Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

I’ve just got home from my son’s candle-lit Carol Service. The choir sang Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, surely the most gloriously-named Christmas carol in the hymn book. The title radiates optimism and joie de vivre – qualities which can’t be over-rated but are often under-supplied.

As my Christmas present to you all, here is a virtual glass of my new Dancing Day cocktail. Thank you for reading Eggs On The Roof this year and for commenting so generously and loyally. Sharing stories, books and food with you has brought me nothing but pleasure.

Dancing Day Cocktail

2 parts Prosecco

1 part Cointreau

1 part pomegranate juice

Extra pomegranate juice for freezing into cubes or whichever geometrical figure takes your fancy. Personally, I have a slightly soppy affection for hearts.

Fill each glass with the correct proportions of Prosecco, Cointreau and juice. Add the frozen pomegranate until the liquid reaches the brim.

I’m raising my glass to you and wishing you all a happy and convivial Christmas. I hope that it is punctuated by laughter and made spectacular by instances of kindness. And may tomorrow be your dancing day.

Bed Socks, Gold Shoes and Pancetta Salad

If you were to stop by my house at around 6 o’clock each morning, you’d regret it. I’ve perfected an efficient but hideous early-morning outfit to take my daft spaniel for a walk. Pyjamas, dressing gown, woolly scarf, gloves, bed socks and my teenage son’s giant-sized school shoes (the only footwear large enough to accommodate the super-thick red socks). They’re the kind of leather monstrosities that Pippi Longstocking would have worn – ‘black shoes that were exactly twice the length of her feet.’

Clearly this is an outfit I try to avoid being seen in. But just in case you’ve ever spotted me in those coal-skuttle shoes, can I just point out that these are the shoes I’d rather be known for…..

I had friends to supper last night all of whom have, for one reason or another, had a miserable week. I’m a great believer that in these circumstances, good food, good company and good shoes can sometimes help. We dressed up to the nines and although the food was frugal everyone felt better by pudding.

We ate pancetta and chestnuts – one of those recipes that looks and tastes as though it took more time and trouble than it did – always a good thing. But it has one special ingredient that involves a trip to Ikea – often not a good thing at all, unless you’re in the mood.

Pancetta and Chestnuts With Pea Shoots and Herbs

Serves 6

350g cooked chestnuts

250g thinly sliced pancetta

Soft salad leaves such as pea shoots, rocket, lamb’s lettuce and herbs – nothing that’s frilly or rasps the throat

2 tablespoons gravlaxsas, the sweet mustard and dill sauce that accompanies gravadlax and can be bought from Ikea. I know that sounds a little odd, so if you don’t trust me or if you can’t or won’t go to Ikea, you can make it yourself by whisking together 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 egg yolk. Drip 150ml of groundnut oil into the mixture to form an emulsion and then add 1 tablespoon of chopped dill and some seasoning.

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons best balsamic vinegar

Squeeze of lemon juice and a little lemon zest

Seasoning

Break up the chestnuts and fry them in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes until sizzling. Stir in the gravlaxsas and put to one side. Add the pancetta to the pan and fry until crisp. Again put to one side. Dress the leaves in olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice and a little zest. Season the leaves and then tip the pancetta and chestnuts over the top. Serve warm with a loaf of good sourdough bread.

When I first joined the BBC I was shocked to discover that TV news-readers wore posh jackets and ties above the desk but jeans below. In an inversion of news-reader style, we ate our pancetta and chestnuts with thick coats above the table (my boiler is up the creek yet again) and, in my case, a frothy net skirt and the divine gold shoes underneath.