December 24, 2012

Pear + Mincemeat Pies

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there."

And what will be there when St Nick arrives?! A beautiful fruity homemade mince pie with orange scented flaky pastry.

Christmas Eve is a night for family. Sitting in by the fire, watching a movie-all snug. Or, sitting at the kitchen table wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts. Either way its gotta be spent with the family. Christmas is my favourite. Everything about it is magical. I love peoples' generosity, seeing friends you haven't spoken to in years, the cosy ambient glow from the lights on the Christmas tree, family dinners, the scents and smells and especially the food. 

There is no greater feeling then feeding friends and family at Christmas time. Making everybody happy.

 I like homemade at Christmas but for these little beauties because I was stuck for time I added some diced ripe pear to a shop bought jar of mincemeat - it just gives them a real kick up the bum! Sometimes shop bought mincemeat can be a little too sharp but by adding the sweet pear you're mellowing out the harshness and giving a perfumed fruity flavour. Who's going to complain?!

The pastry is a breeze to make and with a jar of mincemeat and two pears you'll have these coming out of the oven just in time for St. Nick!

Merry Christmas!

Holly, x  

Rub together the cold diced butter and flour until the butter is the size of peas. Stir in the orange zest and slowly add the water until the dough comes together.

Either use homemade or shop bought mincemeat for these little pies. 

Dice the pears, don't bother peeling them and mix together with the mincemeat.

Butter and flour a mince pie tray, roll out the chilled pastry, cut into circles and ease them into the tray holes.

Fill the pastry, egg wash the edges, pop on the lids, seal and snip so the air can be released  and they don't explode!

 Recipe, makes 12-14 pies

Orange Pastry

150g Plain Flour
110g Cold Butter, diced
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
60ml Ice Cold Water
1/2 Teaspoon Finely Grated Orange Zest

Sieve the flour into a bowl with the sugar.
Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas.
Stir in the orange zest.
Slowly add in the water until the dough comes together into a ball.
Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 


500g Mincemeat
2 Medium Ripe Pears

Dice the pears and mix with the mincemeat.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Butter and flour a mince pie tray or a muffin tin.
Roll out the pastry and using a scone cutter cut out 12 circles of pastry big enough to fit into your mince pie tray.
Gently ease the pastry into the holes in the tray.
Spoon in 3/4 tablespoon of mice meat.
Re-roll the pastry and cut out 12 slightly smaller circles.
Egg wash the rim of the mince pies.
Top with the smaller circles and make sure to seal the pastry.
Egg wash and using a scissors snip the tops of the pies.
Bake at 200°C. for 20-25 minutes.

December 19, 2012

Pear Vodka + Thyme Lemonade

You can't be without a holiday tipple this Christmas. A little secret weapon you have in your back pocket for unexpected guests, guests at a dinner party or for a night in on the sofa with the girls. I  know I'll  defo be whipping this one out more than once! 

Using herbs in cocktails is the newest 'it' trend; whether it be thyme in this case, rosemary or sage. They're really delicious in your drink once you make a simple syrup out of them. The recipe below makes a cup of simple syrup so you'll have some left over for your fridge. Just make sure to keep it airtight and it'll keep for several weeks.

My drink is a lemonade to go with a light lunch or brunch. You can easily customise yours to suit your holiday festivities by switching up the lemonade with Champagne or Prosecco to make a 'fizz' or ginger beer to make a 'spritzer'. 

Be Merry and Enjoy!


First you need to make the thyme simple syrup; sugar, water and thyme heated until the sugar dissolves and allowed to infuse with the thyme while cooling. 

Everything you need for your holiday tipple: Absolut Pear Vodka, Cointreau, lemonade, thyme simple syrup, fresh thyme, ice and pear. 

Recipe, makes 3-4 drinks

Thyme Simple Syrup

2 Sprigs Thyme
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar

Place ingredients in a small pot.
Place over a medium heat and dissolve the sugar.
Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
Remove the thyme and allow to cool completely. 

80ml Absolut Pear Vodka
80ml Cointreau
500ml Lemonade eg 7Up
120ml Thyme Simple Simple
Ice, 1 Pear, Fresh Thyme Sprigs

Pour the vodka, Cointreau, thyme simple syrup into a pitcher and give a really good stir.
Top up with the lemonade.
Put the ice and some sliced pear into glasses and pour over the 'lemonade'.
Garnish with a few fresh thyme sprigs.

December 13, 2012

Apricot + Amaretto Trifle

Do you ever think negatively about something, but, you have no idea why? Or think that you don't like something-even if you have never tried it? I'm like this with trifle. I think it's a very personal thing-everybody has a certain recipe or their take on a Christmas trifle that they like to stick to. 

Every Christmas my Dad makes the same trifle-a recipe he got years ago from an old neighbour. In the recipe you'll find boudoir biscuits, apricot jam, sliced tinned apricots, Amaretto, shop bought custard and whipped cream. Normally if I was to make a dessert like this, I would bake a vanilla Madeira sponge and cook a thick custard with fresh egg yolks and cream. You know the saying-'if its not broke don't fix it'?. I'm taking it to heart here, I couldn't imagine eating this trifle any other way!

Over the last few weeks I've been asking friends and family about what they think of when they think of trifle. Here are some of the variations: 

1) Boudoir biscuits, tinned fruit, raspberry jelly, custard and cream.
2) Sponge cake, dates and raisins soaked in sherry, custard, cream.
3) Madeira cake sandwiched with raspberry jam, mixed berry fruit compote, custard cream.

Where do you slot in?

December 06, 2012

Brie, Apple and Mustard Toastie

Looking at this sandwich I'm guessing you're thinking lunch? You'd be completely right to think such a thing. I will admit though, I had it for breakfast, well, brunch. I hope brunch doesn't have to be after 12pm....

Today is cold, grey, wet, dull and so dreary. A bowl of cereal with ice cold milk just wasn't going to cut it. For breakfast, sometimes I like to eat toast, a few slices of cheddar cheese with some sliced apple on the side. I opened the fridge this morning to see a honking piece of Brie staring out at me.

I really only had one option and it was to make a toasty. 

Do you see the molten cheese, doesn't it look like the best toastie? The apple softens ever so slightly and releases a tiny amount of juice that mixes with the hot mustard mayo and just makes everything mmmmm. 

I will insist that you make this toastie in a frying pan to get the gorgeous golden crust.


Holly, x

All the ingredients for this toastie are most likely knocking around your kitchen.

Bread+sweet apple+mustard mayo+Brie=one hell of a toastie!

Recipe, Makes 2 Sandwiches for either 1 or 2 people!!

4 Slices Good Quality Bread eg Sourdough
Mustard Mayo-recipe below
1 Medium Sweet Eating Apple
75-100g Brie

Spread bread generously with mustard mayo.
Slice brie and lay on one slice of bread.
Top with the sliced apple and another layer of cheese.
Put on the lid-mayo side down. 
Spread a little butter on the outside of the sandwich.
Heat a frying pan and toast the sandwich on both sides until beautifully crispy, golden and the Brie is molten. 

Hot Mustard Mayo

1 Tablespoon Mayo
1 Teaspoon Grainy Mustard
3/4 Teaspoon Hot English Mustard

Mix all ingredients together.