Toss in the starfruit and voila, another flaming headache

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The Independent Online
CONGRATULATIONS] You have just survived the festive season. And with the help of Delia Smith's 18-page 'How To Cheat At Christmas' guide, you are a family hero. Granny loved your Christmas Eve Lobster Risotto Gratin, the kids couldn't get enough of your Feta Cheese with Salsa canapes, your Lightning Roast Duck with Bitter Oranges and Port was nothing short of spectacular, and the Caramelised Mincemeat Ravioli went like a dream. So quick] So easy] So sophisticated] Well done]

Now, with one more day to go, you're running low on inspiration. The shops are closed. Grandad is squabbling with Father about who finished the ginger wine. And there's 10lb of turkey in the fridge. What's a superwoman to do?

Relax. Close the kitchen door, crank up Frank Sinatra and let Delia do the thinking. It's time for Warm Salad with Turkey and Kumquats] This is a huge hit every year: a light salad is just the thing for unclogging the arteries. And so economical]

Let's start with the dressing, the heart of a good salad. Put 1tbs sherry vinegar in a small bowl, whisk in a pinch of dry mustard powder, sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, then add 2tbs olive oil and 1tbs walnut oil.

What do you mean you haven't got any walnut oil? It went missing just before Grandad locked himself in the shed with his collection of cricket bats? Don't worry] Whisk up some vinegar - that stuff the olives are in will do - Crisp 'n' Dry and that packet of powdered white pepper you saved from the train to Leeds. Just make sure you get the quantities right and put some elbow into it. Delicious] Leave it to one side in a cool place. No pantry? Outside the back door will do.

Now, combine 1 packet rocket, 1 packet mixed green salad and a small nosegay of watercress. You didn't buy any rocket? I know it's a luxury, but you really don't need much to give your salad that distinctive peppery flavour. And the watercress has gone squishy in the bottom of the fridge? Wash it under a cold tap, dear. Still smelly? Don't you know anything? Always store vegetables in a brown paper bag. This is Christmas for cheats, not morons. And put that cigarette out.

So, we've got a nice bowl full of salad leaves and, er, white cabbage. Now season 8oz turkey with salt and freshly mixed black pepper. Cut 2oz streaky bacon into 1cm squares. Slice 8 kumquats into rounds about the width of a pounds 1 coin, discarding any pips.

That's not a kumquat, you idiot, that's a starfruit] I don't know what a kumquat is either, but they're on the shelf near the pomegranates and cost a fortune. Good God, look at the time. Let's press on. And stop hogging the sherry.

Heat 1oz unsalted butter - margarine to you - and 1tbs olive oil/Crisp 'n' Dry in a medium-sized frying pan. Over a moderate heat cook 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped, for a couple of minutes, stirring around constantly. Forget about how you crush and chop - that's not a moderate heat] Start again. Now raise the heat a little and add the turkey and bacon. Not the starfruit] Don't use your fingers, you idiot] Cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing all the time. Is it too much to ask that the turkey be cooked through but not tough and dry?

Go out for a fag break. Ensure the dog hasn't drunk bowl of dressing. Remove turkey and bacon to a warm - cold, whatever - bowl, leaving the residue of congealed fat in the pan but off the heat.

Pour me a glass of sherry. Take 1tbs of dressing and toss the cabbage so that the leaves or chunks or whatever are 'coated but still dry'. All right then, thoroughly soaked. Forget about dividing the salad between individual serving dishes.

Go back to the stove - careful now] - and whack up the heat. 'Replace' (?) the frying pan and - frankly I don't care what speed you do it - tip in 1tbs white wine vinegar; 2fl oz freshly squeezed orange juice; 1tbs fresh green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed; starfruit and - there's no dressing left, is there? Sherry, Ribena and an unopened jar of capers is fine.

With the pan 'madly bubbling', flip over the tape. Keep everything moving quickly for about 45 seconds. Finish cigarette, being careful to stub out well away from stove. Particularly toss the starfruit around so they don't stick. Wander off to the bathroom to find a Nurofen. Stop crying.

When all the juices have reduced to a black mess and a heady smell of Ribena emanates, remove the pan from the heat and scrape the entire contents into the bowl. Where the hell is the reserved turkey and bacon?

Don't even think about adding croutons and sprinkling with 1tbs chopped chives. Feed to dog. Call vet. Crash out on sofa. Et voila] No more turkey.