The PERFECT Mince Pie?!
I've been searching far and wide for the very best mince pies. My research has been extremely thorough and, as always, VERY fair.
But the trusted ladies at Good Housekeeping give a superb summary of 2021's top mince pies and anything I do cannot really match their rigorous testing procedure.
Slightly shocked to see Costa's gluten-free and vegan option quite so high on the list, but hey-ho, I guess we are in the 21st century and in the middle of a pandemic, so I think I'll let this one pass.
For those of you that have time to kill and fancy having a go at making your own, I would highly recommend Felicity Cloake's recipe for buttery, crumbly pastry and sweet, fruity mincemeat. But I mainly like it because I'm a sucker for a star biscuit cutter (see recipe at the end of this newsletter for example no.2).
Reply to this email with what makes the perfect mince pie in your eyes and WHO makes the best?!
Your Questions Answered: Go Green This Christmas
"I'll never give up the Turkey, but I'd love to know some other ways that I can reduce my carbon footprint this Christmas!" From Emma, North London
Answered by Michelin starred, Adam Handling.
Adam is Chef and Owner of Ugly Butterfly, a Cornwall-based restaurant championing sustainability and reducing food waste.
From working as a chef for many years now, I have learnt how to make my cooking as planet-friendly as possible. But Christmas can be a time that many of us 'overdo' it slightly with our food and drink offerings. So here are some of my top tips to make your Christmas a little greener.
As boring as it is, a meal plan and a strict shopping list do make a difference. You'll always end up grabbing some of those 'end-of-the-aisle' selection boxes, but hopefully going in with a plan will help prevent you buying too much excess.
Shop Local and Reduce Packaging
Christmas can be a great time to support local producers and as well as reducing your food miles. I also find that this is one of the easiest ways of cutting down on excess packaging and plastic as many farmshops and grocers will have the option of paper bags and encourage you to bring your own containers.
Cut down on food waste
The Good Food portion planner is a great resource to stop you over catering and only have a manageable amount of leftovers.
Using all your leftovers, including vegetable and meat scraps in stocks, soups and stews does make a big difference. Anything you can't recycle into another meal can go in the compost!
And finally, choosing seasonal veg is best! Red cabbage, parsnips, carrots, British potatoes, artichokes are all in season in the UK - so make the most of them whilst they are in their prime!
This Week's Recommendation: English Sparkling Wines
Our resident wine expert, Benjamin Donnadieu, from Liberty Wines gives his top 3 suggestions on Britains best bubbly!
Stopham Estate, Brut
This Brut has aromas of honeyed brioche and baked apple. On the palate, it is full and creamy with a well-balanced sweetness. This wine soft and elegant with a citrusy finish.
Perfect for shellfish canapés or starters like dressed crab and prawn cocktail. It's also great with creamy cheeses like ricotta and soft cheese.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, Classic Cuvée
With scents of grapefruit, red apple on the nose and then a focus of zesty acidity tempered by the wine’s creamy texture and rich, biscuity notes.
It is a great accompaniment to earthy flavours like tarragon and wild mushrooms, but also delicious with the gamey flavours of venison and pheasant.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, Rosé
This wine has a red-fruit style that beautifully showcases the increased presence of Pinot Noir within the blend.
I like to serve this wine with aromatic dishes like duck and ginger spring rolls or fruit-based desserts like a Black Forest meringue or poached spice pears.
This Week's Recipe: Brunsli Chocolate Cookies
Recipe from Ottolenghi's, SIMPLE
Anyone from Switzerland will tell you that these should only be made with cinnamon and cloves and only be baked and eaten at Christmas. But I'm with Ottolenghi on this one and I think they are too good to only have at Christmas. And I love his addition of a few extra spices to really get you in the festive spirit....
These biscuits have a chocolatey with a chewy-brownie like texture that are irresistibly moreish. Case closed - these are to be eaten all year round!
Makes around 18 cookies
270g ground almonds
250g granulated sugar, plus
10g extra to sprinkle
40g icing sugar, sifted
40g Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 orange: ﬁnely grate the zest to get 1 tsp
1½ tsp Chinese 5-spice
¼ tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan.
- Place the almonds, granulated sugar, icing sugar, cocoa powder, orange zest, Chinese 5-spice and salt in the bowl of a free-standing mixer, with the dough hook in place. Mix on a medium speed, until combined. With the mixer still working, add the egg whites and vanilla and continue to mix for 1–2 minutes, until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Tip the dough out on a clean surface, shape into a ﬂat disc about 3cm thick and wrap in cling ﬁlm. Place in the fridge for about an hour, to rest.
- Cut out two pieces of parchment paper, 40 x 40cm. Unwrap the dough from its cling ﬁlm, place in the middle of the two sheets of paper and roll out to form a circle about 22cm wide and 1½cm thick. Using a 7cm wide star-shaped pastry cutter (or whichever pastry cutter you are using), cut out the stars and place on a large parchment-lined baking tray. Press together the scraps of dough and roll out again, cutting out more stars as before. Continue until all the dough has been used, then sprinkle with the 10g of granulated sugar.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly crisp and the middles are soft and gooey. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool