Yup that’s right, I have declared it. It is the season to be jolly! Christmas is coming and I CAN’T WAIT! I don’t want to hang on any longer before I start listening to Buble’s Christmas album or put on my Snowman jumper. For me Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, not just because I love the traditions, the food, the spirit and the sparkles but because ever since I left home it’s now one of the only times of the year that my whole family manages to get together all at once. The last couple of months have been busy and stressful, it’s cold and dark, the days are short and the nights are long and I’m officially ready to stop working, start partying and enjoy the festivities. Besides if the Mayan’s are right and the world is about to end, I don’t know about you but I want to go out with a bang!
As soon as I have my first mince pie it’s officially party season and last weekend I kicked of proceedings with a homemade batch washed down with some Mulled wine courtesy of Jamie Oliver…
MULLED WINE… (recipe by Jamie Oliver)
2 clementines/ oranges
The peel of 1 lemon
The peel of 1 lime
250g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg/ 3 tps ground nutmeg
1 whole vanilla pod, halved
2 star anise
2 bottles of Italian red wine
1. Peel the oranges, lemon and lime and place the peel in a pan along with the sugar and the juice of the orange over a medium heat.
2. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg and throw in the halved vanilla pod. Add just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
3. Let this simmer until the sugar has dissolved into the wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on the boil for 4 or 5 minutes until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
4. Once you have a syrup, add the star anise, the rest of the wine and I like to cut some of the fruit to go in too.
5. Gently heat for a few minutes and then it’s ready to serve!
8oz of flour
4 oz unsalted butter
2 oz sugar
a touch of water to bind
1 jar of mincemeat
1 egg to brush over the top
1. For the pastry, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the sugar, mix and then add a little bit of water at a time until the mixture binds.
3. Knead together then wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill for an hour.
4. Once ready remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to around 2cm thick.
5. Cut into shapes for both the pastry cases and the tops. I chose a round cookie cutter for the cases and stars for the top.
6. Grease a baking tin (FYI I used a silicon baking tray for the first time and I feel the need to share the fact that these are the greatest invention ever! No need for greasing, mess free and make getting your cakes/ pies out after cooking a dream!) and put your round cases in the bottom.
7. Fill with a spoonful of mincemeat each and then top with your lids.
8. Finally brush with some beaten egg for a golden brown finish.
9. Bake for around 20-30 mins at 200C until the pastry is cooked and golden.
10. Taste best served straight from the oven!
After the first bite and the first glug I was full of the Christmas spirit! Only 20 days to go…