How the Grinch Stole Christmas & British Food

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Hmm, I guess the problem with getting your family into eating healthier is that you might come home expecting to indulge in some Christmas sweets and find a fridge full of not fudge, but grass-fed meat and oranges.

When I looked at that fridge full of healthy foods I felt less than festive. And an inexplicable craving for fudge. 

That was despite being surrounded by a million zillion twinkling Christmas lights and four Nativity scenes. Rich sweet foods are unfortunately tied to Holiday cheer.

So I chose to make one holiday dessert this year.

I've always been a bit of an Anglophile. I always like to read some Charles Dickens for Christmas and I've always been entraced by the food in those books. I think British food has a bad reputation that is unjust. Jane Grigson's book is a great introduction to British cookery and shows that true traditional British food isn't terrible different from good Swedish food. Lots of fresh fish, seaweed, goose, and mutton. Some of this was lost during the Industrial Revolution's urbanization, when people moved into the cities and could no longer harvest these foods from the land or afford them in shops. Unfortunately Jane's book has many recipes containing flour and refined sugar. I'm more interested in foods from the Middle Ages, when those ingredients were scarce. I'm not saying all British food is bad, but I do think there are some hidden gems.

This year I already made mincemeat, but I gave most of it away. I used this recipe, but added more suet since the lamb was a little lean. I also used fewer dates and added some brandy instead. I love the rich festive spiced taste of mincemeat and use it as a dessert or in a simple gluten-free almond-flour crust as a delicious pie.

For Christmas I'm making this Baked Almond Pudding for 4-6, which Jane says is a "firm cake-like pudding with a 'sad' centre and crisp outside."

125g butter

250g ground almonds

a few drops of bitter almond essence

2 tablespoons double cream

1 tablespoon brandy

4 tablespoons rapadura

2 egg yolks

2 eggs

Melt the butter, pour it into a bowl, and add the remaining ingredients in the order given. Grease a shallow pie dish or Pyrex dish with a butter paper, ladle in the mixture and bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes. The time will depend on the depth of the mixture; allow room for it to rise a little. The surface will brown lightly and acquire that appetizing baked almond crust. Serve with sugar, butter and a sweet wine or sherry.

MMM. Not "healthy" but already gluten-free and not so bad either!