We're having our Christmas feast here tonight: smoked salmon, delicious roast lamb with lots of vegetables. I've made little lemon pots for pudding, and mince tarts, and then there's cheese and fruit. All the children are here (my girls are wrapping all my presents for me, I can hear them chatting by the fire next door ... very soothing).
Now I'm off to get dressed in the half hour before my oldest friend and my parents arrive. Suddenly, after the usual Christmas Eve pressures, I feel Christmassy. Lovely to have everyone under one roof - I always get it in the neck for saying that, but it's true.
The lemon pots are quick and simple: melt 75g sugar in a 3ooml tub of double cream. Add the juice of a lemon and pour into tiny pots or shot glasses. Put them in the fridge, and by the time the cream is cold, it will have set. Mmmm
The mince pies were particularly easy: I bought a jar of very standard mincemeat, and jazzed it up with the grated zest of an orange and a little armagnac. I made pastry with 240g flour, 120g butter, and the juice of the orange. I then pressed this with a wooden stick into the tiny holes of my tart tin. I then put the pastry into the fridge to rest for an hour before putting a little mincemeat into each tart and putting them in a very hot oven (220C) for 10 minutes.
Alfred says that he likes them to have lots of icing sugar (or what he calls sweet flour) ... and the more sugar they have, the better he likes them. They're also my father's favourite.
Go West, young woman - This is Vertices Unite by the one and only Stephen West. It's an ingenious construction comprising six sections and an i-cord cast off - very easy to make,...
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