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My reinvention challenge for December was the humble mince pie. It may seem a little late to be posting mince pie recipes but if you made your own mince and you still have some left over then there’s no reason why you cant still make these in January to use it up. Otherwise hopefully they’ll provide a little inspiration to be bookmarked for next year.

The first result of much experimenting and fiddling was mince pie thumb print biscuits. These are roughly based on my mom’s recipe for melting moments, turned into thumb prints and filled with fruit mince and white icing. The biscuit base is not disimilar to crumbly buttery short crust pastry and you still get a sticky hit of mince in the middle so they are really just a much simpler version of making your own pies.

Mince Pie Thumb Print Biscuits

  • 170g butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 170g plain flour
  • 60g custard powder
  • 1 jar of fruit mince (I used home made rhubarb and vanilla mince)
  • about 1 cup more icing sugar to finish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and icing sugar in one bowl and mix the flour and custard powder in another. Mix these two together until you have a stiff dough. Make walnut sized balls and flatten them slightly. Place on a lined baking tray about 1inch apart and make a dent in the middle of each one (either with your thumb or something else round if you want a more professional finish). Fill the dent with fruit mince and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn). Leave to cool on a wire rack and then make the icing. Add water to the icing sugar, one tsp at a time until you get the icing to the right consistency (you can make it as stiff or runny as you like) and spoon over the top. Leave to set and then store in an airtight container.

For my second recipe I went a little further outside the box and came up with these mince meringue pies. These are basically a normal mince pie on the bottom but with an orange meringue top instead of pastry (think mince pie meets lemon meringue). They’re very pretty (well they would be if I practise my piping a bit more) and the orange scented meringue adds an extra soft but crispy texture.

Mince and Orange Meringue Pies

  • 375g shortcrust pastry (I used ready made for this because I haven’t mastered it myself yet and I had a lot on the go at the time so it was easier)
  • 1 jar fruit mince (again I used home made rhubarb and vanilla mince)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1/4 tsp orange essence

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Roll out the pastry to about 5mm and cut out circles to fit your mini tart tray (slightly larger than the diameter of the holes). Line each hole with a circle of pastry, prick with a fork and chill for 20 min in the fridge. Line the tart bases with baking paper and baking beans and blind bake for about 10 min. Remove the papers and bake for another 5-10 minutes until very lightly golden. Set aside to cool and then fill each with fruit mince.

Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites until fluffly, adding the sugar and then beating until stiff peaks form. Place in a piping bag and pipe on to the top of the pies in any pattern you like (or otherwise just spoon the meringue on to each one). Place back in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown and then cool slightly before serving. They are best served straight away but will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Last but not least, a very out of the box mince pie recipe. I unfortunately dont have a picture because they were made and completely consumed at some stupid hour in the morning over Christmas but they were so good I have to post the recipe anyway. These taste just like a mince pie in liquid form, with the added benefit of an alcoholic kick. What could be wrong with that?

Mince Pie Martinis

  • 2 shots mince pie vodka (see below)
  • 4 shots pineapple juice (you can add more juice if you find this ratio too strong)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Handful of ice cubes

You have to make the mince pie vodka in advance. You can make as much or little as you like but add about 60ml of fruit mince per 500ml vodka, mix together and leave to steep in an airtight bottle or container for at least a few days.  Then filter the vodka by pouring through a fine muslin strainer and store back into the container until you need it.

To make the cocktail combine the ice, vodka and pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker and shake violently for a few seconds. Pour into a glass and you should get a layer of creamy foam on the top like a french martini. Garnish with cinnamon or orange if you like and serve.

I have one jar of rhubarb and vanilla mince left and I think I’m going to use it to make more vodka  because these were so good and I cant wait another 12months to have another one.

Finally, a few other bloggers joined in the mince baking and as promised I said I would send a late present from santa to the one with the best reinvention recipe.

Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me made perfect traditional mince pies and then made some even more stunning ones topped with sugar paste snowflakes and trees…

Choclette from Chocolate Log blog made orange and chocolate mince pies with her own home made chocolate mincemeat which made my mouth water…

And Emma from Kitchen Goddess (in training) made beautiful traditional mince pies as well as sharing her recipe for mincemeat bread and butter pudding as a very clever way to use up mincemeat and reinvent the mince pie. Until Emma posts the recipe herself you can find it in her comment on my post here.

I would happily eat any of these recipes and they all look beautiful but for being the most in keeping with the theme of reinvention I think the winner has to be Choclette’s Orange and Chocolate mince pies which sound absolutely delicious. Its only a bit of fun but I promised a little present to the best recipe so I will be in touch to get your address Choclette and thank you all for sharing your recipes!

On that note… Happy New Year to all and may 2012 bring you plenty of good food and happiness! ♥

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As you may have realised by this point if you have read any of my other posts I’m a little christmas-mad. I wasnt always this way and I’m not entirely sure what happened but I think it was something to do with moving from the warm southern hemisphere (where christmas day consists of cold meat, salad and a dunk in the pool to maintain a temperature suitable for the continuation of life), to the cold climate of Scotland. I remember the first time I walked past a holly bush in Edinburgh that actually had holly berries on it and did a little jump-squeak-dance on the spot of excitement which must have really scared my fellow pedestrians. You don’t want to see me when it snows.

My favourite kind of post to read at this time of year is other blogger’s last minute ideas for christmas dishes, drinks and foodie presents just in case I’ve missed out on something I wont be able to continue life without eating/drinking/owning. And I’m equally as eager to share my own santa list and some recipes so that I am returning the favour to those with a similar compulsion.

Food

Here’s a selection  recipes from other blogs and my own with a Christmassy theme which I would recommend or have me interested.

      

Creamy Pea Soup – coconut milk makes this deliciously creamy and sweet and its the perfect cheerful green….   Spaghetti with Marmite (from Nigella) – when you’ve had enough of turkey….    Chocolate & Thyme Mousse – if you’re sick of Christmas pud….    Poached Pears (from Kosher Camembert) – festive and just stunning….   Chilli Glazed Gammon – warm and spicy….   Chestnut Chocolate Pots (from Nigella) – winter in a cup….   Parmesan, Rosemary and Pancetta Grissini – perfect for parties and gifts….   Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes – if Christmas had a smell….

Presents

Stomach sorted, presents next. Some ideas from my own Christmas list and other brilliant foodie gift ideas I’ve seen this year.

Le Creuset Stoneware Mixing Jug, AlmondThe basics – Stoneware Mixing Jug. 

Everyone needs a sturdy mixing bowl . I have a big metal one which is great because its light and good for whipping meringue but sometimes you need a heavy one that wont slide around the counter top while you are mixing. This one has the benefit of a pouring lip and Le Creuset good looks.

McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and CultureCook Books – McGee on Food & Cooking.

I love cookbooks that either have a narrative with the recipes or teach you about why you have to do things and the science behind culinary techniques so this book is on my wish list this year.

Its not Christmas to me without a good book to read on Christmas day after I’ve eaten so much I’ve lost the power of movement and speech and have to lie down (I know, aren’t I rock and roll).

Landing_page_beansSubscriptions – Kopi Gourmet Coffee.

My Delicious Magazine subscription is still one of my favourite presents but this is a subscription with a twist. If you know anyone who loves good coffee and drinks enough of it to receive a new bag every month then I think this is very clever.

Crafty – Jam making stuff.

I want to start making my own preserves and although I’ve started by making my own fruit mince without the aid of any special equipment its harder to make proper jams and other preserves without decent jars and strainers etc.

I have my eye on these jars  at Lakeland as well as a pile of other preserving related paraphenalia and books on amazon.co.uk

Andrew James Professional Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker With Built-in Compressor + Free 128 Page Ice Cream Maker Cook BookGadgets – Ice Cream Maker

Every cook loves gadgets. My cupboards are already crammed full but I am dying to make my own ice cream. My head is brimming with recipe ideas but I’ve tried making it without an ice cream machine and it just doesnt come out the same.

I dont have space in my freezer or patience for the kind with a bowl you have to freeze so this one is a well priced version of the proper electric kind.

Christmas Cooking Challenge

And last but not least, don’t forget to join in my Mince Pie Challenge if you are making your own this year. The idea is to reinvent the standard formula with a twist of any kind but if you just want to share your traditional home-made pies you can still send me a link or photo and at the end of the month I’ll post the entries, pick a winner and send the best one a little surprise foodie christmas gift.  Just leave me a comment to let me know you are entering by the end of the Month.

I’ve started by making Nigella’s Rhubarb and Vanilla Mince which turned out to be delicious and I’m using that to try out different mince pie themed pastries and biscuits. Here’s the recipe if you want an alternative to the ordinary suet and citrus peel kind. The vanilla makes it really rich and velvety.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Fruit Mince

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast.

  • 1kg rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5mm slices
  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 200g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 225g currants
  • 2 tbsp cherry brand

Put the sliced rhubarb with the sugar into a large pan. Cut the vanilla pod in halves length ways and scrape out the seeds, then cut each half into pieces, adding seeds and pod slices to the pan. Add the mixed spice and cook for about 5 mins.

Add the dried fruits and simmer for about 30 mins. Stir in the brandy and take off the heat. When it’s cool enough to handle, bottle in jars.

Makes 1.25 litres.

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