Thursday 2 January 2014

Thursday 2nd January - Foodie highs and lows

Today we threw out the last of the Christmas Pudding, the last of the Christmas Cake (there was rather a lot of that) and the last of the Chocolate Log (there was rather a lot of that too).

Those two cakes were probably the lowest of the foodie lows; they came from Marks and Spencers and have just confirmed what I already knew - home-made Christmas Cake is the best, and one can have Too Much of a Good Thing.

The problem with the Christmas Cake was that it was too sweet, and too squidgy. The Chocloate Log, another huge Christmas favourate in the household, was also too sweet, and was so thickly covered in sickly chocolate icig thatn again, it was no longer delicious. And that's the point; if that kind of rich, celebratory, self-indulgent food is not absolutely, totally delicious, what's the point? We could have gone on eating it, to save waste, but then those calories will get added to our avoir du pois and need to be starved or exercised off somehow. So, regretfully, bin. Done.

What about the successes?
We have eaten or frozen every scrap of the turkey, the ham, the sausages, the bacon and the two kinds of stuffing that we had on Christmas Day. I think that almost nothing else, apart from the leftover pudding was wasted. Everything was either Good or Delicious. So, what did I do with the leftover Christmas meats? Many, many years ago we had a Christmas meal in a restaurant where we were served with a kind of crustless Christmas Pie.They had cooked the turkey and ham and stuffing and gravy and so on, and then carved them, and then layered the slices vertically in lasagne dishes, interleaving slices of turkey and ham with crumbled stuffing and finely chopped mushrooms-fried-in-butter-and-herbs, and poured gravy over it to keep it moist and spread cranberry sauce on top. It was wonderful. So now, every year, I recreate a version of the same thing with whatever meats are left over, and gravy, and turkey dripping, and freeze it small dishes for suppers in January and February.

I can recommend maple roasted carrots and parsnips big-time; prepare them as usual, boil in salted water for a couple of minutes, toss in a couple of tablespoons each of dark maple syrup and olive oil and roast at 200 for around 30 mins or so.

The home-made cranberry sauce was so simple. The recipe came from Waitrose. 250g fresh cranberries; brought to the boil in 150ml cold water. Simmer for 5 mins, until the berries start bursting. Add a couple of strips of orange zest and 75g light brown muscovado sugar, simmer for 7-10 mins. Done.

Leftover cranberry sauce (about half of what I had made above) went into the crock pot, along with a medium red cabbage sliced small, a medium onion sliced small, a large cox apple peeled, cored, and chopped, and about 50 ml water. Salt, pepper and a pinch, the merest pinch, of ground cloves. Stir it up and crock it for four hours on high or 8 hours on low. That idea came from my sister-in-law and she is dead right - delicious. I've frozen it laid flat in a plastic freezer bag, with the idea of breaking it into lumps once it has finished freezing, so that I can get portions out as and when.

That just leaves the rest of the brandy butter and rum butter. I always make too much; but I will use it up in cake or biscuit recipes.

Other foodie highs?
Marks and Spencer stollen.
Waitrose Heston Blumenthal mince pies (both kinds). I usually make my own mincemeat, as most shopbought is too sweet and gluey and has really weird ingredients. However I haven't managed this for a couple of years now. maybe next year I'll get some made, and also perhaps  even make a cake?????
Marks and Spencer smoked salmon and smoked trout.
Slow roast shoulder of lamb and curry made from the leftovers, and more leftovers in the freezer with enough stock for a soup.
Beef stew, made in the crock pot for New Year's Eve, served with roasted shallots and green beans and baked potatoes, and the leftovers in the freezer for another day, and also enough to make a soup for lunch.

Right. Suppertime; sausages, red cabbage with cranberry, baked potatoes, roast parsnips and swede. The buzzer is going to do its thing any minute now.

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