Coming from the Philippines where adorning homes with Christmas decorations has become a national pastime that begins in September, my first impression was that Australians weren’t very keen on Christmas. I couldn’t get used to Santa in a body suit, trading turtlenecks for singlets, or a “white Christmas” referring to spending time in Bondi beach.
It’s taken almost five years but the Aussie Christmas has certainly grown on me. This year we spent Christmas day at my Aunt Jenni’s house in Canberra. I meant to share these pictures with you sooner but it’s taken me awhile to rouse myself from the food induced coma brought about by the eating binge over Christmas.
Our celebrations kicked off with a few of the guys playing cricket in the backyard. Some of us stayed indoors to help prepare Christmas lunch, or, more accurately, pretended to help prepare lunch but really stood around the kitchen counter and steal scraps of food while no one was watching. In between the test match and food preparations we opened our Christmas gifts… unless of course the gifts were coming from me as I hadn’t gotten around to wrapping the gifts, I told everyone I was being environmentally friendly.
Hat’s off to Jenni for preparing a wonderful Christmas meal. On the menu this year was a White Cooked Chicken with a Ginger & Shallot sauce which was a recipe from Stephanie Alexander, Roast Beef with horseradish dressing, the juciest Glazed Ham made by the Blog Monster , Turkey, and Prawn Salad with string beans freshly picked from my Aunt Jenni’s garden. For dessert we had what I’ve known for the last five years as Aunt Jenni’s Berry Pie (but more on that later).
The day after, what was supposed to be an exclusive “man-cursion” organized by “The Puncher”, turned into an expedition which included the men, the kids, and a few brave ladies that decided to make a trek to Corin Forest for some alpine bobsledding then a dip at Gibraltar Falls. The other contingent had their own adventure which involved hunting for bargains during the Boxing Day sales at the mall. Both groups met back up at Jenni’s house for a late lunch (of whatelse? Leftovers!) before heading home.
So back to Jenni’s Berry Pie. This pie has been so popular with my family that the day my Mom learned how to make it, she made it twice because one pie didn’t last long enough. I think in one week she must have made it six times and this is one pie that my husband says he will never get sick off. You might remember that I’ve mentioned how much I love Jenni’s recipes before because she’s all about simple and delicious – this pie is a perfect example. It takes ten minutes to put together, no mixer required and it lends itself well to using tinned or frozen fruit (now I’m all about seasonal and fresh produce but how absolutely practical is this pie?!)! It was during this trip that I learned that this was originally a Nigella Lawson recipe – well, what do you know – my first Nigella recipe!
This year, the one thing that really made my Christmas was being able to spend it with the people I love most. Over the Christmas weekend I had 100% attention of my husband (who finally turned off his blackberry for an extended period!), my parents came from the Philippines, all my siblings, nephews and other extended family. So if this is what Christmas in Australia is all about… bring on 2011!
Simple Berry Pie
I mentioned earlier you can make this pie with tinned or frozen fruit – and we’ve experimented with peaches, mangoes, apples (add cinnamon) and berries – all with great results. I believe Nigella’s original recipe was made with frozen cranberries so you might want to give that a try too. To make this pie, I used a 26 cm wide pie dish.
- 500 grams frozen berries (substitute with fruit of your choice)
- 50 grams butter
- 45 grams caster sugar
- 175 grams flour
- 175 grams caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml butter plus a little more for greasing, melted
- handful of flaked almonds
- 30 grams demerara sugar (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 150c, fan forced.
- To make the berry compote, in a saucepan mix the berries, sugar and butter and bring to a simmer until the berries have thawed.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, 175 grams of caster sugar and baking powder. Add the melted butter and the eggs and mix until you get a smooth batter.
- Grease the pie dish with a little butter and spread around a half of the batter on the bottom of the pie dish. Next, using a slotted spoon, spoon the berries on top (you will notice that it might be quite watery, don’t worry as this will dry out while baking) then top with the remaining batter, spreading evenly to cover.
- Top with the flaked almonds and demerara sugar and bake for around one hour. For the last 15 minutes cover the pie dish with some aluminium foil to prevent the top from browning too much. Serve with cream.