Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Recipes for St Andrew's Day: A Celebratory Feast of International Cuisine

Tuesday next (30th November) is St Andrew's Day. I think it is fair to say that a great many people who think of St Andrew - at least in terms of his being a Patron Saint - will think of him as being the Patron Saint of Scotland. While he is indeed the Patron Saint of Scotland, St Andrew is also, however, the Patron Saint of Russia, the Ukraine, Greece and several other territories. I have decided therefore to create an unusual post for this blog, in that it will feature not only a main course dinner suggestion for St Andrew's Night but three dishes for three courses, each one hailing from a different country of which St Andrew is the Patron Saint.

I am starting off with my version of Russian Borscht, a beetroot based soup. I will then move on to the Greek main course dish, Moussaka, and conclude with the famous Scottish pudding/dessert, Cranachan, made from among other things, fine Scottish single malt whisky.

Please note that all of today's recipes are quoted in quantities which will provide for four servings.

Starter/Appetizer - Russian Borscht

Borscht, like so many other similar soups, was originally a peasant dish. Its principal ingredient is beetroot but virtually any root vegetable can also be added, from potatoes, to turnips, to carrots. Beef is a common ingredient in Borscht and although I have incorporated beef, it would often be the case that the peasants who made the soup could not afford it. Omitting the beef of course will not only make the Borscht less expensive to prepare, it will make it suitable for vegetarians. I will forever remember my own first taste of Borscht, as that was in itself a truly international experience. Bear in mind that I am British, when I tell you that I first sampled this Russian dish, in Germany, where it was expertly cooked for me by an American friend!


3/4lb piece of inexpensive boiling beef (bone in)
4 small vaccuum packed cooked beets
1 medium potato
3 pints of fresh beef stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
Basil for garnish (optional)


The beef will require long, slow boiling. It should be placed in to a pot and the stock and thyme added. The potato should be peeled, moderately finely diced and also added at this stage. This will allow it to partially break down and thicken the stock. The stock should be brought to a simmer and allowed to simmer gently for two hours. After this time, the beef should be lifted out with a slotted spoon, placed on a plate and covered for around fifteen minutes, until it becomes cool enough to handle.

When the beef has been removed, the beetroots should be coarsely grated in to the soup. The soup can then be allowed to continue simmering while the beef cools.

The beef should be shredded, either by hand or with two forks. It should then be re-added to the soup and simply allowed to heat through for about five minutes. At this stage the Borscht should be tasted, seasoned appropriately with salt and pepper and is ready to serve.

Borscht is commonly served with soured cream and fresh herbs, though it can equally be eaten as is.

Main Course - Greek Moussaka

Moussaka is a recipe which I have found can often incorporate a pretty lengthy list of ingredients. I have therefore tried to keep this as basic and simple as possible, without in any way compromising on taste.


1lb minced/ground lamb
1 14oz can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 aubergines (eggplants)
1 red onion
1 large garlic clove
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

2oz butter
2oz plain (all purpose) flour
12 fl oz milk

3oz grated cheddar cheese


The aubergines (eggplants) should be washed, topped and tailed and sliced across the way in to 1/4" thick discs. They should then be layered in a colander, suspended over a bowl, each layer slightly salted. This will serve to remove any of the bitterness in the aubergines, though in many instances this has been bred out in modern times.

The garlic clove should be finely chopped and the onion halved then finely sliced. One tablespoon of olive oil should be heated in a large pot before the garlic and onion are added and stirred around for about five minutes, until the onion begins to turn transluscent. The lamb should then be added to brown and this may take up to a further five minutes. The tomatoes should then be added along with the nutmeg and allspice and the mixture brought to a simmer. It should be simmered for twenty minutes before being seasoned to taste and left to cool slightly while the aubergine preparation is completed.

After they have been draining for half an hour, the aubergines should be dried with kitchen paper before being fried for two minutes each side in a little olive oil then drained on more kitchen paper. This should be done in batches.

The bulk of the Moussaka is very simply assembled. Firstly, a layer of one third of the lamb mixture is placed on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, followed by a layer of aubergine. This should be repeated twice to produce three layers of both lamb and aubergine.

The bechamel sauce is easy and fairly quick to prepare. Firstly, 12 fl oz of milk should be heated in a pot before being transferred to a jug to keep warm. The butter should then be melted in the same pot before the flour is stirred in to form a roux. The roux should be cooked gently for a few minutes before the milk is re-added in stages to form a lush sauce. Note that the sauce should be fairly thick. It can then be spooned over the top layer of aubergine and the grated cheese scattered on top.

The Moussaka should be placed in an oven pre-heated to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for forty-five minutes to an hour, until the cheese is bubbling and golden. It can then be removed from the oven and served with the accompaniment of choice. As the Moussaka is fairly substantial in itself, I have elected on this occasion merely to serve it with some sliced tomato and basil for garnish.

Pudding/Dessert - Scottish Cranachan

Cranachan recipes can be found of a great many varieties. I have tried to keep this as authentic, straightforward and delicious as possible but you may wish to eliminate the single malt whisky from any children's portions being prepared!


1/2lb fresh raspberries
2 tbsp medium oatmeal
4 tbsp quality Scottish single malt whisky (I'm using 10 year old Bowmore)
1/4 pint double (heavy) cream
A little liquid honey (optional)


The raspberries should be washed and separated in to four individual serving bowls. A tablespoon of whisky should be spooned over each serving and at least half an hour allowed for the raspberries to soak up some of the single malt.

The oatmeal should be added to a dry frying pan and lightly toasted over a fairly high heat. This should only take a couple of minutes.

The cream should be beated to form soft peaks and spooned evenly over the raspberries. The oatmeal should be scattered on top and a little honey drizzled over last of all, if desired.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this slight detraction from what can normally be found on this blog and that it has given you some ideas for celebrating St Andrew's Night in culinary style.

1 comment:

  1. Scottish, Greek and Russian Recipes, Food is one thing which has no barriers & obstacles with respect to region or People.