Tuesday, 3 January 2012


There's nothing quite as festive as a beautiful and richly-laid Dining Table, completely 'on fire' with church candles and such excellent company. The chatter and laughter only punctuated by the sound of silence, boys'n'girls, as the Funny Farm Merlot mysteriously disappeared from the decanters.....

Medina and I had braved Waitrose  for my list of last-minute ingredients during the week, excusing ourselves through blockades of Monmouthshire Wrinklies wishing each other 'The Compliments of The Season Darling', and latterly, whilst Ian and Medina went 'Ooop North' for a day'o'two, Wellie put her proverbial pinny on:

To start, I combined chopped Smoked Chicken Breast with a little cream and mayonnaise (for the boys), and a Smoked Fish vegetarian version for Medina, which I also enjoyed to keep her company.  Both of these I served with a medley of braised fennel & puy lentils, Funny Farm sunblush tomatoes, a drizzle of their oil, lambs lettuce and melba toast on the side.

Followed by a little Denis Cotter number of Haloumi with a sweet pepper, chilli & caper sauce, (turn of phrase I think you'll find, and not suggesting that Denis is little, obviously....!)

With men having 'hollow legs', and the sheer price of a decent-sized Steak these days, Medina and I decided to go with Venison Steak, padded out with thick Venison Sausages, and for ourselves, Asian-spiced Tilapia fillets.
Both of which were served with roasted root vegetables, Funny Farm savoy cabbage, but no Funny Farm red cabbage, because Wellie forgot to serve it....doh! and gorgeous Denis Cotter Wild Rice, Parsnip & Potato Rosti, which I absolutely adore, at any time of the day, or night (and yes to the gorgeous, with huge respect to Maureen.X)

Afterwards, Marmalade Queen and I, discovering  that we're both huge fans of the Irish singer, Juliet Turner, excused ourselves from the table, to 'Burn The Black Suit' and  'Take The Money And Run' whilst throwing together a few Wellie 'shapes' in the form of her innovative and creative dessert: The Royal Forest of Dean Woodland Floor - 'as ya do' if you live on the edge of The Forest, and bordering the beautiful Welsh countryside.

And don't ask me why the two of us are acting like identical twins with a guilty pleasure, playing 'this little piggy' with our pinkies, because I have ABsolUTEly no idea what's going on there, other than that MIGHT be where some of the Funny Farm Merlot disappeared to Children?

Medina was 'blown away', because during the week she'd asked me if I'd ever made my own Petit Fours before, and how she loved them.  So with that in mind, Wellie made the Forest Floor as one big rectangular Florentine (milk chocolate on the underside), and two lots of Chocolate Crackle Cookies, because the first batch didn't 'do' what I wanted them to do - which then worked out brilliantly, because the first batch became the dark chocolate mushroom 'stalks' quite by accident, with the second batch magnificently sitting on top.  A scattering of homemade Toffee and a handful of homegrown Physalis (Cape Gooseberries) dipped in chocolate.....mmmm!
And lastly, I'd wanted to make James Martin's  'Coffee Mushrooms' dessert as well, but didn't want Coffee Icecream as the stalks, so decided to make Coffee Creme Caramels, and continue with his recipe using shaped Tuille Biscuits for the mushroom caps, and actually, even I have to give myself Smartie Points, because that worked and tasted like a dream.
And with a little help from Janet Reger, dessert was served!

The four of us somehow managed to pop the cork on a bottle or two of Bubbles somewhere in time to The Bongs of Big Ben, each of us holding a numerical sparkler (2, 0, 1, & 2).
So..... depending on who was standing next to, or hugging who at the time, as you'll see from the chaotic Satsuma 'sparkler park' on the table, we're not entirely sure what Century we welcomed in?
And as lovely as Trousers and I are to our friends, we'd invited them to stay the night at The Funny Farm, with Brekkie kind of  'thrown in' to make it more of a magical experience.
Ian and Medina donated their own home-farmed Piggy Sausages, and freshly laid eggs, I'd made some of Ultan Walsh's Missus's Chestnut Sausages (honestly - make them, they are 'to die for'), along with Denis's brekkie pancakes.  I had no tofu for my 'Chessages', so what us cheffy peeps tend to do is 'wing it', and substituted homemade vegetarian dumplings instead, which worked a treat.
  And Trousers excelled himself by taking charge of it all from The Rayburn end of the kitchen.
It was GOR-GEE-OUS Darlings!

And there I am going to love you and leave you, because I've got Ham, Chips & Pineapple waiting with my name on, a Morgan Freeman film, a nice fire, Trousers, and a cuddly cat just waiting to cozy on down with.

Bless You For Watching once again.  A Very Happy New Year to all of you.

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