It all started with a small post from one of my twitter friends and I realised that October is gone. Autumn was here and yes it was sly. It would soon be winters. Like the seasonal migratory birds visiting the city, the woolen garments would also resurface from the closet. Certain nip in the air in the morning would soon give its way to the morning dew. Although, the inevitable complaining about the days getting shortened would start soon, it was as if the Sun was not living up to the promise of working full time and like summers, was not setting in at 6.30 PM. The dilemma of keeping the AC running would soon end. The beds would start having a new sleeping partner with promises of adultery also, as the quilts or the blankets have an exciting ability to provide the warmth whenever needed. You could confide almost everything with them. Whispers, tears, story books, late night long phone calls to the special one, love and separation too. So many memories would remain within the quilts. Like a true confidant, when they would bid goodbye at the season end, the memories would be temporarily buried but not forgotten.
Its winter. Its a pleasure shopping vegetables in this season. Although I am not a passionate grocery or vegetable shopper, but remember those days very fondly, when a little boy used to go to the vegetable market walking almost 2 Kms, holding his father’s hand. No hired vehicles or rickshaws, as that was considered a luxury. Instead it was Baba’s stories, mathematical puzzles and endless chit chat, which used to make me forget the pain of walking. We used to come back with almost all shades of greens inside the bags with dashes of other fresh colours, sprinkled here and there and Baba wore a look of Julius Ceasar, beaming in the glory of his purchases.
With winter, now the kitchen and hence the dining table also gets some face lift with more varieties and colours present. If its a feast, then let the feast begin.
Read – This is what we did last winter . Some memories and some recipes. Isn’t food all about memories
I wrote this at the beginning of November and entire November we kept on looking for winter. It was almost as if it was availing a train which was supposed to come yesterday but reached late, very very late. Its a week to Christmas now and with 10 days left to bid goodbye to the year, as the mercury drops a little, we are elated and Madhushree and Tugga (oh yes, he is a serious baker these days), bakes these beauties the next day.
Pin for future reference
Mince Pies- My Favourite Christmas Delight
For Mince Meat / Pie filling
- 100 gms dark raisins
- 100 gms golden raisins
- 100 gms dried black currants
- 30 gms dried cranberries
- 100 gms dried figs
- 50 gms dates deseeded and chopped
- 100 gms mixed candied peel chopped
- 100 gms candied cherries chopped
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1/4 tsp clove powder optional
- 90 ml brandy
- 90 ml dark rum little extra for later
- 55 gms Butter
- 140 gms Brown sugar
- 190 ml apple juice
- 2 nos Granny Smith Apples cored and peeled and chopped
- 1/4 tsp Salt
For Short Crust Pastry Dough
- 4 1/4 cups Flour
- 2 cups plus 1 tbsp Butter cubed and chilled
- 3/4 cup Caster sugar
- 1 no egg for egg wash
- 1 no large orange
- icing sugar for dusting optional
For making the mince meat/ pie filling
- In a heavy bottomed pan, boil all the ingredients of the mince meat over medium heat till the liquid is evaporated. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes and keep stirring from time to time to avoid the dry fruits to stick to the bottom.
- Once it becomes all mushy and sticky, add more rum or brandy after removing from the heat. Once cooled down, it can be used in the pies.
- It can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a month. If using later, bring it to room temp for filling the pie shells for easier handling.
For making the short crust pastry and the pie
- Sift the flour in a bowl and place the chilled and cubed (small ones) butter in it. With your fingers, rub the butter with the flour till the butter mixes with all the flour and resembles a grainy crumbly texture. Add the castor sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mix. Pour the juice of one orange and the entire grated orange zest into the well. If the orange is very small, you may need a little bit of extra orange juice. It is completely on judgement. There should be just about enough orange juice to bring this dough together. It should not be too moist also.
- Now flatten the dough, cut in into 2 batches and cover it completely in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. I like to keep the pastry in batches, since it is easier to roll out, when in small batches.
- In the meanwhile pre heat the oven at 180 degree Celsius.
- After 20 minutes, take the dough out and place it on a cling film on both sides. I find it easier to roll on pastry using the cling film, since it reduces the chances of the pastry breaking or sticking to the rolling pin. You can use butter paper for the same too or simply dust the surface with extra flour for rolling.
- Using a rolling pin, start rolling out the pastry to about 2- 3 mm thickness. Remove the cling film from top. Take a round cookie cutter little bigger in size than the size of your pie shells. Cut out round shapes and place them in your pie shells.
- With your fingers, line the entire pie tray with the pastry. Once it is complete, scoop out mince meat into the shells till the top.
- Roll out rest of the pastry and cut out star shapes and place them on top of the mince meat. Brush the top of the stars with some egg wash. If you do not want to use eggs, then just brush with some milk.
- Bake the pies in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes or till its golden. After 20 minutes, take the tray out. Let it cool down a bit. Then using a knife, gently lift the side of each pie and tip it out of the tray.
- When the pies are completely cool, sprinkle some icing sugar if you want to. The mince pies are generally very sweet and do not require extra icing sugar. You can store them in air tight containers. Good luck trying to keep them for a longer period of time. They are very addictive.
- Use any combination of dried fruits. However, candied peel, fig and the currants are a must.
- If you cannot find granny smith apples, use any other apple. The next best would be Washington apples.
- The pastry can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. However bring it to almost room temp before rolling