Mary Berry's Christmas Collection Hardcover – 26 Sep 2013
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You can always rely on a Mary Berry book, and her latest is set to become a Christmas classic. It's packed with over 100 recipes, ideas and handy tips for a trouble-free festive season, and includes something for everyone... There are sections on everything you could possibly need... We found the shopping lists and clearly laid out countdowns particularly useful - perfect if your Christmas is always a little rushed, or it's your first time in charge. (Fresh)
Mary Berry's Christmas Collection... does exactly what it says on the cover. Berry is Queen of the Aga, but you don't have to own one to follow her precisely given instructions on how to prepare an array of tasty seasonal fare from parmesan and pistachio nutters (!) to vodka trifle with cherries and orange, and on to turkey korma - a very moreish way to use up Chrimbo left-overs. (What's On in London) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Over 100 of Mary Berry's fabulous recipes and tips for a hassle-free festive seasonSee all Product description
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Normally I would wait until I was "done" with a book to write a review, but on the grounds that a Christmas cookbook is of little value in January, I am going to break all of my own "rules" and post my review as a work in progress.
A little bit smaller volume than cookbooks from US-based authors tend to be these days, I love the layout! Printed on good paper made from wood grown in sustainable forests, there is at least one full color, full page photo for every recipe in the book. You are guaranteed to drool! Mary presents three different Christmas Lunch (what we call Christmas Dinner over here) menus - Roast Turkey, Roast Goose and Prime Rib, recipes for every dish in all of the menus, plus many extras. Her minute-by-minute countdown to Roast Turkey dinner is invaluable and spot on. (I'm sure of this because I roast a turkey quite nearly the way that she does and serve dinner at just about the same time.) For every recipe you will find notes on how to prepare the recipe ahead of time, whether it can be frozen and so forth. Unlike many holiday cookbooks, Mary Berry's Christmas Collection is very well balanced. Yes, there are sweets but there are also casseroles, starters, unusual soups,and a generous number of interesting ways to use up leftovers.
Clearly a good hostess, one who enjoys having time to enjoy her own gatherings, Mary does not hesitate to recommend shortcuts like frozen phyllo & puff paste or shop-bought trifle sponges, though nearly everything is quick, easy and "from scratch."
I'm having a Baking Day today (though I suppose I should really call it a Cooking Day, since much of what I'm testing today is not sweet) so I will update you on the recipes I'm testing in a bit. There are, however, two I can tell you about right off the bat.
TEST RECIPE 1 - SPECIAL MINCEMEAT
My Dad adored mincemeat. It simply was not Thanksgiving or Christmas to him without a Mincemeat Pie. Most years I've carried on the tradition, using the same dehydrated block of mincemeat that Dad always used. Mince pies are BIG in the UK at Christmas time (You've seen the famous scene in Harry Potter I'm sure!) and they are everywhere. Every little corner shop has boxes of little mince pies in the same way that every little corner store in the US has Twinkies or Little Debbies and boy are they good. Mary Berry's Special Mincemeat recipe seemed a whole lot simpler to me than the ones I mucked around with years ago. Mostly dried fruit with a bit of muscovado sugar (I used the Dark Muscovado I brought back from the UK last year, but you could use regular brown sugar), some fat and the juice/rind of a lemon, topped off with a liberal dose of brandy, my first batch (went out and bought the ingredients yesterday to make more!) took just about 20 minutes to produce and OMG! I will NEVER bother with bought mincemeat again.
This is dead easy, keeps for months and is simply stunning. Once made, Mary includes a half-dozen recipes for using it up in ways that will be both different and spectacular. You'll find not only those ubiquitous bite-sized Mincemeat Pies, but also Frangipane Mince Pies, a Christmas Tarte Amandine, Ice Cream Christmas Pudding (Mincemeat and vanilla ice cream is to-die-for good!), Mincemeat Bread and Butter Pudding and a Mincemeat and Apple Caramel. My dad would be clean over the moon!
TEST RECIPE 2 - THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE ROULADE
One of Mary Berry's signature bakes, her Ultimate Chocolate Roulade also appears in another book that I've very recently reviewed, The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets. It's been a bare two weeks since I produced this as a Test Recipe from that book. (The kids haven't even sent the dishes back yet!) You'll find my notes on my review of The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets. Let me just say this - If you never in your life learn to bake anything at all except Chocolate Roulade, this should be the one recipe in your arsenal. Easy to make, easy to dress up, this is a glorious dessert. Done correctly it is a real show stopper. If you accidentally overbake it so that it cracks too much when you roll it, chunk it up and pile the chunks of alternating cake and cream into pretty glasses, then drizzle with a dab of fudge sauce. It will still be a show stopper.
I'm off to the kitchen! Coming up - a dead easy glamorous dessert, a couple of appetizers and a special Turkey Korma that Mary notes is great year-round made with chicken, right on time for those Thanksgiving leftovers!
MORE TO COME
Grandma's $0.02 - Mary Berry's Christmas Collection is a real gem! Highly recommended
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