Haggis Arancini: leftovers can be hedonism too

Haggis. Much maligned by those who don’t eat it, this offally delicious treat is only for those with discerning tastes. Because, quite frankly, if you’re not going to enjoy it, we’re glad it won’t be wasted on you. But, if you have great taste and you live on your own, or the rest of your family is veggie, you’ll probably find, like me, that one haggis could feed a small family, which means there’s enough left after one portion to stuff a wicker man.

But that’s a good thing.

A quick skim through the internet reveals there are at least 25 recipes out there for using up haggis, and most of them seem to abandon its Scottish roots and make for the sun, with such tasty suggestions as haggis lasagne, haggis samosas, and haggis pakoras.

But haggis has a very distinct flavour, reminiscent of mutton, and even when it’s peppery, it isn’t spiced beyond standard pre-chicken tikka British tastes. To me, tipping it into a lasagne, flavoured with tomato and basil, or deep frying it in a warm jacket of gram batter and curry umami, is disrespectful of the mighty haggis. Its delicate flavour lost, I see no point in it, and adding all that gunge in a lasagne will surely make the “mouthfeel” weird.

So: haggis arancini was my catch of the day, and a good ‘un it was too. Okay, it’s still Italianesque, but no Italian ‘erbs will touch this baby.

Haggis arancini, with cachumber and homemade tomato ketchup.

Haggis Arancini Recipe

Leftover mashed potato – about two handfuls

Leftover haggis – about two-thirds of the haggis, but see how much you can get into the potato without it falling apart.

1 egg – beaten

Dried breadcrumbs or rice crumbs

250ml sunflower or coconut oil


  1. Loosen up the mash with your fingers in a medium-sized bowl, and add about half the haggis.
  2. Mush everything together until evenly mixed. Check you can make balls out of the mix. If so, add a little more haggis, mix, and recheck.
  3. Keep adding more haggis for as long as a) you have some left and b) the mix still clags together. The aim is to have balls that taste like haggis, not mashed potato.
  4. Once you have a satisfyingly haggisy mixture, create balls about 1-2 inches in diameter. The larger they are, the longer they will take to cook, but don’t make them too small or they may dry out and become hard.
  5. I got 9 balls out of my mixture.
  6. Beat your egg in a bowl, and pour out some breadcrumbs on a plate.
  7. Roll the haggis balls in the egg, let it drain in your fingers, and then roll it around the breadcrumbs plate till covered.
  8. I did this process twice, to ensure a good coat, but I doubt that’s really necessary (my egg was huge, so I used it up this way). Lay the arancini on a plate as you work.
  9. Pour about 5mm oil in the bottom of a frying pan, and heat till just under smoking point.
  10. Add about 4-5 arancini to the hot oil, and roll those babies around for about 5-7 minutes. We’re going for golden brown, not blackened. When you get to the colour of builders’ tea, that’s it!
  11. Test one, by cutting it in half. It should be steaming on the inside, nice and hot throughout. If it isn’t, back into the pan it goes! (I re-batttered the cut halves on my tester).
  12. Serve alone, or with a tiny side of veg (I used up the cachumber from yesterday’s curry), and a large portion of homemade tomato ketchup.

Sakina’s Premium Cheese Straws

I’ve written about cheese straws before but by special request, here they are, with almost a step-by-step of photos. And these ones are truly premium, made with just three ingredients and water. And electricity. Electricity helps 🙂

Continue reading “Sakina’s Premium Cheese Straws”

Waste not, want for nothing

So there appears to be a recession going on at the moment and it’s probably world-wide, if you believe what you hear in the media. I read an article last week that suggested it isn’t technically a recession. My understanding of the description was that the term ‘recession’ is only applied when two consecutive quarters have been in a downturn. Apparently, this quarter has shown a very small growth. Hey ho.

Petrol is higher than ever in price, and food is still soaring. It isn’t a nightmare yet, but it is aspiring to be so.

The best way to approach it seems to be to pull in the belt and make the most of everything.

There’s an old saying “waste not, want not”, and it seems to work. If you waste nothing, you never run out. Using up leftovers can be a real chore but there’s something immoral in throwing out food that’s perfectly fine. (Homemade food is often more attractive for longer, because it isn’t full of fillers and thickeners).

There’s always the freezer of course, but if you can stand having variations of the same dish over a couple of days (even three), that is just as pennywise, and maybe more satisfying. It’s easier to control by not making too much in the first place  but it’s still possible to be creative.

Tonight’s Example:

Bolognese sauce with 300g beef mince from Steadmans Butchers in Kirkby (about ÂŁ3.30).

1st incarnation: pasta bake – 3 handfuls of large pasta shells (lumaconi) cooked and mixed with 3 big spoonfuls of bolognese & placed in a baking dish (preheat oven on 180 deg C). A few dollops of soft cheese (preferably Ricotta but mine was Philly-style) on the top, a grating of cheddar, followed by a layer of parmesan and herbs. Bake for about 20-30mins until browned on top.

2nd use: pasta bake in the microwave & fresh salad

3rd version: mince (still bolognese) and baked new spuds with broccoli and peas.

4th and final tastiness (two nights later as had a break from mince): added a chopped, tiny chilli and snipped in a handful of coriander stalks.

before cooking - baked sweetcorn on the cob

Corn on the cob in the oven with just Maldon and olive oil.


Just the additions of a homemade flour tortilla and a fresh, chopped salsa of peppers, onions, tomato, jalapeno and coriander are enough to turn the same mince into a completely different meal.

corn with chilli bol and salsa


Pastry TidBits

I admit, the hedonist has a thin Puritan streak running through her. She can’t throw anything out without a heartrending tug. If she can use it, it stays. Dang it, even if she knows she doesn’t want to eat it, it’ll stay in the fridge until it’s far beyond best before. Some leftovers are completely pleasurable though.

What to do with pastry leftovers is nearly a reason in itself to make pastry. My mum used to make a little jam or currant tart, or marmite straws.

Me, however. I am far less austere in attitude towards the little luxury by-products of baking.

Cheese Straw Classic

*Roll out pastry till it’s as thin as you can get it without it breaking up.
Grate a light sprinkling of cheddar on half the shape. Fold in half and roll out again.*

Repeat *-* until you have as many layers as you can be bothered to make.

Grate one last heavy covering of cheddar over half the shape, fold in half and press down with the rolling pin. Nip the edges in case you’ve put a lot of cheese in there. No point in it escaping. Brush with milk if you remember, it’s not essential but is a nice touch.

Semi-cut the product into strips and bake in a preheated 200 deg C oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Tip: Try not to handle the dough too much, just use the rolling pin to push it about as much as possible. On a cool surface is best.

Variants on the Classic Final Layer

Serrano Brie Stix

Thin slices of Brie and a single layer of Serrano or Proscuitto ham.

A long squeeze of Marmite across the cheese before folding.

Fried onions mixed into the grated cheese at the end.

Raspberry jam and cheese, or sweet chutney and cheese.