|... made them!|
One small triumph occurred just before Christmas when I decided to try making my own mincemeat (yes, first time, but I have never really liked mince pies much so never felt inspired to try harder than just making some sweet pastry and buying a jar). The best bit was realising that I didn't need to go out and buy any ingredients - everything I needed was already in my kitchen cupboards or fruit bowl. I even had half a box of vegetarian suet - not an ingredient I normally have knocking around because until recently I've never had a use for it.
I happened to have some because I needed it to make some Chilean potato cakes which appear in my book The Adventurous Vegetarian. The way it behaved was really interesting - the recipe involves mixing some cooked, mashed potato with some very finely grated raw potato, along with the little suet pellets, shaping into cakes and frying in fairly deep oil. As the potato cakes fry, the suet melts and little holes with sizzling edges appear. The potato cakes end up crispy all the way through. Potato cakes are generally a good thing as far as I am concerned, as long as they are hot and more potato than flour, and these were particularly good in terms of texture. Now I've used up all the left over suet in my mincemeat but having remembered those potato cakes I might need to get some more in.
I managed to create one very big jar of mincemeat which so far has only gone into mince pies, but there were two other ideas that appealed to me - I think both of them were in BBC Good Food over Christmas. One is a variation on Chelsea or cinnamon buns, nice spiral shaped yeasted breads with mincemeat rolled in, and a drizzle of white icing. If there isn't much cinnamon in evidence I might add some to the icing, because I like cinnamon. The recipe also appealed to me because I have some live yeast in the fridge waiting for me to have the patience for some slow bread-making. Knocked up some nice plain white rolls yesterday and a pretty good soup with some near-dead tomatoes from the bottom of the fridge and some of the brave basil on my kitchen windowsill, so that's half the yeast gone, the rest is definitely ringfenced for mincemeat swirly buns.
The other recipe was a mincemeat 'amandine' which appears to be a close relative of a Bakewell tart (and here I am referring to the flat slices that are despised by the townsfolk of Bakewell). I was drawn to it because at the time I had accrued a lot of ground almonds - but since then I have used almost all my stash making little chewy star-shaped biscuits with a meringue topping which were pretty good and made me want to experiment with coffee flavoured meringue topping. The amandine might have to be shelved.