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For Christmas Eve dinner we like to eat a baked Camembert and nothing else. It is pure indulgence and feels very wicked, but it is a tradition of our own making and it feels like something special.
We bake the Camembert in its box – just take the lid off and pull open the paper. This time I scored the cheese with a cross, added a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a garlic clove, sliced in half and wedged into the cut cheese.
After about 15-20 minutes it comes out as gooey liquid cheese encased in its rind – which is my favourite part of it. It goes a bit crispy but chewy at the same time.
Usually we just have a bowl of rustic bread, roughly cut into hunks to dip into the cheese. This year we also opened a jar of Real Ale chutney to go with it.
Although I can be a purist when it comes to dishes like this, refusing to dilute the taste of hot runny cheese and bread, I must admit a dab of chutney with it was delicious.
We ate it in front of a cosy log fire…
Does anyone else have Christmas traditions they’ve created for themselves?
Last night we had the first fire of the season in our wood burning stove. It was such a treat to bring the logs in and curl up on the sofa by the fire.
We also made a delicious dinner from one of my favourite recipe books (it must seem like I have a lot of favourites!) - the Complete Traditional Recipe Book from the National Trust.
It was a Hobbler’s Seafood Pie – a so simple fish pie with rich creamy sauce and mash potato topping. Many of you readers will know that my camera’s broken, so I have included a photo of what it looks like in the recipe book – ours wasn’t far off!
Here’s my version with a couple of tweaks to the original recipe…
Hobbler’s Seafood Pie
Feeds 2 with enough leftovers for a light lunch
6 oz white fish (we used Coley)
2 oz prawns
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 oz butter
1 oz plain flour
150ml fish stock
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
mashed potato to cover (add grated cheese for added luxury!)
*Note: use the best fish stock you can – obviously the best would be homemade, but we used ready-made fish stock from Waitrose (not the stuff in the fridge, but in the cooking ingredients section) and it made a great rich tasting sauce.
Put your potatoes onto boil – once tender drain, mash and add some grated cheddar.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Into your pie dish, cut the fish into largeish chunks. Scatter over the prawns and parsley.
Now make your white sauce: heat the milk and fish stock until warm. In a separate pan melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring all the time. Stir in the warm milk mixture a little at a time, stirring all the while. Beat your sauce and bring to the boil – I read that the harder you beat your sauce the smoother it will be.
Once your sauce has come to the boil, turn it down and cook it a little longer whilst beating it. Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and grate in some nutmeg.
Pour the sauce over your fish and prawns, then top with the mashed potato – fluff up with a fork and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden on top.