|I spoiled the no-sugar thing by dusting the pies with icing sugar!|
First of all, Happy Holidays to you- whatever your faith (or not) it's a welcome break in these busy times, to spend a few days with your family and to show them how much you love them by spending time together, giving gifts and cooking food they'll love. Celebrating Christmas is not a part of bhakti yoga, but we do it in our house for all the aforementioned reasons, and in any case, I do find that come the afternoon/ evening there is always more time than usual for chanting mahamantra on my beads as I don't have to go out anywhere or do any more cooking. Our Gurudeva taught us that having genuine love and affection for others is a basic for spiritual life- otherwise, how can we aspire to love Radha-Krishna? You can tell how spiritually-evolved a person is by the way they treat others. I want our children to remember us as warm-hearted and loving parents who led by example, not aloof and artificially austere people at odds with family life.
Last night we had a little pizza- and- mince-pies party at home with a few devotee friends who were not with their families this year, and on Boxing Day we'll be entertaining again- great reasons for Nanda and I to get creative in the kitchen! As I write this, having prepared the veggies for lunch, my wonderful husband is making an almond nut roast, and I shall don my apron again shortly to make the gravy...
...So let's cut to the recipe: The filling is sweet without refined sugar and the pastry, thanks to Nanda's scientific input, is the crispest ever! Make sure you fill each pie with enough filling, though, as the pastry is not sweetened. I used prunes as they are a superfood; rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. (I eat five every day as they are said to prevent osteoporosis, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my hair since I started.) This recipe makes enough for 28-29 pies, half with lids and half topped with pastry stars. I like to cook them batch by batch as needed over the holiday, so they are hot,crisp and fresh out of the oven for guests.
50g mixed peel
200g mixed fruit (raisins, currants and sultanas)
the grated rind of 1 lemon
175g prunes (about 20), finely chopped
2-3 medium-sized apples, grated
2 tabs date syrup
2 tsps mixed spice
- Combine all the ingredients apart from the date syrup and mixed spice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan
- Heat gently with the lid on until the apple is soft
- Remove from heat and stir in the date syrup and mixed spice.
- You will find the flavour improves after standing for an hour or so.
- Measure out the flours into a bowl and mix together
- Whizz up the oil and 50ml of water with about 1 tab of the flour mixture in a blender
- Rub this into the flour
- Add water to mix to a dough
- You can now roll, fill and bake (at 200C) as many pies as you need, storing any excess in the fridge for use later. Mine lasted less than 24 hours, but it will keep at least 3 days.