1: I review some mince pies.
Hi! I have a new blog. That's a fun thing to happen for Christmas. Only a few days ago I put in the work to resuscitate my old blog, and now I guess I have another. It might be fun to try and publish a few seasonal thoughts. Most of my seasonal thoughts are about pies. Mince pies. As in the British sweet pastry treat, traditionally brought out around this time of year. Despite the confusing name, they don't typically have any meat in them, which is great news for the members of the pseudo-vegan community like myself, although traditionally the filling should feature suet, which is less good news for the community, but that's fairly rare these days, they're quite typically at least nominally vegetarian. The filling is mostly spiced fruit, of the citrus and apple kind and raisins, seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace etc. all your usual kinds of winter spice.
I'm mildly obsessed with them, and I'd probably eat them year-round, except I'm also super-lazy, and super-busy, and so I typically resort to store-bought, or catered, which means it only tends to happen as a holiday tradition.
I usually get quite excited waiting for the first sighting of them in the year - typically this will happen towards the end of October when the stores rotate out their Halloween stuff in favour of Christmas - but if you're really paying attention, and playing like a pro, you can usually score some in September, maybe August. Happy days.
It's always fun to see what directions the various brands and vendors can stretch the recipe in. Mince pies are interesting in this respect - the recipe is ultimately loose enough that you get a lot of leeway with how you can veer - structure, could be enclosed, could be lattice, could be fully open, could be something insane like a crispy pancake roll. Pastry itself, aside from pancake, or the traditional shortcrust you could, and I often do, have a puff pastry, or veer completely off-piste like a drunken sleigh race and make something like a dumpling or a choux conflation. Finally, the filling can be augmented, with creams or alcohols, the fruit type can vary, you can throw in cranberries or dates, lean heavily into the citrus notes, go plum or date, and of course the spices can shift you all over the taste maps. It's quite the moveable feast.
Anyway, today I found myself distractedly eating the final pie in the box I already had open, at roundabout the same time I took the wrapping off this blog. A helpful, yet somewhat mysterious colleague suggested I could do a holiday themed blog series, reviewing a pie a day. And me with a new blog to fill. The idea has a lot of charm. I should do something.
I think a different pie a day is a bit of an over-reach, as well as an over-commitment. If nothing else, I typically buy them in boxes of six or twelve, so arranging to have a different kind ready every day to consume, process, and describe seems like a logistical stretch. Maybe I could aim for the twelve pies of Christmas? That might be more reachable. Maybe I'll just use this as a starting point for some kind of regular seasonal updates. Like I said, the idea has a lot of charm.
Wait. What about the pie cms? How was the pie? What was the pie?
In truth I don't remember it too much, so I guess there was nothing startling going on here. It was a Sainsbury's , pretty generic box pie. Shortcrust, light sprinkling of caster sugar. Rumpled outline of a conifer applied to the lid. Little foil tray. Slightly soft, box has been open a day or perhaps two. Maybe a little grit to the raisin pips, flavour OK I'd say. Not a standout performance, but reliable. I can't take a photo, because I ate it already. I did take a photo of the carton, but I can't quite figure out how to add images to this thing? I guess I could stick it somewhere else and hotlink it. Anyway, pie was fine, blogging happened. Let's see where this goes in the future.