Over the past two years the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum has benefited from generous grants from Museums and Galleries Scotland to enhance the grounds and entrance to the museum with three high quality art and craft commissions.
In 2015 a national call for entries for a new sculpture about or related to Robert Burns to be sited on Poet’s Path. This would be the newest addition to an evolving sculpture garden devoted to Burns.
Scottish sculptor Jake Harvey http://www.artfirst.co.uk/jake_harvey/biography.html won the commission with his modernist, minimalist sculpture of a haggis carved from two types of British granite.
In 2016 there was another open commission to create a mural in the entry foyer above the admissions desk. This commission also attracted many high quality submissions won by Glasgow based duo Little Book Transfers http://www.littlebooktransfers.co.uk/ LBT have painted many large, murals around Scotland for both a public and private clients.
The brief was to create a mural of images based on objects from the collection as a way to encourage visits into the museum. Perched high on scaffolding during open hours LBT painted a dynamic, graphic mural that compliments the architecture with images of star objects from the collection.
The third commission was for benches and cases in the foyer. Craftsman Willie Love from Maryhill http://makeworks.co.uk/companies/WestendCabinetmaker/ created hand-made unique cases and benches from oak. The sleek slat benches echo traditional rail station benches with a contemporary twist. The two museum quality cases combine Victorian and modernist styles with museum quality glass ‘cells’ that use the best archival materials internally.
Like the mural this commission is intended to whet the appetite of interest and encourage visits into the museum. A small study for a Robert Burns statue in Wyoming, a facsimile of the Kilmarnock Edition and even one of Robert Burns’s socks!
Got more Haggis than you know what to do with? This last recipe in our January series looks to Poland for culinery inspiration. Pierogi are dumplings, usually filled with simple ingredients like potato, ham, or cheese, and can be either fried or boiled. They are very popular, and for good reason!
To make a Haggis version is very simple, so this recipe shouldn’t be at all difficult.
3 cups flour
3 quarters of a cup water
Cook your Haggis according to package instructions and leave it to cool.
Seive the flour into a bowl
Beat the two eggs in a separate bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the beaten eggs.
Stir the flour and egg mixture, adding in water as you go until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Use your hands to work the crumbly dough until it starts to come together.
Form it into a big bowl and rest for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, put some flour on your counter and rolling pin and roll the dough thinly.
Cut with cookie cutter.
Spoon haggis into each circle, and pinch the edges down.
Put a frying pan on the stove with some oil, and once the oil is hot start firing in the pierogi.
This is an Italian take on the traditional Scottish meal of Haggis, Neeps & Tatties. In Italy sausage and potato is a common pizza topping, so this seemed like the perfect Burns Night experiment!
For the pizza dough (enough for 2 pizzas):
- 300g. strong bread flour
- 200ml warm water
- 1tsp instant yeast
- 1tbsp olive oil
For the topping:
- Haggis for 2-3 people (I used vegetarian)
- Grated turnip (1/3 average size)
- Grated potato (1 medium sized)
- Olive oil
Cook the haggis according to package instructions. Once cooked scoop the contents of the package into a bowl and separate with a fork. While the haggis is cooking (usually it takes over 50 minutes) prepare the pizza dough.
To make the pizza bases:
1. Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt.
2. Make a well, pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough.
3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and set aside. You can leave the dough to rise if you like, but it’s not essential for a thin crust.
Putting it all together:
4. Once you have prepared the pizza dough, grate the turnip and potato and set aside.
5. Roll out the pizza dough, making sure you cover the pizza trays with flour.
6. Once the Haggis is ready, increase the oven temperature to 200C.
7. Sprinkle the haggis, turnips and potatoes (in that order as the potatoes will moisten the rest of the ingredients) over the pizza bases. Drizzle plenty of olive oil on the pizzas.
Cook for 8-10 minutes and Buon appetito!
Recipe by Elena Trimarchi Learning Intern
Thanks to Christine Jones for the photographs and for the pizza dough!
Following the fabulous and super tasty ‘Haggis in the Hole’ recipe here are some Home-made Haggis Pakoras. Perfect Burns Night party food these are easy, fun and great to make with friends. I first made these when celebrating Diwali and they now feature as my go to party food.
- One medium Haggis cooked (you can use vegetarian haggis)
- 150g Gram Flour
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon powdered cumin
- 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander
- Some salt
- 150ml Natural Yogurt (I used 150 ml of Alpro Soya Yoghurt to make these lactose free)
- One whole lemon juiced
- Oil for frying
- Cook the Haggis following the instructions on the packaging. Once cooked, scoop out the insides getting rid of the haggis skin and break up the meat with a fork. Set this to the side.
- Now mix the chilli powder, cumin, coriander and salt with the Gram Flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Then add the yoghurt and lemon juice and mix into a thick batter.
- Roll the haggis into small ish balls and dip them into the pakora batter and sit them on some parchment.
- Now heat the oil in a pan . Make sure the oil is hot enough before you fry the pakora by dropping a bit of batter into the pan. If it fizzles then it is hot enough.
- Drop the pakora into the pan until the batter is cooked and is a golden brown colour. Set them on some parchment or on a wire rack to cool slightly before eating.
Serving suggestion – When I have these at home I love them with some chilli dipping sauce and a wee bit of salad! Also feel free to mix up your spices to your own taste!
Written by Catriona, Learning Intern , inspired by friends and the tastes of India. Photographs by kind permission of Alistair Copeland.
We all enjoy sitting down to a ‘groaning trencher’ of haggis, neeps, and tatties on Burns night, but over recent years we’ve all seen new interpretations of our Bard’s favourite dish. Haggis samosas, pizzas, crisps are just some of the Haggis products you might see in the shops in Scotland! So we’ve decided to delve right in there and create some of our own haggis concoctions.
First of our creations has been inspired by the wonderful county of Yorkshire and its contribution to culinary culture: the yorkshire pudding. So if you fancy a bit of a Yorkshire twist on your Burns night, follow the recipe below for a delicious Haggis in the Hole!
1 and a half cups plain flour
3 eggs beaten
1 and a half cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
1) Whisk flour, eggs, milk, and melted butter until there are no lumps and let stand for 30 minutes.
2) Pre-heat your oven to 220°C or Gas Mark 7.
3) Put oil in non stick baking tin and pre heat the tin in the oven to make the oil very hot.
4) Take your haggis, pierce the skin and take all the contents out. Mash it up with the fork.
5) Take out the tin from the oven. Test the heat of the oil by dropping a little bit of batter in it. If it sizzles its ready.
6) Dollop lumps of the haggis into the tin and pour batter on top.
7) Bake for 30-40 minutes or until Batter is risen and golden brown.
Finally serve up with neeps and tatties or the vegetables of your choice! You can also add some gravy if you fancy it too.
Last weekend, the world celebrated the birthday of Scotland’s national Bard, and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum joined in with gusto! The festivities actually began the previous weekend with the ‘Alloway Sessions’, two days of fabulous live music celebrating the songs of Burns and other Scottish favourites. With traditional folk music in the kitchen, a ceilidh band in the barn, and a fantastic programme of Burns music in the education pavilion, we were certainly treated to a wonderful array of performances and would like to thank everybody that took part and came along to support us!
On Thursday 23rd January, our recreation of the first Burns Supper allowed visitors to step back in time to 1801, enjoy good food and meet costumed characters in the cottage. We would like to say a big thanks to our catering staff and to our volunteers and staff members who got involved with the re-enactment.
Into the weekend, and the morning of the 25th dawned with such torrential rain that we were all quite concerned about being washed away! Thankfully, the weather brightened up a little in the afternoon, clearing the way for the day’s events. Costumed volunteers in each room of the cottage told the story of the Burns family, with William and Agnes introducing the Barn and the Byre, John Murdoch telling us about his pupils in the Spence, and Aunty Betty spooking us all with scary stories in the kitchen. We even had a couple of genuine 18th century villagers visiting the cottage that day! Weekend guided walks and buggy trips were available as usual, and we also introduced two very successful ‘roving guides’ who were on hand to give anybody looking lost a nudge in the right direction.
Sunday again threatened to be a wash out, but thankfully the skies cleared at midday and the events were able to go ahead as planned. Once again, our costumed characters took to the cottage to introduce themselves to the floods of visitors that poured through the doors. In the pavilion, the education team worked hard to create a programme of children’s events for our youngest visitors, who tackled their own ‘Burns Super Supper Challenge’ and had the chance to win themselves a certificate. Our catering team set up a cafe in the education pavilion and kept our visitors well fed and watered with a variety of refreshments. We were also visited by a selection of owls from Hoots Houlets who set up residence in the barn, and the field outside the cottage played host to the World Haggis Hurling Championships, kindly sponsored by Pollok Williamson. Our volunteers ran a very popular tombola outside the education pavilion, and also staged some ‘pop-up’ recitations of Burns poetry around the museum and wider site. Finally, we were pleased to be able to welcome some musical entertainment in the forms of Ayr Pipe band and Forehill Primary’s ‘Alloway Rap’.
All in all, we at RBBM enjoyed our Alloway1759 celebrations immensely. We would like to say a big thank you to all of our fantastic volunteers who gave up their time to come and join us; to our catering, retail and event staff who worked tirelessly to ensure everything went ahead; to our education team who created a wonderful programme of activities for children; and to all of our external and internal helpers who contributed to making the event the success it was! But most of all we would like to thank those of you who visited us over the weekend and helped us make the Bard’s birthday the special occasion that it should be… we’ll see you next year!