Caribbean Christmas Sorrel

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel - Candy Coated Culinista

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel – Candy Coated Culinista

This is my absolute favourite Christmas drink. Once the Christmas season is upon us I know I’m getting Sorrel and I’m elated. Sorrel is made from sorrel leaves; which are from the hibiscus family and with its deep, rich red colour it just screams Christmas to me. Not to mention all of those other Christmas spices.

Yield/Serving: 9 cups
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 to 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 cup sorrel leaves
• 9 cups water
• 1 hand of peeled ginger, cut into pieces
• 1 cinnamon stick
• A few cloves
• 2 star anise
• 1 cup cane sugar, to taste
• Lemon to taste

1. Place all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon into a large pot and bring to a boil covered.
2. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from heat to allow to steep for a few hours.
4. Strain away the solids and add sugar and lemon to taste.
5. Chill and serve with ice.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I have tasted two types of Sorrel: the Bajan (Barbados) way; which I am accustomed to and more recently the Jamaican way which a lot of the time has Rum added to it; but I have only enjoyed the rum-free version to date. Both islands ways taste great in their own right; the Bajan having more of that Christmas smell and so dark and dense when the drink is put up to the light, no light is getting through. On the other hand the Jamaican way has a lot more ginger and the addition of orange peel and the drink is not as dense. So when I made my first attempt at this I did a combination of both recipes. This tasted alright to me I was really hoping for it to taste like the originals; but it tasted like a Caribbean Canadian version if you will. I think I watered it down too much. I did get my Bajan & Jamaican recipe originators to taste it and they said it tasted good. I will say it tasted better over the next few days as the ingredients blended more and I will definitely add less water next time.

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole - Candy Coated Culinista

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole – Candy Coated Culinista

Is there such a thing as too savoury…I sure think so. I made this recipe well before Thanksgiving thinking this sounds like an amazing unique dish too bad you can really only stomach it around the holidays or at least only I can.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

• 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
• 6 slices bacon
• ½ cup golden brown sugar
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp cloves
• 1/8 tsp ginger
• 1/8 tsp cinnamon
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 1 spring rosemary, diced
• 1 stem of basil, diced
• ¼ cup 2% milk
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• Pecans, to decorate
• Bacon, to decorate
• Rosemary, to decorate

1. Fill a large pot with water and boil sweet potatoes until tender.
2. Using a large frying pan, fry bacon slices and place on a paper towel and let absorb.
3. Chop bacon (leave some bacon behind to decorate if desired) and place in a large bowl along with brown sugar, flour, walnuts, butter, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, sea salt, rosemary, basil and combine with a whisk.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Mash the sweet potatoes and add in the milk, eggs and sugar and spice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
6. Pour sweet potato into a casserole dish and decorate with pecans along the sides and add bacon bits along with more rosemary in the centre.
7. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Like eating a very savoury sweet potato pie; the crunch from the nuts and the touch of saltiness from the bacon had me wanting more, the spices though probably a tad too much had me running away and I have altered the recipe accordingly for next time. I’m more of a hint of spices not an overwhelming amount. For awhile I didn’t even remember there was cayenne pepper in it until the slow burn crept up and then that was it I’m was done. This recipe smelt amazing from beginning to end, yet after 5 or so bites I just thought I think this is too savoury. Much like Pumpkin Spice Lattes in autumn and fruit cake or eggnog at Christmas some things are better only eaten at certain times of the year; because you well just don’t enjoy it as much any other time of the year. There is this novelty factor in a way and this is why I’ll be making this for either one of these holidays for dinner and no other time in the year ever.

Christmas Pavlova Wreath

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

A festive spin on my favourite dessert; with the flavours of Christmas in a perfectly light and airy dessert that will put anyone in the Christmas spirit.

Yield/Serving: 4 – 6
Prep Time: 20 min.
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, time consuming

Inspired by Epicurious

For Pavlova
• 3 egg whites
• 9 tsp granulated sugar
• 1 tsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sugared Cranberries
• ½ cup cranberries
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup water
Cranberry Pomegranate Maple Syrup
• ½ cup cranberries
• ½ cup pomegranate seeds
• 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Remaining sugar syrup
Whipped Cream
• 1 cup whipping cream
• Sugared cranberries
• Pomegranate seeds
• Kiwi, cut into thin pieces

For Pavlova
1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
2. Using a piece of parchment paper trace one large plate and one small plate inside the large plate into a ring shape and place on a baking sheet.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
4. Gradually add sugar 1 tsp at a time until the meringue forms into stiff shiny peaks. (bowl can be held upside down and nothing falls out)
5. Add balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until incorporated.
6. Spread meringue within the ring shape and then bake for one and a half hours. When it is ready it will be crisp around the sides and dry on top. Let cool with the oven door slightly open and let remain in the oven overnight.
Sugared Cranberries
7. While the meringue is cooking; using a small saucepan boil water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.
8. Let the sugar mixture cool down until lukewarm.
9. Put cranberries in a jar and pour the sugar mixture over top and cover.
10. Let the cranberries soak for 2 hours and drain and reserve the syrup for later for the cranberry pomegranate syrup.
11. Using a small bowl pour the cranberries in and mix the sugar until covered and let dry for 30 minutes and set aside.
Cranberry Pomegranate Maple Syrup
12. Combine cranberries, pomegranate seeds, maple syrup, vanilla extract and the remaining sugar syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce temperature down to low and continue to stir until mixture thickens up a bit and then turn off once most of the cranberries have burst.
13. Using a sieve pour the syrup into a bowl and press out any remaining juices from the cranberries and pomegranates through the sieve.
14. Let cool down completely.
Whipped Cream
15. Using an electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream until cream thickens.
16. Place meringue on a cake pedestal.
17. Top with whipped cream and then start placing sugared cranberries, pomegranate seeds and kiwi.
18. Drizzle with syrup and serve.

• You can prepare the meringue the night before, like I did.
• If you need to get the syrup mixture to cool faster, place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Pavlova is probably my most favourite dessert to make, even though I don’t make it much because it is time-consuming. The meringue was light and crisp on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. The sugared cranberries added a tartness and sweetness along with the pomegranate seeds and fresh kiwi all topped on the light and creamy whipped cream. This is a festive and beautiful dessert to look at. I was elated at how this turned out exactly how I envisioned it and once again my dessert was a pre-dessert as my taste testers couldn’t wait to try it including myself. I even had a piece for lunch yesterday.

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

Acorn & Butternut Squash Soup

Acorn Butternut Squash Soup - Candy Coated Culinista

Acorn Butternut Squash Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

It’s that time of year again when I start making soups on the regular.

Yield/Serving: 1 litre
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 1 hr to 1 hr. 15 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 1 butternut squash, cut in pieces
• 1 acorn squash, cut in pieces
• Canola oil
• 4 tbs vegetarian margarine
• 1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
• 5 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 litre vegetable stock
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• Cayenne pepper, generous pinch
• Sunflower seeds, to decorate
• Pumpkin seeds, to decorate
• Parsley, to decorate

1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F
2. Wash squash and de-seed and cut into pieces and place in a large bowl.
3. Coat squash with canola oil and place in roasting pan and roast for 30 to 45 minutes.
4. When squash is finished roasting immediately place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. (Letting the squash remain warm in the bowl, so it will be easier to remove the skin)
5. Meanwhile over medium heat, in a large pot cook onion and garlic until brown.
6. Pour in the vegetable stock and let cook.
7. Start peeling away the skin from the squash and add to pot.
8. Add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and continue to cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. At the 15 minute mark use an immersion blender to blend and let simmer.
9. Serve with sunflower, pumpkin and parsley on top.

• Freeze a portion if desired.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The colour of this soup was amazing and the crunch of the pumpkin and sunflower seeds added a lovely texture to the soup.

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