Tag Archives: apple

Blackberry and apple muffins

With all my talk of things that have not been good in the garden this year, (and then reeling off a list of the things that have done well and caused envy in several of you – sorry),  I can report that blackberries have done really well this year. We have several blackberry brambles in our hedge – which says a lot for my weeding skills.

It has been lovely to watch the girls crouching by the hedge feasting off the goodies. Although, this has occasioned me to stand over them a few times reminding them that they must only eat the berries that look like purple raspberries and not to eat any that are single purple berries (again my lack of weeding skills and the habit of deadly nightshade liking to grow in hedges). Am I coming across as paranoid? If I am, then it’s because I am.

I formed a bad habit of giving the girls something to eat when I meet them from school. This means a trip to the shop next to their school for a mint choc chip ice cream a couple of times a week, or a chocolate bar fetched out of my bag. But I do try to cook them something once a week. I was inspired by Michele’s recent post about bran muffins. The ones I cooked in the end are roughly based on my mini chocolate muffins  but are probably healthier. I wondered how they would be received by the girls, as they can be fussy little blighters. I am pleased to report that they really enjoyed them and ate several.

This recipe makes 12 mini muffins (fairy cake size) and would make 6 normal sized muffins.

60g wholemeal flour
60g plain flour
30g oatbran
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon

100ml milk
1 egg
25g melted butter
50g muscovado sugar
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50g blackberries (frozen, if that is what you have)

2- 3 tsp of demerara sugar for the topping

Method

Measure the flours, oatbran, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl and mix well.

Put the milk, egg, melted butter, sugar, apple and blackberries in a large bowl and mix these well. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix lightly. Do not overmix. Divide the mixture into 12 fairy cake cases. Sprinkle each one with demerara sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 15 -20 minutes until golden and firm on top.

 

 

Roasted pumpkin stuffed with risotto

We grew this little beauty.  It seemed such a shame to cut it up that I just popped it in the oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or near the bottom of the Aga’s roasting oven covered in olive oil and roasted it until tender. Because it is quite small it took only twenty five to thirty minutes to roast.  Whilst it was roasting I made a risotto inspired by my recent fidget pie adventures using cider, sage, prosciutto, cream and a deliciously sweet apple from our tree. I stuffed as much of this risotto into the hollowed out pumpkin (removing the seeds but leaving the flesh intact) as I could and then roasted again for 15-20 minutes until bubbling.

It’s a wonderful celebration of autumn even if we are having a last fling with summer here in the UK this week. It’s a great dish to take whole to the table and let everyone dig out as much risotto and pumpkin flesh as they can.

This pumpkin served 2 hungry adults and 1 hungry child (and 1 child who said yuck – no surprise there though).

1 small to medium-sized pumpkin
Olive oil

25g butter
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 small apple, cored and sliced thinly (you can leave the skin on)
3-4 slices of prosciutto (reserve 1 slice to place on top for the final roasting)
5-6 sage leaves, finely sliced
120g risotto rice
300ml cider
250ml water
2 tbsp double cream
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Place the whole pumpkin in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in a hot oven, 200°c, gas mark 6 or the roasting oven of the Aga until tender when a skewer is pushed through to the centre.  How long this takes will depend on the size of the pumpkin. Mine took thirty minutes. Allow to cool a little and then slice off the top and scoop out the seeds. Place the hollow pumpkin back onto the roasting tray.

Make the risotto by frying the onion, garlic and sliced apple in the butter for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.  Heat the cider and water together in a pan and keep at barely simmering. Add the prosciutto and sage leaves to the onions and continue to fry for a minute or two.  Add the rice and stir until all of the grains are coated in the butter. Add a ladleful of the cider and water mixture and stir the risotto continuously.  Add another ladleful when the first has evaporated and continue in this manner until the rice is creamy and has only a tiny bit of resistance when you bite into it.  Add one more ladleful of cider and water and cook for a minute or so and then add the double cream, stir through. Season to taste and then fill the pumpkin with this mixture and place the reserved prosciutto on top.  Place back into the oven for 15-20 minutes until all is bubbling. Serve with crusty bread and parmesan grated over the top.

 

 

Shropshire Fidget Pie

Shropshire Fidget Pie is, I have to admit, something I became aware of only a few years ago.  It seems it went out of fashion for some time.  The interest in eating local food has revived its fortunes and I finally got to taste a fidget pie a couple of months ago at our local National Trust property.  The National Trust cafes tend to serve superb local food and this one serves food that is harvested on site from the walled garden and the farm.  Fortunately for me one of the cooks at this property is also a family friend so when I saw her just before Christmas I grilled her for the recipe.  She told me what made up the filling.

Anyway,  as a true Salopian I thought it was about time I made a Fidget Pie.  (For those unaware, a Salopian is someone born in Shropshire.  The county was previously known as Salop, goodness knows why they felt the need to change the name).  Some of you might be aware that I am very proud to be a Salopian and a Midlander so to cook something that hails from the county makes me very pleased.

Our friend’s advice and a search around the internet has led to this version.  It is a combination of several recipes.  At the National Trust they make it in a pasty shape but it is also made like a pork pie in some recipes or as a topped pie as I have in this version.

It was a total success.  Mr OC was a bit dubious when he heard what was in a Fidget Pie, but he was certainly won over tonight. The combination of cider and apples really deliver a tasty punch.  This is a pie that comes highly recommended by me and Mr OC.

Serves 4

For the pastry:

8 oz plain white flour
4 oz cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1 bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
250g (10oz) ham or gammon
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
150 ml (¼ pint) double cream
300ml (½ pint) cider

Beaten egg for brushing over the top of the pie.

Method

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour and cold butter into a food processor and whizz until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need more or less) and whizz until it forms a ball.  Put the pastry into a plastic food bag or wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling, boil the potatoes for 3 minutes and then add the onions to the water and boil for another 2- 3 minutes.  Drain well.

Using a dish that measures 23cm x 30cm layer the apples, potato, onion and ham into the dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the brown sugar and the sage.

In a  jug stir together the cornflour and the cream until combined and then mix in the cider.  Pour this over the filling.

Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish and then cover the dish, pressing down well around the sides. Make a hole in the top of the pie. I used my blackbird as a steam vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until the pie is golden brown.

The fidget before pastry

My eldest helping with the pastry and egg wash

Scones by Mangocheeks

Mangocheeks has a wonderful blog where she talks about what she has cooked, where she has travelled and what she is up to in her garden.  It is a very inspirational read with wonderful photos.  Well, this morning I took a quick look and found her latest post was about Apple and Blackberry scones and they looked absolutely delicious.

At the weekend I saved a couple of wasp eaten apples from the tree and was wondering what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to make these scones the minute I saw them.  I didn’t have any blackberries as there has been a bull in the field where I normally gather my blackberries so I substituted frozen blackcurrants.  The scones were deliciously light and very tasty.  I spread mine with butter and damson jam and invited my parents for a spontaneous lunch time treat.  The weather is having its last kick of the summer and so we had a very enjoyable time eating these in the garden with a cup of tea.  Thank you Mangocheeks.  If you would like the recipe pop over to visit Mangocheeks’ wonderful blog.

Parsnip, apple and chestnut soup

I was inspired to try my hand at this soup by a visit to a local café yesterday.  I was reading the Christmas menu that I had unfortunately missed, but on it was this soup and I knew I had to give it a go.  We have some parsnips left in the garden and my husband has complained that I haven’t been using them enough so I hacked my way through the frosty soil to get at them.

I have no idea whether it tastes like the soup served at the local café but this is delicious and a very comforting dish and you can taste all three of the main elements quite distinctly, although I may use a little less apple next time I make it as my version was a little too apple-y.  I have adjusted the recipe below accordingly so I hope yours won’t be.

1 large parsnip (about 300g), peeled and chopped into chunks
1 small Bramley apple (or half a large apple), peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
100g roasted chestnuts, plus a few extra for slicing to serve on top of the soup (I use the vacuum packed variety for ease)
20g butter and a drop of olive oil
570 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp cumin seed
salt & pepper to taste

Method
Melt the butter with the drop of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to allow the onion to brown.  Add the parsnip, potato and apple and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the cumin seeds and stir to combine and continue to cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt. Add the chestnuts and the stock and bring to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid or foil.  Cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  If you are using an Aga, place the pan in the simmering oven for this amount of time. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend the soup either with a hand blender or in a blender or processor until smooth.  Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with thinly sliced roasted chestnuts.

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Pumpkin and Apple Soup

We planted some pumpkin seeds earlier this year which have turned into monsters and taken over our veg patch.  Not wanting to waste them I came up with this soup, which was delicious.  I have a feeling we will be eating a lot of it…

Pumpkin & Apple Soup

Pumpkins in our garden

1kg Pumpkin/squash
300g apple, peeled, cored and chopped
(I used eating apples as this is what I had available)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 heaped tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin seed
1 pint vegetable stock
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to 200c (400f/ gas mark 6)Cut the pumpkin into slices, removing the seeds.  Place onto a baking tray, season and sprinkle with olive oil.  Roast for 20 mins until soft.  Leave until cool enough to handle and remove skin.  Chop into cubes.

In a large pan, sweat the onions in a small amount of olive oil over a medium heat for five mins. Add garlic and apples and cook for a further five mins on a low heat, making sure that they don’t start to brown. Add curry powder and cumin seeds and fry for 2 mins, stirring. Add the roasted pumpkin and stir well so that it all gets covered in the spices.  Add the vegetable stock and simmer gently for 20 mins.  Do not boil as this will ruin the flavour of the soup.

Take the pan off the heat and blend or sieve the soup.  Serve in warmed bowls with croutons or crispy bread and a few sage leaves that have been fried in olive oil until crisp.