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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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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The Most Pretentious Menu I’ve Seen Yet

Menu from a conference dinner (the venue has a maritime / naval warfare historical connection, which may explain some of the more florid bits)
 
Warm Mousseline of Sussex Chicken stuffed with Cave Matured Roquefort and Fresh Harvested Walnuts with a Sauce of Sorrel Hollandaise and Julienne of Russet Apples
 
A Ravioli in the Colours of the Kingdom of Naples filled with Scottish Lobster, Salmon and Ginger from the Windward Islands and topped with Deep Fried Leeks
 
Cannon of English Lamb stuffed with Wild Woodland Mushrooms and Truffles, imprisoned in a pastry cage with a Sauce of Wild Rowan Berries and a Plume of French Bar-le-Duc
Black Potatoes from the Ardennes
Bundles of Vegetables gathered fresh from the garden
 
A Miniature Gateau flavoured with Liquorice from the Spanish Maine concealing a heart of liquid fire glazed with Quince Jelly and served on Lapsang Creme Anglaise with Baby Pear finished with an arabesque of purest gold.
 
Glazed Normandy Brie with Wild Mulberries and Bath Oliver Biscuits
 
Coffee and Homemade Truffles
 
I had to look up Bar-Le-Duc, it's a French preserve named after a town in Lorraine, traditionally made with whole redcurrants which have had the seeds extracted by little old ladies using a goose quill. I would normally spell Spanish Main without the "e", but otherwise there were no spelling mistakes – too many capitals but consistently used. On the whole though – YUCK – over complicated, and generally a right mess. Apparently the dessert was a sponge with something like a malteser in the middle, which in turn had a brandy liqueur centre. It wasn't popular. And the Brie was glazed with a sugar topping, so two desserts.
 
One idea worth playing with might be the Lapsang custard with a poached pear, that could be an interesting combo. 

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Sample Christmas Menu

Christmas menu from local catering college:
 
Cream of potato and watercress soup
Smoked salmon terrine served with crayfish tails and tartare dressing
 
Paupiette of plaice and spinach duglere (which research assures me is a white fish sauce incorporating crushed tomatoes)
Cheese fritters served on peperonata
 
Roast turkey
Game pie
Char-grilled sirloin steak bearnaise
Parsnip, chestnut and cranberry strudel served with forest mushroom and red wine reduction
 
Roast and creamed potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Puree of carrots and swede
 
Christmas pudding with rum sauce
Pecan truffle stuffed pear served with vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup sauce
Old English sherry trifle with syllabub sauce

 
The strudel could run the risk of being sweet, and is deffo v carby. The pecan pear sounds good, though …

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Noisettes Albert

Evesham Hotel – lean pieces of lamb loin with a cranberry and orange compote and a white wine sauce

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Kemmy’s chicken

Evesham hotel – a breast of chicken stuffed with apricots, rolled in almond breadcrumbs and pan fried.

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Beckie’s Duckling

Evesham Hotel:

duck fillets steeped in a vermouth marinade, grilled and served with a peppercorn and cream sauce

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