Inverness Botanic Gardens » Uncategorised » Festive Blog from chef Ben

Seasons Greetings!

Finally some positivity and excitement starts to filter through the Highlands, as the warm glow of Christmas begins to filter through the darkening skies, it is time to get indulgent.

I’m quite certain, by now, if you follow this blog, that you will know I don’t do a lot in the way of super healthy food stuffs. I will come the new year, but now is not the time for that. . . It is the time for mincemeat – the most confusing word in the English language! I can happily assure you that no animals are minced in the process!

A good mincemeat needs about 2 weeks to really get those wonderful flavours infused so now is the time to get yours ready for the holidays.

You will need:

  • 125ml Brandy
  • 85g Chopped mixed peel
  • 625g currants/raisins or a mix of both
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 300g vegetable suet
  • 250g dark brown sugar
  • The zest and half the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Now soak the raisins/currants in the brandy and lemon juice for a couple of hours, until they have plumped up then drain the brandy and set aside (do not drink it!)

Combine all the rest of the ingredients and add the brandy back in. mix well, transfer into a steralised jar and leave it for at least 2 weeks to infuse all those flavours together.

Once your steeping time is over it is time to make your pastry and get to the cooking.

For the pastry you will need:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 250g softened butter
  • 375g plain flour
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • Muffin tray

Place 375g plain flour and 260g softened unsalted butter in a bowl and rub together until crumbly then add the sugar and beaten egg and mix together

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and work it together with your hands until it becomes a ball.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 15-20 mins.

Heat the oven to 200C roll out the pastry to 3mm thick.

Using a round cutter (about 10cm), cut out 16 bases and place them into muffin trays. Ball a heaped teaspoon of your amazing mi

ncemeat mixture into each. Glaze round the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg.

cut 7cm lids out of your remaining pastry mix and press them on top to seal. Glaze the tops with the beaten egg, sprinkle with the extra caster sugar, then prick the lids with a fork and get them into the oven.

Bake pies for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool in the muffin tray and dust liberally with caster sugar!

That’s it. You can now reward yourself with a homemade mince pie, a glass of mulled wine or a pot of tea, crank up the Michael Buble and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Stay Safe and make good choices.

Chef Ben