Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Quantock Pudding

Yet another pud from this amazing book:

Photo courtesy of this blogger - who also adores this book!
This is another recipe that hails from the West Country, that great apple-producing area of the UK.  It's a batter pudding similar to the French Clafoutis, which is I believe usually made with cherries.  This Quantock or Somerset version actually uses blackberries, but the recipe states that any soft fruit is suitable, as well as apples, pears, rhubarb, apricots and goodberries.  So apples it was!

Quantock Pudding

50g butter
55g plain flour
4 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml whipping cream
150ml full cream milk
450g fruit (I used peeled, cored and chopped apple)
(Optional) 1 tsp cinnamon (if using apples)
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 200C/44F/gas 6.
Using half the butter liberally grease a shallow gratin, ovenproof baking dish with a 1.2l (2 pint) capacity.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, sugar, cinammon if using, and vanilla, then stir in the cream and milk. 
Place the fruit into the dish then pour over the batter.  Dot the remaining batter over the surface, then bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown (test by inserting a skewer and seeing if it comes out clean).

Leave for at least 20 minutes before serving warm and dusted with icing sugar.  Eat with cream.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Dappy

This comically-named pudding hails from the West Country and is a traditional Victorian recipe found in 'Good Old Fashioned Puddings' by Sara Paston-Williams.  It involves making a dough which you then roll into a square, cover with apple, sugar and spice, then roll up rather like a Swiss Roll.  It's then sliced thickly and the slices are laid in a baking dish.  A lemony syrup is poured over before the dish is put into the oven.  Reading the recipe, this sounded fun to try and delicious to eat, and I'm pleased to say that I was correct on both counts. 

Apple Dappy

- Lemon Syrup
1 large lemon
1 tbsp golden syrup
15g butter
115g sugar
200ml water

- Pudding
225g self-raising flour
1 level tbsp baking powder
55g butter, cut into small pieces
150ml milk
450g cooking apples
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

To make the lemon syrup, peel the lemon as thinly as possible and squeeze out the juice.  Place the lemon rind, juice and all the other syrup ingredients into a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Leave to stand until needed.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and run in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix to a dough with the milk, then roll out onto a floured surface to about 20cm square, approximately 5mm thick.

Peel, core and chop the apples, then spread over the pastry.  Sprinkle with the sugar and spice and roll up like a Swiss Roll.

Cut into 2.5 cm thick slices and arrange in a buttered 1.2l/2 pint ovenproof dish.

Remove the lemon rind from the syrup and pour over the pudding.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed up and golden.

Serve hot with cream, custard or ice-cream.

As you can see, the tips of the apple caught a little in the oven, but the rolls of dough did puff up and expand nicely.  The lemony syrup reduced slightly to give an amazing sweet stickiness around the edge of the pudding, as well as a tart sauce below the doughy rolls.  Absolutely lovely!

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte is a dish first found in recipe books from the beginning of the 19th century.  It consists of buttery bread which lines a basin or dish which is then filled with stewed fruit.  A bread 'lid' is popped on top and the whole thing is baked until the bread is golden and crispy.  The Charlotte is then turned out of the basin to be admired by all before tucking in.  

The idea of trying this dish really appealed to me as I love the combination of crispy bread with fruit (as in the Betty I made recently).  The recipe in my Good Old Fashioned Puddings book however was for Apple and Marmalade Charlotte which I didn't like the sound of, so I adapted it slightly and will give my own version below.

As you can see,when I turned the Charlotte out the bread casing gradually began to splay out, slightly spoiling the overall effect.  Luckily it certainly didn't spoil the overall taste, and I wasn't trying to impress any dinner-party guests!  I think next time however I would arrange the bread slices so they slightly overlapped in order to avoid this 'slump'.  But you can learn from my mistake.

Apple (and Blackberry) Charlotte

225g butter
115g caster sugar
4 or 5 slices of day-old white bread
600g cooking apples (or a mix of apples and blackberries)
1 tbsp water

Melt the butter and brush the inside of your chosen mould.  I used the basin in which I cook a medium-sized Christmas Pudding, but you can also use a round cake tin or a loaf tin.  Remove the crusts, then cutting and jigsawing your bread, gradually line the basin by dipping pieces of bread into the melted butter and then pressing the bread around the basin.  I used a round cutter to create a circle of bread for the bottom of the basin, then strips of bread for the sides (see note above about overlapping). 

Peel, core and slice the apples and gently stew in a pan with the sugar and water (and blackberries if using).  Fill the bread-lined basin with the fruit mixture and then place a whole crustless slice of bread dipped in the last of the butter on top of the apples.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220C/425F/gas 7 for 30-40 minutes until brown.

Slide a knife around inside the basin to loosen the Charlotte, then carefully turn out onto a plate.  Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream.

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Normandy Pork

Much as we love the classic Delia dish of Pork with Apples and Cider, it does require a) quite a lot of preparation by way of chopping ingredients, and  b) a fair amount of forward planning as it has to cook for 3 hours.  The previous recipe in the book  (Delia's Complete Cookery Course) is just as nice (possibly even nicer?), but much simpler and quicker to cook.  Once again, as you can see in the photo below it's no beauty in terms of looks, but it's rich and delicious, hearty and warming for an Autumnal evening.   We like it with rice a green veg, but it would also be lovely with some crusty bread to mop up the cidery juices.

Normandy Pork with Cream and Apples

4 medium sized pork chops or steaks
50g butter
1 medium cooking apple and 1 large Cox's apple (I just use 2 medium Bramleys)
1 large onion, cut into rings
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp dried thyme (I actually prefer to substitute a tsp of fennel seeds here)
1/2 pint dry cider (or a whole can  - we buy cans of cider just for cooking)
3 tbsp double cream
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

Melt half the butter in a frying pan and fry the pork on both sides to a nice crusty golden colour.  Then transfer them to a lidded casserole dish and sprinkle with the thyme (or fennel if using).

Add the remaining butter to the pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes to soften.  Meanwhile core the apples and slice them into rings (or chunks), leaving on the peel as this gives extra flavour.  Transfer the onion and garlic to the casserole with the pork, then fry the apple in the same fat just for a few seconds on each side then put them in the casserole too, sprinkling on the tsp of sugar.

Spoon off any fat still left in the pan (although if you use lean pork steaks you won't need to do this) then pour in the cider. Bring it up to simmering  point, stirring to loosen any tasty bits stuck to the pan, then pour into the casserole and season with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and place the casserole into the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until the meat is cooked (I often leave it for up to an hour, it doesn't hurt and makes the meat even more tender).  Then to finish off stir in the cream.  Serve immediately.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Betty

Another lovely pudding from my cookbook of the moment, 'Good Old Fashioned Puddings' by Sara Paston-Williams.  This is actually in the book as Rhubarb and Orange Betty, but as with most of these fruit puddings substitutions are easily made. 

A Betty is a 19th century pudding invented, I assume, to help people use up stale bread.  It consists of layers of fruit and crispy breadcrumbs, and has been a revelatory discovery for me - I just adore the crunchy breadcrumb topping, made rich and luxurious with the addition of a large amount of butter!

Melt 85g/3oz of butter in a heavy frying pan, then add 115g/4oz of white breadcrumbs.  In reality my bag of breadcrumbs, kept in the freezer, is made up of all manner of types of bread as I can't bear to throw anything away, so I can say with confidence that any breadcrumbs will be fine!  Fry until golden brown and crispy.  At this point you could also add some spices as flavourings.  I added nutmeg, plus a tablespoon of demerara sugar as I felt this would add a pleasing crunch.

As this pudding will have 45 minutes in the oven you don't really need to pre-stew the fruit.  The recipe says to use raw rhubarb when you start layering the pudding, so I just cut the apples (about 450g/1lb) into fairly thin slices (also peeled and cored), before mixing them with 85g of soft brown sugar (you may need more for tarter fruit).

Layer fruit in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, top with crispy breadcrumbs, then another layer of fruit.  Finish with more breadcrumbs, then cover with foil.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue cooking for a further 20 5-30 minutes until the top is brown and crisp and the fruit soft.

We served this with vanilla ice-cream. 

Definitely my favourite apple pudding so far this year!

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Delia Smith's Pork with Apples and Cider

I couldn't possibly begin to count the times we have made and eaten this dish, it's become such a standby that we barely even need the recipe to make it.  It's from an ancient and battered 1983 edition of Delia's Complete Cookery Course.  It's a great shove-it-in-the-oven-and-forget-about-it kind of meal that incorporates meat, some veg, sauce and potatoes, so only needs a simple veg accompaniment (we favour sweetheart cabbage) and dinnerl is complete.  It's not exactly much of a 'looker' as a dish (and quite frankly I only remembered to take a photograph for the blog as I was about to raise the first forkful to my mouth!) but what it lacks in attractiveness it certainly makes up for in flavour.

Pork with Apples and Cider
(serves 4)

4 lean pork chops or steaks  (Delia says pork belly or spare rib chops, we prefer steaks)
6 rashers of bacon, chopped (Delia says unsmoked streaky, we use whatever we have)
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced (we use 2 if we are mid-apple-glut)
2 medium onions, chopped small
1/4 pint/150ml dry cider (we use a whole can)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 juniper berries crushed with the back of a spoon (optional)
1.5lb/700g potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
Olive Oil
A little butter
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 140C/275F/gas 1.

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the pork on both sides, then transfer to a wide shallow casserole with a lid.  Next, in the same pan, brown the bacon then place on top of the pork and season. 

Now sprinkle over the garlic and juniper berries (if using), then the apple and onion.  Add the cider and cover with a layer of overlapping potatoes.  Finally put some dabs of butter onto the potatoes, cover the dish with foil or greaseproof paper, then with a close-fitting lid.

Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Towards the end of the cooking time preheat the grill to a high setting, then place the dish uncovered under the grill to brown the potatoes.  (We don't always bother with this step.  It leaves the potatoes a little anaemic, but doesn't affect the taste).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Cobbler

I have a lovely cookbook published by The National Trust entitled 'Good Old-Fashioned Puddings', by Sara Paston-Williams.  As you'd expect, it's full of wonderful-sounding puddings with intriguing names such as Hollygog Pudding, Whim-Wham, Flummery, Moonshine, Durham Fluffin' and Taffety Tart.  And as you'd also expect, there are many recipes that use fruit native to the UK, including of course lots of apple puds.  This recipe was in fact for a Damson Cobbler, but I simply substituted the same weight of apples, and used slightly less sugar with the fruit as damsons are very tart.  A cobbler is simply a fruit pudding with a scone-like topping, presumably named because the topping looks like cobblestones.

Fruit Cobbler

- Fruit Base
900g (2lb) damsons, apples, plums, rhubarb - take your pick
225g (9oz) caster sugar (this amount given for damsons, I used less for apples, simply add to taste)
150ml (1/4 pint) water (again, this is for damsons, I used less - maybe 50ml - for apples)

- Cobbler Topping
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
Pinch salt
25g (1oz) sugar
55g (2oz) butter
1 egg
1-2 tbsp milk
Graulated sugar for sprinkling

Wash fruit (peel/core apples) and cook slowly in a saucepan with the sugar and water until just tender.  At this point you could also add any other flavourings you like - I grated in some nutmeg as I love it with apples, but cinnamon or vanilla would also work.  Remove stones from damsons/plums if using.  Turn fruit into an overproof dish and leave to cool.

My able assistant chops the apples.

Mix flour, salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl, then rub in the butter.  Beat the egg then add to the mixture with enough milk to make a soft dough.  Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1cm thick.  Cut dough into rounds with a 5cm cutter and arrange on the top of the fruit.  Depending on the size of your dish you might simply make a ring of overlapping scones, or you may cover it completely.  Brush the scone topping with a little milk and bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 10 mins.  Then reduce the oven temperature to 190C.  Sprinkle the top generously with granulated sugar and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until well risen and golden brown.

The Apple Diaries 2015 - Apple Chutney

I may not have blogged for a couple of weeks, but there has been plenty of apple-related cooking going on here.  After a barren year from our apple tree last year, I really needed to make another batch of chutney.  I used my failsafe simple recipe which I have made for many years now.  I've blogged it before, but here it is again:

Penelope Keith's Apple Chutney

4lb windfall apples, peeled, cored and roughly diced
1lb onions, chopped
1lb sultanas
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pint malt vinegar
1lb soft brown sugar
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Put all ingredients into a pan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 hours until dark brown.  (My note - from experience... Keep an eye on it for the last hour as it can stick and burn if left for too long at this point).  Pot whilst hot, in sterilised jars.

The major change that I made this year was to try making it in the slow cooker.  I figured this would stop the chutney sticking to the pan which can often happen if you take your eye off it in the final stages of cooking.  I was correct in that it didn't stick, but the slight problem was that the liquid failed to evaporate as the slow cooker has a lid. 

However, this was easily solved:  Once the chutney was dark brown (after several hours in the cooker), I simply took the lid off for another hour or so until it reduced slightly.  I can't give precise timings, slow-cooking just isn't like that, I just judged 'by eye' when it was ready.

I had an eager helper for the potting process, and am pleased that we now have 5 decent sized jars full of chutney to see us through the coming year.  It's best to leave it a few months before eating, but as we still have various jars of various vintages from various friends and family, that'll be fine!