S had a cooking splurge at the beginning of the holidays, as well as her signature shortbread and the christmas cake I mentioned last week, she also made giant gingerbread men (using a cutter I picked up on a whim from Lakeland). She used this recipe, multiplied by one and a half, as we wanted three giant gingerbread men and we didn’t think just one lot of dough would be enough (as it turned out there was some dough left over, so not increasing the amount of dough may have worked out after all). She did however have to end up adding extra flour, as the dough was way too sticky. But the result was nice, I like my gingerbread more chewy than crunchy and this was definitely that, although by the next day it had morphed into more soft than chewy.
I also managed to get into the kitchen (excuse the bad photo), making Spinach and Feta Rugelach from Molly on the Range, which is a brilliant, brilliant book (part recipe – and the recipes are gorgeous – part memoir). Thanks to Oprah you can find the Rugelach recipe here. As in the week before with the mince pies, I cheated and used shop bought pastry and I am beginning to really wish I wouldn’t do this! The pastry was okay but I know that even my not particularly brilliant homemade pastry does taste better. Anyway, it’s really the filling that makes these, spinach, cream and feta, ooh I could eat that stuff neat!
Sunday aka Christmas Day
I remember when I was a twenty-something and to some extent when I was a thirty-something, I wanted everything on Christmas Day to be cooked from scratch, now I am a
more experienced jaded forty something, nah, not having any of that. So there were only two things cooked from scratch for the big meal this year (and to be honest, the ‘big meal’ wasn’t particularly big either, it was, as pretty much usual, a quiet Christmas).
As a rule I don’t tend to blog about recipes that I’ve already cooked before and I have made the main meat dish before but this was so long ago, it wasn’t just pre – blogging, I was even living in a different flat, so I think I can break my self imposed rule for this one. For the main meat dish I made an absolutely vintage Nigella recipe, Ham in Coca Cola. I made it originally back in the day when I was very much a baby cook because even though, even back then I wasn’t much of a meat eater, I just couldn’t resist the recipe because it had coca cola in (my total weak spot). So I made it for just me and K (the kids were just twinkles in our eyes just then) and to be honest, I don’t think I particularly liked it even then but K did.
So, fast forward to menu planning for Christmas dinner 2016 and whereas old twenty-something / thirty – something Jo would have spent hours and hours pouring over her vast collection of recipe books to decide what to cook, forty-something Jo vaguely remembers something she’s cooked before, Googles it, even though she still has the cookbook with the recipe in and then goes “okay, I’ll cook that then”, the apathy may have been dripping off me somewhat.
We had ham last year for Christmas too, well, K and the kids did, forty-something me knows that there’s no point now trying to convince myself that I’m going to eat great big hunks of meat, I think it was another Nigella recipe too, although I can’t remember which one (it wasn’t the coca cola one though) and it did work quite well. I’ve given up cooking birds (ie chickens, it certainly wouldn’t be a turkey or a goose), as I hate the waste with that carcass and just cooking chicken breasts is boring, a beef joint would be an option but a bit expensive for us, so ham it is.
And this year’s ham was, well K liked it, S (the teenager) liked it and Z (the youngest and fussiest) liked the meat but not the outside. I had veggie sausages.
The only other thing made from scratch was spiced red cabbage, sorry, no photo, it didn’t look particularly photogenic, I liked it, K ate it, the kids didn’t. I’m not sure I’m going to rush to make that recipe again.
As for the Christmas cake
You may recall, last week, that S made the Christmas cake (recipe here) but she wouldn’t let anyone cut into it until Christmas day. Well, it was duly cut into and both kids have been working their way through it, even K, the Christmas cake hater managed most of a slice but, me personally (don’t tell S this), I’m not sure I liked it. It was absolutely not down to S’s cooking more the recipe. I think K managed to actually eat a nearly whole slice for the same reason I wasn’t actually that keen on it, I like my Christmas cake packed dense with fruit, so dense in fact, you could take it up Everest for a snack, that sort of dense, whereas this cake wasn’t. Whereas K doesn’t normally like Christmas cake because it’s too densely fruity. This was also a teetotal Christmas cake, as S is completely puritanical about booze (obviously, as a 13 year old, she wouldn’t be drinking anyway but she swears she won’t as an adult and even disapproves of it in Christmas cake) and so something was missing a bit. Also, this recipe uses chestnut puree, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of nuts, although I’m trying to eat them more often but chestnut puree in a Christmas cake, was for me at least, a step too far.