Sunday, 30 December 2012

random recipes #23 - round-up



...as another year draws to it's inevitable close we can be thankful for two things... one - I'd like to thank you for all your brilliant entries this month... I know how busy December can be so to receive any entries is utterly fantastic... and two - let's all thank the Mayan's for getting it wrong...

... as you know this month's random recipes was a competition for two of you to win £15 Sainsbury's book token's which is a fab opportunity to round-up my time as a Sainsbury's Christmas Ambassador... Our host needs to take a look at all the entries which she will do over the next couple of days and I will announce a winner at the launch of random recipes 2013... until then here's December for you...

... stuffed to the belly with brussels but still first off the mark is Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen and her festive Christmas Muffins taken from Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas Food and Flowers...


view the rest of your amazing entries after the break...

Friday, 28 December 2012

pea and bacon mini quiches



...this lull between christmas and new years eve is odd isn't it?... on one hand I love it because as a kid time seems to stand still just a little as the sparkle of christmas still has its hold over the world and you know that another eve of celebration is just around the corner... yet on the other hand, as we mature, this week seems like a head-long rush into another year of uncertainty and doubt... don't get me wrong, whilst 2012 was a good year for belleau kitchen it wasn't a great year for much else... working for oneself can be a hazardous assault course of lean and fat... one moment you're swimming in the riches of plenty and the next minute you're gasping for breath in the dried out husk of your last job... and it's never predictable either... if only I had the time to fail to plan...

... ignoring the swings and round-abouts for a moment we decided to throw a last-minute soiree as many of our local friends won't be around for new years eve this year... it really is last minute, as in tonight... and The Viking and I have a very crazy weekend ahead, of which I can't tell you just yet... so we're both running around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly to make chez belleau pretty for a few guests... and i'm using up a lot of stuff in the fridge that probably should have been eaten at the very latest yesterday... oh well, if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know why...


pea and bacon mini quiches and a pea and goats cheese veggie option
as you can imagine I get given quite a few cook books for presents and this christmas was no exception, with quite a haul in fact and from the sublime to the ridiculous too... from Nigel Slater's seminal The Kitchen Diaries II to Zilly Rosen's Zombie Cupcakes... a firm favourite is Darinaa Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking which has inspires these simple little gems... i'm also using some divine Yarburgh White goats cheese that has been given to me by my friend Paul who's friend Andrea has made using her own goats... it is a little sharp and a little salty and makes an excellent alternative to the bacon... it can be bought on line and sent anywhere in the UK from the excellent Cheese Shop is Louth and I thoroughly recommend it...

a basic shortcrust pastry
8oz plain flour
4oz butter
1 beaten egg and a little water

1 packet of streaky bacon - cut into small pieces
a handfull of frozen peas
a handful of crumbly Yarburgh White goats cheese

4 eggs
300ml single cream
200ml double cream

make the shortcrust by crumbling the butter into the flour then adding the egg and water until a dough is formed... the drier the pastry the better - harder to work with but it creates a far superior pastry... wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins, use plenty of flour to roll out and a scone cutter slightly larger than the tray holes

fry off the bacon until nice a crispy and set aside whilst you whisk the eggs and creams together

fill each pastry case with a little bacon (or the goats cheese if using instead), pour in the liquid until very full and sprinkle the frozen peas on top

bake for 15-20 mins until golden and risen, remember they will set further once they're out of the oven.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

baked bubble and squeak




... well we all made it through the big day didn't we... and as usual I quite simply made way too much food and even though my stomach is groaning i've still managed to find a small corner of my belly to make room for a little bubble and squeak... and you know me, i'm completely lazy when it comes to doing much of anything at this time of year and who needs it anyway, after-all we've just spent nearly 24 hours pulling the biggest meal of the year together, so quite frankly anything that makes life easier but isn't just a repeat of the same meal...

... my version of this classic, apparently so-called because of the noise it makes whilst frying in the pan,  is not only super-fast but also because you're baking it you don't even have to stand next to a pan waiting for it to brown for ages before serving... i'm also including horseradish sauce just to add a little fire to the pot...




bubble and squeak
obviously the final flavour of your dish depends entirely on what veg you've cooked the day before... we had quite a traditional christmas lunch this year and i've included the lot, along with some left-over stuffing to add texture... well, it's important not to waste anything... my given measurements are completely ad-hoc... just make as much as you need, or have available to use...

a handful of pre-cooked savoy cabbage
a large handful of pre-cooked brussel sprouts
a small handful of pre-cooked garden peas
2 large, cold roasted potatoes
a small handful of roasted parsnips and carrots
a tablespoon of mashed swede
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
2 large eggs - beaten
salt and pepper
olive oil
butter

- simply place all the veg in a large bowl and whizz with a hand-held blender until mashed but not smooth

- add a drizzle of olive oil, season and then stir in the beaten eggs

- pour into an oiled baking dish and bake in a medium oven on 170C for 25 mins or until golden and beginning to crisp on top

- cut some cubes of butter and add them on top before serving with left-over gravy...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

a very merry christmas



... so here it is... the presents are bought and wrapped... the tree is decorated... the fridge is groaning with more food than should be allowed for two grown men... and we are ready for christmas... i've really enjoyed this run-up to the big day, it's been very festive but i'm really looking forward to a few days off with lots of food... lots of dreadful television... and a few games of scrabble... oh and I have something very exciting coming up before the new year but I can't tell you about it just yet...

 ... oh and if you get the chance, don't forget to enter the two brilliant giveaways I have running at the moment... there's random recipes where you could be in with the chance of winning one of two Sainsbury's cookbook tokens... and my Gousto meal giveaway...

...so this is a simple post to wish all you lovely, special people out there a very merry christmas... I hope you all enjoy the next few days and take a little time to breathe, relax... eat and of course, enjoy!


Friday, 21 December 2012

apple, mincemeat and chocolate christmas wreath cake



... neither The Viking or I are massive fans of christmas cake or christmas pudding... it's all that rich, sweet darkness that I find too cloying so i've wanted to make an alternative christmas cake for ages... one that didn't have to be made weeks in advance but that still has that christmas flavour whilst still be lighter than usual... i've been waiting for that flash of inspiration and I think I had it this morning... mincemeat... i'm sure you'll agree that mincemeat has christmas 'built-in' and my thinking is that if I could incorporate the glorious stuff into a cake then surely that would be my answer... the mincemeat also has that wonderful balance of the acidity of citrus peel with the sweet plumpness of golden currants which is exactly what you want from a christmas cake... on one of my mad christmas dashes through Sainsbury's I managed to secure myself a jar of their Taste the Difference mincemeat which also has a little added brandy for that extra special something...

... this cake is essentially as simple as a marmalade cake where all the flavour comes from the jar, except I am adding one or two naughty little extras such as desiccated coconut, grated apple and some divine nuggets of callebaut origine ecuador 70% cocoa chocolate I had left-over from my recent cooking demo exploits... i'm also using my favourite new bundt tin for that 'christmas wreath' look and some shocking food colouring for some extra cringle madness!

... if the cake lasts the weekend it will be perfect for christmas day...


apple, mincemeat and chocolate christmas wreath cake
I did actually find a Delia mincemeat cake recipe which i've adapted quite a bit as I didn't have a lot of the ingredients... I simply swapped them for what I did have, which is just the way I roll...

for the filling
1 400g jar of mincemeat
150ml brandy, sherry or your favourite christmas liquor... i used drambuie
175g mixed dried fruit
50g candied ginger
grated rind of 1 large orange
50g desiccated coconut
a handful of chopped nuts
75g chocolate drops or chopped chocolate
2 medium apples - grated

for the cake batter
100g wholemeal flour
150g self-raising flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
150g softened butter
100g golden caster sugar
50g runny honey
3 large eggs

- combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and leave overnight if you can... this is not essential

- in a separate bowl combine all the batter ingredients with an electric whisk until fluffy

- pour the filling into the batter mix and gently fold in

- pour the cake mixture into a bundt tin and bake in an oven on 160C for 1 hour or until risen and a skewer comes out clean... watch the cake though as it may catch on top... I placed some baking parchment on top after about 45 mins which seemed to do the trick


- get creative with the topping... I used a simple icing sugar and egg white icing and then went a little crazy with some green and red coloured icing... oh and then The Viking got in on the act and made the most adorable snowmen, each one with their own particular character... they're currently living in our fridge because it reminds them of home... I may let them come out on Christmas Day for some turkey...


eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

thai beef lettuce wraps - a gousto giveaway



... as you can imagine, being the international food blogger extrordinaire that I am, I receive a lot of requests from brands to review stuff and if i'm brutally honest... which I probably shouldn't be... most of the stuff is utter crap... which is why it's nice to have received an honest email from the good people at Gousto asking me to review their Gourmet Bag delivery... I was a little reserved at first as this is such a busy month for all of us and I really didn't know if i'd find the time to review anything but when they explained the concept behind their company I was intrigued...

... and Gousto is a simple concept... it's essentially a weekly organic food delivery service with added recipes...every week they create recipes on their website... you choose which recipes you like and they send you the ingredients for that exact recipe... most of the stuff is already portioned, all you have to do is prepare and cook it... it's like opening your favourite cookbook and the ingredients magically appearing... or if you still don't quite get the concept yet, imagine that annoying bit in Jamie's 30 Minute Meals, where Mr Oliver advises you to 'have everything prepared in advance'... well this is that bit... genius...

... the gousto gourmet bag includes 2 meals for 2 people... I had about 8 recipes to choose from and I went for thai beef lettuce wraps, which I made for lunch on Monday... and tagliatelle with artichoke hearts, courgette puree and capers, which The viking and I will had for dinner last night... the box of goodies was delivered to my door and was beautifully wrapped in eco-friendly swaddling to keep it nice a fresh... each recipe comes with it's own recipe card and very, very clear and user-friendly instructions, with pictures... it honestly couldn't be simpler and is ideal for us folk with slightly manic lifestyles... the food is all very fresh, the menu's are all healthy and delicious... the boxes are not cheap but at £42 for a couples pack, which equates to 3 meals for 2 people it works out at £7 per meal, which last time I looked is cheaper, healthier and probably tastier than a take-away so it actually isn't too bad...


thai beef lettuce wraps
i've never really made anything like this before and they were indeed delicious... I actually felt quite virtuous eating them... they were packed with flavour and I devoured them with glee... and it was also quite a relief to be eating something succinctly not christmassy... here's the recipe if you fancy making them yourself...

250g minced beef
15g cilantro
1 medium red onion - finely sliced and quartered
1 red chilli - finely chopped
1 lime
1 iceberg lettuce
160g rice noodles
2 cloves garlic - finely crushed
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
30g peanuts - crushed
1 carrot - sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler

- place the beef in a bowl, squeeze the lime over it and let it marinade whilst you make the rest of the meal

- place the noodles into a pot of boiling hot water, off the heat, and let them sit for 15mins or until al dente

- put a pan on a medium heat and saute the beef in some olive oil until cooked, reduce the heat and add the chilli, onion and garlic... add the fish sauce and the soy sauce and simmer for a minute or two until the ingredients and hot

- peel off a few large iceberg leaves and place a handful of noodles in each one, add some of the meat mixture and then top with the carrots and cilantro... sprinkle with the crushed peanuts to serve

tagliatelle with artichoke hearts, courgette puree and capers

the giveaway
... the good people at Gousto have very kindly given me one of their Gourmet Bags as a giveaway prize... this consists of two, 2-person meals and the winner will, as I did, get the opportunity to choose from a selection of menu's.... Gousto delivers nationwide except for a few very remote places, this means that sadly the giveaway is only open to residents of the UK... or friends of people who live here... so please check here to see if they will deliver to you (or someone you know) before you enter the competition...

... all you have to do is fill in the rafflecopter thingamy below and we'll pick a winner before the end of the month...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 17 December 2012

warmed and spiced apple and mango juice mocktail






... i'm chuffed to christmas bits to have been asked by the good people at Innocent to be part of their festive Innocent 12 Days of Christmas Mocktail Challenge where, as the name suggests, they've challenged 12 bloggers to create non-alcoholic cocktails based on the classic 12 Days of Christmas song using their delicious fruit juices... all we had to do was come up with the recipe and they'd do the rest, including photographing the drinks and creating a special 12 Days of Christmas recipe card that will shortly go on-line for all to see...

... I truly believed I lucked-out here as I got what must be everyone's favourite part of the song... to be shouted at the very top of your mulled-wine stoked voice... FIVE... GO-HOLD....RINGS... I think it's also the last of the 12 days that most people actually remember... I know that once I get to day six i'm never sure if it should be lords-a-leaping or geese-a-swaddling... or whatever it's supposed to be...

... anyhoo, I then had to think of a way to turn five gold rings into a yummy drink and the first thing that came to my mind was Five Gold Things, which I then walked around for the rest of the week humming under my breath... five gold things... five gold things... what are they... what can they be... how am I going to make this work...


five gold rings mocktail
not sure why I worried really... it all came together quite naturally when I was inspired by the wonderful innocent apple and mango juice... I remembered how well apple and honey work together, so I had 2 of my 5 (honey and mango) and the rest just rolled into place... my 3rd was cinnamon, who's rich woody tones would compliment the sweetness of the mango and add a dash of christmas cheer too... my 4th was orange... and my 5th... well it's golden syrup of course... the guys from innocent aren't mad about adding sugar to stuff, which is understandable, so their beautiful picture doesn't show the sugar ring around the rim of the glass, so i've included a picture of my own to show just how pretty it can look and adds another gold ring to the recipe just to finish it all off...

for the mocktail (serves 2)
1 orange - cut into thin slices
a drizzle of golden syrup
2 teaspoons of British runny honey
2 cups of innocent apple and mango juice
a couple of cinnamon sticks

to serve
a little innocent orange juice (with bits or smooth)
a spoonful of golden caster sugar
edible golden glitter
powdered cinnamon

- lay the slices of orange onto a baking sheet and drizzle with the golden syrup and bake for 40 mins on 100C or until golden.  Turn the oven off and let the oranges cool in the oven.

- place the apple and mango juice in a pan with the honey and a dash of cinnamon and gently warm it through allowing the spice to permeate the juice

- take your glass, dip the rim into the innocent orange juice, then into a bowl of sugar mixed with golden edible glitter

- pour a little honey in the bottom of the glass and then pour the warm juice over it.  Slice a dried orange slice into the centre, add it to the rim of the glass, throw in a cinnamon stick and a dash more cinnamon and serve...

... the guys at Innocent are going to put all 12 Days up on-line soon so you can download all the recipe cards but until then, here's the days that have already been...

1st Day is Karen from Lavender and Lovage
2nd Day is Marie from The English Kitchen
3rd Day is Nanya from Simply Sensational Food
4th Day is Helen from Fuss Free Flavours
5th Day is Dom from Belleau Kitchen

I will continue to add the days here as they progress...

drink and of course enjoy!

Friday, 14 December 2012

chocolate dipped cinnamon balls



...this month, two of my most favourite blogging challenges seem to have aligned neatly in a glittery cloud of christmas fabulousness... for the uninitiated the we should cocoa challenge asks participants, as the name suggests, to use chocolate in something you cook... the host then picks a theme that must  be included... over the years Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog and Chele from the Chocolate Teapot have both come up with some interesting themes, some delightful like cherry or mint... others a little tricker such as chilli or my favourite savoury...

... the tea time treats challenge is just as fun and thankfully not quite as evil... our hosts Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked ask us to whip up something suitably tea time with a different theme each month ranging from the simple seasonal easter to the more detailed picnic pies and tarts... both challenges are a joy to take part in... they make you think about what you're cooking and occassionaly take you out of your kitchen comfort zone which I think is always a good thing... it's also lovely to be part of a community within the blogging world where you can see us all coming together with one common goal... and see so many different results... this months themes are cinnamon from we should cocoa and chocolate from tea time treats...


... there are plenty of other excellent challenges around too and you can check them out on the brilliant Food Blog Diary each month... join in... you never know where the journey may take you...



chocolate dipped cinnamon balls
now I know I made these last year but I simply could resist making them again as they really do make the most fabulous little Christmas gifts... i've obviously given them a dip in a warm bath of chocolate but I think these have only added to their glory...

2 egg whites
175g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 level tablespoon cinnamon
some chocolate

- in a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold in all the other ingredients until a soft dough is formed

- wet your hands and roll the dough into walnut-sized balls placing each one onto a baking sheet as you go

- bake in the over on 160C for 25 mins or until they begin to firm and cracks start to appear

- roll in icing sugar whilst still warm

- melt some good quality dark chocolate and once the balls are cooled, dip each one half-way in the melted chocolate... really couldn't be simpler...



eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

mango chutney chicken thighs - a random recipe



... in a welcome break from all this festive nonsense it's random recipes time and as if the gods of blogging challenges aren't busy enough they still managed to find the time to be uber-generous with me this month and grant me the love of a chicken thigh recipe... the book I picked was last years only christmas present from my dear neighbour Tracey... Notes from the Jam Cupboard by Mary Tregellas... it is a wonderfully rich book filled with sumptuous recipes for filling jars with jam's and chutney's but what I love about it the most is that it doesn't leave you hanging there with a cupboard full of stained glass windows, it suggests recipes and things to do with what you've bottled... and of course on page 100 there was my recipe...


... I will admit that one is supposed to make the mango chutney first before using it in the recipe but come on folks, its December and time is not on one's side... besides, with the chicken thighs being so cheap I splashed out on a very expensive pot of the best Mango Chutney I could find and the whole dish cost me under £4... not bad for a days work!




mango chutney chicken thighs

it honestly couldn't be a simpler recipe so I added one or two things of my own to add a bit of bite... I have to tell you that whilst this was roasting the whole house succumbed to the most intense and mouth-watering caramelised curry smell... it was quite intense for a couple of hours I can tell you... it also produced the moistest and most tender chicken i've eaten in a while... quite simply you should make this dish... I had some left over the next day and using the flesh, ripped from the bones i smothered it in mayonnaise to make the most wonderful salad... all good...

6 - 8 chicken thighs

1 onion - roughly sliced
10 black olives
1 jar of mango chutney (best you can afford)

- pre-heat the oven to 170C


- place the onions and olives in the bottom of an oven-proof dish, lay the chicken thighs on top and pour over the mango chutney - you need to use your hands here to spread it all over and under the chicken


- bake in the oven for an hour and a half, tuning halfway through.  I always turn the oven up to about 190C for the last 15 mins to get that crispy skin


eat and of course enjoy!


... have you done your random recipes yet... here's a reminder of this months theme... and remember, you could be in with a chance of winning some lovely Sainsbury's book tokens...


Monday, 10 December 2012

ginger and cinnamon christmas tree cookies



... i was a little worried about writing this post as it opens up my inner-thinkings entirely to observation and possible critique but when the lovely people at Sainsbury's asked me to reveal my top tips for dressing my christmas tree I began to realise what The Viking has been telling me for years... i'm not very good at being spontaneous... I am most definitely in the 'organised fun' camp...

... you see I am very, very anal when it comes to decoration... everything has it's place and order... yes, things must look entirely eclectic and as though every sparkly bauble has floated down from some glitter-encrusted christmas cloud but in fact they have been placed exactly on the tree during a strict, almost militarised campaign I call operation yuletide...


... it starts with a space being cleared between sofa and fireplace and a tree-stand placed on the floor... my tree-stand it a chunky beast that grips the tree with 3 metal screws and contains a reservoir for water so you can feed your tree throughout the month... this is followed by a trip to our local christmas tree farm where we spend approximately an hour arguing over height versus girth...it's always a Nordman Fir... nice thick branches and needles that stay on for the whole month... an excited journey back from the farm with the netted tree in the back of the truck is then proceeded by the tree being brought into the house and another hour of placement procedure... at which point the tree is released from its net to many a gasp... we then give the tree an hour for it to 'settle'... which essentially involves me getting completely over-excited as I go up into the loft to retrieve lights and decorations...

... are you still with me...?


... good... I shall continue with the lights... I like a nice simple white fairy light... not too many... enough for it to feel magically lit by the light of a hundred or so fairies... this is not the Blackpool Illuminations you know... I always place the lights on the tree from the bottom up, spiralling around the tree as I go... once illuminated I tuck the lights further into the tree for a more 'natural' look... and then it's time for the baubles and little treasures... we've collected these over the past ten years, finding the right look... which is blue and silver with a hint of white... every year or two we retire the odd tatty looking bauble and replace it with something suitable adorable... this year we found a little silver and wooden fox, which reminds us of Holly, who loved chasing foxes and loved christmas... we're really missing our little monkey...



christmas tree cookies
i've never made christmas tree cookies before but I saw this lovely recipe over on Sue's incredible blog The View from the Great Island and I just had to give them a try... the recipe is very simple and i've made it even simpler... clearly my decorating skills have a lot to be desired but I was inspired by a neat little set of star-shaped cookie cutters and an empty Sunday afternoon... it's a great dough recipe that you can easily re-roll and patch together, so you get no wastage.

180g golden caster sugar
150g butter
50g ground almonds
350g plain flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

- in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy and then add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until it comes together to form a dough - pop this into cling-film and into the fridge for at least 30 mins

- roll out and cut into shapes - bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15mins on 170C until just beginning to turn golden

- take them out of the oven and pierce a hole in the top of each one whilst they are still warm and slightly soft - they will harden quickly as the dry at which point you can decorate them as you like... I used some ready made icing tubes but a simple frosting made from icing sugar and egg whites will work well too.

eat and of course, enjoy!


Saturday, 8 December 2012

6 ways with mince pies



... i've recently discovered a new Lincolnshire based fashion blog called Stella and Alf... it's written by two young uber-cool designers called Paris and Charlotte and they write about this wonderfully cool world of fashion and art that I used to be part of more than 20 years ago... they've very kindly asked me to write a guest post on their blog based on one of the twelve days of christmas... I got Day Six and here's what I did...

... yes dear friends, even though it seems like only yesterday, here comes christmas once again... don't panic... take a deep breath... you should be having fun, tis' the season of good-will, after-all and if you happen to have friends and family popping in unannounced over the next few weeks you should be so fabulously prepared that nothing will phase you... and you know we'll all get through it together if we follow these three simple rules...

one... calm down and have a little something to drink, I promise it will all seem better through the fog of a swift thimble of whisky

two... try and let go a little... if you're anything like me, your kitchen is your special haven and nobody messes with your sacred space... this is all very well at any other time of the year but this is christmas and people like to wonder around and help... let them in... again I promise it will be ok

three... buy puff pastry, it will save your life - Sainsbury's sell two types of ready-rolled puff pastry, their regular one is perfectly nice but their all-butter one is wonderful for a little naughty luxury... and this is where it's ok not to bother making your own... keep 3 or 4 rolls in the fridge and between the door-bell ringing and the first bottle of champagne downed you'll have a collection of glorious piping hot mince pies ready to serve...

... oh and whilst making your own mincemeat is pretty simple, one other time saving little tip I would add is to jazz up shop-bought mincemeat by adding a dash of your favourite christmas liquor, a sprinkling of almond slithers and some grated orange or lemon peel...



Mince Pie Palmiers

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 jar of mince meat

so simple it would be a crime not to make them… simply spread the mincemeat onto the puff pastry sheet and then roll up each end until they meet in the middle.  Half an hour in the fridge should make them easier to slice, after which lay them on a baking sheet and bake at 170C for 20 mins


Classic Mince Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry
These are now my go-to mince pies, mainly because the pastry is simply the best sweet pastry you will ever make.  I use the left-over egg white to make some simple soft meringue tops but you can also cut shaped pastry lids for them too.
  
For the pastry
200g plain flour
150g butter
75g cream cheese
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
50g sugar

in a large bowl crumble the butter into the flour using your hands, until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the rest of the ingredients bringing it together with a little water or milk until you have a soft dough – wrap in cling-film and pop in the fridge for 30 mins

roll out the chilled pastry and cut out rounds of pastry big enough to fill a muffin tin or cupcake tray.  Fill each case with mincemeat and then either top with a pastry lid or whisk up the left-over egg white with a tablespoon of sugar until you have stiff peaks and spoon on top.  Bake for 20 mins on 170C.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.


Pinwheel Puff Pastry Mince Pies

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry cut into 8cm squares
1 jar of mince meat

This may look like it would be fiddly but it’s so easy you’ll wonder why you’d never tried this classic pastry technique before.  If my instructions aren’t clear try this link for a very clear instruction videos.

Take a square of pastry and slice a cut from each corner diagonally into the centre, stopping before you reach the centre.  Place a teaspoon of mince meat in the centre and then fold every other half-cut corner into the centre, leaving the other half flat, pushing into the mincemeat until you have done all four. I have made mini pinwheels to go on top of each one but you can simply brush them with beaten egg and bake on 170C for 20 mins.





Filo Pastry Mince Pies
You will need a muffin tin or cupcake tin to make these.  I use a 12 hole muffin tin that I brush with melted butter.

4 sheets of  filo pastry
1 jar of mince meat
melted butter

cut the filo into squares that are slightly larger than the holes in your muffin tin.  Brush each square with butter and lay it into the muffin hole, brushing it in to shape then layer each hole with 4 sheets of filo.  Don’t worry if they look messy or they tear, this will enhance the finished look.  Fill each one with a teaspoon of mincemeat and then, with the left-over squares, create pastry roses by scrunching them up with your fingers and laying them on top.  Bake for 20 mins on 160C until golden.  A light dusting of icing sugar when cooled will make them sparkle!

eat and of course, enjoy…and if you listen closely you can hear the sound of sleigh-bells!

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