Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! In fact, it’s a new decade, isn’t it? How about that! In my last post, I mentioned how I don’t really go in for celebrating on New Year’s Eve. I much prefer waking up on New Year’s Day fresh and hangover free. So over the past 3 or 4 years, I have favoured an early night over a boozy sesh. I never stay up beyond 10.30pm every other night of the year so why make New Year’s Eve different? I would be terrible company. Every other sentence would be interspersed with a big yawn. Not ideal and certainly not what my companion/s would think as polite. It’s not that I am really being impolite; I just get tired. Plus, having a complete day off is such a rarity why would I want to jinx it with a hangover cloud?

The compromise to this, and so that Steve gets a freshly pulled pint, is a drink at my local before coming home and cooking something yummy as a way of celebrating the year drawing to a close.

This year, for Christmas, Steve got me the latest Ottolenghi book, Simple. After skimming through I decided on two dishes as my inspiration for my New Year’s Eve supper. A roasted pumpkin and lentil salad and something I had never tried before. A whole roasted cauliflower. As always, I use recipe books for inspiration rather than exacting guidance. I gather ideas and put my own twist on things depending on what I can find at my local store. So, on this particular occasion, Ottolenghi’s lentil salad had the addition of radicchio that was leftover from a twixtmas meal with family as well as red onion and copious chopped fresh herbs.

The roasted whole cauliflower I was a little more exacting however. Having never roasted a cauliflower whole I needed to know what Ottolenghi found to be the best method and how long to cook it for. I would never have thought to par-boil it first so thank you for that Yotam. Once ready, I nestled the roasted globe triumphantly atop the lentil salad. It made quite a spectacular looking feast for two. A glass of wine alongside on top of the one I had had out and I was almost feeling festive.

“Almost” being the operative word. It wasn’t soon after supper I put my pj’s on, had a cup of tea and watched rubbish tv until it was an acceptable time to go to bed. I think in the end I lasted until just before 10pm. I wished Steve a “Happy New Year” and left him and his beer to it.

New Year’s Day and I was up with the lark with big baking plans. I had wanted to bake a cake first thing so that we could enjoy it later that afternoon. Using a recipe by Skye McAlpin for a bundt cake made with mascarpone in place of butter as my inspiration, I went a little off-piste. I knew it was going to work as I had made the original recipe just before Christmas so I tweaked it a little. Like I said before, I like to use recipes as my inspo in the hope that I can create something new and hopefully equally delicious. In place of pistachios, I added toasted chopped hazelnuts alongside orange zest and roughly chopped dark chocolate. It was in the oven by 8am and out cooling on the wrack by 9! Not a bad start to the day even if I do say so myself.

Once Steve was up and showered we headed to the train station where we purchased tickets to Lympstone. For those that don’t know it, it’s a quaint little village on the Exe Estuary reminiscent to me of a Cornish fishing village. It still feels relatively untouched and has a few pretty decent pubs, a tea room, a village store and hairdressers. If you fancy a decent meal head to The Swan. For a review click here.

One thing I always do when in Lympstone is buy a pot of jam, marmalade or chutney from a little honesty box stall. I love honesty boxes and have purchased some wonderful produce over the years. This Lympstone marmalade is the best marmalade I have ever tasted so I always make sure I have a couple of pounds on me to get a jar and this trip was no different.

From there we stopped off for a cup of tea at Susannah’s Tea Room. We couldn’t have had a warmer welcome. Susannah’s is pretty small inside but in the summer months they have a couple of tables outside. All the cakes and scones look to be homemade although we didn’t partake on this occasion. The toffee apple crumble slice certainly caught Steve’s eye!

After our warming tea, we headed out on our walk along the estuary to Exmouth. The weather wasn’t great but we were keen to take in some fresh air. To be honest, I didn’t really mind it was drizzling. It didn’t dampen my spirits. Once in Exmouth, we headed to the seafront for fish and chips. We ate them out of paper on the promenade in an old fashioned shelter. The kind that you always see in bygone tv series like Miss Marple and Jeeves & Wooster! The Fish was so good and the batter was exceptional. Very crispy and light.

After lunch, we walked back the way we came to Lympstone before returning on the train to Exeter in time for afternoon tea. My Toasted Hazlenut, Chocolate & Orange Bundt Cake was perfect alongside a cuppa. A perfect pick-me-up after our walk.

It wasn’t long after the cake was finished we both put our pj’s on and put on Julie & Julia. A film about food and blogging. I was pretty surprised that I had never seen it before in all honesty! I guess Julie was one of the first foodie bloggers out there. Good for her as her challenge of making every recipe out of Julia Child’s cookbook over the course of a year was no mean feat. 524 recipes in 365 days whilst holding down a full time, emotionally stressful job and a marriage! That’s something to be proud of! Maybe I should pick a cookbook from a chef/author that I admire and do just the same? Maybe Ottolenghi as he’s was pivotal in my New Year’s Eve menu this year? Plus he makes a lot of vegetarian dishes. If you have any suggestions please do send them my way. I love a good challenge. Food for thought. (Excuse the pun!)

With the movie finished and my pj’s on there was only one more natural step for me to take. Bed! Happy New Year everyone.

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