29 December, 2009

christmas food

Christmas is not a time to go on a diet
I love to bake at Christmas
and this year I really did quite a bit

My mom was always a great Christmas baker
There were always Christmas cookies
but more than that I loved her pies
Very early on she relegated the job of the 
Christmas pudding to me and I became quite
adept at it, however, what I've missed most
since leaving home is my parents mincemeat
We're not talking the kind in a jar
but a serious mincemeat that took a long
time to cook and was put into the basement 
cold room for months
I've tasted a lot of mincemeats (warily I might
add because of the meat content and I am picky
about meat) but NONE can match her recipe
My father was a hunter and they always put deer 
meat and suet in their recipe
I am not a big fan of game meat but it did make a
huge difference in the mincemeat
a lot of people put in beef, but really it is not the same
I have thought for many years that I would try it
but didn't think that I was up for the task or commitment
and even if I found deer meat (which surprisingly is fairly easy)
I didn't think that I wanted to use it
Then a while ago I picked up the Christmas baking issue
of Cooks Illustrated magazine and there was a "no fail" mincemeat recipe
using no meat
For some reason this recipe stuck with me and I said that I 
was going to try it
I went out and bought all the ingrediants and planned on making 
it closer to Christmas
We were having friends over for Christmas dinner so I figured
no time like the present to try out the recipe (while making
a cherry pie as backup just in case)
Turns out that there are not a lot of mincemeat lovers
out there (no surprise) but I LOVED this recipe
and I have to say that it tastes quite close to my 
parents recipe
It is quite easy to make (although in total takes about 4 hours)
I've printed out the recipe below. If you try it let me know how it turns 
Note: that the pie crust they use contains vodka but I've used
Martha's Stewart's pie crust recipe (always use it and my pie crust always 
turns out great) I see no reason to put vodka in your pie crust
I also used brandy in this recipe which my mother never did
Modern Mincemeat Pie

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled,cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 large McIntosh apples, peeled,cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 c golden raisins
1 c currents
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 c diced candied orange peel (optional)
Grated zest and juice from 1 orange
Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tso ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c apple cider, plus more as needed
1/3 c rum or brandy
Place all the ingrediants except for 1/2 c cider and the rum in a large,
heavy saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer
gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens
and darkens in color, about 3 hours, adding more cider as necessary to prevent
Continue cooking,stirring mixture every minute or two,until it has a jamlike 
consistency, about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining cider and rumand cook
until liquid in pan is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes; cool mixture.
(At this point the mincemeat can be refridgerated for several days).

To assemble and bake the pie:

Adjust oven rack to middle of oven and heat to 400 degrees.
Roll out pie dough. Put filling in pie dough and cover with second piece of
pie dough (as normal pie construction instructions)
Cut 3 or 4 slits in top of pie for air to escape.
If dough is very soft put in freezer for 10 minutes ebefore cooking.

Bake until crust is light golden brown, 25 minutes.Rotate pie and reduce oven
temperature to 350 degrees; continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is
deep golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Transfer pie to rack and cook to room temperature before serving.