Advent Calendar 3: Quincemeat

I have wanted to make this recipe for literally years, but it has been too difficult to find the ingredients. However, with quince making a resurgence, and whole bushel of them showing up in my local wholefood shop, I decided it was about time to scratch this recipe off my to do list.

I love mince pies, and mincemeat in general. They celebrate the best
of the season; sweet fruits, heady spices and plenty of warming booze. This ‘Quincemeat’ has all of that in spades.

Quincemeat

  • Approx. 1kg quince (3-4 fruits is a good guide for this. I used just over 3 for this recipe.)
    2 tbsp butter
    250g sultanas
    250g raisins
    250g dried apricots
    250g soft light brown sugar (muscovado is a good call but any soft brown sugar will do)
    100g candied peel
    1tsp ground cloves
    1tsp ground ginger or cardamom
    1tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    100ml calvados or brandy

Preheat the oven to 150c.

Peel, core and chop your quince into chunks. Quince have a much firmer flesh and woodier core than their cousins apples and pears, so take your time and use a sharp knife. Place the fruit on an oven tray or dish

IMG_6781.JPGMelt the butter and drizzle it over the quince. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the quince is soft.

Pour the hot quince and any juices into a mixing bowl. Rouglychop the sultanas and raisins and cut down the apricots into sultana-sized pieces. Add the fruit to the quince and mix together. Allow the mixture to cool completely.

Measure out your spices, sugar peel and booze. Add in the dry ingredients and peel and mix through, before adding the brandy and doing the same.

Pot up into jars or store covered in the fridge.

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This recipe isn’t particularly difficult. Like most mincemeats it just takes time and has a lot of ingredients. The most difficult parts are the chopping of the quince, and then the chopping of the sticky dried fruit. Beyond that it is just a case of weighing, mixing and and waiting.

This sweet and aromatic mincemeat makes a nice change from the dark and sticky traditional mincemeat. Pair it with lightly spic pastry or vanilla infused creams and ice creams for out of this world desserts this Christmas. Also, this method, with perhaps a reduced cook time, would work exceedingly well with similar fruits like apples and pears if quince are not availiable.

Enjoy!

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Mincemeat Crumble : Recipe Advent Calendar 19th

I love a good crumble. My mother taught me how to make it when I was younger. As she worked full time when I was growing up (and she worked bloody hard: the woman is my hero) we didn’t often get homemade desserts. But when we did, they were always splendid. And they were often Apple Crumble.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many a Crumble, and many a Plumble, but the warming and charming simplicity of this dessert never goes out of fashion. I could eat it all day long and not get bored.

Apples are often a primary component of mincemeat, and since mincemeat is basically fruit and spice they go exceedingly well together. Pears also love all that spice, and the hint of almond in the crust of my festive addition to the repertoire.

This recipe can be easily doubled, quadrupled etc for bigger crowds, and reheats fairly well. It is, however, best enjoyed fresh from the oven with a glug of double cream.

Mincemeat Crumble

Serves 2

  • 60g Butter, cold and cubed
  • 60g Caster sugar
  • 60g Plain flour
  • 30g Ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 apples or pears (eating, cooking, either will work)
  • 4 hearty tbsp mincemeat
  • A little demerara sugar

To make the crumble, put all the dry ingredients and the butter into a mixing bowl, and rub together into a fine crumb. The odd lump or bump never hurt anyone, so try not to over rub the mixture.

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For your filling, peel and core your fruit, and roughly chop into bite size chunks. You shouldn’t need to add any sugar to this, but if you are using exclusively Bramley apples, sprinkle over a couple of pinches of brown sugar when you add them to the pie dish.

Pop your fruit into a shallow oven proof dish, and dollop your mincemeat in. I prefer to have it arranged throughout the dish, rather than mixed through, but either works.

Spread the crumble topping into an even crust over the filling, and sprinkle the demerara all over. Pop into a preheated oven at 180-190 c and bake for 20-35 minutes until the crumb is golden and crisp.

Why not try this beauty with either the Cranberry Mincemeat or Traditional Mincemeat recipes from earlier in the advent calendar?

Later Days!

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Traditional Mincemeat : Recipe Advent Calendar 18th

I love my Cranberry Mincemeat, as does pretty much everyone I know- even several who don’t really like mince pies! But cranberries don’t mix with certain medications, so since I’m off to visit relatives for Chrimble, I needed to make something everyone could enjoy.

You can buy standard mincemeat in the shops, and sometimes very good ones, but they are often overly sweet or very acidic. Making your own is really simple, it just takes a little bit of time. And the flavour is always better.

In the past I have made Bramley Apple and Clementine mincemeat to replace my favourite red concoction, but this year I’ve turned to Delia and her famous mincemeat recipe.

You can find this recipe in her wonderful Happy Christmas book, or on her website, but here it is again. I’ve really made very few changes, and those are mainly based on what I had in at the time, rather than for flavour tweaks etc.

Please note this makes PLENTY of mincemeat- you’ll have enough for pies and then some. You can easily half the recipe and still have oodles.

Traditional Mincemeat

  • 450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped (Approx 3 apples: I actually used 488g because I have a waste not, want not frame of mind. Also, you don’t need to peel them.)
  • 225g shredded vegetarian suet (you can use any suet, and I only actually used 200g)
  • 1025g mixed fruit and peel (currants, raisins and sultanas)
  • 350g Soft dark brown sugar (I used a mixture of molasses sugar and SDB sugar)
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 4 tsp mixed spice (I used a mixture of the last of my mixed spice, plus nutmeg, ginger and cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp brandy

In an oven proof mixing bowl (if you don’t have one, don’t panic- you can transfer the mix to an oven proof dish later) combine all the ingredients except the brandy and leave to infuse overnight. Cover the bowl with some loose cling film, foil or a tea towel to keep anything unwanted out.

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If you haven’t already, cover the mincemeat loosely with foil. Pop it in the oven at 120 c for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours are up, remove it from the oven and stir occasionally as it cools. The melted fat will settle back into the mixture and coat the ingredients, rather than remaining in shreds.

Once cold,  mix the brandy through the delicious mixture and store in sterilised jars.

Mincemeat recipes can look daunting, because of the amount of ingredients involved mainly. The truth is, they are sickening easy. All they need is a little time and simple cooking, and you’ll have something wonderful to eat this christmas season.

Let me know how you get on!

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Cranberry Mincemeat: Recipe Advent Calendar Redux

I posted this recipe last year, but it’s so good, I figured it needed a repost for this year’s Recipe Advent Calendar. I mean, I am making this juicy, ruby delight again this year, so why not?

Cranberry Mincemeat

  • 130ml Ruby port
  • 200g Dark soft brown sugar
  • 600g Cranberries
  • 100g Dried cranberries
  • 125g Dried mixed fruit and peel
  • 1/4 tsp Ground cloves
  • 2tsp Ground ginger
  • 2tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 Clementine or 6tsp orange juice
  • 6 tbsp Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Almond extract
  • 50ml brandy
  • Optional: 3 drops Orange extract

Over a low heat, add the sugar and port to your pan and stir gently until the sugar dissolves.

Add the cranberries and coat in the port syrup, stirring as needed until the berries begin to pop. If you are using frozen fruit straight from the freezer, allow a few minutes extra for the fruit to defrost.

Add the spices and dried fruit to the mix and stir in.

If you are using the orange juice, just add and mix it in. If you use a clementine, squeeze the juice into the pan and add the juiced halves of the fruit to the mixture. Stir to combine.

Let the mixture simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until nearly all the berries are popped and the mixture is a deep, dark sultry red. Check it frequently in this time to make sure it doesn’t stick.

Take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. It will become quite jellied.

Beat the honey, extracts and brandy vigorously into the mix until it becomes runnier and pot up, if storing, or pour into a storage bowl if you are going to use it within two weeks, and have fridge space. This recipe makes one good litre of Mincemeat- I filled a Kilner jar, with one pie’s worth left over.

If you are going to give the mincemeat as a gift, or store in jars for more than a month or so, add a splash of brandy to the top of the jar to help keep if preserved.

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Cranberry and Port mincemeat blends have become very popular in recent years, to the point where pre made mixes have become available in some supermarkets. I think this is wonderful, and great help for those who simply don’t have time to make their own but still want to enjoy festive goodies. I think, however, the foodie community can take the idea further. Swap out liquors for your favourites, providing they have a similar consistency (I don’t recommend cream liqueurs for example, but who knows, you could make it work!). Play with the spices- why not try a fruit pink pepper, or fragrant cardamom? Be brave and try new fruit combinations.

And of course, share, dears. I do so like to chat cooking.

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Mincemeat

Despite a mixed heritage, I’m British at heart; a fan of the royals, grey skies and our beautiful gentle countryside. I like our crisp winter mornings, and our crazy weather, the disdain of londoners and the rosy-apple folk who sell you apples or take you a-wassailing. I like getting lost in ancient woodlands, tripping on gnarled roots, and spotting the flit of birds or foxes or deer through the slender trunks of trees, dreaming them to be unicorns and spirits of old.

Of our food heritage, I’m proud of a lot of things. Our fruit is wonderful- there’s nothing like a British strawberry, or Cherry, or our versatile, plentiful apples and plums and gages. Our brewing is top notch and real british ale makes the best gravy for pies and stews. My favourite traditional foodstuff, probably, is Mincemeat. Originally containing meat along with the mixed fruit and spice, over the centuries, with the availability of sugars far sweeter than other traditional sweeteners, as well as a change in tastes from the fruit/meat combinations popular in the 15th and 16th centuries to the modern palate, Mincemeat became a dessert item. Traditionally, even today, it contains suet or butter, but some prefer it without, whether they are vegetarian or not. Of course, vegetarian suet is available, but I confess that when it comes to homemade mincemeat, I don’t bother with suet of any sort.

Delicious in pies and tarts, some cakes and other desserts, making my mincemeats is a Christmas tradition. In the past, it filled my old family home with the smell of fruit and booze and spice, but now I get to horde it all to myself. As I type, my fingers smell of brandy and clementine, and my latest batch is cooling on the hob, ready to be jarred up and saved to make mince pies for a party this weekend.

The best thing about Mincemeat is how variable it can be. Shop bought Mincemeat tends to taste the same, and that’s no crime, but when you make it yourself you can choose your favourite fruits to some extent, manage the spices to your taste, and make it as boozy as you like. I have two or three favourite recipes; a Cranberry one (originally by Nigella, and I’ve not changed much) which has converted many Mincemeat haters to the cause, a Bramley Apple and Clementine one of more traditional flavours that is also safe for my Grandparents to eat (Cranberries can play havoc with their medication) and a lighter, sweeter aromatic Sugarplum concoction.

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Cranberry Mincemeat

  • 130ml Ruby port
  • 200g Dark soft brown sugar
  • 600g Cranberries
  • 100g Dried cranberries
  • 125g Dried mixed fruit and peel
  • 1/4 tsp Ground cloves
  • 2tsp Ground ginger
  • 2tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 Clementine or 6tsp orange juice
  • 6 tbsp Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Almond extract
  • 50ml brandy
  • Optional: 3 drops Orange extract

Over a low heat, add the sugar and port to your pan and stir gently until the sugar dissolves.

Add the cranberries and coat in the port syrup, stirring as needed until the berries begin to pop. If you are using frozen fruit straight from the freezer, allow a few minutes extra for the fruit to defrost.

Add the spices and dried fruit to the mix and stir in.

If you are using the orange juice, just add and mix it in. If you use a clementine, squeeze the juice into the pan and add the juiced halves of the fruit to the mixture. Stir to combine.

Let the mixture simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until nearly all the berries are popped and the mixture is a deep, dark sultry red. Check it frequently in this time to make sure it doesn’t stick.

Take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. It will become quite jellied.

Beat the honey, extracts and brandy vigorously into the mix until it becomes runnier and pot up, if storing, or pour into a storage bowl if you are going to use it within two weeks, and have fridge space. This recipe makes one good litre of Mincemeat- I filled a Kilner jar, with one pie’s worth left over.

If you are going to give the mincemeat as a gift, or store in jars for more than a month or so, add a splash of brandy to the top of the jar to help keep if preserved.

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This concoction is obscenely red, with a few un-popped berries in this mix glowing like rubies. The flavour is tangy, sweet and spicy and the texture is jammy and delicious. I’ve been making this for several years now, and it makes me grin every time I do; it’s a treat for all the senses and so completely festive. My friends put in requests for pies made with this early in the year. Speaking of, I’d better get on with my pastry.

A full photoset is up on the Tumblr page.