The December/January issue of Delicious was brimful, as might be expected at this time of the year, with ideas for festive feasting.  All very well, but how is the librarycook to produce the required monthly blogpost when most of the recipes are aimed at the Christmas table? Christmas Prawn Rolls, Spicy Cranberry & Mustard Glazed Chicken Wings, Citrus-Cured Salmon with Fennel, Apple & Radish Salad or Turkish Delight Pavlova with Raspberry Sherbet all sounded delicious, thought the librarycook, but she was hardly going to be whipping them up for a weeknight meal.

Luckily, there were a couple of could-work-at-any-time-of-the-year options, and first off the page and into the oven was Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken with Roasted Grapes – the very first instruction was to begin a day ahead. Which of course to the librarycook, means hours devoted to literary pursuits – from memory, Kate Grenville’s engrossing novel about Elizabeth Macarthur, A Room Made of Leaves. During that day, the chicken was marinating in a bath of milk and buttermilk, which resulted in the most tender chicken the librarycook has ever had the pleasure of devouring. And in possibly the biggest mess her kitchen has ever seen – manoeuvring a roasting tray filled to the brim into the fridge resulted in the inevitable, cataclysmic flood of milk and buttermilk over a larger proportion of the floor than the librarycook could previously have imagined. The resulting dish almost made up for the lingering smell of milk, and the roasted grapes were a revelation.

Next recipe off the rank was actually the subsequent one – it’s not often the librarycook deigns to use two consecutive recipes, so all kudos to Danielle Alvarez and her new book, Always Add Lemon (although, oddly, neither of the librarycook’s chosen recipes did feature lemon, or, indeed, any of the citrus family). The Tomato, Onion and Cheddar Tart recipe wasn’t quite as generous with its C:R ratio, providing only an hour and a bit while the pastry first rested in the fridge, and then was blind-baked in the oven. Essentially a cheesy, tomato-ey quiche, the tart was greeted with fairly muted enthusiasm, and will be unlikely to reappear on the librarycook’s table.  The librarycook was able, however, to enjoy a few chapters of a biography – Elizabeth Macarthur:A Life at the Edge of the World. Conscientious readers may notice a bit of a Mrs Macarthur theme here – all the librarycook can say is that she must have been a fascinating woman, who enjoyed a long and rich life as one of the earliest female settlers in the colony of New South Wales, and, given the somewhat unreliable nature of her husband, and the many years she spent in England, may possibly lay claim to be the “mother” of the Australian wool industry, an industry more commonly ascribed to the hard work of John. Happily, thought the librarycook, at least in the 21st century it’s unheard of for men to claim credit for the labours of women!

The librarycook wishes all the greetings of the season to her readers, and may they all enjoy hours of reading, along with substantially fewer hours of cooking.  And of course a foolishly ambitious number of books to be read!


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