Has the count down to Christmas already started?

Lots of pubs and restaurants are already plying their Christmas lunches, and last week the National Trust Magazine asked its readers panel to try some Christmas recipes.

I volunteered, despite not wanting to hear about Christmas until December, and picked up the mince pies. I was particularly excited because the recipes for the pastry and the filling are pretty old.

Two recipes
My recipe card doubled as a shopping list

The pastry comes from the kitchens of Lady Brunner of Grey’s Court in Oxfordshire, it dates from the 1950s and is redolent with rich ingredients and a generous helping of sugar – I guess they were celebrating the end of rationing.

However, the pastry is young compared to the 17th-century mincemeat recipe. Said to be the recipe of Elizabeth Browne of Townend in Cumbria, this recipe includes a portion of roast beef.

I enjoyed making both parts of the pies. The pastry was astonishingly simple and tasted lovely straight from the bowl and all I had to do for the mincemeat was blend the ingredients in a food processor. These pictures hide the chaos that was my kitchen for an hour or so last Friday.

A quick trip to the oven and a blast with icing sugar put some mincey morsels into my sticky little fingers. I allowed myself the funny little pasty I made with the spare pastry. The extra mincemeat is now in the freezer.

My dearest other and I have eaten about four pies each since then and some friends had one a piece. On the plus side, we noticed a lot of flavours, enjoyed the short, crumbly pastry and enjoyed the moist filling. However, we all found the pies a little sweet. But hey ho, or should that be ho ho ho, it is nearly Christmas.

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