Vegetarian Mince Pies

Vegetarian Mince Pies - a Christmas recipe

Vegetarian Mince Pies – crisp flaky golden pastry and rich fruity brandy-infused mincemeat and all ready in just over half an hour. Your kitchen will be filled with delicious seasonal baking aromas and you will be able to offer everyone, veggies and meat-eaters, a warm pie fresh from the oven. If you want to get into the Christmas baking vibe, without doing anything too complicated or time consuming, then this is your go-to recipe.

In a world where there is a proliferation of good-quality ready-made Mince Pies, I think it is still worth making your own as it is an easy short-cut to seasonal baking bliss without too much effort. At this time of the year, spending an hour or so making these beauties, ignoring the cold outside, is just what I want to do. This is the perfect, no-fuss Christmas recipe!

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Vegetarian Mince Pies - a Christmas recipe

What you need to know about this recipe

This is my manifesto for Mince Pie making heaven.

  • I think home-made Mincemeat is best and I have a recipe on this blog. However, you do need to make it in advance and, frankly, you may not have either the time or inclination to do this. Using shop-bought mincemeat is absolutely fine but try and go for one that is good quality. If you are using shop-bought mincemeat, you can add a teaspoon of brandy or port to the mixture, which will really lift the flavour, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you don’t want to use alcohol. Adding some grated orange or lemon peel is also good.
  • Whether you are using home-made or shop-bought mincemeat, you can add an additional hidden treat to your pies. I will sometimes add the following to each pie, on top of the mincemeat filling, before putting on the pastry lid: a chunk of marzipan, a few dried cranberries, a piece of dark chocolate, a glace cherry or a lump of cheese.
  • Again, I think home-made pastry is best. It has a buttery crispness which even good quality ready-made pastry doesn’t seem to have. It is also really easy to make your own pastry. However, again, you may not have the time or inclination to make your own. If you want to use shop-bought pastry, that is fine. Just make sure you get a brand that is “all butter” as it will generally taste better.
  • You can go for different shaped “lids” for you pies but, honestly, stars are best. It is Christmas after all and you can’t get much more festive than a star!
  • When you are baking your pies, make sure that the door to your kitchen is open so the smell of baking and alcohol-infused fruit spreads throughout your house.
How to eat your mince pies

Without a doubt, mince pies are best eaten warm. If you are not eating them immediately, you can re-heat them by popping them in the oven at 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4 for five minutes. You can eat them on their own. You can eat them with whipped or pouring cream (if you must). I eat mine with a lump of strong cheese (extra mature cheddar) and a glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry, if I can. Try it before you judge.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Vegetarian Mince Pies - a Christmas recipe
Other festive sauces and accompaniments

I think that no festive meal is complete without some warm and fragrant Mince Pies made with home-made vegetarian Mincemeat. They are the perfect Christmas recipe!

Having the right sauces and accompaniments can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

How to make vegetarian Mince Pies

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Vegetarian Mince Pies

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Vegetarian Mince Pies

Vegetarian Mince Pies

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 large pies 1x
  • Category: Pies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

These easy Vegetarian Mince Pies combine crisp buttery pastry with rich, brandy-infused dried fruit.  They are the taste of Christmas!


Scale

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 275 g plain flour
  • 125 g fat (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
  • Salt
  • A little water

For the filling:

  • 1 large jar of mincemeat – see my easy Vegetarian Mincemeat recipe or use good quality shop-bought
  • A little milk and caster sugar

Vegetarian Mince Pies


Instructions

  1. Set you oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl.  Add the fat and combine –  either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.  
  3. If you have time, allow your pastry dough to rest for half an hour, wrapped in cling film, as this will make the resulting pastry more tender.  If you do not have the time, don’t worry!
  4. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface so that it is as thin as possible.
  5. Using a round pastry cutter which is slightly larger than the depressions in your pie tin cut circles from your pastry.  I use a 7.5 cm diameter pastry cutter which is fairly standard.
  6. Place a circle in each of the depressions in your pie tin.
  7. Put 2 teaspoons of mincemeat onto each pastry circle.
  8. Using a star shaped pastry cutter, cut stars from the remainder of the pastry. Place them on top of each mound of mincemeat.
  9. Paint the top of each star with a little milk using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle with caster sugar.  This will make the top of the pies golden and crunchy.  (Some people add beaten egg instead but I always think it is a waste of an egg as you don’t need very much of it!)
  10. Put the pies in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  They will be done when the pastry is golden.
  11. Remove the  pies from the tin immediately and place on a cooling rack.

Vegetarian Mince Pies

Vegetarian Mince Pies

 


Notes

  • This quantity of pastry and mincemeat makes approximately 12 large pies.  It will vary according to how thin you roll your pastry and the size of the depressions in you pie tin.
  • This recipe is vegetarian (as long as you use vegetarian Mincemeat)

Keywords: Mince Pies, Christmas, baking

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food  and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook and #BakingCrumbs with Apply to Face Blog

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Vegetarian Stuffing

Vegetarian Stuffing with Chestnuts, Pecans and Cranberries

These Vegetarian Stuffing balls are crammed with flavour and texture. Chestnuts, both chopped and pureed, add a sweet creaminess which binds the other ingredients together. Roasted pecans add a nutty crunch and dried cranberries, one of my new favourite ingredients, at a sweet-sharp hit of fruitiness. I use fresh nutmeg to add a seasonal spiciness to the recipe.

They are a great addition to a big, celebratory roast dinner. Try them with home-made Bread Sauce and Fresh Cranberry Sauce and tell me I’m wrong! Think nutty crunchiness, creamy richness and zesty, fruity sweetness.

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Why bother making Vegetarian Stuffing?

In addition to the flavour, there are lots of good things about this recipe. First off, it is a vegetarian side dish which will also appeal to meat-eaters. My family is a mixture of carnivores, vegetarians and pescatarians so I have a ready-made focus group for my recipes. The verdict was that these are pretty much as good as any meat-based alternative. Therefore, you can put them on everyone’s plate – cosying up to the turkey or the nut-roast – and they work just as well.

They are also really easy to make – just a matter of mixing the various ingredients together – and can be prepared in advance. Just make up the stuffing balls and keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. They only take 15 minutes to cook.

They are also pretty versatile. Although I came up with this recipe as accompaniment to a roast dinner, I sometimes make them as a vegetarian lunch or snack option. They are also great cold as part of a packed lunch or winter picnic.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other festive sauces and accompaniments

Having the right sauces and accompaniments can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Vegetarian Stuffing Recipe

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Vegetarian Stuffing

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Stuffing
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This quick and easy Vegetarian Stuffing recipe combines the sweet creaminess of chestnuts with onions, crunchy roasted pecans and fruity dried cranberries.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 50 g (2 oz) butter or 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 onion
  • 180 g (6 oz) vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts
  • 50 g (2 oz) shelled pecans
  • 50 g (2 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50 g (2 oz) dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg (optional)


Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 200 C/180F/Gas Mark 6
  2. Peel and chop the onion.  Put the onion and butter or oil in a frying pan and fry for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Process half (90g) of the chestnuts for a few minutes in a food processor or blender to form a puree.  Roughly chop the remaining chestnuts.
  4. Put the pecans in a frying pan and dry fry (with no oil or butter) for 5 minutes until they are darker brown and toasted.  Roughly chop the pecans.
  5. In a large bowl combine the fried onions, chestnut puree, chopped chestnuts, chopped pecans, breadcrumbs and cranberries.
  6. Season to taste with grated nutmeg and salt and pepper.
  7. You can add an egg to the mixture to make it easier to combine.
  8. Take a dessert spoon of the mixture and squeeze it in your hands to make a ball.  Place on a baking tray.  Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
  9. Put the tray in the pre-heated oven and cook the stuffing balls for 15 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Stuffing


Notes

This recipe is vegetarian but can be made vegan if oil is substituted for butter and the egg is omitted. 

These stuffing balls are actually very nice cold either as a snack or as an accompaniment to a cold meal.

Keywords: stuffing, vegetarian stuffing, chestnut stuffing, Christmas

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food  and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook

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Bread Sauce Recipe

Easy, freshly-made Bread Sauce recipe

Try this home-made Bread Sauce recipe and you will never again use ready-made or packet versions! Most importantly, it tastes fantastic. It is rich, creamy and buttery. It is warm and soothing and delicately flavoured with nutmeg and bay. It is also exceptionally easy to make and requires little or no culinary skill and can be made ahead and then gently re-heated so it is a brilliant side dish for a big, celebratory meal.

Its Christmas dinner – don’t panic!

This recipe is one that my mother used to make at Christmas. It is a fantastic sauce to have with a big festive dinner as its creaminess enhances the drier ingredients, such as turkey or vegetarian main courses such as nut roast. I always think that producing a tasty Christmas dinner is difficult even for experienced cooks. Not only are you producing dishes that you may only make once a year, you are often doing it for a large number of people who may have a wide range of food preferences and your thought processes on the day may well be impacted by a higher than average intake of alcohol! My Christmas dinner tips, which helped me when I first took on the role of primary Christmas dinner cook, are as follows.

Some Christmas dinner tips

  • Do not panic.
  • Plan it as you would any other meal. That is, that it needs a centrepiece (turkey, nut-roast, wellington), something to add juiciness (gravy), something to add zest (Cranberry Sauce), something to add richness (Bread Sauce), something to add texture (roast potatoes and stuffing), something for everyone to hate (Brussels Sprouts) – just kidding, I am actually a sprout lover and impose them on my family once a year at Christmas time..
  • Keep it simple. I generally don’t bother with a starter on the basis that, unless you are in training as the next presenter of Man v Food, full Christmas dinner plus pudding is sufficient. I do serve very simple canapes and nibbles (Cheese Biscuits, Spiced Nuts) when everyone starts with the aperitifs in order to try to absorb the alcohol.
  • Do as much of the preparation as possible the day before (peeling vegetables, making stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Bread Sauce etc).
  • Delegate tasks whenever possible. Granny can decorate the table. Even young children can peel vegetables.
  • Write out in advance on a bit of paper when everything needs to start cooking. You will need this once you start hitting the champagne at 11.00 am.
  • Do not stress about dessert. A shop-bought Christmas Pudding which can be heated in the microwave is the way to go. Or why not just have Mince Pies?
  • Do not panic – did I say that already?
  • For guidance on dealing with family disputes and/or feuds, dealing with the combination of a range of political views and a large quantity of alcohol and people of all ages who do not like their presents, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere.

Bread Sauce Recipe

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Bread Sauce

Bread Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This home-made Bread Sauce recipe is quick and easy to make.  It has a rich creaminess, flavoured with bay and nutmeg, which is a sumptuous addition to any celebratory meal.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 75 g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 75 g butter
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 


Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the onion.
  2. Put the chopped onion into a small saucepan.  Add the milk, bay leaf and peppercorns. 
  3. Heat the milk until it starts to gently bubble.  Don’t let it boil over!
  4. At this point, you can set aside the milk without removing the flavourings.  Once it is cool, leave it in the fridge overnight and then use as from step 5.  This allows the flavour to develop.  However, if you want to eat the breadsauce on the same day, you can just proceed as from step 5.
  5. Strain the milk to remove the flavourings. 
  6. Pour the flavoured milk into a small saucepan and add the grated nutmeg, breadcrumbs, butter and cream.
  7. Heat gently, stirring to combine, until the butter is melted.
  8. Serve warm topped with a little more grated nutmeg.

Bread Sauce


Notes

It is very easy to make your own breadcrumbs.  Just tear or cut white bread into large pieces and then process for a few seconds in a blender or food processor.  It works best if the bread is proper, crusty bread and if it is slightly stale.

It is really worth obtaining your grated nutmeg from actually grating a whole nutmeg rather than using ready-grated nutgmeg.  You can buy a jar of whole nutmegs in most supermarkets and then just use a food grater to grate what you need into your dishes.  Just smell the freshly grated nutmeg and you will understand!

Keywords: bread sauce, seasonal sauce, roast dinner

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Everyday Healthy Recipes and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday.

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Cranberry Ice Cream

Easy Cranberry Ice Cream made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce

This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce which gives it the added flavours of white wine, orange and cinnamon. Using Fresh Cranberry Sauce, adds an extra dimension to this ice cream and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.

Made from left-over Cranberry Sauce….

So, there are two ways you can go with this Cranberry Ice Cream. First off, if you have made some Fresh Cranberry Sauce to eat with your Christmas dinner and you have some left over, you can use any that is left over to make this ice cream. If you go down that route – and it is super-easy to make your own cranberry sauce – then making this ice cream is a doddle.

… or specially-made Cranberry Sauce

However, if you do not happen to have any surplus Fresh Cranberry Sauce to hand – and maybe you don’t really fancy it with your Christmas dinner (or maybe its not even Christmas) – you can make a batch to use as an ingredient in puddings. I have two excellent cranberry-based puddings on this blog each of which conveniently uses half a batch of my sauce recipe. One is this Cranberry Ice Cream and the other is my Cranberry Pavlova. Both are great at Christmas or New Year, when there are a lot of fresh cranberries about, and I think they are a brilliant alternative to heavy Christmas pudding! They are both sweet and creamy with the fruity tang of cranberries.

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Ice Cream dreams…

Once you start making, and eating, your own ice cream, it can become a bit addictive! There are lots of other recipes for home-made botanical ice cream on this blog so you might like to try Lemon Curd Ice Cream,  Rose Ice CreamLavender Ice CreamElderflower Ice CreamThyme, Honey and Mascarpone Ice Cream or Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream.

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Recipes Made Easy and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and Spades, Spatulas and Spoons

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Cranberry Ice Cream

Cranberry Ice Cream

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce, which not only includes cranberries but is also flavoured with white wine, orange and cinnamon, adds an extra dimension and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.


Scale

Ingredients

Cranberry Sauce


Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
  2. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
  3. Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
  4. Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
  5. The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is).  Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
  6. Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl. 
  7. If you are using my home-made Fresh Cranberry Sauce, you will need to use a food processor or hand-held blender to chop up the whole berries and create a rough paste before adding to the custard.  If you are using smooth, ready-made Cranberry Sauce, you can just stir it into the custard.
  8. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
  9. When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions.  If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen.  Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.

Cranberry Ice Cream


Notes

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own Fresh Cranberry Sauce – and it honestly is very quick and easy – you can use ready-made Cranberry Sauce although the flavour will not be as good unless you can find one that includes cinnamon, orange and white wine!

Keywords: ice cream, cranberries, cranberry sauce, Christmas

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Cranberry Pavlova

Cranberry Pavlova – a meringue-based festive dessert

This Cranberry Pavlova is the perfect light and creamy, meringue-based festive dessert. It is made using left-over Fresh Cranberry Sauce which makes it super-easy to put together.

I always have a family lunch on Boxing Day and serve this pavlova as one of the desserts using sauce prepared for Christmas lunch. It is the perfect dessert for those who have eaten too much Christmas Pudding and want something which is still festive but is a bit lighter!

Making Fresh Cranberry Sauce is really quick and easy. If you haven’t got any left over, it is a matter of minutes to make it from scratch. It is a great accompaniment to a festive meal – either a traditional turkey dinner or a vegetarian alternative. Even better, it can be used as an ingredient in a range of desserts. I will often have some left over if I have made it as a meal accompaniment and sometimes in the summer I make a batch just to make desserts! You just have to make sure that the sauce has time to cool down before it is used to top your pavlova.

Fruit with flavour – cranberry, rhubarb and gooseberry

I love fruit which have a good balance of sharp and sweet flavour. Often, as with this recipe, they need to cooked to bring out their zingy flavour. In addition cranberries, I think rhubarb and gooseberries are both under-rated. If you share my love of a good old-fashioned sharp and sweet fruit recipe, you might like my Rhubarb Fool, Rhubarb Roulade or Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet.

Lovely pavlovas

One of the great things about pavlova is that while it has that show-stopping, celebratory vibe, they are actually extremely simple to produce even for inexperienced cooks. It is easy to make the meringue a day in advance and then assembling the pavlova takes a matter of minutes. I make loads of them at Christmas and New Year. In addition to my Cranberry Pavlova, some of my other favourites include Strawberry Pavlova,  Rose and Raspberry Pavlova and Lemon Pavlova.

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Cranberry Pavlova

Cranberry Pavlova

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Cranberry Pavlova is made using left-over Fresh Cranberry Sauce.  It is a fantastic, fruity, meringue-based festive pudding!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 250 ml Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 140 C/275 F/Gas Mark 1.
  2. Whisk the egg whites with salt until they form stiff peaks.
  3. Add two tablespoons of sugar and continue to whisk until combined and the mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. Fold the rest of the sugar, the cornflour and the lemon juice into the whisked egg whites.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment or silicon paper.
  6. Spoon the egg white mixture onto the baking sheet to form a large circle or oval.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour until the exterior of the meringue is hard to the touch.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. When ready to serve, whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then spread it on top of the meringue base.
  10. Spoon the Fresh Cranberry Sauce over the cream. 

Notes

Making the Fresh Cranberry Sauce is really quick and easy.  You just need to make sure that it is cooled before you assemble your pavlova.

Keywords: pavlova, cranberry, Christmas

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with EasyPeasyFoodie and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and [email protected]

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