29 December 2011

Where did Christmas go? Meal planning for New Year.

Did you see it? That was Christmas, that was!
Flipping heck!  Blink and you'd miss it - that's how Christmas was in our house this year.

We spent a good month working towards it and in an instant it's gone.  I suppose it's very much like making a good dinner.  You spend what seems like ages planning, shopping, then creating and cooking, only to have it devoured in less than five minutes, where after it becomes just a memory.  Makes you wonder why we do it, really!

Oh and I know I've yet to blog any of the recipes from last week.  All I can say is "patience, young Padawan!", they'll get blogged as soon as I can spend the time to do so!

I thought that, before I got cracking on blogging the lovely recipes that came out of the Christmas week, I'd better get on with blogging our plans for the week leading up to New Year's Day, or it would have passed us by without any word about it!

Son & heir very kindly passed his sniffles on to hubby, who contracted a nasty case of Man Flu over Christmas.  Fortunately, he was just on the upside of it when Christmas Day struck, so was able to enjoy what was, for us, a very quiet day.  I was determined that the nastiness should not breach my defences and so had nothing to do with it.  Right up until about 3 days ago, when I started feeling a bit rough.  However, I seem to have gained the upper hand without any noses starting to drip or hacking coughs becoming evident, and I'll settle for that!

Because of all this feeling below par, the first few days of this week have been a bit low-achieving on the meal front.  Consider it the culinary equivalent of treading water, before getting back into the kitchen in a big way again.

I got three new cookbooks over Christmas - Rose Prince's Kitchenella (my favourite cook book of all time) as a gift from son & heir, James Martin's Desserts as a gift from my brother & his family and Michel Roux's Eggs which I won in a competition run by Clarence Court (the source of the lovely Burford Brown).  So you can imagine, it wouldn't take long for me to get back in harness again - I've so much inspiration, from those three books alone!

Here's the plan for this week's menus :

Tues : High Tea including party nibbles like mini Duck Spring Rolls, Jalapeno Mozzarella
bites, Spicy Chicken Kebabs and a cheeseboard.
Weds : Pizza
Thurs : Sausage, Mash, Baked Beans & Peas
Fri : Lamb rice with golden onions
Sat : Tarragon chicken with gnocchi
Sun : Pork Ballotine, Parsnip & Sweet Potato roast, Baby Aubergines & Courgettes
in lemon vinaigrette followed by Chocolate Mousse
Mon : Tuna Pasta Bake.

So you can see how the week progresses to the crescendo of New Year's Day, followed by the return to "treading water" on the Monday!

Friday's Lamb rice with golden onions is a recipe taken from Rose Prince's Kitchenella and aside from sounding gorgeous, it looks really incredibly simple to prepare.  I'm all for "incredibly simple", right at the moment.

The Tarragon Chicken and gnocchi is one I've done before - quite recently - and it was very well received, so it will be a nice warm-up to the following day's culinary endeavours.

The Pork Ballotine is a home-brewed recipe, conjured up by hubby and I during a quiet moment on Boxing Day.  The idea is, to take a pork fillet and very nearly cut it in half but instead opening it out, then flattening it and thinning it until you achieve sufficient to wrap around some stuffing.

The stuffing will be formed primarily by laying a little stuffing mix of pork sausage meat with flavourings such as pine nuts, sage, prunes and sauteed onion along the pork, followed by slices of chicken breast, followed by a little more stuffing.  The whole lot is rolled, wrapped in cling film and cooked sous vide style, in the slow cooker.  Just prior to service, the ballotine is unwrapped and pan fried in butter to give it colour and flavour.  Well, that's the plan.

I'll be serving it with an Ottolenghi recipe - the Parsnip & Sweet Potato roast, on a few Rocket leaves for colour.  Extra vegetables will be provided by griddled baby aubergines and courgettes, dressed with a parsley & lemon vinaigrette.

Sounds good - we'll wait to see whether it IS good!

New Year's standby dessert : Xmas Pud!
I've also got some good dark chocolate left over from Boxing Day's Avocado Pie, which I intend on making into a chocolate mousse.  I've never made a chocolate mousse before, so fingers crossed it works out well!  I've found a super-easy recipe that's just melted chocolate, cream, egg yolks and beaten egg whites (in a nutshell) and I reckon that if I make it the day before, if it turns out to be disgusting, well I've always got the remainder of the Christmas pudding to break out!

Having detailed all that, you can probably understand why we're going for the easy option on the Monday!

We'll be trialling gluten-free corn pasta in the Tuna Pasta Bake, as normal wheat pasta has the unfortunate habit of giving me stomach pains, followed by some quite severe bloating.  I've got enough of a girth, without any bloating adding to the mix!  I seem to recall that we've tried this pasta previously and weren't impressed, but it will be interesting, nonetheless.

Apart from a few forays into "bottom of the fridge vegetable soup" (of which I've just made a Celeriac, Butternut Squash & Carrot version which was top notch), that seems to be everything on my "to cook" list for this week.

We've decided not to make New Year Resolutions this year, but to make New Year Culinary Intentions, instead.  Just got to finalise them, then we'll have a plan to work to for the year.  Love a good plan!


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