I’m not quite sure why mulled wine has become such a classic British drink at Christmas. Apple cider is a more traditional beverage after all. I’m as partial to a glass or two of mulled wine as anyone else, but given the choice I’d go for mulled cider every time. It has a lighter, fruitier and more refreshing taste. You don’t need to add as much sugar either. Mulled apple juice can be served alongside or even instead of, allowing drinkers and non-drinkers alike to join in the festive cheer.
Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are an integral part of Christmas. So why not give your Christmas dish a spicy twist? These stir-fried Brussels sprouts with leeks, ginger, garlic and chilli will liven up the event. They’re quick to cook and unlike boiling stir-frying makes the sulphury compounds of the sprouts less obvious.
Christmas is traditionally a time for baking biscuits and I usually make the most of it. I tend to make an old favourite or two, but also use the occasion to try out a some new recipes. One of them, this time, was to be Christmas Butter Biscuits.
No Christmas dinner is complete for me without a dish of steaming braised red cabbage. Slow cook it with an apple and some spices and the humble red cabbage is transformed into a dish fit for a king.
I know, I know, the nut roast has had a bad press over the years. But thankfully the days of dried out bits of tasteless, hard, leathery tack are long gone. This lentil & Brazil nut roast is a perfect vehicle for all those delicious Christmas roast accompaniments, not forgetting the stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. It also stops the vegetarians and vegans feeling excluded in a mixed meal.
Yes I know Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Stir-up-Sunday is fast approaching. It falls on the Sunday before Advent which is the 22nd November this year. It’s traditionally the day when the Christmas puddings and cakes are made and when the family all take a turn at stirring, not forgetting to make that all important wish whilst they’re at it. So to get you in the mood and to offer a little inspiration for your Christmas baking, I made this fig almond cake yesterday with a very cheeky slug or three of whisky – Whisky Galore.
If it wasn’t for We Should Cocoa, I probably wouldn’t have managed a Christmas bundt cake this year. I’m still recovering from flu and lacking in energy, so cooking has been mostly off this Christmas. However, I’m really glad I made the effort as it’s a light and delicious fruit cake that even CT will eat – he’s not a fan of either fruit cake or mincemeat, but is weirdly happy to indulge in this festive treat.
I always try and make the boys next door something for Christmas as a thank you for uncomplainingly taking in our parcels throughout the year. Seeing some cranberry Wensleydale cheese for sale recently, I remembered how good the Wensleydale apple cake I made last year was and thought I should perhaps try it out in some muffins. I found this recipe on the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Co website and adapted it accordingly.
So, this is how I made:
Wensleydale and Cranberry Chocolate Muffins
- Sifted 225g flour, 50g drinking chocolate, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of rock salt into a bowl.
- Stirred in 110g golden caster sugar.
- Crumbled in 125g Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.
- Peeled, cored and finely chopped one small apple and stirred this into the mix.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in 2 smallish eggs.
- Added 90 ml Mrs Middleton’s cold pressed rapeseed oil and 200 ml sour milk (ordinary milk should be fine or add a tsp of lemon juice to the milk and leave to stand for a few minutes).
- Stirred until just combined.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180°C for 22 minutes when risen and firm to the touch.
Not very elegant perhaps, but these would make great snack food for keeping the cold at bay whilst seeing in the New Year at some favourite spot out in the wilds, as we have been known to do. A flask of hot mulled wine to accompany them would not go amiss either. As such I am submitting these to Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too, which is all about New Year’s Eve Nibbles.
Homemade mincemeat is a revelation, once made it’s hard to go back to a commercial product. Even inveterate mincemeat sceptics like CT are happy to partake of this. In fact it was hard to keep his hands off the Chilli and Chocolate Mincemeat Slice I made last year.