Non-traditional Mince Pies

As Christmas rapidly approaches, I thought I would give you my recipe for mince pies. Traditionally the pastry contains lard, and the mincemeat suet. These I have substituted for butter. And I have made the pastry somewhat richer than the traditional half fat to flour.

The recipe calls for candied peel, which you can buy. But I think it is much nicer homemade, for which I give a recipe at the end. You also need about three teaspoons of mixed spice, for which I also give a recipe.

The resulting pies are sharp, juicy and irresistible!

300g      plain flour
230g      chilled unsalted butter
Chilled water

Enough for 24 little pies

  1. Sift the flour into a processor.
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour.
  3. Whizz the mixture up until the texture of breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the chilled water until the pastry has the correct consistency. You will probably need 9-10 tablespoons.
  5. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out the pastry, and cut disks to fit your pastry tin. Cut slightly smaller disks for the top.

Mincemeat IMG_2695

Enough for 48 little pies

225g      apples (sharp, such as granny smiths)
175g      raisins
115g      currants
115g      dried cranberries
115g      candied peel
175g      soft dark brown sugar
Grated rind and the juice of a large orange
Grated rind and the juice of a lemon
25g         chopped almonds
3tsp       mixed spice
115g      unsalted butter
3tbl        brandy

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples finely.
  2. Chop the candied peel finely.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Cover, and leave for 24 hours.
  5. Grease the pastry tins.
  6. Line with the larger disks of pastry.
  7. Spoon in the mincemeat, so it is about level with the top of the pastry.
  8. Cover with the smaller disks of pastry.
  9. Brush each with milk.
  10. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Et voila!

Candied Peel

150g      peel from mixed citrus fruit, including orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarins.
Place in a heavy saucepan, cover with caster sugar, and add a tablespoon of water.
Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes
Allow to cool slightly, then remove the peel and spread out on a chopping board and allow to cool completely.

Mixed Spice

2             cloves
¼            nutmeg
2cm       stick cinnamon
½ tsp     fennel seeds
½ tsp     coriander seeds
4             allspice berries
4             green cardamoms

Heat the above spices gently in a heavy pan until they release their aroma and are slightly browned.
Grind in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
Store in an airtight jar.

And as this will be my last blog of 2014, I wish you all a happy (and delicious) Christmas, and best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2015.



© DAVEggie

Paneer Masala – My Favourite Curry


I have tried almost every curry imaginable, but in my humble this is simply the best ever: Paneer Masala. It is rich, savoury and deeply satisfying.

I like to serve with Yellow Rice and Gujerati Vegetables.
According to Wikipedia:
Paneer is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.

You can buy it ready made from some supermarkets, or you could use tofu instead. Or you can make your own. It’s easy and fun, and I give you the recipe at the end.


Masala Curry
Serves 2
2  small onions
2 cloves garlic
2cm cube ginger
1  green chilli
1/2tbsp  almonds, flaked
1tbsp  pistachios
30g  butter
1/2tbs  oil, sunflower
1  bay leaf
1/2tbsp  ground coriander
½tsp  garam masala
1tsp   smoked paprika
2  large ripe tomatoes
½tbs  tomato puree
150ml  thick coconut milk
1tbsp  fenugreek leaves
1 qty   paneer – see basic recipe

1. Chop the onion, garlic ginger and chilli, and blend to a smooth paste with a little water.
2. Grind the almonds and pistachios in a pestle and mortar.
3. Blanch the tomatoes and remove the skins and tough core. Finely chop.
4. Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan.
5. Add the onion paste and bay leaf, fry until the water has evaporated and the oil separates..
6. Add the pounded nuts and fry for 2 minutes.
7. Add the coriander, garam masala and paprika and fry for 1 minute.
8. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée, and fry for about 4 minutes.
9. Add the coconut milk, fenugreek leaves and diced paneer and warm through, adding water to make the gravy the consistency you require.

Serves 2
1 litre    full milk
60ml     lemon juice

1.  Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove the heat.
2.  Stir in the lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, until the milk separates.
3.  Place a colander in a sink, and line with a clean tea towel.
4.  Pour the contents of the saucepan into the colander.
5.  When the liquid has drained through, rinse with cold water to remove the lemon juice.
6.  Season with salt and pepper.
7.  When cool, gather the corners of the tea towel together, and twist to expel as much liquid from the cheese.
8.  Flatten, and press under a heavy weight for about 45 minutes.
9.  Wrap in cling film, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: will keep in the fridge several days. Can also be frozen.

Tip: to weight the paneer, I place the tea towel in a shallow Tupperware box, and place this under the leg of the coffee table. You may need to scrape the paneer of the tea towel after weighting. Reconstitute, ad wrap tightly in Clingfilm.

A note on garam masala.
I never use the bought stuff, but make small quantities as I need it, as it soon loses its aroma and flavour. It should be made predominantly from ‘expensive spices’, such as the following:
Cardamom (black and green)
Cinnamon stick
Fennel seeds
Bay leaf

You can also use some ‘everyday spices’such as
black peppercorns
cumin seeds
coriander seeds.
Heat the whole spices gently in a heavy saucepan, until they release their aroma, and begin to colour. Allow to cool, and grind in a spice-grinder or pestle and mortar. I don’t bother shelling the cardamoms.

Yellow Rice
Serves 2
20g            butter
100g          basmati rice
1 medium  onion
1tsp           cumin seeds
1/2tsp       turmeric
1.   Wash the rice in several changes of water, soak for 30 minutes, and drain for 15 minutes.
2.   Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add a splash of oil
3.   Slice the onion and add to the pan along with the cumin seeds. Fry until the onion starts to brown.
4.    Add the rice and turmeric, and a pinch of salt, and fry for about 2 minutes.
5.   Add enough boiling water to cover the rice to a depth of abou5 5mm.
6.   Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer on the lowest possible heat for 20 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
7.   Fluff with a fork and serve.

Gujerati Vegetables
1 green chilli, chopped
pinch asafoetida (if you can get it)
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp black mustard seeds
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
250g mixed green vegetables, such as beans, sugarsnaps, broccoli, cauliflower
1tbsp coriander, chopped
Pinch granulated sugar
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to season

1. Cut the vegetables into pieces as necessary. They should all be about the same size (of a green bean, say)
2. Blanch the vegetables, drain, refresh and dry.
3. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan.
4. Add the asafoetida and mustard seeds, and fry until the seeds begin to pop.
5. Add the garlic and chili, and stir briefly.
6. Add the vegetables and sugar, turn down the heat and cover. Fry until heated and the vegetables have absorbed the flavour of the spices.
7. Add the chopped coriander, and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.


© DAVEggie