‘Tis the season to make… Mince Meat

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if you haven’t done, then ’tis the season to make…

Mince Meat (no meat!!)

  • 10 oz raisins
  • 1 lb currants
  • 3-4 fl oz orange juice or cold tea – or add a little rum/whisky/brandy etc
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½ (if you’ve no lemons use an orange)
  • 12 oz  shredded suet – vegetarian or not, or butter (which gives a very rich flavour)
  • 10 oz dark brown sugar
  • 3 oz chopped mixed peel (optional – miss it out if you don’t like it and extra other fruit)
  • plenty of mixed spice (or mixed spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, or go crazy and have cardamom, cumin, coriander!!)
  • 1 large cooking apple, peeled and grated
  1. soak the dried fruit in the liquid for at least an hour until they are nice and plump (you can actually use any dried fruit you like,  for example chopped prunes, apricots etc – but currants really do give a very fine flavour)
  2. drain the fruit but keep the liquor
  3. mix the fruit, sugar, spice and suet together, stir very well
  4. pour in the liquor and stir really well
  5. put into clean jars and push right down to the bottom so there are no air bubbles
  6. cover the jars and leave in a cool dark place for at least two weeks
  7. make mince pies!!!
  8. This will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. (actually much longer, especially if you seal the top with melted butter; if it’s dried out, revive it worth some more liquid, juice/tea/spirits)

Delia Smith does this to her mincemeat – it works well and I think gives a better texture and adds to the longevity:

After that (the overnight soak)  pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look.

When it’s been in the oven, bottle up and seal in the usual way.

https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/books/delias-happy-christmas/home-made-christmas-mincemeat

Traditional Lancashire hotpot… or not?

It’s the season for hearty warming meals, and what better than a traditional Lancashire hotpot? But what’s traditional? I was thinking about this a little while ago:

What exactly is a traditional recipe? For example, a traditional Lancashire hotpot… in essence it is a slow-cooked lamb or mutton casserole covered with a layer of sliced potatoes to make a nice tasty yummy dish! It is nicely seasoned with salt and pepper, added stock,  has onions in it and kidneys… wait a minute, kidneys? Really? In Lancashire hotpot? Are you sure? Well yes, according to James Martin, the TV chef. So, lamb or mutton, seasoning, kidneys, bay leaves and sage, black pudding… Hang on, black pudding? Well I guess the best black puddings in the world comes from Lancashire, so OK…and also the Hairy Bikers include it in their recipe, and now I find that Delia Smith adds thyme rather than sage. I investigate some more and some cooks add carrots, while Nigel Slater only has lamb, onions and salt and pepper!

I guess if I asked all my friends in Lancashire they would each have their own family recipe, and that is what traditional is; a basic dish, usually made for working people either labouring in the fields, or under ground in mines, or in the dark satanic mills of industry… a cheap dish which can be made the night before and will come to no harm cooking all day, encased in something to keep the flavour in – potatoes for a hotpot, suet crust for a pudding, pastry for a pie, and with any extra ingredients that come to hand…an old carrot? Chop it up and throw it in, some sage leaves – they can go in too!

A personal example of a traditional dish is midnight soup; it is a lovely rich beef soup with all sorts of good things added and finished off with brandy and port and cream… it is a family recipe which came from my dear aunty, Beryl. When I cook it  I tweak it, we have it at Christmas so I put Christmas spices in and some orange peel; my children will think that is how it should be and no doubt if they cook it in the future for their families, they will follow my basic idea but add little extras of their own. My cousins, Beryl’s children will probably follow her recipe more precisely, but what about their children?DSCF2352a

https://loiselden.com/2012/12/15/midnight-soup-the-recipe/

Christmas pud

I used to always make my Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mincemeat… but that was when we had my dad and sister, my mother-in-law, my aunty and uncle, two friends and their sons… Times change and when it became just the four of us the children didn’t really like the cake, and weren’t that fussed with the pies or pud, and the pair off us couldn’t get through it all so this tradition fell by the wayside.

There was the time one November, when we were staying at my dad’s house and I decided to get going with the Christmas preparations and had bowls with different combinations of ingredients soaking in a variety of different spirits for mincemeat, cake and pud, before cooking/ bottling/steaming. I ran out of time and the three bowls came home in the car with us (it smelt wonderful, spicy, rummy, citrussy, yummy!) When I got home I couldn’t remember which bowl was which… I think I got it sort of right in the end, I think I may have swapped the pies and pud ingredients but it all tasted jolly fine.

I made some mincemeat last week… and belatedly I think I will make a pudding; I remembered seeing a Delia Smith recipe using mincemeat and other ingredients to make a pud… and I have just found the recipe! Now I need a couple of lemons, some stout, and I’m ready to rock!

Mincemeat

It was our conversational English class yesterday and as the last day of ‘term’ we had a party. We also had some teaching and one of the topics was mincemeat. I was sure a lot of our ‘students’ will have seen mince pies and been offered them and may have been confused, thinking the mince was minced meat. I took in all the ingredients you would need to make mincemeat, the fruit, the sugar, the suet (vegetarian since some of our group are vegetarians and some only eat halal)

Inspired by this I have made some mincemeat, in fact it is in the oven on a slow setting right now – I follow Delia Smith’s technique where you heat the ingredients together which makes it extra plumptious and yummy. I had explained to the group yesterday that although the only remnants of meat in mincemeat is the suet, originally the Christmas mixture was made with meat.

As I was trying to decide which of the many recipes I have I should use, I wondered if Eliza Acton had anything similar in her 1845 book,, Modern Cookery,and yes she does, and it is the original type of mincemeat. here is what she writes, and she puts the ingredients at the end – obviously having them at the beginning is a modern thing!

MINCEMEAT

(Author’s receipt)

To one pound of unsalted ox-tongue, boiled tender and cut free from the rind, add two pounds of fine stoned raisins, two of beef kidney-suet, two pounds and a half of currants, well cleaned and dried, two of good apples, two and a half of fine Lisbon sugar, from half to a whole pound of candied peel according to taste, the grated rinds of two large lemons, and two more  boiled quite tender, and chopped up entirely, with the exception of the pips, two small nutmegs, half an ounce of salt, a large teaspoon of pounded mace, rather more of ginger in powder, half a pint of brandy, and as much good sherry or Madeira. Mince these ingredients separately, and mix the others all well before the brandy and wine are added; press the whole into a jar or jars, and keep it closely covered. It should be stored for a few days before it is used, and will remain good for many weeks. Some persons like the flavouring of cloves in addition to other spices; others add the juice of two or three lemons,and a larger quantity of brandy. The inside of a tender and well-roasted sirloin of beef will answer quite as well as the tongue.

Half a pint of brandy and half a pint of sherry? Good heavens! No wonder it will keep well. I had to have a little smile at the last sentence… “well-roasted sirloin of beef will answer quite as well as the tongue

 

A traditional recipe

What exactly is a traditional recipe? For example, a traditional Lancashire hotpot… in essence it is a slow-cooked lamb or mutton casserole covered with a layer of sliced potatoes to make a nice tasty yummy dish! It is nicely seasoned with salt and pepper, added stock,  has onions in it and kidneys… wait a minute, kidneys? Really? In Lancashire hotpot? Are you sure? Well yes, according to James Martin, the TV chef. So, lamb or mutton, seasoning, kidneys, bay leaves and sage, black pudding… Hang on, black pudding? Well I guess the best black puddings in the world comes from Lancashire, so OK…and also the Hairy Bikers include it in their recipe, and now I find that Delia Smith adds thyme rather than sage. I investigate some more and some cooks add carrots, while Nigel Slater only has lamb, onions and salt and pepper!

I guess if I asked all my friends in Lancashire they would each have their own family recipe, and that is what traditional is; a basic dish, usually made for working people either labouring in the fields, or under ground in mines, or in the dark satanic mills of industry… a cheap dish which can be made the night before and will come to no harm cooking all day, encased in something to keep the flavour in – potatoes for a hotpot, suet crust for a pudding, pastry for a pie, and with any extra ingredients that come to hand…an old carrot? Chop it up and throw it in, some sage leaves – they can go in too!

A personal example of a traditional dish is midnight soup; it is a lovely rich beef soup with all sorts of good things added and finished off with brandy and port and cream… it is a family recipe which came from my dear aunty, Beryl. When I cook it  I tweak it, we have it at Christmas so I put Christmas spices in and some orange peel; my children will think that is how it should be and no doubt if they cook it in the future for their families, they will follow my basic idea but add little extras of their own. My cousins, Beryl’s children will probably follow her recipe more precisely, but what about their children?

DSCF2352a

https://loiselden.com/2012/12/15/midnight-soup-the-recipe/

By the way, the featured image is of my friends Elly and Corine facing Irish stew for the first time, in Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim!