Monday, February 23, 2015

SRC: Mini Minemeat Pies

Let me apologize for such the long post.  This particular recipe and challenge was very near and dear to my heart.  If you don't care about reading through all of this just skip to the bottom to get a delicious recipe for a truly British holiday favorite.  These mincemeat pies have a buttery, flaky crust studded with bits of orange zest and it's filled with a boozy mincemeat (dried apples, raisins, spices) filling.

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!
She didn't reserve or cooking and baking just for special occasions either.  Whenever she got the itch she would whip up a batch of scones, gingersnaps, rolls, and other goods.  If I said I wanted to make something; whether it was a pie, tarts, or just some simple cupcakes (made with that jiffy cupcake mix) some simple powdered sugar icing and topped with sprinkles and a candied cherry, she would jump up and we'd go in the kitchen.

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.
When the holiday season started rolling around some of her signature desserts were eclairs (gosh, what I wouldn't give for just one more of her's), tarts filled with lemon curd and just a dollop of whipped cream, and then a traditional English dessert of mincemeat pies with a little dusting of powdered sugar.  I got to help her make these goodies too, and I enjoyed standing right by her side helping every step of the way.

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.
Now, many of you are probably doing exactly what my husband did when I told him what I was making this month.  But before your turn your noses up and go to the next site, let me tell you about it.  While earlier versions did include beef or venison, the versions enjoyed (especially around Christmas in England) are comprised of fruit and more like our fruit pie fillings.  It's most commonly comprised of a mix of dried apples, raisins, candied citrus, spices and sometimes some booze.  It is primarily put in little tarts or pies and baked.  However, I found a variety of recipes on 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.
Thanks so much Karen, for the delicious recipe, the walk down memory lane and a day in the kitchen with my Grandma.  What made making these pies even more special was I used the exact tins (from England) that my Grandma used to bake them in, along with the pastry cutters she used and her rolling pin.  I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge,  I loved reading through your blog; reading some of your stories of England, hearing some of your terminology ("if you fancy", "a wee bit", and "a lashing of whipped cream") and seeing some of your cards and pictures in your postings made me think of my Grandma and recall countless conversations wit her.  I can't wait to make many more of your recipes, to get that taste of England just one more time.

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

For filling-
12 Tbsp mincemeat
Splash of brandy

For topping-
1 Egg
Splash of water
Granulated sugar


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

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Lauren Everson said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your relationship with your grandmother. It's amazing how certain foods can bring you back.
My grandma always made a special dish for each of our birthdays too.

Wendy Klik said...

I enjoyed every word of your post. Memories make the best blog fodder and for a lot of us memories and food are often tied together. Thanks for sharing you grandmother with us.

SallyBR said...

Fantastic post! Pretty involved, and full of nice memories! what could be better than that?


have a wonderful Reveal Monday!

Traci said...

Every Thanksgiving my my mother in law and grandfather have to have mincemeat. Will have to make these smaller versions for them since they are the only ones who eat it then complain how they ate a whole pie by themselves. :) These smaller versions will be a great option for them.

Melissa @ Fried Ice and Donut Holes said...

What a great memory of your grandmother! I've never had mincemeat before, but these pies sound fantastic! Great pick this month :)

Anonymous said...

That's so awesome that you were able to have a little trip down memory lane this month! These mincemeat pies look amazing and Oh so cute!

I had your blog for this month's reveal and it was great being able to look through all your wonderful recipes! I made your Brussel Sprout Slaw! It was really good!

All the best and take care!

Karen Kerr said...

Sweet post =) Love the memories. And cute pies!!

nicole said...

I loved reading your memories with your grandma, it's always great to take a trip down memory lane.

Karen S Booth said...

OH how did I miss this Lynsey - the post wasn't there when I went to bed last night, but here it is this morning, so what a GREAT way to start the day!
What WONDERFUL memories of you and your grandma, and I LOVE your English pie tin too!
I am THRILLED to bits that one if my very English of recipes made it into your kitchen and also brought back memories of your grandma too!
THANKS so much for sharing my recipe with everyone, as well as your precious memories!

Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious said...

Adore your grandma memories and anecdotes. Wonderful SRC pick this month! Sorry it took me so long to get here to comment.

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