Sunday, 20 December 2009

Last night we held the resurrected Roberts Family Christmas Party at our flat.

Dad had arranged it.  He didn't tell us, he told everyone else - and then when it had achieved a momentum of its own and my sister had actually broken the news to me that we were hosting it - he admitted what he'd been planning.

All of us managed to fit in.  Just.

There was Dad, Mum, Seth, Edward, Polly, Polly's boyfriend Ed, Toby, Toby's girlfriend Polly, their baby Theo, Aunt Linda, cousin Justine, Justine's boyfriend Ben, Silka and me.

And a karaoke machine...

We ate

Mixed spanish meats 
Homemade mackerel pate

A choice of

Roast duck
Salmon en croute
Mushroom lasagne


Braised red cabbage
Kumera (sweet potato) bake
Courgettes in yoghurt and mustard
Pan fried peppers

And puddings brought by my lovely sister Polly

Pear and caramel tart

And we drank a great variety of red wines people brought along (Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, French Cotes du Rhone, Rioja) and a selection of bitters (Bath Ales Barnstormer, Badger Golden Glory, Ruddles County)

It all seemed to go down well.  We've got a lot of kumera bake left, but I think that's because I made vastly more of that than was sensible...

To make smoked mackerel pate
Three smoked mackerel fillets, skin off
1/3 packet of soft cheese
20g chives
Squeeze lemon

Flake the mackerel, finely chop the chives, mix both with the soft cheese.  Squeeze in some lemon, grind in a really good dash of pepper (unless you were using already peppered mackerel) and garnish with a couple of halved chives on top.

To roast a duck
I think it's best to buy them the day before, unwrap them and wash them inside and out in cold water.  Pat them dry with kitchen towel and leave them overnight in the fridge uncovered to dry off.

When you're ready to cook them, stab them all over with a sharp knife to make holes for the fat to drain out from as they cook.  I stab them to a depth of about 2 centimetres and around 12 stabs a bird.

Then put them in a 180˚C oven, on a wire rack over a pan to catch the fat and juices in.

Make sure to keep the fat, it's beautiful for roasting vegetables or for making confit duck legs in and it will last for ages in the fridge or freezer.  You'll need to whip the pan out and drain the fat off a few times as the bird roasts, so just pour it off into a pyrex jug or something to cool and when you're finished decant the fat off the top into a jar to keep in the fridge.

About 2 hours should make a 2 kilo bird crispy and brown and delicious.

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