So there it was, Merry Christmas, I had lots of fun. It’s been a while, but frankly the end of term descended into madness, and I’d managed to cook so much in advance that there wasn’t much to blog about (I mean – “went to freezer, defrosted cinnamon buns, ate them, groaned for 20 minutes”– hardly merits much webspace). I should also confess to watching far too much Kirstie Allsopp in the pre-Christmas period, and was temporarily diverted from baking onto homemade Christmas cards. It’s amazing how compelling cutting and sticking can be...
The Christmas food all went to plan. We had coffee and cinnamon buns for breakfast, smoked salmon with sour cream and dill on blinis late morning, then Doris (the bird) early afternoon. I don’t know why we gave her a name. It was Pink’s idea really, but it does go against the grain a bit as we’ve always said about the chickens that we wouldn’t eat chickens that we knew – so French, Saunders, Hornby, Barbie and Pepper are safe, and naming the Turkey seemed to imply to me a certain intimacy, but it didn’t seem to bother the kids. Doris was a Copas bird – free range, and 4.5 kilos fed 4 of us for a week plus a pie (about which more later) and about 3 litres of stock. I didn’t do anything fancy with it but followed a combination of Hugh FW and Nigella’s suggestions re: cooking times and stuffing – so I covered the breast with salt and pepper, pancetta and some olive oil, put a halved orange and a couple of sprigs of rosemary inside the bird, and only stuffed the neck, and for cooking did a sizzle in a hot oven for 20 mins before turning it down for the rest of the cooking time. I managed to remember to baste every 30-40 mins and I also ‘rested’ her breast side down. Whether it was one thing in particular or a combination, she was cooked to perfection (if I do say so myself) – not a stringy dry thigh in sight, and was very delicious.
I hadn’t bothered with a ham partly because our after- Christmas guest is vegetarian – so I was very pleased to trade some of the leftover turkey for some gammon from one of the neighbours who hadn’t done a turkey. There are many, many things to do with leftover Turkey, but there’s a turkey and ham pie in Nigella’s Feast that is really scrummy. You basically make a sauce from butter, flour and turkey stock plus some cream (I didn’t say it was slimming) , throw in the cooked turkey and ham plus some sweetcorn, top with pastry and bake. I’ve made it a couple of times now and if anyone’s interested, the sauce is better with a dollop of wholegrain mustard. I made it this weekend for a New Year’s day lunch at my father in law’s and it went down very well. Actually I’ve done pretty well with pastry this festive season. I made many, many mince pies using Nigella’s pastry (Domestic Goddess) for a Christmas Eve drinks thing, and the pastry I made for the turkey pie worked fine, although that may be because my father in law doesn’t own a rolling pin so I rolled it our using a (full) wine bottle wrapped in cling film which is probably heavier and colder than my usual implement.
We really enjoyed having people round for drinks on Christmas Eve. Somehow instead of making Christmas more stressful, it all worked fine, but that may be because of the huge amount of mulling that went on. The Husband spent most of the afternoon tending a couple of large pans, one of the 2011 vintage cider, the other with a wine and sloe gin concoction, and probably doubled his alcohol intake by the inhalation of the vapours. While he was in charge of the content of the cider pan, I’d googled mulled wine and come up with a hybrid recipe taken from about 7 different suggestions I’d found. I can thoroughly recommend the addition of sloe (or damson) gin. T’was very drinkable, as was the ‘sloegasm’ that I enjoyed on Christmas Day – sloe gin and champagne – a kind of shabby chic kir royale, but no less drinkable and possibly more potent. I did however resist the suggestion to have multiple sloegasms – after all, I was in charge of Doris, and she deserved better than that.
We’ve now eaten our way through most of the Christmas provisions, although there is still some cheese left over. Despite my best intentions, I got ‘Short and Sweet’ by Dan Leppard and ‘Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache’ by Harry Eastman for Christmas from Allotment Junkie and I am very much looking forward to some more baking. However, to counter the cake, we also got the River Cottage Veg Everyday book, so on a healthier note I am resolved to cook at least one meal a week from that, plus one other veggie meal, so watch this space for progress.