Saturday 11 December 2010

Top Tips For Christmas Part 5

Two food related tips here;

FIRSTclear out the fridge before you do your big Christmas Food Shop. I cannot bear waste, so want to use up all the odd bits and pieces creatively.

marg fridge

I have taken the remaining contents of the chiller drawer and made a huge tray of veg to roast – we will eat them tonight with some cold chicken [and then do the same thing again tomorrow]

Delia has a recipe here – but basically you chop all the veg into large chunks, coat them lightly in oil, season and bake at Very Hot for about 35 minutes. Tonight’s selection includes one sweet potato, a parsnip, a pepper, and 3 carrots, 2 regular potatoes, 2 red onions and a huge courgette – plus three cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in half, and two sticks of celery chopped into 1” lengths [that adds to the flavour. Salt and pepper and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme from the garden.


SECOND if you are planning to bake something special read through your recipe a few days beforehand!

I say this having spectacularly failed to do this myself…

I have never in 31 years of marriage, made my own mincemeat. Bob has always declared he doesn’t like it – so I never bothered. His reasoning being he hates the bits of chopped peel. Last year he saw Delia making some, and she suggested substituting glacé cherries. So he made a very successful batch. It was declared a winner by all who sampled it [ah! now I have  suddenly remembered where that mysterious bottle of cooking brandy came from!!]


This year he said he was way too busy to make any. So I thought “I’ll make him some, as he enjoyed it so much” I printed off the recipe [below]a few days back. It said it took 3 hours to cook. I’d picked up cranberries when they were on offer in Sainsburys and frozen them – and was confident that I had all the other ingredients in the cupboard.


So this morning, I thought “Right, I shall get that mincemeat going and it will be done by lunchtime” and donned my apron

That was when I read “Mix the ingredients and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours can mingle” Decided that I could halve that time and still get it done before this evening. [Yeah I know, Delia’s stuff always works but only if you follow her to the letter, so running a bit of a risk here!]

Then I realised I had plenty of sultanas, but not raisins and currants. So I thought I’d substitute ‘mixed dried fruit’ Only that has peel in it. In an act of love and devotion, I emptied the packet into a bowl and picked out every single bit of peel.

250grams of Asda Smart Price mixed fruit contains this much peel!


I shall have to find a recipe for these [and eat it myself, as Bob won’t!]  Perhaps I can make some date and citrus muffins.

The mincemeat is in the oven now – and looked very festive in the bowl before cooking.



1 lb  fresh cranberries

8 oz  Bramley apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped small

8 oz  shredded suet

12 oz raisins

8 oz sultanas

8 oz  currants

8 oz candied peel, [or glacé cherries] finely chopped

12 oz  soft dark brown sugar

grated zest and juice 2 oranges

grated zest and juice 2 lemons

2 oz  whole almonds, cut into slivers

4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice

½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon

fresh nutmeg, grated

6 tablespoons brandy


All you do is combine the above ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large ovenproof mixing bowl, stirring and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop. After that pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (120°C). Then cover the bowl loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours.

Then remove the bowl from the oven. Don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat – it will look as if it is positively swimming in fat, but this is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time: the fat will coagulate. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir in the brandy. Pack in the jars, which have been washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes to sterilise, cover with waxed discs and seal. It will keep indefinitely in a cool, dry cupboard, but I think it is best eaten within a year of making.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.


  1. I shall add fresh cranberries to mine next year! It will give it a freshness in amongst the sweetness - thanks for the tip

  2. All looks scrummy. I love roated veg but today am doing a simlar approach ratatouille type thing with some pasta sause that needs using. Again will probably do twice but beats waste any time.

    May try the mincemeat next year when citrus is back on my permitted foods list

  3. Good old Delia! I had to giggle at the thought of you picking out the peel...I've done it so many times for my children!

  4. I have been making Delia's mincemeat for many years but my recipe didn't have cranberries. I will remember it for next time. It is a sure winner and much better than anything you can buy. I love roast vegetables, too, and am planning that for our Christmas lunch - nice and quick to do when we get back from Church.

  5. I think I will add fresh cranberies to mine too. Mini adores mincemeat


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