Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas cooking and carving

Christmas comes but once a year. Which is a blooming good job as far as I'm concerned.

What with the very unusual sub-zero temperatures, the snow and ice, plus looking after the incapacitated, I for one, am very glad to see the back of it this year.

Chris's wrist developed into gout which was very painful indeed and he was not the jolliest of Festive companions. Unusually I had left making my Christmas cake until the last minute. As he always ices it (and there was no way I was going down that route) I showed him various alternatives amongst my recipes. He was not impressed and said he would rather do without. (Cue for a martyred expression).

We went to my sister's for Christmas Day whereupon it fell to me to carve the turkey because everyone else professed themselves to have absolutely no idea where to start. Since my elder son once trained as a chef my guess is that he had more than no idea but, as it was Christmas, I thought I'd have a go. It was dead easy. Just another thing for men make a fuss about!!

I also carved the ribs of beef that I (over)cooked for Boxing Day. I cannot imagine how I ever passed Maths O level. I made a right hash of calculating the cooking time following Delia's tried and trusted method. The trouble was the conversions from kgs to lbs etc. I thought I'd got it right but the meat, good though it was, was drier and greyer than I would have liked.

Nigella's ice cream cake made by my sister was star of the show on Christmas Day. If you are ever entertaining people with a sweet tooth then you must try this. Mind you, it may contain nuts . . .

I made her Franglico tiramisu again for Boxing Day. It was much better this time (and I put it in a prettier dish).

But my favourite recipe was one which I remember my aunt making years ago. She cooked Christmas lunch for my dad this year and said that he had 3 portions of Brandy ice cream. This is easy, decadent and absolutely the tops with Christmas pudding. And it doesn't need an ice cream maker.

Belinda's brandy ice cream

4 eggs

5 oz caster sugar

5 tbsp clear honey (aunt uses 3)

1 pint double cream

8 tbsp brandy (aunt uses max of 5)

You need 3 large bowls!

1. Separate eggs.

2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in honey.

3. In bowl 2 whisk cream until thick then fold in the brandy.

4. Fold cream into egg mixture.

5. In bowl 3 whisk egg whites until stiff then fold these into the egg/cream mixture.

6. Freeze.

It comes out of the freezer soft, smooth and ready to eat. Makes 2 litres.

(Belinda was my cousin's bridesmaid who once went on a very posh cookery course and made the recipe there - this will have been about 30 years ago).

It's absolutely gorgeous.

A Happy New Year to one and all.
P.S. I managed to pick up a half price iced Christmas cake from Waitrose this morning. Just as well because a certain person had been saying it was a shame we hadn't got one!!

Monday, 13 December 2010


I would like to introduce Jumble. After the Batman episode I was initially determined never to have another cat. This modified into never having another kitten and then I happened upon the RSPCA website, saw Jumble and fell in love.

She is around 12 months old, possibly older, may have had a litter, and belonged to a family in Bushey well known to the local Constabulary! So she may have been a gangster in her former life.

Two weeks on and she has settled in brilliantly. Still not allowed outside (and desperate to do so) she makes an enormous fuss when she has to use the litter tray. It's quite a performance!

I took her to the vet today for her second lot of immunisation. He thought she was the loveliest cat he'd ever seen from the RSPCA. (Don't know whether this was a dig at them though). Another week and, as long as the weather is good, she can be let out. I tremble as I think of the foxes outside waiting for her . . . . What a shame there is no longer a Boxing Day Hunt!! (Only joking peeps).

It is not a good time here. My father remains very ill in hospital, Chris has broken his wrist and to complicate things now has man-flu. Josh goes to hospital tomorrow to have a ganglion removed from his wrist, bashing it with the family bible not having had much effect! Also my eldest niece has debillitating stomach problems and my sister is worried sick.

I suppose I shall do some cooking over the Festive period, but there have been an awful lot of ready meals and defrostings in the Lark household during the last fortnight. Thank heavens for freezers.

Oh, and did I mention that heavy snow is forecast for later in the week?

I blame Bing Crosby.