LEE Conetta is Glasgow food royalty, with many years’ experience helping to run one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups.

Each fortnight in Times Out, she will share memories of her life less ordinary, and the food she loves to cook.

This week, Mrs Conetta has Christmas – past and present – on her mind and serves up a delicious festive take on an Italian classic.

CHRISTMAS in the Conetta-Eastwood family has always been a huge event.

We, like many a Glasgow family, worked very hard right up until the last moment so by the time we did stop, we were all ready for the holiday.

At the café, my favourite festive job to do was sell the beautiful boxes of chocolates.

When I picture it in my head, I can still see them all - Terry’s All Gold, Cadbury’s with its pictures of beautiful landscapes or cute puppies on the front, Nestle’s Home Made Assortment, Meltis Newberry Fruits …names that bring back memories and will probably be familiar to many readers.

I loved doing this – it always brought out the great personalities of Glasgow and the banter was hilarious.

“Aw, hen, gie us the biggest wan you’ve got,” they’d ask, “as I have had a few too many and my missus will kill me…”

It was great fun in the café at Christmas.

Everyone was so cheery. We were right across the road from Belvidere Hospital, so you can imagine how busy that was.

As a family, we went to my aunt and uncle, the Crollas, (of the famous Italian delicatessan and wine merchant, Valvona and Crolla).

They were our Edinburgh relations so it always felt like a day trip.

Glasgow Times: Lee Conetta with her Christmas Plum Pie. STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..13/12/21.

The sisters would get together and pull off something amazing, always involving huge bowls of food.

READ MORE: 'He wasn't convinced' - the Glasgow favourite Mrs Conetta told famous chef he MUST serve in new city restaurant

It was a veritable feast - antipasto to start, a huge bowl of spaghetti made with oxtail, turkey and all the trimmings, and then Christmas pudding, of course, with hazelnut meringue and cream cake.

Joe’s uncle Victor would go out to the street and bring in two perfect strangers to join our Christmas dinner.

Glasgow Times: Lee Conetta (green) with her family at a Christmas of yesteryear. STY..Pic family/ Herald & Times..13/12/21.

His mother never knew quite what to expect. One year he brought in two American sailors.

It would always end in a sing song, and Phillip would belt out that great Italian classic (just kidding) Paddy McGinty’s Goat…

Often we would have jam tart at Christmas, a dessert very popular in northern Italy. They would be traditionally decorated with pastry strips and the filling could be anything – plum jam, custard, ricotta, chocolate…

For a truly festive treat this week, before I finish up for a few weeks until January, I’m adapting the recipe to use mincemeat and brandy sauce. I've had some help too - from Sara, a young Italian student staying with me just now to help her improve her English. 
We hope you enjoy!

Buon appetito and have a very merry Christmas.

Glasgow Times: Lee Conetta's Christmas Plum Pie. STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..13/12/21.



1 3/4 cups of flour

A pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup of butter chilled

2 eggs for the pastry

1/4 tsp lemon zest

Tsp baking powder

Jar of mincemeat (or you can use any filling you like)

1 egg, beaten, for glazing

2tbsp whipping cream


1 Place the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2 Add the egg yolks, salt, baking powder and lemon rind. Work to a smooth dough then leave in the fridge for one hour.

3 Butter and lightly flour a cake tin with a removable base, 12 cms in diameter.

4 Roll out a little more than half the pastry and line the cake tin - take it up the sides to around 3 cms.

5 Fill with mincemeat - you can add a sprinkle of orange juice here – then smooth with a palette knife.

6 Roll out and cut the remaining pastry into strips to make a lattice pattern over the top of mincemeat.

7 Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake in a moderate oven at Gas Mark 4/ 180 degrees C for 30 mins or until golden brown.

8 Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with brandy butter or whipped cream, and a glass of brandy or Bailey’s.