Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Vegetarian Mincemeat Pie

24 Nov

…but mincemeat pie isn’t really meat, so it’s already vegetarian, you might say. You would be wrong. Traditional mincemeat is made with beef suet, which is the fat from specific areas of the cow, as it apparently has a certain desirable texture. Are you grossed out yet? Yeah, me too. That’s why I decided there had to be a better way to make the stuff without adding a meat product to a fruit pie. In the UK and in some British import shops, it’s possible to find vegetarian suet, but after a thorough search of my area, I couldn’t find any. To the Internet!

I looked up what suet is and what properties it has that are needed to fulfill its duty and ultimately decided that the refined coconut oil I already had in my cabinet would be perfect. It is solid at room temperature, with a waxy, somewhat crumbly texture, which is exactly how the suet was described. Also, unlike UNrefined coconut oil, the refined stuff has absolutely no scent or taste of coconut (or any scent or taste of anything) whatsoever, so unless you have an allergy, this pie is totally fine even for people who don’t like coconut. Inserted into (a well-modified version of) Gordon Ramsay’s Cranberry Mincemeat Pie recipe, it produced a wonderful result. These things are seriously delicious!

Another thing that’s hard to find stateside are mince pie pans, which are sort of like a shallower cupcake pan. I plan to order one online, but since I wanted mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving tomorrow, we ended up with one full-sized 9″ pie, 5 little mincemeat raviolis made from the pie crust trimmings, and about another pie worth of filling leftover. I’m thinking I might try making mincemeat tassies or something with that, but we’ll see.

With no further ado, here’s the recipe I ended up making, which is adapted from the Cranberry Mincemeat Pie recipe in the Christmas With Gordon cookbook. If you can get your hands on that book, I highly recommend it.


  • 2 medium honeycrisp apples
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 100g (about 1/4 package from Trader Joe’s) dried apricots, diced fairly small
  • 1 10 oz box of golden currants
  • About 10 oz of dried cranberries (give or take a little, depending on the size of the package you find)
  • 1.25 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 8 TBSP unrefined coconut oil
  • 100 ml spiced rum
  • 2 uncooked pie crusts (the original recipe included a crust, with more grated orange zest, but I just used frozen pie crust from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp water
  • Sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Peel the apples, then grate them into a large bowl (one that’ll fit in your fridge though)
  2. Dump in the orange zest, lemon zest, orange juice, and lemon juice. Stir.
  3. Add the currants and cranberries. Stir.
  4. Add the brown sugar and spices. Guess what? Stir.
  5. Mix in the coconut oil. It’ll melt a little and leave some clumps, but that’s okay. You don’t have to make it disappear.
  6. Pour in the rum and stir it all together.
  7. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour, but preferably overnight. According to Ramsay, it gets better the longer it matures, but if you’re not going to use it in the next day or so, store it in sterilized, sealed glass jars in the fridge for up to 6 months.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
  9. Put the bottom crust into a pie dish (I recommend using one sturdier than aluminum foil, as it’s going to be a heavy pie and a foil pan will make it an exercise in frustration to get the thing out of the oven without destroying the edges of the crust – not that I know this from personal experience or anything.), trimming off any overhang. Don’t bother fluting the edges or doing anything fancy at this point.
  10. Scoop the filling into the unbaked crust until the filling is just about level with the top of the pan (a little bit higher is okay).
  11. Lay the second crust on top of the filled pie, again trimming off any overhang. Now is when you can flute the edges or just press them really well into the bottom crust. Make a few slashes in the top to vent.
  12. Mix the egg yolk and water together and paint this mixture over the entire top crust with a pastry brush, then sprinkle sugar over the whole affair.
  13. Bake for about 35 minutes or until it’s golden brown and the crust isn’t doughy anymore. If the edges get really brown before the middle is done, fold strips of foil over the edges to stop them from burning.

If you want to use the leftover dough to make the little raviolis like we did, just roll the dough into an even number of same-sized balls, flatten them, and put half of them on a cookie sheet. Place a dollop of filling in the center of each round, then top them with the remaining rounds. Be sure to seal the edges, then egg wash and sugar the tops. Those will bake in about 15 minutes.


Thanksgiving in Scotland

3 Dec

A week ago, 9 Scots and 1 American gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. 8 of the Scots discovered that pumpkin pie is tasty!

The menu reflected the culturally-blended assembly. There were:

  • Turkey
  • Turducken
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing balls, a lá Heather’s Gram (see recipe below)
  • Candied yams, with Golden Syrup instead of maple
  • Haggis
  • Peas
  • Sausage rolls
  • Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • Various red and white wines
  • Belhaven (Scottish cream ale)
  • Various other beers, which I can’t remember brands of
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Profiteroles
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

There were surprisingly few leftovers, and a few especially great comments. In general, the Scots all seemed to enjoy their first Thanksgiving, and the American was overjoyed to be surrounded by such good friends since she couldn’t be home for the holiday.

Interestingly, one guest said that she had expected the pumpkin pie to be more like an apple pie, with slices of pumpkin, but was really happy that she was wrong. Another guest was shocked and horrified that he’d gone the first 30-odd years of his life without having it, and would be spending the next 30 making up for it.

Another guest, who is a chef by trade, said upon arrival that another American friend of his had described candied yams to him, and he thought it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. After having a couple of helpings, he texted an apology to his friend, very glad to have been proven wrong. He wanted the recipe, and the one for the pumpkin pie.

The stuffing recipe was also requested by yet another guest.

With all the smiling faces and full tummies, the verdict on this social experiment must be: Success!

Recipe for candied yams:

You need:

  • 1/2 as many sweet potatoes as you want servings
  • Boiling water
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Syrup (Heather’s mom uses maple or King Syup. The yams served at our party used Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Use whatever kind you like. Alternatively, use miniature marshmallows.)


  1. Slice the sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise. This is a pain in the hoo-hah, but that’s how it’s done. They won’t cut willingly, so put some muscle in it.
  2. Par-boil them until they’re fairly soft, but not quite soft enough to mash.
  3. Place them cut-side up in a baking dish.
  4. Drop pats of butter, sprinkle brown sugar, and drizzle syrup. There’s no exact science to this. It just depends on how sweet you want them.
  5. Bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, until they’re tender and bubbly. Place them high up in the oven to keep the bottoms from scorching.

Recipe for Stuffing Balls:

We always had these instead of bread rolls. They’re shaped into balls partly because they make great grab & go leftovers, but mostly because that’s how Gram always did it. This recipe is designed to make a lot, so there will be leftovers. A lot of the ingredients can’t have precise measurements, because they’re either to taste or as-needed.

You Need:

  • 2 loaves of bread (get day-old or short-dated. It’s cheaper & will do just fine since you’re using it immediately), shredded and left out overnight to get stale
  • A stick or 2 of butter
  • Vegetable or poultry stock
  • 1-2 onions
  • Celery seed
  • Poultry seasoning (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 eggs


  1. Chop the onion and sauté it in some of the butter until soft.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in the microwave.
  3. Mix the onion, celery seed & spices (to taste) in with the bread.
  4. Add enough melted butter, stock, and eggs to let the mixture keep its shape when you form it into a ball, a little smaller than your fist (actually, make them as big or small as you want to suit your needs).
  5. Place the balls in a baking dish (or dishes) and bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, or until they’re firm and golden. Check them periodically and baste with more broth if they seem dried-out.