“Remind me to make the trifle later,” says Ma.
There’s little chance that I’ll forget. It being Christmas Day, this is no mere trifle (though mère trifle, on the other hand, it most certainly is). It will add to the already too much food that will be prepared for today’s family gathering, and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a heaving, over-stuffed table.
As I’m writing this, the conversation in the kitchen has turned to turkey prep and Ma is consulting with Darina Allen, or one of her cookbooks, at least.
You know it's Christmas when...
you're at home and flicking through the Ma's well-thumbed copy of Darina Allen's
Simply Delicious Christmas
'Tis the season to be roasting...
You’d think, having published my 12-step roastie program two years ago, followed by last year’s investigation of the best spud for the roastie job, that when this Christmas rolled around, I’d really have no more to say on the subject of roast potatoes for the big day. I might even have thought as much myself but, as it turns out, both you and I were wrong. I realised as much last Monday morning, as I was listening to the John Murray Show on RTE Radio One.
Brenda Costigan, longtime cookery writer, was a guest on the show and some listeners has asked for her tips on roast potatoes, as you do at this time of year. What followed was something I certainly didn’t expect, because she suggested that you could prepare your roasties ahead of time and freeze them.
The idea fairly stopped me in my tracks, because I’ve just never thought that a spell in the freezer did a cooked potato any favours. I somehow imagined that roasting a spud that had been previously frozen was a recipe for sogginess, but there was only one way to be sure – a taste-off between potatoes cooked, frozen and roasted the Brenda way and my own freshly prepared version. I donned my roastie lab coat and went, once again, into investigative action.
Simple as they come:
potatoes roasted with a bit of inner bay leaf
I was struck lately by the seemingly relentless drive to label the recipes found in many cookbooks and (their often accompanying) cookery programmes as “simple” and “fast” – from Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and Simple Cooking to Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals, and a whole host of others in between. They all, in one way or another, address the perception that, as a race, we 21st century consumers have less and less time to cook and less and less of the kitchen skills required but, ironically, more and more time to watch cookery on TV.