We watched Love Actually last night for the first time this festive season and it breaks my heart Alan Rickman left for good. One of my favourite actors if I ever had one, his super responsive face made all the impact. And his voice, deep and warm, man, what a voice. And his English, well, to a person feeling shivers down her spine by spoken British English, it was just perfect. He needn’t speak anyway.
I promise I’ll keep paying attention, reasoning and questioning, reading books and columns throughout the New Year. I can’t do otherwise anyway. I hope to get absorbed in exciting stories, travels and food. Speaking of food, just recently my man and I hosted two dinners at home. We approached the planning and preparations with lots of care, good will and joy and were working hand in hand throughout. We seem to have had everything going for us: great guests and truly smartly selected courses. Everyone was delighted. Bravo for us!
On both occasions I was asked for the recipes and voilà, my darlings, here they are, all included in the links below.
Christmas Dinner Menu
The Leftoverist’s Thai Carrot Soup, a fantastic warm-up dish (minus broccoli and rice, plus tomatoes)
Sabrina Ghayour’s Citrus Spiced Salmon from her lovely book Persiana (minus rose petals and lime powder; used a 1,5 kg side of salmon, one piece not filets)
Nigel Slater’s Green Olive Pastries as a side dish – it’s the last recipe and shares a photo with the third one (I used a mix of Ligurian olives not the green ones)
Puy Lentil Salad as a side dish no. 2 from this helpful book (minus goat cheese and peppers plus feta and double on soaked dried tomatoes)
The Delicious Days’ Chocolate Heaven served with whipped cream, the safest, the most delicious and certainly the most popular chocolate cake in our household.
Post Christmas Dinner-for-friends Menu
Nigel Slater’s Brussels and Butternut Custards It’s the fourth recipe, you’ll have to scroll almost to the bottom (I used hokkaido instead of butternut – no peeling needed).
Rachel Roddy’s Spaghetti with Lemon, Parsley, Garlic and Chilli It might seem too vegetarian a selection especially for the main course but it was supposed to be a bit more relaxed after the Christmas binging for everybody.
Quince and Marzipan Tarte Fine An exquisit dessert. I poached and preserved the quince slices some two months beforehand to save them for this dessert.
Some additional points regarding the menus: every course was planned as to require minimum involvement away from the guests. Most of the food could be prepared in advance, some of it at least up to a certain point. It was completely no-fuss doable and non-exhausting. Several amuse-bouches can be served (and are not listed) and a variety of petit-fours or other sweat treats to accompany the main thing. In my opinion it’s very well worth it to serve one-bites, think cookies, kumquats, dates for instance, as they add even more vibrancy to the festive table.
Nevertheless, the rest of the holiday is for resting and enjoying it.
Happy New Year everybody!