Monday, February 23, 2015
My Grandma, my mom's mom, was born and raised in England. It wasn't until she married that she made the trek across the pond to live in the states. So, she was able to partake in traditional English foods and desserts, and fortunately for us she brought her love for that food with her when she ventured to the states.
Many of my afternoons, weekends and summer days were spent in the care of my Grandma. Which meant I got to experience some of the more traditional British foods. I didn't think anything of her whipping up something like Yorkshire pudding, steak and kidney, or tea and crumpets on a regular basis. I now know just how rare some of the foods I enjoyed as a kid are here in the states.
I loved being able to eat all these foods my Grandma grew up enjoying. I also loved when she went to her English Girl's party. There were about 8 ladies that had come to the states and they all ended up in the same town, so about once a month they would make English goodies and they'd get together, visit, have tea and eat some delicacies from their home. She would take me to these parties and I would get to hear stories as well as indulge!
My Grandma had a passion for being in the kitchen and she used those talents to pass on goodies, especially around birthdays and Christmas. For every birthday each child and grandchild got their favorite dessert that was just for them to enjoy. Most kids and grand kids wanted lemon curd, so she saw to it that they got a jar on or maybe a day or two before their birthday. My mom, well she liked rhubarb, not rhubarb pie because she doesn't care for the crust, so she got a bowl full of homemade rhubarb pie filling.
She didn't skimp at Christmas either. Every family; her kids and even grand kids that were out on their own, got a tin of fudge. And not one of those tiny tins that would hold like 4 pieces of fudge, we're talking at least a 6x6 tin that had about 3-4 layers of fudge. I loved walking into her house around Christmas time; the chocolate aroma filled the air and there wasn't a flat space in her kitchen, den or on her dining room table that wasn't lined with fudge. And if you touched a piece, oh boy, were you in trouble! But, she would always reserve a few pieces and set them aside for me so I could "test them out" before they left her house!
Many of my fondest memories are in the kitchen. It started with simple cookies or cupcakes when I was younger, as I got older she taught me more techniques and recipes that were more in depth. She passed along a lot of her recipes and little tips and tricks to me, which I still use in my cooking today.
So, this month when I came across mincemeat pies on Karen's blog, Lavendar and Lovage, my memories of standing by my Grandma and helping her in the kitchen instantly flooded my mind. I knew exactly what I was going to make for this month's Secret Recipe Club challenge, mini mincemeat pies just like I enjoyed with my Grandma.
Lavendar and Lovage that included minemeat as well as a recipe for homemade mincemeat.
Once I talked Spencer into giving these a chance I rushed into the kitchen to start making these little pies that I enjoyed throughout my childhood. Karen's version has a pastry that included orange zest and juice, which I thought complimented the warm spices of the mincemeat beautifully. The pastry was perfectly buttery and flaky with a hint of tang from the oranges. The filling was just as I remembered; chunks of apples and raisins accompanied by molasses and warm spices. The top crust has a light crunch thanks to the sprinkle of sugar dusted over the top before baking. I even gave them a dusting of powdered sugar, just like Grandma, right before serving.
Want to read more about mincemeat and it's history? Check out these articles from Huffington Post and Wikipedia.
Mini Mincemeat Pies
For the pastry-
1 1/2 Cups + 2 tsp (225grams) self-rising flour
1 Stick (115 grams) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
12 Tbsp mincemeat
Splash of brandy
Splash of water
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a tart tin (or shallow cavity muffin tin) with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Add butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or your hands until fine crumbs are formed. Add the orange zest and stir to combine. Add the orange juice a little at a time, mixing in with a fork or knife, until the mixture comes together. Form in a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes.
Add a splash of brandy to the mincemeat, unless the mincemeat already includes booze.
Pull the pastry dough from the refrigerator. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Roll dough to the same thickness as a pie crust, cut 12 larger circles to fit in the cavity of your pan. Re-roll and cut 12 slightly smaller circles, this will be the tops to your pies.
Place the larger circles in the pan, spoon in mincemeat, top with the smaller circles (pinching the top layer and bottom layer of dough together gently to seal). Snip the top of each pastry to form an air hole.
Whisk egg and a splash of water together. Brush over the pastry and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for about 3-5 minutes. Gently loosen the tarts and transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Have a little extra mincemeat? Use it to make these mincemeat scones. That's what I'll be doing this week. I can't wait to try them!
Recipe source: Lavender and Lovage