“Cheer up, love, it’s Christmas,” an old man ordered me last week as I walked home from work along a quiet street in the dark and cold. That’s right, I have been judged not festive enough by a complete stranger based on the 10 seconds in which we passed each other. Imagine my devastation on learning that my neutral expression displeases him so. It’s one of those situations where there are so many responses I wish I had made: “I just found out I’m adopted / My father just died / My husband just left me for my sister / [insert other tragedy to make him feel like rubbish here].” Of course, being British and excessively polite, I simply glared at him and fumed silently. That’ll teach him.
Besides the fact that it would be slightly odd if I were to roam the dark, empty streets of an evening grinning and wishing every single male passer-by a cheery “Merry Christmas!”, I resent having my festive spirit called into question. I’ve been counting down to Christmas for months, old man! Leave me alone!
Allow me to prove my Christmas cheer with another festive recipe. These Yorkshire puddings overflowing with flavoursome mushrooms were my Christmas dish last year, and are a good wintry main course.
Wild Mushrooms & Port
Serves 4, from BBC GoodFood
2 tbsp olive oil
225g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
115g shiitake mushrooms, halved
2 large field mushrooms, sliced
3 sticks of celery, finely sliced
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300ml red wine
1.2 litres stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
handful parsley leaves
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan and fry the mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onion, celery and garlic over a fairly low heat for another 5 minutes.
3. Pour in the wine, stock and thyme, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Add the redcurrant jelly and port, and boil for 10 minutes until thick and syrupy.
5. Season, remove the thyme and stir in the mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes.
6. The original recipe suggests serving these in warmed, hollowed out brioche rolls – I dollop the mushroomy mixture into Yorkshire puddings and garnish it with parsley. Delicious!