Have yourself a hazy little Christmas
Some days demand a stiff drink and a bite to eat, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new book, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up ...
Cooling like marble, almost flinty and savoury, this fizzy aperitivo uses Cocchi Americano – a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours – the perfect start to any party. Crushed ice Small segments of lime, lemon, orange 1 part gin 2 parts Cocchi Americano 4 parts sparkling wine Paper drinking straw Bay leaf
1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.
2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.
3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a paper straw. Finish with a bay leaf, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your choice.
... with anchovy-stuffed eggs
A throwback dish of unassuming style. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen: “Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many.” In my book, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The inspiration for this recipe is the amazing chef James Ferguson.
Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many
2 eggs 2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped 1 tsp olive oil Finely grated zest and juice of ¼ lemon ½ tsp dijon mustard A generous pinch of smoked paprika 2 tbsp mayonnaise A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or pickled onions, to serve
1 Put the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so the water is just simmering. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies in a bowl with the oil and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mix until smooth. Stir in the parsley.
2 Lift out the eggs and cool completely in cold water. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy mixture, then mash lightly together. Taste the stuffing mixture; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
3 Take a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily. Spoon or pipe the stuffing back into the egg-white boats, then serve with a few pickles.
Light-emitting diode ...
A variant of a whiskey sour that almost glows in the dark that will relieve any excesses of dinner.
3 parts rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod – or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on 2 tsp egg white
Frond of fennel or dill
1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a lid and add plenty of ice.
2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.
3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one.
4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill – a bit of green atop the frothy head is most appealing. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.
... with a squash and truffle brandade
I have used the word “brandade”here because the texture is similar. If you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.
1 small squash – about 680g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta breads or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.
2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splash over the rest of the olive oil and a good smattering of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and bake for 50–60 minutes or until totally soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip into a sieve set over a saucepan and drain for about half an hour, or until the squash looks dry. Then put the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.
3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy mixture. Season to taste, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.
4 Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.
5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil, then surround with the strips of bread.
This will either cause an incident or revive those at the scene. For this drink, crushed ice is best, as it melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol.
2 parts rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 parts orange juice – or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slices, for decoration Paper drinking straw
1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.
2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slices of orange and add a paper straw.
... with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise
A few stints of living in the south of Spain have made me a croquette aficionado. I like this type of croquette for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced 1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained 100g panko or other breadcrumbs 1 tbsp mint, finely chopped 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped A generous pinch of chilli flakes 75g mayonnaise
6 tbsp light olive oil
1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.
2 Add the spinach and mix well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.
3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The mixture should be quite stiff – if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli flakes into the mayonnaise.
4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Put the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette mixture, roll into balls and then flatten into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.
5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the oil hot. Keep turning them until they are golden all over, then drain on kitchen paper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.
▲ This is an extract from Rosie’s latest book, The Sunday Night Book – Short Recipes to Make the Weekend Feel Longer (Quadrille, 10.99) out now