Tuesday, December 16, 2008

christmas comes

It feels a bit like Christmas, at least a bit more than it did this time last year. We’re putting up a tree this week, hauling in a Norfolk pine that manages to survive in the tropics and allowing him a holiday high up in the canopy for a week or so before he returns to his regular spot outside the house. A month ago I made a plum pudding, it’s waiting patiently for the 25th. And on Sunday we made mincemeat pies. Really delicious, we didn’t used suet, instead substituting vegetable shortening, and we can’t buy currants or sultanas here so we used more raisins and substituted dried bananas and fruit leather for the candied peel. We substituted rum for brandy and used allspice rather than mixed spice, we also added some black pepper and a pinch of salt. This makes about 3 pounds of mincemeat, it’s best to make the pies a day before you want them: the flavours get a good chance to blend. Though perhaps make a smaller one to eat right there and then, so tempting straight from the oven.

8ox apples, preferably green, grated
4oz suet
6oz raisins
4oz sultanas
4oz currants
4oz candied peel
6oz sugar
Juice and peel of a lemon and an orange
2 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
3 tblsp brandy
Mix together all ingredients except brandy. Put in very very low oven until suet melts and coats other ingredients (or alternately leave out in sun). Wait until cool and mix in brandy, keep in fridge or can with hot water bath until needed.

1 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup cold butter
1/8 – ¼ cup iced water
Mix dry ingredients first, chop in butter, rub to breadcrumb like texture, add water to firm dough, allow to rest for 20 minutes, roll out and line pie or tart trays.
Fill with mincemeat, cut more pastry strips and lattice pie tops, bake in 350F oven for 20-30 minutes until just golden. Sprinkle with sugar if desired and serve with thick cream or vanilla ice cream.