Sunday, November 13, 2005


It has occurred to me that I've been a little negative lately, here and elsewhere, using the "Ew" button on my keyboard with too great frequency. So I thought I'd share what I have been enjoying lately.

First there is a gorgeous discovery that I swear I remember from a cookbook somewhere, but perhaps I just dreamed it. You cook some chopped greens (mixed collards and mustard, for example) so that they are soft but not as collapsed as Southerners usually like them; then you drain the water away, add a little peanut oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, and soy sauce, and sizzle for a few minutes over a moderate flame. That's all, and they are spectacular.

Then there is the Passion Du Jour around here: mini pear mincemeat pies. The filling is adapted from a 1960s-vintage Farm Journal Freezing & Canning Cookbook I got at a flea market. So far I have canned seven pints of it, but there is always a quarter to a third of a pint left over, which is an uncannable amount (at least with the jars I own!). So the next afternoon there are mini mince pies, made with the freshly cooked filling.

3 1/2 to 4 lbs. pears, peeled and cored (go for the larger amount if your pears are small, because you will lose a higher percentage of the weight as waste)
1 small apple, peeled and cored
1/2 lemon, seeded but left with its peel on
1 lb. raisins
3 3/8 c. sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In two batches, run the pears, apple, lemon, and raisins through a food processor so they are chunky/pasty. Combine this mixture with the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes.
Pack into hot pint jars (and a half-pint jar, if you need it) and process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 pints with a bit left over.

Now for the crust:

1 c. all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut up
2 Tbs. plain yogurt (nonfat will work fine)

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. With your fingers, rub in the butter until the largest pieces are about 1/4 inch or smaller. Add yogurt and stir with a fork until dough comes together.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll dough out between two sheets of waxed paper. Cut circles with a biscuit cutter and press into a mini muffin pan. You should get about 9 circles the first time and you'll be able to get the remaining 3 by gently re-rolling the scraps.

Fill these mini shells with mincemeat and bake until golden brown and bubbling.

Wait as long as you can to eat them, because if you devour one immediately you might burn the roof of your mouth. Not that I would know anything about that.