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Christmas feast for 2

 

You might not be feeding a crowd this year, but that doesn't mean you should miss out. This menu is truly special and just as celebratory as a big turkey dinner! 

Starter

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Toasted goats' cheese with blackened sherry vinegar onions  (recipe x ½) 

Toasted goats' cheese became very fashionable in the 1990s, and not surprisingly, as it's still a supremely good way to enjoy good goats' cheese just on the point of melting. The blackened onions make a great accompaniment – lots of lovely gutsy flavour. 

 

Main course

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Pheasant Roasted in Butter Muslin (recipe x ½) 

If you want to roast pheasants that are guaranteed to be moist and tender, then this is the best way I've come across. Do remember, though, to check with your supplier that the pheasants are young enough to roast. Older birds should always be braised or casseroled. One pheasant cooked in this way and served with Cranberry and Onion Confit would make a wonderful Christmas lunch for two people.

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served with

Cranberry and Onion Confit 

A confit, as the name suggests, is a kind of sauce reduced to a concentrated, jam-like consistency. This one is a good accompaniment for all kinds of things at Christmas. As it keeps well in the fridge for four weeks, I personally make double the quantity below and serve it with cold turkey, pheasant, pork pies or, perhaps best of all, with sausages. In fact venison sausages with Cranberry and Onion Confit, creamed mashed potatoes and Traditional Braised Red Cabbage with Apples is a very princely meal, fit for any Christmas supper party.

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and

Perfect Roast Potatoes 

The amounts here are not vital because it depends on who's greedy and who is on a diet and so on, but I find that 8 oz (225 g) per person is enough – yielding three each and a few extras for inevitable second helpings! I like Desirée best of all, but my second choice would be Romano.

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Bashed Neeps and Carrots 

The 'neep' in question is what we in the South call swede. The combination of finely chopped swede and carrots with a little butter and coarsely ground pepper is colourful and very good.

Desserts

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Sticky Gingerbread Puddings with Ginger Wine & Brandy Sauce (recipe x ½) 
 
 This is quite definitely an idea that matches the charm and popularity of the Sticky Toffee Puddings with Pecan Toffee Sauce – it has the same degree of lightness and, this time, the fragrance and spiciness of preserved ginger, which takes the edge off the sweetness beautifully.

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or

Melting Chocolate Puddings (recipe x 1/2, leaving some for seconds)

This, I suspect, could be the chocolate recipe for the beginning of the 21st century – very light, very chocolatey individual baked puddings that have a melted fudge-chocolate sauce inside that oozes out as you put your spoon in. My thanks to Galton Blackiston and everyone at Morston Hall Hotel in Norfolk for giving me their recipe.

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or

Petits Monts Blancs (recipe x ½, as above) 

Chestnut has an amazing affinity with meringue, and here the creamy richness of mascarpone is lightened by fromage frais. This recipe has been devised as part of the New Year's Eve timed plan, which is why there are instructions to freeze the meringues; you can, of course, make the entire recipe in one go.

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or

Mulled Wine Sorbet 

This is a truly special sorbet, perfect for serving to anyone suffering from a surfeit of Christmas indulgence. I am indebted to Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir for the recipe from their splendid book on ice creams, Ices: the Definitive Guide.

 

 

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