whipped cream and a touch of whisky.

 

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party

From Fiestah

Photo: Drinked In

We know, it’s been a long ride since Thanksgiving! Don’t burn out just yet, you’ve got one more cocktail party to whip up, to usher in the New Year with a bang your guests will not forget. It may seem like a daunting task to host a gathering, but we promise, you can get things into shape in two hours.

We’ve got a quick check list of all the things you need for the perfect cocktail party:

Starry, Starry Night 
Whether you’re about to brave the cold outdoors, or you’re blessed with warm weather, twinkle lights will always be a quick way to bring a party space together. It’s inexpensive, and you can even fix removable hooks to your wall and drop the lights so it mimics the falling snowflakes!

Dramatic Pop of Color 
It doesn’t have to be the super fancy, but a strong color is the the perfect party styling to create that lush look. Complement dark tablecloths with flowers in rich berry tones. It will change the entire table!

Candles, Every Single Time 
Another sure fire way to bring it all together and create a cozy vibe are candles! We don’t recommend scented candles near the food, you wouldn’t want to mess with the gorgeous smells of yummy bites, do you?

One Signature Cocktail Or Punch
You don’t need a myriad of cocktails to impress your guests. You just need one cocktail or a boozy punch so that they can top up on their own, and won’t be shy about getting the drinks. A hot toddy will take you less than 15 minutes to make, and it makes about a jug! Just pop the teapot next to the drinks stand and watch your guests flock.

Mixed Nuts and Such
While something is brewing in the oven, distract your guests with a mix of nuts and figs to complement the drinks. Scatter the snack mixes in bowls around the room, and see how guests will gather around the space to mingle! Snack mix recipes here. 

Don’t Stress Yourself, Call On Us! 
If you’re not the type to whip up something in the oven while guests start to enter, take a minute a day or two before the party and call on Fiestah! We’ve got a long list of vendors of all types of amazing food and services, so you just have to call on one of them (or a few!) and deliver your chosen party bites straight to your door. It’s so easy, and you get to enjoy yourself at your own party without fussing if enough food is available.

There you have it, folks! What are some of your go-to fool proof tips?

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Source: The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party


Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

Who says Sangria is only for Summer entertaining? Look what we found on-line at Zulka Sugar. Another crowd pleasing drink  with a twist that will surely become a staple at your winter and holiday gatherings. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Zulka Morena Sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup Calvados or other Apple Brandy
  • 1 750 ml bottle white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work best)
  • 1 bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 5-6 apples, cored and sliced thin
  • Cinnamon sticks

Directions:

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. In another small bowl, pour a little of the brandy. Dip the glasses in the brandy and then the cinnamon sugar. Add a few apple slices to each glass. Set aside.

Pour the remaining cinnamon sugar in a large pitcher. Add the apple cider and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Top with the brandy and wine and mix. Add the rest of the apples. Chill until ready to serve.

Add the sparkling cider right before serving. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Serve chilled. Add ice if desired.