A couple of weeks ago I bought a large jar of mincemeat to make mince pies, and the days were rapidly passing and I still hadn’t done them… You know what they say about good intentions, so today I knuckled down and actually made them. OK, they won’t win any prizes for appearance but they are deeeelicious though I say so myself!!
I had toyed with the idea of buying the pastry as well as the mincemeat, but pastry is so easy to make, and cheap too, so I thought I’d make it myself. I doubled up the quantities in my recipe from 8 oz plain flour to 1 lb, which it was suggested would make 24 mince pies, but in the event, kneading together all the remaining offcuts, I managed to get another 8 out of it!
You can see my recipe book open, at the back behind the jar of mincemeat. I was given this book for my 21st birthday, 41 years ago and it’s still going strong – it is called “The Love of Cooking” by Sonia Allison, who used to write for the Times newspaper, and it has been my favourite recipe book throughout my adult life. It has instructions for making all the basics like pastry and scones, cakes, etc., and how to cook meat in various ways, including how long per pound and so on, and how to prepare and cook vegetables. It also includes some more exotic recipes and plenty of desserts too,. This book has been part of my life!
You can also see a bottle of wine. I used to have a nice wooden rolling pin but it has vanished without trace… Like a lot of my kitchen equipment it found its way into my studio, so I had a look but couldn’t find it where I expected it to be, so I decided to use a bottle instead! This one has mulled wine in it. Filling a bottle with cold water does the trick too – it keeps the pastry nice and cool. Anyway, my mulled wine bottle did the job just fine.
On the right you can see the other half of the lump of pastry that I had made and put in the fridge to rest. It was too much to roll out all at once. Two red plastic cutters – one for the pie bases and the other for the tops. You can see the first mince pie in progress.
Uncooked mince pies waiting for the oven, and some cooked ones on the rack. I probably put in too much mincemeat because some of it has leaked out and they are all rather sticky and misshapen! They taste fine, though.
Some mince pies warm from the oven, ready to share with our cleaning lady over a cup of tea. I put them in a basket on a piece of kitchen paper. Yummy. Before she went home, she took a few over the road for our neighbour.
My hubby is wonderful! So often he goes the extra mile for me! I haven’t made pastry for so long that I forgot that the recipe says half and half butter and lard, and I didn’t have any lard. I’d hoped to make the pastry before lunch and leave it resting till afterwards, so that I could get a bit further ahead before our cleaning lady arrived, but it all took much longer. My hubby offered to go to the corner shop for the lard, and if they didn’t have any, to go down to the main street, but he returned empty handed! Nobody had any… The wonderful man then drove out to Sainsbury’s and came back triumphant – he said to me, “And all because the lady loves….. LARD!” Hahaha!
(For those who don’t know, this is a reference to a Cadbury’s Milk Tray chocolates advertisement from yesteryear, where a mysterious dark stranger dressed all in black braves the elements and swings from the rooftops James Bond style, to bring his lady-love her favourite box of chocolates! The caption said, “And all because the lady loves Milk Tray.”)
We seem to have a LOT of food in the house now! I’ve just been given another large box of chocolates and I’ve got several panettones and some mini-stollens and lebcuchen that my hubby bought me from Lidl’s (my annual treat!) My hubby took me on my first supermarket shopping trip for simply ages yesterday to do the normal weekly shop and to get some treats for Christmas day in lieu of a full traditional Christmas dinner (of which we have already had several and I didn’t want to cook all that just for us). We’ve got some nice little canapes like mini-turkey pasties and brie and cranberry filo parcels, and I thought I’d cook a few sprouts to go with them, and we’ve got mulled wine, and a small Christmas pudding to follow. I bought a very small piece of Christmas cake at Sainsbury’s too. Unfortunately there isn’t much good TV on Christmas day but we’ll watch the Queen making her Christmas broadcast and maybe watch a DVD. It will be lovely to have a nice quiet day with just the two of us.
I feel really chuffed that I’ve made mince pies! It’s years since I did them and they are especially delicious and seasonal. I am also delighted that Kermit, my stoma, seems to enjoy Christmas fare as much as I do – many people with ileostomies cannot eat dried fruit and nuts, which feature in so much traditional Christmas food, and I’d hate to be deprived of this. I deliberately didn’t put sugar on the mince pies because my hubby has to avoid sugar if he isn’t going to get diabetes, and I do prefer them less sweet because you can taste the mincemeat better – my hubby agrees with me. I did brush them with beaten egg to glaze them. They won’t win any beauty contests and they are a bit lumpy and uneven and very sticky but none the worse for that. Best served warm. I think I might as well hold a requiem for my diet right now…