Text by Sue Hunter, food photos by Sue & Ross Hunter
The first in a series of seasonal cooking tips, always easy and quick to make, and using good value local ingredients. For Christmas time, here are three favourites, ready to fill gaps or to have handy for unexpected guests dropping in. Some of these can be rustled up very quickly too!
Tuna Paté /Dip
1 large tin of tuna fish in brine
1 yellow or red pepper
1 medium onion
Half a cucumber
2 hard-boiled eggs
500 ml mayonnaise
Cayenne pepper or paprika (optional)
- Chop the pepper & onion into fine pieces and then stir fry quickly until slightly softened, set aside to cool.
- Drain the tuna fish into a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork.
- Dice the cucumber, tomato and hard-boiled eggs into small chunks.
- Add the peppers, onion, cucumber, tomato and hard-boiled eggs to the tuna fish and stir together.
- Add the mayonnaise until you have a smooth, paté-like consistency.
- Add pepper and a touch of cayenne powder if you like spice.
- Serve with fresh brown bread or toast as a starter, or with fresh cut vegetables as a dip.
- This will serve 15 people as a dip, or 8 as a starter.
Cost: no more than Rb.400. Preparation time 15 minutes
Traditional Mince Pies with Brandy Butter
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
cold water to mix (5 – 7.5ml to every 25g flour)
milk or beaten egg to seal and glaze
350g mincemeat (either bought in, or using the recipe below)
Wash down with a nice bottle of Praskoveya Winery Calvados (Stavropol)
- Sift the flour into a bowl.
- Chop the butter with a knife into small chunks, rub into the flour with your fingertips, then add the water little by little and stir in with a knife. Draw the dough together with your fingertips and knead quickly until smooth.
- Roll out on a floured surface, and cut with large round cutters, to line deep bun tins.
- Mix some brandy with the mincemeat if you prefer.
- Place a good teaspoon full of mincemeat into each pastry case, brush a little milk around the edge then put the lid on and seal around the edges. Brush with beaten egg or milk to glaze.
- Bake at 220 C / Mark 7, for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the tin and cool, cover with sifted icing sugar. Serve with brandy butter.
Preparation time 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes in the oven. Cost only four and butter (near nothing) and mincemeat
100g butter (softened)
200g icing sugar
1 tbsp brandy
- Beat butter until creamy.
- Gradually beat in the icing sugar adding a little of the brandy. Cream until light and fluffy and all the ingredients are blended in.
- Put into a small dish to serve alongside the mince pies.
Preaparation approximately 5 minutes. Cost Rb.70 for 200 grammes of butter; splash of brandy
This recipe makes about 2.75 kg
350 g raisins
350 g sultanas
350 g currants
175 g chopped mixed peel
175 g flaked almonds (toasted)
1 kg good eating apples, cored and chopped but not peeled 250 g shredded suet
2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1 rounded tsp powdered cinnamon
grated rind & juice of 2 lemons & 2 oranges
150 ml brandy
Mix all the ingredients together. The longer this is left to mature the better, (ideally at least 3 weeks) put in a large tub with a sealed lid and every few days give it a stir. When matured put in jars and seal.
Recipe from Claire Macdonald of Macdonald. 15 minutes preparation, then leave for three weeks. Cost: Rb.150 for a good-sized jar’s worth