Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Delicious Homemade Mince Pies

This year I decided to make my own fruit mince, so, despite looking for inspiration from Nigella and the like, I of course made up my own.

I started with the peel, and as the flavour of bought peel, just isn't right, I decided to make my own. Candying peel, although easy, is a bit of a long process, it take about 6 days.

You will need:

1.8 kg of Sugar
1 kg Citrus Fruit (preferably unwaxed)
1 litre of water
100g Glucose

Start with fruit, I use a mixture of orange, clementine and lemon. Remove the peel from the fruit and cut into strips. Place in a saucepan, covered with water and simmer for 30 min. Remove peel from water and drain.

In a saucepan, place the peel and 1kg of Caster Sugar and cover with water then simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Then remove from the heat and leave to cool, covered with the lid.

The next day remove the peel from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl, In the syrup place 200g of Caster sugar and bring to the boil, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, replace the peel, and cover with the saucepan lid and leave to cool for another 24 hours. Repeat this process for 3 more days.

On the 5th day, repeat the above, but instead of Caster sugar, add the glucose. Leave for another 24 hours. Then remove the peel and leave to dry completely on a wire rack for another 24 hours, now it's ready to use. So that wasn't so hard was it?

For the Mince Pies:

4 x Quince (if you can't find quince, brambly apples will do)
100g Butter
Zest and juice of 1 Lemon
Zest and juice of 1 Orange
200 g Sultanas
250 g Currants
250 g Raisins
100 g Candied Peel, chopped up into very small pieces
600 g Soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Teaspoons Mixed Spice
200 ml Brandy

Cut the quince into quarters and roast in a medium oven for 30 min, along with a 100g brown sugar and the butter. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Core the quince then grate. I find it easier and quicker to use a food processor to do this.

In a large bowl, mix together all the other ingredients then add the quince. Place in sterilized preserving jars. The mincemeat will keep for about 10 months in the fridge.

For the pastry:

185 g unsalted butter
100 g Sugar
1 egg
575 g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 egg beaten

This pastry is based on a Skye Gyngall recipe, simply because I always find her pastries always work so beautifully. I added the orange zest just to give it an extra Christmasy flavour.

Place all ingredients, except the egg, into a food processor and blend until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add one beaten egg gradually until it forms a ball. If you've used one whole egg, but it still needs help, a few drops of cold water should do it.

Remove from the processor and kneed gently. Then wrap in cling film and refridgerate for 1/2 hour. Remove, then roll the pastry out, cut using a round cutter, line a buttered patty cake tin fill with mincemeat then, using either the round cutter or a star cutter, make the top.

Paint the beaten egg lightly on top of the pies and place in a preheated oven, 175 degrees for approx 15 minutes. Remove when golden and leave to cool. Best eaten with a dollop of cream (maybe even with a drop of brandy and icing sugar mixed in).


Roost Living Christmas Sale

The Roost Living sale was a great success, despite the arctic conditions. With Sinatra playing in the background, mince pies (recipe very soon) and mulled wine, we had a flurries of people enjoying shopping in our front room, and I think you'll agree it looked rather lovely...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


The concept of upcycling, for me, is really exciting.

It's so special to reinvent old furniture, or beautiful old textiles into something truly stunning (probably while I love quilting) and, especially in the current climate, it really reinforcing the make do and mend mentality.

Growing up, my father was forever buying what seemed to be junk, stripping it back, doing it up, adding his own touches and creating something special. I remember my old piano stool, a piece of junk, that my father transformed into something beautiful by upholstering it with a hand embroidered panel. It's still in my mum's house, minus the piano.

There are some wonderful designers out there, reinventing old pieces and here are a few pieces from one of my favourites, Zoe Murphy.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Christmas and Sample Sale

Roost Living Christmas and Sample Sale will be held next Friday 26 November and Saturday 27 November 9.00am to 2.00pm, so do join us. We will be selling not only beautiful products from our current collection, but samples from past collections at bargain prices, as well as sweet treats for Christmas and lovely jewellery by Nicola Hart.

It's also a great opportunity to meet our supporters and friends so do come along, we'll be serving tea and homemade mince pies throughout the day too...

At 39 Laurier Road London NW5.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Quilting Crazy...

I turn into hibernation mode this time of year as the days become shorter and colder. And instead of just staring at the telly (well, maybe a bit, especially with Kirsty's Homemade Home on for inspiration) I've been making a quilt for my little Milly May.

Having read a few Quilting books, and having no idea of what they were talking about, I enrolled in a short three week course at Sally Bourne Interiors in Crouch End, and with the guidance of the lovely Sarah Harper, I finished my first every bit of patch work. Ok, so it's small, and not so perfect, but I'm as proud as punch!

So much so that before the course had even finished I had started on what I really wanted to do, a quilt for Milly May. So off I popped to Liberty for one of they gorgeous Jelly Rolls and got sewing, It's a simple design - here's the almost finished product...

So I think I may have the quilting bug, I'm already planning a quilt for our bed, but for not, perhaps King size is a little too ambitious...

And for a bit of inspiration and eye candy, I have fallen in love with a few quilts in this beautiful book by Jane Brocket...