Sunday, 26 December 2010
Christmas Feasting (part 1 - canapes)
I hope everyone has recovered from yesterday? Not too much stress or over-indulgence or travelling ridiculous distances?
I had a lovely day yesterday! I took full advantage of it just being us & Urchin at home, and the snowy weather, to make a Christmas dinner as I felt it should be done. We're not usually at home for Christmas, so I have never had an excuse to decorate. This year I bought a wreath for the door, decorated a tree (a small juniper that Paul is contemplating bonsai-ing) and hung mistletoe from the light fittings.
One of the things I really like about Christmas in this country is how deeply you feel the roots of the celebration. I can understand Christians getting upset about losing "the reason for the season", but the early church co-opted the existing winter solstice festivals, and many of the traditional Christmas trappings in the UK are definitely pre-Christian.
Mistletoe, holly, ivy, mulled cider and a table groaning under the weight of roasted meats - these things have absolutely nothing to do with a child being born in a stable in Bethlehem, probably in spring, and everything to do with the frozen darkness of midwinter in Europe. And I think it is fab.
So as well as enjoying the faintly twee aspects of Christmas: cups of cocoa adorned with candy canes; carol singers coming through the neighbourhood; brandy and cinnamon in everything, I was also planning my menu.
We'd decided to have the main meal in the evening, but with some champagne and fortifying canapes during the day. A couple of weeks ago I was at Borough Market, and bought some gorgeous little Scottish oatcake canape cases, which I filled with a cauliflower puree and topped with salmon roe. This was a nod to a New Year's Eve dinner that I made for Paul about 6 years ago, which stood out as the best New Year's either of us has ever had. I also bought a jar of baby figs marinated in brandy, and wrapped a fig and a lump of stilton in proscuitto and baked them until the cheese softened and the ham began to crisp. We had a bottle of Moet. I opened my presents (Paul's sadly haven't arrived yet). It was the perfect start to Christmas.