good tidings of comfort and joy: stollen

family-soothing stollen?
Christmas this year has not been awash with happiness. It was not so much that I minded not having turkey. I didn't. In fact, I was quite relieved, since I wouldn't have to feign appreciation, with all those "nom, nom, nom" noises tokening approval. I am a good actress unfortunately, which means we keep having turkey, which I loathe.. But what with the house being flooded, the oven not working and my relatives being a bit cranky, food and drink doesn't seem to have been at the forefront of anybody's mind, except for mine (as usual).

a guilty pleasure . . . the noodles in my chicken noodle soup!

chicken noodle soup
I posted a recipe for a Thai hot and sour soup recipe a few days ago. It's something I make often. No shame in that. But I do have a guilty pleasure. It is so bad, that when I confessed it to Nephew Number 2, he appeared as shocked to the core as the average eleven year old can be. Although he admitted it was funny, he was more incensed at the injustice of it all. How come I can get away with it and he can't? I suggested he learn to cook . 

I raise a toast to all of you: thank you, thank you, thank you!

mince pies
Christmas Poem  
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809-92

nam prik pao (thai chilli paste)

nam prik pao (Thai chilli paste)
Cooking chillies can be lethal (as I know to my cost). I am sensitive to chillies, so have to make sure that I wear rubber gloves (and probably a wet suit) to prevent the pain that envelops me if raw chilli gets anywhere near my skin. So do watch out when cooking the chilli itself. The fumes can be noxious, as an unsuspecting public and Thai restaurant in central London discovered to its cost a few years ago, when it set off a terrorist alert!

it's not over 'til it's over: thai tom yum soup

Thai tom yum soup
We haven't even got Christmas out the way and I am asking you to think about leftovers. But trust me. A little preparation now will help avoid a whole world of hurt. And apart from all that, this soup can cure the mother of all Christmas hangovers. Trust me, I'm a kitchen witch; I've felt your pain and I am certain I have the cure!

not a thing of beauty, but a taste sensation! aromatic cauliflower soup

aromatic cauliflower soup
Trying to be frugal this year, a tired looking cauliflower was transformed into a gloriously smooth and aromatic soup. Yes, it is a rather dreary colour, but I promise you that has a beautifully gentle and soothing effect.

I was looking for a bit of inspiration and this is adaptation of a Shaun Hill recipe (formerly of Merchant House and now of The Walnut Tree) - a man of such exquisite taste that I knew I wouldn't be able to resist it. I hope you won't either.

a perfect pasta sauce: garlicky, tomato and mushroom sauce

garlicky tomato and mushroom sauce

I have a confession to make. I actually posted this recipe at this point last year, when I was just starting out as a food blogger. However, I didn't have a good photo of this delicious pasta sauce. Since this is something that is one of my standby sauces, I thought it would bear repeating since I often make it And I now have a photo which I defy you not to be tempted by.

what's in season: december

autumn leaves in a London garden
(my garden needs raking!)
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford, 1863 - 1935

This time last year I was writing about icy winds and Arctic weather; London was snow-bound and I was greedy for warming, hearty food.