It’s Christmas! Mince Pies! Indulgence! Glib broadsides about capitalism! Probably some other stuff!
Yeah. So, with food as with a lot of things, I’m a bit of a fan of anything that gently subverts the form. Crash that into the fact that it is actually Christmas time, and “proper” mince pies were basically inevitable. It’s like my grandmother always used to say: “You just can’t get too much postmodernism in your dinner.”
Actually, she’d probably have hated postmodernism on principle, in suspicion that it seemed a bit French. But I’m straying from the point.
If we’re going to believe Wikipedia, Mince pies actually started out a bit like this – a meat pie with fruit, spices, and middle eastern influences. Spoilers: the Victorians ruined it.
I love making starters, particularly fussy little pastry contrivances. But Christmas dinner can be an all-out onslaught on the digestion, so something lighter seemed necessary. After an hour or so spent building a fort out of recipe books and looking for something that fit the bill, I failed completely and settled upon caponata. It’s vegetarian, certainly. But it is not light.
Caponata is a rich stew of aubergines and tomatoes, with handfuls of capers and olives. It’s what you’d get to if you spent months trying to re-engineer tapenade into a casserole. It has a sweet and sour edge, and looks lovely – like a rougher aubergine caviar, and just as richly savoury.
So obviously I put goats’ cheese on it. Obviously.
Christmas has left a borderline-harrowing trail of leftovers in its wake. Opening the fridge this morning was an object lesson in facing up to the consequences of my actions. Getting through it all may require a small amount of creative cooking, if only to find even passingly healthy ways to use all the cheese. But for lunch today, I just mixed a bunch of stuff together and fried it.
All these are is a few spoonfuls of stuffing, beaten together with a couple of leftover potatoes, a little goose from the carcass, and a bit of salt. They’re shaped into small patties and carefully fried. More potato or some breadcrumbs on the outside might have made them a bit less fragile, but the result is tasty enough. What makes them is the stuffing.