Now I couldn’t let Christmas pass without posting mice pies!
There are countless recipes for mince pies; countless recipes for pastry; countless recipes for mincemeat; countless recipes for toppings. I have posted a few variations myself.
As with most of my recipes, you can of course alter, add, swap whatever you like but this is a no frills, classic, old school recipe with the bare essentials that focuses on technique rather than fancy ingredients to give you the perfect festive treat with no faff.
- 12oz plain flour
- 3oz butter – for richness
- 3oz vegetable shortening (I used Trex) – for crispness
- A pinch of salt
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Ice cold water
- A jar of homemade or good quality mincemeat
- Milk for brushing
- Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt.
- Add the butter and shortening to the flour. Cut it into the flour using a metal knife then work into fine crumbs with your fingertips. The trick is to handle it as little as possible.
- Squeeze a little lemon juice in and add just enough water to incorporate the mix into a ball of pastry dough. Again, try to handle the pastry as little as possible.
- Wrap the ball in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C.
- Once chilled, roll the pastry out on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut out as many circles as you can using a 76mm cutter. This amount of pastry should make approx. 18 mince pies with lids.
- Place the circles in mince pie tins and fill each with a teaspoon of mincemeat. If the mincemeat is a little dry or crystalised, loosen it up with a splash of brandy or rum.
- Reroll the offcuts and cut out lids. I like using a star cutter for this. Each time you roll the pastry out, it will become tougher so try and get as many shapes cut as you can without having to roll again.
- Brush the edges of the mince pies with a bit of milk then place the lids on and brush those with milk too. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, sprinkle with icing sugar. Fantastic with brandy cream/butter.
I’m not really sure what to call these. Whichever way you look at them though, they’re tasty.
You can make them as fancy as you like and add whatever you have. They are great layered up with mushroom, meat and caramelised red onion chutney or even with a layer of stilton or goats cheese crumbled in between the sausage and flaky pastry. You can add different flavours such as bacon, chestnuts, garlic, apples or cranberries too. They are just a really lovely warming and comforting snack that is great to have on hand at this time of year to use up your leftovers and add major kudos to the buffet table.
I have made my own rough puff pastry here as I love getting hands on in the kitchen and making everything from scratch but if you really don’t have time, ready-made puff pastry is absolutely fine. I won’t tell anyone. Either way, you’ll have something that is way better than anything you can buy.
For the shortcut puff pastry:
- 600g/1lb 5oz plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 300g/10½oz butter, 100g/3½oz chilled and cut into cubes, 200g/7oz frozen
For the filling:
- 300g/10½oz chestnut mushrooms
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves
- 300g/10½oz good-qualitysausage meat
- ½ bunch parsley, finely chopped
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- ¼ nutmeg, finely grated
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten, to glaze
- For the shortcut puff pastry, mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub in the chilled butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough water to form a dough (about 4-6 tablespoons of water).
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface.
- Coarsely grate the frozen butter over the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third as if folding a letter.
- Turn the folded dough 90 degrees on the work surface and roll out into a rectangle again.
- Fold again in thirds, wrap the dough in cling film and set aside to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and turning process a further two times, chilling in between each turn. In total you will have done four turns. Rest the pastry in the fridge while you make the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- For the filling, put the mushrooms in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the mushrooms are broken down to a rough paste. Add the thyme and give the mix a final pulse.
- Put the mushroom mixture into a dry frying pan set over a medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until all the moisture has evaporated from the mushrooms. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
- To assemble, roll out the pastry into a 60x45cm/24x18in rectangle, and cut into 12 squares.
- Divide the mushroom mixture into 12 portions and spread a portion down the centre of each square of pastry, leaving a 2cm/1in gap at the top and bottom.
- In a bowl, mix the sausage meat with the onion, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mould into 12 sausage shapes. Place on top of the mushroom paste.
- Make two small diagonal cuts from each corner of the pastry, to remove a small triangle. Then fold the top and bottom ‘wings’ over the ends of the sausage meat. Cut a 1cm/½in fringe all the way down the pastry on each side of the filling. Bring one strip over the filling from one side, then one from the other and so on, crossing the strips over to form a plaited effect. Tuck the ends of the pastry under the plait, trimming off any excess if necessary.
- Repeat with the remaining squares of pastry until you have 12 mini sausage plaits. Place the plaits on a baking tray, brush with beaten egg.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack then serve hot or cold.
Yes, it’s that time of year again! Everyone has eaten way too much and there is still more turkey than you know what to do with but have no fear. If in doubt, chuck it in a curry! Not just any old boring curry though, a vibrant Sri Lankan curry with creamy coconut, tangy lime and tomato and freshly ground spices for a flavour punch.
- 2 Tbsps groundnut oil
- A pinch of cinnamon
- 10 green cardamom pods, cracked open
- 10 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 4 fat garlic cloves, crushed
- 50g peeled root ginger, finely grated
- 2 tbsp medium Sri Lankan curry powder (see recipe below)
- 1 tsp mild chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 x 230g tin plum tomatoes
- 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
- 3 green chillies, seeds removed, sliced
- 2-3 Tbsps coconut yoghurt
- 500g cooked turkey or chicken, shredded
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- fresh coriander, to finish
Sri Lankan Curry Powder
One of the characteristics of Sri Lankan cuisine is their preference for freshly prepared curry powders rather than pastes. The roasted curry powder is predominantly used in meat and fish dishes.
- 1 Tbsp uncooked white rice
- 50g coriander seeds
- 25g cumin seeds
- 25g fennel seeds
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 1 ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp cardamom seeds (from about 10 green pods)
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rice ad shake the grains around for about 3 minutes until medium brown in colour. Tip the rice into a bowl and leave to cool while you do the same to the spices and then to the dried chillies. Mix the rice, spice and chillies together and grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Store in a screw top jar and use within 3 months.
For the Curry:
- Heat a large, deep heavy-based frying pan. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves and leave them to become fragrant for a few seconds. Remove them and grind in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
- Add the oil then the onions and bay leaves to the pan and fry them gently for 5 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute, then add the curry powder, chilli powder and turmeric and fry gently for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes (crushing the plum tomatoes with your hand as you add them), coconut milk, green chillies and a little salt. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- Uncover, add the coconut yoghurt and the cooked turkey, recover and simmer for 5 minutes until piping hot. Stir in the lime juice and serve sprinkled with coriander.
- 400g chickpeas
- ½ red onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- Small bunch of parsley
- Small bunch of coriander
- Zest of ½ a lemon
- 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, toasted and ground
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp flour
- Pinch of chilli powder
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until well combined and a paste is formed. You can pulse the mix to keep it a bit chunky if you prefer.
- Shape the mix into balls about the shape of a large walnut.
- It is traditional to fry falafel but I like mine dry fried in a pan. This is also a very healthy way of cooking them. Place the pan over a medium heat and pop the falafel balls in. cook them for about 4-5 minutes or until turning a nice deep brown colour. Flip them and cook the other side in the same way then remove. Can be eaten hot or cold.
These can be made into burgers, stuffed into pitta breads, served with salad, olives, cheeses, dunked into humous or tzatziki, topped with tomato sauce, anything.