Imagine tucking into a mince pie on Christmas Day to find an insect staring back at you.
It's enough, perhaps, to put you off your dinner. But these 'Mince Flies', which are completely edible and highly nutritious, have been created to prove an important point.
Made with beetle larvae, locusts and buffalo worms they're meant to make us think healthy, more sustainable alternatives at a time of year when many of us may over-indulge.
One of the simplest ways of tackling the sustainability of our food supply is by exploring alternative sources of protein. If we want to be able to feed a growing population, even at Christmas people need to be open to new food adventures and look beyond traditional favourites such as turkey, goose or gammon.
Insects are nutritious too, high in essential fatty acids, calcium, zinc, iron and B12. Gram for gram crickets have comparable levels of protein compared to beef but 50% fewer calories and about 60% less fat.
With nearly 2000 known edible insect species to try, supplementing our diet with insects is one solution to combat rising food prices and the environmental impacts of traditional livestock farming. Trust me, these 'Mince Flies' really are delicious and we hope they will get people thinking about what their traditional Christmas dinner might look like in the future.
Here's how to make 'Mince Flies' (makes around 9 pies)
Pastry:125g Plain FlourPinch of salt55g Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes2-3 tbsp Cold Water
Filling:9 tbsp mincemeat8 tbsp dried buffalo worms (plus extra for decoration)1 egg (beaten)
Decoration:Remaining buffalo worms9 dried locusts Icing sugar
Put the flour, salt and butter in a food mixer or processor (you can easily do it with your hands, too), then mix or pulse (or rub together if hand-making) to the consistency of breadcrumbs
Add the cold water a splash at a time on a slow speed until the dough comes together, then wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 15 mins before use
Mix the mincemeat with the worms. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to sit in the hollows of a metal cake tray, then fill each with a heaped tablespoon of mincemeat, leaving 1cm of clear pastry around each edge
Paint around this rim with the egg mixture, then add a pastry lid made from a slightly smaller pastry cutter and press around the edges to stick them together
For decoration, make a slit in the top of each pie, then press a dried locust into it. Paint around it with more of the egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining worms on top
Bake in the middle of a hot oven at 175C (fan)/200C (conventional oven)/gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes then cool on a wire rack. When they are cool to the touch sieve some icing sugar from a bit of a height, and they are ready to serve
Stefan Gates will be performing “Supertasters”, a high-octane show exploring the science of food at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair at the NEC, Birmingham from 11-14 March 2015. To register or formore information visit www.thebigbangfair.co.uk