Recipes and Photography by Danielle Prohom Olson (a.k.a. Gather Victoria)
An autumn night has fallen over the Highlands, but inside the sturdy walls of Lallybroch a cozy fireside table is set. Here our renegade adventurers are settling in for a romantic tête-à-tête—and a wee evening snack! Candlelight flickers over a round of rosemary and oat bannock (no Scottish meal is complete without this oat bread), and glistening bowls of honey butter, chutney, and jelly filled with a fall bounty of berries, fruits, and nuts. (Visit enchantedlivingmagazine.com to find the recipes for the chutney and jelly.) Afterward our duo will tuck into the cranachan, Scotland’s beloved dessert, served with a fragrant thistle blossom tea.
Now you may not live in a Scottish manor, but you can feast like Jamie and Claire. These easy-to-make treats transport your taste buds back in time and set the stage for an intimate and delicious fireside tête-à-tête of your own!
AUTUMN APPLE CRANACHAN
Cranachan is a Gaelic word for a classic Scottish “pudding” or trifle originally made for harvest celebrations. Composed of layers of toasted oats, cream, and fresh berries, it was traditionally assembled right at the table. It is also a favorite dessert at weddings, bringing good luck to newlyweds. Simple and easy to make, this autumn version features caramelized oats, whisky cream, and tart apples.
AUTUMN APPLE CRANACHAN
3 peeled, cored and diced apples
(McIntosh is good)
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg or allspice
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
¾ cup whipping cream
2 to 3 teaspoons whisky (optional)
Place apples in a saucepan with water on medium heat. Cover. Cook till soft and easily mashed with a fork. Add more water if dry.
Put the oats, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of butter and spices in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook for a couple of minutes until toasted, but keep a careful watch—once caramelized it can burn quickly.
Remove to a parchment-paper-lined plate or small baking sheet and allow to cool. Set aside a couple of tablespoons for garnish.
Roughly mash the apples with honey, lemon zest, and tablespoon of butter.
Whip the cream and 1 tablespoon of white sugar. Once stiff, slowly and gently fold in the whisky.
Layer the toasted oats, apples, and whisky cream in four pretty glasses and sprinkle the reserved toasted oats atop each serving.
Serve immediately. (Otherwise your toasted oats will go soggy!)
Those prickly thistles growing uninvited at the back of the garden have been eaten as vegetables for eons, and their beautiful pale mauve to royal purple blossoms have long been used in teas and curing remedies. In fact, the humble Scotch thistle is absolutely royal—an emblem of the House of Stuart itself. Claire’s wedding band was engraved with interlaced thistle blooms symbolizing her marriage to Scotland.
THISTLE BLOSSOM TEA
This tea is made by pulling the downy feathery blooms out from the spiky heads, but be warned—you’ll need gloves. Use young flower buds that haven’t begun to puff out seed. Spread out the petals on a cookie sheet in a quiet, nonbreezy spot, and let dry for a day or two. If you can’t find Scotch thistle, any thistle bloom will do!
2 tablespoons dried thistle blossoms
4 cups of water
Place your blossoms in a teapot.
Boil water, then pour over. Let steep for 10 minutes. Sieve off the petals. Serve.