All posts filed under: Festive Recipes

Traditional Christmas Cake

Like marmalade English fruit cakes are an acquired taste. Already the family are looking less than enthusiastic about my very traditional Christmas cake. “Nah – sorry – that’s not my favourite Mum,” I keep hearing. I’m not judging them. It took me years to love this cake. Dried fruits and armagnac was definitely not my thing. Instead, like most kids, I’d pick off the marzipan and icing from the sides of the cake and hand the dark brown stuff to Dad who was and still is a voracious consumer of fruit cake. In many respects a traditional British Christmas cake is the ultimate in traditional cakes. Over 50% of this cake is made up of dried fruit with the added bonus of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and a good shot of alcohol. Marzipan which surrounds the cake is one of the oldest confectionaries dating back to the middle-ages. The pure white royal icing is a later Victorian addition and you can ditch it if you want – but that whiteness is a real beauty if you …

Pomegranate, mandarine and bulgur salad

After the delicious leg of lamb on Sunday I had plenty of meat left over but felt like something light and refreshing for the following day. Pomegranates and mandarines are in season at this time of year so I decided to combine these refreshing ingredients together with some bulgur. Combining mint with lamb is a natural, very traditional flavour combination – particularly in Britain where roast lamb and mint sauce is a firm favourtie. You can also, of course, just make this salad without any meat. Bulgur originates in the middle east where it forms a core ingredient in tabbouleh and pilaf. Bulgur should not be confused with couscous, which originates in North Africa. Couscous is a form of semolina deriving from durum wheat. Bulgur, on the other hand, derives from the wheat kernel where it is steamed, dried and crushed.It can be eaten raw or cooked and because it is a whole grain retains a lot of the wheat’s nutrition. It has a more chewy texture and has a slightly more nutty flavour, which I …

Gentleman’s Dessert

This recipe comes courtesy of my mother. In Germany it is commonly known as “Herrencreme” – and is associated with Westphalia, or so I gather. It is typically served on festive occasions – be it a christening or Christmas. A simple, quick recipe that is bound to impress. Ingredients 1 lt. milk. 1 vanilla pod or vanilla essence. 2 whole eggs. 2 egg yokes. 80 gr. sugar or 100 ml dark maple syrup. 3 tsp. arrow root or corn flour 200 ml whipping cream. 2 tbs. rum or cognac or whiskey. 100 gr grated chocolate. Directions Whisk the sugar, eggs and flour together. If you are using essence of vanilla add it as well. Set to one side Pour the milk and vanilla pod into a saucepan. Heat-up on a medium heat making sure not to boil the milk. When the milk is steaming remove from the heat and remove the vanilla pod. Cut the vanilla pod down the centre and scrape out the seeds and stir them back into the milk. Rinse the pod …

Leg of lamb soaked in mulled wine

The festive season is a great occasion to try out some amazingly simple and delicious traditional cooking. Lamb is not often associated with the Christmas season but the mulled wine works brilliantly with lamb and a whole leg is a great way to feed many mouths if you have plenty of visitors over for a meal. This is a slow cook and the smell of mulled wine and spices spreading through the house will soon put everyone in the festive spirit! The recipe below combines tasty ingredients with a long soak and slow cook. A classic example of how slow, traditional food is neither a sickly nor needy patient requiring round the clock attention. Rather these age-old cooking methods are star performers in terms of results, which will razzle-dazzle all those who are lucky enough to share in the meal. I served this alongside some red cabbage and roast potatoes this week-end for G.’s father and brother. Ingredients 1 leg of lamb 1 (or2) bottle(s) of mulled wine A handful of dried apricots A handful …

A traditional meat pie

This is not a traditional mince pie, which entails soaking dried fruit with shredded suet in a jar for up to four weeks before encasing it as a filling in pastry. It is, however, inspired by the spices and flavours many associate with the Christmas period. Dried fruit was often the only source of sweetness traditional societies would have known which is why it was such a special treat for Christmas. I made the pastry with lard and it was a real hit! Even the children, normally by biggest critics, gave this dish the thumbs up and asked for more. I used the left-over meat and marrow from the veal shanks I cooked on the previous Sunday to make a delicious gravy combining it with cinnamon, cloves, sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, barberries and a good shot of cognac. Six quality beef shanks costing EUR 40 delivered three nourishing meals: veal-shank stew, a hearty cauliflower and curry soup and this meat pie. When government officials and industry talk about the need for a GMO mono-culture and …

Alpine Cheese Fondue

One of the great things about rediscovering traditional food and cooking is learning to embrace all the natural fats we were once warned are the root cause of all our current ills. Of course there are those who always knew, instinctively, that abandoning butter, cheeses and drippings was nonsense. Then again there were many, myself included, who for years spurned melted cheeses, butter or other delicious animal fats convinced they would clog the arteries and make us fat. Now I know that low-fat alternatives are just phoneys with artificial flavourings thrown in to mimic the delicious taste of natural animal fats whilst failing to deliver the necessary nutrients. If you’re going to indulge – indulge in the real McCoy! Best of all kids love the conviviality of sitting around the table poking sticks into a communal pot. Probably not something to be eaten every day of the week given that few of us toil in Alpine fields during the day or hack at timber with a heavy axe in sub-zero temperatures – but then again …