Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mincemeat and More

Often we have part of a jar of mincemeat unused, or more likely we don't have quite enough, so here are some hints and tips.
To make a jar of mincemeat it go half as far again try one or more of the following:
To each pound (or jar) of mincemeat add 1 large cored and grated cooking apple.
Add 1 - 2 oz (25 -50g) ground almonds.
Add the zest and juice of one orange.
Give it more of a kick by adding whisky, rum, brandy, sherry.
Add a handful of dried fruit which has been soaked overnight in orange juice or above spirit.

This recipe can use up the last few tablespoons of mincemeat. No need to be too accurate, just use what you have. Although this will freeze, and I have given directions for this, it takes almost as long to reheat as it does to make from fresh, so I would be inclined not to freeze.
Apple and Mincemeat Layer: serves 6-8 (F)
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
2 eating apples, peeled and cored
3 rounded tblsp mincemeat
1 egg
2 oz (50g) self-raising flour, sifted
glace cherries and almonds to decorate
Begin by greasing an 8" (20cm) sandwich tin with one third of the butter. Sprinkle the tin with one third of the sugar. Prepare the apples and cut each into 4 or 6 rings, arranging and overlapping these on the bottom of the tin. Spread over the mincemeat. Cream together the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg gradually, beating well. Lightly fold in the flour and spread this batter over the mincemeat making sure it is covered completely. Bake at 180, 350F, gas 4 for about 35 minutes until well risen and the cake is firm and spongy. Turn out onto a warm plate (so the apples are then on the top). If you wish decorate with halved glace cherries and flaked nuts. Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.
To freeze: turn out onto a flat plate, cool, open freeze until solid then wrap. Use within 3 months. To serve from frozen: unwrap, place in original tin, fruit side down, and reheat for 30 minutes at above temperature or until heated through. Serve as above.

Other cake or traybake recipes can be adapted to use mincemeat instead of jam or dried fruits. Make a Bakewell Tart (traditionally called a Pudding), by lining a shallow baking tray with shortcrust pastry, and - instead of covering with jam, spread over some mincemeat. Make a sponge topping in the normal way but include a little mixed spice instead of the almond flavouring into the cake batter, then bake in the normal way.

Make a hot and cold dessert by serving scoops of icecream topped with a spoonful of hot mincemeat. Or make some home-made icecream and stir mincemeat into this before freezing. Makes a superior type of rum and raisin.

Although the following suggestions are intended to use left-over cheese after the festivities, we often have oddments left over any time of the year, certainly of the more standard hard cheeses, so as the following potted cheeses will freeze for up to 2 months, worth making up a few now ready for the unexpected guest or party time. These cheese spreads go very well with salted biscuits, so make up a batch from left-over shortcrust by the method given last Sunday I think it was.
Potted Blue Cheese: (F)
Use up the left-over blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Stilton, Dolcelatte, Danish Blue, Roqueforte etc. Crumble, grate, mash or process together with softened butter (1 part butter to 4 parts cheese, by weight). Stir in a little brandy (2 tsp to each 10oz blended cheese/butter). Pot up , Keep chilled in the fridge for a few days or to freeze, pot up, wrap well, and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw for four hours in the fridge.

English Potted Cheese: (F)
Use oddments of any hard English cheeses: Cheddar, Lancashire, Cheshire, Red Leicester etc. Grate as finely as possible, and mix with softened butter - this time one part of butter to six parts of cheese. Add one of the following to taste (working on 14 oz blended mix): 1 level tsp made mustard; 2 tsp Madeira wine; 2 tsp finely chopped chives; freshly ground black pepper, ground mace, or ground nutmeg (each to taste). Pile up mix into small pots. To serve, rough up tops with a fork and garnish each pot with a sprig of parsley. Serve chilled with celery, cheese biscuits. Also good spread on toast.
To freeze: as for the recipe above.

Whether a large family gathering, or party time - the more you can make ahead to freeze, the easier it becomes. Here are some sandwich fillings, so either make up sarnies in the normal (boring) way, or turn them into something more interesting such as Pinwheels. Vary the breads - white or brown. To make Pinwheels
remove the crusts from slices of bread and roll out each slice (as used) with a rolling pin to flatten. Butter one side, cover with chosen filling, and roll up like a Swiss Roll. Wrap each tightly in cling film or greaseproof and chill for at least one before slicing into rings. To freeze: overwrap the rolled and filled bread with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw for 4 hours at room temperature before unwrapping and slicing.
Chicken and Tomato Filling:
12 oz (350g) cooked chicken, finely minced
1 dessp horseradish sauce
2 tblsp tomato relish
1 good tblsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together well and season to taste.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Filling:
6 oz (150g) blue cheese (Dolcelatta type), rind removed
same amount of cream cheese (Philadelphia)
1 oz (25g) walnut pieces, finely chopped
1 oz(25g) raisins or sultanas, finely chopped
Mix all ingredients together.

Creamy Cheese with Herbs Filling:
12 oz (350g) cream cheese (Philadelphia)
2 tblsp finely chopped chives
2 tblsp finely chopped parsley
1 shallot, grated
half tsp paprika or cayenne pepper
Put the cheese into a bowl and mash/work in the remaining ingredients until soft and spreadable.

Crab and Gherkin:
3 x 40g jars crab paste
1 small tin dressed crab, drained
3 pickled gherkins, finely chopped
1 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp tomato ketchup or puree
salt and pepper
Put everything into a bowl and mix well together. Season to taste.
Tip: recycle paste jars - they make very good containers for water when painting with water colours.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Pinwheels:
Spread the bread (preferably brown) with a little butter. Cover this with cream cheese and this with thin slices of smoked salmon. Brush with a little lemon juice and sprinkle over a little freshly grated black pepper. Roll up as above, wrap and chill or freeze.

, then pour over the cream sauce, sprinkle with the cheeses and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour or until the vegetables are tender and the cheese is bubbling and golden.