Mince Pies and Family Love

Christmas is a pretty big deal in  our house. I think it’s a pretty big deal in most people’s homes. However, with most of my family sprawled out all over the world for the majority of the year, we get to see each other for a short couple of mince pie and mulled wine fueled weeks and then we’re off jetting back to our respectable abodes to begin sharing more e-mails on ideas for our next catch up.

My family, without being totally biased here, are some of the coolest people I know. For starters, my pops, who has the most heart warming of smiles and gives out the greatest of hugs in the world, worked as a cameraman. Traveling the world all over with work, he used to arrive home from trips in the middle of the night and present us with these magnificent gifts like handmade necklaces from South Africa, trinkets from Russia, Tommy Hilfiger trainers from Boston and best of all a big bear hug on arrival 😀 and this year after 37 years of service with RTE, my dad retired.

Our Boss!

My mum, the beautiful, elegant South Dublin redhead. She filled our childhood with beautiful baking, pretty dresses and passing on a grá for the good life. Growing up in South County Dublin she told us tales of going to the dances and what Dublin was like when she was a young girl. My mum also has her own blog where she spreads the word about mindfulness, literature and some quirky insights.

Vintage Hannah…how cool is her car?

These two amazing people raised the Rushe girls 😀 along we came, with a bang! I can’t imagine raising us was an easy task. The music lover, the socialite and the traveler.

My eldest sister lives in Berlin, where she dj’s, I have witnessed said djing and it’s the kind that keeps you on the dance floor, shaking your tush all night long. She also owns a ridiculously amazing bright and colourful wardrobe  and a record collection that would make any hipster squee with delight and also has a serious day job. She runs a blog that is in it’s infancy but has already  become a huge hit. A street fashion blog with a heart, where she combines beautiful photography with gorgeous models and ways for you to get in touch with them. Liz encourages a love of music in me and has introduced me to some very cool music out there.

The middle child, Denise who is  living back at the homeland also has her own blog where she highlights a lot of news and happenings going on in the world of social media. She also set up and runs Sligo Events. Denise works very hard to promote the good name of arts and culture in Ireland. She is extremely passionate about what she does. I love hearing her stories from the festivals, events and markets that are going on at home. She has pushed me to stay in touch with home a lot more, I would have lost touch with a lot of people if it wasn’t for her enthusiasm about people and the importance of communication these days.

As you can see, I admire my family quite a lot. We are so far away from each other for most of the year yet I think we stay in touch so easily. Through the mediums of Twitter, Facebook and our blogs I find that I am as close to my family as if I were living back at home.

Vintage Rushe girls in the 90’s

A few weeks ago I began my Christmas baking, Christmas cake, mini Christmas cakes, cupcakes and mincemeat. I began using the traditional mincemeat recipe from David Liebovitz. It seemed the most reliable and had been recommended to  me by my boyfriend’s sister who is a baking fanatic. After experimenting with the mincemeat and getting used to the process and how it all comes together, I decided to make my own variation. I took a look in the cupboard and put a few ideas together. We had some nice bits and bobs that we had been experimenting with making homemade muesli so I grabbed a bag of goji berries and some shredded coconut and then at the back my hand fell on a bag of bright young things, hazelnuts. Seemed like a good match for me and it was so easy.

Festive pies with a twist

Here is my version of Christmas mince pies:

Ingredients

Fruit mince

100g lard/suet

250g raisins

75g currants

60g goji berries

100g sultanas

100g roast hazelnuts (bake in 180 degrees celcius oven for 8 minutes)

1 grated apple

juice and zest of 1 lemon

Juice and zest of 1 orange

60ml brandy

Handful of shredded coconut

1 teaspoon cinammon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspon grated ginger

For the pies – makes 24

1 kg short crust pastry – used store bought, makes your life easier.

1 quart mince meat

1 egg

2 tspns Cinammon Sugar ( 2 tblspns demerara sugar and 1 tspn cinnamon mixed together)

Method

Weigh out all of your ingredients.

Place all your berries in a wide based sauce pan, add in the lard and heat.

Add in the grated apple, zest and juices.

Sprinkle in the spices, coconut, hazelnuts and brandy.

Allow to simmer and for the berries to absorb all of the juices and alcohol. The smell that fills your kitchen is amazing, it’s Christmas in a pot.

Sterilise* a couple of jars, this mixture filled a 1 litre jar.

Seal the jars and store in the cupboard. Once opened store in the fridge. The mixture should keep in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.

My mince meat was resting for about 3 weeks before I opened it to make these pies, which are amazingly easy.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Grease a cupcake tray, mine hold 12 buns.

Cut out the shapes that you want for your pies, I used big circle, small circle.

Press the big circle pastry into the bun tin and place a spoon of mince meat into it.

Brush the small circle (the lid) with some egg on both sides, place it down on top and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar.

Place in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Dust with some icing sugar and share with your friends, I brought mine into work for our festive afternoon tea, they were demolished 🙂

*To sterlise the jars you can either run your jars and lids through a dishwasher cycle. As I don’t have a dishwasher, I tend to boil my jars in a clean pot and then place on the middle shelf of a cold oven and then heat it to 150 degrees. Use tongs to take your jars from the oven and the glass will be piping hot.

What festive treats are you making this year?

c.a. xx

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