Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dinner with Ian Rankin - RM Greenaway

You've invited an author to dinner and you're nervous. What will you serve that you think will make her or him your greatest admirer?

I am grateful for this fun question, as the answer will be simple. I've just got back from couch-surfing for two weeks on the coast, which was exciting, but hectic too, and my head's still in a bit of a spin.

The simple answer is I'll invite Ian Rankin, and serve haggis and stout. The stout is not a problem, but I don't have a clue how to make haggis. I'm hoping Catriona McPherson will help me out with that, along with the neeps and tatties, and I think a dessert of Cranachan (made of whisky, oats, heather honey and raspberries). If she refuses -- and I have a funny feeling she will -- there is a bagpipe group in town, and somebody there will at least have the haggis recipe for me. They may even offer to come and play bagpipes too, which Ian would appreciate.

Or would he? And would he like haggis, neeps and tatties, and Cranachan? He'll probably think me small-minded and presumptuous and predictable, but will be too nice to say so. I should maybe stick to something I'm good at, like toasted tomato on rye, along with some nice IPA.

But how admirable can a sandwich be? He's come all this way ...

Actually this question has ended up making me nervous, and I blame Susan Shea for that. So either she will have to come and help me organize, choose the wine and menu and make everything beautiful -- and cook too, that would be great -- or I'll just have to write to Ian and call the whole thing off.

I'm sure others this week will have better luck with their celebrity dinner parties, and I look forward to getting back to normal and following along!!


catriona said...

Okay, first: no one in her right mind makes haggis. It's like making your own cornflakes. But second: I've been making mine for the last eight years.

Easy Haggis (serves 12)

8 large onions
2lbs of lamb's liver
a bit of minced lamb
2lbs of pinhead (aka steelcut) oatmeal
2lbs of grated suet
insane amounts of black pepper

Boil the liver in a big pan of water until the very sight of it makes you heave. About 20mins. Keep the water. Finely mince the liver. Finely mince the onions. Cook the onions very gently in a little of the suet until soft but not brown. Toast the oatmeal in a dry pan. Mix everything together. Moisten the mixture with some liver water until it's . . . revolting - pasty and slimy and brrrrr. Press it into a huge china basin, cover it with foil (pleated on top to allow for expansion) and make a string handle. (You might need to invent a time machine, go back, join the Brownies and learn how to make a string handle. Or Google it.) Steam it over briskly boiling water for four to five hours.

If it looks a bit pale and uninteresting after steaming, you could put it in casseroles, dot the top with butter and bake it awhile until it gets a crust. That's the way to deal with the leftovers the next day too.

This isn't an authentic recipe because there's no pancreas in it, but that's rarely a problem when it comes to food, right? Also it's not boiled in a sheep's stomach. Ditto. And, trust me, it tastes exactly the same. Deelish.

Unknown said...

I take it you get asked for this recipe a lot? Well, thank you. I'm a bit dicey on the string handle and how much is "a bit", but I will wing it, and I'm all set!!

Ann said...

Uh, Catriona, how many does this serve? Can I double or triple it for a crowd?