So, six days till Christmas. Fa la la la la. Hope everyone’s staying as mellow as possible. I was doing all good, until our computer broke down and I found out that the place my family’s been camping at since I was a TINY BAIRN is full up till the 4th of January so I can’t be out there for very long before going back to work and Tim probably can’t be there at all since he’s got work on the 5th and hasn’t accumulated enough leave yet. Writing that down and re-reading it like that makes me realise that well, we’ve still got a lot of things going for us this Christmas (jobs! Family!) and it’s very easy to lose perspective. But I still couldn’t help a bit of significant sulking at the people who innocently thought the place we go camping in every year would be a nice place to spend their summer. Which…is fairly pointless. But seriously. The campground isn’t even that great. Go to the Coromandel, everyone. Leave our place alone.
And yeah, our computer spontaneously busted on Wednesday morning. The guy at Harvey Norman declared it certified broken, but I think Tim managed to impress upon the guys at the computer-fixit place how central it is to my wellbeing, so we’re able to have it home for the weekend. It’s become like a brand new, empty one though – while I’m pretty sure most of our stuff was backed up, I did have a terrible habit of saving things to desktop…and I had a whole bunch of photos lined up to blog about that are now stuck somewhere in a sticky mess of binary code. Luckily I still had some stuff on the camera’s memory stick and they even kinda go together. So here goes.
I found this recipe for Dijon Sauce in a semi-unlikely place, being the latest issue of mighty music mag Rip It Up, in a very cool article where local musicians talk about their love of food and share recipes. As someone who has enjoyed forcing food and music into one blog for a long time now, this feature made total sense to me, and I was drawn to Iain Gordon’s (of Fat Freddy’s Drop) recipe – his partner’s actually, as he acknowledges.
Cheers to Rip It Up and Iain Gordon for sharing
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup cream
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of a lemon
Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Whisk three egg yolks and then add to the butter, continuing to whisk. Add cream, mustard, and the lemon juice. Stir over a very low heat till it has thickened. Be careful to keep stirring and not let it get too hot or it’ll curdle, but apparently it can be rescued by pouring in more cream.
It was the day after our Christmas Dinner and we had heaps of leftovers, including half a loaf of sourdough bread, so I cut some thick slices to make sandwiches with. This sauce used up some leftover egg yolks (from the Baked Alaska) and cream (from the chicken) and gave a rich, golden mustard-hot hit to the sandwiches of chicken, roast capsicum, stuffing (hell yeah!) and avocado.
You could probably adjust this to what you have – two egg yolks and slightly less butter should still make plenty. And it just occurred to me that if you didn’t have Dijon you could use wasabi, and it also occurs to me that I really want to try making that too…Anyway, it’s worth keeping this recipe in mind over the next stretch of time because its buttery deliciousness is perfect for not just perking up Christmas leftovers, but for pouring across the whole Christmas feast itself.
While we’re on a sauce tip, if you’ve gone to town with the cheap prices and bought more strawberries than you can handle, you’ve got to try this amazingly good recipe. I made it for a work Christmas thing the other night, not only does it look so pretty, it’s also incredibly delicious and seems to last for a while in the fridge too. If it’s a hot hot day on the 25th I couldn’t think of anything much nicer than ice cream and this sauce for pudding. Or breakfast.
I found this recipe on a site called Julia’s Kitchen – cheers Julia!
2 cups strawberries
1/3 cup honey (I used the last of my Airborne Tawari)
1 vanilla bean (optional – I didn’t have any to hand so I used good vanilla extract. The flavour is great in this sauce, so use what you’ve got really)
1 1/2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
Instead of measuring out two cups of fruit that you’re just going to chop up anyway, I cut off the tops of the strawberries and then halved them and put that fruit into a cup measure till it was filled, then repeated…I hope that makes sense.
Put everything except the balsamic vinegar in a pan and bring to the boil. If you are using the vanilla bean, split it open, scrape the seeds into the pan and then chuck the pod in too. Otherwise just use a teaspoon or two of good vanilla extract. Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I used a little wire whisk to stir this, which helped to break up some of the bigger pieces of strawberry. When the sauce is thicker, add the vinegar and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Store in the fridge.
This is beautiful stuff – soft pieces of strawberry suspended in lipstick-red, honeyed syrup. The balsamic vinegar might sound strange but there’s something about its dark sweetness that makes it a natural friend of the strawberry. It gives a kind of acidic punchyness to the syrup which is then mellowed out by the soft vanilla flavour – excellence all round, really. I reckon you could fold it through cream that had been whipped up with a little icing sugar, and then freeze it to make a seriously amazing fast ice cream.
Life is going to be full-on busy over the next couple of days – Tim and I are flying up to Auckland on Tuesday afternoon to see the Gorillaz (caaaaaan’t wait) and there’s heaps to be done beforehand. But it’s not Christmas without a few frantic late nights, right?
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects, their nod to a ‘dappy holidays’ tune…holy this lady is amazing. Tim and I saw Jones and the Dap-Kings at the Opera House on Friday night, it was just a truly incredible show. And as a surprise bonus we ended up sitting behind Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie. We took some photos on the night (of the band, not McKenzie), check ’em out at 100sand1000s (click on the date to see the photos in full).
Clint Eastwood, by Gorillaz…did I mention we’re excited about seeing them next week? Doesn’t even start to cover it. I’ve loved this band since they first appeared, in fact their debut album was one of the first I purchased with my own money (hey, no source of income made this a big decision) along with Dre’s 2001 and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.
Fat Freddy’s Drop, Roady – nothing like the power of suggestion. After making that sauce I had a massive urge to listen to this sunny sunny song featuring the gorgeous vocals of Ladi6.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas sung by Christine Ebersole…she takes a song you’ve heard a million times and does nothing in particular with it, but it’s so stunning. That voice.
Next time: Tim’s got to take this computer back to the computer-fixing guys, hopefully they can work their magic. I may well be able to get another hasty blog post in from home (I mean Home, where the whanau is) before Christmas though…