SCOTS really know how to do Hogmanay and there are so many great ways to celebrate. In days gone by, my wife Michaela and I loved nothing more than getting dressed up and heading out with our friends for a nice meal and drinks in one of our favourite local bars.
However, with four young boys, Hogmanay this year will be spent with our friends at home. But we’re still planning to mark the occasion in style, making sure we create a celebratory meal and lots of festive cocktails.
Chef Dominic Jack and I have had a lot of fun creating our Hogmanay feast for The Scran & Scallie, where we’ll be hosting a true Scots party with a six-course menu, a ceilidh band and dancing into the night. I’ve taken some of the inspiration from the menu we’ve created and used it to help plan our New Year’s Eve dinner for our friends.
Oysters are always a great way to start the celebrations and are guaranteed to add elegance and style to any dinner party. They’re great to whet the appetite and easy to serve to guests as they arrive. Oysters are very easy to prepare, but the key is to make sure you buy them from a trusted fishmonger so you know they are as fresh as they can be.
A satisfying soup is a good starter to serve as it means you can prepare ahead and avoid running back and forth to the kitchen as your guests arrive. You can prepare a big pot of soup the day before, and the array of wonderful winter vegetables available at this time of year is perfect for a heart-warming soup to line the stomach on the biggest party night of the year. One of my favourites is celeriac, apple and chestnut as it just tastes of winter warmth for me. The nutty overtones of the celeriac are really brought to life by the addition of the warming, sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts.
I’ve no doubt there will have been a few pasta machines under Christmas trees this year, and if you’re entertaining friends, Hogmanay is the perfect time to put it to use. Make sure you start practising a few days before so you’ve mastered the technique. The trick is to make sure the pasta is thin and silky enough before you cook it. We’re making a delicious lobster and shellfish ravioli this year, which is a lovely light option, with a kick of seasonal spice. This dish is also complemented perfectly by a glass of fizz.
Chocolate is a perfect end to any celebratory meal and you can pretty much please everyone with a delicious, luxuriously smooth chocolate tart, with a twist of orange to add a festive note. We love to serve it on a board so people can tuck in and help themselves to whatever size of slice they like. And usually they come back for seconds too. It is Hogmanay after all!
CELERIAC SOUP WITH APPLE AND CHESTNUT
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, sliced
1 celeriac, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 apple, chopped
350ml chicken stock
50g cooked chestnuts for garnish
1 tbsp chopped chives to garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sweat the onions over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, but before they start to colour. Add the celeriac and sweat gently over a medium heat. If you place a lid over the pan for 3-4 minutes, it will create a steam and allow you to get a flavoursome result. Add the juice of half a lemon and some of the chopped apple – keeping a little aside for the garnish – and then cover the celeriac with the chicken stock and milk. Bring to the boil and heat for 15-20 minutes. If it starts to reduce down too much, add more milk and stock as required. Season with salt and pepper. Once the celeriac is soft, add it to a blender and blend until smooth. When you’re ready to serve, pour into deep bowls and add chestnuts, the rest of the chopped apple, chopped chives and a drizzle of olive oil.
For the pasta
250g flour, type 00
2-3 eggs, whole
1 tsp olive oil
For the consommé
1 carrot, chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
For the crab filling
250g crab meat
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 pinch finely chopped ginger
1 pinch finely chopped chilli
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 carrot, chopped into small dice
2 spring onions, chopped
handful of kale
1 tbsp of ginger, cut into thin strips
1 chilli, chopped
4 sprigs coriander
For the pasta
Place the flour in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and olive oil together. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour, little by little, working it together with your hands. Once all the mixture has been added, place the pasta on a table top and kneed hard with your hands. Wrap the pasta in clingfilm and rest in a fridge for 20-30 minutes.
For the consommé
In a heavy bottomed pan, place the crabs in their shell, the chopped carrot, spring onion and garlic, and cover with water before bringing to the boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain the stock, cool and refrigerate. Over a bowl, carefully pour the mixture through a muslin cloth. Tie the ends of the cloth together with string and hang, allowing the juices to drip through. Leave for 2-3 hours and then place in the fridge to chill.
For the crab ravioli
Mix together the crab meat, chopped coriander, ginger and chilli, then add the zest of one lemon, with salt and pepper to taste. Roll out the pasta until you have a thin sheet. Spoon the crab meat mix on to the pasta and brush with a pastry brush with a little water. Place another layer of pasta over the top, cut out and use your fingers to shape the ravioli. Blanch the ravioli in salted boiling water.
Warm the consommé and pour into a jug. Place the ravioli in a bowl and garnish with the chopped carrots, spring onions, kale, ginger, chilli and coriander. Pour the consommé over the ravioli.
Serves six to eight
For the sweet pastry
100g icing sugar
350g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the chocolate filling
450g dark chocolate
zest of 3 oranges
1 shot Grand Marnier
6 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
icing sugar for serving
To make the pastry
Sift the flour and sugar together. Pulse with the butter in the food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg and knead gently until the dough clings together. Flatten to a round, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 4mm and line in a 23cm pie tin or fluted flan case. Trim the edges and add some parchment paper and 3 cups of baking beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and cook for another 10-12 minutes or until golden. While the pastry is still warm, brush the inside with beaten egg. This helps to seal the pastry from the tart filling, ensuring a crispy base.
To make the chocolate filling
Place chocolate, butter, zest of 3 oranges and Grand Marnier in a bowl. Cover tightly with clingfilm and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt gently until there are no lumps left. Leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas Mark 2. Whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar and vanilla until tripled in volume. Fold this slowly into the warm chocolate mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the chocolate filling into the cooked tart shell and bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave to set at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put the tart into the fridge for at least an hour to finish setting.