Now it Feels Like Christmas!

Isn’t it funny that one thing can suddenly make it feel more like Christmas – usually it’s when I make the Christmas cake, but this year I have been so busy with QVC and writing my latest book that I didn’t really get into the festive spirit after baking the cake, even with the gorgeous aroma and the lashings of brandy it received. However, on Wednesday morning I made my first mince pies of the year (recipe later in the blog) and this morning we are going to buy the Christmas tree – now it feels like Christmas, even without snow!

If you’re not feeling it yet, take a look at the second Presenter Festive challenge, where we had to name Santa’s reindeer in thirty seconds! I thought Debs Flint and I did quite well, but we were pipped at the post…

I quite like the idea of ‘Flasher’ as a reindeer name – maybe Santa should enlist some new helpers?!?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have been doing quite a bit of QVC Christmas shopping, my latest purchases being two Luxenoa candles – I couldn’t possibly tell you who they are for but I can confirm they both they smell divine! We also received some Snowdonia cheeses and the Velvetiser this week, the latter being our ‘wedding present’ from my mum. It arrived on Tuesday and we ‘christened it’ straight away on Tuesday evening… Chris had milk, I had 70% and our son had hazelnut – successful all round. We used almond milk and it worked perfectly. We won’t be using it all the time, but how nice to have it there for a little treat when we fancy one, especially if we do get snow this winter.

There is something so cosy about snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate drink when it’s cold outside. Although, I discovered on air this week that fashion guest, Glen Campbell has never had hot chocolate!!!!

I also discovered that Glen’s favourite snack at this time of year is a mince pie and a cup of tea. This was after he moaned about me not bringing him a mince pie in after my baking bout that morning. I will take him one in today as we are working together for fashion on Friday – do remember that we now have a specially selected item to start the 5 p.m. show, which will be on FIVE easy interest-free instalments (same on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. too).

But back to mince pies, and as promised, here is my recipe:

For the pastry:

  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 8 oz wholemeal plain four
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz Trex (white vegetable fat)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 – 6 tablespoons cold water
  • Mincemeat (I use shop-bought, but apparently Delia Smith has a good recipe)

 

  • Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and add both types of fat, cut into chunks. Rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips – it should resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Spoon 5 tablespoons of water onto the ‘breadcrumb type mix’ and, using a knife mix until it forms a dough. If it is not collecting add 1 more tablespoon of water but remember, the less water you use, the shorter the pastry will be (ie. crumblier).
  • Roll out half of the dough on a well-floured surface until quite thin. Use a larger pastry cutter for the bottoms and a smaller one for the tops. Repeat with the other half of the dough then gather up the offcuts from both, collect in a ball and roll out again. You should be able to make 24 of each…
  • Line patty tins with the larger rounds and add a generous teaspoon of mincemeat.
  • Using your finger, run water around the edge of each top before laying it over a bottom then press down to seal edges, crimping with your fingers. Cut a small cross in the top of the mince pies and add a sprinkle of sugar.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven (Fan assisted 180 C – regular 200 C) for 20 minutes.

This is my weekend off but don’t miss out on some of the great Today’s Special Value offers we have between now and when I’m next in on Thursday. Lovely Fiona Brackenbury will be launching the Decleor TSV on air tonight at 9 p.m. – it’s already been selling very well on pre-sell if you’re a Decleor fan.

Also, Harry Slatkin is back on Tuesday with a Homeworx TSV. I was lucky enough to work with Harry on his first visit to QVC UK a couple of months ago and as well as being beautifully fragranced, his candles look good too. And then we have a Radley purse TSV offer on Wednesday.

Purses are such a great gift idea, but do remember to include some money (preferably a coin) when you give a purse to bring the recipient good fortune – it may be an old wives’ tale but I’m not going to risk going against it!

Before I leave for work, just a heads up on this week’s Inside QVC podcast… it’s our very own beauty expert, Alison Young, and on Monday, the new one will be Simon from Butler & Wilson – something to listen to while you’re decorating the tree perhaps?? – we’ll be doing this monster tomorrow … photos next week!

Have a great weekend.

Much love,
Julia xx

7 Responses

  1. Lovely to see that your recipe and mine are almost the same ( I don’t use whole meal, I just use white) otherwise same same!
    Not that many of the folks I know, make them themselves…..
    Glen will enjoy. I am going to make some this evening, to take with me , when visiting my brother(he is in a nursing home with dementia, but will definitely enjoy!)
    Love your shows, Julia. You really are lovely to listen to and you are always so professional. ( I like that and can’t be bothered listening to presenters, who talk rubbish all the time, instead of following the programme!) Happy Happy Christmas, to you and your “ new husband” !

    1. Hi Jane,
      I sometimes do mine with all white flour but always a mix of plain & self-raising. I hope your brother enjoyed his – Glen messaged that he liked his… phew!
      Thanks for your kind comments re my presenting on QVC.
      Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas
      Love
      Julia x

  2. Hi Julia

    I have just read your book Little Girl Missing, what a great story. What I love about your books is that you don’t want to put the book down.
    I went over to my daughter’s on Saturday afternoon to look after her nine week old Labrador Puppy while they went shopping. I took your book with me to read while he was asleep. I got so into the story that when I went home and did our Tea and did our Dogs and Cat I had to sit down with the book again. In fact I finished the whole book before I went to bed. A great story.
    Your Mince Pies look delicious, I guess we will be seeing Julia’s Pies on the Andi Peter’s food show next year.
    Yes I got my Velvitiser last week, great, my daughter ordered one the same time, still not got her’s.
    Hope you and your family have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
    Jean. Xx

    1. Hello Jean
      Thanks so much for your lovely comments re Little Girl Missing, I’m so pleased it had you hooked. Feedback is so important particularly when a book is part of a series – it’s good to know I’m on the right track.
      Hahaha – not sure about Julia’s pies – is there a market for only veggie ones?
      We’ve been very good with the Velvetiser- if we have dessert no hot chocolate! I hope your daughter’s will arrive soon.
      Merry Christmas to you and yours
      Love
      Julia
      X

    1. Hi Anne,
      The mince pies were yummy even though I say so myself. All gone now, so will have to make some more tomorrow.
      I love that sign too – very American Diner
      Love
      Julia x

  3. Hello Julia, Just back from a quick visit to our place in Cyprus, we have people staying there from the weekend till the New Year. Weather wasn’t to bad if a bit chilly in the evenings. I watched the Diamond show with Laurie. W. i did try and call in and sent a txt but nothing happened. I too have a D grade Diamond in my engagement ring which is why i wanted to talk to her. Its beautiful i have 2 Diamonds on each side of the central stone….absolutely stunning ring. Will try again next time she has a show. I’m quite interested in gem stones and recently bought a book to read up on them. We haven’t put the tree up yet, nor made any mince pies, (i use half and half flour too) but written and posted many cards this year although not received very many as yet. Ian of course will be working flat out over the Festive Period so me and my son on the day…and will see the little ones probably Boxing Day, do we have our holiday to look forward to in the New Year. Will let you all about it.
    Wishing you and you family a Happy and Fun Christmas.

    Bye for now.
    Kathy x

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