I have a few things up my sleeve for Christmas but for now I can only report on two things: the orange mincemeat I made last month and something to go on them (or your Christmas pud): Cumberland rum butter.
First up, the mincemeat. I have given the recipe for them already and also reported upon the Griggers way of making mince pies properly, which is how I make them now. All I have to do is give them a mark.
#206 Orange Mincemeat. Well, the orange mincemeat is ten times better than any bought stuff, the three types of booze must help. The mincemeat is not as orangey as I’d hoped, but still great. The best thing is, and it’s the same with the other recipe, is that it is not too sweet. Have a go, but the better is the Beeton. 6.5/10.
I have already made a brandy butter and it was good, but I thought I’d try this Cumberland rum butter – I had higher hopes for it as my favourite spirit is dark rum. Have a go at this, or the other brandy butter recipe, it’s very easy, just requiring some simple creaming and mixing.
Cream eight ounces of unsalted butter until pale and fluffy. Beat in six ounces of soft brown sugar, three tablespoons of rum and a good grate of nutmeg. That is it! Serve on mince pies or Christmas pudding, or even with warm oatcakes, which is how the folk of Cumberland served it, apparently.
#211 Cumberland Rum Butter. Really delicious. Not too sweet and sickly, the dark rum and dark sugar give it a bitter-sweet note. Great stuff. 7/10.
Christmas is a-coming! The consumerist nightmare has begun and there’s nothing like it to kill the Christmas spirit. The best way to counteract this is to make some lovely Christmas fayre. The Christmas cake is done and the only other necessity for the encroaching festivities is (in my opinion) mincemeat. I made Mrs Beeton’s recipe last year and gave a potted history of the foodstuff (see this post). This year I’m making orange mincemeat; it better be nice because I really liked Beeton’s. It should be good though; there’s plenty of orange juice and one of my favourite boozy drinks ever – Cointreau. Of course, we shall have to wait a while before I review them (although I’m sure I’ll crack a jar open well before Christmas).
If you want to make your own mincemeat, make sure that you make it at least two weeks before you want to use it as it needs that long to mature. If you’ve never made it, have a go, it really is very easy – there is no cooking involved, just some chopping, measuring and mixing.
This recipe makes absolutely loads of mincemeat – around ten jars – so reduce the quantities if you want to make less. To make it, simply mix together the following ingredients together in the following order in a huge bowl:
8 ounces of candied orange and lemon peel
2 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped
One pound of chopped suet (use fresh, if you can)
One pounds each of raisins, currants and sultanas
One pound of dark brown sugar
1 freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces of blanched slivered almonds
The juice and grated rind of two oranges
Four tablespoons of brandy
Eight tablespoons of orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)
Pack the mincemeat well into sterilised jars and leave for at least two weeks. (FYI to sterilise the jars, put them along with their lids on trays in an oven set to 110⁰C for 25 minutes, pot whilst they are still warm.)
This recipe is not seasonal at all, but I remembered it whilst having a look through my cupboards and came across the last half jar of mincemeat I made at Christmas. After having a peek inside and a quick taste, a realised that everything was still perfectly preserved – in fact it was a lot nicer with much better developed flavours. I consulted the book and lo! and behold! I had all the ingredients to make it. If you have half a jar of mincemeat in your cupboard and don’t know what to do with it, make this easy pud. It is very Christmassy with first its layer of boozy mincemeat and then a layer sweet almonds. I can find no reference to what this pudding has to do with Broad Town.
Make a quantity of shortcrust pastry using 8 ounces of flour and both lard and butter (I am now a total covert to adding lard to pastry…unless I’m cooking for vegetarians that is). Line an 8 inch tart tin with two-thirds of it and spread the half-jar of mincemeat evenly over the pastry base. Now make the almond layer – mix together 4 ounces each of caster sugar and ground almonds, then an ounce of melted butter, 2 egg yolks (one if large) and 2 tablespoons of cream. Dollop and spread the mixture best you can and cover the pie with the remaining pastry, brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C, then turn the oven down and bake for a further 30 minutes at 180-190°C. Serve it hot or warm with cream – or, if it is near Christmastime, then add some brandy butter.
#149 Broad Town Mince Pie – 6/10. Good, but rich, pudding that is useful for doing away with the endings of a jar of mincemeat. I actually found I enjoyed it a lot more once cold the next day. Not a bad dessert, but it didn’t get any juices flowing; and it’s certainly not better than a good old mince pie.
Well it’s the run-up to Christmas. I’ve already started on the Christmas cake and I’m feeding it with brandy every few days. As Lee, Charlotte, Kate and Pete were coming over for food, I thought it would be the perfect time to do a trial run of the traditional mincemeat I made a few weeks ago, so I made some mince pies.
Jane Grigson gives instructions on how to make them. She says to use shortcrust pastry rather than puff pastry (unless you are eating them warm). I made pastry with half butter, half lard; I prefer it as it is more crisp and ‘short’. Whichever way you do it remember the flour:fat ratio is 2:1. Roll out pastry thinly and cut circles out with a scone-cutter to line small tart tins. Place a small teaspoon inside – don’t overdo it though, the fresh suet expands. Seal the top with another circle of pastry, gluing it on with some egg white. Make a cross in the middle and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes at 220ºC. Serve warm or cold.
#94 ‘To Make Mince Pies’ – 8/10. I really like the mincemeat. The meat is totally undetectable; but it, the fresh suet and the grated apple make the resulting pie-innards succulent and tasty, it’s not overly sweet either, which is good because you can eat more of them! Good old Mrs Beeton, where would we be without her! It’s been a while since I’ve had homemade mince pie and it brought back a lot of memories for me making them with my Mum. I am definitely getting in the Christmas spirit!
Christmas is coming, and I am going traditional on your ass. First thing to be made is Mrs Beeton’s Traditional Mincemeat. According to Griggers it is better than any modern mincemeat. The main difference is that there is proper fresh suet and actual meat in it. She reckons that when she makes this recipe, the mince pies get eaten double-quick. Well we’ll see. Getting hold of fresh suet is easy, the butcher in Levenshulme sold me 2 and-a-half pounds of it for only a quid! Bargain! Also, I got the chance to use the mincer attachment for my Kitchen Aid for the first time; it was very good, and now I intend to mince everything. I like a good mince, I do (but you probably knew that already…). I haven’t had the chance to eat any yet, but it’s very easy to make, as long as you have the ability to stir.
The amounts are quite big in the recipe, so I’m giving you what I did which is half of Good Lady Beeton’s instructions:
Mix together 8 ounces of seedless raisins, 12 ounces of currants, 6 ounces of minced, lean rump steak, 12 ounces of fresh, chopped suet, 8 ounces of dark brown sugar, 1 ½ ounces of dried mixed peel, ¼ grated nutmeg, 12 ounces of apples that have been peeled, cored, and grated and the zest and juice of half a lemon. When all has been incorporated, mix in 2 ½ fluid ounces of brandy. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars. (To sterilise jars, place jars and lids in oven set to 110°C for 35 minutes). This recipe made enough for four big jars. Leave for at least two weeks…
FYI: Mincemeat recipes go back as far as the Fifteenth Century, and pretty much any meat was used for mincemeat – Sixteenth Century recipes use heart or mutton and bone marrow instead of suet. It’s probably one of the few surviving Elizabethan dishes still made today.
…to be continued.