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Tuesday 1.01

Lunch: spag with cherry tomatoes, feta, olives

Crostini with peppers, tomatoes, chilli and with olives anchovies, artichokes

Tagine with venison sausages, pears, potatoes, saffron etc; couscous with pine kernels and preserved lemon

Wednesday 2.01

Duck livers in sherry, rainbow chard and onion, rösti

Bread and butter pudding

Thursday 3.01

Broad bean hummus and pitta

Tagliatelle with venison sauce, radicchio

The sauce was made with the trimmings from the venison steaks we had on New Year’s Eve, red wine, a little cocoa. The radicchio I caramelised, then braised with a little balsamic

Friday 4.01

Chickpeas, chorizo, winter cabbage, chilli; ciabatta

I cooked the chickpeas in some of the guineau fowl stock, but I had let it boil away (I could not be moved from the radiator in the sitting room) and it very nearly burnt – but we got a rich, roasty flavour. This is a nice winter dish. The chorizo is the cooking chorizo. Colin thinks I am cooking a lot of cabbage and I think he is right

Saturday 5.01

Lunch: Spag with bacon, onions, aubergines, crème fraîche

Dinner: Mark, Navah, Jo, Will

Aubergines in honey and balsamic, red peppers with tomatoes, chilli, garlic

Roast rib of beef, gravy, roast crown prince squash, quinoa

Perhaps amazing that I haven’t done this before. It’s a spectacular roast, maybe it needs six or more round to do it justice. The long rest it needs means you have time to make the gravy.

I think I did onion and cumin and mustard seeds in with the quinoa

Chocolate cake with dulce de leche and apricot and pear purée

I tried following a recipe for Sachertorte but I didn't quite get it to work. Maybe the melted chocolate was too cool but halfway through adding the flour the mix was rock solid and I had to warm it slightly to get the rest of the flour in. The final texture of the cake was a bit solid

Stilton, Beaufort, Langres

Sunday 6.01

Lunch: mushrooms and chard with quinoa

Sautéed celeriac and potato, red peppers, rocket, ciabatta

Chocolate cake

... we took it round to Martin’s, to get some help; we also finished the Tokay

Monday 7.01

Sardines with chilli, onion with the pickled plum vinegar, Russian rye bread

Meatballs in goulash sauce; tagliatelle, sweetcorn

Tuesday 8.01

Borscht, Russian rye bread

Pears, cherries soaked in cherry brandy, amaretti

Wednesday 9.01

Salad of beef, watercress, potatoes, avocado oil dressing

Christmas pudding, rum, cream

Thursday 10.01

Ate out

Friday 11.01

Bacon, sauerkraut with mustard, rye bread toasts, crème fraîche

Aubergine halves roasted and filled with beef ragu; bulghar with red pepper

The beef was from last Saturday’s roast; cooked in the remains of the gravy, with some roast tomato purée from the freezer

Saturday 12.01

Mike and Philippa

Squash, Lentil, lemon soup

Half a Crown Prince Squash (1.5 lbs). Diced 3/4 of this and roasted it. Cooked 4oz puy lentils. Softened some onion with cumin, garlic, maybe some chilli, then cooked with 2oz red lentils and the rest of the squash; added zest and juice of a lemon, then liquised this. Mix the roasted squash pieces, puy lentils and the purée together, add water to get it to the right consistency, heat it up, then add some spinach (I used a bag of leaves-for-cooking from Waitrose)

Chestnut and mushroom pie, red chard with onions, potatoes

250g vacuum pack of chestnuts, 350g mushrooms, 10-12 pieces of dried porcini, onion, garlic, a pack of puff pastry. Softened onion, garlic; cooked porcini, then added the rest of the mushrooms, cut into chunks. Cooked for 5 mins or so. Added to the onion, then drained in a sieve, collecting the juice. Made a butter-flour roux, then made a sauce with the porcini liquid and the mushroom juice, cooked until very thick.

Cut the pastry sheet in 2 pieces, rolled them out to make a base and top for the pie, in a square 7" tin. Assembled pie and cooked it. Rather stupidly I thought I would use the pizza stone to get lots of heat to the base, but if you put a tin on the pizza stone it breaks.

For the chard, I softened and slightly caramelised half an onion sliced thinly, added balsamic vinegar, then the chard stalks cut small. Then add the leaves with a few mins to go.

Ginger cake

Beaufort, Langres, Cheshire

Sunday 13.01

Lunch: soba noodles, beef chopped small and cooked with oyster sauce and so on, cabbage and chilli

Dinner: Aubergine escabeche and some other things from the fridge

Chicken breast in parmesan and garlic breadcrumbs, spinach, fried potatoes

Monday 14.01

Beef and pickled walnuts in Guinness, red cabbage, mashed potato

Ginger cake

... with Janet helping. We also had some cheese

Tuesday 15.01

Chicken, mushrooms, porcini, cream, sherry with peas, tagliatelle

Pears poached in red wine, gorgonzola

Wednesday 16.01

Celeriac soup with truffle oil

Gratin of Squash with cream, parmesan, breadcrumbs, green leaves, sautéed potatoes

The squash was a bit overpowering, a bit sweet. I used half a crown prince (1.5lbs).

Thursday 17.01

Chickpeas, bacon, saucisson, clams, red pepper, onion, spinach, roast tomato purée, paprika, fennel seed, chilli; Baltic rye bread

Apple and blackberry, toasted brioche, cream

Friday 18.01

Ate out

Saturday 19.01

Lunch: spag with clams, bacon, tomato purée, seaweed flakes

Dinner: Confit of duck, cassoulet with pork belly and saucisson; salad, baguette

Lemon and lime curd mousse, passion fruit

This did not work. I tried making a lemon-lime curd, adding gelatine, then whisked egg whites, but it didn’t set and the curd stuff sank to the bottom. However, it did taste nice. Next time I will research a recipe rather than trying to make it up. You believe this?

Sunday 20.01

Lunch: spag with saucisson, artichokes, chilli

Mussels, bread

Roast partridge with chestnuts and blackberries, roast potatoes and parsnips

Monday 21.01

Waitrose bacon and wild mushroom tarts, salad with mustard dressing

Meatballs, cream and gorgonzola sauce, sugar snaps, potato croquettes

Tuesday 22.01

Borscht, Baltic bread, soured cream

Christmas pudding, brandy, cream

Wednesday 23.01

Pork belly with kidney beans, fresh tomatoes, cilantro; polenta and potato cakes

The pork I had slow-cooked at the weekend, and I had used some in the cassoulet. I made a sauce of onion, garlic, chipotle, a few cashews ground, pork stock. I boiled and mashed one potato, added softened onions, polenta, made into cakes and fried

Pear, chestnuts, sauce of dulce de leche, cream and brandy

Thursday 24.01

Thai curry of sprout tops, carrots, ginger, cashews, with soba noodles

Mango in lime-leaf and lemongrass syrup, and white rum

Friday 25.01

Ate out

Saturday 26.01

Lunch: sprout tops, saucisson, onion, balsamic with potato and polenta

Dinner: Kipper on rye toast with horseradish

Haggis, neeps, fried potatoes, onion gravy

Deep-fried mars-bar

Liar. I did cranachan with rhubarb

Sunday 27.01

Lunch: kidney beans, saucisson, chilli; quinoa with sundried tomato and fried, chopped cashews

Dinner: Duck breasts, rhubarb and ginger sauce, potato croquettes and peas

5-6" rhubarb poached with a little sugar. 1" ginger, blanched, the softened with shallot and garlic, added stock, and the rhubarb liquid, liquidised it all then reduced it. Added rhubarb and the meat juices at the end. Very gingery

Quince and cream

Still got a freezer full of it.

Monday 28.01

Kipper chowder with capers

Lamb shank, braised in red wine with cumin and pomegranate; black-eye beans, sautéed celeriac, spelt

Tuesday 29.01

Cabbage leaves stuffed with haggis, mushroom sauce, mashed potato

Rhubarb fool and cantucci

Wednesday 30.01

Simon and Amelia

Mushroom velouté

Lots of flat mushrooms, and a few porcini and some stock and cream.

Potroast pheasant with saucisson and red wine, leeks, curly pasta

Even Amelia had a little of the meat, but she says she will only eat leeks at school. Presumably they have much nicer leeks there. School dinners these days must be very different from when we were young.

Ginger cake, toasted, with rum and cream


Thursday 31.01

Carrot, celeriac, dill mousse or terrine or something

This almost worked. As usual I wasn’t following a recipe, so it serves me right. I boiled a medium carrot and 1/4 smallish celeriac, and softened some onion, garlic and added some dill. Puréed all this with some cream. Then added an egg and continued blending it. Tipped it into 2 large buttered ramekins and cooked in the oven in a water bath, gas 2 for 25 minutes. It sort of set, but I think you need a bit more egg. But I only had 1 egg to use up and didn’t fancy going to the shops since it was cold and dark and I had ridden home the long way via Fiddler’s Elbow. I should say that it tasted very nice and the texture was smooth and creamy, if a little floppy. Colin’s first comment: is this leftover swede?

Braised beef, cabbage with cream, pasta

We have been trying to get through stuff in the freezer, as it’s getting desperate for a defrost. The beef was leftover from the last time we cooked for Simon. The only leftovers from yesterday are the pheasant legs, which are a challenge to make edible. No doubt I will try anyway. There was also the Brie, some of which I had for lunch today. I think my collegues may have noticed.

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