22nd November 2009
Bread Sauce And Rhubarb Relish
Spicey Cottage Christmas
My little brother came up for a visit this weekend, and brought up the obligatory curries from our Mum's local curry shop in Wibsey - the magnificent Spicey Cottage. In fact, I've been missing my usual Karahi Gosht Extra Spicy so much that I made him bring up 6 of them so I could stock up my freezer.

This is partly so that I can carry on our family's fine custom of a Christmas Eve curry (which took over from our previous fine custom of Christmas Eve Fish 'n' Chips when all the chip shops stopped being open when you might actually want to eat) when I spend my first Christmas up here with the Eldoradoes this year.
But only partly since I requested them in the full and certain knowledge that Rachel won't be touching any curry described as "extra spicy" to save her life.
Oooh, shame.

So into our Friday night curry-fest and the chance to improve my imitation of their awesome yoghurt sauce.
Extra Spicey Cottage curries reheat well in the microwave with a generous scattering of freshly chopped green finger chillies and a handful of coriander leaves - You can chop the stem end off the chillies, roll them between your fingers to squeeze out the seeds then slice them up.
Extra spicy my arse!
Incidentally, when you're trying to reheat a frozen Spicey Cottage curry, don't try steaming it - it produces a wet and rather curdled looking result, even when quite well sealed.
The best way is definitely just to stick the whole frozen (foil) container with its lid and scattering of a half-dozen sliced chillies into a low oven and leave it for a couple of hours whilst you luxuriate in a five-beer bath, until you can't stand the mouth-watering smell filling your house any more.
That means it's ready.
And delicious.
But microwaving makes an acceptable alternative.
When you order a Spicey Cottage takeaway they also provide you with a tightly packed roll of three chapatis wrapped in paper for free (Attention Scottish people - that's FREE. And extras only cost 10p each!), which you can also freeze. These reheat moderately well in the microwave at the same time as the curry if you put them in a small plastic bag, make sure to get them piping hot, and put the remainder back in the plastic bag every time you peel a chapati off to prevent them drying out and turning to cardboard. Microwaved tortilla wraps make a satisfactory substitute if you've eaten all the chapatis.
We lubricated ourselves for the event with a couple of bottles of Brew Dog's 18.2% Tokyo stout. And a couple of bottles is really all you might ever need, delicious as it is, it's a bit like sinking a bottle of port. It pretty much finishes you off for the night.

For Saturday night I had suggested the fantastic but slightly scary range of fine Dim Sum available from Saigon Saigon in St. Andrew's square up in the middle of Edinburgh - but that's such a schlep when you're drunk.
And lazy.
So we compromised on discovering my local chinese takeaway the Wok Inn at the bottom of Newhaven Road, which was the right choice because it has absolutely magnificent takeaway food. Very non-commercial stuff, far better than you have any right to expect from your local chinky, and better than I'd remembered from the other time I tried it but had probably been a little too cautious with the dishes. Don't bother with any timid lemon chicken type fayre but go straight for the off-menu chilli-salt squid. It wasn't the dry dish I had expected, but it was lovely, and the fact that it didn't seem to be listed in their computerised order management system and had to be relayed in the traditional oral way just added to it's sense of authenticity.

Mojo The Cuddly Monkey
Finally on Sunday, seeking for further amusement of an outdoorsy kind, we met up with the Eldorado girls, and went down to Gullane beach for a wintry picnic in the sand dunes. Unfortunately whilst running barefoot through the gorse bushes, Georgina managed to impale herself on a thorn, and then took great exception to bro's attempts to perform open-foot surgery using a small pair of mussell shells I found on the beach. Or "Nature's Tweezers" as I like to call them.
As compensation, and to take her mind off the extreme agony, we went into North Berwick to visit the Scottish Seabird Centre gift shop.
Georgina scored a cuddly monkey, and I found an interesting recipe for Rhubarb Relish in one of the National Trusts's cook books on display.
Can't take me anywhere!!

Prepped For Surgery Under The Knife
Rachel and I also started discussing my contributions to the upcoming Christmas Dinner at her sister's place, and how that might fit in with her family's venerated Christmas traditions.
These apparently include a traditional packet bread sauce mix, and Rachel reacted with some horror at the suggestion that I might make the bread sauce from bread.
Thus I am faced with the task of developing an acceptable bread sauce version somewhere between my Mum's ("Ugh - too lumpy") and their Colman's ("Ugh - too shite").
I have begun this process with a trial run for Grecky's Thanksgiving Dinner.
(though I'm risking Eldorado Family opprobium by adding that touch of horseradish).

I'm also down for supplying real gravy (apparently they will be providing their own Bisto), my Carrots Ricard, and an Eggnog for Christmas Eve indulgence.

Rhubarb And Mustard Relish
sauce veg
3 sticks rhubarb
6 cored strawberries (optional)
knob of butter
juice of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
1 Tablespoon demarara sugar
Chop the rhubarb into ½" pieces, put them in pan with a knob of butter, the juice of ½ lemon and barely cover with water.
Simmer until the rhubarb is softening, then add the sugar and allow the relish to reduce and thicken.
You can add the strawberries here too, if you fancy them. They add a delicate sweetness, and inhibit some of the tooth-furring properties of the rhubarb. Adjust the sugar accordingly.
The quantities given here work on the basis of ending up with 8 Tablespoons of rhubarb.
Whip with a whisk to break up the rhubarb and add the mustard (to taste), perhaps with a little extra butter.
I wasn't really sure about this "relish" but made it for Grecky's Thanksgiving Dinner and it went really nicely with their roast pork. Serve it hot - it was a bit greasy cold.
I can see how it would also be good served with oily fish like mackerel, or indeed, herring.

I can now testify that it goes really nicely with a pan-fried Rainbow Trout.

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