December 29, 2013 by cucchiano
Well my blogging has been put on the sidelines over the last few weeks. Little Spoon is changing jobs. Normally this would not be a cause of over-anxiety or activity but I will be moving from the world of self-employment to employment and therefore there has been a lot to sort out. The result, my cyber silence and for that I apologise.
However, that is not to say that it has been any less quiet in the Little Spoon kitchen. It has been a hive of activity as, for the first time, the family ventured from “Oop North” to gather around our Christmas table. We managed to side-step rail disruption and a small hurricane (well it felt that way) in order to be together around our table.
It was a Nigella Christmas in the Little Spoon household. Since Nigella’s Christmas book was released it always has been – she has never let me down yet. Despite the media furore quite frankly I was more concerned with what Nigella does best – putting together cranberry and port sauce, pomegranate cabbage and panettone stuffing. Simple, uncomplicated home cooking with plenty of “make ahead” tips has made life far easier within the confines of a one bedroom flat with a tiny cooker and fridge. My mum has long-since converted to the Nigella Christmas concept. Brining the turkey has become a family ritual – I’m not sure we remember the times when we didn’t gather around to bathe the turkey in a concoction of sugar, spice and all things nice.
However, the source of controversy came when my mother and I debated the merits of adhering to Nigella’s seemingly shocking short cooking times for the Christmsa turkey. Though Nigella points out we have all been overcooking it for years there were anxious faces at the time of carving. Even my dad was baffled…Scratching his head post-carving and as he tucked into the “super-juicy turkey” he turned and in bewilderment uttered, “Well it seems we really have been over-cooking it for years”. Another Nigella convert? My status as domestic goddess was cemented when I produced Nigellisima’s Parmesan shortbreads fresh from the oven on Boxing Day to serve with drinks. Pre-made, pre-frozen and then cheekily sliced and baked – but no one else has to know that right? Pre-made and frozen butternut squash soup was also well-received on Boxing Day – another triumph from Nigella’s Christmas book.
I did briefly cheat on Nigella with Ray (-mond Blanc) for the starter of smoked salmon tied in little parcels with leeks on Christmas Day – the recipe is taken from “A Blanc Christmas”. Served with a warm apple dressing the flavours are stunning and were a twist on the usual starter that I serve. Also taken from the same book are some great ideas for make-at-home table decorations to help keep the budget under control. I made a great centrepiece from leftover pine cones and decorations that I had stuffed in a cupboard after our wedding. There are some clever and different ideas for various centrepieces, favours and decorations that would come in handy for dinner parties throughout the year.
Our beautiful ham, turkey and pork came from The Ginger Pig on Borough market. It’s great to support local businesses and free-range produce whenever the budget allows and the meat was excellent value for money. Plenty of leftovers are squeezed into the above mentioned tiny freezer and The Ginger Pig are well worth a visit at Borough Market if you are local.
My first foray into the realms of Limoncello creation were also a surprising success. This was served over homemade vanilla ice-cream on Boxing Day as an alternative to Christmas Pudding. Definitely more experiments with flavoured alcohol to come in the new year.
And so, my christmas kitchen is about to close for another year. The finale is on Monday afternoon when I have “ladies wot lunch” attending for drinks, nibbles and leftovers to catch up post Christmas.
Whilst the above perhaps screams of Christmas excess – a few words on sourcing and waste. I am very conscious that for many Christmas was much tougher than it was for me and I would hate my blog to sound like a smug and gluttonous tale of endless expense. That’s not what I am about. Whilst I did splash out on the Christmas meat my budget this Christmas has been tighter than ever. Lidl and Aldi did me proud for spirits, breads and cheeses amongst other things. All the veggies and pretty much everything else were from ASDA (as was the wine). I had some fantastic bargains and had been stockpiling bargains since June. There has been very little waste in the kitchen this year – leftover veggies were made into a creamy vegetable soup, turkey and ham were put in a pie or frozen into portions, cheeses will go into a macaroni cheese. I have fed 5 people great food for four days, breakfast, lunch & dinner, on a tight budget by planning carefully, shopping savvy and making pretty much everything from scratch.
So I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I am looking forward to having more time to devote to the SL2F kitchen community in the New Year.