Christmas food we love to hate

Ok admit it, a lot of those Christmas "treats" can be an acquired taste. If you never managed to acquire them, why not serve up some festive alternatives to those cloying Christmas flavours?

Problem: mince pies. For some, dried fruit spiked with acrid orange peel, encased in fatty pastry fails to delight.

Solution: fragrant spiced apple with cinnamon and ginger, and maybe a touch of cranberry jelly, spooned into light pastry cases, and topped with a crispy caramel lattice, makes a deliciously festive alternative.

Problem: Brussels sprouts. They may be fashionable, but for many, these sulphurous cannonballs threaten to ruin Christmas every year.

Solution: the Germans know how to celebrate Yuletide. Try Teutonic red cabbage, slow-cooked with cinnamon, cloves, a little balsamic vinegar, apple and brown sugar. It’s a winter classic.

Problem: Christmas pudding. Suet and more of that infernal dried fruit is not the ideal follow-up to the traditional meat and nine veg Christmas dinner.

Solution: lemon and vodka sorbet is a light, palate-cleansing touch of sugary asperity that has the advantage of leaving plenty of room for those huge boxes of chocolate liqueurs that can be passed around while you slumber in front of the telly.

Problem: mulled wine. Just because it’s December, people get an irrational urge to stick a perfectly decent red on the stove and chuck in all sorts of unnecessary spices, not to mention that bizarre clove-studded orange.

Solution: wine. At normal temperature, straight from the bottle to your glass. You know it makes sense.

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