Bubbles and Brussel’s Sprouts

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Another Christmas Day has elapsed peacefully, surrounded by family and enough food to sustain a small country. We are recovering by sitting around in our PJs, sipping steaming mugs of coffee and watching retro cartoons.

Yesterday, I took responsibility for the pre-dinner aperitifs and I was so pleased with how my seasonal cocktail turned out.  Festive in taste and colour, it would be equally apt for a New Year’s Eve drinks gathering.   The recipe is from Nigella’s Christmas and is called Poinsettia.

Poinsettia

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Champagne or Prosecco
  • Cointreau
  • Cranberry Juice (well chilled)
  • Fresh cranberries (for garnish)

Method:

Pour a bottle of whatever fizz you choose into a large jug.  Add a half a cup of Cointreau and two cups of cranberry juice.

Serve in champagne flutes with a couple of fresh cranberries for decoration.  Enjoy xx

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While most people have to engage with the challenge of cooking large quantities of food for entire families, I simply had to sip fizzy cocktails and watch my mother-in-law do most of the work.  I was, however, tasked with looking after the Brussels Sprouts and in a manner akin to Pheobe’s commitment to cups and ice in Friends, I wanted my sprouts to take centre stage.  And while they may not have quite overshadowed the festive poultry, they worked out very well.

Sumptuous Sprouts:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of sprouts
  • 5 Rashers of streaky bacon.
  • Butter
  • Black pepper
  • Half a cup of chicken stock .

Method:

Cook the bacon until it is crisp and set aside to cool. Remove the outer leaves of each sprout and shred/ grate them until they look like green ribbons. Cook the sprouts in the stock in a wide bottom pan, for about 5 minutes.  Keep the heat high to allow the stock to reduce. When the sprouts are slightly softened, remove them with a slotted spoon and discard any remaining stock.

Melt a generous knob of butter in the pan. Return the sprouts and season generously with black pepper. Crumble in the bacon and serve warm.

I enjoyed the melancholic sounds of the wonderful Sarah McLachlan whilst working on the lunch.  Wintersong is a personal favourite for this time of year.

The Emily Bronte poem, Love and Friendship, also feels very seasonal and conveys a strong message about the two titular concepts. Bronte considers the beauty of love, by comparing it to a wild rose.  And yet roses have thorns and love can hurt.  Love, she suggests, can also be a seasonal enough emotion and struggle to endure the difficulties of winter. Friendship however, the poem appears to suggest, can endure much more.  It is compared to holly, the festive bloom, that is characterised by beautiful red berries and extraordinary resilience. It is still there when summer roses have died. Friendship endures.  Prioritise it and it will get you through life’s darkest days.

Love and Friendship by Emily Bronte

Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree —
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most contantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who wil call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.

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