27 UNIVERSAL CAKES AND PIES FOR CHRISTMAS

Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Marshmallow Topping
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anette.dev3.develag.com/distintas-formas-de-amar-vividas-por-una.php Coronation chicken is an obvious choice for any Royal occasion but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it? Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. The most successful wine pairing from a tasting I hosted on behalf of Touraine wines the other day was not the expected sauvignon and goats cheese or even fish and chips but a rich gamey dish of venison with a robust Cot, the name by which Malbec is known in the Loire. One of the nicest Christmas traditions I've picked up along the years is the Spanish habit of serving a platter of sweetmeats at the end of the meal or on other occasions when you want something sweet.

It usually includes different kinds of turron , the Spanish version of nougat which comes in soft and hard versions, some with whole almonds, some without. To that you could add some polvorones delicious almond cookies large Moscatel raisins, figs and dates and even a few chocolate truffles if you like. Matching a rich dish like pigeon with wine is quite challenging, especially if you serve it with an intense jus like this one so should you go for something equally rich or a refreshing contrast?

Pancakes and beer might not sound like the most obvious of combinations but as with other flour-based foods such as sandwiches or pies they work together remarkably well. Especially, as I discovered when I was writing my food and beer book An Appetite for Ale last year, fruit-filled pancakes and fruit beers.

I was trying to think what would be the most useful drink to recommend over Christmas. But if I had to stick to just one wine this Christmas it would be this gutsy red from the Rhone. German wheat beers are sufficiently different from Belgian wheat beers to merit a separate post - so what are the best food matches for hefeweizen with their striking banana and clove flavours? Are we about to witness a revival of that 70s classic, the vol-au-vent? There appear to be sightings.

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Here's a brief look at what the British nosh on Christmas day. In the past some very strange things were eaten around Christmas. At lavish Christmas feasts in the Middle Ages, swans and peacocks were sometimes served "endored". The flesh was painted with saffron dissolved in melted butter and the birds were served wrapped in their own skin and feathers, which had been removed and set aside prior to roasting.

Around Victorian times another traditional Christmas feast was roasted goose or roasted turkey. In Victorian times, most Londoners would have been familiar with the "goose club", which was a method of saving to buy a goose for Christmas. Goose clubs were popular with working-class Londoners, who paid a few pence a week towards the purchase of a Christmas goose. The week before Christmas, London meat markets were crammed with geese and turkeys, many imported from Germany and France, although some were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London.

The birds were walked from Norfolk to the markets in London, to protect their feet the turkeys were dressed in boots made of sacking or leather and geese had their feet protected with a covering of tar. Nowadays, if you sit down with a typical British family on Christmas day, the starter is probably going to be prawns or smoked salmon. The main course is more than likely to be turkey, often free-range and the bigger the better, although goose has been making a bit of a comeback, and for the vegetarian in the family there's always one a nut roast, this is normally served with potatoes roasted, boiled, mashed, or maybe all three , vegetables including the devil's veg - brussel sprouts roasted parsnips, and stuffing with gravy and bread sauce.

This is usually followed by Christmas pudding; a rich fruit pudding served with brandy sauce or brandy butter. Christmas puddings or plum puddings are a very rich, dark pudding made with all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, spices, black treacle and lots of sherry or brandy. You can read more about Christmas puddings here. Here's my Christmas pudding recipe should be made in advance Christmas Cake. Christmas cakes are also very rich and dark and contain just about every dried fruit you can think of, nuts usually blanched almonds glace cherries, candied peel and once again, sweetened with black treacle.

They are covered with a layer of marzipan or almond paste and then thick white "Royal" icing made with icing sugar and egg whites. It was introduced as a custom by the Victorians. Prior to that period, cake was eaten during Christmas, but without the toppings. The idea of using marzipan is thought to be linked to the Tudor Marchpane an iced and decorated cake of marzipan that acted as the table centrepiece during banquets and festive occasions.

They should be made about six weeks before Christmas and are usually decorated with ribbons and images of Santa Claus or robins with holly. Mince pies were often known as Christmas pies, they were banned in the seventeenth century by that killjoy Cromwell but eventually came back into existence after the Restoration.

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The sweet, rich and fruity pies that we are now accustomed to developed early in the twentieth century when the meat content was removed for good and now the "mincemeat" is a mixture of dried fruit raisins, sultanas, candied peel, etc. If the mincemeat is home made everyone in the household should stir it as it is considered to be lucky.

The cases should be oval in shape, to represent the manger, with a tiny pastry baby Jesus on top, but as very few people have tins that shape they are nearly always round now.

Impossibly Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas card, originated in the UK. Yule logs, plum pudding, mince pies, fruitcakes, wassailing, the Christmas goose, mistletoe, holly and carol singing, are all firmly rooted in British soil. Christmas carols have their roots in medieval England, when minstrels traveled from castle to castle, today they would be called carollers.

In addition poor people in England would go wassailing, they would bring their mugs to the door of rich houses hoping for a share of the wassail bowl. The drink in the bowl was called lambswool. It was a brew of hot ale with sugar, eggs, spices and roast apples floating in it. He was made to see the error of his ways and became a reformed character.

Today carollers generally collect money for charity.

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The 'Round Table' in England often sends a big sleigh with a Christmas tree and people singing and playing carols around the cities and towns of England. In Wales, each village may have several choirs which rehearse well in advance of the holidays and then go carolling collecting money for charity. The real St. Nicholas lived in Turkey, he was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early 4th century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.

However, he is a very popular saint in England where there are almost churches of St. Nicholas, more even than churches of St. George, England's patron saint. Many different stories are told to British children about Saint Nicholas, here is just one Long long ago, in the days when Saint Nicholas was alive, there lived a kindly nobleman.

He had a beautiful wife and three pretty young daughters, and all the money his family would ever need. But one day, the mother of the family, who was a sweet gentle woman, became very ill. The nobleman was frantic! He summoned the town's only doctor, a very old, very wise woman, who knew all there was to know about herbs and magic. The old woman tried all the cures she knew, but she could do nothing to save the poor woman.

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Photo credit: Folklore. I saw black pepper as ingredient really interesting! To measure by weight: All recipe ingredients, including flour, are listed in American and metric weights as well as volume. Many primary schools and Sunday schools in the UK put on a Nativity play. In England Boxing Day celebrated on December 26th, is traditionally a time to give gifts to tradesmen, servants, and friends. During the Christmas season, various festivities are traditionally enjoyed and buildings are adorned with Christmas decorations , which are often set up during Advent.

Finally he called for the priest to come, but by that time his poor wife had passed away. The nobleman was in despair! He missed his wife so much that he lost his head. He wasted all his money away on silly projects and useless inventions. He became so poor that he had to move his family out of their castle and into a little peasant's cottage.

Meanwhile his daughters were growing up. Poverty was difficult for them, but they remained cheerful and strong. They soon learned to do their own cooking, cleaning and sewing, and they took care of each other. All three girls were very pretty. In time each of them fell in love and wanted to get married. But they couldn't because their father was so poor. He had no dowry a sum of money or some valuable property to give to the prospective husband's family. He felt he had failed his own children, and he became even more sad and gloomy. Now, Saint Nicholas happened to live in the same area.

The kindly saint had dedicated his whole life to doing good deeds, and was always on the lookout for someone in need.

One night the saint came riding through the town on his white horse looking for the house of the nobleman and his three daughters. He rode up to the cottage and peeked in through a chink in the wall. That same night, the daughters had washed out their clothes by hand, and hung them up in front of the fireplace to dry.

There were the stockings, three pairs, hanging right on the chimney. Inspiration struck Saint Nicholas. From his pouch he took out three little bags filled with gold coins. One by one he threw the bags down the chimney, so they landed in the stockings of the three daughters. The nobleman, worried about his daughters' futures, had terrible trouble falling asleep a night and was still awake. He heard the clip clop of the white horse as the saint was leaving, and peeked out of the door. He called out to Nicholas, but he had already disappeared into the dark night. When the daughters woke in the morning, they found their stockings filled with plenty of money for their dowries.

When they went to tell their father, they found him sleeping peacefully with a smile on his face. Saint Nicholas had taken care of all his worries. And so, through the goodness of Saint Nicholas the three daughters were able to marry the men they loved, and the nobleman lived on to be a happy grandfather.

Nicholas is a very hard-working saint, being the patron saint of children, merchants, apothecaries, pawnbrokers, scholars and mariners. He is reputed to be able to calm storms and rescue sailors. Even pirates have been known to claim his protection.

Over the years he has become known as Santa Claus and even his now traditional red costume can be traced to Coca Cola advertising in America! The tradition of hanging up the stocking is still followed in the British Isles. It is left out on Christmas Eve, along with mince pies, sherry and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, and even today most children are in bed way before midnight waiting for Santa to visit. The stocking is opened by excited children on Christmas morning. Nowadays the gifts Santa Claus brings can be quite elaborate, in Victorian times it was traditionally fruit, nuts, sweets and coins.

Christmas cards became popular in Victorian England, they were mostly home made and given to loved ones. The first ever Christmas card was the brainchild of Sir Henry Cole, a leading cultural light in Victorian England who was later to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The first commercial Christmas card pictured above had a hostile reception from some people because it depicted a family, children as well as adults, drinking wine.

The card was painted by John Calcott Horsley. Side panels illustrated acts of Christmas charity - feeding and clothing the poor etc.. However it was Louis Prang, a 19th-century German immigrant to the United States, who popularised the sending of printed Christmas cards. Prang was a Bavarian-born lithographer who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in the s and established a successful printing business. He invented a way of reproducing color oil paintings, the "chromolithograph technique", and created a card with the message "Merry Christmas" as a way of showing it off.

He went on to produce a series of popular Christmas cards. By he was printing more than five million cards annually. The picture chosen for the card was painted not by a professional artist but by a seven year old girl called Jitka Samkova of Rudolfo, a small town in what was then Czechoslovakia.

She said her picture represented "joy going round and round". Nowadays most people buy their cards from Hallmark etc. It can be an expensive affair though, some families send and receive well over cards. But what could be nicer than a mantle piece decorated with beautiful cards bearing good wishes from friends and relatives. Like many of our Christmas customs, gift giving has its historical origin in an ancient pre-Christian tradition. During the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia, the harvest festival, small candles and clay figures were given. At Calens, the Roman new-year, more elaborate gifts were exchanged.

The Romans believed that sweet gifts would ensure a good year, so fruits, honey, and cakes were popular gifts. Evergreen branches, were given as symbols of continuous health and strength. Wealthy Romans gave each other gold coins for good luck. Everyone gave gifts, children gave to their teachers, slaves gave to their masters, and the people gave to their emperor. Even though the three kings and others gave presents to the baby Jesus, gift giving did not become an established part of the Christmas celebration until several centuries after the birth of Christ.

Because the early Christians did not want their religion to be associated with pagan festivals, they shunned gift giving as a pagan practice. It was in the middle ages that gift giving began to be part of the Christmas tradition. The kings of England, like the emperors of Rome, demanded gifts from their subjects.

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The common people also exchanged gifts, but only among the wealthy were elaborate gifts given. The poor exchanged trinkets and entertained each other with songs and parties and plays. Nowadays, the knitted pattern jumper is considered to be the worst present you could find under the tree, followed by a dustpan and brush and the dreaded socks. Christmas Crackers have been a part of the traditional British Christmas since, when almost by accident, Tom Smith invented the cracker.

They are used to decorate the table at dinner. In it's simple form a cracker is a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly coloured twist of paper. When the cracker is 'pulled' by two people, each holding one end of the twisted paper, the friction creates a small explosive 'pop' produced by a narrow strip of chemically impregnated paper. Inside the cracker there is usually a tissue paper hat, a balloon, a slip of paper with a very corny joke on it for example: "What does Santa call his blind reindeer? The family will pull each other's crackers before the meal starts, this often involves crossing arms and pulling two crackers at once.

The person who gets the "big end" keeps the plastic trinket. The paper hats are donned, and the jokes read out, accompanied by moans and groans at how awful they are. Then, and only then, can the meal begin. Christmas trees are an integral part of the Christmas decorations in most British households. Although it was always traditional to bring evergreens into the house the Christmas tree is another tradition borrowed from Germany, where it is said that German Martin Luther was the first person to decorate a tree with candles and bring it indoors to show his children what stars looked like at night in the forest.

Nowadays in the UK you will find a variety of trees, from real trees with roots that can be replanted after the festivities, to felled trees that get recycled, to plastic imitations that get unpacked every year. No one seems to be able to agree which is the most environmentally friendly option.

There's a lovely joke about how the fairy ended up on the top of the Christmas tree here.

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Mistletoe was considered sacred by the people of ancient Britain. The Druid priests used it in their sacrifices to the gods. It was believed to have magical properties. People who met under a tree bearing mistletoe were forbidden to fight, even if they were enemies, and anyone who entered a home decorated with mistletoe was entitled to shelter and protection.

Mistletoe may even have been part of Druidic wedding ceremonies. The Celtic people believed it had miraculous healing powers. In fact the name for mistletoe in the Celtic languages is all heal. In eighteenth century England mistletoe was credited, not with healing power, but with a different kind of magic.

It was the magic element in the kissing ball, a special decoration used at Christmas parties. The kissing ball had a round frame that was trimmed with evergreens, ribbons and ornaments. Tiny nativity figures were placed inside it. For the finishing touch, a sprig of mistletoe was tied to the bottom of the ball. It was then hung from the ceiling, and party goers would play kissing games underneath it. A kiss under the mistletoe could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and good will. The mistletoe's kissing tradition, according to one account, comes from the Norse myths.

Friga, one of the gods, gave her son, Balda, a charm of mistletoe to protect him from the elements, but because mistletoe grows neither from the water or the earth, nor from fire nor air, it grows on trees, it held the power to harm Balda. One of the other god's arrows made of mistletoe struck Bolda down, and his mother cried tears of white berries. She brought her son back to life, and vowed to kiss anyone who rested beneath the plant. Thus the kissing tradition began. There is a limit to how much you can kiss under one sprig of mistletoe though.

For each kiss a berry must be removed and once all the berries are gone - no more kissing! Holly, with its dark green spiky leaves and red berries, was also believed to have magical powers and the ability to drive demons away. In Germany holly was considered to be a good luck charm against the hostile forces of nature.

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In old England, unmarried women were supposed to tie a sprig of holly to their beds, to guard them against ghosts and devils. For the Northern Europeans, Christmas came in the middle of winter, when the nights were very long, dark and cold.