Happy Boxing Day! I am on The Saturday Show on Channel 5 today at 9am making this recipe along with a few others to help with leftovers. This is a light, crunchy morsel to serve with coffee at the end of a meal. Add whatever extra nuts you have to hand and be sure to serve with the brandy and clementine dipping cream. It helpfully uses up leftover Christmas pud and custard! READ MORE
I can’t stop for long. This is a quick one as we’re decorating the sitting room. Yes! I know, how stupid do two adults have to be to decorate in the week before Christmas? Very, is the answer. Anyway, it’ll all look beautiful on the big day for the 10 people we are catering for. I of course will be crying from exhaustion and chipping pollyfilla from my nails. What can I say… I am not Deliciously Ella. READ MORE
I know at this time of year people are firmly divided into two camps. There are those who do partake in mincemeat and those who jolly well don’t. They react to it in an Arthur Miller style protestation of there being witchcraft at play. READ MORE
In my book there’s only one way to improve on the humble but moreish sausage roll and that’s to super-size it. This giant sausage plait is spiked with caramelised onions and sweet grated apple, then topped with lots of crunchy sesame seeds. This is proper feed a crowd fodder that tastes great without breaking the bank. READ MORE
Sometimes crimping can be a step too far. All that pinching and pulling and pushing of the pastry. It sure is pretty, but it isn’t quick unless you’ve been making Cornish pasties for nigh on 60 years. Or maybe if you’re a master baker. I am neither. Sometimes I just don’t fancy preening pastry. But I often fancy pie. Enter the galette; a lazy person’s pie.
Now I made a similar pie to this on This Morning and it was easy, oh so easy. You just stirred it on the hob, covered it in raw sliced potatoes, covered it and left it in the oven until your stomach couldn’t stand waiting any longer. It was a week night pie that everyone likes. My 9 month old son especially loved it and started to jump in his high chair when faced with a plate of lamby potatoey pea based goodness.
But I know you lot. I know that although you like fuss free recipes, you’re also the types to like a bit more of a challenge. I know you do buy puff pastry, but also reserve the right to make your own pie coverings when the mood takes you. So this is the weekend version of the one I made on This Morning. The lamb is stewed that little bit longer for depth of flavour. The pie lid isn’t potato, it’s flaky homemade rough puff. The stuff I made on the Bake Off that made Paul Hollywood say something vaguely positive about one of my bakes. I urge you to make it. Go on…
I made this pie using the Kenwood Chef Sense which is available here. The full video of the recipe is below and can also be viewed here, plus some top tips on getting really crisp pastry without a soggy bottom in sight here.
Lamb, pea and mint pie with rough puff pastry
Place the butter (apart from 50g of it) and lard into the freezer an hour before you start making the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. To make the pie filling toss the lamb in the flour, black pepper and salt. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and fry the lamb in 3 batches to brown, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from the pan and add to a casserole dish with a fitted lid.
Dice the onion using the Kenwood and fry in the remaining oil until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, mint, thyme and nutmeg and allow to simmer for 2 minutes before pouring into the casserole dish. Add the lid and oven bake for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
Put your flour into the mixer bowl and add the 50g of room temperature butter , using the K beater, mix the butter into the flour for a couple of minutes until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Remove the frozen butter and lard from the fridge and grate it using the grating attachment into the floury butter mixture. Using the K beater mix again until all the strands of frozen butter and lard are coated in flour – this should only take a few turns. Next add the vinegar and the water very slowly with the K beater at the lowest setting. Just as the pastry comes together into clumps stop.
Flour your work surface well and pull the pastry together with your hands forming a square flat shape. Then flour the top of it and roll into a long rectangle about 4mm thick. Mentally divide the pastry into thirds, then fold the right side over to meet the first third and the left side over to do the same so you have a piece of pastry with three layers. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this step three more times using flour each time, then chill for an hour before rolling to use on the pie.
When the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced down remove from the oven and add the frozen peas. Stir and leave to cool. Place into a 22cm pie dish (metal preferably) at least 3cm high and chill the pie dish complete with filling.
Roll the pastry out to about 2mm thick onto a well floured work surface and then cut a circle about 2cm larger than the pie dish. Use any off cuts to cut into strips to stick to the pie rim with egg wash. Then egg wash these strips and attach the pie lid to the top of the pie. Cut a cross in the middle for steam to escape and egg wash the top of the pie. Then bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 7 for about 50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, puffed up and the pie filling is piping hot.
Leicester is in a state of high excitement; practically a frenzy. The last time this happened was when Sam Bailey won the X Factor. This time it’s an altogether more regal affair. Richard III is being properly buried. The correct name for this is ‘reinterment,’ but no one knows how to say that or indeed exactly what it means. Anyway, I thought I’d make something that good old King Richard might have eaten at a banquet whilst entertaining young ladies.
Now then, the recipe. I have removed the sandalwood and pepper to suit modern tastes a little more, but feel free to add 1/4 tsp of each if you wish. I do not know where you can find sandalwood, I have too many children and a husband who’s rarely here to be searching for it, so you’ll have to be your own google if sandalwood interests you. Oh, I also swapped mace for nutmeg. Mainly because it’s what I had to hand and it’s that bit stronger in flavour.
I have gone for an oven baked option rather than deep frying, however do fry if you can handle the calories and indeed, the stress of dealing with bubbling oil. (Bubbling oil… now that does sound medieval). I often have young children with me in the kitchen, so anything involving deep frying scares the hell out of me. I’ve read too many stories in the Daily Mail to allow me to deep fry without evacuating the house first.
Rysschews of Fruit
For the dough:
For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 8 and line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Start by infusing the saffron in the cold water (for the pastry) and setting it aside for 10 minutes. In the meanwhile measure out the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl, mix and set aside.
Mix together all of the filling ingredients and divide into 9 roughly equal amounts and set aside. Make the pastry by adding the water (including saffron bits) to the dry ingredients until it just forms a soft dough, using your hand to pull it together – you will likely not need all the water, though it depends on the brand of flour you use – some flours absorb water more than others. Roll the dough into a sausage, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. The chilling makes it much easier to handle, you can miss it out if you wish, but it’s a sticky dough.
Divide the dough sausage into thirds, then cut each third into 3 equal pieces. You should have 9 pieces of dough all of the same size. Roll each piece into a ball, squash the dough to flatten it and then place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the centre. Fold the dough edges into the centre to completely cover the filling and pinch together, then roll between your palms to ensure the fruit parcel is a sphere shape. Repeat until all the dough is used up. (If the dough is very hard for you to handle then oil your hands first).
Now strictly these should be deep fried but as I am making these for more modern tastes and calorie controlled diets I suggest you place them on your lined baking sheet, brush liberally with oil and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned. You can of course deep fry them in oil if you feel medievally inclined.
The original recipe says to eat these warm but I prefer them cold with port and cheese.
For those of you who laugh in the face of Christmas day, shouting ‘it’s just a big roast, what’s all the fuss about?’ then go away and be smug in the corner. (I admit I have said the same thing on this very blog, my apologies is all I can offer).
For anyone who is doing it for the first time, or who feels a slightly sense of dread then read on. Some of this is obvious stuff, but I personally find it very useful to have everything in one place. Here’s my plan, for what it’s worth:
My festive (but not so extensive that you end up distressed) Christmas day menu
I have one included this breakfast suggestion so as to prove that on a day where a lot of the focus is on eating, breakfast doesn’t need to be another meal where you push the boat out. Either let people have their usual cereal/toast/yoghurt/fruit or offer some pannetone. I really wouldn’t start creating more washing up by offering eggs Benedict or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.
I keep it fairly simple with drinks on Christmas Day (CD from now on at risk of RSI) but that’s mainly because everyone drives to our house, so they’re not exactly going all out on the booze front. Every year we over buy alcohol to be left with a fair few bottles left. Then my husband and I selflessly plough through the remainder between CD and New Year.
I know this is controversial but really, unless you want to, and have the fridge/hob/oven space and inclination, then just don’t bother. In years gone past I have done starters, trying to cater to a vegetarian who dislikes mushrooms, blue cheese, goat’s cheese and peanuts, an OAP who hates garlic and a gaggle of meat enthusiasts. I am being kind to myself this year. If you must do some canapés instead then choose something easy like mini Yorshire puds with roast beef and horseradish, smoked salmon and potato bites, spicy prawn sticks, brie and cranberry cups or garlic beany toasts. But only choose one or two at a push.
Here is where I like to give the illusion of offering lots of choice but really, doing very little. So I offer up Christmas cake (already made, hence no effort), Christmas pudding (already made and sits steaming away in the slow cooker so no hob space taken and no real effort), a mince pie (again, already made) or an alternative that does not include dried fruit. Usually chocolate based. Beware that what tends to happen is that people opt for a bit of everything.
You could also serve Father Christmas’ Bakewell tart, Father Christmas’ cheesecake, Christmas flapjack, lemon, white choc and raspberry meringue roulade, Malteaser malted mousse or tiramisu profiteroles.
For the evening buffet:
The weekend before Christmas
Today is action stations. You need focus, you need a good breakfast inside you and you need to remember that getting organised today makes everything else run smoothly.
Other things that are important not to forget
Happy Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful day.
Look away now if you don’t like marzipan. Please, just go somewhere else. I have plenty of other recipes on this site to peruse.
Now marzipan is polarising, like Marmite, letting children play with toy guns or indeed taking the last good Roses chocolate. These mini mince pies (using this tin before everyone starts to message me asking which tin I like best. I am learning guys, I really am, albeit slowly) have a double dose of flaked almonds and Amaretto in the mincemeat and a marzipan star on the top. They’re an almond lovers dream. Teeny triple almond injections. I adore them. I hope you do too. Of course you can make them in a larger holed tin if you like.
FYI: Eat within 3 days or you’ll be pleased to hear these freeze well. Open freeze for 2 hours then store in freezer bags. Defrost at room temperature for 2 hours or pop straight back into the tin and warm at 140C/gas mark 3 until warmed through. Serve warm with mulled wine. Or cold with prosecco. Or just with tea.
Amaretto mini mince pies
Makes 36 minis or 24 regular size
Make the pastry in the food processor by pulsing the flour, icing sugar and cinnamon together. Add the butter and pulse again until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg and pulse a few times until the pastry starts to form clumps. Do not keep processing until you have one mass or you will have overworked the pastry and it’ll be as tough as old boots. Use your hands to carefully scoop the pastry into a ball and then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. (Alternatively you can make by hand – simply mix the dry ingredients, rub in the butter with your fingertips until you have breadcrumbs, then add the egg and pull together with a blunt knife).
Prepare your filling by mixing together the mincemeat, booze and flaked almonds. Of course you could add whatever you fancy. Paul Hollywood likes adding fresh clementines to his mince pies, Nigella I seem to recall likes cranberries – just do as you wish. And if you happen to hate almonds and are still reading (why? why?!) then yes you can use another type of booze, a substitute nut and nothing on the top.
Dredge your worksurface and rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm – try not to use a see saw motion, instead roll away from yourself and then turn the pastry by 90 degrees with each turn. I have done a video of rolling pastry correctly (not for mince pies I hasten to add) here. Cut circles using a 7cm cutter (9cm for regular sized mince pies) and push gently into the holes in the tin. Add a headed teaspoon of filling, then roll and repeat until the tin is full. Any remnants of pastry collect for the next batch (though these won’t be as tender due to re-rolling – save these for people you love a little less) and wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
Roll the marzipan as you did the pastry, using icing sugar instead of flour to stop is sticking. Use a small star cutter about 3cm across (like this one) to cut a star to top each pie. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 15 – 20 minutes though do check to ensure your pastry isn’t burning. They should be lightly browned when ready and the pies should ease out of the tin to be cooled on a wire rack. Whilst cooling, dredge with icing sugar. Use a small sieve if you have one though I am a fan of a tea infuser for this purpose.
A word of warning about filling spillage. If it does ooze over the sides of the pies then you must get the baked pies out of the tins ASAP. Do not let them cool – this involves risking mincemeat burn in the process, for boiling hot mincemeat does smart when it touches your fingertips. If you leave them to cool, they weld to the tin and have to be chipped out using DIY instruments. If this happens don’t cry (I have in years gone by), just crumble the remains all up in a dish and either eat or stir into slightly softened vanilla ice-cream. Then tell everyone on Christmas Day you made festive ice cream to go with the Christmas Pudding. Eat your heart Nigella.
After the first 24 are made, you’ll need to wash your tin, let it cool (don’t put pastry into a warm tin) and start the whole process again to make 12 more little pies. Or you could buy two tins.
NB: You may have a few bits of pastry left. Discard. Thrice rolled pastry is not a wonderful thing.