THE Church never fasts for longer than she feasts; so January is all about Epiphany and the “Christmas season”, although retailers may think otherwise. Indeed, it can stretch through to Candlemas, when our revels truly are ended and our preparations for Lent begin.
A Sprout and Stilton risotto repurposes some common Christmas flavours in expectation of the spring. By all means be flexible here: any blue cheese will do, and you can even add some grated cheddar on top at the end. A handful of chopped ham or bacon lardons, thrown in at the rice stage, also work well.
450g (1 lb) Brussels sprouts
1 leek, washed and trimmed
250g (9 oz) short-grain risotto rice
1 small glass of white wine
500ml (1 pt) stock, vegetable or chicken
100g (3½ oz) Stilton cheese
handful of chopped parsley
Trim, wash, and slice down the sprouts, leek, and shallots. Melt some butter and oil in a heavy saucepan, and soften the vegetables until they are about to go brown. Add the rice and more butter, ensuring that everything is well coated. Add the wine, and allow the rice to absorb this. Now add the stock one ladleful at a time, stirring each one to absorb. It will take about 20 minutes, and you need to be vigilant at the final stage. You want the rice still with a little bite, and the grains separate; the residual heat will finish it off. Finally, put in the crumbled cheese, and the parsley, then serve.
There is something nostalgic about trifle. This Cranberry and chocolate trifle deploys popular seasonal items. I shan’t even pretend I make custard the proper way; life is too short. If you can find some small, Christmas-themed chocolates to decorate the top, all the better. Item weights are for guidance, and what shops tend to sell.
1 chocolate log (about 300g)
4 tablespoons cream sherry (optional)
1 pot cranberry sauce (250-300g)
1 pt (500g) custard
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
300ml (½ pt) pot of whipping cream
chocolate, to decorate
Cut the chocolate log into slices, and squidge them into the base of a large bowl. Pour over the sherry, and then spread the cranberry sauce over the top. Cover with cling film, and set aside.
If using custard powder, then blend it with the cocoa powder and proceed as normal. Once made, pour into a jug, and cover with cling film until cool. If using the shop-bought pre-made stuff, sieve the cocoa powder into this, and mix well to incorporate.
Pour the cooled custard over the chocolate log and cranberries in the bowl. Pop it into the fridge to firm up. Whip the cream into soft peaks, and put this over the top of the custard. Decorate with chocolate, grated or in themed pieces, and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.