Anybody who knows me is well aware of my love for all things Christmas related, particularly Christmas food and drink. Christmas has always been a time for me to indulge a little with my cooking. I will invariably prepare enough food for a a small army, continually worry people may go hungry ,so make some more and then spend the period up to and including New Year eating left overs.
Having spent the last few Christmases in Finland, I have slowly come to appreciate Christmas ham, lanttulaatikko and rice porridge with dried fruit soup. However I still need my English traditions and chief among these are mince pies. As a child I hated mince pies and it was only when I made my own mincemeat, that I realised just how good they can be. For those of you not in the know, mincemeat does not actually contain any meat. The term comes from the medieval period when small spiced meat pies were traditional served at Christmas. The meat element has long since vanished, but the tasty spiced fruit element remains.
The recipe below is for a Vegan mincemeat (shop bought mincemeat can often contain animal suet) it needs to be made a least 3 weeks before use so the flavours can develop and mature. I use a mixture of dried cranberries and raisins, but you can easily swap these for dried blueberries or sultanas if you prefer. For any Finns who have never tasted a mince pie, my friends here tell me they are like glögi in a pie form! However mincemeat can also be used in many other ways; stuffed into baked apples, served with yoghurt and granola for breakfast, or used in spiced fruit crumbles or cakes. Nearer Christmas I will be posting the finished product, hopefully using both a vegan and a vegetarian pastry so I can compare the results. Right now, my mincemeat has been prepared and is sitting in my pantry happily maturing for Christmas.
So why not give it a try?
Vegan Mincemeat – makes 2 jars of around 300 ml
100g dried cranberries
150g dried figs, roughly chopped
30g flaked almonds
1 sweet soft apple grated (in the UK i use Bramley, in Finland i use Lopo)
zest and juice of 2 clementines
7 tbsp Agave syrup
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
Simply mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and then pour into sterilised jars. The mincemeat should be made at least 3 weeks in advance and can be kept for around 2 months. Once opened store in the fridge and use within a week.