With all the gravitas of a 1960s Ealing comedy, I convince myself that the Christmas hoo-ha is mostly a state of mind. This year it will be considered, a steady reserved affair, emotionally subtle, gently nourishing rather than the usual volatile eccentricity of covert plans, sly purchases, daftest crass wit* and deftness of calorific charm. There ends my brave attempt to rein in my over exuberance and fresh attitude to the Christmas repetitious bauble hanging which will commence this weekend.
Time m’ thinks to get the gig on. It started, on our way home from a languid (for some) lunch with the tea boy regaling his 2014 jocular version of Deck the halls. This included vague reference to some of the tune and his alternate phraseology “Gaff-er tape the cat with candles”.* Swiftly followed by “I’d like to see someone get past the pair of us and try”!
Prognosticatory past successes such as moving house on Christmas eve and then having 27 for lunch the following day still retain ripe of mind. It worked like a charm in truth, but as is the way of the world, all my darling oldies formally known as “the false teeth and bloomers brigade” are long gone. I’m so glad I did it when I could. Crackers were filled with hearing aid batteries in those days. Guessing I’ll be on a similar skid list, definitely going to end up wearing, if not causing the bloomers, but not quite yet! I can still recall the purity of their angelic voiced choir which was more of a hysterical animal dysphonia as they sang for she’s a jolly good fellow and then they laughter so much it scattered them in all directions in need of the ‘facilities”. Short range tanks and long-range memories.
I feel a break from the standard culinary repertoire for us this year since it will be a compact and beju affair for 4 on the day but there will be a pre ‘C’ cocktail party and also a 70-80’s formal Dinner party also to be considered. What ever I call it, for sure, it will turn into a bounteous booze-up and bunfight though we will start with pretentious endeavour.
The girls will have put on their party frocks, slather on the Estee-Lauder-embalming-kit and general sundry slap. New shoes will reside beneath the dining table. I think I’ll prepare some witty Christmas take away bags for said shoes, false eyelashes, swapped cracker contents, spanx etc.
For all of the above there will be some canny planning since there is no point in becoming a slave to the cause.
A ruse or two are certainly not discouraged. Tongue in cheek reads here as “bung in chic”. Likewise “Bully for you” can be read as a sarcastic belittling some ones accomplishment. My variant form is Brûlée for you. Rates highly on the naughty, nifty scale and, as yet, remains to be belittled.
Fast track Brûlée uses super-duper, assuasive, finest quality, custard or creme patisserie to which we add a small amount of booze, melted white chocolate, boozy berries also works too but for Christmas time ….
Egg nog Creme Brûlée
Add 2 teaspoons of Advocaat, per ramekin, to the custard stir well to combine. Sprinkle with your chosen sugar and place under a searingly hot grill or blow torch to temper the toffee top. There are never complaints about the emollient custard base, but if you need to take it to the next level add a teaspoon of slaked cornflour (mixed with a tiny drop of water) to the store-bought custard, heat very gently and stir to incorporate and cook out the floury taste, which rather defeats the object of the exercise? If you are, however, concerned this will make a firmer set, though create unnecessary washing up (much frowned upon – tut tut).
This jolly version involves a tiny drop of Amaretto liqueur and is dressed with Ameretti biscuits and crumbs.
Please be careful with the alcohol and blowtorch combi xxx
Variations include a perky little drop of Cointreau and then setting a slice of caramelised orange on top of the custard and under the sugar.
Sophisticates version uses Calvados and brown sugar by request of the tea boy so as to make ‘proper’ toffee’d apple.
Sweetie option using grated white chocolate, or melted and folded through the custard. Shown served with sugar crunch white chocolates with gold leaf. Simply melt white chocolate, torch some sugar on a baking sheet, then once cool, crunch it between your fingers with the edible gold leaf and then sprinkle over the setting chocolate, prior to cutting into squares.
Bite size Brûlées p’chance?
Experiments headed towards setting in spoons, the trick to this turned out to be less goop and more sugar to enable a weld to the spoon.
Add a tiny amount of Jack Daniels (the honey version works so wonderfully) to the bulb of your chosen spoons and place them into the freezer, (arrange them so as the goop doesn’t spill out). Freeze 10-15 minutes, remove and add a little custard then return them to the freezer so as they stay sunny side up. When ready to serve, cast them with a layer of sugar and torch’em. Please proceed with caution if using booze.
Easy, great fun and prepared in advance. They are fabulous when served with coffee.
It’s time to get the party started!
Happy thanks giving to our dear, and kindly, friends across the pond.