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Mince Pies

Many times in the last few months, not to mention over the last number of years, I have expressed my opinion on mince pies being in the supermarket far too early … I have said that you shouldn’t eat your first mince pie of the season until it’s December.

Yesterday I ate my first mince pie for this Christmas.

I know! I know! How inconsistent can I be, right?

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But these weren’t any ordinary mince pies! No shop-bought or Mr Kipling varieties here!

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These were homemade mince pies, which I made with my three sisters. The pastry was made by my youngest sister T, who makes melt-in-the-mouth short crust pastry.

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The mincemeat we used in the pies was made by my older sister J, who chopped the apples, finely sliced the almonds and stirred in the currants herself.

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We rolled out, cut out, filled and topped each mince pie between the four of us.

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They were dusted with icing sugar as soon as they came out of the oven – or Aga in my family’s case … wish I had one of those to keep my flat toasty warm! 😉

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We ate the mince pies in front of the cosy wood burner, while they were still warm and fresh out of the oven, while sitting on the hearth-rug and chatting.

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Mince Pie Heaven!

Now don’t you think I’m forgiven for eating my first mince pie before the 1st of December?!

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Sausage, Leek and Cider Casserole

I got asked today if I post recipes on my blog. I said no, because I tend to add a bit of this and a bit of that without measuring it properly. It got me to thinking … I love hearing about other people’s food and flavour combinations and having a go for myself, so maybe you might like to do the same with my creations? Anyway, I thought I would post a few of my recipes from time to time, so let me know if you like it or if you’d rather I went back to my culinary ambiguity! 😉

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Sausage, Leek and Cider Casserole

1 good dessertspoonful of butter or margarine and/or a good dollop of olive oil

2 medium-to-large onions, chopped,

3 big garlic cloves, crushed or chopped (or to taste)

8 sausages, cut in half (I use kitchen scissors!) – I used Cumberland (peppery) pork sausages, but you could use any flavour or type of meat you like – or veggie!

2 regular/1 massive sized carrot/s, cut in half-rings

2-3 sticks celery, chopped

2-3 leeks, cut into large, chunky, whole rings

2 heaped tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

1 regular sized bottle of dry cider – about 500ml

2 heaped tbsp tomato puree

2 overflowing tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (if you can’t get that, try some vinegar and/or mustard)

1 scant tbsp brown or muscavado sugar

150-300ml/as needed hot stock (I used a chicken stock cube)

1 heaped tsp of dried thyme, oregano and sage, or other herbs to taste

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1-2 bay leaves

1 tbsp lemon concentrate (bottled lemon juice) optional

  1. Fry onion in butter/oil for about 5 mins, till slightly translucent, add garlic and cook for another 3-5 mins.
  2. Add halved sausages and fry until nicely browned, but make sure onions aren’t burning.
  3. Add carrots and celery and fry for 5-10 mins, then add leeks and fry for another 10 -15 mins or until all veg very slightly softened/just look right!
  4. Add flour and stir, cooking for 2 mins, until all flour well mixed.
  5. Add cider and mix until the cider has combined to make a sauce, along with extra stock.
  6. Add all the rest of the ingredients except lemon juice, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmering, with a lid on.
  7. Leave to simmer for about 40 mins, stirring occasionally (or if you’re like me – as few times as you can resist! 😉 ) or until veg are cooked to liking.
  8. Add lemon juice and adjusting seasoning towards end.
  9. If needed, remove lid and simmer until your desired stew/casserole consistency has been reached.

The first time I served this in a bowl with boiled new potatoes and crusty white bread, but I have also served with mashed potato and fresh veg, or baked in a pastry pie in the oven. I would also serve this with rice.

For me, this made 3 man-size (or 3 regular and 3 small) portions and freezes really well.

I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Smiling

Here are two things which have really made me smile this week, despite a number of things which have made me very sad …

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L bought me a dozen red roses for our anniversary – not just any red roses, but my very favourite shade of red and my favourite kind of roses!

How can I not smile?!

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I made my hubby a Cherry Pie!

I’ve cooked and baked many things for L, before and during our marriage, and one of the sung favourites has been a Cherry Pie! What’s not to love?!

I am told I inherited my Grandmother’s skill for pastry, so let’s bake!! 😀

What has made you smile this week?! 🙂