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Peach Highland Cream

Towards 1pm, 251 years ago, the Jacobite guns on Drummossie Moor opened fire which prompted an immediate response from their Hanoverian opponents. The government fire power was to prove superior and around an hour later 1,000 Jacobites lay dead, rising to 1,500 in the aftermath of the bloody battle. The Gaelic poet and Jacobite soldier John Roy Stuart summed up the Jacobite defeat –

‘Woe is me for the plaided troops scattered and routed everywhere at the hands of these utter foxes of England who observed no fairness at all in the conflict; though they won the battle, it was not from the courage or the skill of them but the westward wind and the rain coming down on us from the lands of the lowlanders.’

It was not of course a Scots versus English affair, it was much more complicated than that but the outcome was vastly different for the two royal cousins who opposed one another on that fateful day. Prince Charles Edward Stewart was forced to take to the heather before escaping to France, all hope of restoring his father to the thrones once occupied by the Stewarts gone for ever, but for his cousin, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the adulation for having safeguarding his father’s Hanoverian throne lay ahead. The German had defeated the Italian!

The Battle of Culloden fought on 16 April 1746 only lasted as long as it would take you to walk round the battlefield but it put in motion the death of the Clan system and the death-knell of Gaeldom. Loyal and Jacobite clans were to suffer over the following months – indeed right down through the past 2 ½ centuries. Culloden is one of the most important battles to be fought on Scottish soil and a battle which still divides Scots and emotionally rugs at the heart. Standing on the field at Drummossie, hearing the pipes play is a great heart-rending experience, for regardless of one’s opinion of the Italian Prince, no one can fail but be moved by the courage and loyalty displayed by the Jacobite army. The 45 Rising was full of poignant moments – two I would have liked to witness – the refusal of the Jacobite pipers to play when the greatest-ever Scottish piper Patrick Ban MacCrimmon was held prisoner after the Battle of Inverurie in December 1745 and the advance of Lord George Murray, with pipes playing and colours flying, to lay siege to his ancestral home of Blair Castle on 17 March 1746.

This Saturday (14 April 2007) will see the annual commemoration of the battle at the Memorial Cairn (11am-12.30pm) and also following work by the National Trust for Scotland to restore the site to how it looked in 1746, the rededication of the battlefield. The chairman of the NT for Scotland Shonaig Macpherson will be in attendance. On the anniversary of the battle (Monday 16 April 2007) a piper will play from 1pm for one hour – the duration of the battle,

Work is progressing to build a new Culloden visitor centre, away from the battle lines – the present centre stands on the Hanoverian lines) – and this should be open in August. From a report on Robbie Shepherd’s Radio Scotland programme on Sunday, the new centre will be well worth a visit. The present centre will be in operation until the completion of the new one.

The meeting at Culloden is one of the highlights of the many events marking the Year of Highland Culture which commenced in January. Visit www.highland2007.com for full details of a packed and varied programme of events which includes art, drama, music and sport. In tribute to the Highland Year of Culture this week’s recipe is Peach Highland Cream which was devised by chef Paul Rogers while cooking in several British Transport hotels in Scotland. This is a  dish which contains the real taste of The Highlands – Whisky.

Peach Highland Cream

Ingredients:  4 fresh peaches; ¼ pt/ 150 ml water; 2-3 tablespoons sugar; 2-3 tablespoons whisky; 4 tablespoons raspberry sorbet; 3 egg yolks

Method:  Put the peaches briefly into boiling water to loosen the skins, peel. Put the water, sugar and whisky into a pan and boil up for 5-10 minutes. Poach the peaches very lightly in the syrup – they should be only slightly softened. Remove and leave to cool in the syrup. When cool remove peaches from the syrup, halve them and take out the stones. Fill the centres with raspberry sorbet and put back together again.

To make the sauce beat the egg yolks over hot water till thick. Reduce the syrup to about 3 tablespoons and add to the egg yolks. Beat till fairly thick and half fill four wine goblets. Place the peach on top of the sauce and decorate with some fresh raspberries. Serve slightly chilled with a thin crisp shortbread. Four servings.

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