And so the mince pies are dwindling, the turkey curry is tucked away in the freezer, the cheese board has been scraped clean, and the recycling bin is full of prosecco bottles. The old year always ends with a gut-busting feast and the new begins with much anti-bac and taking out the bins. But, oh my, it was worth it.
Thanks to that strange Christmas-holiday-limbo-period, New Year’s Eve sidled up to us with hardly any pomp or fervour, kind of like a sneaky stage whisper in a pantomime, ‘Oh by the way, it’s New Year’s Eve.’ So, at last minute, I jostled with the crowds around Sainsbury’s to buy the night’s alcohol and dinner, and Tony arrived from London to help us ring in midnight. New Year’s Eve isn’t renown for its food, yet I’ve always seen it as an excuse to tuck in, especially as it helps soak up the drink.
I can’t end the year without my favourite kind of dinner; buffet-style on the coffee table (although that goes without saying as we still don’t have a dining table), various dishes jostling for space, a plate in your lap and your hands messy. The final meal of the year was lamb koftes. We each selected a wrap – I admit, a shameful replacement for a flatbread – and lined it with shredded crispy lettuce, roasted courgette and sweet red pepper sprinkled with oregano, and seared salty halloumi before topping it all with a crown of lamb koftes. The juicy patties had been seasoned with cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg, and squashed into logs with a little cooked onion. Finally the wraps were garnished with homemade tzatziki and my favourite salsa – a little out of place with its harmony of coriander, lime and chilli, but, for me at least, a pick ‘n’ mix dinner is pointless without it. I drizzled the salsa all over my koftes, wrapped it up burrito-style, and shamelessly devoured every morsel, the juices running down my fingers.
After that, the rest of the night is a bit of a whirlwind. With hindsight we were far too nonchalant with our drinks – first prosecco, then whisky of all things, then a Disaronno cocktail of my own design which somehow involved Aperol – and lost ourselves in every episode of ‘Porkin’ across America‘ at Tony’s encouragement. Finally, we were summoned to Anthony’s flat where we found a soiree in full swing, booze a’flowing, pizzas circulating, and, naturally, a group huddled around the Xbox. Midnight came and we all gathered round, hands clasped to sing ‘Old lang syne’ but, we soon realised, no one knew the words so there was a lot of enthusiastic humming to make up for it.
New Year’s Day will forever be the day after the night before. We all dream of that fresh January bank holiday walk followed by a warming pub lunch, but does it ever actually happen?
Instead, the hangover is a little worse than you expected, so you groggily slurp orange juice in your pyjamas and watch Netflix. For this reason the food of 1st January needs to be hearty, filling and fatty, with plenty of grease (as it may be the last dish you enjoy what with Veganuary around the corner). That morning, the three of us finally roused ourselves over plates full of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon, to then blearily emerge in the crisp cold sunshine for a meander along the canal to Tony’s train homeward. That evening – more like 4pm as we were starving – Calum and I dined like kings with big bowls of baked cheesy pesto pasta on our laps. The cheddar crust cracked as we broke through to the spirals of pasta, the garlicky button mushrooms and bacon lardons, and the torn hunks of mozzarella which oozed sticky strings as we scooped out spoonfuls. Gourmet feasts can wait, we have all of 2019 ahead of us.
Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe
Serves 3 generously
2 small garlic cloves
2tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of finely grated nutmeg
500g minced lamb
Handful of roughly chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Finely dice the onion and heat a splash of oil in a frying pan. Gently fry the onions until soft and golden, then crush the garlic, add to the pan along with the cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg, and cook until fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Tip the mince into a mixing bowl plus the chopped parsley, a little olive oil, the cooked onions and a good grinding of salt and pepper. Stir, or get your hands in the there and thoroughly squash all the ingredients together.
- Shape the mixture into 9 or 10 sausage shaped logs. Arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and chill for at least 10 minutes so they retain their shape.
- When ready to cook the koftes warm a large frying pan until hot and cook the patties for roughly 7 minutes, leaving the outside to caramelise before flipping. Ensure the meat is cooked through before serving.