For the 2017 Advent-ure, this is me taking my own advice, to follow these maxims – plucked from amongst those by which I have worked for decades:
Cook’s rule #127 – don’t be afraid to try new things for fear of failure – everyone has to eat every day, and cooking the same couple of things the rest of your life just isn’t fun.
Cook’s rule #128 – don’t experiment too much all at once – so do one new dish for a dinner party, not all new dishes. Then if it doesn’t quite work, no one goes home hungry!
In the original Advent-ure, I cracked out a new recipe for pastry for the fruit mince pies, which turned into a serious winner. In that spirit, today’s new thing is fruit mince! When this batch has “matured”, you’ll also get that pastry shell recipe, best I have ever found, so that you can look like a legend by making home made fruit mince pies. It is delicious, but also it worked even for me – great stuff when I simply do not excel at the precision, “make it neat and eye-pleasing” part of cooking, which is an integral part of good pastry making (and for making things like slices – on which I defer to my sister Kathryn, total diva of the nicely made slice!).
That pastry is actually a gluten free recipe (using arrowroot, or ground tapioca, and rice flour) that I tried then to help someone else managing allergies. Funnily enough, part of the reason for this experiment is that I’ve had a long standing allergy to this one insignificant sounding ingredient that goes in fizzy tablets (eg painkillers and vitamins) to make them fizz, but which brings me out in nasty welts. Problem is, it now turns up in trace amounts in a whole raft of foods – used as a fizzing agent (like for softening grains in multi-grain bread can you believe) but also as a setting agent (in all manner of jams, sauces, etc., etc.) that first need to bubble then set if you follow. Quite tedious really, since all those trace exposures add up to not a nice result, but a good motivation to do more whole food cooking of my own and leave off the prepared stuff (often with stealth sugar etc.). But – drum roll – that ingredient now turns up in bought fruit mince as well, so in my own interests I am trying this new recipe, in the hope that I can still get my Christmas treat ration of these!
PS definitely only a one spoon rating, but if the junior cooks want to try this, get a grown up to help you with the alcoholic ingredients.
*When you work with this recipe, feel free to substitute in your preferred liqueur – just check that the alcohol by volume is about the same as those I have used to ensure it keeps as well.