A few weeks ago I confessed to one of my lovely readers that the Christmas Pudding we ate last year had actually been ‘maturing’ for just over 5 years. Yes, 5 years. And do you know, it was the most incredible Christmas pudding I have ever eaten.
Made from Delia’s recipe, it had been wrapped and stored carefully in the back of a cool, dark cupboard and even moved house with us. I know that’s a long time to keep a pudding – even Delia says they are best eaten within a few months. Let’s just say, myself and Mr K pay little heed to ‘best before’ and ‘sell by’ dates preferring to go by taste or smell instead…you’ll soon know if something is past its best!
Anyhow, I was rummaging through the kitchen shelves a few weeks ago on the hunt for Christmas Cake ingredients and found a jar of mincemeat that must have been bought at least 2 years ago as it expired in November 2013. I adore sweet mincemeat (ADORE) and had all good intentions of making a batch myself this year but have run out of time. There are some excellent sweet mincemeats on the market, so I am happy to ‘make do’ with an off-the-shelf jar, however I will see if I can find some from a small producer at a food market over the next few weeks and if not then I might raid my Mother-in-almost-Law’s stash!
Whilst I am partial to a mince pie or three, particularly ones made with the delicious short and sweet pastry from my Mother-in-almost-Law, I did wonder what else can you can do with a jar of mincemeat so had a read through all my festive cookbooks and found a few ideas I thought I’d share with you…
Delia has an excellent recipe for a Last-Minute Christmas Mincemeat Cake in her Delia Smith Christmas book, so if you didn’t get round to making the fully fruited one on Stir-up Sunday this is a great alternative. It has been spruced up and republished as the Christmas Sherry Mincemeat Cake and the recipe is available at Delia Online. Ever-practical, Delia does say to use a good quality mincemeat, preferably homemade, as the amount of liquid in cheaper brands will affect the result of the bake.
Nigella might have the perfect solution for those of us who didn’t quite get round to making our own sweet mincemeat. In her How to Eat cookbook there is a recipe (in the loosest sense of the term) for livening up a shop-bought jar and making it more ‘homemade’:
“Buy a 400-500g jar of the best mincemeat you can find and, a couple of weeks before Christmas, grate in a cooking apple or a quince, stir in 3 tablespoons of rum, Grand Marnier or eau de vie de Coings, add some chopped flaked almonds (about 60g) and the juice of ½ a lemon and ½ an orange each, and a bit of the grated zest both. Then you’ll almost feel like you made your own mincemeat.”
So what did I do with the matured jar I found at the back of the kitchen shelf? Well, Dominic over at Belleau Kitchen has published a wonderful recipe for Mince Pie Flapjacks – just like regular flapjacks but with a few festive twists and they really couldn’t be any simpler to make.
Another confession: I’m not very good at making flapjacks. Never have been and I have no idea where I go wrong. Even following recipes which are tried and tested, passed on by friends who have baked them for me, I just can’t get the balance of chew and crisp just right and have no idea where I go wrong or at least not quite right.
Not one to be deterred, I figured it was time for another flapjack attempt and a few days after coming out of hospital I pottered about in the kitchen and mixed up a batch. Despite using a tin far too deep, they came out pretty well and are absolutely delicious! I have since made a second batch using a shallower tin and to finish off the vintage mincemeat which tasted absolutely fine despite sitting in the dark for a few years!
One final confession…There’s another Christmas Pudding in the back of the cupboard which we will be eating this year…six years and counting.
I’d love to hear from you with any other suggestions for using up a jar of mincemeat – I’m sure there must be some weird and wonderful recipes out there!