Thursday, 25 November 2010

Beautiful on the outside?

What’s the tinsel all about? Golden lights are twinkling, brightening our darkening days as winter peels through falling leaves and icy panes. Jack Frost scatters his silvery might and all the while we welcome the festive season. In London Christmas is in full swing and decorations adorn the window shops. Christmas time equals big bucks and as shops tempt us with heart-warming interpretations of festive frivolities, let's remember true joy is much closer to home, mmm in our kitchens perhaps?

Christmas is all about love and peace, family and friends, comfort and kindness, music that pulls on our heartstrings and wonderful smells that tinkle our taste buds and stir us deeply. Colours, bright, dazzle and delight, filling our hearts with warmth and light, oh Christmas is an awesome sight;-) And so much of our experiences are about flavour and spice, this time of year.

When I close my eyes and reflect on Christmas; I feel warm inside, I'm not certain what makes the difference between a happy Christmas and an empty one, though am sure the amount of love in our lives makes a massive difference. I love the colour and the thought that goes into decorations, though for me they’re peripheral and not Christmas at all really. I’m going to offer a slightly alternative platter over the next few weeks, though totally Festive and happily healthy I'm hoping these recipes will not only be delicious and merry, but restorative too. Touch your way through Yuletide, Feeling Food, enjoy warming textures and fragrances that majestically dance and brighten our bodies from the inside out, that is where truest beauty permeates.

Cooks go a bit cuckoo for Cranberries at Christmas time and I’m no exception. These ruby opulent berries bring brightness to sponges that are joyously light and full of melt in the mouth scrumptiousness.

 Offering a delightful alternative to the dense and sickly sweet traditional puddings.

Special Tip – Feasts are a fantastic opportunity to enjoy rich foods, create balance by blending traditional choices with a few lighter ones, it’s the turkey that needs stuffing, not you. 

Most of all have a merry berry Christmas time and 
Happy Thanks Giving 

to all who are celebrating it today, especially my Aunt Kate, Uncle Pierce and lovely cousins Siobhan, Bridie and Bill;-) 

It’s not the easiest time of year for some people, childhood innocence is tenderly mourned, as are those loved ones no-longer present. For anyone who feels like this, this recipe is my gift to you, and if you know someone who may feel like this too, it's time to dust off your apron and make Christmas a truly happy one for those especially in need, bring joy to ALL hearts and may those you share it with know how lucky they are. I’ll say adieu for now, and leave you with a lovely old Indian saying, 

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart."

Mini Merry Berry Christmas Cakes

Serves 6

Butter 125g melted
Sweet Freedom/ if unavailable Maple Syrup 125g
Eggs 2
Rice flour 125g
Cinnamon ½ tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Milk 70ml
Cranberries 200g
Cranberry & Apple juice 200ml
Vanilla pod 1 slit and seeds scooped
Sweet freedom 60g, or fruit sugar if unavailable; Taste for your desired sweetness, cranberries vary in tartness, so you may add more towards the end of simmering.

PRE-HEAT oven to gas 4 180’.
MELT butter in a saucepan and transfer to a bowl.
WHISK in sweet freedom and eggs, until nice and frothy.
SIFT flour, cinnamon and baking powder into a large bowl.
POUR in milk and sweetened eggs until you have a smooth lump free batter.
BUTTER 6 heatproof ramekins or pots and scatter four cranberries into each one.
DIVIDE mix equally between the pots and wrap each one in foil.
PLACE in a large baking tray or casserole dish.
BOIL a kettle and pour in water so it reaches roughly an inch in the dish.
BAKE in the oven for 40 minutes and remove, leave for 10 to cool down.
PLACE remaining cranberries in a saucepan, with vanilla, sweet freedom and juice.
SIMMER for 15 minutes.
UNWRAP the mini merry cakes and pour over the lovely luscious berry sauce.
SUBLIME served with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt!


  1. "I'm not certain what makes the difference between a happy Christmas and an empty one, though am sure the amount of love in our lives makes a massive difference."

    Totally agree with you on that point would also add Christmas has morphed into the focal point it is today

    A time to reflect on the achievements/non achievements, gathering of clans/families bring back happy/sad memories/wishes.

    Expectations are higher meaning satisfaction/disappointment is proportional to both.

    Tie all that all in with the religious aspect which used to be at the forefront, and which inevitable makes us reach for our answers to the meaning of life and I would say this time more than any test our fortitude with regard our emotional being.

    No I am not throwing a damper on the whole affair just wishing all the strength to take all this emotional turmoil on-board, see it for what it is, and have the peace in self to enjoy the emotional roller coaster this time of year places us on, for it is our emotions that make being alive worth living.

    Happy/Merry/Emotional Christmas to all

    Love Julius

  2. Love it, Sinead! Beautiful blog, and now I'm craving cranberries! We'll have them today, I'm sure, along with the turkey, mashed potatoes and everything else. The recipe definitely looks like one to try. I wish we had Sweet Freedom in the States! Real sugar or date sugar for me, because the alternatives here are all artificial.

    I love how you hit on the important themes of Christmas. Love! First and foremost. Love is Who we celebrate; He came into this world so simply and without material goods. We seek Him, and we find Him in the people we encounter. In the silence and simplicity of life. In the beautiful first snowfall that lines tree branches.

    I love imagining old Irish Kent Christmases when our dads were kids- the family sitting around the fireplace in the pre-TV days :)

    Love to all of you across the ocean as we head into Advent and the Christmas seasons!


  3. Thank you Lovely Cousin! Ah, the "old Irish Kent Christmases" what a lovely thought. I hope you're all having a lovely and special time together. We're in proper winter now, so steamed cranberry puddings are the way forward!! This is such a warming and seasonal recipe, I know you'll love it.

    Big hug to you beautiful Lady.


  4. Julius you're a wise man and without your sensitive and kind heart none of those thoughts would be possible;-) Cranberries bring cheer and while the sauce may not always be sweet it's the company we keep at this time that makes it special, as is the food we share;-))) FFX

  5. I share your sentiments on Christmas and am looking forward to sharing your Mini Merry Berry Christmas Cakes with my loved ones over the festive season. x

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  7. I hope the Merry Berry Puds played a happy taste bud tune over Christmas, we've still a couple of days to go before little Christmas, so give them a go if you haven't already, light and lovely, just the way we like our puds;-))


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