christmas mincemeat: and a secret ingredient . . .

Christmas mincemeat 2014
I am curious about how this year's batch of mincemeat will turn out as I've added a "secret" ingredient. Every time you throw a load of mincemeat ingredients into a large bowl, you are stirring up a load of history. It is traditional to have made your Christmas mincemeat on the last Sunday in November, "Stir-Up Sunday" - which gives it a good two weeks to mature before using. While I may be late in posting, I am actually feeling quite smug, as I managed to make mine in early November. That really is a first for me. But this new addition, which is actually a very "old" ingredient has me intrigued . . .

middle eastern arayes (meat stuffed pitta sandwich)

 middle eastern arayes (meat stuffed pitta sandwich)
A cooked pitta bread sandwich popular around the Middle East, these arayes are very easy to make, stuffed with aromatic, spiced minced lamb or kid goat meat. I was recently lucky enough to work with the guys from Gourmet Goat, who gave me some minced kid goat to play with. Not only did I have a lot of fun experimenting . . . dear god, it was utterly delicious!

wood blewits: the most beautiful mushroom of all

wood blewits (clitocybe nuda/lepista nuda)
Is there anything more fairy tale than a wood blewit mushroom? I don't think so. With their lilac-blue stems and pinkish violet-coloured flattish caps they are the stuff of fantasy. Also charmingly known as pied bleu in French (blue feet), they grow in leaf litter under deciduous trees in Britain's woodland. I'd love to tell you that I foraged for them myself. But the more prosaic answer is that I bought them in Borough Market, from one of several fabulous stalls that sell wild mushrooms.

poffertjes: Dutch buckwheat pancakes

poffertjes (Dutch buckwheat pancakes
These pillowy buckwheat pancakes are light, delicious and really rather indulgent. Even their name is descriptive; "poffertjes" in Dutch sounds a bit like "poffer-juss," which to my mind sounds like pretty fluffy pancakes.

stuffed delicata squash

delicata squash stuffed with tomato and mince sauce
A few weeks ago I posted about one of my favourite new discoveries, the delicata squash. You'll be forgiven for thinking that I didn't do much with it except stand back and admire it! Gosh, there is really nothing so appealing as a vegetable with a bit of va-va-voom and go-faster stripes.

chocolate covered cinder toffee (honeycomb)

chocolate covered cinder toffee
Chocolate covered cinder toffee (known in some parts as honeycomb, puff candy, hokey-pokey, yellowman or seafoam,  but not to be confused with bonfire toffee) brings out my inner child. I love this stuff and could eat it all year around, not just on Bonfire Night. Making it is part cookery and part science project; (I get particularly excited when you add the bicarb to the sugar syrup and it all froths up . . . see what I mean about pleasing my inner child?) Anyway there is much fun to be had by all, and (my favourite type of science, kitchen science) you can eat the results! A really good explanation for the science and magic bit can be found on The Guardian website.

what's in season: november

Boskoop Rouge apples from Chegworth Valley at Borough Market
The Crossed Apple
1've come to give you fruit from out my orchard, Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples. Of every sort:

Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden: Sour and sweet.
This apple's from a tree yet unbeholden, Where two kinds meet,
So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side's hue is clear and snowy.
It's a lovely apple. It is for you.