A Merry Covidmas to all;
God Help Us, Every One!
Well here we are, marching into another year of pointless idiot lockdowns behind our glorious leader Clown Minister Boris.
At least I can enjoy this blessed respite; since I don't live in London!
And with Christmas and New Year's day falling on Fridays this year it means the whole week in between is one long glorious holiday - Hallelujah!
Now where are my bloody presents?
We cut back on our baking this year, since we never eat it all, and by popular demand only made a few
quick 'n' crunchy biscuits
, coffee kisses
and of course the obligatory mince pies
And then George ate them all before even New Year was out. 🙄
Here are this years tasting notes:
- This year's goose was strangely long and thin, to the point it required me to scaffold the legs with string in order to fit it in the oven.
- Despite it's odd shape the goose took 6½ hours to cook rather than the anticipated 5 - so we had to wait 7½ hours before we could eat.
Which might have been because some idiot accidentally turned the oven up from Gas Mark 3 to 6 for an unknown period
and so it had to be turned back down to 2 to finish, in case of burning.
Thank God someone once got a meat thermometer for Christmas so it was, finally, just right!
- As is now our custom we took the goose out of the oven to rest for an hour while the potates and parsnips roasted at Gas Mark 6.
They were just right.
- We scooped the PERFECT Christmas stuffing out of the bird into a dish
and also put that back in the oven for an hour to cook through and develop a delicious crust.
It was just right.
- We gave the bread sauce two hours to cook in a Gas Mark 3-4 oven.
It was just right.
- The rest of the vegetables (the halved new potatoes, the massive quantity of halved sprouts, the sliced carrots)
we kicked off in our electric steamer 45 minutes before serving.
Yes, we have an electric steamer.
They were just right.
- I made a litre of PERFECT Christmas gravy
using my usual PERFECT Christmas stock and 4 tablespoons of flour
Though the strangely long and thin goose yielded enormous volumes of fat but contributed next to no juices, the gravy was just right.
- We warmed our traditional festive tin of peas in a pan on the stovetop. Well, what else would you do with tinned peas?
They were just fine.
Overall despite missing absent friends ,
we struggled through bravely and a good time was had by all.
Perhaps next year we'll start the goose a little earlier though, so we're all a bit less grumpy before dinner is served?
Happy 2021 Everyone!
This Christmas I was persuaded to settle for a depressingly mundane starter since, as Kurt rightly observed; "there's no-one here for you to impress this year".
Prawn cocktail was the the default option since it's sufficiently lowbrow to appeal to my brother, and George likes both prawns and tomato ketchup,
so there'd be no reason for him not to like it.
George didn't like it.
I mostly followed Lesley Orson
's instructions for making the Marie Rose sauce,
with an added festive splash of brandy.
And perhaps a dash of Worcestershire sauce - or was that only in the Bloody Marys? I forget.
I've had some truly dreadful bags of manky cooked or frozen prawns from our Local Fucking Supermarket™ before,
so I insisted on buying fresh ones in the hope that it would guarantee a minimal level of quality.
And the shelled raw king prawns we got really weren't too bad. I picked through them carefully and de-veined the larger ones.
If you buy them with their shells on, then you can cook them in their jackets and peel them after. They'll probably be more tasty that way.
- 300g shelled fresh prawns
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- a little gem lettuce, mostly shredded
- half a dozen spoonfuls of mayonnaise
- two or three spoonfuls of double cream
- a squeeze of good quality tomato purée
- a splash of brandy
- a squirt of Tabasco sauce
- a dash of Worcestershire sauce
- smoked paprika
Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the prawns, return to the boil and poach the prawns for 3 minutes.
Drain then dump into ice water to chill. Drain and dry them off, drizzle them with lemon juice and keep in the fridge until required.
Shred most of the lettuce and fill the bottom of the serving glasses. You can line the sides with a couple of trimmed whole leaves, if you like.
Whisk up the sauce ingredients, adding any spare lemon juice. Season and adjust quantities. Mix in most of the prawns and fill the rest of the serving glasses.
Pile the remaining prawns on top, garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika, and serve.
Frangipane Mince Pies
Makes 18 Pies
On a rare (in this Time of COVID) day out with buddy Becky in Bradford,
she bought herself a mince pie to eat with the takeaway coffees we drank sitting on the pavement like fucking tramps.
And as she munched through it I found myself pondering how its glazed pastry reminded me of bakewell tarts,
and if it wouldn't be possible to top a mince pie with that kind of almond sponge for a different take on the traditional mince pie theme.
Naturally, when I found the time to google it, Mary Berry
(amongst others) had been there before me.
She even has (largely incoherent) instructions for optimally utilising your AARGHA. What, you don't have an AARGHA? What sort of Mary Berry fan are
So I've just copied out her recipe for you - though I have a couple of comments to make:
- 1 teaspoon of mincemeat per pie is simply not enough - it vanishes completely into the frangipane even though I was generous with mine.
Say, three teaspoons.
- I managed to roll out 12 mince pies (using a deep yorkshire pudding tray), which left me with a little extra pastry.
But I then had to over-stuff the pies to use up all the topping, and that was with too little mincemeat content.
So if you make them with the proper balance you'll probably need less topping than Mary does. Unless she rolls out her pastry much thinner than I did.
Hmmm 🤔 yes, that might be it!
- If you're lucky the idiot you sent shopping will actually turn up with the ingredients you asked for and you'll be able to top the pies with flaked almonds 🙄
If not, a sprinkle of icing sugar will help to decorate them.
- 175g (6 oz) plain flour
- 75g (3 oz) butter, cut into cubes
- 25g (1 oz) icing sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 100g (4 oz) butter, softened
- 100g (4 oz) caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 100g (4 oz) ground almonds
- 1 level tablespoon plain flour
- ½ teaspoon almond extract,
- just under 1 × 410g (14 oz) jar mincemeat
- flavoured with about:
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- a few flaked almonds
- apricot jam to glaze
- lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
To make the pastry, measure the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor bowl, then process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Pour in the beaten egg and pulse the blade until the dough starts to form a ball.
Knead lightly, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes if the pastry is not quite firm enough to roll out.
To make the frangipane, measure the butter and sugar into the unwashed processor, and blend until soft and creamy.
Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and continue to process. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage.
Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract, and mix briefly.
Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and cut into eighteen 6.5cm (2. in) circles. Use to line the tins.
Spoon a teaspoon of mincemeat into each tartlet and top with the frangipane mixture.
There is no need to spread the mixture flat as it will level out in the oven (but do not overfill the tins).
Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15–17 minutes, watching carefully.
Remove from the tins and allow to cool a little on a wire rack.
Dilute the apricot jam with a little lemon juice or water and bring to the boil. Brush each warm tartlet with glaze. Like traditional mince pies, these are best served warm.
Build and bake as above, cool on the wire tray and either:
- keep them for up to 3 days then refresh in a moderate oven at 180°C/Fan 160oC/Gas 4 for 8–10 minutes, and glaze.
- or freeze the pies, then thaw at room temperature for 2–3 hours. Warm through in the oven as above, then glaze.
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