For many many years, I have made my own Christmas crackers, my Aunt originally supplied the bits that go pop, I made paper hats and filled them with suitable gifts and jokes, in latter years such things as small bottles of perfume, after shave or miniatures of whiskey, gin or the like.
This year was going to be different, after all we were going to be in our Scottish Castle or Hunting Lodge, so decided to splurge. Well almost. This time last year, I bought ( albeit on sale ) crackers from that Iconic, favourite restaurant The Wolseley. So 6 crackers in a box, cost £25, so I was expecting something a little special! But it was not to be, standard paper hat, standard joke and a rather paltry kitchen ‘Thing’. Very disappointed! Experiment not to be repeated, but I still have 21 of them left !
With us was a Bubble, the willowy Brunette, who even on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day went for an ice cold swim, not sure where, but open water swimming ! Brrr too cold for me even to dip my toe in !
So, we dressed for dinner, had Buck’s Fizz ( too much) played card games and the like, along with opening presents, this takes a while as well as real presents, there are silly ones and they all have to be opened in turn and by guessing contents. ( they come with obscure clues).
This year, as we were going to be elsewhere, I made eco-friendly gift bags, +/- 72 of them! But actually easier wrapping than with paper! They were for 12 people I hasten to add.
And then it was time for dinner. I do get a bit carried away in the kitchen, just too many things I want to try!
We had assorted nibbles for starters, with an Avocado Shot, with prawn and crispy bacon, a mini sausage roll, a Pig in a blanket, baby new potatoes wrapped in Parma Ham and smoked salmon rolls filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese served on Rye bread circles.For our main course, I did Salmon Coulibiac. Which is basically Salmon en croute. I always use Filo pastry for this and fortunately I live near several Middle Eastern Grocery stores, which always sell it ( frozen) as it a main component of many Middle Eastern desserts.
It is so easy to prepare in advance. Simply defrost the pastry, melt lots of butter and be ready to smear each sheet that you use with a generous layer. I used about 8 sheets, for a side of salmon.
Hard boil a few eggs and chop them up, quickly cook some spinach and drain. ( One can also add cooked rice and chopped cooked mushrooms).
To assemble. Lay the Salmon ( no skin ) on the pastry, put on a layer of chopped eggs and a layer of spinach , and wrap the salmon up in a neat parcel .
Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to cook. The butter layer will stop the pastry becoming wet.
Remove from refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature and then bake at about 200 C for about 30- 40 minutes. The pastry will be golden brown and very flaky and the salmon will be done.
This I served with Hassleback potatoes, green beans and a Beurre Blanc, made with champagne.
And for dessert? That is for the next instalment.