Right: the Big Day is slowly starting to loom on the horizon or, in moronic Facebookspeak, there are 21 sleeps left till Christmas. I can't readily think of a more annoying expression: what if I stay up all night? What if I take a nap during the day? Then I'm clearly screwed and Christmas will pass me by.
But it won't: I've started on mince pies already. I must average about 90 to 100 pies a year and that doesn't include the gift ones. But once you start it's really not so much work: I make industrial quantities of the pastry, freeze it in batches and then just make the mincemeat as I go along - and that takes minutes to concoct. This recipe makes fantastic pies but just wait: an alternative (and nut free) recipe is going to make an appearance here any day now.
What else to make ahead? Why, fruit cake of course! My version is actually TASTY. It's actually EDIBLE. I'll go further: it's possible to have a second piece of it without feeling nauseous. It has no sickly icing or marzipan, it's made sans booze (well - with a very small amount) and you can see the cake for the fruit. The best fruit cake I'd say.
That's it for the Big Day this week, let's now see about feeding the folk at home something other than mince pies: roasting a chicken is always a good idea and a large one if not many of you will last two days, if you bulk out the salad with couscous on the second day. Or chop up the leftovers and wrap them up in filo pastry with some feta - here's my veggie version of the filo snails.
We must be frugal before the great splurge so how about a pot luck parmigiana: aubergines, zucchini, mushrooms, fennel, whatever sits in the fridge can be smothered with cheese and tomato sauce and taste great. Leeks and potatoes sound good? A leek and potato bake is a good idea, and leek and potato soup is even better, so make a huge pot of it. More soup in the recipe section and more Christmassy stuff next week!