Every Christmas we are given a Panettone by our neighbours. It usually arrives around the 4th January. It sits on the kitchen shelf looking lonely and a little unloved, knowing that it has gone from fabulous Italian bowed gift to being just another unwanted Panettone. We always put it to good use – bread and butter pudding is amazing when made with this fruity loaf and it’s also delicious toasted with a bit of butter for breakfast – but it has become the sign that Christmas is over and that the regifting has begun.
There’s nothing wrong with re-gifting. In fact, it’s much better to recycle any unwanted or replicated gifts than to hide them away and let them gather dust. And I know that Id be much happier thinking that gifts I’d bought had eventually ended up in a good home even if it wasn’t with the intended recipient. But not everything is ripe for a re-gift so you have to be careful and only pass on those things which are either edible or easy to remember / replace if needed.
Books, like Panettone, are always good to recycle and pass on. If you receive a book you’ve already read and enjoyed, it would be madness not to share the delight. My husband was given the same book by 3 different people this year, a book he was also given on his birthday last year. Luckily he’d given away his original copy already so he’s now managed to replace that for himself and stock up on presents for like minded friends. Chocolates are a good gift to pass on too….if you have simply too many, rest assured there’s someone out there who will happily take them off your hands. Or you can freeze them, something we did last year, we had lots of little bags of ice hard chocolates which we’d melt down for various recipes or occassions.
There’s simply no point having more than one of the same thing. No one wants that. Neither does anyone want to ask for the receipt in order to make an exchange. Regifting and recycling is the only way forward. It’s the right thing to do. So pass the Panettone and get on with the New Year.
Recipe for Panettone Pudding from Good Food Magazine :
- 50g butter , softened (optional)
- 250g panettone (about 5 medium slices)
- 2 eggs
- 142ml carton double cream
- 225ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- icing sugar , for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3/fan 140C and grease a 850ml/1½ pint shallow baking dish with a little butter. Cut the panettone into wedges, leaving the crusts on. Butter the slices lightly with the rest of the butter. Cut the slices in half and arrange them in the dish, buttered side up.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, vanilla extract and sugar and pour evenly over the panettone.
- Put the dish in a roasting tin and pour hot water around it to a depth of about 2.5cm/1in. Bake for 35 minutes until the pudding is just set – it should be yellow inside and nicely browned on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
I know profiteroles are dreadfully 1985, but I rather like them — a toothsomely flaky crunch of pastry holding some creamy concoction, all drizzled with spun sugar or chocolate syrup or flaked almonds. I’ve never had a problem with them; the directions are simple enough. I even made them for my Home Economics GCSE, which was otherwise sabotaged by the teacher’s provision of a block of frozen spinach over fresh (I had stupidly forgotten to specify — but I didn’t know at the time you could even get it frozen, so naïve was I).
So I decided to make éclairs for my future in-laws when visiting them the other weekend. I am on a programme of trying to win them over with the regular application of home-cooking, either at their house or sent in parcels back with my beloved. They liked the lemon curd, the jams, the madelines, the two flavors of gelato, the blueberry pancakes, the acorn squash soup and the coq-au-vin. In the oven they went, all nicely piped out in 4-inch tubes of smooth paste on a moistened baking sheet.
And out they came: exactly the same, only flatter and more solid and ever so slightly more golden. I only averted disaster by inventing a dessert called “whipped ganache sandwiches” whose architecture you can imagine for yourselves. Especially as I didn’t honor them with a snapshot.
I do not take failure well, especially in the kitchen, so this weekend I was determined to salvage my reputation by making a big batch of profiteroles for some houseguests. The lovely golfball-sized nuts of glossy dough went into the oven……and out they came, just as they went in, only as leaden versions of what youthful promise they had going in. I didn’t even try to rescue them, so in the bin they went.
Have I fallen afoul of some pastry gods somewhere? Have I not made the right sacrifices with the right things at the right time? Is there a hush-hush choux curse known among patissiers of which I am unaware? Are the atmospheric and astrological conditions not right? (Note how ready I am to blame the cosmos) — or is it just me? Have I lost my touch? I am at a loss, waiting for the next choux to drop.
My pâte brisée remains, thankfully, unscathed by demonic influence, so it’s quiche tonight. Go on, ‘gis a quiche. Come to think of it, maybe it’s the puns.
Absolutely Nothing To Drink : Yumchaa by Mel Moss
Absolutely Nothing To Buy : Dinosaur Tea Towels by Mel Moss
Absolutely Nothing To See : Richard III comes to Hong Kong by Samantha Taylor
There’s not much I enjoy more than doing Absolutely Nothing and last week was particularly brilliant.
In Appreciation of the Humble Pomegranate by David Loftus
In Appreciation of the Simple Things in Life by David Loftus
Absolutely Nothing To Wear : Slipper Socks by Zebedee Helm
Absolutely Nothing To Talk About : Minnie Driver by Mel Moss
London Fashion Week Bloomers : Tennis Bottom by Zebedee Helm
Better late than never….a roundup of another week on ANTW.
Adventures in Lone Parenting, Part II, Koh Samui by Samantha Taylor
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And here’s my favourite picture from the past week, just because it’s lovely.
I think this might just have been one of my favourite weeks of Absolutely Nothing. It’s quality not quantity after all…..she says hopefully.
We launched Absolutely Nothing To Talk About, our new mid-week Q&A, and this week Lisa Ispani from Tallulah and Hope gave us wise words and stylish secrets about all sorts of Absolutely Nothing.
We’ve also had some hilarious cartoons from Zebedee Helm which has cheered us along and I’ve once again delved in to my sometimes blurry fashion consciousness to share a few things I’ve loved and pondered.
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Absolutely Nothing To Buzz About : A sweet little love story by Micki Myers
Hair Cuts : Is grey the new black? by Mel Moss with cartoon by Zebedee Helm
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