The end is the year is nigh and it's time to reflect on what has been - and what might be. Demon Cook is just over a year old, and I have a small, loyal following - and a bigger following whenever I mentioned "Nigella" and "buns" in the same paragraph! I have not yet had the success I dream of: my blog going viral and becoming the next Belle de Jour, or me as the next Julie Powell (of Julie, Julia fame), the inspiration of a surprisingly popular film about cooking and piano-playing, starring Renee Zellweger (with Demon Cook standing in as the "hand double" to do the close up cooking and/or piano-playing scenes)..... Ah, one can but dream!

So, it's New Year's Eve - again. Funny how it comes round every year, ain't it? I am rather "Bah, humbug!" about New Year's Eve (as I am about Christmas). I feel it is over-rated, and I make a point of not celebrating it and being curmudgeonly about it by going to bed deliberately early, only to be woken at midnight by fireworks. Many years ago, when we were all pre-children and able to party like it's 1999, we went to a fancy-dress murder mystery New Year's party with friends in Battersea. The men elected to take the female roles, and over dinner (the crime and its solving quickly forgotten in the sea of champagne cocktails) they all compared their "comedy breasts". Later, much later, we denuded the Christmas tree, took it into the street, set fire to it, and danced around it in some kind of strange South London pagan ritual. Needless to say, we all had very sore heads the next morning/lunchtime. New Year's celebrations rather went out of the window with the arrival of children and babysitters only being available for a king's ransom on the appointed night. Then, a few years ago, when friends Olga and Simon lived next door, we would go to their house to celebrate, rocking up at around 10pm, drinking steadily 'til after midnight, and then tottering the short distance back to our house. The second year we did this, I recall being so drunk that I flung my arms around Olga's neck and declared "I love you! You're the best neighbour I've ever had!!". Hmm. The things we betray when in our cups!

Meanwhile, back to the food. Tonight it's a simple dinner with good friends Jacky and Nick, and after we've eaten and drunk all we can, we'll play Scrabble and Nick will, once again, try and prove his theory that "he/she who starts wins". I had some shin of pork in the freezer, stashed away before Christmas, and I've made it into "Osso bucco", not the classic Osso Bucco alla Milanese which has a rich tomato sauce, but a very simple stew made with wine, stock, sage and orange peel. The trick is to cook it slowly so that the marrow seeps from the bones: it gives the sauce a gorgeous satiny sheen and flavour. To accompany the stew, a simply saffron and wine risotto. In fact, it won't be an accompaniment as I'm going to serve it ahead of the stew, as a "primo" dish, in the manner of a proper Italian meal. The Osso Bucco will be served with a fresh green salad, gremolata, and homemade focaccia.

It's finger-food to start: olives, stuffed Peppadew peppers, onion bhajis, smoked salmon on blinis, and the Sainted Delia's 'feuilles de brick' pastry canapes (find the recipe here), which are incredibly easy to make, and simply delicious. The Cava is chilling in the fridge, and I must remember to open the Creme de Mur (blackberry liqueur) which I brought back from France, to make Kir Royale.

Manchego & Membrillo, Salami Milano

Feuilles de Brick canapes

Blinis with smoked salmon and faux caviar

For pudding, it's Jo's Chocolate Tart. I'm calling it Jo's Tart because I ate this delicious and elegant chocolate tart when I was staying at Chalet JoJo in France last week, and this is a nod to Jo and her wonderful hospitality and cooking. It is the most beautiful chocolate tart I have ever eaten, redolent of the sort of thing you can find in a classy French patisserie, with a crisp pastry case and the silkiest, smoothest chocolate filling you can imagine. Under the chocolate, is a thin layer of raspberry jam, whose sharpness perfectly cuts into the sweetness of the chocolate.

Recipes follow..... Happy New Year, readers. I'm off to bathe, dress and primp and prime myself for supper.

Osso Bucco with White Wine and Sage
Allow 2 osso bucci per person (pork - or veal, if you're feeling extravagant and naughty)
Olive oil
Flour for dusting
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper
200 ml Chicken or beef stock
200 ml White wine
Fresh sage leaves, torn
A few strips of orange peel

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Dust the meat with flour, and fry until golden brown. Set aside. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic gently until soft, then add the meat, fresh sage, orange peel, stock and wine. Check seasoning. Bring up to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. I usually cook osso bucco for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bone and the marrow has seeped into the sauce. Top up the liquid if necessary. Serve with fluffy polenta, mashed potato, or risotto.

Jo's Chocolate Tart

You can either make individual tartlettes or a large tart.

250g sweet pastry (a roll if cheating)
200g dark chocolate
250ml liquid cream
40g butter
150g raspberry or apricot jam (I used a seedless raspberry jam)
Icing sugar
Cocoa powder

Put the oven on at 180.  Put the pastry into the tart case/s and prick with fork. Bake blind for 15 mins, then take paper off and put back into the oven for 5 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Put jam into saucepan, heat up and then spread over the pastry, leave to cool

Put half of the cream into a saucepan and once near boiling add the chocolate. Take off heat and add the remaining cream and the butter. If it starts to look granular, beat with a whisk to achieve smooth consistency. Pour over jammed pastry and put into the fridge to chill and set.
Just before serving, sprinkle over cocoa powder and icing sugar in a design you like.

Jo's Chocolate Tart takes pride of place!


Popular posts from this blog