We decided to host a Christmas party some time in October. Visions of elaborate nibbles, bite-size tarts, mini food, champagne flowing in beautiful flutes, mulled wine steaming on the hob, candles flittering and people wandering and mingling, with some civilised Christmas tunes jingling in the background.
It seems I had forgotten about the size of our kitchen, the lack of equipment, the price of food and drink, that petite-ness of our flat (we definitely beat most bloggers who claim to live in a 'teeny tiny' flat hands-down), that we don't have enough glasses for more than six people, and that we have jobs and therefore can't spend weeks at home preparing baby pastry cases, poaching quails eggs, icing cupcakes and foraging for pine cones to decorate our pocket home.
So it became a, deep breath and 'let's make the most of what we have' situation. And that includes time. Tuesday night was pastry, Thursday night brownies, Friday saw me struggling home (unfortunately with a slightly broken shoulder, so this probably wasn't the most sensible thing to be doing of an evening) with a crate of satsumas bought for a bargain £8.50 from our wonderful Turkish shop on Bethnal Green road. After being rationed at home last weekend because the satsumas (with leaves on) had cost so much in Waitrose, I was felt more than a little smug. A small breather before I started on mince pies and cupcakes (and a battle with cream cheese frosting. We tried by hand for an hour. I almost went round to a friends house to use his KitchenAid but decided to let go of the perfectionist in me, and with a broken whisk, admit defeat. My generous gift from Santa this year cannot come soon enough.) Saturday morning was cheese and paprika biscuits, more mince pies, dips, crudités, pigs in blankets, devils on horseback and mulled wine. A lot of mulled wine.
T and A came early, eager not to miss a minute of the football, and the only way to do that was to be here from 12.45. Brothers T and A soon followed and it gradually picked up from there. A long afternoon and evening of friends, Christmas cards, bottles of plonk, far too much food, Christmas jumpers, a little too much mulled wine, hugs, smiles, 'A Christmas Sing with Bing' musical accompaniment, and so much festive cheer.
Flattering compliments from everyone about the food made, admiration of our little East-end flat, and generous donations of wine and spices put smiles on our faces, and has made us certain - this is definitely something we will repeat. And next year I'll try to cook slightly less. The amount of cake that's left means I may not be able to fit through the door to get to work tomorrow morning.
Satsumas from Bethnal Green road
All meat from the butchers on Bethnal Green road
Cheese, paprika and almond biscuits from Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet
Mince pies made using Lily Vanilli's sweet shortcrust recipe and Dan Lepard's dark and rich mincemeat. Bake for 25 minutes.
Pumpkin cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen (and only attempt the frosting if you have an electric whisk)