Pre-Christmas Soup Break
It's the Sunday before Christmas and I've opted to have a break from soups. Yesterday I was very busy, what with chauffeuring the spouse (who had come home "by railing" from a night out) to the shops and hunting more elusive ingredients and baking and cooking.
Later today the mother-in-law is coming for lunch. It will be something of an expedition, the cold and ice having played havoc with her travel arrangements and the logistics for the entire day. The plan at present is for the spouse to go and collect her. As I write, he's preparing the vegetables for our lunch. We're having some sort of smoked salmon and smoked mackerel roulade to start, followed by roast beef and various vegetables (I'll be making Yorkshire pudding). I spent a lot of time yesterday preparing the pudding for today: compote of figs in port and prune ice cream using Delia Smith's Christmas recipe book (our copy was given to the spouse by one of my siblings twenty years ago!).
My baking venture yesterday was gingerbread. I saw a television programme a couple of weeks ago in which the presenters, who are better known for skills and expertise not related to cookery, made a batch of rich gingerbread and I thought I must have a go. The on-line recipe wasn't very clear, so on searching further I found a recipe by Odlum's (an Irish company). I doubled the quantities of the ingredients and have made some really delicious gingerbread men and gingerbread Christmas trees. They don't look very professional so I have resolved to buy myself new biscuit cutters. By the way, this blog article, Let It Dough! by Christopher Nieman (from the New York Times), is worth looking at, as is this one on making "perfect" gingerbread by Felicity Cloake (from The Guardian).
|Minnie's Gingerbread Christmas Tree and Gingerbread Man|
Christmas Day Menu
On Christmas Day there will just be the four of us having lunch at home. I'll be making bruschettas with goat's cheese, basil (if I can get it) and tomato for starters (based on Delia's recipe), then the spouse will cook duck breast using a Good Housekeeping recipe, and for pudding I'll make apple strudel with maple fudge sauce from my Good Housekeeping Baking book. This last recipe requires filo pastry and it has taken us a while to find any. I eventually found some at a small supermarket that has opened up near by.
On the theme of having difficulty obtaining ingredients, I ran out of fish stock cubes recently and hadn't been able to replace them. So while tracking down filo pastry I called into a long established, old-fashioned grocery that is within a half-mile radius of home and bought the last two teeny-tiny packets! This particular shop was established in the 1960s and I hope it will survive the growing competition in the area. It can generally be relied upon to stock the more unusal or esoteric ingredients I want.
My target is to have completed forty soups from The Soup Book by the end of the year. Ones that I thought might be quite festive and seasonal are Sophie Grigson's Brussels sprouts soup, Roopa Gulati's turkey broth and Angela Nilsen's chunky turkey soup. While out shopping yesterday, I asked the spouse to check with the butcher if turkeys or turkey joints would be cheaper after Christmas. The butcher wouldn't make any promises, but if turkeys are cheaper I would certainly buy one or a few joints to make stock and the turkey soups. Brussels sprouts are among my least favourite vegetables, but I would be willing to try them in a soup.
Bee is for Baubles
We have decked our hall, not with boughs of holly but with decorations from different countries.
|Minnie's hall is decked with baubles from Austria, India, etc.|
It may be nearly Christmas and there may be ice and sub-zero temperatures, but I continue to look out for bee references. The bee box is still lurking in the kitchen, which may have prompted the spouse to send me this link to Sylvia Plath's poem The Arrival of the Bee Box. Somebody else alerted me to Help Save Bees.
And finally ...
To my small following of loyal readers, I wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas and a peaceful new year.Minnie