Posted 22nd Jan 2016
With Burns Night only three days away, you may be starting to think of how to celebrate. If you haven't already got plans, then a gluten-free Burns Night supper could be just the event for you
Held at the Roamin' Nose Bistro in Edinburgh on 25th January, the gluten-free evening is set to include haggis, neeps and tatties, Burn's ode to the haggis, Scottish music and a dram of whisky on arrival.
In anticipation of the exciting event we spoke to chef Jonathan Brill to find out what inspired his gluten-free cooking.
What inspired you to come up with the gluten-free Burns Night menu?
People who eat gluten-free are excluded from so much, just because people don’t think about them or their dietary needs. The world's first gluten-free Burns Night is an inclusive, fun event, where everyone will enjoy excellent quality food.
What does Burns Night mean to you?
Robert Burns was one of the most remarkable poets of all time in any language. Before the French Revolution Burns wrote that ‘children lisp the Rights of Man; Amid this mighty fuss, just let me mention, The Rights of Woman merit some attention'. He was remarkable. 18th-century feminists were few and far between. We believe that Burns' would approve of our stance that whether you eat gluten-free because you have to, or it's a lifestyle choice or there's someone in your friendship group, then this is the clan for you.
Where did your interest in cooking come from?
From my Mother and her mother and my Sardinian-rooted upbringing. As a child I was my Mama's boy and used to spend a lot of time with her during cooking hours. Never thought much about it until I moved to Edinburgh to study in 2000 and got into all sorts of jobs, many of which were in kitchens.
How did you create the recipes?
For recipes and dishes in general, I tend to create our "specials" with a mind to avoid ingredients that contain gluten. Often wheat flours are used as thickeners for sauces and gravies, but we find it is easy enough to avoid this altogether.
If I have to use flour for certain dishes I will use alternative ones, made especially for gluten-free diets. For example when making Italian gnocchi, I started replacing wheat flour with chickpea and rice flours, and with time I managed to produce a dough that is as close as possible to the traditional gnocchi dough.
When making our gluten free cakes I learned a lot through trial and error - gluten free flours tend to produce grainier, drier sponges, so it took some experimenting to get the right texture. Now, by using the right combination of flours, eggs, adding a bit of almond flour, fruit, or fresh lemon juice such as in the dessert on offer for the Burns Supper, we produce classics like a Victoria Sponge with a perfect texture.
Do you have a lot of experience in gluten-free cooking?
Before The Roamin' Nose I had little experience or knowledge of gluten-free cooking – for my own diet it was enough to avoid certain foods or pay the consequences if I didn't. But now having a kitchen to run and customers with food intolerances and allergies, it seemed only fair to feed my natural curiosity and need of personal challenges – I am learning new ingredient combinations and also discovering that many dishes can be naturally gluten-free.
To find out more about the event, call 0131 629 3135. The gluten-free Burns Night supper costs £32 per person.