The tastes and tipples of Scotland come to life at the end of the year

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Atholl Brose

Oatmeal, water, heather honey, whisky, cream (optional)

As an aperitif: Soak a quantity of pinhead oatmeal in water overnight; drain off the liquor and add it to it honey to taste; add an equal amount of whisky, and serve with some of the oatmeal in each glass.

As a dessert: To a lightly toasted tablespoon of pinhead oatmeal add 1 tablespoon of heather honey and 2 tablespoons of whisky; mix well; gently fold this mixture into a pint of stiffly beaten cream.

Het Pint (Meg Dod’s recipe)

Ale, sugar, eggs, whisky, nutmeg

Grate a nutmeg into two quarts of mild ale, and bring it to the point of boiling. Mix a little cold ale with sugar necessary to sweeten this, and three eggs well beaten. Gradually mix the hot ale with the eggs, taking care that they do not curdle. Put in a half-pint of whisky, and bring it once more nearly to boil and then briskly pour it from one vessel into another till it becomes smooth and bright.

Black Bun

Raisins; currants; sweet almonds; orange and lemon peel; flour, Demerara sugar; ground cloves or cinnamon; ground ginger; Jamaica pepper; black pepper; baking soda; buttermilk or eggs; brandy. Crust: flour, butter, water.

Take two pounds of currants and two pounds of raisins. Blanch and chop half a pound of almonds. Chop half a pound of mixed peel. Sift a pound of flour and mix it with four ounces of sugar, half an ounce of ground cloves or cinnamon, half an ounce of ground ginger, a teaspoonful of Jamaica pepper, half a teaspoon of black pepper, a small teaspoonful of baking soda. Add to these the prepared fruits. Add just enough buttermilk or beaten egg, with a tablespoon of brandy, to moisten the mixture.

Make a paste by lightly rubbing half a pound of butter into a pound of flour and mixing in quickly enough water to make a stiff dough. Roll out thinly. Grease a large cake tin and line it evenly with the paste, retaining enough to cover the top. Trim the edges, put the mixture in, and make the surface flat and smooth. Moisten the edges of the pastry with cold water and flatten on the round top. Make all secure and neat. With a skewer make four holes right down to the bottom of the cake. Prick all over with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a moderate oven (350F) for three hours or longer. (Test with a skewer). [From F Marian McNeill, The Scots Kitchen]

Kipper Cream

Luxurious creams were traditionally served at lavish Hogmanay dinners. Here is one from Janet Warren’s A Feast of Scotland.

1lb kipper fillets, cooked; ½ pint milk; 1oz butter; 1oz plain flour; ¼ pint mayonnaise; 2 large eggs, separated; 1 dessertspoon lemon juice; a pinch of nutmeg; ½oz powdered gelatin; 3 tablespoons water.

Remove the skins from the kippers and flake the fish. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, remove from the heat and blend in the milk. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then stir in the egg yolks, nutmeg and lemon juice. Dissolve the gelatin in the water, stir it into the sauce with the kippers and leave on one side until starting to set. Quickly whisk the egg whites, then fold them into the sauce with the mayonnaise. Turn the mixture into a shallow 2 pint dish, lightly oiled. Smooth over the surface and leave overnight to set. Next day turn onto a serving plate and garnish with cucumber slices and green stuffed olives.

The Hogmanay Wassail Bowl

An exact recipe, recorded by F. Marian McNeill’s in The Scots Cellar. I would think the combination of spices is important here, rather than the precise number of grains – whatever a ginger or cinnamon ‘grain’ may be.

“Simmer the following spices in a teacupful of water: mace, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, coriander seed, allowing for each bottle of wine: 10 grains mace; 46 grains cloves; 37 grains cardamoms; 28 grains cinnamon; 48 grains ginger; 49 grains coriander seed.

Add the mixed spices to two, four, or six bottles of port, sherry or Madiera, allowing one and a half pounds of pounded sugar for four bottles, and set all on the fire in a clean, bright saucepan. Meanwhile have the yolks of twelve and the whites of six fresh eggs well whisked up separately and put into the wassail bowl. When the spiced, sugared wine is warm, take out one teacupful at a time till you have a third, and add it to the eggs. Add the remaining two thirds when it comes to the boil, but without letting it actually boil, pouring it in very gradually and whipping all the time to get a good froth, partly mixed through but mainly on the top. When all the wine is in, toss in 12 fine, soft-roasted apples. Send the whole up hot with a ladle.”