Sunday, 15 December 2013

Cleaning the silver and menu planning

Usually by about now, I have written up the menus for Christmas and Boxing Days and pulled out the ingredients list to check what is in the store cupboard and what needs to be shopped. It usually feels comfortable and organised and about right and not at all hysterical or panicking. After all, a catering establishment would usually plan ahead to make sure items were in stock and the facilities were prepared.

Yesterday as I made one of my frequent returns to the sanctuary of the sofa to nurse my painful arm and shoulder, I sat there thinking with great concern that this was not done and the menus were still turning around and developing in my head. We have 14 for Boxing Day and I always like to do things differently so it is not a case of repeating the same old tried and tested favourites. This year we are going to have a fish course simply so that I can use the fish knives and forks that were my mothers. She never knew I had them as an aunt gave them me some years ago. My grandmother had given them to my mother for her 21st. They are EPNS and were of great expense to my grandmother but my mother did not keep them long (read that as probably cast aside as not good enough!) and my aunt salvaged them.

They are only a set of six plus fish servers whilst we have 14 to serve, so for the past month or so I have been in and out charity and antique shops and have acquired another set of six for £5 and odd ones amounting to five places for £3. None of these are as nice as the original but they are not bad. Nor are they all EPNS and some are chrome but they have the look. Sometime ago I discovered silver (and EPNS) cleaning using a foil lined bowl, warm water and bicarbonate of soda. This had removed the years of black off the EPNS and gave me an acceptable feeling of wanting to use the objects in my mouth. A feeling I never have with proprietary silver cleaner as one can't be sure all the chemicals are off. The fish cutlery shines and looks special.

It will still be a simple fish course and a flimsy reason to use the fish servers as I am making miniature smoked salmon terrines. These can be made ahead and then served from one large serving plate.

My current quandary is a bit silly. I also want to make a lovely vegetable soup as it is so simple and so very beautiful when, for special occasions, it is passed through a fine sieve. I have done leek and potato soup like that one Christmas and it was extremely well received. I'm thinking of a pumpkin or squash soup as we have some left from our allotment. It is just that I am suddenly concerned about serving a hot soup followed by a cold salmon terrine and how that will go down, digestively speaking! Is there a rule that says hot soup should not be followed by a cold fish course? (These are of course, the important issues of the day rather than gun men gone mad again, fireman going on strike, or the funeral of a world leader.)

We are having a chocolate fountain for pudding. I have yet to collate the recipes and ingredients needed for making profiteroles with raspberry cream and baked cheesecake pops to go alongside the other dipping items. And the main event will be a gorgeous turkey which I would normally have sourced by now. It must be unbasted and big enough so that I can inject it with my own delicious baste. We will have a second roast and then as many vegetables as I can manage. Oh yes, and normally I'd have bought fresh cranberries by now and made a cranberry sauce and frozen it.

Eating our freezer empty has been a priority these last few days so at least something is being done. Maybe I should stop stumbling over the hot starter and cold fish and get on with the details. Shopping for the bits begins today. Making the cranberry sauce always makes me feel festive.


LB said...

Makes me want to pop across the pond and sneak in at the kids' table. (We always had a table for children at these big dos that gradually attracted kids of all ages.) Such care and thought going into a meal. Even to the cutlery.

rashbre said...

Perhaps insert a small amuse bouche on a spoon between the courses?

Doris said...

LOL LB The kids have for a long time been too old for a kids table. Oh the indignity of it, even if us adults get to a stage when we know fun when we see it! I think the planning and care is all part of the fun.

Rashbre you genius you! Go to the top of the class ;-)