Friday, December 28

Boozy mincemeat


  • 500g currants
  • 500g muscatel or Californian raisins (or a mixture)
  • 500g sultanas
  • 500g Bramley apples peeled, cored and chopped fairly small
  • 2x250g boxes shredded beef suet
  • 100g whole blanched almonds , coarsely chopped
  • 350g natural demerara sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 rounded tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 large, juicy lemon
  • 250g whole mixed peel , chopped into small dice
  • 125ml dark rum
  • 125ml Disaronno Originale liqueur Disaronno
  • 175ml French brandy 
  1. Wash the dried fruit thoroughly in a colander under the cold tap (you may find it easier to do this in batches) - whatever it says on the packet, washing the fruit is something I've  always done. Tip the fruit on to clean tea towels and dry by patting in the cloths.
  2. Put the dried fruit in a very large bowl with the apples, suet, almonds, sugars and spices. Grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl, then squeeze in the juice. Tip in the peel and the alcohol.
  3. Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly - it's easiest to do this with your (very clean) hands.
  4. Cover and leave to stand for 24 hours, asking the family to stop and give it a good stir with a spoon when they pass by.
  5. Pack the mincemeat into sterilised or dishwasher-clean jars (Kilner jars are ideal) and top with greaseproof paper jam covers. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool place. The mincemeat will last from one year to the next, but's best used within 6 months. 

A classic, made with rich shortcrust and eaten warm. After trying every new-fangled version, I reckon it is pretty much the perfect mince pie. Makes 18 small pies.
For the pastry:
150g unsalted butter
300g plain flour
1 egg yolk
a little cold water
375g good-quality mincemeat
icing sugar for dusting
You will also need a 12-hole tartlet tin, each hole measuring 6cm x 2cm deep. It is best to bake the pies in one batch of 12, then a second one of six.
Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until you have what looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. If you do this in the food processor it will take a matter of seconds. Add the egg yolk, then mix briefly with just enough water to bring to a smooth dough. You will probably need just 1 or 2 tablespoons. Bring the dough together into a firm ball, then knead it gently on a floured board for a couple of minutes until it softens. Reserve half of the dough, then roll the remainder out thinly. Set the oven at 200°C/gas mark 6.
Using cookie cutters or the top of an espresso cup, cut out 18 discs of pastry. (There may be a tiny bit left over.) Place 12 discs of the pastry in the tartlet tins, smoothing them up the sides so the edges stand very slightly proud of the tin. Fill each one with a dollop of mincemeat. A level tablespoon is probably all you will get into them, unless you have especially deep tins. Be generous. Roll out the remaining pastry and make a further 18 discs of pastry, reserving 6 of them for the second batch. Slightly dampen each of these round the edge with cold water then lay them over each tart and press firmly to seal the edges.
Cut a small slit in the centre of each pie and bake for 20 minutes till golden. Let them calm down for a few minutes, then slide them out of their tins with a palette knife and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining pastry and mincemeat.

    Monday, February 27

    Black Bean Brownies

    Makes 16 Servings

    • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons canola oil (i dont use canola oil so used sunflower)
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, optional
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • Pinch salt
    • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
    2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract as desired, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth.  Add ¼ cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated.
    3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
    4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing into 2-inch squares.

    Friday, February 3

    Carolines Granola Recipe


    Granola Recipe:
    4 1/2 cups (450 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
    1 cup (150 grams) whole raw almonds
    1 cup (90 grams) raw sunflower seeds
    1 cup (90 grams) raw pumpkin seeds
    1/2 tablespoon (5 grams) wheat germ (optional)
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup (180 ml) apple sauce
    2 tablespoons canola, corn, or sunflower oil
    1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
    1/3 cup (80 ml) brown rice syrup or golden syrup
    3/4 cup (160 grams) light brown sugar
    1 to 2 cups dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, apricots, dates, figs, and/or raisins) (optional)

    Granola Recipe: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, two baking sheets.
    In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, ground cinnamon, and salt.
    In another bowl, stir together the apple sauce, oil, honey, brown rice syrup (golden syrup), and brown sugar. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and toss together, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated with the liquid. Divide the granola evenly between the two baking sheets and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally so the mixture browns evenly. (The browner the granola gets (without burning) the crunchier the granola will be.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. You will notice that the granola may still be sticky when it is removed from the oven but it will become crisp and dry as it cools. Make sure to break up any large clumps of granola while the mixture is still warm. Once the granola has completely cooled, add the dried fruit(s), and store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks.
    Serve plain or with milk and fresh fruit.
    Makes about 10 cups.