Monday, 19 December 2011

If wishes were horses...

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

So says a particularly coarse old English saying from the 16th Century. I have been doing a lot of wishing lately. I wish I had more time to cook and blog and chill out with those I love. I wish I could spend everyday of my holidays quietly pottering around my kitchen making delicious things, with those I love casually relaxing on the sofa reading the papers, watching movies and making the odd joke to make me laugh. Rumour has it that this coarse saying is normally used to suggest that wishing is not much good unless you get up and do something to achieve your dreams. And, let's face it, my little wishes are fairly modest. All I need to do is persuade my loved ones to stay still for a little while and let me feed them. There is something about Christmas that makes us all speed up, just when all we want to do is slow down, cozy up on the sofa and enjoy the company of those we love most.

You know, if I had my way, I would make lots of little treats, ideal for eating with your hands whilst watching a film. The wind would howl, the rain would batter the windows and I would turn up the oven and advise the folks on the sofa to get under the blanket. There would be cake and sweet milky coffee. The crib would be lit up in the corner of the front room, quietly promising peace. Everything would be still. Perhaps the words of that prayer would come into my mind:
God of every nation: 
From the beginning of creation you have made manifest your love.
When our need of a saviour was great, you sent your Son to be born of Mary. To our lives He brings joy, peace, justice, mercy and love. Bless all who look upon your manger, may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, Our Emmanuel, and strengthen us to work for the joy, peace, justice, mercy and love that will be the coming of His Kingdom. Amen.
I like that one. There is nothing wishy washy there. Wishing involves getting up and doing something. Quite often, prayers do too. A peaceful finale to Advent with cosy sofa food? Looks like I am going have to create the menu, not too Christmassy just yet, we still must wait, but something that reassures, comforts and hugs. I might serve steak sandwiches and a glass or two of wine.

2x 300g (10 1/2 Oz) best quality rump steak
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 ciabatta loaf
a small handful of jarred red peppers
A couple of sprigs of parsley
A large handful of rocket
Horseradish sauce

Place the steaks on a board. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper, scatter with thyme leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the flavours into the meat, then flip over and repeat on the other side. Warm the ciabatta at the bottom of a gentle oven. Pound the steaks once or twice with your fists to flatten them a little, then put them into a screaming hot griddle pan to cook for 1- 2 minutes. Finely chop the peppers on a large clean board. Move the cooked steaks to the board and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Finely chop a few parsley leaves, mixing them in with the peppers. Finely slice the steaks at an angle. Get the ciabatta out of the oven and slice it open lengthways. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread over the horseradish, then arrange the rocket leaves on one half. Lay the steak slice on top. Mix and scrape the peppers and juices from the board and scatter over the meat. Fold together and serve.

There might be a range of snacks available, including Guacamole and Tortilla crisps, a personal favourite of mine. I have never used a recipe for that though, always making it by instinct. Roughly, it goes:

3 ripe and soft Avocados
1 Red Onion very finely sliced (you may only use some of it, it can be quite strong)
2 cloves of Garlic, crushed and finely sliced
1 Red Chilli Pepper, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
2 ripe Tomatoes, skinned in boiling water and finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Chilli Powder (optional)
salt and pepper
A squeeze of a lemon
A tablespoon of mayonnaise to help blend (optional)

Put all the ingredients together in a bowl, roughly crush by hand, then blend a little with a handheld blender.

Maybe I would have the Frijoles Refritos from my previous post, if I had the time to make them.

Later, I would have to have a little Tarta de Santiago and Cafe con Leche, made with good strong coffee and hot milk, sweetened with a little sugar.

After all that, I guess I would snuggle up under the blankets on the sofa, listen to the wind howling and the rain hammering the windows, take comfort from the peace of the crib shining from the corner of the room, and wait, wait, wait, for that long awaited, unexpected, holy night.


Peter Hunter said...

Perhaps it is presumptuous to class myself among those whom you love, but I am happy to be fed, and will even attempt to make amusing comments from time to time to go some way to justifying that kindness!

Cloister said...

Not presumptuous at all. We will definitely cook and eat together one day! xx