I’ve taken on what my mum used to do over Christmas. She was just amazing, and made everything herself. There was gammon in the oven on Christmas Eve – I can still remember the smell – and then on Christmas Day we had turkey, bread sauce, different types of stuffing, red cabbage, the works. You name it, we had it. What I loved was that there was always Christmas cake at about 4pm, and then Christmas tea again at 8pm. Gammon, chicken liver pate, quiches, raised pies: a constantly rolling buffet.
I remember my mum cooking for weeks before, and it’s the same in my house now. My mum died when I was 16 years old. The first Christmas after that we spent at my aunt’s, but after that my sister and I and my dad cooked together and it’s been like that ever since. You can get stressed by it, but it’s OK if you do it together.
I like making treats, so I’m always making truffles, fudge and boxes of sweets as presents for people. I always make my own mincemeat, and our Christmas pudding recipe is originally from my great grandmother.
When I’m making my mince pies I use a little less mincemeat. Then when it’s cooked I pipe in a little amaretto cream. Baileys works really well, too. It’s an extra surprise mouthful.
- 1 jar mincemeat
- Dried figs, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp orange liqueur
- 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg white, beaten
- Brown sugar, for sprinkling on top
- Double cream
- Icing sugar
- Almond liqueur
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. In a bowl, combine the mincemeat, dried figs, orange zest and orange liqueur. Take the short- crust pastry, cut into rounds with a cookie cutter and place them into a cupcake tray.
- Fill each pie with the mincemeat mixture. Take the puff pastry and cut out rounds with a slightly smaller cookie cutter and place on top of the pies. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle over some brown sugar.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden brown. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack. In a bowl, combine the double cream, icing sugar and almond liqueur and whisk until thickened. With a kitchen syringe or a piping bag, squirt some of the mixture into each pie before serving.