One of my favourite childhood memories of Christmas is of helping my mum to make mince pies . Nowadays though, I tend to buy our mince pies as they are more readily available in the shops and there are some good ones to choose from. My sister though, living in the USA, finds it difficult to track down supplies of mince meat (which doesn't involve any meat at all - remember the episode of Friends where Rachel puts minced beef in the trifle?) and so makes her own, soaking the dried fruit in generous amounts of rum.
With my time freed up from mince pie making, I like to try out new Christmas recipes and caught Kirstie Allsopp learning how to make Christmas Popcorn on Kirstie's Crafty Christmas on tv this week-end. I made my first popcorn earlier this year and am always on the look out for new flavours so I just had to try this one, which includes stirring in mince meat once the corn is popped, so its a good way to use up the mince meat if you've some left over from making mince pies.
The recipe was very casual: heat some oil in a pan and throw in the popcorn (I usually sprinkle in enough to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat up until it starts to pop (make sure the lid is on!) and turn down, only removing the lid once the popping has stopped. Pour the popped corn into a big bowl and with your hands,mix in a couple of dollops of mince meat. Spread out onto a baking tray and bake at 190 degrees for about 6 - 10 minutes (depends on your oven, so you may need to keep checking). The popcorn will then have caramelised and you need to keep stirring it until its cooled properly otherwise it will stick together in big chunks. Kirstie's popcorn included the addition of almonds but as I didn't have any of these to hand I threw in some dried cranberries, which worked well.
There you have it, a reasonably healthy festive snack for when you're curled up on the sofa watching those old movies!
Mexican Mince Pies
My sister (or rather her husband!) has come up with this quick and clever way of using mince meat for a Christmassy dessert. You just need to spread a thin layer of mince meat onto a tortilla or plain wrap, roll it up and microwave for about 15 seconds. Cut in half so that it fits into a bowl, and serve with cream, custard or ice-cream.
Finally, if you want to have a look at the Friends minced meat trifle scene - here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx5Wpqf4-OM