When it comes to writing, editing and even photography, to quote Moilere, first I did it for love, then for a few close friends, then for money. When it comes to cooking, I’ve only ever done it for love and my friends kindly put up with the failures, the successes and the disasters.
For me, failure is anything from inedible to, it didn’t quite work out. Success is delicious and to be repeated. Disaster usually involves one of the emergency services, or a medical practitioner. During the last week or so, I’ve had some failures, as well as the Second Great Caramel Disaster. (NB. Following the First Great Caramel Disaster, I had to attend a walk-in medical unit.)
However, yesterday I had some success.
In 2007, I cooked my first ever full-on Christmas dinner. This may not seem like a milestone but for a nice Jewish girl from NW London, the mystery of bread sauce and stuffing was exactly that – a mystery. Bread sauce? How can you possibly make a sauce out of bread and milk?
Not only was it my first ever Christmas Dinner but I was cooking it for my in-laws and their friends. Ever supportive, as my mother-in-law certainly was, she was also a great cook and home-maker, so the bar was set high.
With great trepidation, I scouted around for recipes to ensure neither failure nor disaster and I found BBC Good Food Magazine December 2007 in which there was the best ever Christmas dinner menu.
Since then I have made exactly the same meal, with a few deviations, such as a killer cranberry sauce recipe courtesy of Rowley Leigh, and this year all stuffing will be cooked outside the bird unless someone gives me a damn good reason to do otherwise.
Yesterday, I made the chestnut and cranberry stuffing roll (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4968/chestnut-and-cranberry-roll) to be frozen till Christmas Eve. It is, I admit, a bit of a faff but it’s a success, has great wow factor, and the more times I do it the easier it gets.
These are the things I have learnt by previous failures to improve in this dish.
1 Use heavy-duty aluminium foil and use a pastry brush to apply melted butter to avoid ripping and creasing the foil.
3 However, if you can’t avoid gaps – and it’s jolly hard not to – fill the gaps with streaky bacon. The second image is the patched up version.
4 It seems to take longer to cook than the recipe says. This may be because of all the opening and closing of the oven at Christmas but worth noting.
Now, off to order my turkey!