merry greedmas!

It’s been so long since I last wrote a post – I’ve really missed it! Life has been hectic the last few weeks following our mini-cruise to Amsterdam. We’ve been planning our trips to Marrakech in February and Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi and Goa in March, plus I’ve landed myself a new job! All finished off with the office festive party and a great few days spent with my family and Mr Greedy for Christmas.

I’ve eaten a hell of a lot throughout December. The feasting began on 10th December to celebrate Mr Greedy’s mum’s birthday at Cross Keys, Wanborough. The food was fantastic – but, as (nearly) always, I forgot to take a photo of the main course as impatience took over! Here’s the photos I did manage to remember though….

Starter… Baked goats cheese with beetroot chutney

Main course… Slow cooked beef brisket with  sauteed potatoes

Dessert… Mr Greedy and I shared 2 x desserts – creme brulee with Morello cherries, and a vanilla cheese cake with spiced poached plums

All washed down with a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, we had a great evening.

The eating certainly continued, as Mr Greedy’s parents joined us the following weekend to celebrate Christmas. As we were visiting my family this year for the festive period, it gave us a great opportunity to enjoy a full Christmas dinner and spend some time together in Southampton. On the Saturday, we had a walk around the town centre shops, with a few “drink” breaks along the way! One of my favourite places to visit is Caskaway Tasting Rooms, an independent micro bar located on Southampton’s popular Oxford Street. Tucked away, it offers lots of unique and ever-changing beers and ciders. I tried a tasting board of 3 different ciders (below left) – including one made with bourbon, perhaps not my favourite but great to sample! – and Mr Greedy tried 3 craft beers (below right). Check out their website for more info about them, inc. their current drinks and snacks menus! http://www.caskaway.pub/

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That evening, we headed to Turtle Bay for dinner. Turtle Bay had been brilliant in accommodating us – their website advised no tables for 4 until 11pm (far too late for my greedy tummy!!) but when contacted directly, they sorted it out for us straight away. With cocktails flowing and reggae music playing in the background, we had a great evening at Turtle Bay. Our table was reserved for another group later in the night, but at no point did we feel rushed. The food was also better than I remember having eaten there previously! I had a fantastic starter – I actually may give making this one a go myself! This is the “Hot Hot Pepper Roti” – layered roti breads stuffed with cheese, chillies, potatoes and carrots and topped with a drizzle of herby mayonnaise. For main, I had “Our Curry Goat” one pot dish – I’m ashamed to say that this was my first time tasting goat! It was delicious, any lamb lovers would enjoy this meat cooked slowly. It was served with rice and peas, plus Caribbean dumplings – firmer than the dumplings us brits are used to, more like a donut without the sugar! They tasted brilliant when dunked into the curry. All of this fiery food was finished off with a spicy chocolate pot and coconut ice cream. That dessert may look small, but the photo is deceiving! This was so filling, and would have easily catered for 2 people after such a large meal.

I can tell you one thing – we slept well that night! On Sunday, it was time for our pre-Christmas dinner. I served 3 courses, but I must admit that I didn’t make dessert myself. When serving a full Christmas dinner, so much time is already spent on food prep, and as we would be eating so much food ahead of dinner I didn’t want my efforts to go to waste!

I served a small starter so that we could save some space for the main event. This is goats cheese and red onion chutney filo pastry parcel, served with balsamic salad – it was really tasty and so easy to prep in advance,

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It may not be the prettiest, but it was certainly delicious!

Now…. the main course.

Firstly, look how fantastic our turkey was! I bought a turkey butterfly from Southampton Butchers – it was brilliant value for money and packed in pork fat and bacon to add extra flavour and texture. Give their website a look to check out their main product list: http://southampton-butchers.co.uk/

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I also bought their sausage-meat to make stuffing, plus pigs in blankets. All of the meat was absolutely delicious as always. If you live in the Hampshire area, make sure to go down and visit them.

I love making a roast dinner at the best of times. My favourite part? The roast potatoes of course. Well, to be honest – potatoes are very often the best part of a meal in my opinion, as they’re so versatile. To make these roast potatoes, I par boiled some Maris Pipers, then set them aside to cool. Meanwhile, heat plenty of goose fat in a roasting tray in a hot oven. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, shake them around vigorously with a sprinkling of plain flour – this helps them to crisp up. Add them (carefully) to the hot fat with a garlic bulb (halved) and some rosemary sprigs for an hour and a half. The result?

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Roasted garlic bulbs are also a delicious snack. They make your breath stink, but the roasting makes them sweet and tasty!

I also love making my own Yorkshire puddings. I know full well the yorkie puds should be served with beef, but I personally think they taste great with any meat! They’re also fantastic for soaking up the gravy. I use a really easy batter mix recipe by James Martin – add 200g flour to a large bowl, create a well in the middle and crack in 3 eggs. Beat well to combine the mixture. Gradually stir in 300ml milk a little a time until you’re left with a smooth batter. Easy! I also add seasoning and dried thyme and rosemary to mine. Then, you can easily set aside in the fridge until you’re ready.

Here’s my take on a Christmas dinner!

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Roast turkey, sage and onion sausage-meat stuffing, pigs in blankets, herby Yorkshire puddings, rosemary and garlic roast potatoes, honey roasted carrots and parsnips plus Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon for everyone but me, and a healthy serving of turkey gravy. Even if I do say so myself, it was absolutely delicious.

For dessert, we enjoyed a (shop bought!) treacle tart with Kelly’s Cornish clotted cream ice cream. Well, the ladies did anyway – the gents had eaten far too much and were lying around the living room in food comas!

Later that week, Mr Greedy and I went to the annual office Christmas bash. This year, it was held at St Mary’s stadium in Southampton, offering a 3 course meal, bar and dancefloor. We had an amazing time – great company and lovely food. Often, events offering mass catering can lack in quality, but I have to say that all 3 dishes were yummy.

Starter… Chicken and ham terrine, with pickled vegetables and ginger chutney

Main course… Roast turkey with all of the trimmings on a bed of parsnip puree

Dessert… Lemon cheesecake, raspberry coulis and vanilla cream

I was fit to burst after this feast – I could just about keep in my dress!

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The following weekend, we headed over to Ipswich to visit my folks. My mum is a feeder, so I knew we wouldn’t be short of a spot of grub. We had so much great food to enjoy, especially as I brought home a special package of meat from Southampton Butchers. For only £73, we enjoyed 4 lamb shanks, a huge turkey butterfly, sausagemeat, 12 pigs in blankets and a large ham – an absolute bargain! The quality was fantastic as always and everybody eating at my parents’ was thoroughly impressed.

Christmas is always a food-orientated period at my mum and dads. We enjoyed lots of meals, plus plenty of nibbles in between. My mum also bought us lots of new foods to try – for example, Afghan potted beef, black pepper pork scratchings and smoked salt. I’ll keep you up-to-date on how it works out! The main event was of course Christmas dinner. I didn’t manage to take a photo of the main event, but I have already included 2 photos of roast turkey on this post already!

Starter… Whipped goats cheese with roasted figs, toasted sourdough and walnuts

Main… Roast turkey with all the trimmings

Dessert… My mum’s very own clementine and ginger trifle, using some of my homemade ginger cake

Mr Greedy and I had such a fantastic time with our families over the festive period, but now we’re back to normality – here’s to an even better 2017!

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