Burns Night 2015

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I’m about to out myself as big nerd. Which is probably too not much of a secret anyway, but I think publicizing your themed dinner party in honor of a long-dead Scottish poet is right up there with wearing a Boy Scout uniform as an adult (DAD!) or admitting that you still read Anne of Green Gables every now and again. Ahem. But we’re fine with that. And we’re fine with it – nay, we celebrate this weirdness! – because people all over the world celebrate Burns Night every year. And this year, we did, too.

For the uninitiated, Burns Night is a big ol’ Scottish dinner party celebrated on or ’round about every January 25th in honor of Robert Burns’s birthday. Burns was a poet, scholar, soldier, true Scotsman and all around good guy – except when he was being lascivious and womanizing. But let’s leave that part out for now.

A true Burns Night must consist of just a very few things, namely, haggis, whiskey and readings by the Scotch Bard himself. However, when you read about what Haggis entails, you are far, FAR less likely to want to eat or cook it. Enter, the vegetarian version, which is basically a tasty stuffing that is reminiscent of Thanksgiving. We also added some kale. We need greens, people!

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In addition to haggis, there are a few other must-haves for any good Burns Night:

Bangers – sweet Scottish sausages

Clapshot – mixture of mashed potatoes and turnips

Cranachan – a raspberry, cream and granola parfait

Millionaire’s Shortbread – caramel, chocolate, shortbread goodness!

We asked our guests to wear their traditional family tartans, if they were able. The Davis Clan tartan is a gorgeous red plaid shot through with gold, while Nathan’s family is French-Canadian, so he decided his clan tartan would be from the noble house of J. Crew. My sweet friend of Chinese descent didn’t have a clan tartan either, so she wore her best Burberry plaid! From bow ties to scarves, it was hilarious to see what everyone deemed worthy of a clan tartan.

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After a first round of whiskey cocktails, the running order begins!

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First, you must process in the haggis. Yes, you read that correctly – process. As in, parade it around the house.  We did it to the tunes of the Red Hot Chili Pipers ( and yes, you also read that correctly…) Then, someone is supposed to slash it open with a saber. Since we, uh, didn’t have any spare sabers lying around, we settled on a nice big kitchen knife.

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While the slashing happens, someone must address the haggis with the classic reading called, rather uncreatively, the “Address to a Haggis.” My gorgeous friend Joya performed admirably, even reading it in Scotch Gaelic!

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After the address and the chairwoman’s welcome, the night descends into readings of Burns’ poetry, prayers and songs. We also played cards (spoons!), drank whiskey cocktails and sang Auld Lang Syne to cap off the night. It was a strange, historical and hilarious night for everyone whether we are Scottish or not.

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Three cheers for Robert Burns!

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Have you ever celebrated Burns Night? Would you be into it? Tell me, tell me!

Christmas Cookie Roundup

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December is here and we are officially into Christmas here in San Francisco. The lights went up last night, our tiny tree has been decorated (glitter ribbon! glitter ornaments! glitter everywhere! ) and the urge to bake cookies is strong. The urge to raid the Advent Calendar of all it’s treats is also strong, but I have held back. For now.

For those of you who are also getting into the cookie baking spirit, a little roundup of all the cookie recipes we’ve made here at Gourmet Style Girl:

Cocoa Creme de Menthe Cookies

Compost Cookies

Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

If you make these, let me know what time I should come over.

PS – more cookie and entertaining ideas on the Gourmet Style Girl Pinterest boards!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

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There has been a lot of troubling news this week: the death of Nelson Mandela, Toronto’s crazy crack smoking mayor still being alive and speaking, and that horror that doth sing it’s own name: The Sound of Music: Live! 

The person who pit Carrie Underwood, bless her twanging blonde soul, against magical voice Goddess Audra McDonald, is either really, really mean or really, really hilarious. I don’t know which. I don’t. It’s a confusing world we live in.

Happily, there is one thing this week that is not sad, not crack-filled, nor confusing: these cookies. Yes, I did it. I segued right from crack and Carrie Underwood into cookies. Take that, writing degree.

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Straight from the archives of Better Homes and Gardens, (which is how you know they’re extra bad for you extra delicious) these little butter bombs are crumbly, sweet, and so festive it just kills me. You can’t help but crank up the Christmas tunes and put on your stripy Santa socks while you bake them.

And once they cool, maybe you eat them for breakfast, while blogging in your jammies and looking up the worst of the worst clips from The Sound of Music: Live! Because Hey! That’s a not sad, not crack filled, and not at all confusing way to spend the morning.

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Go forth and bake, young people!

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Ingredients:

. 1/2 cup of maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

. 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

. 1/2 cup of sugar

. 1 cup of cold butter

. 12 ounces of white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped

. 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

. 2 drops red food coloring (optional)

. 2 teaspoons of shortening

. Sprinkles or edible glitter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.
  3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls, or just use a little cookie scoop. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll the dipped portion in sprinkles.
  6. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set.

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