I love Christmas, especially this one, as I now have a new camera thanks to my lovely boyfriend (and his parents), mum, dad and others. Woop. Early signs are that it takes a beautiful picture, so I'll be working on my photo skillz to up the standard of photography on this blog.
As is well documented, I love Christmas dinner. It's my favourite meal of the year, with so many happy memories evoked. It's evolved over the years: different faces at the table, different settings, new dishes (this year: parsnip and pear croquettes!), shelved dishes (where's the mashed potato and cauliflower and cheese? Rightly relegated!), new customs (the Christmas eve cut price turkey hunt). But I love it for its ritual, its bringing people together and it's slow, social celebration of culinary excess.
This year was a particularly excellent Christmas dinner. Our turkey was the best ever, so succulent and juicy. It was a Marks and Spencer's free range organic bronze feathered beauty that we picked up on Christmas Eve for a third of its original price. The turkey hunt is fast becoming a favourite tradition - my mum has us stationed at supermarkets across Edinburgh at about 3pm on Christmas Eve, waiting for the supermarkets to slash the prices of their top tier turkeys. It's a game of nerves: jump too soon and you pay over the odds, leave it too long and you could be left with nothing. We were very pleased with our turkey.
The trimmings are key, and I think we counted 12 different dishes on our Christmas lunch plate:
Turkey, red cabbage braised with apple, roast potatoes in goose fat, home-made cranberry sauce (with orange zest), carrots with orange, brussels sprouts, little sausages, chestnut stuffing, parsnip and pear croquettes, bacon, leek, bread sauce and gravy. My favourites are the bread sauce (milk slow-cooked overnight with bay leaf and a clove stuffed onion) and the chestnut stuffing (chestnut purée, bacon, onions lemon zest, abundant parsley, breadcrumbs, egg: baked), without which it just wouldn't Christmas at all.
On Boxing Day, my siblings and I walk to the other side of Edinburgh (via the Topshop sale, for our sins) to join my dad and his partner for a second Christmas lunch. My dad isn't mega keen on the whole roast dinner setup, so will often cook a Portuguese style dish. This year he made a very meaty cataplana (it typically has clams, prawns and white fish, but my brother really dislikes fish) with melt-in-your-mouth pork loin and top quality chorizo and black pudding in a rich tomato and wine sauce. It was delicious and went down nicely with the free flowing cava!
The food has been amazing and there's been much more too: home-made ice cream, chestnut cream whip, leftover combinations, brunch out with friends. I'm definitely feeling fooded out and ready for some nice fresh salads and fruit!