Winterval Dinner: Sorted

Those of you who are going to be home alone over the holidays may like to know that there will once again be foodie blogging here. I have sorted out something to amuse myself in lieu of roasting children over an open fire, or whatever it is us wicked witches were supposed to do before health and safety legislation put an end to all of our fun.

I have Tybalt to thank for that. That’s Small Tybalt, who lives with my friend Marjorie just down the road, not Big Tybalt who occasionally pesters my friend Seanan in San Francisco. Cats are pretty smart creatures, and Tybalt is a dab hand with the TV remote. A few days ago he pounced on it and gave Marjorie a heavy hint as to what he might like for Winterval. What came on screen when he pressed the buttons was an ad for this.

You see, everyone is doing turducken this year, so Aldi have decided to go one better and add some goose to the mix. Thus I have a fine four-bird roast to cook. This, I am sure, will be yummy. And because I thought to peer around the rest of the store while I was there I also have a guinea fowl to roast for new year.

You may be thinking that this is all very lazy of me, and you’d be right. I really ought to cook more stuff from scratch, so I’m going to make an effort for the appetizer. If all goes well, there will be chestnut and mushroom pâté. This required me to buy a small bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream, which made me feel like a right old maid, but one does have to have the right ingredients and I wasn’t going to buy a whole bottle of really good sweet sherry just for this.

I should also try to do something imaginative with the vegetables. Goose fat and potatoes may be involved. But I think I might also have a go at a seemingly impossible culinary task — making Brussels sprouts edible.

Green fingered types such as my mum and Mark Charan Newton will doubtless say that this is all about getting them fresh from the garden. However, I have no garden in which to grow them, and long experience has taught me that where plants are concerned my fingers are decidedly black, so instead I have to resort to culinary trickery. There has to be a way of making them better than just solid lumps of boiled cabbage. I have some ideas (which is, of course, very dangerous).

Meanwhile, back with the old maid bit, while I was in Tesco getting the sherry they were, as is inevitable at this time of year, playing jolly Christmas songs. Thus I heard Noddy Holder sing this:

Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she’s up and rock ‘n’ rollin’ with the rest

I spotted a couple of young girls, maybe 9 or 10, dancing in the aisles and singing along, which I guess goes to show that the old songs really are the best. But it also reminded me that rock ‘n’ roll would have been close to being old hat when their grandmothers were kids. You need new lyrics, Noddy!

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21 Responses to Winterval Dinner: Sorted

  1. Shred, and stir-fry with smoked bacon. There are many other options (hmm – with blue cheese, perhaps…?), but that’s the most-different-from-boiled-lump that I’ve encountered, this side of raw-in-salad. Also, yummy. (But then I like ‘em anyway.)

    In other news, I have a Tybalt-cat in my current work-in-progress. Which allows my narrator a “They call me Mr Tybs!” moment, which made me happy.

    • Cheryl says:

      I’ve found a recipe that involves frying them with garlic and various herbs that might work, but the blue cheese sounds very tempting.

      Books need more cats. Looking forward to it.

  2. arkessian says:

    Roast them, with bacon and apple, or with spices to your taste (I’ve used garam masala before now…)

  3. If you don’t want your Brussels sprouts to taste like boiled cabbage, don’t boil them. Roast them.

    My favorite Brussels sprouts recipe: http://www.kitchenkonfidence.com/2010/12/golden-brussels-sprouts/

    Sprouts prepared this way are among my favorite vegetables.

    • Cheryl says:

      Interesting, but I’d need to check on oven temperatures. There’s rather a lot of roasting going on already. The stove top is free for frying.

  4. Neil says:

    Cheryl – I’m one of those oddities that actually loves the flavour of unadulterated brussels sprouts, but I’ve had them done a few fancy ways too. As Chaz says, they go great with bacon. And they’re also nice with a little cumin or with a touch of garlic and ginger.

  5. Martha says:

    Salted salmon tarte

    Roast boned & rolled leg of lamb stuffed with mushroom duxelle
    Red wine gravy
    Puree potatoes – I know roast is trad, but I love mash with this gravy

    Pain d épice avec potiron with butter & cream cheese icing

    I’ll be here with only Madame Neri – Does that count as alone?
    - probably not in her opinion

    See you (here) on Sunday

  6. Mark says:

    Tis true sprouts are wonderful right from the garden. I’ve also had wonderful sprouts on the continent, too, so I’d probably state that anywhere that isn’t a British supermarket will provide decent sprouts. Anywhere, in fact, where they’re grown for flavour rather than for transportation or a long shelf life. Then you don’t have to disguise them with bacon or interesting sauces!

    Perhaps a local allotment scheme, if it’s not too late? Many communities, particularly around the city, tend to have a day where all the allotment owners gather together to sell of excess produce. Worth having a look around at least.

  7. Anne K Gray says:

    I’ve had some nice brussell sprouts pan-fried or roasted, but my favorite way of cooking them is still the way my mother taught me: remove the outside leaves, trim the stem, then cut an x into the bottom of the stem so it is separated into quarters to a depth of at least 1/4 inch into the sprout, to let the heat into the center (deeper if they’re bigger). Put in a pan of lightly salted water to soak for a while (10 minutes to half an hour), then bring water to a boil and boil for 8 minutes or until they are bright green and a fork enters with only a little resistance.

    Growing up we ate them with mayonaise but lately I sometimes use lemon juice.

  8. CarolC says:

    The best way to eat Brussels sprouts is to pretend you are a giant eating a cabbage :-D

  9. I love Brussel Sprouts! You can steam them rather than boiling (in a covered pot in the microwave serves perfectly well), and serve with butter.

    I never boil anything these days, unless some sort of soup stock is involved.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Goodness, people, next you’ll be telling me that you love cabbage.

    • Martha says:

      Fresh white cabbage raw with olive oil, sea salt & black pepper
      Shredded and stir fried with diced smoked pork & mandarin segments
      Red cabbage braised with red wine spices and a chunk of smoked pork – wonderful 1 pot winter meal

      Shall I go on?

      • Cheryl says:

        Amazing, a whole collection of dishes that would be better if you removed the cabbage. ;-)

        • Chinese stir-fried pork wrapped in cabbage leaves. Very messy if you don’t have the cabbage leaves. :-)

          (And about the only way I’m willing to eat recognizable pieces of cabbage…)

        • Martha says:

          Also, Northern Italy Friuli style Minestrone –

          Diced onions, garlic, grated carrots, shredded white cabbage and diced smoked pork (We’re making our own here.) simmered in a strong stock made from smoked lamb and pork bones. You can add some pasta before serving. Fresh Cabbage rules!

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