29 November 2008

Under Pressure

A brief progress report on my last-minute preparations for the Christmas Dinner - which is tomorrow! - with no proper recipes yet because I don't have time to type them out. Why? Tim and I are on our way to a seventies party. He's dressing up as David Bowie, and after much pondering I'm going to be glam-rocking it up myself. I say pondering because it was surprisingly difficult to figure out what to dress up as (after Tim beat me to being Bowie that is). I mean, if I go as Charlie's Angels-era Farrah, I look like Laura in trousers. If I go as Debbie Harry, I look like Laura in a dress. It goes on. I'd probably make a convincing Stevie Nicks, but I'm not a Fleetwood Mac fan and I have this feeling that you should be somehow committed to what you're dressing up as. Stevie Nicks certainly seemed to be.

Anyway, that's not what you came here for - you came for the close-up photos of foodstuffs! But before I get into that, we've had some slightly unsettling news that Emma - the gluten-free flatmate - is stuck in Bankok due to the shootings at the airport that you have probably heard about in the news. She's on holiday there and was supposed to come back a few days ago - and then she was supposed to come back today - and now she's not going to be back till next Wednesday. We're all a bit nonplussed, and it's not going to be the same without her, but the point is that she is completely safe where she is and that the show goes on.



Have I mentioned this before? You could get rapidly and dangerously inebriated if you played a little game called "Have a drink every time Nigella mentions the word 'pomegranate' in her latest book." Pomegranate farmers the world over must fall on their knees and weep gratefully for Nigella because without her, the market would crumble. I know I myself, at her insistence, bought two of the oft-mentioned fruit from last week, and bashed out the seeds to freeze for later use. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the shiny, ruby-like seeds first because they really are every bit as pretty as Nigella says. Tomorrow they will be sprinkled, with capers, onto roasted capsicum following a recipe from the aforementioned Nigella Christmas.



Today I made the involtini from Nigella Bites, and it is now stashed in the fridge ready for baking tomorrow afternoon. Although it's quite an involved recipe - frying the eggplant slices, making the filling, rolling them up, saucing everything - it's nothing too difficult. I adapted the recipe somewhat, only in the name of laziness - instead of making a simmered tomato sauce for these eggplant parcels, I just upended a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes over them. I'm sure Nigella would approve.

The filling, by the way, is a nubbly mix of bulghur wheat (although I substituted quinoa), feta cheese, pistachios, garlic, cinnamon and oregano. It's bound with an egg, but I daresay without that it would make a lovely salad.



Above: Speaking of things Nigella would approve of, once it has the sauce poured over and is sprinkled with more feta and pistachios, the colours of this dish are entirely appropriate to Christmas. Doesn't it look pretty?



Above: And of course, there's pudding. I didn't end up taking many photos of the making process of these because both puddings involve stressful beating of egg whites (I know, I am my own worst enemy) and I didn't want to mess around taking photos and risk the whole lot going disastrously wrong. So all we have as proof of the White Chocolate Almond Torte - well, so far - is this picture of partially melted white chocolate. Due to my well-documented love of white chocolate it will come as no surprise that I had great difficulty refraining from burying my face in this bowl.



There's chocolate in the other pudding - the Other Torte infact - although someone did suggest "tortova" which I think is rather sweet. This is one that you need to prep in advance for, because there's a lot of chopped things involved - dark chocolate, walnuts, biscuits (luckily gluten-free biscuits crumble like, well, gluten-free biscuits) and dried apricots. All these are folded into a glossy meringue made from four egg whites, spread carefully into a lined 23cm caketin and baked at 180 C for about half an hour, then left to cool in the oven. I haven't actually tasted it yet obviously so I can't vouch for its deliciousness but it certainly smelled marvelous as it crisped up.


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I did snag a quick photo of the mix though - the things I do for you! Meringue can be a fickle beast to deal with and I certainly didn't want to tempt fate by setting up several shots here. It waits for no one and needs to get into the oven without delay.

Next time you hear from me, the Christmas Dinner for 2008 will be over and - *faints* - it will be December already. With any luck there will also be amusing photos of Tim and I dressed up as glam rock scallywags "getting ziggy with it" (Tim's pun, not mine.) Actually, the nature of his multicoloured spandex jumpsuit ensures that all photos will be amusing.

12 comments:

  1. We had been wondering if Emma was caught up in Bankok... Hope all is well and they have plenty of gluten-free stuf in their survival kit.

    Looking forward to the 70s pix. *Sigh* How well I could have advisd you if you'd only consulted me.

    Looking forward to hearing all about the Christmas Dinner - hope all goes well for it.

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  2. greetings from MBK in bangkok! im waiting for some cds to get "found" for me so i thought id check the web. its all much quieter here than last weekend, i think people are staying at home. no drama as yet tho!

    GUTTED to be missing xmas dinner but completing it on a wednesday would be a very long shot. might sykpe tomorrow to catch up on proceedings and reming you all just how awesome i am. SAVE ME SOME! im completely over the food here, excacerbated last night when i found a street cart of deep fried bugs, mmm. there is only so much padthai one can eat.

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  3. Laura I hope your flatmate is back home soon.
    That is quite a feast you are preparing there, great photos too, I love the close-ups.

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  4. Laura your Christmas dinner preps look awesome, great fun and certainly outside the square. One gets locked into one way of doing things and it is always interesting to get another slant on a menu.
    Really hot day here again, had 6 teenage boys here, plus Tim, for a sleepover last night. All went well.

    Glad to hear you are safe Emma, some of the news footage has been pretty rough.

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  5. darlin, gd luck with your christmas dinner. i'm sure you'll be absolutely stunning and it'll be a massive success!
    bless nigella. have you ever played the game 'drink every time gordon ramsay says fuck on tv'? that one's pretty manic too!! happy christmas! x

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  6. Mum: It was a spontaneous party :) I did an "aladdin sane" style makeup job on Tim, looked fab.

    Emma: Mmm pad thai. Not quite Christmas dinner without you! Hope you stay safe and cheers for getn in touch :D

    Erica: Cheers...and I like the closeups too although I hope I don't rely on them a little too much LOL.

    Viv: Thanks :) glad to hear the birthday festivities went well although it sounds a bit full-on!

    Diva: What if I was watching Gordon Ramsey on TV while reading Nigella? OMG.

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  7. Really glad your housemate is OK - must have been scary!

    I would be stumped for a 70s party. I guess I could wear a satin caftan with a cat on it and try not to think how much fatter I am than the blonde one from Abba...

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  8. Those photos are awesome! Can't wait to hear how the Christmas party goes!

    I understand how difficult meringue can be. I have only made it twice, the first time it was absolutely perfect. The second time, I didn't read the recipe properly and it failed miserably.

    Just looking at your photo of the white chocolate makes me want to bury my face in it!!! (Oh white chocolate, how I love thee!).

    (PS. just commented on your last post, had meant to do that earlier but got caught up and then forgot! - that is, until now.)

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  9. Hope the feast went well. Had heard of terrorism in Mumbai but not about any unrest in Bangkok. Hope Emma returns safe and sound.
    Looking fwd to seeing some photos of the 70's night,LOL. On a foodie line, am into dolmades at the moment. You can buy them here in tins with various fillings - I do tomatoe and mozzarella slices with olive oil drizzled over (and salt and pepper), dolmades, kalamata olives with Turkish bread for lunch most days. 13 more sleeps to I get home.

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  10. Hey, sorry I haven't been around much. Been busy hosting the parents being Thanksgiving here in the States and all.

    How did the involtini turn out? I made an involtini once with quinoa as well.

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  11. I am totally waiting on the glam rock pics, these are going to be great. Maybe you could of done a Freddie Mercury type thing... Queen dressed up in drag alot :)

    Hope you have/had fun at the Christmas dinner, it sounds great!

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  12. Your blog makes me hungry! I love it. Also, are you the same "hungryandfrozen" from the bsc and 1bruce1 communities? I love your snarks.:)
    (I post there sometimes as "nellswell.")

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