New Years Eve
I’ve tried the whole going to London, see the fireworks NYE. I’ve tried the going out concept, but found it expensive and too crazy. In my opinion the only way to spend New Years Eve is a dinner party, interspersed with cooking, singing and champagne. Luckily I had one such offer from the organist, and on top of that he wanted me to come early to help him cook. I was always going to love a kitchen that had an oven that had the appeal of an aga but with the functional qualities of an electric oven, and on top of that a fridge the size of a large man. My first job was to make the bread and butter pudding (my contribution to the meal. Same principle applied as to my custard from christmas, except this time it had a whole load of butter added to the mix as well. I left the butter, cream, milk (I know heart attack on a plate) mix to infuse for about an hour with a squashed orange and some basil leaves and a lot of vanilla extract. Meanwhile I mixed whole eggs (not egg yolks as you would expect for custard) and sugar in a bowl and added the warm milk mix, then poured the whole lot over some bog standard bread in a bowl-mould and cooked in a bain marie for 40mins-1hr. The remaining custard I used as a side and I just put the pudding aside till later when I heated it up. (for extra cheesy factor I turned the pudding out with a sprig of holly on top – but this isn’t necessary)
Meanwhile the organist had been co-ordinating the peeling and chopping of potatoes for Dauphinoise, as well as making a port and butter sauce for the main sauce (Duck – this was basically my calories for the week in a meal).
I was then delegated to add salt, pepper, lots of chopped garlic and a bay leaf to the potatoes before they were smothered in a cream and milk mix, sprinkled with a little cheese and put in the oven. Slowly other members of the party arrived while we made crab mayonnaise (amazingly delicious, simply red crab meat, mayonnaise, lemon salt and pepper but great on blinis) and the organist made a dill sauce and a scallop and bacon salad with a lime dressing, while I chopped some of Heston’s tea smoked salmon from wait rose which worked surprisingly well and had a nice tea flavour.
At some point during these proceedings R arrived to prepare the second pudding (I told you this meal was a mammoth ) for which he grated a mixture of marzipan and mincemeat over a puff pastry sheet before creating a puff lattice over the top to be cooked later in the evening.
We were strictly not allowed to start the champagne drinks reception till 8pm but that didn’t stop us from having a cheeky beer (white wine for the girls) while we added the finishing touches, such as the dill for the top of the blinis.
I think I made the mistake of eating too much of the crab blinis during the hour long drinks reception, because I found it hard to finish all my food, which for me is a rare occurrence. We started with a simple seared scallops and bacon salad with a lime dressing.
Then I watched the maestro at work as he pan fried duck breasts, heated up the sauce and steamed some green veg.
Our main was duck with a port cherry sauce, dauphinoise potatoes and steamed greens. We then were allowed a short break while we played a game recently made popular by Sherlock, who plays it at Watson’s stag do.
Then the bread and butter pudding and mincemeat lattice and if that wasn’t enough (well I was certainly defeated by this point) we finished with enough cheese to feed at least 100 people and wonderful ‘cheese accompaniments’ and port. When it eventually got to midnight, for some reason we decided to ring the new year in not only with Auld Lang Syne, but also with drunk christmas carol sight-reading……musicians…..
The only way to cope with food/wine hangover of New Years Day, is to cook brunch. The organist was well prepared for this and provided us with bacon, scrambled eggs/smoked salmon hash, hot buttered toast, sausages and garlic mushrooms all served with copious amounts of coffee (I think I had about 5 cups). We were meant to be following this with a hearty New Years Day walk……
(Later that day I was forced to eat more food – I know poor me – and was introduced to a very tasty restaurant next to the Royal Opera House, La Ballerina. Had an amazingly tasty Aubergine Parmigiana – really good tomato sauce – and a wonderful marsala Zabiglione, light and frothy – I recommend checking this place out if you are nearby).