Saturday, December 24, 2011

Traditional Christmas Goodies

I've not put anything up for some time ... it really has been a busy time for me and I do wish I had more time to maintain this blog.

Anyway, the last week has been a veritable whirlwind of baking my Christmas goodies - my "staples" of pineapple tarts and shortbread, and my first batch ever of mince pies!  Three "traditional" Christmas delicacies, one from England, one for the Eurasian community, and one distinctly my family's own.

I really don't know why people express surprise when I tell them I make pineapple tarts for Christmas.  I tell them that this is a Eurasian tradition.  I also tell them (and am met with some polite scepticism) that there is reasonably strong grounds to suspect that the Eurasians came up with the golden treat in the first place, as mentioned in my earlier post

Since then, a kind reader gave  me some useful information - that the pineapple plant we all know and love came from the same place that the rubber tree did - South America.  The popular story appears to be that Columbus discovered it in 1493 and brought it back with him to Europe.  From there, it is likely that the European explorers /colonisers/missionaries brought it with them to South East Asia.  (One suspects the Portuguese, but my informant figured the French).  Whoever it was, the fruit came via Europe, the cooking techniques are more western than oriental, the very traditional Eurasian practice of eating this at Christmas together with the sugee cake...  ... whatever it is, I have enough jam left over to make a fresh batch for Chinese New Year, thus satisfying both traditions :-)

The shortbread, however, is no Eurasian tradition but my family's own favourite recipe.  I wrote about it in a previous post too, so I won't go into it any further here.

So that leaves me with my mince pies.  Now, these are indeed traditional English Christmas treats.  And, as a child I also recall my mother buying mincemeat to make these gorgeous apple pies - apple lining the bottom of the pastry base, with the mince layering the top, followed by strips of criss-crossing pastry on top.  Ah, those were indeed absolutely delicious childhood memories.

This time round, however, I decided to go with Nigella Lawson's Frangipane Mince Pies which come with a little layer of mince at the bottom of the tart and then covered with the eggy/buttery/almond-y topping and baked till beautiful and golden on top.  Ah, the divine Ms Lawson indeed deserves her Domestic Goddess status as these beautiful little pies really were quite delectable.  Alas, could only sample one piece (baker's privilege) as the rest are destined for my extended family's Christmas Eve dinner tonight, where I hope they will disappear like the hot cakes they are. 

But I still have half a bottle of mincemeat left, so maybe there is a mincemeat and apple pie in my not too distant future...

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