Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Why does Christmas always seem such a mega task?  
I write this feeling overwhelmed by what needs to be achieved this week before the children break up for school.  Obviously all the pressure is put on by myself trying to make it all lovely, local, special and social.  Last weeks main feat was to get through the Turkey.  There was turkey leftovers, turkey curry, turkey pasta, turkey in the freezer, turkey in the dog and of course turkey soup.  My lot in life at the moment is to make soup.  I have started to make soup for our shops and have also been involved in organizing soup lunches at school.  As a consequence my hands resemble celeriacs but I can now knock out a mean soup.  Making a stock from the turkey carcasse made a far superior soup to one made with water or a vegetable stock.  I just sweated some onions in butter and salt then added leeks and a good selection of winter veg: swede, parsnips, potatoes, carrots and covered with the stock and cooked until tender.  The soup was smooth and sublime.  I also used some of the stock to make a broth.  Frying off some onions, leeks and chestnut mushrooms then covering with stock some torn turkey and tarragon, this was stuff to nourish the soul.  That’s the next achievement for this season- to avoid getting ill, there’s worse ways to do this then filling ourselves with broth and clementines.
Now to ice the Christmas Cake...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas come early

I have celebrated my one year anniversary of shopping locally with a lush family breakfast at Star-anise.  I continue to take it very seriously and have not been to a supermarket in a year.  This Christmas I continue to find gems locally, there is nothing more exciting than finding a perfect present for someone you love in your favourite local independent.  This season a couple of fantastic pop up shops have appeared in Stroud, Nothing but Navy and the Weaving Shed.  In Nailsworth there is the newly opened Sharland and Lewis for all your present needs.  
Today I have been practicing what I preach and cooked a nine kilo turkey.  This beast will most certainly feed us for the week if not until Christmas.  The Elizabeth David turkey recipe had been hanging over me since the new year, and it was definitely worth waiting for.  I made her chestnut, apple and pork stuffing and filled him up with this and sausagemeat.  I then smeared him with butter and cooked him in a moderate oven for four and a half hours.  We weren’t quite ready for a full on Christmas dinner so we had him with braised celery and roasted beetroot, steamed sprout tops and roast potatoes.  For pudding we tested out a bakery Christmas pud, and my it was good with homemade brandy butter.  Christmas tip of the week,* heat your brandy and light in the saucepan before pouring over your pudding for the biggest flames you have ever seen- Elizabeth David would be proud.
*Disclaimer - ceiling touchup paint may be required. I or SNJ can not be held responsible for fire or burning in any way. 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas is coming

Elizabeth David is taking a back seat, the boy is working in London and I in school girl fashion have left all the tricky recipes requiring moral support to the end.  I can't see myself boning a duck at that twilight hour between 5 and 6 with four hungry tired children running wild.  Persuading my children after athletics one night that they really would like a dinner of oxtail stew or ox kidney isn't going to happen.
This means I will just have to seize opportunities as and when.  We had a jolly nice egg breakfast yesterday, baked with grated carrot and bechamel sauce.  Last weekend was my mother in laws birthday so I scored some points by cooking up an ED feast.  Scallops with garlic and parsley served with a winter salad.  A peasant stew, filled with pork, beef, rabbit and chocolate accompanied by good crusty bread and home grown kale made for a hearty autumnal main.  Then a pudding of  lemon ice cream and baked figs.  All finished with some jolly nice cheese and homemade membrillo.  
I am keeping myself busy without Elizabeth David by Christmas shopping.  I have managed already to get myself pretty sorted using great independent shops.  The girls wrote their Christmas lists yesterday and Father Christmas will successfully be able to tick off the list locally, there's lip gloss, hair bands and an electric toothbrush for the eldest, felt tip pens and all the Barbie princesses for the middle and for the youngest sylvanian families and a lollipop.    

Trout Triumph

Back on the ED wagon
Tonight I cooked a couple of trout bought from the long established David Felce and daughters in Stroud market.  For old times sake I cooked each to a different Elizabeth David recipe, one in a court bouillon cooked for only five minutes then topped with breadcrumbs fried in butter.  The second recipe was cooked similar to an a la greque.  Water and olive oil were boiled up together with the addition of thyme some crushed juniper and thyme.  The trout was cooked in this fast for one minute then slower for three, thats it.  perfect.  I served this with celeriac dauphinoise, purple sprouting and horseradish.
It marked a very welcome return to ED.
Hopefully this will be continue tomorrow when I cook my 9 kilo turkey!