Friday, 24 January 2014

Chocolate cake, lots of cheese more chocolate cake!

My New Year's resolution was to eat more fruit  surely
raspberry chocolate counts as a fruit?!
And we're off  racing headlong into another year... In fact to my horror, I realised tonight that we’re almost at the end of the first month of said year and not a single post has graced this blog. The following will, therefore, be a shamefully quick synopsis of the past few weeks in and around the Sparrowholding.

Of course, I should love to report that Yours Truly has been existing, since the New Year dawned, on a diet consisting solely of limp lettuce leaves and ultra-ultra-low-fat salad dressing. That would, however, be a blatant lie, as the photos below will testify. 

OK, so I know January is supposed to be a month of complete culinary abstinence after the excesses of the Christmas period, and I genuinely had such good intentions… However, they have been soundly thwarted this month by invitations to two 50th birthday parties, an evening of Indian indulgence with my bridesmaids (thanks to Chatni in Methven!), plus a Scottish-themed girls’ supper in the nearby town.

So, in short, I lay full responsibility for my failure to fast firmly at the door of my lovely friends – possibly aided and abetted by the lack of exercise caused by my dodgy heel, which has seen me out of “proper” sporting action (i.e. hockey) for months. 

Needless to say, I’ll be making a huge effort on the healthy eating front for the whole of February (which will be less of an ordeal, because there are three days fewer on which to be good – a cunning plan, n’est-ce pas?).

But for now, here’s a snapshot record of the eclectic comestibles that have come my way during January…

One of our best wedding presents, nearly 24 years ago, was
an electric raclette grill from a kind German friend. A
brilliant way to enjoy cheese with family and friends :-) 

The Swiss way: just melt the raclette cheese (ours came
from Loch Leven's Larder near Kinross) and serve with
baked potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and salad. We
also had home-made chutney (see below for photos
of the making of said savoury delight!).

Keeping up the continental theme... This lovely French cake
arrived in the post after Christmas  an edible New Year's
greeting from friends in France. Most welcome :-)
As the old year closed, I had the privilege of attending an old
schoolfriend's 50th birthday supper, prepared and served
by her four children. After a delicious stew, our choice was
 banoffee pie, lemon posset or a platter of cheese. Wow!
And of course, there was birthday cake - better still, a
chocolate birthday cake. The sponge was as light as a
feather (so it was definitely safe to have two pieces!).
Within a week, yet another good friend turned 50, so undaunted I set out in the dark for the 90-minute drive to Montrose, to meet up with the rest of the party-goers at a restaurant I'd never frequented before: "Roo's Leap". As the name suggests, the "tucker" was essentially Australian - though there were also oriental, European and South American influences. The food was great, though even this very hungry horse struggled a tad at the size of the portions!
Roo's Leap certainly believes in kicking off the way they mean
mean to go on: this giant plate of  nachos was just for starters!
Chicken satay for main? Don't mind if I do...
And of course no meal is complete
without a hot fudge sundae...
Oops! Mustn't forget the gorgeous
birthday cake (rude not to try a piece...)
And talking of chocolate cake, DD1 made this one for
one of her best friends at Uni this week. Just as well they're
safely down in the deep south, or I'd have been tempted!
Continuing the theme of delicious dining in January (which will conclude next Friday night with the local Church Burns Supper, just to round things off nicely!), I was lucky enough to be invited to a local friend's house for a girly supper just two nights ago. Fortunately for the seven guests in attendance, our hostess is blessed with the culinary equivalent of green fingers (floury fingers?!). The meal was absolutely superb  and the dining-room looked pretty darned good, too...
No table I have ever set looked as lovely as this: the centre-
 piece was comprised of twigs decorated with white flowers
and tiny tartan bows. What a hostess!
After sampling Arbroath smokie on oatcakes for starters, I
tasted quail for the first time in my life: it was served in a port
 jus, with  chestnuts and skirlie. Fiddly to eat, but delicious!
This orange and fig trifle was simply one of the best deserts I've
ever tasted. Fabulously fruity (large chunks of fresh orange),
with the cream nicely complemented by the slight tartness of
 the pomegranate seeds on top. Pudding heaven on earth...
You may remember I mentioned serving home-made chutney
with our raclette supper. We'd had a glut of green tomatoes
from the polytunnel, so it seemed criminal to waste them.
And in go the raisins...

Here's the finished result  it doesn't look anything special,
but (to my incredulity!) it tastes pretty good!
Last but not least, here’s a brief summary of what the furry, hairy and woolly critters hereabouts have been up to of late…

What a wuss of a puss! FatCat slunk away, tail between his
legs when new cat on the block Horace arrived "in town".
FatHorse and the chocolate sheep enjoyed a little winter
sun on their backs - their paddock is a mud-bath most
 of the time at the moment, thanks to relentless rain.
Breakfast's been served up, so it's heads down at the trough!
To our amusement, the new kids next door (owners of
Horace!) have nicknamed  Mungo the tup (ram) "No go"
because of his fearsome horns. 

"You just can't get the staff these days,"
reckons FatHorse each breakfast time.