Christmas in England.Christmas food and recipes.
Christmas in EnglandRoofs covered with snow, red-breasted robins on thickly frosted branches andfluffy cats leaving deep footprints on their solitary walks through deepsnow ... popular Christmas cards conjure up an image that most of us havenever seen!But Christmas in England can be a magical experience, full of traditions and funand delicious food. Maybe its time you visited us and found out for yourself.
History and TraditionsHistory and TraditionsChristmas has been celebrated in England forChristmas has been celebrated in England forover a thousand years. But what makesover a thousand years. But what makesChristmas wonderful traditions:Christmas wonderful traditions:counting down to the big day by using adventcounting down to the big day by using adventcalendars,calendars,sending Christmas cardsending Christmas cardlistening to Christmas musiclistening to Christmas musicBeautifully decorated trees are a symbol ofBeautifully decorated trees are a symbol ofChristmas in England. lights in the streets andChristmas in England. lights in the streets andat home brighten everything more than in anyat home brighten everything more than in anyother time of year.other time of year.Christmas stockings are such a traditionalChristmas stockings are such a traditionalpart of an English Christmas. They come in allpart of an English Christmas. They come in allshapes and sizes, from luxury, whimsicalshapes and sizes, from luxury, whimsicalstockings that are a gift in themselves, tostockings that are a gift in themselves, togorgeously decorated felt Christmas stockingsgorgeously decorated felt Christmas stockingsthat the children will love, to all manner ofthat the children will love, to all manner ofhandmade Christmas stockings.handmade Christmas stockings.
Christmas FoodCelebrations, crowds and food have always gone together. Andthere are few celebrations that draw on traditional food as muchas Christmas.We have traditional Christmas foods forevery part of the Christmas celebrations.Mince Pies, a sweet pastry crust filledwith mincemeat are offered at tea time,carol concerts and Christmas parties allthe way through the Christmas season.Dainty canapes and the best of Englishcheeses are served at Christmas partiesand family gatherings alike.
While Christmas cake and the world-famous Christmas pudding -flamed with cognac and served with cream and brandy butter -usually round off the festivities - supported by more mince pies andmaybe a traditional sherry trifle, syllabub or chocolate.Many of the traditionalChristmas foods, such asmincemeat, Christmas cake andChristmas Pudding are betterfor being made weeks inadvance and being left tomature.Fragrant with Christmasspices, studded with dried andcandied fruit, and laced withalcohol ... these are trulyfestive foods that would havedone a Medieval kings tableproud.
For most families, recipes for Christmas dinner include roastturkey with all the trimmings - thats sprouts, roastpotatoes, carrots, chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon,chestnuts, and bread sauce and cranberry sauce. This isfollowed by either Christmas pudding or a Christmas trifleand later tea, coffee and mince pies.
On Boxing Day, a baked ham could take centre stage, served coldwith salads and pickles and Cumberland sauce. There could also besmoked salmon, or a large pie.But away from the very traditional, there are many variations. Noteveryone likes turkey. Goose and duck - very popular in the MiddleAges - are still the preferred choice in many families, as is fish.And the many Vegetarians in England are developing their owntraditional dinners.And all around the house there will be nibbles, and mince pies, andsweets and nuts and - of course - chocolate! Christmas would not beChristmas without chocolate.And as for drinks... mulled wine and mulled cider go extremely wellwith mince pies and keep out the cold, while a claret cup would makea very good starter to the Christmas festivities.
Cadbury Chocolate Christmas GiftsCadbury chocolate is a firm favourite in English homes and many visitors to our country love it,too! You give Cadburys Roses to say thank you, or bring a tin of Quality Street to cheer up aparty. And Christmas in England certainly wouldnt be complete without Cadbury Chocolate.Therell be tins of it dotted around the office during the run-up to Christmas. There will beboxes of it under the Christmas tree. Its all about generosity and indulgence ... and thereare a couple of very old-fashioned sweets and games that will take some of us back a few
Christmas PuddingThe Traditional Grand FinaleChristmas puddings as we now serve them are another tradition invented by theVictorians. In medieval England puddings were popular and eaten all year round and notjust at Christmas time.Made with suet, dried fruit and sugar, atraditional Christmas pudding keeps extremely welland can be made several weeks or even months inadvance of Christmas.Michael Barrys Cookery recipes areconsidered the best ones in the world. They arerather easy and with them cooking becomes a realpleasure.Michael Barrys traditional Christmas puddingrecipe is apparently the one thats been used bythe Royal Family since the beginning of the 18thcentury. Its very rich, but keeps very well.The other recipe is the one for a No-fatChristmas pudding. Its much lighter and alsoVegetarian, but - because of that lightness -doesnt keep.
Traditional Christmas PuddingThis one is so rich, it should definitely remind you of Christmas past, but it keeps up to a year in acool place, so if you make too much, you can be sure your puddings wont spoil.The recipe makes enough for 1.5kg of pudding. It will fill two medium-sized (16in) pudding basins,or a large (20in) one.•175g (6oz) shredded suet•175g (6oz) soft brown or demerara sugar•175g (6oz) seedless raisins•175g (6oz) stoned prunes•175g (6oz) self-raising flour•100g (4oz) chopped mixed peel•1/2 tsp salt•1 tsp mixed spice•1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg•4 large eggs•150ml (5 fl oz) milkMix all the dry ingredients together.Beat the eggs and the milk until frothy then stir into the dried ingredients until thoroughly mixed.Allow to stand in a cool place (not the fridge) for 12 hours.Put mixture into pudding basins and cover with a layer of folded greaseproof paper. Tie with string.Cook, covered in a water bath, for 3 hours. Keep 4-5cm (1-2in) simmering water in the pan at alltimes. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 1 1/4 hours.Allow to cool and store in a cool, dark place.Before serving, steam for an hour in a saucepan (or for 30mins in a pressure cooker).Flame with brandy and serve with all the usual asides.
No-fat Christmas PuddingAs mentioned above, this pudding is much lighter and completely fat-free. Its also vegetarian, somake this one if you have non-meateaters coming round.This pudding will not keep for very long. So dont make it more than 2-3 weeks before Christmas.To serve four:•2 medium-sized apples•2 bananas•50g (2oz) walnuts•50g (2oz) almonds•50g (2oz) hazelnuts•4 eggs•150ml (5 fl oz) milk•450g (1lb) mixed dried fruit•juice and grated rind of 1 lemon•1 tsp mixed spice•1 tsp salt•450g (1lb) freshly made wholemeal breadcrumbs•50g (2oz) soft brown sugarGrate the apples without peeling them. Peel and roughly chop the bananas and nuts. Break the eggsand whisk with the milk.Mix all the ingredients together and stir well.Place into one or two well-greased pudding basins and cover with folded greaseproof paper. Tieround with string.Steam for 3-4 hours in a covered pan with 5cm (2in) simmering water. Check the water level atintervals and dont allow to boil dry. Then cool and store.
Left it too late?It happens. Sometimes, time just flies and its Christmas before you know it. But thatdoesnt mean that you and your family have to miss out.There are some truly delicious ready-made Christmas puddings out there, and TheLakeland Christmas Pudding is definitely one of them.Lakeland say - very proudly - that sales of this particular pudding climb every year asmore and more people discover how good it is.So if you left it a bit late, or cant face the hassle of making your own ... maybe givethis one a taste test.