Christmas Mince Pies (Vegan)

“Every year I make Christmas mince pies.  Mum’s been doing making them for years but I’m sure mine are better!  She will disagree with this.  Anyway, this version is very tasty and vegan friendly.  Of course, you can make them with a traditional shortcrust pastry but I love the texture of this pastry and it’s really easy to make and work with. This recipe makes enough pastry for about 3 dozen mince pies, so halve it if you don’t need that many. I make the Christmas mince in bulk every year and use it to make Christmas cakes, biscuits and other delicacies. I haven’t given weights for the dried fruit because with this method you can make as much or as little as you like and use a combination of fruits that you like best.  I would also suggest you use less expensive cooking port or it can get expensive. Enjoy!”

(Photos by Gary Corbett)

Ingredients for Christmas mince

  • Sultanas
  • Currents
  • Dates
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Cranberries
  • Cooking port
Method for Christmas mince
  1. Cut up the dried fruit into small pieces or use a food processor.
  2. Place fruit in a large saucepan pour over enough port to saturate the fruit.
  3. Bring the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the port has been incorporated and the fruit has softened. There should be no liquid left in the mixture and the fruit should be glossy and sticky.   (When doing 2kg of dried fruit this takes up to 20 minutes) You can always add more port and keep the mixture on the heat if you want cook it for longer.
  4. Let the Christmas mince cool completely in the saucepan then transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate.  Because of the high amount of natural sugars the Christmas mince will last for ages!
Ingredients for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  • 190g Nutilex (or non-dairy margarine)
  • 190g icing sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
Method for Vegan shortcrust pastry
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and combine until it comes into a ball.  If you mixture is crumbly add a small amount of cold water. If it’s to soft put some more flour in.
  2. Empty mixture onto some plastic wrap and knead into a disc. (This will make it easier to roll out later)
  3. Wrap disc in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
Method for Christmas mince pies
  1. Roll out the pastry until it’s about 5mm thick.
  2. Cut out circles of pastry to fit your pans.  (I have specialty pans that are shallow with a fluted edge that are perfect for these pies)
  3. Press the pastry into the base of each mould so it comes a few centimetres up the side. (Or as deep as you want if you want bigger pies!)
  4. Fill the moulds with the cooled Christmas mince and smooth the top.
  5. Using Christmas cutters make tops for the pies.  I use stars, Santas, Christmas trees or baubles for mine.  You can also enclose the top completely if you like.
  6. Before you put them in the oven you can use an egg-wash, milk or any vegan milks to paint over the pastry tops.  Or you can sprinkle a bit of sugar over them.
  7. Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and starting to brown.
  8. Give to all your family and friends and everyone will love you!

 

Mushroom Pate

“This is such a useful recipe to have in your repertoire.  I use it when catering either on olive bread (as shown) or in pastry cups served with port caramelised onions.  You can also use it to stuff inside chicken breasts or in a beef Wellington.  Or just eat it by the spoonful!  The earthy flavour of the mushrooms complement the sweetness of the onions perfectly and is a great addition to any cheese platter.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 100g eschalots (or red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 700g Swiss brown mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup port
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • 150g butter
  1. Pour hot water over the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate them.
  2. Finely dice the eschalots and cook until translucent in a small amount of butter.
  3. Add the finely chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Chop the porcini and Swiss brown mushrooms into small pieces and add to the pan.  Once they have softened add the thyme, port and lemon juice and simmer until most of the liquid have evaporated.
  5. Transfer mixture to a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Chop the butter into small chunks and add to the pate until incorporated.
  6. Transfer to 2 ramekins and cover with clarified butter.

Port Caramelised Onions

  • 4 red onions
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Port
  1. Dice onions and cook in a pan with a small amount of olive oil.
  2. Stir in sugar and cook on medium heat until onions have softened and taken on some colour.
  3. Add half the Port and stir occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Repeat with the remaining Port and cook until the onions are dark shiny, adding more Port if necessary.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and serve with mushroom pate and Olive bread