We talked ourselves out of it because, finishing at 6am on January 1st, it would have wiped us out for the rest of the day and we had a lunch date already fixed. We also didn't want to lose any part of a day where we could do some more decorating and time was running out. We had a lot to do yet and only 3 days left to do it. Maybe we'll go to it next time.
We had had peculiar weather all week. To begin with it was fairly frosty but as the days went by it warmed up (enough for us to discontinue using our electric blanket) and we had rain on and off. On New Year's Eve we were basking in 12ºC and sunshine. Barrie was coming round for the evening and we had a dinner planned of our own.
MYSTERY FISHY STARTER (to be provided by Barrie)
ROAST VEAL WITH ARMADILLOS AND VEGETABLES
CHRISTMAS PUDDING AND BRANDY BUTTER
Barrie arrived with a little box of gorgeous seafood cocktail purchased from his favourite deli in Chatellerault. It contained lots of the things you often see as "fruits de mer" in restaurants and, although some of the bits and pieces looked a little too scary for my liking, it was absolutely delicious. I served it with green salad and bread.
The veal was cooked to perfection by Nick chez nous and served with his best gravy. In case you're wondering, armadillos are actually "hassleback potatoes" but I renamed them because they look something like this.
This is how I cook them:
- Peel the right number of medium-sized potatoes and cut them in half long-ways.
- Make slits in them being careful not to cut all the way through - see picture.
- Place them flat side down in a roasting tin. Brush with melted butter and season with S&P.
- Gently pour about half a pint of OXO or any kind of stock around the potatoes to about a third the way up. Don't drown them.
- Bake at about 180ºC for 45mins or so. Timing isn't critical. They're done when they look done, ie when the liquid has been absorbed and the potatoes are brown on top.
Most recipes, such as Nigella's, from whom I borrowed the photo, don't use the stock and just roast them. This would no doubt make them more crispy but I prefer my armadillos slightly chewy underneath with the extra flavour of the stock.
The cheeseboard was interesting because some of it had been in and out of our fridge all week and was fairly lively. We also added two local goats cheeses with the intention of bringing all the left-overs back to Derbyshire to enjoy later. We cooked the Christmas pud - brought with us from England along with the brandy butter - on top of the wood-burning stove.
We let the New Year in and just after midnight Barrie went home and we retired to bed, leaving the washing up until the next day. We were due in St-Aignan for lunch and we were really looking forward to that.