Sunday, 23 December 2012

G is for Goose

I'm posting this using a photo from a couple of years ago because I know that in two days time when I finally heave the goose out of the Aga that I will not take a picture.

Our goose is being cooked in the roasting oven of our Aga (approx. 240ºC) for three and a half hours*.

To prep, I cut off some of the excess fat around the neck without cutting into the skin.  I then put an onion (peeled and chopped into quarters), a big handful of sage and half a lemon in the bird.  I don't stuff any bird as (a) it cooks quicker and (b) it's much easier getting the stuffings out of a square casserole dish--if you use good ingredients there's more than enough taste.

I then prick the skin with a carving fork, being careful not to pierce the flesh and then season well.  I then put a butter paper on the top of the goose (to stop the foil sticking) and cover the whole bird with a foil tent before putting it (on a roasting rack, in a roasting tin) into the oven.

About half way through cooking, I take out the tin and transfer the whole bird to a new roasting tin using big lifting forks pictured below, recover with the foil and put it back in the oven.
This is because a goose is incredibly fatty and gives off the most phenomenal quantity of fat.  The fat in the first roasting tray can aside to cool before you decant it into containers to freeze and use for your roast potatoes in the new year, with the usual amount used for the roasties for that day.

25 minutes before your goose's cooking time is up take off the foil tent to allow the skin to colour.

Once cooked, leave the bird to rest on the carving board for 15 minute.  That 15 minutes allows me to pour off the latest rendered fat, and use the meat juices to make the gravy.  I don't have goose stock so I tend to use a mix of chicken and pork stock as the base.

* Mine is a 13 lb goose.  A 10 lb goose would take three hours.  A temperature gauge should reach 74ºC.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

C is for Cute Cupcakes

Another idea from the Scandinavian Kitchen...this time for cute Christmas-themed cupcakes.

Tip a couple of cups of icing (confectioners') sugar into a bowl and stir in around two tablespoons of cold water a little at a time until you have a spreadable (but not too runny) to spoon this on the mini cakes.  

Using white fondant icing or a marshmallow, put on the head and use a little more of the icing to glue a Smartie hat to him. Using more moldable icing, give him a nose.  Use currants for the eyes and buttons.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

C is for Christmas Countdown

I'm getting ahead of Christmas by getting some things cooked and frozen.  Lots of things freeze well, and here are some of the items in my freezer:

  • Breadcrumbs for stuffings / bread sauce
  • Chillis
  • Gougères
  • Grated cheese
  • Gruyère popovers
  • Herbs in butter (tarragon and dill)
  • Red wine (that half a glass in the bottle that quickly turns into vinegar decanted into a bag); and
  • Yorkshire Puddings

My recipe for Yorkshire Puddings starts with heating your oven to its highest temperature with the tin you'll be using in the oven.  Then crack half the number of large eggs for the number of people having the puddings into a measuring jug, plus one more for the pot--so if you're making puddings for ten people you need six eggs.

See where the level comes up to and decant the contents into a bowl.  Then tip in plain (all-purpose) flour to the same level in the same jug and tip that onto the eggs,  Then fill the same jug to the same level with milk and pour into your mixing bowl.  Season and whisk all the ingredients together.  Set aside in a cool spot (out of reach of children and pets) for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile heat up lard or veggie oil in the tin you're using--be generous here.  I generally prefer individual tins but if you don't have them, a large roasting tin (without the rack) will work.  Heat the fat for at least 15 minutes.  It has to be smoking and the batter should sizzle when you ladle it into the tins.  If it doesn't sizzle then you may be a bit disappointed when you take out your Yorkshires later.

Mix the batter together again as it will have separated while standing, and ladle into the tin.

Individual Puddings
If you're using tin(s) with individual wells, put in enough batter so that it's just below the level of each well. Set the remaining batter aside, and then put the tin back carefully into the oven.  Shut the door and DO NOT OPEN for at least 15 minutes.  If you don't have an oven with a window, you just have to sweat it out!  Another reason why I make mine in advance...I can ditch any puds that aren't perfect!  Repeat, melting the fat and cooking the batter until it's all used up.

One Big One
Larger ones will take longer (up to 25 minutes) and obviously you pour all your batter into the one big tin. You can check after about 20 minutes and if it's not done, shut the door again carefully. Don't slam it!

At this stage I leave mine to cool and then freeze in plastic bags ready for the day they're needed. Then take out and either cook from frozen in a hot oven for around five minutes.

Or they can live in the fridge for up to five days and should be reheated in a hot oven (though won't take quite as long as the frozen ones).

Serve hot out of the oven with lashings of gravy (oh...and the rest of the dinner of course)!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

M is for Marzipan

The presents have been bought, the goose and turkey saddle ordered (a goose only really serves six adults) and we've unearthed some pork sausage meat from the freezer that will be perfect for the base of the chestnut stuffing.

And while the fruit cake base and royal icing are easy in my trusty Kenwood, I am buying my marzipan ready rolled for Christmas Cake.

This is not just because I'm prone to be lazy.  Ready rolled means I can stick my marzipan to the cake (with smooth apricot jam melted in the microwave) and ice immediately.
If you make your own you should stick it to the cake four days before you want to ice it otherwise you can get grease spots coming through.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

D is for Decorations

I believe lots of little touches are much nicer than oversized commercial decorations, especially in bedrooms.

So these sweet santa pincushions courtesy of Crazy Haberdasher are work-in-progress...

...and I've downloaded these Nutcracker designs from The Floss Box.

And because I don't crochet, I've bought these snowflakes from Etsy to hang on invisible thread inside our windows.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Thursday, 22 November 2012

P is for Pumpkin Jar

I love apothecary jars and have lots in various shapes.  This one came from eBay and is being filled with chocolate and sweets for Halloween treats.

Monday, 19 November 2012

T is for Thanksgiving

Not often, but I have thrown the odd Thanksgiving for my friends from the other side of the pond. And Martha's free ebook is a good place to start on the recipe front.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

N is for Napkin Rings

It's always difficult to spot whose napkin belongs to whom...

...but silver (plate) rings from eBay work well to help you spot your napkin.  I like a collection of individual, mismatched ones that immediately look as if they're family heirlooms.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saturday, 10 November 2012

S is for a Start

Over the years, I've been very fortunate to attend some great parties and been on the receiving end of some fantastic hospitality. Now, with a home in which I can finally entertain more than two people, I have aspirations of starting a home entertainment business. Until finances allow however, I will have to content myself with this blog. 

Over the coming weeks, months (and hey...maybe even years...but let's not get beyond ourselves), I hope to be able to share crafts, ideas, recipes, purchases and tips that will help you entertain easily.