I can't tell you how much fun I'm having eating new-to-me Scottish (and British) food these days. I've tried about every meat-encased-in-pastry item in our local bakery, which are all called pies, no matter what shape or size they are. I've tried (and loved) Stovies (a mush of mashed potatoes and corned beef hash mounded on a plate), Coronation Chicken (created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953!), and toasties (remember that George Forman sandwich press in the back of your mother's kitchen cabinet? Put coronation chicken on white bread and Press it Baby)!
Now Christmas is here! That means Christmas foods! Time to pour alcohol all over everything! Pour it in the whipped cream. Pour it in the Christmas Cake, and the Christmas pudding too! Add it to the Trifle - all three layers!
I won't be making a trifle or a Christmas pudding this year, but I've become obsessed with Mince Pies. I read recipe after recipe on-line, and time after time the recipe said the same thing: make the crust, put into pie tins, then add a spoon of jarred mince. JARRED mince! I don't want jarred mince! I need an excuse to be in the kitchen for an afternoon with a glass of wine and a sharp knife.
I asked a lady at my yoga class (it's my yoga class because I've gone more than one time. I went two weeks in a row. Course that was kind of a long time ago - but still) She said "Oh - I don't know if you make mince. I think it just comes in the jar."
HA! I found a recipe at last from the long-acknowledged queen of the British kitchen, Delia, and after a fortnight in the grocery store gathering sultanas, currants, brambly apples, raisins, dries apricots, almonds, and something called "mixed candied peel" I found myself standing in an aisle, staring at a small box marked "Suet," and thinking, "Really? As in BEEF fat??"
I brought it all home and spent a delightful afternoon listening to BBC radio serials and making homemade mince. Mine has Grand Marnier and Oban Whisky in it, because Bob "helped". Now my mince has to sit around for a few weeks, and then I can put it into little pie crusts and bake. I taste it every day, and it's good. So citrusy and deep, sweet and syrupy, but strong and heady too. But how good is my mince really? I'm not even sure what mince is supposed to taste like, having never had it before a week ago. Hmmm... Research!
Yesterday I bought three different boxes of mini mince pies from the grocery: One store brand, one "luxury" box (it had Cointreau in it!!), and one bakery container of mince in puff pastry. I can't do that anymore, because I've found that I'm addicted to mince pies. They're so rich-yet-tangy, and so yummy, and so GONE! 26 mince pies that yesterday came home in a shopping bag no longer exist today. Well, there may be one boozy on left, but ... never mind - Bob says it's gone too.
What next?! I'd try Christmas cake, but you have to start it in early November. You bake it for several days, and then pour whisky all over it, wrap it up, and put it away, taking it out every few weeks to pour more whisky on top. Also - I don't think the kids would go for a whisky-soaked cake. But I guess I could be wrong.
Soon I'll make my mom's famous Christmas Cheddar Crisps with Cayenne (thought of the name all by myself just now!) using the sharpest Scottish cheddar I can find. Just call me Betty Rocker! (Bob does).