Delia Smith’s caramelised mince pies

Food at the hotel fits with the philosophy: simple, locally-sourced and sustainable. It’s hard to know just what ‘sustainable’ means, but chef Tom Hunter defines ‘local’ as no farther than Europe which means sacrificing exotic fruits on the menu. Popular dishes include local Primrose Herd pork with rhubarb, shellfish in the summer, beef from the fabulous Cornish butcher’s, Philip Warren, based in Launceston and fish from local man James Eaton who brings in whatever he happens to have caught that day. Tom’s belief is in long-term, face-to-face relationships with suppliers.

Delia is still cool after all these years. Despite the rather sanitised covers of her How To Cook 1, 2 and 3 series of the 1990s matching her staid TV appearances, she still kicks a*** in the kitchen when it comes to ‘real’ cooking. ‘Real’ being a series of chapters aimed at teaching skills rather than indulgence in food porn.

So the time of mince pies is upon us and I have thrown myself into the arms of Delia for guidance. Along with the usual annual shocking revelations that yes, mincemeat once contained meat (and still does if you count suet) and that Chaucer and Pepys both enjoyed the little pies, there is the expected round-up of supermarket bests (yawn).

Whether you were caught up in the marketing for Heston’s pine-dusted/toilet cleaner version for Waitrose, are a fan of M&S’s The Collection All Butter range (sounding unnervingly like an underwear collection for the re-make of Last Tango In Paris ahem) or go all out on The Duchy’s organic offerings (wins in the bourgeois smug stakes), there really is no point in buying mince pies from a supermarket. Why? Because mass-produced pastry cannot fail to be anything other than a mouthful of woolly blanket (something I haven’t sucked on since a child and I don’t want to pay for the privilege now).

The bunny’s guide to mince pies from ideal through to compromise:

Compromise: go to a small local bakery such as Baker Tom and buy your mincers.

Almost ideal: make your own pastry but buy your own mincemeat (the most expensive you can get) – tart it up with a slug of brandy or zest in an orange.

Ideal: make your own pastry, your own mincemeat and wallow in your own domestic bliss like the best organic free-range Gloucester Old Spot in s***.

Click here for Delia Smith’s Caramelised Mincemeat Ravioli and here for her seriously easy  (and delicious) flaky pastry. She says it makes 30 – I got 16 rather large squares but still bite-sized. These little Italian tributes to pasta re-write the spherical dullness of mince pies, all in a fail-safe, light, crispy pastry. Only downside to the squareness: no lid to take off and fill with clotted cream – blob it on top and eat quickly instead. Xanthe Clay and Beth Sachs both make their own mincemeat, check out Beth’s blog too for making mince pies for freezing in advance.

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10 thoughts on “Delia Smith’s caramelised mince pies

  1. Great ideas. I take the photos are of the ones you made yourself? I usually make my own too – by buying a jar of mincemeat and adding more booze, grated apple and more fruit – usually anything dried and a bit tropical.

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    • Hi Sue, how are you? ah, taking a bought mincemeat and adding to it – hadn’t thought of that, even better idea. yep, the photos all mine – more about the good camera than any skill! have you started baking any mince pies yet?

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  2. Susie White

    Yum -they look amazing and you take the photo’s yourself? Is there no end to your talents? This is the best food blog ever -it makes me want to visit Cornwall. Cambridge does not have the same amount of artisan craftspeople dedicated to good produce, or so it seems! I add chopped walnuts to my mincemeat along with orange or lemon rind. It’s delish!

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  3. sarah brobin

    I love making mince pies with the kids not shore there entirely edible mind , little fingers have a way of finding all manor of unsavory things to add no mater how often there washed.
    still the kids love it and they really don’t mind when I say its ok you have mummy’s mince pie

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  4. Beth Bowdler

    Christmas always seems to creep up on me. One minute it’s weeks away then suddenly here we are and it’s only a week away. There never seems to be enough time to do everything. So …. I will have to confess: this morning I walked into town and bought a couple of boxes of buttery mince pies from M&S. When the time comes to serve I’ll prise the lids off and add a “little” brandy (always welcome) and finish them off with the mandatory dollop of crusty clotted cream. Trouble is, of course, shop bought ones never look (or more importantly, taste) homemade, do they? And I always (every year without fail) feel really guilty about not making my own. Perhaps next year?

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