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The Highland Christmas review by Mary Berry is a delightful holiday treat, as the former host of Bake Off makes her comeback.


It’s Christmas time and Santa has made the surprising decision – with no clear reasoning in this chaotic year – to bring back Mary Berry. After being stored away in tissue paper, like a delicate ornament, she has been revealed and added to the TV lineup to spread holiday cheer in Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas.

Everything happens exactly as you would anticipate and desire. The flawless, snowy white hair. The unique voice, both rich and pure. The grace. The gorgeous manicured nails and blouses. The unshakeable enthusiasm that never disturbs the calmness, and the calmness that never diminishes the enthusiasm (“What a lovely shiny gravy!”). And the occasional extravagant gesture that only upper-class individuals can pull off – like the time she shared an anecdote about purchasing a whole salmon for her son’s birthday dinner, only to realize “I didn’t have a fish kettle or anything!” but improvising with an old tin bath found outside.

She visits Andy Murray and his grandma Shirley, who used to send homemade shortbread with him to every tournament on the condition that she got the tin back. Did I mention we are in Scotland? We are, in the hotel the tennis player owns near his home town, Dunblane. It is time for Murray to learn how to make a better breakfast than his customary fried eggs on bagels – kedgeree. He stirs while Berry chops and they chat about festive traditions. Murray reveals that he sometimes has sushi for Christmas dinner because it’s his favourite meal. “I think,” says Berry, turning the twinkle down for a moment, “it’s – no comment.” When his granny comes back, Andy shows her what they have made. “Lovely,” says Shirley. “Can you remember what you did?” This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you raise a champion.

Following our stay at the hotel, we return to Berry’s kitchen to prepare a pavlova with a cranachan twist, as well as some appetizing bites of smoked salmon and guacamole. To prevent the fried bread base from becoming soggy, a circle of smoked salmon is placed in between the base and the guacamole. We then take a brief detour to a reindeer farm in the Highlands, a unique establishment in this area, accompanied by Scottish comedian Iain Stirling. In the kitchen, Berry and Iain demonstrate how to make a delicious cheese fondue, which Berry recommends as a great option for using up any Christmas leftovers. This is a valuable tip that I plan on utilizing for many Christmases to come.

Next up is a savory tart made with fennel and onion (be sure to boil the fennel beforehand to ensure tenderness, don’t make Mary remind you again!). It is served with a winter slaw that Mary describes as “remarkable”. Following that, a hearty Highland pie filled with succulent beef shin and gravy, topped with puff pastry. Ready-made pastry is perfectly acceptable. According to Berry, some people even bring their own pillows or other comforts on vacation. She always brings her own rolling pin. I’m guessing you don’t do that. Fix that and also place a cup in the center of the pie filling before adding the pastry to provide support and prevent it from becoming soggy. It just makes sense. And while you’re at it, treat yourself to a manicure and put on a nicer blouse. Take a look at yourself, you’re a mess.

Following a brief scan of a required mulled wine recipe for Mary to serve at a nearby ceilidh, we move on to stollen. Similar to the pastry, it is unnecessary to create the marzipan from scratch – Berry is worldly and will approve of store-bought. Simply ensure that the dough is packed with plenty of dried fruit and we will make it through the season.

Scottish musician Emeli Sandé is invited to assist Mary in making a traditional French holiday dessert called Bûche de Noël, or yule log. The process involves creating a soft cake, covering it with cream, and possibly adding whiskey (although I am unsure as I am too hungry to pay attention to Mary’s encouragement to “not cry!” throughout the experience). The cake is then rolled up, coated with chocolate ganache, and sliced to resemble a tree branch. As the filming takes place in October, the cast pretends to be surprised by carol singers in fake snow.

It’s wonderful. Extremely calming. Similar to store-bought marzipan, the ideal holiday filling. I trust that Mary has been safely returned to her tissue paper and will be brought out again next year.

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Source: theguardian.com