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With the UAE such a melting pot of diverse yet intriguing cultures, this month’s Gourmet brings you a Scottish take on entertaining at home with Scot couple and Dubai residents Mary Ann and Cameron Walker who hosted a sit-down dinner for ten friends and family. Mary Ann is so passionate about cooking she insists on concocting everything herself from scratch, but only thanks to good planning and preparation. She enlists help from husband Cameron whose artistic approach makes for a mean and matching table setting, complete with Royal Doulton china and chic crystal glasses, to a little burst of candle light, plus tartan napkins of course.
1 small chicken
1 bay leaf
2 l stock or water
28g long grain rice
113g dried prunes
1 carrot, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
1. Put the chicken into a large pot with the stock, add the bay leaf, leeks and plenty of seasoning.
2. Bring to the boil, then skim the surface, reduce the heat and cover the pan and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the chicken is tender.
3. Remove the chicken, bay leaf and skim off any fat from the surface. Add the rice, drained prunes and carrot, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and place meat back into pot and season. Heat the chicken through, then serve.
Preparing the haggis
1. Remove plastic wrapping.
2. Wrap the haggis in tin foil.
3. Place in a oven heated to 180c for 1.5 hours.
4. Serve with neeps (orange turnip mashed with butter and black pepper) and tatties (potato mashed with butter).
Scottish plum crumble
680g ripe plums
85g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp water
For the crumble
113g plain flour
56g rolled oats
56g soft brown sugar
Half level tsp ground cinnamon
1. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones.
2. Mix the fruit with the sugar, turn it into a large pie dish and pour over water.
3. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl, add the oats and rub the butter until evenly distributed. Stir in the sugar, then turn the crumble onto the plums and spread it to the sides so they are completely covered.
4. Bake the crumble at 180C for 45-50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit bubbling.
5. Serve hot with custard.
Typsy Laird Trifle
6 sponge cakes
227g raspberry jam
1 small box of raspberries
57g ratafia biscuits or shortbread
120 ml orange juice
2 tbsp Drambuie (optional)
4 egg yolks
500 ml milk
28g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml double cream
Flaked browned almonds for decoration
1. Split the sponges in half, spread them with jam and place them in a glass dish. Roughly crush the retafia biscuits or shortbread and scatter them on top. Mix together the orange juice and Drambuie, pour it over the sponges and leave to soak.
2. Scatter a layer of raspberries on top of the sponge, saving a few for decoration later. Beat the eggs yolks and sugar together. Heat the milk to just hot and stir into the egg yolk. When it is well blended, return the liquid to the pan and stirring all the time over a low heat, cook the custard until it thickens. Pour it into the dish and leave it to cool and set.
3. Next day, whisk the cream to a soft peak consistency. Turn the cream onto the trifle, ease it into the sides and decorate with almonds and raspberries.
Top Tip: Try and cook as many non-perishable dishes as you can the day in advance such as soups which always taste better if left overnight for all the flavours to emerge.
Mary Ann’s top tips
I always keep the day of the dinner party free. I draw up a list of what needs to be cooked and prepared, assigning times to each task, so I have a calendar. I make sure to allow lots of time in between tasks to give me a little breather – that way I still have bundles of energy for the evening’s entertainment!
I like to incorporate a couple of communal pewter drinking cups called ‘quaiches’ or ‘the cup of friendship’. We fill them with an amber grain spirit and each guest has a sip. It’s a great way to get the chatter going!