Well first thing first, Happy New Year, Bon année.
And what a start to the year it has been. Mostly I have seen it from under a duvet, yes the far reaching influence of influenza has visited upon us and laid us waste. Moo started the sofa snuggle on the 26th of December and I joined her on the 29th after we had dropped Hubs off for his all to swift return to Macau, and barring a couple of trips out to the doctors and the pharmacy there we have stayed. There isn’t much to tell as I’m sure that most of you have your own tales of splutters and sneezes not too dissimilar to ours.
Before Hubs departure and before the bugs had us completely housebound, we did manage a dinner with friends when, despite a small confusion over the venue, a good time was had by all and my reputation as a ‘super chef’ was done no harm on production of the gastronomic marvel that is the humble Yorkshire pudding. It still amazes me that despite the closeness of our two nations the distance in the cuisine is vast. But if it keeps up my, slightly undeserved, reputation as a master chef then who am I to argue? I was still a little bemused at the astonishment that the humble puds produced, I mean I know that they are nice, lovely even when just right, but surely a nation so famed for its cookery has its own equivalent. Apparently not.
My education in French cookery is far from complete and really is something I should do more to appreciate and learn but, at the risk of being extradited, I do find the food a little on the boring side. The sauces are a delight and have incredible depth of flavour and interest, but the dishes themselves can be somewhat bland underneath the spectacular sauce. And despite my adventurous nature in the kitchen there are some things from the meat shelves that will remain there rather than being brought home. When they say that ‘the only part of the pig the French don’t eat is the oink’ they are really not joking.
The ‘spice’ of life is certainly not something that is embraced in the vast majority of local dishes I have tried. Whilst herbs are used extensively spices are eschewed and the thought of using MORE than 1 at a time is the stuff of a mad-woman’s dreams and certainly not something suitable for the purist’s palate. Fortunately most of the consumers of my sometimes experimental cookery are not purists and are more than happy to discover the novelty of my strange and often peculiar creations.
My ‘Christmas concoctions’ have become a bit of a hit with friends and neighbours and I have to keep thinking up new ideas to keep people guessing what on earth I will come up with next. And to be honest right up until the moment I start baking I’m never really very sure myself. But this year I surprised even myself with the addition of a small amount of chilli flakes to the mince pie mincemeat and I opened up a whole new world of possibility with just a hint of tarragon kneaded into the cookie dough.
The problem I have now is that people keep asking me for recipes. Its not that they are closely guarded family secrets handed down through the generations it’s just that I don’t actually write things down when I’m cooking, so not only is it darned near impossible for exactly the same thing to be recreated should it turn out to be a winner, but its also pretty hard to tell someone else how to do it.
For years I maligned my poor mother when she responded to my questions of ‘How much of this do you put in?’ with a vague ‘A bit’ or the equally frustrating ‘just enough’ rather than the precise measurement I was seeking. But here I am some years later responding in exactly the same way, (and incidentally being maligned in exactly the same way). So to my mother, and all of those who have asked me those same questions, I apologise unreservedly.
But as it is the new year I have made a resolution which is not something I usually do, and the resolution is this:
I hereby resolve that when I am cooking something new I will write down the ingredients, and quantities thereof.
Well I’ll try.
And try I must because along with my resolution to write down my recipes I have decided to collate then into what I hope will become a quite handy little cook book which might end up languishing on my shelf gathering flour dust , or it might just end up being my very first attempt at a proper kind of book.
Of course once the effects of flu have worn off completely I may decide that this is a silly idea borne from a high temperature and even higher levels of medication, but then again, maybe not.
Now what would be the exact measure for ‘the amount of champagne left in the bottle after couple of Christmas drinkies’?