Mulled Wine Inspired Christmas Martini

‘Tis the season for Christmas parties & a little festive tipple!

Mulled-wine inspired Christmas Martini ● Christmas cocktail recipe ● Cake + Whisky

And in that field, things don’t get any better than a tangy Christmas Martini.

Mulled-wine inspired Christmas Martini ● Christmas cocktail recipe ● Cake + Whisky

I first tried them at the Borough Kitchen Christmas press do, and they immediately became a seasonal staple.

They are a modern take on traditional mulled wine and a real Christmas cracker of a drinks recipe!

Mulled-wine inspired Christmas Martini ● Christmas cocktail recipe ● Cake + Whisky

Super easy, quick and completely delicious, I have it on good authority that Mr & Mrs Claus enjoy a few of these on the run up to Christmas eve.

Just make sure you drink them responsibly… ‘elf & safety first, promise?!

Mulled-wine inspired Christmas Martini ● Christmas cocktail recipe ● Cake + Whisky

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Mulled Wine Inspired Christmas Martini

Christmas Dinner in an hour – Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

The countdown to Christmas has -almost- officially begun! Only 25 days to go!

Which means it’s about time to get organised so you don’t run around like a headless chicken trying to hit the stores in quest of the perfect present / the necessary bits to cook up a worthy feast, plus getting it all wrapped, cooked and appropriately festive a few hours before the whole family rings the door bell.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

I’ve been there and I wouldn’t even wish that on my worst enemy.

Luckily, this year, I’ve had a bit of help from the expert es Super-Duper-Organised-Christmas, Katherine Frelon, whose Hall of festive fame includes a detailed plan on how to cook Christmas dinner in an hour.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

And while I’m still working on the one-hour-feast, I’m already well under way when it comes to edible presents, thanks to a little push from Mrs. Frelon herself and the kind folks at the Borough Market who recently invited me over for a little preview of Katherine’s demo sessions.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

We drank mulled cider, nibbled on festive treats (read: all the dried/candied fruit that were really meant to go into making said treats) & got a headstart on making all sorts of edible treats to be enjoyed by your nearest and dearest.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

First things first: the secret to Katherine’s mulled cider.

Because you’re definitely going to need some hot, liquid form of encouragement to get through the mountains of organisation and prep any Christmas feast requires.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

The one and only secret is home-made ‘Christmas spiced fruit bombs’. Aka mixed fruit and spices, wrapped up in tea bags and infused into your choice of hot drink for an instant festive hit!

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Christmas spiced fruit bombs (makes 24):

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, thinly pared without pith
  • 1 orange, thinly pared without pith
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 10g cloves
  • 20g crystallised ginger, crushed
  • 1 nutmeg, smashed into pieces
  • 10 juniper berries, smashed with the back of a heavy knife
  • 80g dried blueberries
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 80g dehydrated strawberry or raspberry flakes
  • 24 x 10cm squares of muslin
  • Undyed cotton string

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

1. Place the citrus peel on a lined baking sheet and leave in the oven set at 60C-80C until the peel has dehydrated, but not coloured, so at least 60 minutes or more depending on the moisture of the peel.  Alternatively leave the peel overnight in a warm airing cupboard or by the Aga if you have one.

2. When the peel is cool chop it into small pieces and add to a bowl with all the other ingredients. Stir to combine well.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

3. To make the bags place approximately ½tsp of the fruit spice in the centre of each piece of muslin, gather up the corners and then twist and tie up each bundle securely with string. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

4. To make a serving, place one bag in a mug and pour over boiling water (or use boiling apple juice / cranberry juice / red wine / cider…) and leave to steep for 5 mins, then remove the bag.

To make a big batch, place one bag of mulling spice in a heavy bottomed saucepan with 2l of your choice of liquid, place on the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Remove the bag and serve the cider in heatproof glasses or mugs.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Next up, an absolute festive must-have in the form of a gorgeous Crimson Christmas Chutney.

Sweet and sour, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a beautiful cheese plate. Presented in Kilner jars decorated with pretty ribbons and handmade labels, it also makes for a great gift.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Crimson Christmas chutney (makes 1.5kg)

Ingredients: 

  • 1.2kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 700g cranberries
  • 400g soft dates, stoned and chopped
  • 4 clementines, zest and juice
  • 500g soft brown sugar
  • 2tsp ginger, peeled and grated
  • 30ml ruby red port or cherry brandy
  • 3 cloves
  • 7cm piece cassia bark
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 10g flaked sea salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer for approximately 60 minutes, until all the ingredients are soft.

2. Bottle in sterilised jars, seal and ideally leave to mature for a few weeks.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Last but not least: CHOCOLATE! Because what’s even the point of Christmas if not as the number one excuse to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eh?

Katherine’s jewelled Borough bark is super simple treat to make and the ultimate oh-gosh-I-have-no-present-for-[add the name of any last minute guest here] present.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Just melt, stir and swirl to achieve a dramatic edible gift for friends and family. Plus you get to lick the spoons, so it’s definitely a winner!

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Jewelled Borough bark (makes approx. 600g)

Ingredients:

  • 250g good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 350g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150g Turkish delight, chopped into small dice
  • 40g green unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and repeat the process with the dark chocolate.

 

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

2. Spread the dark chocolate onto a lined baking sheet to a thickness of 5mm.  Drop spoonfuls of white chocolate on top, and swirl the chocolates together with a skewer to make patterns.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

 

3. While the chocolate is still molten sprinkle over the pistachios and Turkish delight and lightly press into the chocolate so they set firm. Chill until set, approximately 60 minutes.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

You can also jazz up the bark with your favourite dried or candied fruits, nuts, coffee beans or even liquorice if you dare.  Or try some heat and spice with crystalised ginger, chilli flakes and crushed cardamom.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

To package as gifts break the bark into large pieces and wrap in parchment paper with a pretty ribbon, fill a glass jar or a clear bags, or place in a pretty box and wrap with tissue paper.

Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

Want to get a piece of the – Christmas prep – action?

Katherine will be in residence in the Borough Market Demo Kitchen (in the glass market hall) throughout December showing the shortcuts to the most amazing Christmas meal without spending days in the kitchen.

Throughout her demo sessions, Katherine will be focusing on the following topics, so make sure you come down to the Borough Market for tones of festive tips, a little nibble (and maybe a headstart on the grocery shopping too, ’tis the best place for it after all!) on the following dates:

1st December – 12.30-2pm – Edible Gifts.
8th December – 12.30-2pm – It’s all in the planning.
15th December – 12.30-2pm – The final countdown: 60 minutes in the kitchen on Christmas Day.

*All Borough Market demo kitchen sessions are free for all to attend. I was invited by the Borough Market to attend a preview of Katherine’s demo sessions, but all pictures, words, opinions & love for that iconic foodie spot, its legendary traders & tendancies to compulsively eat any fruit/nut/candy I can get my hands on my own.

Christmas Dinner in an hour – Katherine Frelon Christmas residency at the Borough Market

10 Things to do in London for Christmas

For more than a month now, I’ve spent most of my time thinking about Christmas

(but then, it comes early to London, where I first spotted mince pies at my local Sainsbury’s in September!)

Counting days, making lists (of presents, of food ideas, of things to do… the list (of lists!) is basically endless), drinking mulled wine, eating mince pies…

And now that all the Fah-la-la-la-ing has become socially acceptable, I thought it was about time for a little list of the best things to do in London for Christmas!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

1. Tour the city to see the lights

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

This is probably my favourite thing about the festive season in London.

With all its lights twikling bright, the city looks so different and even more beautiful than the rest of the year!

Make sure your ‘light tour’ include Covent Garden (more on that below) and Regent Street as they’re my absolute faves this year!

2. Eat your weight in mince pies

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Did you know that Christmas food has absolutely no calorie whatsoever? #TrueFact

(that I may or may not have just invented as I heard rumours that Crosstown Doughnuts created a Mince Pie doughnut for the festive season!!)

3. Drink hot cocktails

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Mulled wine is a Christmas staple, so a few cups of it is highly recommended to get the party started!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

But I’d also recommend you give Cinnamon Soho’s Rum Hot Toddy a try!

Strong, yet fragrant with notes of cinnamon, orange and all things Christmas-ey, it’s an absolute winner in my book!

4. Kiss under the mistletoe

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Covent Garden‘s giant mistletoe decorations, that is.

So romantic (especially if you get a few macarons from Ladurée while you’re at it… #JustSaying).

(Please note that there are also giant disco balls, if you’re more in the mood for party!)

5. Witness (or take part in) a Santa Run!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

One Santa is good, but dozens and dozens of them is better. Obviously.

6. Go to a Christmas Carol Service

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Let’s be honest. You’ll have to queue in the cold. For a while.

But I promise it’ll all be worth it.

I have great memories of an Advent service at Westminster Abbey a few years ago; such beautiful voices in such a beautiful place!!

7. Taste as many Christmas specials as you can!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

There’s more to Christmas food than mince pies and candy cane!

From Pret‘s Christmas Menu (I’m eye-ing the Beef Wellington baguette…) to Cranberry-and-turkey filled burgers (the beast above’s from Hache) and all sorts of cinnamon-y desserts, restaurants really are working hard at pushing that festive food thing to its limits.

Trying it all is going to be quite a challenge, but I’m not one to give up in the face of adversity.

8. Join into a Christmas street party

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Christmas lights, loads of food, discounts in stores and loads of fun activities…

Basically all of the best things about Christmas packed into one night!

Carnaby Street‘s and Seven Dial’s are especially popular destinations, and other favourites of mine include Columbia Road‘s and Exmouth Market‘s.

9. Go present shopping (& window viewing!)

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Departments stores are well worth touring both in search of the perfect present for everyone on your list and to see their amazing window displays.

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Fortnum & Mason is always a must (I could stay hours marvelling at the details!)!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

But then it seems every store has outdone itself this year (above: Paperchase, Cath Kindston & Accessorize)!

10. Getting ready for all the festive craziness to come

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Christmas is probably the most tiring time of the year, so taking time for oneself ahead of it is always a good idea.

Be nice to yourself. Have nice food (and maybe throw some extra veggies inthere?). Sleep loads. Take a nice walk. Don’t stress too much about your never-ending lists. Enjoy.

And relaaaaaax!

Now, can I get a Fah-la-la-la-la over here? 

10 Things to do in London for Christmas

London’s First Mulled Wine Festival

There is no better way to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season (yes,  it’s only mid-November,  I know,  I know!)  than with a cup of spicy mulled wine.

Oh wait. Yes there is.

Several cups of it.

Plus mince pies and candy canes.

And London first Mulled Wine Festival, organised by Yelp London, has it all and then some more,  making it the best thing that could have happened to your weekend.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

To find it, easy,  just follow the Christmas trail!! (or you could check it out on Yelp…)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Strong Christmas sweater game? You’re probably getting close…

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Giant reindeer? Getting hot!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

And when you see a big group of Santas,  you know you’re in the right place!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Download the app and check into the event, get your wristband from one of the fantastic Yelpers on site (and say hi! for me), and you’re all set to go!

Go where I hear you say? The most wonderful place of them all.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Mulled wine land!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

A hot cup of the Christmas staple will make you forget that winter is coming.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

And soon you’ll be saying that it’s ice cream weather.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

(YES,  mulled wine ice pops are a real thing. A really,  really good real thing even!!)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

A side of mince pies is pretty much obligatory.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

But that’s if you can resist the inviting smell of MeatLiquor‘s burgers (don’t even bother trying.)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Eat, drink and be merry!

London’s first Mulled Wine Festival sure is the best way to welcome the festive season!!

Yelp’s #MulledWineFest is in full swing on Covent Garden Plaza today and tomorrow (November 13-14), 12-9 PM. Entry is free if you download the Yelp app and check into the event.

London’s First Mulled Wine Festival