I’ve started thinking about our christmas menu. It’s just going to be Ben and I at the cottage, so I’m looking for FUN, luxurious, delicious, fairly easy dishes for two. Too early to plan the menu? Nonsense. It’s almost time to start the christmas pudding – my first! And with a very tight budget, I need to plan, plan, plan so I can set aside enough money for the christmas shop. All my christmas gift shopping is done. Next year, with a bit more cash to spend, I’m going to make edible treats for everyone instead of gifts. They may be DIY but ingredients, cases, and boxes don’t make it the perfect budget option. I’ll be piloting a few chocolate truffle recipes this time round instead of buying chocolate treats for ourselves so I have a ready tested recipe next christmas. Mint chocolate truffles and Grand Marnier truffles are a must. Will be interested to compare Gordon’s recipe for these with Chantal Coady’s Saturday kitchen no honey recipe.
Traditionally we have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs served with bucksfizz on christmas morning. Since Ben and I have this quite regularly as a specual weekend breakfast, I need to come up with something even better. So far I’ve been most tempted by Gordon Ramsey’s Provencal Christmas Bread. It’s something I’d only ever make once a year, and looks really pretty. I love citrus notes in baked goods, and this bread contains zest and is brushed with orange flower water, delicious! This has got to beat croissants.
I’m in two minds about the perfect starter. I adore chicken liver parfait, and have been meaning to make my own pate for years, if only I could get over the thought of buying and handling livers. I’m keen to make my own onion marmalade to go with it and enjoy making melba toast. However, a fish starter is so decadent, be it crab, lobster, or salmon based. I’ve ben craving cottage cheese so bought some this week thinking I’d have it on a jacket potato. As usual, it came to lunchtime and I wanted something instant so I asked bbc recipes what else I could do with the cottage cheese. I came across a recipe for makerel pate. Perfect I thought.
2 smoked makerel
125g cottage cheese150g creme fraiche
juice of a lemon
grated nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt and pepper
No cooking, takes 5 minutes to assemble.
Make it better:
It was far too runny. Try sour cream instead of creme fraiche next time. Try using only sour cream or creme fraiche and no cottage cheese and vice versa. Couldn’t taste the nutmeg though I added loads. I love smoked paprika but try alternatives. Couldn’t really taste the makerel, it would probaby help if it was left chunkier and there was less liquid added.
The final word:
Really easy to make. Skin comes off the makerel really easily, and if you flake the fish into the mixer to check for bones you wont come across many. Yummy. Fresh is always better than bought. Ready to try this out with salmon and crab now!
This is all about the meat for me. With the perfect roast chicken being almost a weekly endeavour in our kitchen, I simply have to go for something more unusual than turkey this year. Being just the two of us it’s the perfect chance to pick something small but exciting. I’ve been thinking about goose, or duck. Last year I brined my turkey and noted that the treatment and flavours would suit a duck wonderfully, so that’s one option. Every time I’ve tried to succeed with duck though has resulted in tough chewey failure. Goose is a big unknown to us so it’s tempting. If money were no object I’d go for a four bird roast which I think is just a wonderful concept. I’m resolved to cook a beef wellington over christmas although again I’m nervous after my previous lack of success.
As a year-round trifle fan, I have to have my fill of proper homemade sherry trifle at christmas. My mom does a sterling job adding plenty of sherry, so maybe I’ll not bother with my own. For a while I’ve been obsessed with the chocolate yule log. Posh swiss rolls they may be but they are so exciting. They fill me with a sense of challenge. They look so festive and impressive when done properly, I think they’re worth it. I do really want to make a christmas pud this year. I see it as an enjoyably long drawn out ritual more than anything. I love to get in the christmas spirit as early as possible and what better way. For the day itself though, I think I’m going to make a panna cotta. One of my favourite things to order when dining out. It’s a refeshing and sublime dessert perfect for that christmas dinner bloatedness.