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Friday, 9 January 2015

Happy New Year (and a folio of festive food)

What a pleasure it is to cook in my own kitchen and with all my old things that were far too long in storage. Nithsdale has been great for revivifying my culinary creativity this year. I have tried out a lot of new recipes over Christmas this year, as well as going back to some old favourites. And others…well, others were old recipes adapted into something completely new.

Plenty of visitors to Nithsdale brought their own recipes or brought gifts that were turned into ingredients or simply were the inspiration for a menu item. Oh, and as an aside, I am going to keep on referring to Nithsdale by its name at every opportunity. Indeed, I may never get over the excitement of having a house special enough to have its own name, even if they name wasn't my choice, it does sound suitably MiddleEarthish to satisfy me.

So, it was my brother James's feedback on the Salted Caramel Torte that turned my thoughts to orange in the Jaffa Torte. It was my Mum's old recipe for Mackerel Pate that I turned to on Christmas Day, although I did have to improvise by using mascarpone instead of Philadelphia cream cheese. Mascarpone doesn't work as well, by the way, although Andrew, Josie, and Lori professed not to notice, so it might do in a pinch. I haven't got a recipe online for Mackerel Pate, but my old school-friend Claire Winlow does, and it is pretty much the same as mine. You can find it here. And it was the fine gift of a panettone from Marianne and Mark that made me realise I needed to do something with the panettones that was more interesting than just slicing them up for tea with a touch of jam. Although, don't get me wrong, I am absolutely not averse to the Jamettone option.

Panettone. Not Jamettone. 

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came to see us this year, and best wishes to those who have not yet made the pilgrimage North or Southwards, or who could not, especially my bestie Emmy, whose plans fell through because of a poorly elbow. Happy New Year!

The Folio of Festive Food

Chocolate Jaffa Torte

I’ve been making a Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte for quite a few years now. When I started, Salted Caramel chocolates were impossible to get in most shops, now they’ve become ubiquitious. Every sweet or dessert with caramel in it seems to be salted. Never one to want to follow the crowd, I decided it was time for a change, and so I unveiled the Chocolate Jaffa Torte. The caramel is replaced by orange curd, the rich, dark chocolate is tempered with milk chocolate. This is a jaffa cake on steroids, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

Lori is 8. Hip Hip Hooray!

A Boozy Cranberry Sauce

For a couple of years I've been making a Cherry Brandy Cranberry Sauce. As Andrew has diabetes was trying to find a way to make cranberry sauce with a sugar substitute. After a few goes I started adding the alcohol as a way to overcome the slightly too-sweet aftertaste which I find a sugar substitute leaves. The cherry brandy lends it a very Christmassy, almost-almondy, taste. However, this year I took inspiration from a Women's Institute recipe book that I got out of the library, and used orange juice, red wine and port instead. I think I like it better, but I'm going to need to make both next year to compare. The colour certainly went very well with our Christmas table.

Boozy Cranberry Sauce in Little Heart Ramekin Dishes

Pomegranate and Festive Fruit Rice Salad

I noticed these orange and spice-infused raisins, cranberries and mixed peel in M&S when I was doing my typical Christmas Eve last-minute shop. They were reduced, and I grabbed them along with many other impulse buys. I knew they'd be perfect for a Christmas recipe, but I expected it to be Rocky Road, not rice! The rice was a leftover from a Turkey and Chorizo stew, and I was lacking inspiration on what to do with it until faced by an extremely spicy Chilli Chutney Chorizo Tart. Something cooling was definitely in order: cue this salad, a concoction of orange dressing, festive fruits, and a family favourite of ours, pomegranate seeds. I was quite pleased with the results. We don't often eat rice salad, but this one has been added to the Law family repertoire for festive feasts. 

A Little Pot of Rice

Was there more? Of course there was more...there's always more!

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