Yes folks, 2005 is over and done with. Bits of it were good, bits of it were bad, all of it is over, never more to return. Phew! Now we all have a clean page and a blank canvas with which to start 2006. There are new friends to be made, new places to visit, new tastes to experience and, as always, stuff to learn. And while we’re all here, I’d like to thank all Cooksister readers for their support and interest over the past year and wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2006. May you be treasured by your friends and family, may you experience success in your chosen career, may you have the health to enjoy this success and may at least one dream come true for you this year.
So how did you spend the last night of 2005? We were invited to our friends Roger & Lesley’s place in Kent for dinner, games and champagne, and that’s precisely what we got! [Eeeeek – have just realised that I still haven’t blogged LAST YEAR’S New Years Eve dinner at Antony’s house!! Will have to have a "One from the vaults" feature on Cooksister to catch up on little oversights like that… – Ed.] The evening got off to a good start with champagne around the Christmas tree, followed by a very civilised dinner.
My contribution was stuffed black mushrooms (see recipe below) and Lesley’s main course was a delicious fish pie. The recipe she used called for all the usual ingredients, plus pieces of smoked salmon mixed in with the mashed potato topping – I can seriously recommend this!! Her dessert was unusual and delicious – a fresh fruit salad topped with amaretti and creme fraiche so that the creme fraiche softens the biscuits, then sprinkled with brown sugar and microwaved until lukewarm. The result is decadent without being either too heavy or too sweet – and you can take comfort in the fact that you are getting some of your 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables!! This was followed in no particular order by various board games, cheese and biscuits (brie, gouda, Wensleydale with cranberries and Gloucestershire with spring onions – mmmmmm!) and a mad scramble to get the champagne corks ready to pop by midnight.
After toasting in the new year and watching the truly spectacular central London fireworks display, we moved on to more cerebral passtimes like, erm, Twister. ‘Nuff said.
As for New Year’s resolutions, yes I did make some and no, I’m not posting them here so that not only my close friends and family but also the blogosphere at large can laugh and nod knowingly when I don’t manage to keep them!! However, on the food and blogging front, there are a few that I will share, like blogging more regularly (the topic of many long discussions between me and Moira!), finally designing myself a banner for Cooksister, and doing some more photo albums, which are currently sadly neglected. I also plan to cook more adventurously, to bake more (bread, cakes, muffins, whatever) and to pay more attention to my presentaion of food. I will actually use all the exotic food that I buy rather than leave them on the shelf for weeks while I gaze at them lovingly and dream of dishes I’ll make, one day. Oh yes, and I will get a Saturday lunch booking at the Fat Duck if it kills me…
So to you and yours, from me and mine, here’s wishing you a truly memorably year, for all the right reasons. May your souffles never flop, may your sauces never curdle, and may you have friends and family to sit around your table with you to enjoy it all.
STUFFED BLACK MUSHROOMS
6 large black mushrooms
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a little olive oil for frying
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of white wine (or pale sherry, in my case)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
fresh chopped parsley
4-8 Tbsp melted butter
a few finely chopped fresh sage leaves
salt and black pepepr to taste
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and chop. Sautee the onion, garlic and chopped mushroom stalks in olive oil until the onion is soft, then remove from the heat. Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, herbs and cheese together. Add the wine and melted butter to the saucepan, then add the dry ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet and mould a large spoonful of the mixture into each one. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 mins, until the stuffing starts to turn golden. Serve on a crouton of fried bread (ideal for not wasting the delicious juices), or on a bed of mixed leaves (rocket works well), or both. The mushrooms can be stuffed and refrigerated a day in advance, which is a bonus if you are pressed for time.