Thursday, 20 November 2008

Some days are much better than others

Today is one of them.
It was a good day today.  A meeting with the Arts Council and the sense of a job well done.  They don't come around that often, so when they do I feel I have to make the most of them.  With a new contract for some freelance work under my belt, I walked through Poole high street lit by the overhead Christmas decorations, which moved like trapeeze artists dangling on wires, suspended between buildings and swinging from post to post.  

Usually by now, the streets would be alive with the sight of scurrying Christmas shoppers grabbing bargains and struggling with interesting packages and bags, racing homeward to hide them in secret places, away from the prying eyes of the miserable hungry and protesting children clinging to their arms.  Ordinarily they would pass enticing windows full of Christmas promise, whilst the smells from the street food hawkers cooking burgers and hot dogs, fill their nostrils but not their stomachs.   

Yet amazingly today, the streets are virtually empty.  The temporary ice rink with its rising clouds of ice cold mist, throw a hollow echo to the sounds of 80's disco music tinny and shrill, as the discs warble on a cheap machine.  In all my shopping days I have never witnessed such a wilderness, a stark reminder of just how hard times are and how sparse it is going to be for many this Christmas.

My mind drifts back to many a Christmas eve.  I have always had the house filled with at least 40 good friends and family, children playing flutes and pianos, violins, guitars and the clarinet are interspersed with the sound of excited chatter, even the smallest child frightened to fall asleep lest they should miss some exciting event.  The house rang with the sound of laughter and merriment but above all it peeled with Love.  Piles of food from sticky chicken wings (not sourced from Iceland), meat balls in paprika sauce, blanquette de veau, a homemade glazed ham - sliced of course - and the smell of mince twists (mincemeat in filo pastry with whole candied cherries doused in Maderia). As I invariably ran out of time, somewhere in the drawing room was a stack of all the Christmas magazines and cookbooks I had consulted in an attempt to change the menu from last year and seek new inspiration.  My paprika meatballs were always a must though.

This year I was sorting through my Christmas range of old publications, when I came across a simple dessert cream, which was actually there to advertise a new double ball whisk.  The editor of Good Food, Orlando Murrin, was smiling back at me from the pages of the 2001 edition, his broad welcoming smile evoked happy memories of a fabulous week spent in Devon;  Orlando was my tutor at this year's food writing course at the Arvon foundation.  So for you here is his Christmas Orange Brandy Cream...

Orlando's Christmas Orange Brandy Cream (page 198 for anyone who still has a copy of Good Food 2001)

A quick and delicious alternative to traditional brandy butter.  Work time 10 minutes, serves 8 - 10.

300mls double cream
finely grated zest of 1 orange  (Foxi: my new friend Caro would be excellent at extracting this)
3 tbsp brandy
3 tbsp golden icing sugar
3 tbsp orange juice

* Pour cream into bowl
* Add orange zest, brandy and icing sugar
* Whisk until light and fluffy
* Gently fold in orange juice with a spatula
* Serve as soon as possible
Delicious with mince pies or Christmas pudding

Ahhh... exhale.... tomorrow is another day...
Foxi xx


Kristen In London said...

oh WHAT a wonderful story, Foxi! I loved your evocation of the desolate streets (a great description if only too apt). But THEN to get the Orlando recipe with his face smiling up at you... does he know about your blog, and if not, did you email him this story? How LOVELY. Thank you.

Foxi Rosie said...

Praise indeed... Many thanks for the encouragement.

No I haven't emailed him, maybe I should. I'll put it on my list of things to do tomorrow.

Kristen In London said...

of course you must! Can you imagine if someone years later told you he came across your savoured recipe? None of us is too cool for THAT sort of appreciation, my dear. Loving the blog.