Advent Calendar 6 and 7: Christmas Chutney and Cranberry-Red Onion Marmalade

It doesn’t get much more festive than Cranberries. They’re in season over the festive period, they’re santa-suit red and they taste phenomenal with meats and cheeses- staples in many a Christmas feast. They also have a very high pectin count, meaning they make excellent additions to preserves, helping them to set beautifully.

Cranberry sauce is great and all, but we can do better at SWB this year. Plus, a good chutney or savoury marmalade is a fabulous addition to any cheeseboard or buffet. Here are two of my Christmastime favourites I’m making up for my own Christmas dinner, plus extra for gifts.

Christmas Chutney

This recipe is childsplay to throw together and packs a great flavour punch. It goes great with sharp cheeses or meats in sandwiches, and can be made, start to finish, in under 45 minutes., including any chopping.

  • 400g cranberries
  • 400g cherry tomatoes (you can use regular tomatoes, just chop them up first)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2tsp ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 100ml cider vinegar

Chop the onion into rough slices.

Pop the cranberries, onion and tomatoes into a saucepan over a low heat, and heat for 10 minutes, until the berries start to pop.

Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Simmer the chutney for 15-25 minutes until the chutney is combined and pulpy.

Pot into sterilised jars, or store in the fridge.

IMG_6848Next up is a delicious red onion marmalade with the festive twist. If you don’t want to use the cranberries, use an extra 400g of onions instead for a true red onion marmalade.

Cranberry and Red Onion Marmalade

  • 500g red onions
  • Juice of an orange
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground gunger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 150ml ruby port
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 400g cranberries

In a glug of oil, fry the onions off until translucent.

Add the orange juice, port, vinegar, sugar and all the spices. Stir through to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Simmer the mixture gently for 35-40 minutes. The mixture should be nice and syrupy by this point.

Chuck in the cranberries and turn up the heat a little. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until all the berries have popped and the mixture is nice and thick.

Pot into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.





Festive Libations: Recipe Advent Calendar 5th-9th

Sorry tee-tollers; this post is not going to be for you.

I like my Christmas ‘merry’, and for me there is nothing so festive as a swanky Christmas cocktail party. Not that I get invited to too many of those, but an evening under the Christmas lights, martini glass in one hand and wrapping paper in the other does me just fine.

I like my cocktails fruity and sweet, so this ‘menu’ leans quite a bit that way. Some are long, most are strong, but all are instant festive favourites and I just know you’ll love getting ‘jingled’ on them as much as I do.

I dedicate this post to Simon, Davi, Pam, Amber, David, Gary, Holly and Izzy, who dutifully ‘tested’ these out for me over the weekend.



Cheery Chocolate Cherry-tini

For a ‘martini’, this isn’t the strongest drink around, but it is so tasty and festively red. I adore it. If you really can’t get hold of creme de cacao you *can* use a sweet clear liqueur like Malibu, but I really recommend getting yourself a bottle of this stuff. One, you’ll need it for another recipe later on. Two, you deserve it. Three, it isn’t too difficult to find- a well stocked drinks specialist/off license should have it, or try amazon or

  • 1 part cherry juice
  • 1 part creme de cacao
  • 1 part vanilla vodka

Add ingredients to a shaker and shake over ice. Serve in a martini glass with a glacé or maraschino cherry garnish. If you like your drink a little longer, use two measures of cherry juice.



The Grinch

I love love LOVE this cocktail because it is such a step away from the usual christmas flavours, whilst still being pretty darn festive, colour accurate and refreshingly delicious.

  •  2 measures midori
  • 1/2 measure lemon juice
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • OPTIONAL: a tap of confectioners glitter in Holographic White (for the snow of Hooville)

Shake ingredients over ice and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a glacé or maraschino cherry. For extra cheer, wet the rim of your glass with the rind of the lemon and rim it with coloured sugar- I recommend red.




This fruity, oh-so-red holiday favourite is a great pitcher drink for parties, but here are the measurements for just one glass… if you can restrain yourself to that. There is debate on the the orange liqueur to use, and the sparkling wine, but for me it has to be Cointreau, and I’m not fussy on the wine. White or pink, Champagne or reasonable-but-drinkable plonk- I don’t think you need to go all out on a wine you are using in the mix. If you can drink it on its own, you’re doing it right. If you’re breaking the bank to buy a bottle, you’re doing it wrong.

  • 1/2 measure Cointreau
  • 2 measures Cranberry juice
  • Sparkling wine or Champagne

Pour the Cointreau and chilled cranberry juice into your champagne flute and stir well. If the juice isn’t chilled before hand, use a shaker full of ice to bring the temperature of it and the liqueur down. Top with the fizz.



Black Forest Martini

There are lots of versions of a Black Forest or Chocolate Raspberry Martini, but this is my favourite. I find this recipe irresistibly festive and delicious, so I’ve included it. Because I love you and I want you to get proper merry this season. This one is really very strong- you have been warned.

  • 1 measure Raspberry Vodka
  • 1 measure Cherry Brandy
  • 1 measure Creme de Cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake over ice. Serve in a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar and confectioners glitter, like a touch of hoarfrost. Beautiful and delicious.


Lets Get Sauced

I saw this fun and, essentially, frugal take on a Cosmopolitan on Mamrie Hart’s genius Youtube show ‘You Deserve a Drink’. If you’ve got some Cranberry Sauce that needs some love, fix yourself one of these. Please note that I’ve erred on the side of, erm, caution with these measurements.

  • 2 shots citrus vodka
  • 1 shot lime juice
  • A generous tablespoon of cranberry sauce

Add all your ingredients to a shaker and shake thoroughly over plenty of ice. Strain and serve in a martini glass with a slice of lime to garnish.


After one of each of those you’ll probably be a little worse for wear, so please remember to drink responsibly, particularly around this feast season: you shouldn’t let anything spoil your celebrations.

That aside, the above concotions also make an excellent cocktail menu if you are planning a christmassy party- try writing or printing them up in a calligraphy style font to set out for your guests to order from or serve themselves with.

I’ll see you again on the 10th with another recipe. Have a Merry-in-more-ways-than-one evening, everyone!


They’re here!

I don’t care that it’s only just December. I don’t care that they turned up when we were barely over halloween. I’ve been quashing down my festive feelings for months, and now, I don’t have to any more. Why?

Because fresh cranberries are in the shops. And that means it’s Christmastime.


I love cranberries, and yes, I know they aren’t particularly british, but who cares? They’re obscenely red, super delicious and pretty darn good for you, until you cover them in sugar. They’re a Christmas staple in my house, from sweet to savoury dishes throughout the season. The colour alone is reason enough to have them in your kitchen and on your plate, which makes this recipe perfect for the second entry in my Recipe Advent Calendar.

Last year I shared my cranberry mincemeat recipe, which is awesome in pies, tarts, cheesecakes and crumbles, but if theres one thing you NEED to make with cranberries this season, and then duly cover everything with, it’s cranberry sauce. I don’t care that it is readily available in the shops, homemade tastes so much better and is too easy for words. You’d even find time to whip it up while the turkey’s in on Christmas Day. So no excuses!

Spoons at the ready? Let’s go!

Yuletide Cranberry Sauce

  • 300g cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 65ml water
  • A healthy shot of cherry brandy
  • 1 tsp mixed spice- make sure yours contains cloves.
  • A healthy shot of Cointreau

IMG_3898Can you spot what I forgot in this picture? Thankfully I noticed before I was done and this sauce is very forgiving 😛

Pop your cranberries in the pan with the water. If they are frozen, give them a few minutes until they begin to thaw before moving on to the next step.

Add in the brandy, spice and sugar and mix through. Let it cook on a simmer until the berries are really popping, stirring occasionally.

Beat the mixture to help those berries burst and release all their goodness and remove from the heat. Let sit for a minute an and add the cointreau just before you decant into jars or a bowl. If you want to cook off all the alcohol, then you can cook the sauce for another few minutes instead.

If you need to store, pot up in clear warm jars as for jam. Otherwise you can as easily keep in a bowl in the fridge once cooled and set.


Seriously, this recipe is just too simple. Cranberries are PACKED with pectin, making the setting process a doodle. They’re some of the easiest fruits to work with when it comes to making jams and jellies because of this. If you want a really simple sauce with no trace of alcohol, just leave it out. You can add some orange juice or extra water to make up for loss of liquid. Also, this sauce is still pretty tart, but if you want it tarter, leave out 50g of the sugar. Whatever you do, the result is super tasty, and the reddest red that ever did red.

Spread this sauce in sandwiches with brie or poultry, stir into gravies and soups for flavour or simple enjoy as is with roast dinners or cold meats and cheeses. Ugh, my mouth is watering.



Happy December!

It doesn’t matter how much of a bah humbugging, grinchy, festiveness resistor you are, you can’t deny it any longer.

Christmas is coming, and Christmastime is here.

As I sit here, tree up and decorated, Christmas cookbooks littering my countertops and a glass of Bucks Fizz in hand, I know I’m a Christmas lover. I often joke with friends that I’m a quarter German, a quarter Polish and a quarter Christmas Elf. I think a lot of my life’s problems would be solved by baking cookies in a magic tree for a living.


In my spare time I’m an artist among other things, and in the past I have created artwork Advent Calendars to celebrate my love of the season, and challenge myself. Since this year I’m enjoying food writing so much, and I haven’t got an easy and convenient way to put my artwork on the internet (my scanner died), I thought to myself; why not do a recipe Advent Calendar here on

Ok, so it’s the third, so I’m already behind, but worry not, I shall catch up swiftly I’m sure. My recipe book is heaving with festive goodies, plus I have dozens of treats I want to try.

To start off with, I want to share a recipe that might actually be most useful from Boxing Day onwards: Christmas Dinner Soup. This recipe is useful year round for using up roast dinner leftovers and stretching a meal further. It might not be the healthiest soup out there, but it’s delicious, adaptable and kind to your pocket. And if you are anything like me when it comes to spending around Christmas, any way to save a few pennies is a godsend.

This recipe is more a method, and as mentioned above it is adaptable to whichever meat you’ve roasted, and whatever you’ve got left over. I will of course be writing out a recipe based on Christmas Dinner, or turkey roast leftovers.

Christmas Dinner Soup

Serves 3-4, depending on how much of a glutton you are.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 portions roasted/accompanying vegetables (e.g. 2 medium carrots, half a sweet potato, a cob of corn and 4 tablespoons of peas)
  • 6-8 roast potatoes
  • 3-4 portions bread-based stuffing
  • Some cooked turkey, at least 4 slices
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • extra water to loosen mix as required
  • Salt and pepper.

If you want a chunky soup, make sure to chop everything before hand in to bite size pieces, and finely chop up your stuffing. If you want a smoother soup, you needn’t chop, but you’ll need an immersion or jug blender.

In a large sauce pan, cook off the onion. Next, add your vegetables and potatoes to warm through and begin to break down as required.

Unless you have your own homemade stock, make up one cube of stock with a generous litre of water and add the gravy granules. If you have leftover gravy, just add this to the pot instead and omit the granules. Add the stock mix to the pot and stir through.

Chop up your stuffing and add to the soup. Break it down as the all the ingredients reheat. Season to taste.

If you want a smooth, thick soup, then blend to your desired consistency. If you are using a jug style blender, leave the lid off and cover with a tea towel, as the mixture is hot and it is dangerous to blend a hot mix with the lid on. Add back to the pan and loosen with hot water if required. Add chopped turkey and heat through for at least five minutes.

If you like a chunky soup, then when you are happy with the thickness and texture, chop up and add your turkey and heat through in the soup for at least 5 minutes.

Just before serving, add your cranberry sauce and stir vigorously to combine. Serve with fresh bread.

This is a great ‘monday night meal’ after a sunday roast to use up your leftovers. You can tweak the measurements to how much stuff you have left, and you can bulk out the soup with fresh veg if required. I think the real crucial ingredient is the stuffing, as this thickens the soup and adds so much good flavour. If you are light on stuffing leftovers, however, you can use extra potatoes instead.

In terms of adaptability, you just use up whatever vegetables you had to accompany the meat. If you’ve had beef, why not use mustard or horseradish in the place of cranberry sauce. For lamb, why not mint or redcurrant? And of course, pork’s best friend is apple. This mix also freezes, so if like me you live alone, but cook too much, you can store the odd portion to crack out when you can’t face the stove.

The soup is super tasty and filling, and essentially free as you’re just using up the leftovers from another meal. This recipe is super for boxing day or the 27th, when you really want some fridge space back and can’t stomach another turkey sandwich.

I hope you’ll try it, and more importantly enjoy it!