It’s been a few weeks since my last blog and they have been full of eating and drinking and making merry so I have scores of delicious meals to pick from for this blog. In fact, I have enjoyed so much fine food that I have decided to write this blog in two parts (and also to go on a healthy living regime for January to counteract some of my ‘merriness’!)

I am a meticulous planner at heart and take great pleasure in having my life (and my family’s) completely organised. Christmas and New Year are times of the year that I relish as I can begin to plot my planning many weeks in advance and hone these plans with endless lists until I have squeezed all the fun out of everything…..! I write this with my tongue firmly in my cheek because whilst I realise that I am a little OCD about things, I also realise that by being that way, I get to have all the more fun on the night as everything has been so well prepared. And that can never be a bad thing when you enjoy wine as much as I do….

Cutting SalmonThis year I discovered a new way with salmon that I honestly cannot get enough of. It is such an easy, impressive and spectacularly beautiful starter; completely made in advance, it is one I know will repeat time and time again. This year I did not host Christmas, we take it in turns in our family and this was my year off. But we are all responsible for a Christmas lunch course and my Mother and I took charge of the starter. For me, it needed to be light and tasty and require next to no cooking on the day as the kitchen would be busy and full with the main course being made by my Sister-in-law. I had cut this recipe out of a BBC Good Food magazine some time ago and never actually got round to making it. I think I was a little intimidated at the thought of curing my own salmon but when I re-read the recipe, I was impressed with its simplicity. Treacle Cured SalmonAlso, being of Swedish heritage, I am always drawn to cured fish and pickled cucumber so we decided we would give it a go. Treacle Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber was a complete winner from start to finish. It was easy to make, looked so colourful and festive on the plate, it was delicate and delicious and it was also fantastic value for money with one fillet of salmon feeding 10 people for 7,50 Euros! You most certainly cannot argue with that. I urge you to be brave and try this. All the work is done 48 hours before your dinner so you can relax and enjoy yourself instead.

Next I want to jump ahead to our New Year where we were lucky enough to be joined by some of our best friends from the UK who stayed with us for a few fun, boozy days. I actually made them the Treacle Cured Salmon on their first night which they certainly seemed to enjoy. Seafood VelouteThat was then followed up by a dish my husband made which I feel I must talk about as it was a show stopper! He adapted a Gordon Ramsey recipe – Seafood Velouté with Spaghettini. It was luxurious, creamy, deeply fishy and indulgent; it completely silenced our table of rowdy friends whilst they all savoured this decadent dish! Bursting with salmon, scallops and prawns, cooked in a creamy fish stock reduced repeatedly to intensify the flavours, this dish was definitely impressive and is one to make when you want to spoil your guests. I just wish that I had been the one to make it and then bask in all their praise!

And lastly for this instalment of recipes, I want to talk about Salted Peanut Chocolate Bark. This is the second year that I have somehow managed to find the time to make a small selection of edible gifts for family and close friends and I have made this bark both years. Salted Peanut Chocolate BarkIn fact, it is so good I have decided that I will make it throughout the year as it is a lovely extra to bring out with your coffees. I am a huge fan of salty chocolate so this really hits the spot for me. You can buy bars of dark chocolate with Fleur de Sel crystals here  in France but for me, I would like it to be saltier! So this bark is my answer. Dark chocolate is mixed with salted peanuts and then spread out in a thin layer. White chocolate is blobbed on top and swirled around so that it looks a bit like the pattern of bark. Let it set in the fridge and then break into delicious shards of salty sweet nutty yumness. I want some now….

So that’s all for now. In the Part II of this run down of food I have enjoyed with family and friends during the festivities I will offer you up some very sophisticated, exciting Canapés, Salmon with a Saffron Beurre Blanc and a seriously oozy and decadent Chocolate Fondant. I hope you will be joining me….Happy 2012 to you all.