Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mince pies

It's all go these days. After singing on Sunday evening (concert went well, although I don't think it was one of our best ever) I rushed off to attend an English carols by candlelight service in the English church not too far away. That was nice although it was very much a religious service rather than a concert, so although I enjoyed singing along it was all a bit solemn for my tastes. Nice church though and the people were friendly. After it was over we had a quick mince pie and cup of tea (or cup of apple juice and biscuit in my case) and then myself and two other Irish women headed off to find something to eat. We ended up having a great time, and since we seemed to be totally out of luck, stopping at no less than three places that were closed or otherwise unavailable we didn't think anything was going to come of it but then stumbled on to what felt like a well-kept secret spot. Although the few people I mentioned it to the next day all knew about it, so perhaps it's just that I don't get out enough. Anyway, must try to get back to Olio sometime soon - it was nice. Even if it did look a bit like a public toilet or a shed or something from the outside.

Monday I met a couple of girls from choir for our second monthly knitting meet-up and that was also lots of fun, although thankfully it ended at a more reasonable hour than Sunday's adventures. Tuesday after work it was an Irish Business Network meet-up at a christmas market, which turned into another late night at a nearby bar. I usually get to bed by eleven, one o'clock is just hard to do on a school night! Yesterday I was planning on making pastry for the mince pies I wanted to make this evening but just after six my boss came in to tell me she was definitely going to have to work for another couple of hours and to ask if I wanted to take her tickets for the opera. I was tired and kind of wanted to just go home but I'm always game to go and listen to something new and even after five and a half years, still had never made it to the opera house here so off I went. It turned out to be an operetta, Die Csárdásfürstin by Emmerich Kálmán - not sure I'd bother going to see it again but it was quite fun and nice to get free, unexpected tickets like that.

But on top of four very, very hectic days at work, that was a lot of going out. Which is why it's now after midnight on Thursday and I've only just taken the last of the mince pies out of the oven. Since the pastry didn't get made yesterday, I had to do that first. Actually, after not getting home from work after eight the first thing I had to do was sit down and have a bowl of cornflakes for dinner. Then I put away the washing so that I'd have room to move and then I made the pastry. Just my usual shortcrust pastry - one of these days I'll get more adventurous and try a sweet one using eggs and complicated things like that.

The first lot were more traditionally shaped - made in a bun tin with a star-shape top. Not too bad (the pies I mean, not the photo), only two got stuck and only one got a bit demolished trying to get it out of the tray.

Since I only have one bun tray though, I would have been up all night trying to get any quantity done so the next two lots were my more usual method of just cutting a large piece of pastry, plonking some mincemeat into the centre and folding it over. Originally from the River Cottage book I think is where I found it.

At any rate, you can get more on a tray as you can use the big roasting try that comes with your oven, for example, and I find that this way they are also easier to transport.

Now if only they'd browned up properly. There were seventeen on this tray and the last tray had twenty on it. They didn't brown very well either so I have some fairly anaemic looking mince pies on my hands - hope they taste okay. Not actually liking them myself there's no point in tasting them myself so I'll have to wait until tomorrow and ask a friend in work to test them for me. If she approves, I'll put a plate out for my colleagues and the rest will come to that friend's house tomorrow evening for people to have with some mulled wine. I'm trying not to think about the fact that the last lot have leaked all over the place.
It's just too late to be worried about things like that. Have loads of mince meat left though so I think I'll be making quite a few more mince pies next week. I haven't even used up half of this bowl of it. (Delia's recipe by the way).

Tomorrow is my last day of work before two weeks off and I cannot wait. I especially cannot wait for Sunday - I'm not setting any alarm and I have nowhere to be. I'm strongly considering spending the entire day in bed. And will enjoy every second of it.

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