So, Christmas is coming up. YAY! Love it. 😀
As I was sitting eating my lunch yesterday, watching it not snow outside, my mind started going to Christmas and what I am going to make. My, by which I mean my brothers (if that seems confusing, read the post linked here and you’ll probably get a better idea, no promises), vegetable flan seemed obvious, it’s a staple after only one Christmas. Roasted and “griljerad” (a coating with mustard, spices and breadcrumbs typically done for Christmas ham in Sweden) celeriac, definitely, since that turned out yum.
Then my phoned buzzed with a mail from national express reminding me about the booking I still haven’t completed, they’re adamant, it’s like the third reminder. I will at some point, though. And immediately, my mind went to Brighton and Christmas there, and mince pies. Thus it was decided, this Christmas I’m making mince pies. As I’m in Sweden, mincemeat isn’t the easiest to get a hold of, sure I could order it online, with varying, but expensive, shipping. Sure, I could go to the English store in Stockholm. But, meh. I can, however, make it. In my googling of how to acquire mincemeat in Sweden I found multiple recipes, all stating how simple it is to make your own and not worth the trouble of buying. Yeah, sure, like I’m going to fall for that.
Well, I did. I found a recipe that resonated with me, wrote down the ingredients so I could buy them on my way home. Left the note somewhere, and went shopping. I forgot some things, they didn’t stock others. But luckily, I live two minutes from two different grocery stores. Neither stocking “brandy-essens” which apparently is a thing. A thing I was interested in, seeing as brandy is not my thing and it felt ridiculous to buy brandy for just 6 tablespoons. Found that you could, reasonably switch brandy, and its essens, for white grape and/or apple juice. They didn’t have white grape juice so I’m sort of set on apple, and lingonberry, for that sour bitter yum. Also a touch of Sweden, because why not.
And just now, I looked at the hawthorn mulled wine, that I got yesterday, and the girl didn’t even ask for my ID, I bought alcohol without showing ID! I mean, I know that I’m usually perceived as older than I am, I know that there was a lot of people at the grocery store and that me buying mulled wine wasn’t maybe the top priority. But she could’ve asked and faked glanced, that’s common curtesy as to avoid age-issues. I’m not that old, am I? I’m just two years over the required age to buy alcohol here. Two years ain’t obvious, is it?
Age paranoia aside, I think that’s a potentially awesome idea, the hawthorn, not the ID-checking or lack thereof. Anyways, apparently mincemeat is something that takes time. You leave it, and then you leave it , and then you leave it some more, and then its best to wait. Yep, every fiber in me wants to speed it up, a moment in the freezer surely equals a while in the fridge. Luckily, perhaps, I did the first step right before bed last night. Prepare yourselves, because the actual recipe is about to start.
After having run to the store, again, because apparently my kitchen scale needed a new battery, who could have known that a battery driven device would eventually need a new one… I weighed up roughly 350g of raisins, put them on the chopping board and just went over them quickly. Since I’m not a fervent fan of raisins I didn’t love the thought of big lumps of raisins, chopping them slightly spreads them out more. Lots of smaller bits is better than less bigger ones. I think, maybe. I thought, anyway. I put them in a large bowl along with 200g of succade plus 50g ish of candied orange peel, I’m sure you could use the same amount of mixed peel if you can get your hands on it, I couldn’t at the time.
I had (slightly) thawed 225g of blackcurrants, and put the butter in the freezer a while ago, good tip by the way, do that now and I’ll explain later. The currants along with 200g of sultanas mixed with cranberries, probably about 100g of each not quite sure though, went in with the rest of the fruit. Then I chopped almonds, shredded according to the recipe, but I chopped cause who has the time to neatly shred 50g of almonds. Chop, chop, and done.
Grate 2 oranges and 2 lemons. I used three lemons, because they were so tiny, compared to the non-organic ones at the store. Juice the oranges and mixed them and the peel with the rest of the fruit. I then juiced the lemons but left the juice aside for awhile. Because now you’re going to chop the apples neatly. 450g of chopped apples (green ones, you want that sourness), leave the peel on but don’t chop up the core. As I chopped and put the apples in the bowl I poured on some of the lemon juice so as to coat them and stop them from browning, at least slow them down. With all of the apples and lemon juice mixed in, I took out the butter from the freezer.
Now I know, avid recipe reades, you’re supposed to use suet, but as a non-red-meat-eater, I instinctively feel sick at the thought of it, part of the reason I was swayed, by myself, into making and not buying mincemeat. I also know that there’s some vegetable-based alternatives that’s better to replace with than butter, but I didn’t have those around so butter it is. Frozen butter is a lot easier to grate than non-frozen. Grating the butter makes it easier to mix evenly throughout. Non-lumpy. Grate about 225g of it and mix in. Magic. It’s thawed and soft instantly.
Spices. Lovely, Christmas-y spices. 4 teaspoons worth of a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. I took a tiny bowl, put in roughly slightly less than a teaspoon of each, mixed it up, measured it as I moved it to the fruit, made some more and thus 4 teaspoons. While you’re creating your Christmas-spice mix, you’re going to add additional half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg into the fruit, because apparently those two are slightly more important than the others. I compensated with using a tiny bit less of those two in my spice mix, so I might have messed that up, or fixed it. Also I’ve lied to you, and I’m about to fix it here, and not the actual fault, so I hope you are one of those who read the recipe to the end before starting it. I did not mix the spice directly in with the fruit. Before that, I had measured up 350g of muscovado sugar, I used muscovado because of the spicy flavour, it’s nice. Most of the sugar I had poured onto and mixed in with the fruit. The rest I left in the measuring-bowl, in which I poured my spices when I’d measured them up. I mixed all the spices with the sugar and then mixed that in with the fruit for a, hopefully, more even spread compared to what I would’ve gotten if I’d done what I wrote.
After all of this. You leave it. In the fridge. For 12 hours. 12. Hours. This why you do it, right before going to sleep, because then you work off most of those hours sleeping. Makes it easier.
After suffering through the 12 hours, you’ve probably forgotten about the mincemeat and as you open the fridge you’re reminded of that you were supposed to do something more with it. See the brandy hasn’t come up yet, right? Here it comes. Soon. Just wait some more. Bare with me.
The oven is 110*C exactly. Or just somewhere in between the 100*c and 125*c markings slightly more towards the 100 than the 125. You’ve now dashed again to the store, because you’re supposed to use foil to cover the oven proof dish that you’ve put the fruit in, the dish that you stored it in the fridge in. I did mention that, right? I have now. Hehe… oops…
When you’ve acquired the foil, or if you already had it. I’ve quite recently moved and have not gotten around to getting all of those things that you assume you have, like foil and batteries. I’m still waiting for a light bulb to go. Cover the oven proof dish, that you now have definitely got the fruit in, with foil and put it for 3 hours in the oven. Three hours. Three.
There was no leakage of lovely smell to remind me so mine might been in slightly longer. But roughly three hours. After which you stir, and stir, and stir as it cools. Then you go to continue writing the blog post and at times remember that you were supposed to stir so you jump up, stir for a bit and then come back. When it’s cooled, or cool enough, you stir in the brandy, or the brandy-replacement. Which for me has added up to three tablespoons of mixed apple and lingonberry juice and three tablespoons of hawthorn mulled wine.
When it’s eventually, actually, cool, store it in containers. Properly sealed and sterilised jars means that it will last a lifetime. Or something like that. I’m not set yet on how I’m going to store it, sterilised jars it aint. Probably just going to put it in my food containers, lunch boxes and such and make mince pies some time this week and make sure to eat up or use up the rest before it goes off. Because otherwise I’m going to have to, yet again, run to the store and get jars to store it in. Did I mention that you get quite a lot of mincemeat from this recipe. Well, I have now. Over 2 kg according to the blog I got the recipe from. That sure is quite some mincemeat. Hehe… Oops… You can also find a recipe for the pies themselves on the blog, “Bara brittiskt”, which I used for the mincemeat, it’s in Swedish though, or you can wait and see what I come up with.
‘Til next time, set yourself up to make something instead of just buying it finished. The making’s where you add the spirit whether it’s a scribbled note, a meal or something else.