I was delighted to be able to attend the Asda Stir It Up Sunday Event at Leiths School of Food and Wine last week. It was a brilliant night and we all had a fabulous time sampling the treats Asda will have instore for customers this Christmas as well as making our own Mince Pies, Christmas Pudding and Christmas Biscuits. I sampled quite a few *cough* items from the Extra Special Christmas Entertaining Range and every single one was scrumptious.
I love events at Leiths, they are always well organised and the fascilities are what you would expect from a world class Cookery School. As always the staff from Leiths, Asda Product Managers and PR ladies were lovely and it is always great to catch up with them and loads of other bloggers as we all like a good natter and glass of wine (or two).
|Penny and I having a good natter and giggle, as usual|
This is the recipe that Asda use to make their Extra Special Christmas Puddings, we tasted some at the event and they are delicious. We were able to sample puddings that had been matured for 6, 12 and 24 months. It was an interesting experiment as we were asked to do a blind tasting and guess which was which. I am pleased to say that we all guessed correctly and all 3 puddings tasted delicious.
This mixture makes one pudding for a two pint pudding basin:
40g chopped mixed peel
110g mixed dried apricots and figs, chopped
145ml brown ale
1 tablespoon rum
Grated zest & juice of half an orange
Grated zest & juice of half a lemon
55g prunes - soaked overnight in cold tea, then drained and chopped
1/2 dessert apple - grated
Soak all the fruit (except the prunes) overnight in the beer, rum, orange juice and lemon juice. In the morning add the drained, chopped prunes
Grate the apple into this mixture:
110g softened butter
170g soft, dark brown sugar
1 tblsp treacle
55g self raising flour, sifted
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground ginger
30g toasted hazelnuts, toasted (again, I would usually substitute more glace cherries for this)
Beat together the butter and sugar, when light add the orange and lemon zest and the treacle.
Whisk the eggs together and gradually add them to the mixture, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the flour, spices, salt and breadcrumbs.
Stir in the nuts and dried fruit mixture, plus any of the soaking liquor.
Spoon the mixture into a greased 2 pint pudding basin.
Cover with two layers of pleated greaseproof paper, and one piece of pleated kitchen foil.
Tie up with string. When ready to cook, steam for 10-12 hours. Put a large saucepan on to boil and put an upside down saucer on the bottom. Using the string handle, lower the pudding into the boiling water. The water needs to come at least half the way up the basin.
Cover the pan, and leave to cook, topping up the water as necessary (use boiling water from the kettle to top it up).
Leave the pudding to cool, and re-cover it. You can now store it for up to 2 years, in a cool dark place. When you're ready to serve the pudding on Christmas Day, steam for 2-3 hours before serving.
Asda and Leiths' Christmas Mince pies
These are so simple to make, my daughters and I shall be making several batches. The batch of a dozen that I made at the event lasted 1 day, my husband had 6 of them and my daughters devoured the rest after school.
Rich sweet shortcrust pastry:
170g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, diced
2 tbsps caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 Tblsp iced cold water
1 jar of Asda Extra Special mincemeat (whisky and orange or brandy and port). Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and mix. Mix the egg yolk with two tbsps of water and add to the flour mixture.
Mix to a firm dough, first using a cutlery knife then using one hand to bring the mixture together. It might be necessary to add a little more water to bring the mixture together but it should not be too damp. Although crumbly pastry dough is more difficult to handle, it produces a shorter and lighter result.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C (using a hot oven means that the pastry cooks before the butter melts).
Divide the pastry into two, about two thirds and one third. Roll out the larger piece to about 3mm thick. Cut out 12 circles a little wider than the indentations on the tray. Press the pastry circles gently into the indentations in the tray.
Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to about 3mm thick. Cut out 12 larger stars or 24 smaller stars and place on a baking tray.
Chill both pastry trays in the fridge for 20 to 30 hours (this relaxes the gluten in the pastry, ensuring the pastry doesn't shrink when cooking).
Place a tsp of mincemeat in the centre of each pastry circle (don't overfill the circles as the mixture will bubble as it reheats and might spill over the edges).
Place the stars lightly on top of the mixture. Bake the pies in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Remove the pies from the tin and place them on a wire rack to cool. Before serving, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
Thanks so much to Asda for a brilliant evening and for paying my travel expenses so I could attend the event.