Happy New Year to you all!
I hope that you had a thoroughly enjoyable time over the festive period whether you were home or away, with friends or with family. In particular, I hope that you enjoyed no end of delicious goodies. I know I did. Apologies for my silence over the past week. I did by the way post the mushroom soup recipe on the 27th and not the 21st as the blog seems to think so haven't been silent for THAT long! The reason for the silence is sadly not due to a week of merriment in Scotland as planned, but rather a week hibernating with my parents nursing a rather nasty chest infection. So unfair. I was upset to miss out of the Scottish fun but it was good to be home on the Isle of Wight too. New Year's Eve was therefore a quiet affair spent with my sister and parents - quails eggs with celery salt followed by fillet steak, cooked by my wonderful mother. We all fell asleep in chairs before midnight though did re-awake just in time to toast in the New Year and watch the hundreds of fireworks displays that lined the South coast from the sitting room window which overlooks the sea.
2007 was a mixed year for me. There were some serious highs (South Africa, the birth of my youngest nephew, holidays in France, Tresco and Madeira, my father's 80th birthday party) as well as some fairly difficult lows (the less said the better), but aren't all years like this? One of the most significant events of the year though, was starting to write Food, Glorious Food! If you had asked me at the start of the year, I probably wouldn't have even known what a blog was, let alone imagined that I might start to write one or interact with fellow bloggers. I can hardly remember what made me start. But I am so glad that I did. I've been thrilled to receive your comments as time has gone by - you don't need me to tell you how wonderful it is to interact with like-minded food enthusiasts.
As I've spent the past week being spoiled by my mother and cooking not a thing (yes - I really was feeling bad), I thought I'd use this opportunity to recap on a few of this year's favourite or most memorable recipes -
This wonderful chocolate mousse cake was the first recipe that was posted on the blog. Its discovery was in some way, what inspired me to start the blog. It was so divine, I wanted to tell everyone about it. Not that anyone read that first entry. Hence I am flagging it up now. I have made it several times since, impressing guests on each occasion!
No rocket science here. But I feel that Nigella's 'recipe' for poussin with sweet potatoes was something of a eureka moment for me this year. Living on my own, I sometimes feel that I miss out on the joys of a Sunday roast unless I entertain. There are times when I don't fancy company, but do fancy a proper roast chicken. Yet roasting a whole chicken for one is just crazy (unless you want to eat leftovers for every meal for the rest of the week). A little poussin can be popped in the oven for 45 minutes on return from work and tastes as good as the 'real thing'. Brilliant for a post work dinner party too - people are always impressed at having their own bird and amazed you have produced such a thing in such a short space of time (little do they know that this is one of the simplest dishes that exists).
This wonderfully-coloured damson ice-cream was a revelation in several ways. Firstly it was the first thing that I made in my new ice-cream maker, given to me by three knowing friends for my birthday. Great pressie, girlies, thank you! Secondly, it was the first time I actually enjoyed damsons (I have since enjoyed the damson gin made with the same batch of fruit). Thirdly, I love this pudding due to its reflection of the season. It heralded the start of autumn yet was entirely appropriate for those last days of Indian summer.
There is not a great deal to say about these spanking fresh mackerel. They evoked brilliant memories of my childhood seaside holidays and tasted brilliant, cooked in the simplest way possible. A reminder, as if it was needed, that fresh is best and that when you have fresh, the simpler is almost always the better (in my book).
Another special food moment for me this year was cooking my first ever ham. It was a pretty large bit of ham too. Why was this special? I'm not sure really. Family tradition is such that we have a hot ham on Christmas Eve each year. My mother always cooks it and it fills the kitchen with a gloriously festive smell - so welcoming to come home to after a long journey. Over the years as we have all grown up, each of her children have asked for and used this same recipe for their family Christmasses. For some reason, cooking my first ham felt somehow symbollic. I experienced a sense of independence greater than when buying my first home or marvelling at my first pay packet. I think perhaps the stages of my life have always been defined through food.
Last but by no means least is this pheasant casserole. It doesn't look pretty, I'll admit. But it really is delicious. Braised slowly in cider, the second time I cooked this, I meddled a little. I cooked it for longer on a lower heat and added pan-roasted Chanteray carrots and shallots for the final half hour. It was (even if I say so myself) quite superb.
And so what of 2008? More of the same, I hope. Inspired by the seasons, by my library of cookbooks, by the skill, creativity and humour of fellow food bloggers I shall enjoy my kitchen and the experiments that take place within it. Here is to another year of eating well!