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Christmas cookery

21 December 2017

A GUEST speaker at the upcoming Church Times Faith and Literature Festival in Bloxham, Bill Sewell, has recently published a treasury of recipes. As a longstanding vegetarian himself, he’s offering this Three-mushroom tartlet with a roast garlic and pine nut base, and cep sauce for Christmas this year. It is the sort of dish that meat-eaters will pile into, given half a chance; so, if you offer meaty alternatives, make sure that the vegetarians get to the buffet first.

The tartlet cases and the pine-nut purée can be made the day before, but don’t assemble them until you are ready to eat. This serves 4.

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/325°F/Gas 3. Roll out 250g (10 oz) wholemeal pastry very thinly and line four tartlet tins, being careful not to stretch it, and use baking beans to keep them in shape. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just cooked.


For the pine-nut base:

4 cloves garlic, baked in their skins
40g (1½ oz) pine nuts, toasted
1 branch fresh thyme, stripped
1 tablespoons lemon juice
35 ml (1 fl. oz) water
¼ teaspoon salt


Bake the garlic for about 20 minutes till soft. Cool and peel them. Blend them with the other ingredients until smooth, and then taste. Adjust the seasoning with extra lemon juice or salt as necessary.

Before the meal, fry each of the following in 2 tablespoons of sun­flower oil, with a good pinch of salt for each batch of mushrooms:


175g (6 oz) field mushrooms, cut into large chunks
175g (6 oz) oyster mushrooms
175g (6 oz) shitake mushrooms


Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/ 325°F/Gas 3. Divide the pine-nut mixture between the tartlet cases and spread it evenly over the bases. Arrange the mushrooms on top, starting with the field mushrooms, then the oyster mushrooms, and, lastly, the shitake mushrooms ar­­ranged bottom up. Place the tartlets on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until piping hot.


For the Cep sauce:

25g (1 oz) dried ceps soaked in 200ml (5 fl. oz) hot water for 30 mins
1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
100g (4 oz) field mushrooms, finely diced
125 ml (4 fl. oz) red wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot


Sweat the onion, garlic, and chilli in the sunflower oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft and their juice runs. Add the wine and soy sauce. Add the ceps, reserving their liquor to strain finely and add. Bring everything to the boil and reduce the sauce by simmering for about five minutes with the lid off.

Mix the arrowroot with a few drops of cold water, and add half to the sauce. Bring back to the boil, stir­ring well. If you like a thicker sauce, repeat with the rest of the arrowroot mixture. Check the seasoning.

Bill’s rich Mince pie pastry makes 40, and the vegetarian mincemeat will make enough for two batches.


500g (1 lb 4 oz) plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
350g (12 oz) chilled butter cubes
150g caster sugar
2 egg yolks beaten with 2 whole eggs


Whizz flour, salt, and butter to­­gether in a food processor until the mix­­ture is like breadcrumbs. Add sugar and whizz again very briefly. Add the eggs to the flour mix, and pulse a few times until the dough just comes together. Divide the dough in two, wrap each in clingfilm, and chill for an hour.


500g (1 lb 4 oz) Bramley apples, cored and diced finely
250g (10 oz) pre-shredded vegetarian suet
500g (1 lb 4 oz) raisins
375g (8 oz) sultanas
250g (10 oz) mixed candied peel, diced
350g (7 oz) light muscovado sugar
2 lemons and 2 oranges, juice and zest
2 dessertspoons mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
100ml (3 fl. oz) ginger wine


Mix everything apart from the ginger wine in a large mixing bowl. Cover with foil and bake at 120°C (fan)/ 225°F/Gas ¼ for 2 hours until the apple is tender. Stir in the ginger wine. Store in pre-warmed sterilised jam jars or in Tupperware in the fridge.

Bill likes patty pans 7cm (2½ inch) diameter and 2.5cm (1 inch) deep, with flat bottoms, to fit in plenty of filling and prevent juice boiling over. Roll out the pastry quite thin (using both batches, as you need) and line the pans with 9cm (3½-inch) circles.

Put one good dessertspoonful into each, top with a pastry star, and brush with a little beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C (fan)/200°F/Gas 6. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a rack. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


Bill’s Kitchen can be obtained from www.billscafes.co.uk. Bill Sewell appears at the Bloxham Festival on Sunday 18 February. For a full pro­gramme, go to https://bloxhamfaithand literature.hymnsam.co.uk.


Thu 11 Aug @ 07:42
“Due process will now follow, through the clergy disciplinary canon. . . The suspension will be kept under regular… https://t.co/V1ckt1OYUR

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