Friday 28 December 2012

"Bauble and squeak" after a very merry Christmas

So after all the anticipation and frantic preparations, Christmas Day is over already...why does it always fly by so quickly?!

I hope you had a wonderful day eating, drinking and being generally very merry with your loved ones. My best boys and I had a fun and relatively low-key time together at our little London flat cuddled up on the sofa scoffing lots of chocolates and watching all the seasonal TV specials.

I'd bought my man an Apple TV for Christmas, so we also spent a fair chunk of the day FaceTiming our families on the big screen, listening to our playlist of Christmas tunes in surround sound, and working our way through Heroes season #1 on Netflix (which incredibly he's never watched before)!

Who knows whether I've been a very good girl this year, but either way I was certainly a very lucky girl this's just a few of the foodie goodies I received! Not only did my boyfriend buy me the Le Creuset shallow casserole dish I'd lusted over for months, he even bought me a matching oven glove to save me from regularly burning myself! Now I have a blowtorch (and arm protection!) I think it might be time to start testing out creme brûlée recipes...?!

He also made me this amazing iPad case from some of my Instagram photos! Many of these snapshots are from #Project366, plus other seminal moments from 2012 such as meeting Tom Kerridge and Joy the Baker!

I'm not going to lie, I got somewhat stressed preparing the Christmas Day roast for the first time, and after a few timing issues lunch was eventually served at around 3pm!

As ever, there are a few things I wish I could have improved for the big feast - the goose breast crown was drier than I expected and ironically the leeks in my potato dauphinoise leaked out water whilst cooking and made the cream sauce split. However, everything tasted pretty decent and my orange and honey roasted carrots were the best I've ever made, so I guess on balance I should count this as a success!

Undeniably the star of the show was our full-sized version of The Little Loaf's chocolate and amaretti mini Yule logs. The flourless cocoa sponge was perfectly light, and I loved the surprise when you discovered a crunchy chunk of amaretti in the cream mixture (which we had omitted the chocolate from, in order to provide a stronger flavour contrast). The recipe produced more chocolate ganache and amaretti cream than we required, but I'm not complaining as it makes an amazing topping for my chocolate chip scones!

My cookery book collection has expanded once more, with Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals, Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem and Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries 2 now taking pride of place on the shelf. All three culinary tomes are packed with enticing recipes, styled and photographed so skilfully that we food-bloggers feel admiration and envy in equal measure.

Nigel Slater's descriptive writing is so delightful that he can even make a concoction using the leftovers cluttering up your fridge sound appetising. On Boxing Day I knocked up a variation on his "Bauble and Squeak", a traditional post-Christmas dish which I'd tasted before but never made myself. Kitchen Diaries 2 does provide a list of suggested ingredients with measurements if cooking this from scratch, but the beauty of the classic Bubble is that you can use whatever roasted remnants are to hand...I even threw in the final slice of chicken and leek pie!

Mash all of your leftovers together in a large bowl, and then mould into equally sized patties. As well as the pie mixture, my "baubles" contained shredded goose meat, sausage and sour cherry stuffing, squished dauphinoise potatoes, crushed carrot, plus some chopped apple and spinach that I sautéed for a few minutes first.

Heat some oil (or even better, fat from your Christmas roast) in a heavy pan, and when it starts to sizzle add in the baubles. Flatten them into burger-shaped patties, leave to fry for a few minutes and then flip over once a crust has formed. I also fried a few sage leaves at the same time for extra flavour.

Usually Bubble and Squeak is purely pan-fried, but Nigel Slater suggests baking your patties in the oven after you've crisped up the edges. He leaves his baubles in for 45 minutes, but if you're using ingredients that have all been cooked once already then you just need to ensure they are heated all the way through (mine were ready after just 30 minutes at 200C).

We had some meaty gravy spare which was soaked up well by the savoury cakes, but I suspect these baubles would also tasted good served alongside the festive pickles and chutneys, with a slab of cheese melted on top, or simply on a bed of green salad if you're feeling like you've over-indulgenced enough for one year!

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