Luxury home-made mincemeat

Jars of home-made mincemeat | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #ChristmasFood

Many people don’t like thinking about Christmas until the beginning of December – I know I don’t! However, there are a few things that need to be prepared well in advance for them to be at their peak for the big day. Christmas cake, sloe gin, piccalilli  and home-made mincemeat are just a few.

Home-made mincemeat mixture | H is for Home

I’m very fussy about my mincemeat; I don’t like it to be overly citrusy – so, very little orange or lemon zest & juice and no mixed candied peel. In addition, it needs to be veggie – so can only contain vegetarian suet. The only way to ensure it tastes the way I like it is to make it myself. A very easy job and well worthwhile. It works out much cheaper than the cost of ‘luxury’ jars of the stuff in supermarkets. Once made, potted up and put away correctly, it stores unopened for years!

Home-made mincemeat mixture being decanted into jars | H is for Home

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Luxury home-made mincemeat
Ingredients
  1. 200g/7oz currants
  2. 200g/7oz raisins
  3. 200g/7oz sultanas
  4. 100g/3½oz dried cranberries
  5. 100g/3½oz figs, roughly chopped
  6. 100g/3½oz prunes, roughly chopped
  7. 30g/1oz blanched almonds*, roughly chopped
  8. 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored & finely diced
  9. 300g/10½oz muscovado sugar
  10. 200g/7oz vegetable suet
  11. zest & juice of 1 lemon
  12. 3tsp mixed spice
  13. ½tsp cinnamon
  14. ¼tsp nutmeg
  15. 6tbsp rum or brandy
  16. 100g/3½oz butter, cubedHome-made mincemeat ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients except the alcohol into a large saucepan over a low heat
  2. Stir to ensure the contents are well combined and the suet and butter have melted (about 10 minutes)
  3. Allow to cool completely before stirring in the alcohol
  4. Decant into sterilised jam jars - gently bang the bottom of each jar to fit as much of the mincemeat in as possible.
  5. Seal the jars immediately and store for at least a month before use
Notes
  1. *To blanch almonds, put them in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes before draining through a sieve. Pat them dry on some kitchen paper or clean tea towel. You can quickly get the skin off one by one by pinching the broader, rounded end of the nut
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Cakes & Bakes: Pear Galette

Home-made pear galette with ice cream | H is for Home #recipe #baking #cooking #cookery #dessert #pastry

This week, we’ve watched the first in Rick Stein’s new series, Rick Stein’s Road To Mexico. His first port of call was California where he met up with Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse. While there, one of her chefs was filmed making a rhubarb galette – it looked amazing. It’s no longer rhubarb season, so I’ve made a pear galette instead.

Sweet galette pastry | H is for Home

I much prefer rustic, unfussy food like this to haute cusine with all its foams, purées and the like. A galette is just the kind of rustic dessert I crave on a cold autumn evening. A circle of sweet pastry covered with in-season fruit and roughly folded in on itself, free-form.

Cored pears | H is for Home

Instead of a pear galette (or rhubarb), you could make one with stone fruits such as peaches, plums, nectarines or apricots. How about apple & pecan, fig, blueberry or cherry?

Sliced pears tossed in Demerara sugar | H is for Home Laying sliced pears on pastry round | H is for Home

A savoury galette with autumn & winter vegetables is also a great idea; carrots, beetroot, caramelised onion… with cheeses and/or herbs – the variations are endless!

Pear galette brushed with melted butter | H is for Home

It’s such an easy, versatile dish to prepare and cook – pastry with whatever meat, veg or fruit that you have to hand.

Sliced home-made pear galette | H is for Home
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Pear Galette
Serves 8
For the pastry
  1. 320g/11oz plain flour
  2. 2tbsp caster sugar
  3. ¼tsp salt
  4. 115ml/4fl oz cold butter, cubed
  5. 4tbsp cold water
For the filling
  1. 2 dessert pears
  2. 3tbsp Demerara sugar
  3. 2tbsp fine semolina
  4. 25g/1oz flaked almonds
  5. 2tbsp melted butterHome-made pear galette ingredients
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For the pastry
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, caster sugar and salt
  2. Using a food processor (on pulse) or hand pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the butter is evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces
  3. Add the cold water all at once
  4. Pulse until it begins to come together
  5. Empty the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
  6. Form the dough into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film
  7. Flatten the dough into a disk inside the cling film and chill in the fridge for at ½ to 1 hour
  8. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
For the filling
  1. Core & evenly slice the pears and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl
  2. Sprinkle over 2tbsp of the Demerara sugar and toss to cover the pear slices evenly
To finish
  1. Tear off 2 sheets of parchment paper of at least 35½2 (14"2)
  2. Roll the dough out between the two sheets into a 30cm (12") circle
  3. Slide the dough on to a baking tray
  4. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the semolina evenly over the top of the dough
  5. Lay the slices of pear on to the top of the dough in a circle - leaving a 2cm/¾" gap from the edge. Make the slices slightly overlap and ensure you cover the entire surface
  6. Sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of the Demerara sugar and the flaked almonds
  7. Fold the edge of the pastry over, making sure you overlap it on to itself as you go around
  8. Brush the melted butter over the crust edge
  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown
  10. Slide the parchment with the galette on to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before consuming
Notes
  1. Serve warm with cream or ice cream
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Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

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Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie | H is for Home #recipe #rhubarb #baking #pie #shortcake

We have a rhubarb plant growing in a dolly tub our garden that hasn’t done at all well this year. The stalks normally stand tall and to attention but they seem to have lost their va va voom. They’re thin and bendy from the weight of their huge leaves. I decided to chop them all down today in the hope that they’d revive with more vigour next year.

We also still have an ice cream tub full of frozen blackberries that we picked late last summer. We kept some back when we did our jam & jelly making to use in compotes, crumbles etc. Ripening fruits are already in evidence on this year’s bushes so I thought I’d clear out the freezer in readiness for the new crop.

I found and adapted a rhubarb, blueberry and strawberry shortcake pie recipe found in Pie: Delicious sweet and savoury pies and pastries from steak and onion pie to pecan tart by Dean Brettschneider. It’s very much like a cobbler and is delicious hot or cold with vanilla ice cream, cream or – my favourite – a dollop of Rodda’s classic Cornish clotted cream!

Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: makes 8 slices

Rhubarb and berry shortcake pie

Ingredients

  • For the shortbread
  • 125g butter, softened & cubed
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • For the filling
  • 3–4 stalks rhubarb
  • 3tbsp Demerara sugar
  • 250g fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 125g fresh or frozen blueberries
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. Line a shallow 20–22cm round cake tin or flan dish with baking/parchment paper
  3. Put the cubed butter and caster sugar into a medium mixing bowl and, using a hand-held electric whisk, combine until light and fluffy
  4. Add the egg before sifting in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Combine until just mixed
  5. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the tin/dish
  6. Set aside the remainder of the dough, covering it with cling film
  7. Trim & slice the rhubarb before putting it into a large, non-stick frying pan
  8. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar
  9. Put the pan over a low heat shaking the pan occasionally, until fruit is almost tender
  10. Add the blackberries & blueberries to the rhubarb, gently mix for a few seconds before turning off the heat and allowing the fruit to cool
  11. Spread the lukewarm fruit over the shortbread base before carefully dabbing pinches of the leftover dough over the top, allowing a little of the fruit to peep through
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the shortcake top turns golden brown
  13. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack and then onto a serving plate
  14. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar, slice and serve!
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Cakes & Bakes: Apple & blackberry pie

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apple & blackberry pie with a slice removed

Every year around this time we are given a bucketful of home-grown apples from the neighbour of Justin’s parents. Because they’re generally tiny and malformed I’ve usually turned them into apple cheese (no peeling, no coring).

red, vintage wire bucket filled with small, misshapen apples

There were about half a dozen biggish ones this year, so I combined them with some of the remaining bramble offerings that I had stored in the freezer and made an apple & blackberry pie. I may have confessed in some previous post that I’m not the greatest pastry maker – but I was going to give it another go!

Apple & blackberry pie

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: serves 6-8

Apple & blackberry pie

Ingredients

  • For the pastry
  • 350g/12oz plain flour
  • 80g/3oz butter or margarine, cubed
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-5tbs cold water
  • For the filling
  • 450g/1lb apples (about 4 medium-sized apples)
  • 225g/½lb blackberries
  • 100g/3½oz granulated sugar
  • For the glaze
  • 3tbs milk
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar

Instructions

  1. Start by making the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, holding the sieve up as high as possible to give the flour an airing
  2. Add the cubed butter/margarine to the flour
  3. Using your fingertips, lightly & gently rub the pieces of fat into the flour, lifting your hands up high as you do this (again, to incorporate as much air as you can) and being as quick as possible
  4. When the mixture looks uniformly crumbly, start to sprinkle roughly 4 tablespoons of cold water all over
  5. Use a pastry blender or round-bladed knife to start the mixing
  6. Carefully add more water as needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water)
  7. Divide the ball of dough in half and make 2 smaller balls
  8. Put the balls into a zip-lock bag or wrap in cling film or foil and put them in the fridge for half an hour while you prepare the filling
  9. At this point, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  10. Wash & drain the blackberries and peel & slice the apples into 1cm chunks. Mix them together and set aside until the pastry is ready to come out of the fridge
  11. Lightly grease a pie/flan dish (I save my butter wrappers for just this job!)
  12. Take one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it's about 4cm/2 inches wider than the pie dish
  13. Carefully lift the rolled out pastry onto the pie dish using your rolling pin. Press the pastry down gently into the pie and up the sides
  14. Spoon the apples & blackberries onto the pastry and sprinkle the granulated sugar on top
  15. Take out the other ball of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it is large enough to form a lid on the pie
  16. Using a pastry brush, dampen the edge of the bottom pastry case with water
  17. Fix the pastry lid into position pressing it very firmly all round
  18. Trim the edges with a knife
  19. You can use these trimmings to make shapes to decorate the top of the pie - just affix them with a little brushing of water
  20. Brush the top of the pie with a little milk then sprinkle on a dusting of caster sugar which will give a crisp surface when the pie is baked
  21. Make a small hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape
  22. Put the pie on to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes
  23. Allow to cool a little on a wire rack, slice and serve
  24. Serve with a little cream, vanilla ice cream or just on its own - although I think it's gorgeous with a dollop of clotted cream!

Notes

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