For over 200 years Scots have met, on or around, the 25th of January to
celebrate the birthdate in 1759 of our National Bard, Robert Burns. A
custom that Scots have carried all over the world. The American
folklorist, Mary Ellen Brown, had the rights of it when she commented -
'The complete history of the Burns Supper ... can certainly never be
written, for the custom was a spontaneous growth and its celebrants are
now found all over the world' (Burns and Tradition, 1984).
People all over the world join with Scots in identifying with Scotland's
National Bard and finding in his words the appropriate thought or
inspiration for all occasions. Robert Burns was a genius but a genius with
the common touch. He never lost touch with his roots. He well knew his
fellow man - he shared their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, and
indeed their frailities, and he could put them into words which have
rung down over two centuries. Generation after generation has found joy
and inspiration in the work of Robert Burns.
So this Sunday (25 January 2004) whether you are attending an organised
Burns Supper or just enjoying Haggis, Neeps an Tatties in the comfort of
your own home, please remember to 'tak aff yir dram' in tribute to one of
the greatest Scots in our long history - Robert Burns.
This week we again delve into Elizabeth Craig's splendid 'The Scottish
Cookery Book' (1956) for a recipe appropriate for Burns Nicht. Venus
Pudding fills the bill perfectly and is included by Elizabeth Craig in a
suggested menu which would enhance and delight any Burns Supper.
Ingredients : lemon or lime jelly; pistachio nuts; 2 sponge cakes; a
little jam; 2 tablespoons sherry; 6 ratafias; 1/4 pint thick cream; 1/2
pint milk; caster sugar to taste; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence; teaspoon
lemon juice; 1/2 oz powdered gelatine; 5 tablespoons cold water
Line a jelly mould thinly with liquid lemon or lime jelly. Decorate with a
design of chopped blanched pistachio nuts. Set with a thin layer of jelly.
Cut each sponge cake into 5 or 6 slices, and spread thinly with apricot,
raspberry or strawberry jam. Place in a basin with the ratafias. Sprinkle
with the sherry. When all the sherry is absorbed, beat cream till almost
stiff, then stir in the milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Dissolve the
gelatine in the water over low heat and stir into mixture. Half fill the
prepared mould. Chill until beginning to set. Place the sponge cake and
ratifias on top, then fill up with the remainder of cream mixture. Chill.
Unmould carefully. Decorate with chopped lemon or lime jelly. Serves 4.