caz963: (Christmas candle and star)
We appear to be over the worst of the lurgy (fingers crossed!)

Presents are wrapped, shopping is done, recipe books and foodie websites have been trawled for recipes and Mr Caz has worshipped at the shrine of Nigella :) (several times!)

We've gone for a Norfolk Bronze turkey this year; the butcher reckons that once we've tasted one, we'll never want anything else at Christmas. Well, yeah, he would say that because they're more expensive than 'regular' turkeys, but that view has been endorsed by many of the telly chefs we've been watching over the last couple of weeks, so what the hell!

Rather than cooking it whole this year, we're going to do a Gordon-effing-Ramsay and cook the legs and crown separately. I asked the butcher to bone the legs, which are then going to be stuffed and rolled; that should reduce the cooking time considerably. I'll probably still put some stuffing in the neck, but if there's not room, I'm going to make a stuffing "roll" - wrap it in bacon and foil and then bake it in the oven.

I also found a tip about roast potatoes in a magazine somewhere and earlier in the week, I par-boiled them, then when they were still steaming, I roughed 'em up, coated them in a mixture of seasoned flour and semolina, left them to cool and then froze them. Just to make sure they weren't going to taste horrible on Christmas day - naff roasties would ruin things, wouldn't it? - I tried some yesterday and they were fab. Lovely and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I've done more or less the same thing with the parsnips, although they're coated in a mixture of seasoned flour and grated parmesan.

It'll be nice not to be buried in a mound of vegetable peelings on Christmas morning! Other accompaniments will be orange-glazed carrots and creamed cabbage with bacon and cream.

(Chop and fry an onion, then add about 3 or 4 chopped up rashers of smoked bacon. In a big pan or wok, add as much shredded savoy cabbage as you want, put in 6 tablespoons of water and stir fry the cabbage. When it's almost cooked, add the onions, bacon and seasoning. Add 4 or 5 tablespoons of cream (whatever you've got), stir it all in and then serve.)

Tomorrow, we'll put all the other bits of the turkey and left-over bones to good use by making a stock for the gravy.

Boxing-day menus are already in my head; they always include bubble and squeak made with leftover veg and Creamed Turkey en Croute - one of Delia's recipies that I've been making for the last 20 years. (Sadly, I can't find the recipe on line, but if anyone wants it, just holler!) I'm also going to make some spicy sweet potato rosti - I stumbled across the recipe the other day and they're lovely and incredibly simple. You need about 450g of grated sweet potato - leave it in a caulinder for about 10 mins before you use it. Then mix 60g of flour with a teaspoon of caster sugar, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of curry powder and a teaspoon of cumin. I'm going to double the amount of cumin I use next time and maybe add some ginger - you can do whatever you like, really. Then add 120ml of milk and an egg to the flour mixture and mix it to a batter. Add the sweet potato and mix well. Then heat some oil in a pan and put in spoonfuls of the mixture; flatten with the back of the spoon and cook until crispy. Then turn the rosti over and cook the other side.

And now I'm getting hungry. Lunch time!
caz963: (DeathStar Pumpkin)
We're not great Halloweeners here in the UK. The kids love it, but a crotchety old thing like me remembers the days when we didn't bat an eyelid on 31st October. Now, of course, you can't move for bats in the shops from about July onwards.

It's not that I object to Halloween itself - it's an ages old festival anyway. I just don't like the way that it's been so ruthlessly promoted over the last 15 years or so, as a purely commercial exercise.

Yes, I know. Christmas is no different. Except - that it sort of is. Because we've always "done" Christmas and it's always (for as long as I remember) been commercialised. Okay, maybe it wasn't back in the year dot in Bethlehem, but hey - presents?! And you know what I mean.

But the explosion of Halloween over the past decade or two over here is due to nothing other than greed on the part of retailers who are desperate to rake in some money before the big bang of Christmas. And that annoys the hell outta me. I'm sure that, if Christmas had just been invented, or if we were adopting it as a custom that had emerged in another country, things wouldm't be any different.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't bug me.

The good thing about Halloween is the abundance of pumpkins in the shops... which all seem to disappear on 1st November. I remember trying to get one around here the week after Halloween last year, and it was impossible! This year, however, I plan to buy a few over the weekend and either cook the flesh and freeze it or just cut it up and freeze it raw. Any recommendations?

I am also possessed of one of the biggest pumpkins I've ever seen, courtesy of a friend of my MiL. It's huge - took up about a quarter of the space in the back of the car when we came home! I haven't weighed it, but I reckon I'll get at least 6 pumpkin pies and a few pints of pumpkin soup out of it. My thoughts are also turning to things like pumpkin risotto (I'll make it up if I can't find a recipe) and pumpkin ravioli. Yum.

Half-term means that it's time to make the Christmas cake and pudding, both of which have duly been done. Well, the pudding has a few hours left to steam, but that's it.

Right - the kids want to make Halloween biscuits, so I'm off.
caz963: (gromit tea)
I'm just waiting for the tea to finish cooking. Tonight, it's Turkey Flan with Leeks & Cheese, courtesy of Delia Smith. While I was making it, I got to remembering that every year, Mr Caz and I contemplate cooking something other than turkey for Christmas dinner... but always end up with turkey because a) we like it and b) there's always plenty left over to cook interesting things with.

I know that for some the thought of leftover turkey at this stage is probably off-putting, and I'm sure it's easy to get fed up with turkey sandwiches after a few days - but I've not had a single turkey sandwich all week!

On Boxing Day, I always make Creamed Turkey en Croute to go along with the cold meat, mash and pickles (from the same recipe book). The beauty of both is that you can use what you like and what you have. If you don't have any turkey left, you can use ham, if (like me) you're not fond of mushrooms (in the en croute) you can put in something else (I use celery).

(By the way, the recipe in the link is slightly different to the one I use - I make one large "parcel" rather than several small ones.)

Yesterday it was turkey soup with fresh bread (yum!) - oh, and I can also recommend the Stilton soup. Haven't made that yet, but it's on the menu for tomorrow.

So if you've got some turkey or ham sitting in the fridge or freezer and you're wondering what to do with it... have a go at one of these. They're not difficult or especially time consuming and they taste fab!

Ah- the oven is beeping! Grub's up!!


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December 2012

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