> An old christmas favourite; mince pies & mulled wine.

For 18 Mince Pies.

225g cold butter, diced.

350g plain flour.

100g golden caster sugar

280g Mincemeat

1 small egg, beaten

Icing sugar, to dust.

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 6/180C Fanoven.

For the pastry: Rub the butter in to flour, than mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt.  Combine the pastry into a ball and kneed it briefly (don’t add any water just yet). The dough should be fairly firm, similar in texture, like shortbread dough.

Grease the patty tins with some butter; line 18 holes of two 12-hold tins by pressing small walnut sized balls of pastry into each hole.  Then spoon the mincemeat into the pies.

Taking smaller balls of pastry than before, make lids round enough to cover the mincemeat. (If you have any small cutters) you cut shapes out for the top. If you wish, brush milk or beaten egg over the top to bind the tops to the rest of the pies.

Bake for 20 minutes until Golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. If serving immediately dust lightly with icing sugar.  They will keep for 4-5days in an airtight container.

Mulled Wine

1 Bottles of Red Wine (Chianti, Bugundy, or Cabernet Sauvignon are perfect)

2/3 oranges

6 Cloves

1 Cinnamon stick

1 Whole Nutmeg

2 Tablespoons Brandy

(Other optional Ingredients include a halved vanilla pod, a peel or lemon and lime)

Stud one of the oranges with the cloves and the 4 remaining oranges into slices, keeping the peel on.

Put ALL the ingredients into a saucepan and add 600ml of water, heat to simmering point, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Leave for 20 minutes but do not allow to boil or the alcohol will evaporate. Serve in warm mugs or sturdy wine glasses.

Ashleigh Searle