A cold, dark December day in London, makes me really look forward to Christmas. It’s the one thing that uplifts the mood. The shorter days allow for Christmas lights to shine and dazzle and I love the festive mood everywhere you go. Notwithstanding there are some things about this season that I love and some that I loathe:
Love – the food, the smell mulled wine and Christmas spices, & a good reason to have festive gatherings of friends and family.
Loathe – excessive purchases, buying unwanted presents (succumbing to retail pressure) & the prospect of future waste.
But there are presents and there are presents…. This year, in full foodie flow, I have consciously bought mainly gourmet food as presents. Interesting, local, artisanal products from small producers. A recent discovery is “Guzzl” in Brixton village (which in itself is a recent find) run by Andrew with great zest and fervour for all things local and of excellent quality. I doubt anyone will turn up their noses at the gift hampers from Guzzl.
Nothing says Xmas to me more than gingerbread. This year, keeping with tradition, I made several batches for the boys, and to give away as gifts. It’s utterly calming decorating trays of gingerbread (try it with some background jazz and a glass of wine on hand). Sadly, at some point in the near future, the boys will say they are too old for this stuff.
This past month, we have been eating lots of vegetarian food, mostly because my father was visiting and he is a vegetarian. We ate a delicious vegetarian lasagne, an excellent recipe by Ina Garten, steamed greens with spring onions (identical to the Steamed fish Cantonese style ) and a vegetarian chawan mushi.
Surprisingly there wasn’t a squeak from the boys. I bought their silence by baking plenty of treats. Anyone for chocolate babka? It’s a delicious bread for this time of the year – a cross between brioche, panettone and a cinnamon swirl. I mostly followed Ottolenghi’s recipe from his excellent cookbook Jerusalem.
Our favourite bar snack
Padron peppers (easily available now at most supermarkets) is what I rustle up when I need a quick accompaniment to drinks. No recipe needed – fry the peppers in olive oil over high heat for about 2-3 minutes until blistered. Season heavily with flaky sea salt, drizzle on a dash more good olive oil and eat. Couldn’t be simpler.
As I repeat recipes already on the blog, I try to make corrections, as there are inevitably some typos that I missed out the first time. My thanks to readers who have pointed out errors. Slowly making my way to near perfect recipes!
Recipes this month
A real mish-mash of dishes – from a decadent mushroom soup, to easy scones and some healthy pasta.
I really don’t want anything for Christmas, but I recently flicked through Ottolenghi’s latest baking book – “Sweet”, which set the heart racing. I have told myself that I absolutely don’t need another baking book and I am still happily plodding through “Honey & Co: The Baking Book” and many others.
Love and cook, one cookbook at a time, until 2018!