I know it’s only the 11th November. But my workload has been intense this week and I haven’t had time to cook much. I have actually been experimenting with things on crumpets, and am inclined to suggest that there is nothing better in the whole world in terms of ease and comfort than a toasted English crumpet, with a slab of mature cheddar melted on the top and a sprinkle of black pepper (Good variations include drizzling mustard or marmite on top). So when I am on a short break from analysing supermarkets (at least the work is food related), I think I deserve to start planning Christmas dinner.
Last year I cooked goose with a parmesan and pine nut stuffing, which was delicious. The problem with geese is no leftovers, which is a problem for me, and lots of smoke, which is a problem for my guests. I will once again be cooking in a flat, and really don’t want a repeat performance of last year, when the whole apartment filled up with smoke and grandma had to be taken out on the ( 1 x 3 m) balcony. Thus I’m thinking I’ll wait till I have a country house with better ventilation before I try it again.
I don’t dislike turkey. In fact, my strongest childhood Christmas memory is waking up to that sweet, gamey smell, as my mum always used to cook it the night before. My little sister isn’t keen however, and I sort of think it is a shame to have something so normal when there are glamorous options out there.
In The Observer Food Monthly, Nigel Slater has some beautifully photographed suggestions. His simple quail with spices and honey looks wonderful. I do like the idea of serving individual birds, although you still have the no-leftovers problem. This issue has some good vegetarian suggestions including a Christmassy salad of chicory, pomegranates and blue cheese, which I promise to try out soon. I love that just throwing a handful of pomegranate seeds on a plate makes you feel Christmassy.
I’m also considering duck, though I haven’t seen the perfect recipe yet. It’s luxurious and tasty without the fat content of a goose. I’ve no idea what to do in terms of stuffing though, and am not sure about how well duck will go with my usual sage, pork and onion. Christmas isn’t complete without that stuffing. Nor will I be able to go without the red cabbage in Nigella Christmas, which is cooked in Pomegranate juice. This method gives cabbage which is a perfect mixture of sharp and sweet. If anyone out there is reading this, I’d love to know if you’ve started planning your Christmas feast yet, and what you’re planning on serving.