Christmas preparations

I keep thinking there's too much space in the fridge, but that's because the ham is in the oven and the goose crown is still in the freezer.

I've got the Ginger / Wasabi salmon on Day 2. The ham is lightly wrapped in foil, on a bed of fresh bay leaves, coriander and mustard seed, and allspice berries, in a Gas Mark 4 oven. It should come out around 7:30, which gives me plenty of time to decide what to glaze / crust it with.

We went to Beanies this morning and bought several sackfuls of veg, also to Fresh Asia in Broomhill to get some interesting things for the Japanese Experiment on Christmas Eve.

My thoughts so far are:

Tonight – venison liver, parsnip rosti, redcurrant jelly, cauliflower
Tuesday – main meal out at lunchtime in town, which could be anything. If we're hungry when we come home, individual baked baby camemberts with crusty ground hazelnut topping and bread and pear wedges to dunk.
Wednesday – last minute supermarket shopping, main meal in the evening of cured salmon, braised belly pork, miso-marinated grilled chicken, fresh pickled vegetables, carrot and sesame salad, cold green tea noodles, possibly some hand-rolled sushi, maybe some steamed aubergine with peanut sauce. There are some Sekrit Treats to go with this, and some bizarre pickled substances I bought this morning.
Thursday – roast goose, roast potatoes, parsnips, baby baby sprouts, braised red cabbage and chestnuts, cornbread sage dressing, gravy, ginger sauce, pickled pears – Christmas pudding
Friday – Ham, pork pie, salad, cheese, fruit, Christmas cake
Saturday – something fresh and spicy, maybe a set of veggie curries
Sunday – I have a joint of spiced cured beef, I may do something with that
After that we're into leftovers. 

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Ginger Wasabi Cured Salmon

In the past we’ve made this, which is wonderful, but I’ve had in the back of my mind a more oriental version that would go well with sushi-type things rather than the traditional blinis and cream. So, today I have taken:

  • 2 fillets lovely dark pink wild alaska salmon, the same size and shape and weighing about 500 gms total
  • 3 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons coarse crystal salt
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder (freshly opened)
  • 1 big hand fresh ginger, very coarsely grated but not peeled.

I put one piece of salmon skin-side down on some clingfilm, mixed up the cure ingredients, and spread them on top. Whacked the other bit of salmon on to complete the sandwich (skin-side up), wrapped the package up tightly. I’ve put it in a deep oval dish in the fridge, with a plate and the Christmas gammon on top to weight it. Today’s the 21st, I shall turn it and look after it every day, with a view to serving it for supper on Christmas Eve. I’ll wipe the cure off and cut it in slices, like a thick cut smoked salmon.

Purist Japanese foodies can look away now, but I’m going to do a variety of beginner dishes from Just Hungry, with what I can easily get locally, and have a munchie buffet.

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2008 Christmas magazine roundup

I always get a good selection of the foodie magazines at this time of year, and look at what the trends are. This year was fascinating. Although a lot of these feature spreads are planned months ago, the credit crunch was obviously in the air already. There's a definite seventies feel about the recipes – retro without being fashionable, just what 50-year-olds remember as being celebration food without expensive frills. There is no new exotic cuisine – some Thai noodle salads but those are almost domestic standards now. Lots of cheap and seasonal fruit and vegetables, fish and meat. The treats use classic Christmas treat foods – glace fruit, chocolate, smoked salmon, booze.

The main recipes were almost all:

  • Smoked salmon parcels for starters (the one that bucked the trend had prawn and avocado cocktail)
  • Plain turkey with plain veg – roast potatoes, sprouts, parsnips, red cabbage
  • Celeriac gratin
  • Jerusalem artichoke soup
  • Roast root veg with different spices and coatings
  • Roast pork as the alternative big joint
  • Nut roasts for vegetarians, especially en croute
  • Old fashioned desserts – date pudding, fruit crumble, ginger sponge, apple tart
  • Yule logs / sweet roulades – mostly chocolate, some with cherries (Black Forest, yay!)
  • Baked Alaskas – especially individual ones, or with special fillings (orange and chocolate)
  • Cocktails
  • Home made things – including a recipe for home-made "Irish Cream Liqueur", haven't seen one of those for about thirty years

There were some minor things that seemed to pop up whenever the opportunity arose:

  • Parsnip crisps – bought (M&S, Waitrose), or home-made – for soup garnishes, mostly
  • White chocolate / cranberry mix – cookies, squares, cheesecakes, even trifle
  • Leeks (in soups, pies, stews, and risottos)
  • Hot griddled slices of pear – with pate, as a soup garnish, with sauce as dessert

The winner of the chef who's everywhere is Anjum Anand – and the recipes are simple and homely. We're trying her spiced lambshank with chestnuts tonight, although with rice rather than the official side of parsnip mash.


 

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