Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mince pies with hairdo's or...Mince Pies Royale!

And here I am again sitting by the wood stove humming away with all the pups and kitten getting toasty by the fire, the wind howling and the snow flying writing up my Christmas treat! I have already eaten about 7 of these delights and am ready to eat more....and so goes the Holidays!!!
The recipe is a combination of 3 parts...instant mincemeat a la David Lebovitz , pastry a la Martha and hairdo a la "Christmas Feasts from History" by Lorna J Sass....and off we jolly well!!

INSTANT, VEGETARIAN, 'FRESH' MINCEMEAT...should be made at least one day in advance for flavours to meld. I am calling this ‘fresh’ mincemeat, meaning you don’t have to wait months for it to be ready as with your ordinary or garden variety mincemeat. This recipe is ready after one day and better after three…so make it today and Bob’s your uncle for Friday!! Also this is a vegetarian variety so no shredding of suet which can be a little off putting to say the very least!!

1 cup (135g) coarsely chopped raisins, dark or golden

½ cup candied peel…orange or lemon or both

¼ cup brandy but I used whiskey as that is all I had in the house and it tasted just fine!!

2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons sugar…again dark or light

1 teaspoon of cardomom

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

½ teaspoon of mace
(I differed my spices from David’s recipe which called for ½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon of cloves…I am not a fan of cloves as a flavouring and I think cardamom works really well with the lemon flavour)

1 grated crunchy apple…I use Pink Lady which is a big fave of mine.

This is really hard…mix everything together and put it in a jar. Allow to stand for one to three days, don‘t put in the fridge, the flavours marry better at room temp. This mincemeat is meant to be used quickly.

That’s it for the mincemeat!!! for the pastry, it's the same one I always use from Martha which works like a charm, stays crispy under duress and has a lovely meltiness.


1 1/4 cups of white flour

 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick (4ozs) butter I always use salted, VERY cold

1/8 to 1/4 cup ice cold water
1. Sift the flour

2. Grate the butter into the flour.

3. Gently work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Add some of the water and test to see if it comes together, if not keep adding water until the dough will squush into a non-sticky ball.

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour.

6. Take the pastry out of the fridge, allow to warm little, roll out nice and thin, then line 6 muffin tins with a round of pastry each, I had pastry left over so I just keep going 'til I ran out...made some cute smaller versions.

Next make the hairdo goo:
3 egg whites at room temperature

4 tablespoons sugar

1. Whisk egg whites until fluffy and stiff

2. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff and glossy

To ASSEMBLE the pies:
1lb (454g) of ‘fresh’ mincemeat, that should be the amount you made

¼ cup (2oz, 56g) of clarified butter (melt butter and skim off white solids that float to the top)

3 egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. In a bowl combine the mincemeat with the 3 egg yolks and clarified butter, mix well.

3. Spoon into the prepared pastry shells.

4. Bake for about 20 mins. until the pastry starts to golden slightly.

5. Remove from oven and pipe prepared meringue onto pies.

6. Bake again for another 20-25 minutes until meringues are nicely browned.

7. Allow to cool before eating, these pies taste best at room temperature. They are neither too sweet nor too tart, they are certainly nothing like as cloying or toothachingly sweet as mass produced ones and with the 'fresh' mincemeat they have a nice brightness that I really enjoy.
HAPPY BAKING!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow, elves and glitter glue!!

Yes children it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Maine. Last night we had our first real snowfall. I have to admit I am still really excited about the first snowfall and I love sitting by the wood burning stove with all the pups and the kitten around watching the snow fall from the leaden skies, kettle on the boil, cookies in the oven...really that was me yesterday!! I can't wait for the snow plough to come by with it's huge lights blasting through the swirling snow, James thinks I look like I'm about 8 years old peering out the window to see the it go's very exciting! The very first time we experienced a snow plough here in Maine we thought a plane was landing on the road...they are huge and seem like something from 'The Polar Express'
Here is the field across the street in all it's winter glory.
...and the woods beside the house...aren't the lines on the trees wonderful? They are so perfect and, if the temperature is just right, they slowly peel off down the length of the tree.
Now what do you think the image in the middle of the picture looks like?? Does it resemble one of the little guys below. Cute little snow caps on annoying burrs, or should I say Brrrrrr's...tee hee
These two above are waiting patiently for you-know-what...keep toasty little guys!!
A couple of years ago I spent a few days in winter just before Christmas making my own tree ornaments, here are two that I still have, I had a grand old time with paperboard, old colour copies of my work and glitter glue, WHICH I is such fantastic stuff, never a, I could happily cover everything with glitter glue if I had my way....I make the dogs and James a little nervous when I start eyeballing them with a tube in my hand!! I shall be getting the glitter glue out any day now to have some more fun making ornaments for this year.
And finally "What happened to Hallowe'en?" Our little pumpkin is not so thrilled with the snow as we!!