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
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.
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