- Old-school china jelly moulds - you could probably find these in charity shops, but they are also available at Liberty, if you discover that they've all been bought by DIY enthusiasts to make hanging planters from.
- Tea-towels - you can never have enough. I like these stoat and muntjac ones, and these cat ones.
- Despite being besotted with my cat, I'm not a huge fan of cat motif stuff, but I love this cat and crow kitchen roll holder. Although it seems a shame to use it and cover up the lamppost. Maybe you could use it as a jewellery tree instead?
- A waterproof notebook seems like a good idea for those of us who do our best thinking in the shower.
- Good jam is such a joy, especially in interesting flavours like black currant and sloe gin, or toffee apple.
- I wouldn't say no to a Georgian silver nutmeg grater. If you were planning to burn £900 that you didn't have another use for.
- A subscription for a monthly charcuterie, cheese or whisky delivery.
- A freshly air-freighted black truffle.
- A wicker banneton.
- A cold smoke generator.
- A Thermapen.
- To be honest, pretty much anything on souschef.co.uk would be very welcome to most food-obsessed types.
- An old-fashioned waffle iron.
- I'd also really like a replacement for my beloved linen apron, but I can't find one. It's a very particular design, like this but with a button at the back instead of the crossover.
- A Pillivuyt coffee bowl. I have 3 and they are damn useful, but a set of 4 would be more useful again.
- An egg-rack. It's a much better idea to store your eggs at room temperature, if possible, but I want something decorative to put mine in.
The first item to get an outing are these venison pithiviers, a very simple savoury pie. The traditional French pithivier has a sweet almond filling and a pattern of curved lines as decoration that sort of looks like a sun, so I thought a savoury winter-themed version would be nice. I made a very Christmassy sort of filling of venison studded with cranberries and porcini mushrooms plumped up in whisky, with some pistachios for colour and crunch and mustard and breadcrumbs to lighten and bind. I made four palm-sized pies with the largest of my snowflake cutters, but I think they would be a charming Christmas nibble made bite-sized.
Venison and cranberry pithiviers (makes 4 large, 12 bite-sized)
1 shallot, finely minced
1tbs pistachios, chopped
1tbs dried cranberries
2tbs dried porcini mushrooms, broken into pieces
2tbs whisky (or brandy or sherry)
2tbs Dijon mustard
200g venison mince
2tbs dried breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
250g butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 180C.
Saute the shallot in the butter for a couple of minutes until translucent and allow to cool. Combine the cranberries and porcini mushrooms in a small bowl with the whisky and allow to plump up for 10 minutes.
Break up the venison mince and combine with the cooled shallot, cranberries and mushrooms, mustard and breadcrumbs, mixing with your hands until thoroughly combined. Add the pistachios (chop them up if you are making bite-sized pies) and season with salt and pepper. Divide the filling mixture into 4 balls.
Roll the pastry out, a bit thicker than you normally would for a pie, and cut out 8 large snowflakes (or circles).
Put 4 snowflakes onto a baking parchment-lined baking tray and top with the balls of filling. Brush the exposed pastry and the venison filling with a bit of beaten egg. For the lids, pick up the remaining snowflakes and carefully stretch the middle bit over your knuckles so that the points of the snowflake aren't distorted but there is a sort of pouch to enclose the filling. It sounds more difficult than it is... but that is why you roll the pastry quite thickly. Place the lid over the filling and press firmly all around it to firstly exclude airbubbles and secondly seal the pastry top to the bottom.
Brush the tops with more beaten egg and, with the point of a knife, gently score through the eggwash in a snowflake pattern, trying not to go all the way through to the filling.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes. We had them with warmed-up leftover red cabbage and steamed tenderstem broccoli.