Thanksgiving never seems normal for me - I've spent many a Thanksgiving alone or at Chinese restaurants with my sister - but when I was a kid, my Thanksgivings were more typical. We'd go to my grandparents' house, along with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, my grandmother's sister, auntiie Bert, and my grandfather's sister, aunt Ruth. The adults would play cribbage while we kids watched tv, and dinner would find the adults at the big dining room table, with we kids at the card tables. You could count on my cousin Jill doing something that would offend my creepy uncle Del, and she'd spend the rest of the night out in the car alone. And then we'd have pie.
Mincemeat pie, made by my grandmother, was my favorite, and almost made up for listening to John Bircher auntie Bert go on about the communist peril or waiting for the ever menacing uncle Del to blow a fuse. It wasn't until I grew up and became a vegetarian that I realized that mincemeat actually did have meat in it (usually suet now, though the medieval versions contained chopped meat) and I sadly had to give it up.
But today I came across a recipe for a veggie version of mincemeat pie (butter for suet) at Not Eating Out in New York and I thought I'd post it here .....
Cranberry Orange Mince Pie
for the crust:
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons cold water
for the mincemeat:
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 large baking apple (like Rome or Empire), peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup cranberries
Peel from one Navel or Valencia orange, thinly sliced in strips no wider than 1/4″
1 small lemon
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and freshly Grated ginger
1 tablespoon brandy or triple sec (such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
Make the crust: Combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, your fingers or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour. If using the food processor, pulse several few times until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea. The mixture should look grainy. Add water one tablespoon at a time and stop when the dough is malleable enough to form a ball. (If using food processor, slowly add water one tablespoon at a time to the mixture while pulsing it just until a ball is formed). Break into two balls. Cover them with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. (Crust can be made several hours beforehand and chilled.)
Make the mincemeat: Place lemon in a pot and fill with cold water to cover. Add the orange peel, cover, and bring to a boil. Drain the water. Fill pot with more cold water and bring to a boil again. Drain, and refill with cold water. This time, let the lemon and orange boil for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Remove peels and lemon and let cool. Slice the lemon in half. Remove the “pips” (aka seeds), and quarter the rest in its entirety. Finely chop the orange peels. Add lemon, orange peel, apple, golden raisins, raisins and butter to a food processor and pulse several times until mixture becomes a chunky paste. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the sugar, cranberries, spices and brandy. (Mincemeat can also be made several hours beforehand, covered and chilled.)
Preheat an oven to 375F. Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out one ball of dough for the bottom crust on waxed paper. Place it centered over the pan and carefully peel off paper. Set into the pan and chill, covered, for at least 20 minutes before baking. Roll out dough for the top crust on waxed paper and if desired, decorate with cut-out designs or cut to strips to make a lattice-style crust. Pour the mincemeat into the bottom crust. Top with the top crust (if not making any cut-out designs, pierce the top crust with a fork several times). Crimp along the edges to seal the crust however desired. (Optional: Top crust can be brushed with a little egg wash, milk or cream for added color. It can also be sprinkled with some sugar.) Bake for about 50 minutes, or until top crust is lightly browned and bottom is thoroughly cooked. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.