The Elusive Mince Pie
I think it’s unreasonable.
Mince pies are seasonal!
Not the size
Just that in summer
Why’s mince pies
The rest of the year
It’s only buns!
I’d like to thumb
Be able to do a runner
In the summer
For more of them mince pies.
Grow our own mince pies
Then before our eyes
On the tree
But I’ve now seen the reason
Mince pie exodus
Is only Xmas
Cos the season
Is only December,
Make loads of these little party-size pies and freeze them if you want them all the year round – but I bet you eat them before the end on January!
For the pastry:
- 225g plain flour
- 110g Pure margarine
- Juice from one clementine
- Pinch of salt
For the mincemeat:
- 30ml port
- 35g soft dark brown sugar (they come out quite tart so add a little extra if you have a very sweet tooth)
- 150g fresh cranberries
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 75g mixed fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas)
- 15g dried cranberries
- Zest and juice of 1 clementine
- 10-15ml brandy
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Put the flour in a bowl and add the margarine to the middle of it and mix using your fingers to rub every bit of marg into the flour until you have a fine breadcrumb texture.
- Squeeze the clementine and add the juice to the pastry mix and gently rub (don’t overdo it or it will turn your pastry into cardboard!) once it starts to form a ball, place it in the fridge for 15 mins.
- Dissolve the sugar in the port in a pan over a gentle heat.
- Add the cranberries, spices, dried fruit, zest and juice of the clementine.
- Simmer for 20 minutes until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid. Squash some of the cranberries with a wooden spoon but leave a few whole if you want.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a little before adding the brandy, vanilla extract and syrup.
- Heat the oven to 180C and grease a miniature tart tray.
- Then roll out your pastry and cut enough circles (using a fluted biscuit cutter) for the tray of mini pies, gently push each pastry disc into each hole in the tray.
- Spoon a small teaspoon of mince into each pie.
- Top with a pastry shape – I like stars!
- Brush with soya milk if you want and sprinkle on some demerara sugar for some extra sparkle.
- Bake for 15-20 mins.
This recipe uses a combination of puff and filo pastry, both of which you can buy ready-made – result!
- 2-3 tbsp vegan mincemeat (get the best you can!)
- Small handful of dried cranberries, chopped
- Zest from 1 clementine
- 1 splash of brandy
- 1 handful of flour for dusting
- 1 sheet of ready-rolled Jus-Rol puff pastry
- 1 sheet of Jus-Rol filo pastry
- 40g vegan marg, melted
- 1 small handful of flaked almonds
- icing sugar, to dust
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and remove both types of pastry from the fridge and set to one side.
- Spoon the mincemeat into a mixing bowl and mix in the cranberries, clementine zest and brandy.
- Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry sheet, just a little thinner than it already comes.
- Thinly spread the mincemeat over the pastry, leaving a 1cm gap around the edges.
Roll up the pastry lengthways (like a Swiss roll) then place on a floured tray in the fridge to firm.
- Grease a muffin tray lightly with the melted marg.
- Place a single layer of filo pastry on your work surface and cut squares slightly larger than the holes in the muffin tray. Use more pastry if necessary to cut 12 squares in total.
- Brush each square with melted marg and gently ease each one into each of the holes in the tray so that the corners point upwards around the edges.
- Repeat with another layer of filo, cutting another 12 squares, then gently pushing each into the edges (slightly offset from the first layer to give more pointy tops!), to leave plenty of room for the puff pastry swirls.
- Take the puff pastry mincemeat roll out of the fridge and, with a sharp knife, cut it into 12 slices.
- Place each slice, flat-side down, into the filo-lined holes.
- Brush with melted marg and sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top of each.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until cooked and golden brown.
- Leave to cool then remove from tray and dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
The nice people at Wagamama (well their PR company actually) invited me and two guests to come and try their new vegan chicken katsu curry at their ‘noodle lab’ restaurant in Soho, London. This new test kitchen allows customers to preview and give feedback on new dishes before they appear on the national menu.
The Vegatsu (£8), as it is called, is made up of strips of seitan coated in panko breadcrumbs covered in an aromatic curry sauce. It comes with sticky rice and a side salad. This hotly anticipated dish has been doing the rounds from the Metro to FatGayVegan.
I really liked it but think it needs a couple of tweaks… Firstly, the huge pile of rice with it was a bit large for me, the other two managed OK though, so it might be the right size. I liked the seitan a lot – it’s rare to find homemade seitan in a national chain like this so I’d be happy to order it again. I liked the sauce too but one of our group thought it was a bit too much like chip shop curry sauce – I would be chuffed if my local chippy made curry sauce like this! One thing we all agreed on though, it was a bit too salty and the journey back to Bristol from London was a thirsty one! Lastly, I felt the salad was a bit out of place on the plate and would have preferred the wok-fired greens (which we shared as a side and were really delicious!).
Overall, I liked the dish and look forward to trying it again when it becomes available nationally.
Sunday, 26 November 2017 is ‘Stir-up Sunday’, so get your ingredients together, put the radio on, get stirring and make the whole house smell like Christmas.
This pudding needs steaming for 8 hours so don’t start making it in the evening!
- 3 cups of mixed dried fruit (flame raisins, cherries, cranberries, sultanas and currants)
- 5 dried apricots, chopped
- ½ large cooking apple, diced
- 1 carrot, finely grated
- ½ cup plain flour
- 2 slices wholemeal bread, breadcrumbed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ginger
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup ground almonds
- 1 cup veg suet
- ¾ cup muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- ½ large orange, juice and zest
- ½ lemon, juice and zest
- ¼ pint brandy
- Mix everything well in a bowl then transfer to a greased 2 pint Pyrex bowl.
- Cover with greaseproof paper (put a pleat in it so it can expand) then tie with string to secure the paper.
- Cover with foil and tie again with a string handle so you can lift it in and out of the pan.
- Strand in two inches of boing water in a pan for 8 hours.
- On the day, heat for 1 ½ hours in the same way.
Theme: Brunch: the under-appreciated get-together meal.
I hate it when cafes stop serving breakfast in the morning. ‘Breakfast served until 11am’ What the hell?!!! That’s like saying you can only have so much fun. ‘All-day-breakfast’ now, that’s more like it – knock yourselves out! And why not? Here are some I made earlier and some I ate out – none before 11am I am fairy certain.
Theme: Meals for the young (at heart)
Most British adults of a certain age will remember fish fingers, chips and peas being the classic go-to dish served up for kids in the 1970s. Especially be people who didn’t know what else to feed kids – it was either that or a trip to the Wimpy!
Birds Eye food manufacturers have been making fish fingers in the UK since the 1950s and reckon that around half of all households buy them. However, in 2013, sales dropped by five per cent. The amount of meat bought by UK households is in decline, and has been since the 1970’s. On the other hand, the meat-free market is booming and it looks like the same might be happening in the fish-free aisles of the supermarkets and health food shops…
VBites introduced their Making Waves Fish Style Fingers some years ago now. You can buy them from Ocado. They are a favourite of mine – hard to beat in a sandwich with ketchup! But now, Quorn have launched Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers too so there is even more choice! This is great news as we can no longer keep pulling fish out of the sea – it is simply unsustainable with the number of fisheries collapsing, accelerating over time. If trends continue, 88 per cent of the world’s fish will be overfished by 2050. Up to 90 per cent of all large predatory fish such as cod, sharks, halibut, grouper, tuna, swordfish and marlin have already been depleted. Leave the fish alone and go fish-free!
Theme: Showstopper Dessert – Something that would earn a handshake from Paul Hollywood!
I got the idea for this dessert from Masterchef. One of the contestants made it up and I veganised it! It’s made from fresh raspberries and whisky (soak them for a few hours in a bowl in the fridge). Top with chocolate mousse and toasted chopped pistachios and dark chocolate mini-buttons, decorate with a couple of leaves of blackcurrant sage or mint.
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