Monday, 30 November 2015

Clootie Dumpling.... for St. Andrew's Day

Happy St. Andrew's Day to all!

ingredients just added to the pot

My St. Andrew’s Day meal

Starter: Cock-a-leekie soup

Why? Because it's Scottish and husband cooked a roast chicken yesterday and I generally make soup with the carcass.

Instead of using some lentils or broth mix, I used rice. 

After popping in some carrots, a leek , an onion, and parsley it was nearly ready. 

You're maybe wondering why the photo on the right looks the right colour for cock-a-leekie and the cooked version has a bit of a reddish orange tinge to it.

That's because I cheated. My cock-a-leekie or chicken soup usually tends to be greenish white.

But today, I added some left over ratatouille from last night – because I’m a mean Scot who tries not to waste food.

Main course: meatballs (What??? Yes, I know!)
We’ve sometimes in the past had haggis, neeps n’ tatties as the main course on St. Andrew’s Day but since we had haggis at the beginning of last week ( we eat haggis neeps n’ tatties all year round) we’ve decided to have venison meatballs instead. The pasta accompaniment won’t be traditional Scottish but 2 out of 3 courses isn’t bad.
First stage in the pot
Dessert: Clootie Dumpling with home made custard

No - I’m not making a traditional ‘Clootie Dumpling’- more’s the pity, but I want to get some writing done today. However, I saw, and shared, a recipe for microwave Clootie Dumpling on my Facebook page yesterday so I made that for dessert. I know a microwave version can’t possibly be as good as a real ‘pillowcase’ Clootie—and it isn’t, but it’s a very nice steamed pudding.
(clootie meaning a piece of cloth)
2nd stage- add flour and eggs 

Here’s the recipe:
Serves: 8
225ml (8 fl oz) water
150g (3oz) caster sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
225g (8 oz) chopped mixed dried fruit
200g (7 oz) sultanas
225g (8 oz) butter
250g (9 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, beaten
Line a medium to large microwave safe bowl with cling-film: this makes it easier to remove from the bowl when cooked. Pop the water, sugar, honey, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger, mixed fruit, sultanas and butter into a pot. Melt the butter slowly, bring to contents to the boil and simmer for about two minutes - a little longer if the peel is still too firm. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and eggs. Pour into your lined microwave-safe bowl and place in the microwave, uncovered. Cook for 10 minutes on full power. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before upending onto a board or plate.

As I said earlier, it’s a nice steamed pudding and it’ll be even better with some warm custard but it’s nothing like a real Clootie Dumpling.

My mother used to make a nice dumpling in her metal ‘steamer’ using much the same recipe as for a ‘Clootie’ but it never tasted the same as one made in a pillowcase, or a special piece of muslin. The absolute best ever Clootie Dumpling I ever tasted was made by an expert called Lily Wallace- my sister-in-law’s mother. Lily’s dumpling was always enormous. It was a deep, dark, rich and very moist dumpling that had the most fantastic thick shiny skin – the bit I loved the best. Lily was a small lady with a very large, make that gigantic, baking bowl. It took huge effort to hand mix in the quantities for Lily’s Clootie Dumpling after which it was tied up tight in the ‘clootie’ and ‘steamed’ over a pan (like a double pan process) for hours and hours and hours- something like 6 or 7 hours. Lily’s ‘Clootie’ was great to eat cold, or hot with a traditional fry up which was what usually happened to the left overs on Boxing Day mornings …or the 2nd January, depending on when we ate it first i.e. as a cold slice after Christmas Dinner, or Ne’erday Dinner.

Yum! My mouth is watering but since I’m not going to get one of Lily’s Clootie Dumplings I guess I’ll accept that my steamed pudding is a poor substitute for St. Andrew’s Day

This afternoon, I've been writing about some of my characters in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. It's much the same time of year in north east Scotland for them being after Samhain (i.e. after 1st November) but before Alban Artuan (winter solstice /21st Dec) but the year for them is AD 84. 

They're not feasting on St. Andrew's Day since St. Andrew didn't come to Scotland till centuries after I'm writing. And the Ancient Roman usurpers, the legionaries and auxiliaries of General Agricola, have left my tribespeople with little food stocks to see them through the winter. They are managing to make some thin soups to share around but meat is scarce, as are stored fruits since the stocks that the Romans haven't carted off for their own use are shared among many more mouths than would be usual. 

My book 4 of the Celtic Fervour Series continues the plight of displaced people during times of war. The theme of neighbours sheltering refugees is an old, old one but what I love about it is that Celtic hospitality lives! People fleeing from tyranny in my books need help from their Celtic neighbours and in my stories it is given. 

And I'm very proud of that Scottish tradition.



  1. Happy St. Andrew's Day, Nancy. The things you've made look interesting. I'd love to try them someday, but to be honest, I don't recognize some of the ingredients.
    It would be fascinating to visit your country and see the remains of so much history. We don't have that in the USA.
    Good luck with the new book.

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