I live in a village and on first appearances it has all the qualities of somewhere straight out of Call The Midwife. Actually living there is quite different; people don’t know each others names, good luck trying to get them to take your bins in for you and there’s so much material competition it’s like a car forecourt out there. Of course there are exceptions; one of which is the white house on the corner. They have a Bramley apple tree and although (this year especially) they don’t get many apples from it they always put a box of windfalls outside their gate for people to take. I helped myself to one of their apples and set about making some Bramley apple and nut flapjacks.
I love cheesecake. This recipe for mini cheesecake mess is a great way of using up almost anything sweet you’ve got hanging around and, if I do say so myself, look pretty cute too. A lovely little sweet treat for lunch or after dinner. Have you ever tried to make cheesecake (or cream cheese icing) with low fat soft cheese? It never seems to work for me and just ends up all runny and no good at all. I thought I’d give it a try with some Laughing Cow Extra Light to see if that would work, and use up some leftover festive food in the cupboards, and I was so pleased with how they turned out!
This time of year is apple season; one of my favourite times of the year. I love going to the farmers’ market and picking out which apples to try for that week; I am lucky that they offer a try before you buy service as there’s always new varieties to sample. This recipe for Baked Apples with Salted Toffee Sauce is a modern interpretation of a vintage classic. It offers so much for something so simple. If you’ve never baked an apple before I cannot recommend this enough.
You will need (for 2 apples):
You will need for 16 sausage rolls:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small apple, peeled and finely chopped
80g cooked and peeled chestnuts, finely chopped
400g good quality sausages
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
Butter or oil for frying
Salt and pepper
1 pack readymade and rolled puff pastry
Milk or egg for brushing
Melt a large knob of butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the onion, apple and sage and fry for 5-6 minutes or until softened.
Add the chestnuts, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes longer. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
You will need (per glass):
- 50ml sloe gin (to make your own see recipe here)
- 1/2 cap full Mr Fitzpatricks Elderflower and Bramley Apple Cordial
- Juice 1 lime
- Caster sugar
I was going the whole hog with this one, sugar crusting on the edge and everything. It’s easier to make the cocktail in another receptacle and then pour it into the sugar encrusted glass; much less risk of dribbling and dissolving. Start by squeezing the lime juice onto a small plate and putting a thin layer of caster sugar on another plate. Dip the rim of each glass into the lime juice and then into the sugar so you form a rather pretty (sweet and sour) edge to the glass. Mix together the sloe gin, cordial and tonic in a jug and then pour into the prepared glasses.
It wasn’t quite as smooth as I envisaged, it wasn’t like I could grab the berries as I cycled past; that would have been a bit too suave. Elderberries seem to grow just beyond my reach and there is always a little danger involved when picking; will you fall in the ditch, slip in the mud or even lose a welly. This most recent expedition resulted in me being attacked by some stinging nettles, swearing rather loudly and then just a few moments later kicking my bicycle stand into my own foot.
Apples are everywhere at the moment. They are falling out of trays at the market, falling off the trees along the road and falling onto my plate at any given opportunity. As much as I enjoy an apple on its own, it has to be a good one mind, sometimes you can have too many to know what to do with. Apple cakes, crumbles, pies and flapjacks are all lovely but I wanted to enjoy some apples at their very best and not shrouded by too many other flavours.
Pastry has to be, without doubt, the best cradle, blanket or hat for any rich, sumptuous bed of fruit, meat or vegetables. It is that crunch, that warmth and that way it crumbles which makes it just so. I thought of pastry as my nemesis. Stupid stuff that was invariably delicious when prepared by anyone but myself. All this was to change when I met Jane.
Jane makes an awful lot of pastry. She is Jane of Jane’s Kitchen and prepares a marvellous amount of amazing pastry each week for different farmers’ markets around the area. There are trout and caper parcels, Moroccan mountains, seasonal fruit tarts and some classic pies. Best of all Jane uses as many ingredients as possible from the farmers’ market.
A few weeks ago I asked Jane if she would be kind enough to share some of her pastry knowledge with a complete and utter pastry dunce – me. She was more than happy to share her wisdom and I can now pass on this wisdom to anyone else who counts themselves as a pastry novice.
Just like the crumbliness of your crumble is rather personal, so is what you choose to serve the crumble with. Cream, custard or ice cream? If you go for cream is it single, double, Gold Top or clotted? If custard, ready made or home made? If ice cream should it be vanilla with or without vanilla seeds or should it be clotted cream ice cream? It’s all very complicated and someone will always be upset no matter which you choose. I always opt for cream because I can stir it all together in the bowl and pretend I’m 8 years old again.
It had three main ingredients; celeriac, leek and apple. To be frank and somewhat rude, the celeriac is not a looker. If you’ve been through life without the celeriac, please overlook its brutal looks in favour of its wonderful flavour. My apple was half a Russet and half a Kentish somethingorother and rather strikingly large. My leeks were still covered in mud and had a little frost still left from picking in the green ends.