Monday, 7 November 2011


This time last year, we honeymooned in South East Asia. We spent four weeks visiting Bangkok, Kuala Lumpar, Langkawi, Penang and Singapore. It was the trip of a lifetime. We arrived during Diwali and by the time we reached Singapore the build up for Christmas was starting. Asia is amazing, so many different cultures and customs so there is always a festival to celebrate. It was so strange to be in a tropical climate with Christmas decorations and lights and piped music. We left 35 degree sunshine and arrived back to Dublin. As if it wasn't bad enough to be home, the snow started the next day. And never really stopped.

As we were away for so long, I didn't manage to get as much Christmas preparations done, although I did bake my Christmas cake six days before we got married. Yes, apparently I am insane. This year I'm looking forward to getting lots of baking done. So first to tick off the list was the Christmas cake. I have it safely stowed away upstairs wrapped in brown paper, waiting on it's next feeding of brandy. I love saying that, 'feeding the cake' it cracks me up every time.

Next up, mincemeat. I made mincemeat for the first time two years ago. My Mam was a great baker, but always bought a jar of mincemeat to stuff the homemade pastry. No fancy shapes for our house, Mam used to cut out a circle of pastry and then pile it with mincemeat and add another circle of pastry on top so it was like a flat pie, like a mincemeat ravioli I guess. I was never a fan to be honest, but like everything, now that I bake them myself I will eat them.

The recipe I use makes a lot of mincemeat. I had so much leftover last time that I ended up sending Chub's mum home to Scotland with a jar in her hand luggage. Security stopped her and were going to confiscate the offending item. She explained it was just mincemeat so they opened the jar up for a good sniff and said it would be a shame to throw it away. Herself and the security lady ended up swapping recipes on how to use it up.

I use Neven McGuire's recipe from Neven's Real Food. 'Tis a great book, think I've nearly made everything from it now at this stage. This year I halved the recipe and still have a large Kilner jar of it. I've left the ingredients for the full amount below.

Neven's Aunty Maureen's Mincemeat

350g eating apples
225g raisins
225g sultanas
225g currants
100g mixed peel
175g blanched almonds, chopped
175g dark muscovado sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/2 tsp of freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves 
1/2 tsp salt
225g butter
300ml whiskey

Peel and core the apples, then coarsely grate. Place in a large bowl with the raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, almonds, sugar, orange and lemon zest, spices and salt. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly, then stir into the fruit mixture with the whiskey. 
Leave to stand for 2 days, then stir well and put into sterilised jars and cover. Allow at least 2 weeks to mature before using and up to a year is fine. 

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