It’s that time of year again

The land is gripped in frost; the ground yielding nought to the peck of the chicken.  And the stars are bright, and clear; it might even be telescope time, but for one thing.

For it is that time of year when The Genealogist takes The Urchins off the to The Northern Wastes.  Some of us may be partied out, but there’s more fun to be had, more feasting and more presents.  As I gaze upwards I realise the laptop with the software that brings the stars to our screens is away with them.  And for once she has a genealogy project to deliver, a surprise for Floosie’s half-century.

So it is quiet at Grasshopper Towers.  The cats and the chickens are fed; the bird-table groaning with stale pancakes.  And did you know that two out of three cats turn up their little pink noses at king prawns?  They’ll need eaten up.  Oh well.

Before all those festivities started my dear friend The Queen of Hearts had brought my attention to a recipe.  I’ve been looking for the occasion, and perhaps the Return of the Brood may be the time.  I was convinced that the attraction to said QofH was in putting four birds on one platter, for she and The Knave have been broodier than most.

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But then I went to the recipe, and drooled.  It comes from that man Yotam Ottolenghi, whose fare we have been sampling of late.  Rather than our favourite cookbook this one comes from his website, and that is a site to bookmark, and to return to often.

I’ll make this with just one chicken, but the flavours it promises have me very impatient, as of course I was anyway for the end to my solitude, but this is one to savour.  We will have sumac-marinated chicken stuffed with bulgar & lamb.  I’ll post the results of my efforts, with recipe in due course, but if you can’t wait pop over to Ottolenghi, and dribble.

But we can’t feast on just chicken can we?  They’ll have had a long day on the road, and be tired and hungry.  We’ll need to break bread.  And just as my fingers recover from what seems to have been a daily battering on a floured surface I come across a recipe for a focaccia to surpass all others, and there’s not a sprig of rosemary or a whiff of garlic around.

The bread is laced with cumin and coriander, mint too; and chilli flakes, sumac and nigella seeds.  Too good to miss out.

It would be a shame not to finish with something sweeter, and ideas of a little banquet take shape.  There is cake to be made too.  One with an ingredient list and flavours to match what will have gone before.  In the mix will be almonds and coconut; vanilla and carrot.  There will be pistachio nuts and cinnamon, a drop or two of rosewater.

These last two dishes come from the latest addition to the Kitchen Bookshelf, a volume from the festive stocking.

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Persiana is packed with goodies and brought to you by Sabrina Ghayour.  It might get well-thumbed very quickly.

So my intention is to present a menu of:

Eastern-style focaccia

Sumac-marinated chicken, stuffed with bulgar & lamb

Spiced carrot, pistachio & almond cake, with rosewater cream

Wish me luck.  All going well I’ll post comments, pictures and full recipes.  Until then I’ve got my lentil soup to keep me warm.  Now away and eat your cereal.

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Filed under Farrago, On the Kitchen Table

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