End the Year on a Sweet Note!

Posted on December 22, 2016

With a Fantastic Festive Chutney

It seems everyone I know has a story to tell about 2016. Whether it’s their take on the impact of Brexit or a more personal experience that’s unraveled over the year, it feels like a deep path has been trudged since this time twelve months ago. I think we all need a breather. A moment to stop, share and regroup before we march on forward into 2017.

The message for this Christmas is don’t try to be perfect, be present.

Take the pause you need to be there in the same time and space as your children, family and friends. The people around you will actually relax and feel at ease by the fact you’ve taken some shortcuts, that you’re not running around trying to compete with your alter ego over culinary and baking perfection. Chances are you may be doing a lot of that for you; to make you feel that you’ve done enough, you’ve ticked the boxes, you’ve shone as your best self. This year try to relish in the joy of a ready-made nibble, make melon and ham your no mess starter and if there’s a catering shortfall pull out the Ferrero Rocher and tin of Roses, just like the good old days.

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I’m going to try this out and see how we roll. Admittedly, I’ve made and frozen some food in advance, but from here on in I’m hellbent on being present. I want to be here in the run up, smile and laugh in the thick of the chaos and on all occasions, do anything I can to minimise the washing up.

But if you’re twitching, I can understand that. Have some therapy in the form of this wondrous festive recipe. It’ll give you that little sparkle and shine you need when you glide out of the kitchen with your festive tray of savoury treats.

The joy of the jar

You’ve got to love a good Christmas chutney. A tangy, warming jar of loveliness to go with your jamon, cheese and leftover turkey.

Chutney opens the door to the perfect seasonal spread for last minute guests and Christmas snacking. Just whip out the shop bought cheeses alongside your perfectly balanced pickle and you’ll look like a homely organised festive goddess.

The beauty of a good batch of pickle is that it keeps on giving. This recipe creates enough chutney to feed a small army of cheese lovers, using accessible and affordable ingredients. There’ll be plenty to go around, so once you’ve reserved your own batch, spoon the gorgeous spoils into jars, tie with ribbon and keep on hand for unforeseen last minute gifts. A tip-top solution for that dreaded moment when you open the door to an unexpected wrapped bottle and a neighbourly Christmas smile.

With warm spices and winter herbs, this year’s chutney is beautifully balanced. It’s sweet and sticky with a spicy little kick. It’s easy to make, with the only effort being in the initial chopping. You can go fine or chunky, but take the time to get your ingredients how you want them, as the rest is simple. And don’t panic if you don’t have everything listed or your measures are a tiny bit out. Chutney is fool proof – exactly what we frazzled folk need in the kitchen right now.

Festive Chutney

For 3 large jars as shown, you will need:

1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp pimiento dulce
2 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
4 or 5 cloves
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
900g fresh ripe tomatoes
1 large aubergine
Jar of roasted red peppers and half the oil
5 small red onions or 2 very large ones
2 decent sized apples (any type will work well)
5 large cloves of garlic
A good sized chunk of ginger
300g light brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
400ml cider vinegar

The Method is Simple:
1. Find the biggest pan you have for this one. Fry your onion, garlic and ginger in the oil and butter for 10 minutes till soft and translucent.

2. Add the spices for a further 5 minutes, before combining all your chopped vegetables, fruit, vinegar, sugar and salt.

3. Bring to the boil briefly, then take down to a low simmer, stirring occasionally over the course of around an hour. The chutney is ready when most of the liquid has evaporated. It will also thicken up as it cools so don’t overdo it – you do need some juices.

4. Leave to cool for a few hours or overnight. Give it a great big stir and remove the rosemary before you transfer into jars. If you see any cloves whip those out too, but don’t panic if you don’t.

It feels so good to make and give at Christmas, to bring smiles from tasty food and drink creations. I hope this chutney can help you land that fuzzy feeling of doing good for people. Most importantly, without the added trauma of brain-draining recipes and that ghastly over-sized pile of washing up!

Merry Christmas.

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