Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Women's Christmas, cakes and the Jeremy Kyle show

New Years Eve
I was glad to read in Psychology Today that a quarter of people fail in their new year resolutions in the first week. Phew, at least I'm not on my own.
In fact, that's a complete lie. I didn't make any.

You could say this arises from fear of failure but it's probably more a healthy case of can't be bothered. New year resolutions are great, and setting ludicrous goals even better, but for the month that's in it, January doesn't signify anything too dramatic for me other than using up half a tonne of frozen turkey, baking a Galette des Rois, and getting back on top of work deadlines..

I cheated at my Galette this year. Traditionally it's a cake for the feast of the Epiphany which is the 6th January. This date is also known as Little Christmas or Women's Christmas, which is just as well as I had two girls nights out in a row - one with old schoolfriends and the second with women from my village who have a traditional meet up in the pub for Nollaig na mBan. We had wine, laughs, gossip and in a rural area like ours a night like this forms important bonds. I am lucky enough to have wonderful neighbours on whom I can call at a moments notice for rescue and respite (and regularly do). A day before Christmas our thoroughbred broke out of his stable and ran wild down a public road chased by a motorbike. 
*Ring Ring*  
"Hey,  can I drop the kids in? Having a bit of a problem here...."
Seriously, there's never a dull moment with thoroughbreds. They are the runway models of the horse world; beautiful, possibly anorexic (ours is) and with insanely tricky personalities. I am going to end up a crying wreak on the Jeremy Kyle show with all my kids taken into care if he doesn't start behaving himself soon.

Gallette des Rois
Back to cakes. In Catholic France the gorgeous Galette des Rois almond pastry celebrated the arrival of the three wise men. This was possibly because under the Julian calendar, Christmas Day fell on that day whereas under the Gregorian Calendar, (the present day system) it's the 25th.

As we're not great Christmas cake, pudding or mince-pie eaters in this house, the Galette is a Christmas staple, and devoured long before the Epiphany. It's a simple recipe, and if you are pressed for time as I usually am, you can use pre-made puff pastry and the result will still be pretty delicious. After you roll out the pastry it literally takes about five minutes to prepare. It's simple, mouthwatering and for me, the most perfect of French pastry treats.

May you all have a happy and healthy 2013; may cooking and food provide you with pleasure, comfort and fun in these strange and often unsettling times that we are living in. Basketcase will still be here; keeping you company in your travails; supplying scandal, food news, the wild, obscure and occasionally profane.

But in the meantime have a slice of Galette, and let me know how you get on. Happy Eating.

Galette des Rois

100 grams ground almonds
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams butter
one egg, lightly beaten
400 grams home made or ready made puff pastry
three drops almond essence

Mix the butter and caster sugar into a paste then add the ground almonds and the almond essence. Bind together with the beaten egg.
Roll out the pastry into two 10 inch rounds. Spread the almond paste on the first round, spreading it out to within an inch of the edge. Place the second round of pastry on top of the first, press the edges together, and score the top in semi-circular lines. Brush with a beaten egg and bake at 180 for 25 minutes.
You better be hungry x


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